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October 3, 2012

Al Golden

MIKE FINN:  We're joined by Miami coach Al Golden.  We'll ask for a brief opening statement from coach and go to questions.
COACH GOLDEN:  Wonderful opportunity for our football team to play at Soldier Field in a great venue against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a team obviously worthy of a top‑10 ranking.  Playing well now.  Played a different schedule themselves.  Operating at a high level in all three phases.
It's a great challenge for our team against a mature team with a great tradition.  We're excited about the opportunity Saturday night.
MIKE FINN:  Questions for Coach Golden.

Q.  Coach, this is the 25th meeting.  From 1971 to 1990, these two institutions played 17 out of 18 years.  Talk about this rivalry.  It's such a special game when you think about college football.  Any chance you may extend the contract and talk about how special this rivalry is?
COACH GOLDEN:  It is special.  Obviously what makes it special is the tradition of both schools, the players that have come before us, the players and coaches that have built it.  That's what makes it special.
It's obviously our opportunity Saturday to rekindle that.  It's unique.  It's special.  It's a great intersectional rivalry.  Just fortunate to be a part of it Saturday night.

Q.  Al, where do you think your team is now compared to the last time you played a road game?
COACH GOLDEN:  Well, I think the last time we played a road game I think we grew up a lot.  Two times ago against Kansas State in Manhattan, we were not ready for that venue.  We weren't ready for that challenge.  Then we responded at Georgia Tech.  I was pleased with that.
Hopefully we've grown a lot over the last two games to be able to kind of keep our eyes on the prize this week and stay focused and not have any distractions.  That's the key going into this Notre Dame game on Saturday night.

Q.  When you look at them on film, what makes the Notre Dame defense so damn good?
COACH GOLDEN:  First of all, they're personneled really good.  The 3‑4.  The 6'4", 6'6" at the ends, over 300 pounds, gives you a matchup problems right there.  The nose Nix is 320 pounds.  He's active.  All the linebackers are 250.  They have arguably, if you want, but I think unarguably, the best player certainly on defense in the country in Te'o.  He's everything that you think he would be when you turn on the tape.  A guy like Mata who runs it on the back end.
They're able to stay in cover two, prevent you from getting big plays and stop the run with seven, which gives you a tactical advantage.  I think they're excellent in the red zone with the bracket coverage, holding up the run.  Obviously less than 10 points a game, less than 3.3 yards a carry.  No one has run the ball in on them.

Q.  It looks like you have the better offense and quarterback.  How much in this day and age does that matter?
COACH GOLDEN:  I think what they're doing right now is designed to prevent that.  That is what the challenge is going to be.  Something is going to give.  From their standpoint, their ability to drop eight in coverage, play two, play that three cloud, that three role that they do so well, getting out of three, four, five man rushes, that's a challenge when you play ha 3‑4.
I think they're personneled really well.  I think their staff does a great job.  That's going to be the challenge in this game.

Q.  Not to sound too trite, but was that kind of a coming‑out party for Stephen Morris the other day?  Did you think this was possible in the spring when you didn't have him?
COACH GOLDEN:  We definitely thought it was possible.  I just think the last two weeks he's done a good job.  We saw glimpses of it the previous three weeks, but we didn't see the consistency.  After a couple errant throws in the first quarter of Georgia Tech, he settled in, started to relax, doing a great job throwing, not aiming right now.
I think obviously the receivers have stepped up.  There's some trust there.  We're protecting him well.  I think he's making good decisions with the football.  Obviously from an athletic standpoint, he can create.  He's fast.  He's got good vision down the field.  He's got a big‑league arm.

Q.  Coach, you were talking about how good Notre Dame's defense has been this year.  That's bucking the national trend.  You are coming off a shootout.  Huge offensive numbers going up around the country.  Are we in one of the cycles where offenses are ahead of the defenses overall nationally?
COACH GOLDEN:  We might be.  But I think generating more offense is if you just look at these schools, the conferences, the offenses are not only attacking but the offenses are attacking the defense with a different offense just about every week.
If you look at our schedule, for instance, we've faced pro style, spread teams, option teams, we've faced everything you can imagine in the first five weeks.
There's not a lot of uniformity.  Everybody has their own take on the spread.  Some people are running spread option with it.  We're seeing anything from four or five wides one week to two tight ends or two backs.  We're seeing it all from weektoweek.  It's really hard anymore just to adapt week after week.
Certainly given the inexperience and age of our club, that's really hard to adapt from weektoweek.  I think that's part of the trend, as well, that's being overlooked.  At the same time for all the spread that we're seeing, you have to personnel your team differently.  I think you're seeing a lot of NFL teams start to personnel their teams differently.  You don't have to look any farther than Ray Lewis losing 25 pounds because he sees the way football is going now.

Q.  Controlling tempo, running a faster tempo a lot of places, is that a problem defenses have coping with that, not being able to make situational substitutions?
COACH GOLDEN:  Sure.  I think that definitely has an impact.  I think the multiple tempos, using multiple tempos is difficult as well.
Again, I just think we're getting flexibility in formationing, and we're getting it from weektoweek at every angle.  That's what is making it tough.
Hats off to Notre Dame right now.  I think the 3‑4 deploys really well against spread attacks.  Obviously that's why they're doing it.  And they're doing a great job with their cover two, which is preventing big plays.

Q.  What do you have to do to fix your defense?
COACH GOLDEN:  We just got to keep working.  Honestly, we got to keep working.  It's not that I don't like the younger talent we have, I like that, we're just asking them to do so much so early.  We need our more experienced guys and our leaders to step up, for sure.  We got to be getting it to a stage now where we can settle in.  There's got to be a point, I don't know when it's going to be, when we can have some continuity and there are no freshmen anymore.
Eddie Johnson, he's not a freshman anymore.  We're getting Denzel back, Gionni, who was hurt earlier, Gionni Paul, he's made a couple starts now in his career.  We have so many first‑time starters, we need to settle in, everybody just relax and execute and everybody do their job.  That's going to be a challenge.
I know that day is coming.  I'm excited about the direction we're going.  I know statistically we're nowhere where we need to be.  We grow from week to week.  We get Denzel back, Gionni, who played well in his first two starts.  We're adding Deon Bush.  We just keep adding guys to it and settle in.

Q.  Soldier Field has a storied history.  Talk a little bit about the impact of going to that kind of facility for your young team at this point.
COACH GOLDEN:  I think it's great.  When it's all said and done, it's a special day for both universities, both staffs, both football programs, and the young men that are playing.  I think at the end of the day both teams are going to look back at this venue, one of the storied cities in America, say, This is what it's all about, this is what college football is all about.
I think we're going to create memories.  Hopefully they're positive memories for the Miami Hurricanes.  But to experience this challenge, to go into a venue like that where so much of the history of football was made, is really awesome for our guys.
MIKE FINN:  Thank you, coach.
COACH GOLDEN:  Thank you.
MIKE FINN:  This concludes today's ACC football coaches teleconference.  Please join us next Wednesday at 10:30 for another edition.

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