Al Golden: UNC Post-Game Comments

Read on to see what head coach Al Golden was saying following his team's big win over North Carolina.

Opening Statement...
“Let me start by saying thanks to Jim Kelly and his family for coming. We’re very appreciative of him and what he means to the University of Miami. Obviously he’s in our thoughts and prayers and we wish him really well.”

On the improved play of his defense over the last two games...
“I think it’s been the last three weeks. It was 41-13 against Cincinnati and I whole sale subbed. They’re playing hard right now. They’re tackling better, play-ing very unselfish right now, getting off the field on third down better. They’re making progress.”

On the offense complementing defense with long drives...
“Finally. We’re doing it. We’re playing better as a team. There are a lot of things we still have to fix: we’re having trouble finishing some of these games because we don’t have any depth. We have so many injuries and our count is down to begin with. It puts you in a tough spot. We’re giving up some sloppiness late – we have to get that fixed. We’re playing better in all three phases, and our penalties were better the last two weeks.”

On the timeliness of playing better with Florida State looming...
“It’s really going to be about us. We have to get better this week and worry about Florida State next week. For us right now, hopefully we got everyone out of here healthy. I thought that last weekend and we had something sneak up on us during the week. Hopefully everybody will check in tomorrow healthy. We’re doing a good job - wherever we play - focusing on us and being unselfish. All three phases, playing together and we’re practicing really well. We’re practicing hard right now.”

On the difference in running back Duke Johnson, who has five straight 100-yard games...
“There’s a difference between a talented running back and a skilled running back. This guy is skilled right now. He has the experience and wisdom to know when to press, when to cut. He has always had the gifts for the second- and third-level plays - that’s what makes him special. But right now, the way he’s seeing it, his tracks are really good, there’s not a lot of cuts on air, he’s pressing the line of scrimmage well, he’s coachable, he’s practicing at a level that none of us have seen. And he’s stronger. He’s markedly stronger than he was at any point in his career. His play count is low. Just so we’re on the same page – his play count is low, but his production is high. He’s about 220 plays less than Denzel [Perryman] for the year. His play count is right where we want it, and his production is high.”

On what he has seen as some of the reasons for recent success...
“No. 1, practice. We’ve been practicing. We’ve been getting practices in, we’re getting better. Right now, we’re competing at a higher level in practice. We’re blocking everything out, we’re focused and we’re improving. We’re not letting anything on the outside get inside. That’s hard to do. Right now we’re getting great leadership, and we’re coming to work every day. I thought we got better this week. I think head coaches are paranoid to begin with, but I was worried sick about this game coming off of last week and obviously looking at a team that was playing really well coming into our game. Really well. And putting a lot of points on the board. Good win.”

On if his team is playing a more attacking style...
“We’re tackling better. I think we’re unselfish more. We’re fitting it, sending it to the unblocked guy. We’re finishing plays better, I don’t think there’s any ques-tion about it. We’ve gotten more depth as the season went on because Darrion Owens, [Jermaine] Grace, Chad Thomas and all those guys are starting to play more. The nose guards...you see Mike Wyche now, and Courtel [Jenkins] and Calvin [Herutelou]. We’re getting deeper as the season goes on, which is going to be important for us. Right now we’re practicing, we’re laying good tracks in practice and we’re bringing it to the game.”

On the timeliness of the bye week...
“It is a good time. It’s a good time because we have to get caught up on academics, we have to get healthy. Last time I saw you, I did not know Ereck [Flowers’] status. Obviously he got hurt, had a procedure done and we’ll see when he returns. He’s not done for the season. Hopefully he’ll get back soon. Other than that, everybody else came out of there...early reports on Gus [Edwards] are that he’ll be okay. I think that’s it, really.”

On the job of offensive line coach Art Kehoe and the play of his unit...
“We’ve lost four players since the spring, and the fifth transferred. That’s four tackles. That’s hard to overcome. I really appreciate their effort right now. Trevor [Darling] went in and did a nice job for us. He’s going to learn a lot, he’ll get better from this. Danny [Isidora], Jon [Feliciano], Shane [McDermott], those guys are playing really well. Hunter Wells played today. We have to get [Alex] Gall healthy. He’s had a little bit of a back issue. We have to get him healthy. He has to help us down the stretch. We have too much football left and we don’t have enough depth. Art’s done a really good job. Shane and Jon’s leadership has really shone.”

On if having Jim Kelly in town for the game served as any inspiration for his team...
“I’ve been saying it all week: here’s a guy that bucked the trend to come down here and is one of the guys that jumpstarted this thing. He’s a pioneer from that standpoint. Then he goes to USFL, pioneer from that standpoint. Then he makes the transition to Buffalo, who was not having great success before he got there - pioneer there. Now here he is having one of the most difficult challenges of his life and he’s meeting with the same class, same dignity, same resiliency. It was very emotional. You grow up watching Jim Kelly, and then here he is. Right before the coin toss I got a chance to see him and meet his daughter. God bless him and I wish him health and a full recovery.”

On the adversity his team has faced and how the players handled it...
“They’ve been dealing with adversity for a long time. They’re dealing with the adversity on the field better. They’ve dealt with it off the field really well, they’ve handled it with class and moved forward. Now I think you’re starting to handle it better on the field, stay together. Obviously I was really disappointed in that [North Carolina fumble return for a touchdown]. I think the offense went back out there and turned the tide.”

On North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams...
“That quarterback is good. It takes two or three guys to bring him down. I think he made some good throws underneath. His escape-ability was good. We tried to keep in him in the pocket as much as we can, and he’s a load once he gets out. He’s a competitor but I think our guys did a good job against him.”

On the performance of punter Justin Vogel...
“He’s doing a great job...obviously the return that we got the hold on, that was a miss. That was supposed to go outside the right numbers and ended up on the left hash. That was a killer there. He’s really unselfish. He’s putting the ball where we want to put it. This was not easy conditions. I don’t know if you were outside or inside, but it was really blowing. It was difficult. He did a tremendous job. We have to keep covering them better, both in the kickoff and punt return.”

On if he has sensed a difference in confidence level in the locker room...
“I think we’re getting better. We had a young quarterback back there at the beginning of the year who’s not young anymore. He’s protecting the ball really well, he’s making good decisions. I think we’re growing with him. Obviously we’ve settled in. We’ve kind of settled into who we are and hopefully we can get healthy here and get some guys back.”


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