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October 31, 2012

Al Golden

COACH GOLDEN:  Obviously we're in our final preparations for Virginia Tech, and our kids are excited about the opportunity we have.  Clearly, they're the reigning champions in our division, and it's a big game and we're excited for the type of atmosphere we'll have tomorrow night at Sun Life.

Q.  I'm curious, as you watch Virginia Tech on tape, 92, the defensive tackle, what have you seen from his play and how key is he to what they've been able to do the last two games in the pass rush?
COACH GOLDEN:  I think he's growing up, feeling more comfortable, and playing with a lot of confidence.  He's had two sacks in each of the last two games.  He's a physical player that has a quick body and transition to a pass rush.  It's been very effective for him in the last two games, so clearly we have to account for him.

Q.  How important has it been to be able to slow the opposing team's running game down in order to get that pass rush?
COACH GOLDEN:  That's obviously always been at the foundation of Bud Foster defenses.  If you just look at since the turn of the century, you're talking about leading the country in interceptions, and I think they're number two in TFLs or something to that effect.
But it all stems from playing an eight‑man front.¬† One of the things that you have to do is try to drive them out of that.¬† So the only way to do that is to try to have an effective run game and clearly be able to hit some shots on them.¬† So, again, it's been very successful form for Virginia Tech, and they're clearly recruiting to that system and doing a great job with it.

Q.  I know there were some issues during the summer with Stephen Morris' availability being somewhat up in the air.  I know he's been dinged up on and off.  Since the season started, how do you view his year and his performance?
COACH GOLDEN:¬† I think he's done a great job.¬† It's his first full‑time going into the year, then obviously week to week as a starter.¬† I would say his inconsistency at times is more a reflection of the team than it is just Stephen.¬† When you're young and playing a lot of first‑year starters or playing as many freshmen as we've had to play, that usually translates to inconsistency.
Having said that, I'd like to see us here after the break, after the bye week, we had a chance to regroup, get focused and I'd like to see us take a big step here.  We have kind of a no more freshman mantra.  I think Stephen's going to play tough for us tomorrow night.

Q.  Can you talk about his toughness?
COACH GOLDEN:  Elite.  He's elite in his toughness and ability to fight through things.  He didn't practice at all for Florida State, but yet went out there and competed against an excellent front and a pressure group.  He's had a chance to heal up here in the bye week.  He's refreshed.  I think the guys around him have grown up, especially on the offensive line or wide receivers and Randy Johnson.  So I'm expecting him to really play well for us down the stretch.

Q.  I'm wondering with FSU, if the team is a little more emotional or excited to get back on the field, especially with it being a Thursday and getting the spotlight and everything?
COACH GOLDEN:¬† Yeah, I don't know if that has any impact.¬† I just think the schedule was so brutal, about as brutal as anything I've seen.¬† They just needed a break.¬† So they didn't practice very much last week.¬† We only practiced in pads two of the‑‑ I want to say two of the seven days of that bye week.¬† So our focus was trying to get our guys healthy and get them healed up, to be honest with you, have some guys mature and grow up.
So I'd be surprised if we're not ready to go in this division and for the most part the conference has gone through Blacksburg.  It's a team that's beat us three in a row.  Excellent program led by a tremendous coach, and really the kind of beacon of consistency, if you will, in our league.  So I think our guys understand what the challenge is.

Q.  With your team healthy now, what is your outlook or expectation, or what is the expectation of the team going forward for the rest of the season?
COACH GOLDEN:¬† It's just to prepare and try to win the final 48 here against Virginia Tech and prepare and play our best game.¬† It's really not looking forward to‑‑ again, this team is too good and too mature and too experienced for us to start thinking about anything other than the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Q.  Would you buy the statement that the winner of this game has the inside track for the Coastal Division title?  If so, how important is that to getting the program back to where it was and I'm sure you want it to be again?
COACH GOLDEN:  Well, the answer to the first question is no.  Then as it relates to your second question, we've never won the Coastal.  That's one of the things that we stay positive but confront the brutal facts, that's a fact.
It's a big game.  We know this division has gone through Blacksburg, and we've never won the division.  So clearly, if you want to have an opportunity, you have to beat Virginia Tech.  They're the reigning champion, so I think everything starts and stops right there.
If we can do that, then we can start to move forward.  But this game clearly is our focus right now.  Really, nothing beyond that.

Q.  Historically Miami has had a track record for ordinary games, kind of blasé crowds and blackouts.  Then for the big games you get the great atmosphere and the great crowds.  Do you expect that Thursday night?
COACH GOLDEN:  I have no idea what to expect.  Until we start controlling how we play and playing at the level that we need to and the standard that we need to, we really can't comment on what the fans are doing.

Q.  Well, I'm just wondering, do you feel from your experience Thursday night home games usually generate the best atmosphere that you can get?
COACH GOLDEN:  Are you talking for us or in the country?

Q.  Anywhere that you've seen as a coach.  Don't Thursday night home games usually generate great home field atmospheres or not?
COACH GOLDEN:  Yeah, you would hope so.  You would hope so.  So, again that's for all you guys to write about.  Our focus is Logan Thomas, Jimmy Gayle, Jack Tyler and Bruce Taylor, and all the other guys that the Hokies will be lined up across from us on Thursday night.

Q.  As the ranking Jerseyite in the conference, how closely have you watched that, have you been touched by family members or people involved with the jersey shore devastation?
COACH GOLDEN:  It's beyond any scope or anything I could have ever imagined.  It was a situation where I wasn't really following it closely through the weekend.  Then I woke up Monday morning and saw that really the impact that it was going to have.  Then to have friends send me pictures or a video of what it looks like now is unbelievable.
A lot of people don't know it, but we grew up on the shore, literally, 15 minutes from the beach.  Lot of our friends have homes on the beach that are not there anymore, just a roof top.  So it's tough.  We're praying for everybody, and going to do whatever we can to help everybody up in Jersey.

Q.  Your parents live near the shore still?
COACH GOLDEN:  My parents have a beach house.  It's on the bay and in one of the areas that was hit the hardest.  Those barrier islands, Mantoloking, Bay Head, Seaside, Ortley Beach, Normandy, those areas got really hit hard.  So we have no idea whether it's standing or not.  You can't get in there yet was of the sand and the flooding, so we have no idea.
But we know friends that have nothing left.¬† There are no 20‑foot of dunes anymore and there is no house.¬† So it's tough for everybody.
My brother is the Sheriff of the next county north, which is Monmouth County, and obviously, they were hit terribly hard, and Union Beach and Keyport and the Highlands, and a place we spent a lot of time growing up in Sea Bright, New Jersey.  It's tough.  It's tough to see on film and recognize areas and understand that the shore line has been changed forever.

Q.  Have you had time to talk to your brother?  Has he had time to talk to you in the last few days?
COACH GOLDEN:  He just sent me a quick text.  I asked him how he was doing.  He sent me a couple of shots of what he's looking at, and it was just only Mother Nature, or I don't think people have seen it unless it was Katrina.  Mother Nature or kind of something that was a result of war, you can't even describe it.  75% of Sea Bright is absolutely destroyed.  Just half of homes everywhere.
So he's in the middle of it.  I'm not going to bother him.  I just wanted to tell him we're thinking about him and everybody up there is in our thoughts and prayers.

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