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November 21, 2012

Al Golden

COACH GOLDEN:¬† We're facing a bowl eligible and 6‑5 Duke team, a team that beat UVA and UNC, two teams that handed us losses.¬† They're 5‑1 at home.¬† As coach just mentioned, an incredibly experienced team relative to us, especially‑ nine players with over 30 starts.¬† Obviously, very explosive on offense, excellent quarterback who knows how to distribute the football, and receivers that are not only nifty but generate yards after a catch.¬† Clearly one of the first teams we've faced all year with three guys over 50 and really four if you count the tight end position.¬† So excellent offense.
I'm sure coach is ecstatic with his kicking game.¬† Both Martin and Monday are among the elite in our conference.¬† Then on defense, very similar to Virginia Tech, a rugged group up front.¬† Played the same type of scheme, pressure‑oriented in the red zone on third down and active, very active group in 27 takeaways.
It's a very veteran and experienced team that knows how to win.¬† Again, my hat is off to Coach Cutcliffe for the blueprint that he's designed and these kids coming through.¬† It's a tough, disciplined team, and that's why they're 5‑1 at home and obviously got our attention.

Q.¬† I know you weren't part of the decision to self‑sanction.¬† How difficult was it for you to break the news to your team?¬† What was the reaction?
COACH GOLDEN:  Well, the air went out of the room, obviously.  The athletic director is the one who broke it, then he removed himself from the team meeting, and I discussed it with them, and we moved forward.  In terms of that, it's been a resilient group.  Heartbreaking losses, and then they come back.  I'm very proud of them.
Yesterday I said I appreciate them, I'm humbled by how they've approached it.  The maturity they've shown and how they've represented the University over the last 72 hours and how difficult that's been.  It's difficult because these kids have given up a lot.  It's not that we've given up two bowl games; we've given up the opportunity to be part of three postseason games, and that's giving up a lot.

Q.  Do you anticipate that that is the kind of thing they can get past and pull together and play well?  It's a possibility it could go the other way?  They were so close to actually be in a BCS game.
COACH GOLDEN:¬† At the end of the day, I don't think there is any question that we'll be defined by how we respond moving forward.¬† Unless I'm mistaken, the first test of that will be 12:05 in Durham on Saturday.¬† We can make all the excuses that we want, but the reality is we're facing a very good team.¬† A team that is obviously hungry, that is going to a bowl game and senior‑laden or experienced‑laden on Senior Day.¬† Even despite this or regardless of this it was going to be a tough out, and we better get focused and ready to go.

Q.  Sounds like you've got a thousand things on your mind, but you usually have pretty good insight.  How did that Maryland situation strike you this week?
COACH GOLDEN:  Oh, I couldn't even tell you.  I didn't hear anything about it.  I didn't read anything about T I'm probably the most ill-informed.  I appreciate you saying I usually give you good insight, but it's the wrong week to ask me.  I couldn't even give you an answer right now as I'm thinking because I've been so enthralled.  I apologize.

Q.  With you saying that, I'm not sure this is the right question for you.  But I wanted to ask you about the championship game between Georgia Tech and Florida State?
COACH GOLDEN:  You guys are piling on now.  Are you kidding me?

Q.  From your memory, what is the biggest challenge Tech's faced with Florida State?
COACH GOLDEN:¬† Oh, I just don't even know how I can answer that. ¬†Again, it's been an overwhelming week, as I'm sure you guys can appreciate.¬† The only thing I can say is you could say‑‑ you can try to discredit Georgia Tech and how they got there all you want.
But I believe coach was sitting there at 3‑5 and made some transitions and pulled the team together, so here's what I'm going to say.¬† It's a credit to Coach Johnson and his team, and the adversity that they've overcome, and really have they played down the stretch?
Obviously, we're disappointed we don't have that opportunity, but I think at the same time, Coach Johnson will tell you he's proud of the way his kids held together.

Q.  A year ago you guys hammered them pretty good.  Before that the series had some close games though Miami has won them all.  I just wonder what you see different from the thing you saw in Miami last year to the team you're seeing Saturday?
COACH GOLDEN:¬† Clearly the way I‑‑ I thought they were right on the cusp.¬† I was scared to death going into that game.¬† I think some things went our way.¬† We got some breaks early, and it kind of snowballed.¬† But this is a different team, both them and us.¬† They're a year older, and we're three years younger.¬† So that's the reality of it.¬† We're going to need to muster up every ounce of energy and focus to win in Durham.
They're 5‑1 at home, they're an experienced team.¬† They're coming in with a lot of confidence in how they operate, and our guys need to snap back quickly, and get over all of this postseason stuff and get ready for this Duke team.

Q.  Is the big threat that you guys have to stop them defensively?  Because offensively teams have moved the ball on them, and you guys have a pretty potent offense.  Is the test for the defense to stop that passing game?  And they have a little running this year, is that the big threat?
COACH GOLDEN:¬† I don't think there is any question.¬† I think their quarterback is a big‑time quarterback.¬† He's almost 2‑1 touchdown to interception ratio.¬† He's close to 70%.¬† They're getting 30‑something catches out of the tight end group.¬† Maybe closer to 40.¬† They have three receivers over 50.¬† That means the quarterback is distributing the football and taking what the defense gives them.¬† Got some veterans on the offensive line who have started a lot of games. ¬†I think their kicking game is excellent, and don't be fooled by the defense.
I think the reality is they've got 27 takeaways and that scares you.  You watch the way they ball hawk and try to disrupt the ball on defense.  It's a group that, boy, if they get two takeaways, we better find a way to get three or four and even it out or at least get two.
I'm very impressed with this 84.  I don't know how to quite say his name, but I'm really impressed with him.  Then they're bringing the young man after him, 94, who also has a great motor.  And what can you say about Canty?  96 tackles.  I haven't seen anybody with those type of numbers, and Cockerill has five interceptions.
There is a reason they're going to the first bowl game in, I believe, 18 years.  It's obviously the culture that Coach Cut has instituted there and the response of those young men in that room that have gotten them to this point.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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