Previewing Miami

Quarterback Stephen Morris and the Hurricanes have a very explosive offensive attack. Here is a closer look at the Wolfpack's next opponent, Miami.

Miami Depth Chart


Al Golden Quotables

Opening Statement:
We're excited. What a great opportunity, excellent football team coming in. Obviously, really fond of their staff and their head coach Tom O'Brien, one of the best in the business.

Clearly the trademarks of a Tom O'Brien coached football team. If they don't beat themselves, they're number one in the ACC in time of possession. They protect the ball really well in taking it away. I think they have nine takeaways over the last three games and given up only three, averaging about 29 points a game, but really balanced on offense. 150 rushing, 250 passing.

The three inside guys, the center and two guards, (R.J.) Mattes, (Camden) Wentz and (Zach) Allen are over 90 starts between them. I know Coach O'Brien is an old offensive line coach, and that is always his baby, and I know they're big, averaging about 318 pounds and a lot of seniors there.

Got a great trigger man in (Mike) Glennon who has been phenomenal in the last three games. Five T.D.s, zero interceptions. Their core group of running backs, we'll see a number of them. (Sharach) Thornton played an excellent game last week with 145 yards and just a number of receivers that we'll see. (Bryan) Underwood, a T.D. in four straight games. (Tobais)Palmer, (Quntin) Payton, so it's a good group on offense.

On defense, what can you say about them? They're getting off the field 25%. Holding their opponents to 25%. They led the country in interceptions last year, and they have six already experienced safeties. Really, experience where you want it at is the safeties. 37 starts.

They're big, strong and physical up front. They have the biggest defensive ends we've seen all year at 281 and 290. And (Brian) Slay's got 17 starts, and I like their linebackers. Strong, physical, downhill guys.

What can you say about the corners? They're long and (David) Amerson is as good as advertised.

The kicking game, just what you'd expect from Coach (Jerry) Petercuskie. Fundamentally sound. Excellent in coverage. Just did a tremendous job in all the little things. Their kickoff coverage unit is phenomenal. I think their placekicker has hit something like 57 PATs, and they have a vet as a punter as well.

So this is an excellent team coming in. Obviously going to be a great challenge for our program. So with that, I'll open it up to any questions.

Because you guys are in such a good position for the ACC standings and you have such a young team, have you had to remind them it's still early in the race and that consistency is key?
Yeah, I think, Heather, you cover this conference better than anybody. I think you know what I'm trying to teach them is the process.

Because the only way you can win it is to have a process and just go about your business every day and pay attention to detail. That is the only way you defeat complacency is attention to detail. Just all the little tasks that you do every day, just keep checking boxes.

It's way too early to even think about rankings or ratings. They just know this is an excellent team coming in in all three phases: Well-coached, mature, rugged, strong. It's going to be a great challenge for us.

The other question I wanted to ask you with was about the true freshman running back, (Shadrach)Thornton, I think you said was his name. What did you see from him on film? I think he surprised a lot of people?
Well, it was obviously a coming-out party. I think he not only got 145 yards on 21 carries, he showed explosion and burst, and did a great job of passing the line of scrimmage and hitting the powers and zones really good.

Obviously, he's running behind an excellent offensive line, too. So I don't know how much they're going to use those guys in terms of (Tony) Creecy, (James) Washington, Thornton. I know Washington has already started 17 games. But whatever they do, obviously we're going to have to be prepared for all three of them.

Have you had to take any steps or have you taken any steps in making your home stadium a more difficult place for opponents, a more intimidating venue?
Have we? I think we've got to get back to being the type of team that Floridians and the Miami faithful are accustomed to being and get back to that standard. Once we do that, the rest will take care of itself.

We have a great stadium. They've played the World Series there. They've played Super Bowls there. They've played National Championships there. The stadium is not the problem. We've got to take care of our business. We can't make any excuses.

Clearly we had a big win last week, but that's over. Now we have to take on another team and we have to learn how to do that week-in and week-out. That is the challenge for our team, to be honest with you, not the stadium. The fans will come out.

We put a great product out there. We have played meaningful games. The way you make them meaningful is you win, right? We've got to handle that. I've got to do that, and our staff and players have to do that.

But as a coach, do you feel that's part of your job to make that a more intimidating place, and you do that by wining?
I don't think there is any question. Here, again, that's why I wanted to come here. The standard is high. You've got a tremendous -- maybe the best talent pool to choose from in the country. You've got a top 40 institution, a small private school. The best, really dichotomy that you could possibly have in terms of a college town in Coral Gables but access to a world class city.

So we've got to get back to producing the type of team that's our fans are accustomed to. And the rest will take care of itself. It's a great place to play. It's not the place's fault. We have to get back to taking care of business.

Has it been intimidating at all since you've been there?
Has it been intimidating?

I don't think there is any question the Ohio State game last year was probably as loud and intimidating as anyplace I've ever been. It was as passionate and as loud as anyplace I've ever been in my whole career 18 years. I think I said that right after the game. Our fan base turned out and showed up that night for sure.

I'm just wondering. I apologize I didn't get to see the game Saturday. The question I have is when you have a game like that where you blow an early lead, and being totally dominated in the middle of the game, what brought you back? What turned it around?
Stephen Morris and Brandon Linder, and some of the offensive linemen stepped up, Shayon Green, and you have to have the element and three things. You have to have conditioning to withstand them and come back. You've got to have the mental toughness and the unity. And, I think we drew on all three reservoirs in that game.

But I think the biggest difference, to answer your question, the biggest difference was that we learned at Kansas State that if we get to that situation and everybody looks at the clock and trying to do something more than their job, that it just unravels.

I think what we had here was a bunch of guys that said I'm going to do my job six seconds at a time on every play for the rest of the game, and then live with the results. Feel good about living and trusting the results. I think hopefully we walked out of that stadium understanding that.

Statistically it looked like a breakthrough game for (Stephen) Morris. Did it look like that to you from the sideline?
He had a good look. He was confident. I think we protected him well, and certainly some of the throws that he made in the first half could have even had a better game. He would be the first to say he would correct that. Again, I think the biggest thing is staying with the process. Improving every day here. Not having one game high and one game low. Just stay even keeled and keep moving.

Playing so many freshmen, is it tough to get them to play consistently?

Yes. Day-to-day.

One of them is Duke Johnson. I asked you a couple of weeks ago about getting him more touches. I see he's leading the nation in all-purpose yardage. So I guess you're figuring out different ways to get him the ball and get him in play?
Yeah, we're trying to be careful with him because anybody can just say just keep giving him the ball. But the reality is I'm trying to keep his reps down because we are asking him to do a lot.

I think our staff to their credit has done a great job of keeping his overall reps down. Certainly he's playing a lot of football and asking him to do a lot. But I think in the overall scheme of things we want to keep him fresh the whole season and keep making progress.

So our staff has done a good job of keeping his reps down.

It helps having another quality running back like Mike James?
Yeah, those guys have done a good job. Certainly the way Mike played the other day, it's nice to see those two guys complement each other.

Miami Game Notes

• Through four games, 17 freshmen have seen action for the Miami Hurricanes, including 14 true freshmen.

• Five freshmen have started at least one game for the Miami Hurricanes — true freshman RT Ereck Flowers, true freshman RB Duke Johnson, true freshman WR Malcolm Lewis, true freshman S Deon Bush and redshirt freshman LB Eddie Johnson.

• Freshman RB Duke Johnson has earned back-to-back Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll honors.

• In the first 16 games of the Al Golden era, Miami has used 13 different defensive starting lineups.

• Notable Miami ACC statistical rankings: 2nd in kickoff returns (28.86), 4th in rushing offense (154.33), 5th in net punting (38.85), 5th in turnover margin (.00) and 6th in scoring offense (30.67)

• Notable Miami NCAA statistical rankings: 15th in kickoff returns, 41st in net punting, t54th in turnover margin, 58th in scoring offense and 68th in rushing offense

• Duke Johnson ACC statistical rankings: 1st amongst all-purpose runners (209.50); 2nd in kickoff returns (30.40); 3rd in scoring among non-kickers (9.00) and 3rd in rushing (80.00)

• Duke Johnson NCAA statistical rankings: 1st amongst all-purpose runners; t31st in scoring; 15th in kickoff returns and tied for 61st in rushing

• Junior QB Stephen Morris ranks fourth among ACC quarterbacks in passing yards per game (267.2) and fifth in total offense (274.5).

• Freshman DE Tyriq McCord and DE Anthony Chickillo are tied for fifth in the ACC and tied for 91st nationally in sacks per game (.50). Chickillo is also tied for first in the ACC with .50 fumble recoveries per game.

• Senior PK Jake Wieclaw is tied for second in the ACC and tied for 13th nationally in FG per game (1.75).

• College Sports Madness has named Miami DE Anthony Chickillo Madness ACC Defensive Player of the Week for his exceptional performance against Georgia Tech. The sophomore was in on a career-high seven tackles, leading the Canes with three for loss and recording the game's only sack.

• Nearly 70 of Miami's 2012 roster hails from Florida (67 players), including 21 that hail from Miami-Dade County.

• Saturday will mark the 14th series meeting, which dates back to 1939. Miami leads the all-time series, 7-5-1, but NC State has won the last two meetings by a combined score of 57-44.

• Miami and NC State have only met three times as ACC members, with the Wolfpack holding a 2-1 advantage in the ACC-only series.

• No active player on Miami's roster has faced NC State.

• Give the Hurricanes their first three-game winning streak under Al Golden and first since the 2009 season.

• Give the Hurricanes a 2-0 record on the season at Sun Life Stadium.

• Give the Hurricanes their first 3-0 ACC start since 2004 — the first season in the conference.

• Give the Hurricanes their first 4-1 start to the season since 2009.

• In Miami's fourth game of the season, 16 freshmen (13 true freshmen) played at Georgia Tech.

• True freshman OL Ereck Flowers made his fourth consecutive start at right tackle. On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt freshman LB Eddie Johnson made his third start and true freshman Deon Bush made his second consecutive start at safety.

• RB Duke Johnson tallied 200 all-purpose yards (72 rush, 38 receiving, 90 return) and now ranks fi rst in the NCAA with 209.5 yards per game.

• In his third start, Eddie Johnson led the Canes with nine tackles (six solo stops) including the overtime stop of QB Tevin Washington on 4th-and-1.

• Miami has 14 different players that have at least one reception in the first four games of the season.

• Allen Hurns, Rashawn Scott, Phillip Dorsett, Clive Walford, Malcolm Lewis, Duke Johnson, Devon Johnson, Mike James, Asante Cleveland, Kendal Thompkins, Eduardo Clements, Dyron Dye, Maurice Hagens and Herb Waters each have at least one grab through two games.

• Sophomore WR Phillip Dorsett leads UM with 21 receptions and 273 receiving yards this season.

• Through the first three games of the season, senior RB Mike James had not found the end zone. In Miami's 42-36 OT road win at Georgia Tech, James scored four times, including three rushing scores and the 25-yard game-winning scamper in overtime. James finished with 15 rushes for a career-high 89 yards and three scores.

He also added a 10-yard TD reception.

• James became the second Hurricane in as many weeks to record four TDs in a game. Freshman RB Duke Johnson accomplished the feat against Bethune-Cookman. Prior to last week, the last UM player to score four times was Tyrone Moss in 2005 against North Carolina.

• Junior QB Stephen Morris established career highs for yards (436), attempts (52) and completions (31) in Miami's 42-36 come-from-behind OT road win at Georgia Tech. Morris was the first Miami QB to throw for 400+ yards since Ken Dorsey (422) at West Virginia in 2002. Morris' 436 yards were the most by a UM QB since Gina Torretta threw for 485 against San Diego State in 1991.

• For the first time in his career, senior RB Mike James scored more than two touchdowns in a game. In fact, he reached the end zone four times against Georgia Tech, three times rushing and once on a reception.

• WRs Phillip Dorsett (184 yards on 9 receptions) and Davon Johnson (107 yards on 7 receptions) set career highs for both receiving yards and receptions.

• Senior RB Mike James and freshman RB Duke Johnson have combined for 567 of Miami's 636 rushing yards on 87 through four games. The lightning-quick Johnson, who has already collected two ACC Rookie of the Week honors this season, has amassed 320 yards and four rushing TDs on 40 carries, while the bruising James has 247 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries.

• The duo has combined for 160-plus rushing yards in three of Miami's first four games. In the Hurricanes' 41-32 season-opening win at Boston College, Johnson rushed for 135 yards, while James added 54 yards. Two weeks later, the pair amassed 171 yards — Johnson 94 yards and James 77 yards (both season highs).

• Johnson (6) and James (4) have combined for 10 of Miami's 16 total touchdowns this season.

• Senior RB Mike James is one of 22 student-athletes selected to the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, announced by Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association.

• James is one of only 11 college football players from the Football Bowl Subdivision to be honored with the award, one of the most prestigious community service awards in all of college football. He is the sixth Miami Hurricane to be named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, joining Robert Bass (1993), Tony Coley (1996), Ryan Clement (1997), Nate Books (1998) and Joaquin Gonzalez (2001).

• During his career at the University of Miami, James has contributed countless hours to supporting community service organizations in the Miami community, including volunteering for Empowered Youth, an organization providing mentoring to at-risk youth, serving as a project manager for the 2012 University of Miami Bone Marrow Drive and serving meals to the homeless with the Miami Rescue Mission. James has also been involved with The Ronald McDonald House, Rushing the Community and Canes on Patrol.

• James, who is on pace to graduate in December with a degree in sport administration with a minor in sociology, will be invited to join fellow 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Work Team members in New Orleans to participate in a community project before the Allstate Sugar Bowl in January. The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team will also be honored during halftime of the Allstate Sugar Bowl on ESPN.

• Through the first three games, Miami had only two scoring drives that went for 10+ plays. During the Hurricanes' road win at Georgia Tech, Miami engineered three scoring drives of 10+ plays.

• Against Georgia Tech, Miami posted season-bests for plays (17), yards (91) and time of possession (5:33) — all on three separate scoring drives.

• Miami's two-play drive in overtime was its shortest scoring drive of the season.

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