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November 19, 2014

Al Golden

AL GOLDEN:  We just finished our Wednesday practice to prepare for University of Virginia and going to Charlottesville for another night contest, and we're excited about the challenge and the opportunity that lies ahead.  Questions?

Q.  How would you characterize the Virginia‑Miami series since you've been at Miami?
AL GOLDEN:  Physical games.  Obviously the first two years were nail‑biters.  We had some things go our way last year in terms of interceptions and things of that nature.  But physical, and the running game, and each one of them has been different when you look at it, to be honest with you.  I think last time we were up there was a really high‑scoring affair, and the first year we played it was low and a physical game.  But they're a physical team up front, a downhill runner in Parks, excellent front seven on defense, and obviously it's going to be a challenge Saturday night.

Q.  To go into the play of Clive Walford, obviously Miami has had a long history of strong tight ends and what you've seen from his growth and what you can say about his play.
AL GOLDEN:  Yeah, I think he's playing excellently right now.  He's just growing in so many ways.  I think the long run the other night, the run after catch is kind of symbolic of his growth.  He had the strength and stamina to run at full speed and pull away from those guys, which was great.
I think his blocking both at the point of attack and down the field for his teammates has been excellent, and he's really become an all‑around player.  His route running is very good, his hands have been good, he's been a go‑to guy for us.
Can't say enough about the leadership that he's provided, the work ethic, and just how far he's come as a player and a person.

Q.  And then obviously the guy that's throwing the ball, what can you say about Brad?  I know you've asked a lot of Brad this season and he's obviously had to learn how to fly as a freshman at quarterback, but what you've been able to take away from him so far and his efforts this year.
AL GOLDEN:  Yeah, Brad is growing, and again, it was tough in the beginning for him, challenging schedule, going to some of those venues that we went to, and he had to learn on the run.  He had to learn on the run, and he's doing a much better job protecting the ball.  The only interception he had the other night was when he absolutely had to throw it on 4th and 9.  I think he only has three interceptions in the last four or five games, so he's doing a good job protecting it now, and he's grown a lot, and we're starting to see his personality and confidence come out.

Q.  I thought the unselfish play even in the defeat to Florida State continued.  One player that stood out to me was Walter Tucker running like 50 yards downfield to throw a block to free Walford on that touchdown.  How do you keep getting that same type of effort out of your players this week and going forward?
AL GOLDEN:  I think it's because our most talented players, Clive I mentioned earlier, but Duke Johnson and Thurston Armbrister and Deon Bush and guys like that are really running to the ball like crazy and finishing plays.
I think there's two ends of the spectrum on that, and the spectrum that we're in right now is everybody is giving effort for each other and blocking.  I mean, Phillip's blocks are excellent on the perimeter, Malcolm Lewis, all those guys blocking downfield, and I think you hit it right on the head with Walter Tucker the other night just finishing the play and being unselfish and giving us a chance to assure that we get in the end zone there.

Q.  I know Virginia has not been playing really well for the last month and they've been losing, but in terms of talent and everything, they seem to have really stepped up this year, especially on defense, really veteran secondary.  They've been very effective against the run, good pass rush.  Can you talk about some of the problems they present, again, especially on defense?
AL GOLDEN:  Yeah, I don't think there's any question.  I think as we looked at the Florida State‑Virginia game, there's no question they caught our eye.  A very talented group on both sides of the ball.  As you ask me to concentrate on the defense, I think on the defensive side, they're as good in the front seven as anybody.  The back end is physical and very active.
Those two safeties, I mean, one led the country in interceptions I believe last year, and then Blanding, the freshman, he's leading at least the ACC in tackles, I believe.  Corners are both long, make it difficult for you, but in the front seven now, I mean, it's a veteran group.  It's a group that we've seen now for a couple years.  Valles is long and strong and Harold is explosive.  Their inside guys are big, and Coley and Romero at linebacker, it's an excellent group, a group playing well together.  They've got a great scheme.  They're aggressive.  They try to get you behind the count, and then they make you pay on 3rd down.  Excellent, excellent defense.

Q.  Is there any worry or concern about the emotional state of a team after such a tough loss last week that eliminated you for the Coastal race?  Obviously your big rival, you're right there, you have the game and can't hold it?  Is there any concern about carryover from that?
AL GOLDEN:  No.  You know, again, I think our guys had a chance to see Virginia play Florida State as we were preparing for Florida State, and then when you come into work on Sunday, or for them Monday morning, it jumps out at you, that they have a big, physical offensive line, long tight ends on offense, excellent running backs.  They're getting No.4, Mizzell, the ball more in space, long receivers that can make X plays down the field.
We just talked about the defense.
The kicking game, kickoff return is like top 10 in the country, field goal kicker is awesome.  I think it just snaps you right back in, and it's going to take all of our energy and investment from an emotional, physical and mental standpoint to come out of there with a win, and our guys know that, and that's what our focus is right now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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