UM coach Al Golden, in his season ending news conference Tuesday afternoon, sounded defiant when asked about defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, whose unit ranked 117th of 120 schools in total defense.
"Look at Mark's record in terms of defense, his track record of player development," Golden said. "Mark should be as mad as anybody because imagine coming to UM and having to use (so many young players). You come and have one corner, Brandon McGee! He is mad. He's going to fight. He's not a quitter."
(Translation: D'Onofrio should be mad with the depleted secondary that Randy Shannon's staff left him with.)
Golden suggested there's nothing D'Onofrio can do when players blow plays. He didn't mention Rayshawn Jenkins by name, but said a "young kid went the wrong way and we give up a 99-yard touchdown" against Duke. Golden added: "I wouldn't trade that kid for anyone. He's going to be a champion."
Susan Miller Degnan will have a lot more from Golden's news conference in a story posted later, and I'll have a few tidbits, too, in the buzz column that I'll post later.
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If you didn't see it in the past 12 hours, here's my post from last night with Golden's comments from Monday WQAM radio interviews with Joe Rose and Jorge Sedano:
### Rose asked if he needs to change the style of play on defense: “It’s a function of many things," Golden responded. "One of them is the offense – controlling time of possession and improving our third down conversions and holding the ball a little better on that side. I made the decision to move to a different tempo and try to outscore people because of our youth….
“On defense, not only do we need to supplement what we have with recruits, but we have to generate a pass rush. We only get one sack against [Duke], a team that throws it as often as they throw it. That’s happened too often. If we don’t get pressure on the quarterback, it’s hard to play more man-to-man.”
### He made clear to Rose he’s firmly behind coordinator Mark D’Onofrio: “I challenge anybody to look at coach D’Onofrio’s record and what he’s built over the years and what we’re going to build here….. He’s going to do a great job with this defense. He was put in an unenviable position having to play a lot of young guys…. It’s about individual player development…. There was no symmetry when we got here.”
### Among freshmen who redshirted, he said he’s excited about receiver Jontavious Carter, linebacker JaWand Blue, cornerback Nate Dortch and guard Danny Isidora
### On his approach: “We’re confronting everything on this team both culturally and systematically. [We’ll] eradicate the problems.”
### On recruiting: “We have eight or nine” orally committed. “We’re looking at six or seven kids in the next two months. We’re looking for the right 15 guys.” He said the portent of NCAA sanctions “is affecting” recruiting.
He said he’s exploring adding junior college players “at a number of positions.”
### He again dismissed any speculation that he would consider overtures from other schools: “The same ones who are asking me what I’m doing are the same ones who predicted us to finish 2-6 in the Coastal.”
### “I know 7-5 isn’t where we want to be, but a lot of people said we were only going to win four games.”
### Channing Crowder, during a segment with Sedano, asked Golden what’s one thing on offense and one thing on defense that needs to change.
“On offense, to be a team that can rush the ball for 200 yards a game, irrespective of what we pass for,” he said. “I would like to be more versatile by creating more pressure on the quarterback. Those things have to occur for us to move forward next year.”
### He said after the Duke win, there was “a little bit of frustration [in the locker-room]. We should be getting ready to play Florida State in Charlotte…. We’ve got one of the hottest quarterbacks in America and we can’t go to the championship game. It’s disappointing.”
### He said “our out of conference schedule was ridiculous. We played three teams that were No. 1 (Notre Dame, Kansas State, FSU).”
### He said he had a “positive conversation” Monday with linebacker Eddie Johnson and “I’m hopeful he will come back and improve” after being left home for UM’s final two road games.
### He loves how Herb Waters came on late. “This guy was fifth [at receiver] a month ago and he kept working. Pleasant, coachable, great work ethic. Great young man.”
### Tight end Clive Walford’s emergence “really changed the dynamic of [our offense]. The fact Clive has to be attended to, now, has made a big difference.”
### He said during Duke Johnson’s recruiting visit, “he pointed to the pictures on the walls and knew exactly what he wanted to be. He wanted to be listed among the best at his position.”