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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEDIA CONFERENCE


November 12, 2014


Al Golden


AL GOLDEN:  We finished our Wednesday preparation here as we get ready for Florida State on Saturday.  Obviously, excited about the opportunity that awaits at Sun Life.  Any questions, we'll move forward.

Q.  Speaking with Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher today, he said about Duke Johnson, he's not just quick, he's fast.  I kind of wanted to go a little bit deeper into that with you and just how you kind of look at a statement like that and who Duke Johnson has been to your team and how he isn't just a player that can show some speed, but he has that ability to truly make people miss in very tight situations.
AL GOLDEN:¬† Duke is a lot stronger than he was the previous two years.¬† So he is faster.¬† He's always been quick and has an excellent lateral cut.¬† He's running behind his pads better, and he has the ability to use a stiff‑arm at the second level or make you miss.¬† He's having a great year.¬† He's practicing really well.¬† He's setting a standard for us on offense every day out here in practice.¬† Obviously, Duke has meant as much to anybody in this program because he came to us at a time when we really needed him given the fact we were going through an NCAA probe and it was some dark times.
So we're grateful to him for that, and at the same time, happy that he's having the kind of success he's having this year.

Q.¬† When you look back at that dark time and the NCAA probe and saying, when he came in, when you look back on that moment‑‑ and, obviously, there was a lot of negative air that was going around‑‑ when he came into your program, what were you thinking at that moment?¬† Now you know what you've got and what his abilities are and how he's consistently grown, but if you can go back to that time and kind of talk about the silver lining a little bit deeper that Duke was in that moment.
AL GOLDEN:  I think it personifies what many Hurricanes are.  They believe deeply in this place.  They're passionate about it.  They grow up wanting to be Hurricanes and wanting to represent their city and their hometown.  I think Duke, in many ways, is symbolic of that, as he should be.  He's having great success now.  He's worked very hard to put himself in the position that he's in as a player and as a person, and we're grateful to him for that.

Q.  Jimbo said, after the 2012 win at your place, this game always seems to come down to who wins the run game.  How do you feel your run defense stacks up against FSU's run offense?
AL GOLDEN:  They're obviously the most talented offensive line we've seen this far, and they've got a great trio of running backs.  Obviously, the threat of a tight end in the perimeter wide receivers makes it difficult just to hone in on the running game.
So I think the confluence of those things makes it a great challenge for our guys and one that we're preparing for every day and excited to accept.

Q.  Al, just curious, when you're playing in such a big game like this, do you like playing it towards the end of the season like you have the last couple?  Or because maybe your team gets the benefit of having played other elite teams.  Or is it better to have it earlier on in the season?
AL GOLDEN:  You know what, Andrea, I really haven't given that any thought.  I'm not sure if there's a specific reason why it's here.  I really don't know.  But whenever they schedule it, obviously, it's a great tradition, and we're glad to have an opportunity to play it.  But I haven't given it much thought at all.  We're just so engrossed in what we need to do to play well Saturday.

Q.  Where is the team, do you think right now, compared to where you maybe thought they'd be before the season started?
AL GOLDEN:  I think we've made a lot of progress.  Obviously, you open the season with an inexperienced quarterback at two very difficult places to play at Louisville and Nebraska.  So I think we learned a lot from that.  Certainly, our quarterback has learned a lot.  He's done a better job protecting the ball, and he's grown throughout the season.
Again, I think we've made a lot of progress, and it's a great challenge coming up.

Q.  Hey, Coach, I notice on the latest depth chart, you actually had Trevor Darling at left tackle and Feliciano at right.  Are they working both positions, or is that more of a permanent change?
AL GOLDEN:  I've been saying it for three weeks now.  They work at both spots.  Jon is working guard too, and Trevor's working guard.  So if Eric's ready to go, we'll have more depth there because both Trevor and Jon can play guard and tackle.

Q.  With so many FSU fans in the South Florida area and a lot of the kids from Florida State are in the area as well, does this game almost feel like a neutral site game, or does it feel like a home game going in?
AL GOLDEN:  No, obviously, we have great fans, and we're excited to be home and playing at Sun Life on Saturday.

Q.  Coach, this might be a little bit out of left field here, but Temple coach Matt Rhule is returning to Penn State this weekend.  I know he was on your staff a few years back.  Can you talk about Matt?  And also, you've gone back coaching against your alma mater before.  What do you think Matt can expect on Saturday?
AL GOLDEN:  Obviously, they had a big win a couple weeks ago, and that should give them a lot of confidence.  Matt's a great coach, and they have an excellent staff.  I know he's excited to bring that team back into State College, where he's not only from, but he went to school.
I know he's excited, and I know he's going to be chomping at the bit for this opportunity.  He'll have them ready to play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports


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