UM coach Al Golden spoke for 15 minutes Sunday after reviewing game film of Saturday's heartbreaking 38-35 loss at Virginia Tech. Here's a quick bullet item before we get to the transcription:
> With the Canes banged up at defensive tackle, Golden said he gave the okay at halftime to burn the redshirt of true freshman Corey King. King along with senior Micanor Regis, junior Darius Smith and true freshman Olsen Pierre who "is healthy again" according to Golden may be the only healthy available defensive tackles in next Saturday's game at North Carolina.
Asked if he might switch someone over from the offensive line or defensive end to play defensive tackle, Golden said: "No. We'd rather go with King and train somebody who is going to be there long term."
As for Adewale Ojomo, who didn't play a snap in the second half after getting injured, Golden said he had "no idea of his status right now."
Q: It was a tough loss. What did you tell the team after the game?
A: "I'm not really too much concerned about myself. I'm process oriented. I'm going to get back at it today. We've moved on now. It's time to get going and see how much better we can get. In terms of the team, I think they know the things they did that were good. We stick together. We had some leadership from some guys that to be quite honest hadn't stepped up. They stepped up. Both at halftime and during the game. We needed that. We have unity. We stayed together. We didn't splinter. It could have gotten real ugly down 21-7. On the road in Blacksburg. It could have gotten ugly. The guys didn't let them do that. We outscored them 21-14 in the second half. If you have said 'Coach you're going to get 519 yards of offense and you won't turn the ball over, I never thought I would feel the way I feel this morning."
Q: Is there any part of defense you are satisfied with?
A: "I think our will linebacker is a great player. He prepares and works his tail off. I think Sean Spence is exactly what we're looking for. Clearly, we've been pleased with JoJo Nicolas. Jimmy Gaines I thought played really, really well. Played hard. Chickillo continues to be a guy we feel we can build around. Brandon McGee is making a lot of progress, quietly making a lot of progress. We have a long way to go on defense -- that's the bottomline. We have a long way to go."
Q: Does anything concern you more on defense than others?
A: "It's everything in general. Again, it's just hard to get to get any continuity. I think Ray-Ray [Armstrong] would be the first to tell you he didn't play well. It was his first game out there in this defense and it looked like it. He did not perform the way he's capable of performing. He has a long way to go in terms of his development. We hope this week for him won't be Game 1 to Game 2. You hope you make a lot of progress and get back to work. Clearly we have issues on the defensive line. We've had a lot of combinations on the defense. We just need some of the younger guys to keep coming along. Darius Smith is in his fifth game and Denzel Perrryman. Hopefully we Adewale healthy. He'll give us some help inside I think. Shayon Green played more. Kelvin Cain played more for us. I think McGee is getting better. We just have to keep going."
Q: How much does the lack of depth on the defensive line and inexperience in the secondary dictate scheme at this point?
A: "It's all dictated by personnel. I'm not going to tell our opposition. These questions are tough to answer. You don't want to tell the opposition exactly what they are. I know they're good coaches and they can see. But I don't want to help the along the way. But clearly the playcalling, the actual structure of defense, the personnel groupings -- that is all dictated by our depth. If we do have to protect a certain area, I don't think there's any question about that. We're not a defense right now that can line up -- they play schemes too. We can't just line up let 'em loose. We're not that kind of unit right now. We have to build and hopefully we'll continue to make progress."
Q: You have to play your first three conference games on the road how do you feel about that?
A: "I'm responsible for coaching the team and getting them ready to play. You have to play them home or away. We have to develop a no excuse mentality around here. That's one of the issues. We have to get to the point where we're not making excuses no matter where we are or who we play or what time we play. That's the way the conference designed it. Discussing it or being upset about it, none of that isn't going to help us get ready for Saturday.
Q: Did Virginia Tech passing as much as they did surprise you?
A: "I don't know if it was a surprise. I think going into the game we wanted to stop the running back and the running game. We were doing that early on. I can't remember what Davis' numbers were at the half. Now, we didn't stop him, but we had him in check at the half. I think he was in the 60s or low 50s, I'm not sure. We just gave up too many explosive plays. That's part of the issue right now. We're giving up deep ones. We score a touchdown to take the lead. We kick out of bounds. Next play they score. You just can't win doing that. Again, we get in an environment like that Saturday, get nine penalties. I can't tell you how disappointing that is -- that we're still getting selfish penalties in a game like that. It's bothersome for sure."
Q: How much did Seantrel Henderson play and are you hoping to get more playing time from him at North Carolina
A: "We're hoping he'll get more. The problem is [Jonathan] Feliciano has something to say about that. That's the deal. Feliciano, just like B-Wash at left tackle, B-Wash is kind of boxing out [Malcolm] Bunche. If Bunche wants to play more he's going to have to beat him out in practice. Clearly, that's the same situation over there. Feliciano is grading out well. If Seantrel wants to beat him out he's going to have to beat him out in practice to get more reps. Seantrel played 24 reps in the game and did a good job. He's making progress. We know he's got to keep his weight down. Now you're talking two full weeks of football practice, now this will be his third. Hopefully he'll continue to make progress. He brings energy. He has all the tools. He just has to get to the point where he shows he can beat out Feliciano or show he's one of the best five. The hard part is Linder, Horn and Gunn are playing so well there's just not enough room to move inside. Those guys are doing so great, they're grading over 90 a game."
Q: Henderson did help Saturday didn't he on a big third down conversion near the goalline?
A: "I don't think there's any question he brings energy to the game. He loves the game. It's just hard right now to say he's playing better than Feliciano."
Q: Can you expand on what you meant by the selfish penalties?
A: "The penalties we've had. You're going to have an operational penalty in that environment. I understand that. I would prefer to have none. But if it happens, OK, I get it. 5-yard [illegal] motion, OK. But Seantrel got a personal foul. [Freshman linebacker Gionni] Paul got a personal foul. Ray-Ray Armstrong just got a horrendous penalty on a 3rd and 7. We're going to get the ball back 14-7 at around 40 with a two-minute drill and try to tie it up at the half. Instead, they convert and score. So that was a dagger. Jake's kickoff wasn't selfish, but certainly unacceptable. The next play they score on a 60-yarder. I think three of them are selfish in nature, personal in nature. We have to get them cleaedn up. But I'm real disappointed to go into an environment like that, don't turn the ball over, get 500 yards of offense and something we can control like penalties turns out to be a major factor in the game. That should never be that way. I'm going to continue to work until it gets fixed here."
Q: Lamar Miller is third in the country in rushing yardage. Is he in a zone right now?
A: "I wouldn't call it a zone. The last two weeks he wasn't running like he was running last night when he was running like he was running against Ohio State. Clearly, he's healthier now than he had been the previous two weeks. In fairness to the kid and appreciation for what the kid really worked through, he was really struggling with that shoulder for a couple weeks there. And he fought through it. I'm proud of him. He and Michael [James] were running the way they're capable of running. And that's what we're going to need here the rest of the season. We're going to need that type of running. Clearly, Eduardo is carving out a little niche for himself. That's what we need. I think Lamar really ran hard. He really finished his runs and so did Michael. And I think the offensive line was finishing better."
Q: Is the offense just going to have to carry the load moving forward?
A: "I don't think there's any question. We're all watching the same game. We're trying to do everything right now on defense. We've had multiple defense lineups. But we've got to stay healthy. We got to get some guys back. I don't know if at any point if we'll get guys back. Hopefully we'll get Ojomo back. And a week from now we'll get Vernon back. Hopefully we'll get to the point where Chickillio, Perryman and some of those other young guys are no longer playing like freshmen.
Q: You said it was an emotional halftime, what happened?
A: "I thought we were very calm at the half. There was a lot of good teaching going on. I think the one thing these kids are going to learn about our staff is we try to be consistent, we try to be the same guys -- no matter what. That's what we have to learn as an organization. Even at the three minute mark when we go ahead. We don't know how many times those last three minutes the ball is going to exchange hands. We just have to prepare to be a team that keeps working in a two minute situation or a four minute situation. We did that initially at the half. I said a few words and then a couple guys stepped up that hadn't stepped up. We left the room. I thought it was critical for guys to get out of their comfort zone and clearly they did that. They thought they were going to win and they believed in each other."