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October 24, 2012

Al Golden

COACH GOLDEN:  Just really just trying to get the team rested up and healed up and get caught up on our academics and trying to alleviate any conflicts from an academic standpoint that we have with the mid‑week game next week.  So just really focused on our team right now.
We did not practice Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.  Trying to get a lot of the young guys healed up, and today went out and worked out for about 90 minutes.
That's really all I have from here.  So whatever questions that you have, I'll be pleased to answer them.

Q.  Checking to see if there's anything new with Duke?
COACH GOLDEN:  He practiced today.  Like I said, the X‑rays were negative.  Was a 100%?  No, but he was over 90, certainly enough to practice.

Q.  Also just wondering on how do you decide how to attack a bye week like this?
COACH GOLDEN:  Again, it can almost lure you in just thinking it's a bye week.  It's really not a bye week, and you've got to be careful.  Saturday is Monday to us.  Again, we've had a rough schedule.  Really 12 weeks straight with a lot of young guys, and I've really just been focused on trying to get them back and get them healthy and really get caught up on school work because we've traveled so much, especially the first six games.  So we're trying to get them caught up on school work, get that out of the way, and we can concentrate on Virginia Tech when Saturday comes.

Q.  When you give the kids three days off, do you see a big spring in their step when they get back out there today?  Or after what you've been through, is three days not even enough?
COACH GOLDEN:  I think it's going to help.  It's going to be the collective time off, so we'll try to go today, go again tomorrow, and take Friday off and get into game week.  So I think by the time we get into game week, I'm hoping that we'll bounce back.
But I think most coaches would say if you give them three days off, the first day back is the one where they drag a little bit.  It's the first time they get lactic acid in their legs and they're pumping with their chests and everything.  So today they fought through it a little bit.  But hopefully tomorrow will be a little bit better.

Q.  I know it's exactly the same.  You have ten days, VA Tech has ten days.  But when you have that extra day or two to play with, do you have to be cautious about the volume of the game plan?
COACH GOLDEN:  Correct.  You're exactly right.  That's one of the kind of the edicts, if you will, that we're kind of all on the same page as a staff.  We're not the type of team right now that can do too much.  We're trying to be careful with that.  I'm trying to protect the team from a physical standpoint as I alluded to earlier.  It's just been a strange year and a strange schedule, and that combined with the youth of our team.
Right now my number one priority is to get the team healthy.  Not just healthy physically, but healthy mentally.  Get them back, and get them to relax a little bit, get away from football, and come back refreshed and ready to go for an excellent Virginia Tech team.

Q.  Just wondering how Steven is making it through with his ankle after playing last week if he's still in a boot or still sore?
COACH GOLDEN:  He's doing better, actually.  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday helped him a lot.  It's not like we're asking him to run the ball a lot or scramble today.  It's mostly pocket stuff for him, or handing the ball off or play action.  So he did fine.
As I said, I just think a combination of the three days and another day Friday, then fairly light practice on Saturday should get us to where we want to be for game week.

Q.  Wondering about the idea of facing a 4‑4 Virginia Tech team seems kind of odd.  They're usually on top of it.  Just some general comments on them.
COACH GOLDEN:  Again, I don't really judge them on where they're at in terms of their record.  They have been the champions on our side, on the Coastal side, six of the eight years that we've both been in the league, this league has gone through them.  They're the champion.  So whether they're 4‑4 or 8‑0, is immaterial to me.
They're an excellent team.  They know how to win.  They've been to where we want to go, and that's going to be the challenge.  Again, we're not really thinking about Virginia Tech right now.  We're just trying to get our team better, and get ourselves healed up and take care of our academics.

Q.  As far as your defense goes, one of the Virginia Tech assistant coaches said he's seen a lot of improvement since the beginning of the year.  Can you talk about some of the freshmen defenders who have been playing, maybe Tyriq, Moore, and how do you think they're doing?
COACH GOLDEN:  Well, I think a lot of those young guys are starting to execute their role very well.  Tyriq, for sure in terms of the pass‑rush he's giving us on third down and the energy he brings when he comes in.  But Deon Bush is playing good football now.  He's not just playing.  He's playing good football.  Eddie Johnson is playing good football for us.  And obviously getting Jimmy Gaines, Gionni Paul, Denzel Perryman, and Kirby, getting those guys healthy has helped us a lot.
It's helped us with our rotation.  It's helped us with our production.  So all of those guys I just mentioned are young except for Jimmy.  They're all young.  They're either freshmen or sophomore.
I think those guys have come a long way.  I think the biggest improvement for us the last two weeks has been Olsen Pierre and Corey King and Earl Moore and those guys inside.  We have to have a little bit better gap integrity still.  But those guys are playing, as young guys, those guys are playing better and giving us an opportunity to fit runs better.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about the problems that you faced with Logan Thomas.  How difficult is that to prepare for?
COACH GOLDEN:  You're going to make me live this with the bye week and then game week is what you're saying to me?

Q.  Exactly.  Sorry.
COACH GOLDEN:  He's an excellent player and an all-around player.  Clearly you know they're going to have some time here to put in whatever they want to do from a game plan standpoint to improve.  So we expect to see a great Logan Thomas next Thursday.  Big arm, can run, can beat you with his feet and has done a great job in terms of his leadership and distribution of the football.
So, again, it's going to be a great challenge for us.  We know that.  Just have a lot of respect for Logan Thomas and the way he plays.

Q.  Is there something can you do when they lineup for short yardage and he sneaks?  That seems to be almost unstoppable.
COACH GOLDEN:  He's a formidable player back there, there is no question about it.  The thing that Logan does is he's smart enough not to just take it in the A‑gap or B‑gap.  He'll go outside like he did against Carolina in a short yardage situation.  He'll take it in the C‑ or D‑gap on a sneak.  He has the latitude to do that, which obviously translates from trust to both Coach O'Cain and to Coach Beamer down to him.
So he has the latitude to do that.  He's a smart player, so obviously those short yardage, that short yardage operation gives you a lot to deal with.

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