Hurricanes coach Al Golden hosted his weekly press conference Tuesday and discussed many topics.
His thoughts on Saturday's opponent Arkansas State: "This is a three-time conference champ. Really good, very active team. Very aggressive team. Special teams are excellent right now. Got a couple blocks. Their net punting is excellent. Field goal kicker [Luke] Ferguson is doing a great job. They'll throw some exotics in there. They'll make you work on the special teams. We're working very hard on that.
"On offense, everything starts with [quarterback Fredi] Knighton for them. The best quarterback, runner we've faced. We're going to have to be disciplined in the pull game, read option game. But he can throw it. He does do a good job throwing it. He'll get the ball on the perimeter. They'll move the pocket with him. That's what makes him difficult. They have a good running back in [Michael] Gordon. And this [J.D.] McKissic is just catching a ton of balls. They want to score. They want to go high-tempo. They make you want to cover sideline to sideline with the perimeter game and move the pocket. Getting the screen game to the perimeter, make you run. It's going to be a great challenge on that side of that ball. We're going to have to be disciplined in our ability to tackle the quarterback inside. Also, set good edges and tackle them in space. When they get in space they're very difficult."
"On defense, top 20 in a lot of different categories. I think they're number three in turnovers and sixth in sacks. Everything for me starts up the middle. Safeties all veterans, all starters, very active. Very good tacklers. Number 48 [Qushaun] Lee all the accolades precede him as we enter the game. You see why. Body strong just like Denzel [Perryman]. Strong, physical inside, yet fast enough to run on the perimeter. I really like what they're doing in the front. [Defensive lineman Dexter Blackmon] is really strong. He does a good job for them. Just a good active defense. I think eight returning starters. It's going to be a great challenge for us. Obviously they went into Knoxville and gave them everything they can handle [last Saturday]."
> Golden was asked if he will stick with Brad Kaaya at quarterback when Ryan Williams comes back.
"I'm not really going there," he said. "Right now Ryan is really doing well. He's really getting into shape. His movements are progressing. Separate deal right now. When that time comes then we'll deal with that competition and the reps and all that. Right now it's Brad and Jake until that time. We're just talking about something that's not part of the equation right now."
Golden said there are no thoughts at the moment for having Williams seek a medical redshirt.
"That's not part of the discussion right now with him. His job is to get back," Golden said. "He's been working his tail off. Let's just see where that goes. But as of right now, Tuesday that's not part of the equation right now. As soon as we cross that next hump and we feel he can protect himself from a blitz, from all different angles and not have to premeditate where he's going and just react to it. And we all feel good about it. He feels good. The doctor feels good. [Offensive coordinator] James [Coley] feels good. Then we'll take that next step. But that's not in the discussion right now for sure. It's not on the table."
> Where does Golden think Kaaya needs to improve most? "There's a lot of different areas," Golden said. "For me to go into his deal would be like giving the game plan away. There's certain things we need to see him do a better job on. His poise is really good. His line of scrimmage demeanor is really good. We snapped the ball three times -- maybe four -- on them last week to get them offsides and I think only one time we got them offsides. That was the one we completed to Herb [Waters]. The other ones weren't very good. One resulted in a holding pattern. One resulted in an incomplete. The other in an interception, which kind of got him off track a little bit.
"We all have to do a better job. We have to protect better, catch the ball better. But there's certain things in terms of his mechanics and just trusting his feet. That's probably our biggest focus that I can share with you."
Is Kaaya holding onto the ball too long as offensive coordinator James Coley suggested Monday?
"Again, James and I watch it all together," Golden said. "To me it's just what I said in terms of trusting his feet. So when his feet say it's time to get rid of it that means we got to go. From the second to third or third to fourth progression. A couple times the other night was really the first time we saw it. He started to scramble laterally rather than just trusting his feet and get it to his outlet whether it was his tight end or his back."
> Golden said it's been his decision to hold defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad out of UM's first two games. "Again, he's sorely missed," Golden said. "He's a great kid. He's one of our leaders. He's a competitor. So, again, it's a difficult situation and we're all just letting it run the proper course or proper channels if you will."
> Quarterback Kevin Olsen, suspended for the first two games, is third on the team's depth chart Golden said. Golden wanted to make it clear Olsen was "just paying for his sins awhile back."
"The suspension did not -- because it happened now -- doesn't reflect all the growth that he had," Golden said. "I just want to make sure we're clear on that. He's had a lot of growth here in the last half year, certainly the last four months. He's making a lot of progress and hopefully Kevin can continue to do that for us."
> Golden said he will redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Rosier. As for other players who will redshirt, he's not ready to tie anybody else down because injuries can happen.
"For a lot of the other guys it's too early," Golden said. "It's such a long season. I think you guys know there are some that haven't participated. The inference there is coach is leading toward redshirting. But for all those guys for me to come and say wholesale you're all redshirted, it's just too early. We got so much. We haven't even started the ACC Coastal yet in terms of that. So we have a long way to go from that standpoint."
> Receiver Stacy Coley was held out of Tuesday's practice to get treatment on his right shoulder. Coley wasn't targeted with any passes Saturday against Florida A&M and Golden said he would have a better idea Wednesday if Coley will play against Arkansas State.
> The Hurricanes have netted seven sacks, but no interceptions. Golden, though, isn't concerned. "We got to catch the ones they throw us," he said. "If we had a bunch of drops I would be worried. I'd like to have some interceptions. I just don't want to blow it out of proportion because we haven't had a lot of opportunities and we haven't dropped any or things of that nature. Certainly there's a couple in there we have to have a better break and make a play on the ball for sure."
> The right side of Miami's offensive line continues to be a work in progress. Golden said starters Danny Isidora and Taylor Gadbois are splitting reps with Alex Gall and freshman Kc McDermott at right guard and right tackle respectively this week in practice.
"I'm seeing a good competition," Golden said. "It will resolve itself. They will all get better in the process. We'll see who the starters are come Thursday. We'll have a good idea. Felt like Shane and Jon and Ereck had a good practice today and we got to keep developing Hunter Wells, Trevor and Nick. We got a good group. They're getting a lot of reps. We just got to keep moving him forward."
> Junior college transfer Michael Wyche is getting in better shape according to Golden. He played against Florida A&M and is pushing starter Calvin Heurtelou and freshman Courtel Jenkins for playing time at defensive tackle.
"For all that he was behind he's starting to catch up," Golden said of Wyche. "The good news there is that position looks a lot different. There's a lot more depth and we're getting a lot more factors, a lot more plays than we have been. That's positive. But there's no question the three of them are fighting like crazy for playing time right now."
> Golden said long-snapper Ronnie Regula has not lost his starting job after his bad snap led to a touchdown against FAMU Saturday. "I have a lot of confidence in him," he said. "Hadn't seen it before, hadn't seen it since. He went back into the game and to his credit fired one back after that. It happens. Disappointing. But, Ronnie's doing great with it and has been doing great."
> Did anybody earn more playing time after Saturday's performance against FAMU?
"Stan Dobard for sure," Golden said. "Stan is really doing a good job especially at the point of attack. Braxton [Berrios], Joe Yearby for sure. I think Kc McDermott and Alex Gall both did a nice job. Herb [Waters] continues to do a good job. We got to get him to push Phillip [Dorsett] and Malcolm [Lewis] for playing time. On the defensive side, [Jermaine] Grace for sure. Grace prepared really well and deserves more playing time. Jamal Carter played better. So again, I think he'll be fighting even more now with Dallas [Crawford], Nantambu [Fentress], Deon [Bush at safety]. Darrion Owens did some really good things. That was good to see. Somebody mentioned Chad earlier. For sure, Chad. Grace really prepared hard for that game. Really prepared hard and it showed on game day. That's good."
> Not many kids in high school play in a 3-4 scheme. Has adjusting to UM's defense been difficult for some young guys?
"I wouldn't say it's complex," Golden said. "I think we're playing cohesively right now. We're unified. As I look around college football, every week whether it's Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina or just go around everybody is playing the same defense right now. Everybody is playing a 3-4 - whether it's a 4-3 playing odd fronts or a 3-4 playing even fronts. We've kind of morphed into 3-4 personnel that's playing a lot kick down fronts throughout the game as far as zone pressures and things of that nature. The way it is in college football anymore with the read option or the pull game, a lot of people are playing odd fronts. The NFL is doing that as well versus those quarterbacks they're seeing. In terms of it being difficult. It's not difficult. Everybody has to communicate and be on the same page. And we got a great challenge this week for our defense. We better be on the same page. We better have two quarterback players. We better leverage the scheme game and perimeter game. And we better make tackles in the open field."
> What did Golden have to say about UM President Donna Shalala's impending resignation at the end of the 2014-15 school year?
"It's a sad day," Golden said. "Donna has been nothing but embracing for me and my family since we've been here. You kind of grow close with somebody when you go through the adversity we went through together. That was not an easy time for her or for me. I said during that time I don't know how you can have a better leader in your corner during that adversity. What she has done here speaks for itself. It's amazing. It's an amazing University. The campus is incredible. That's her legacy. Her legacy is all around us. We should all be so lucky to leave that kind of legacy. Just watch out whoever she's going up against next. Whether it's in politics or whatever. She's a competitor. She's brilliant. She can cut through it, makes things simple. Obviously somebody that will be missed here."