Please see the last post, from this morning, with updates on Dolphins' playoff scenarios in the wake of San Diego's upset of Denver last night. Here are some UM notes from Al Golden's press briefing today:
Golden, on the road recruiting the past week, hasn’t had time yet to do intensive analysis of Louisville, UM’s opponent in the Russell Athletic Bowl Dec. 28 in Orlando.
But this UM staff is fully aware that the Cardinals thrive in a few areas where UM has struggled at times. Consider:
### Louisville (11-1) is second in the country in third-down conversion, behind only LSU, at 56 percent. Conversely, Miami (9-3) is 75th of 123 FBS school in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert at a 40 percent clip.
In the final five games, UM allowed FSU to convert 11 of 15 third downs, Virginia Tech 8 of 14, Duke 5 of 13, Virginia 11 of 20 and Pittsburgh 6 of 14.
### Also worrisome from a Hurricanes perspective: Louisville is 18th in passing offense, at 302 yards per game, whereas Miami is 71st in passing defense, allowing 233 yards per game.
And there's this: Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ranks second nationally in completion percentage and has 28 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
“We have to play really well,” Golden said before Friday’s on-campus practice, which was open to the public. “[Bridgewater] is a very talented young man. He has great command of the offense. He has speed, good corps of receivers, knows how to distribute the football, doesn’t make many mistakes, can move in the pocket. It’s going to be a great challenge for our corners and safeties…. Certainly we’re not where we want to be yet.”
Golden admitted his safeties didn’t show the level of physicality that coaches wanted at times this year. Deon Bush “has been hampered all year,” Golden said. Bush had hernia surgery during the summer and a hamstring injury recently. And Golden said safety Rayshawn Jenkins has to be “consistent.”
### Golden said injured linebacker Alex Figueroa will miss the bowl game, but he expects Anthony Chickillo (toe) and Phillip Dorsett (knee) will be able to play.
### Golden said several underclassmen have impressed in practices, including offensive linemen Taylor Gadbois and Alex Gall, linebacker Raphael Kirby (“he took charge – he needs to do that”) and safety Jamal Carter.
### Golden, on impressive UM freshman receiver Stacy Coley: “He’s very loud and proud in the meetings. He tells [offensive coordinator] James Coley or [receivers coach] Brennan Carroll or the offense exactly what he’s going to do on a play. That leads to a lot of trust. There is a preparation element in there that really exceeds his age.”
### Recruiting this past week was a lot easier with the NCAA investigation now resolved. Also, UM –-- which self imposed bowl bans the previous two years –-- was expecting as many as 40 high school juniors to attend Friday night’s practice, Golden said.
The past two years, “almost every high school we left, we left answering 20 questions about something we didn’t have any answers about,” Golden said. “We did that for 28 months. It’s very difficult to recruit under those circumstances.
“It feels totally different. You’re not going to get them all. But we feel like we’re on a level playing field for the first time. It’s unfortunate it comes at the tail end of our third class, but nonetheless, it gives us a chance to finish this one and start the 2015 class with a fresh slate.”
### Golden said “it’s not a secret we need help on the defensive line and front seven. Everyone understands that and it is reflected in numbers we have committed in those positions.
“We were not given the opportunity to recruit the type of full class we wanted to recruit last year. We’re making up for it right now. We were looking at 16 commitments going into Signing Day a year ago.
"If you’re on a regular ‘Year Two’ schedule, that number probably would have been 23, 24 or 25. Here we are the following year trying to make up for that. It’s been a challenge. There were a lot of places we would have loved to fortify our positions a year ago, and we weren’t given that opportunity.”
### Several players have signed financial aid agreements with UM, including one (Central High running back Dalvin Cook) who is orally committed to UF and also has signed financial aid paperwork with FSU.
Though unlimited contact is permitted with those players now, Golden said the rule is being changed so that contact with those players cannot happen during dead recruiting periods. Also, Golden said college coaches will not be able to attend all-star games this winter.
### In an interview airing on CNN at 10:30 p.m. Friday night, Charles Barkley said "it'd be great for [LeBron James] to go back to Cleveland" next summer, when he can opt out of his Heat contract. "I don't think they are great fans in Miami. Listen, those were the same fans who were leaving when they thought they had lost to the Spurs. So let's don't act like they're super fans. I thought they were great fans in Cleveland.... I thought LeBron shoulda stayed in Cleveland. Just 'cause he got them rings now, he ain't no better."