After reviewing film of his team's 30-24 win at North Carolina Saturday, UM coach Al Golden spoke with reporters for nearly 15 minutes Sunday. Here's the Q&A:
Q: You won your first ACC game, but Georgia Tech lost and now everybody in the Coastal Division has an ACC loss. You can get right back into the division race with a win this week. You talk about that with the coaches or players?
A: "For us right now, it's about taking care of what we have to take care of. I can't really worry about anybody else. For us, we're just trying to teach them consistency, trying to teach them a process that they can rely on no matter what. That's paramount for us right now."
Q: Are you concerned at all about facing Georgia Tech after a loss? They could be an angry team.
A: "An angry team? We're 3-3. I hope we're angry. I hope the kids are angry that we're 3-3. We have enough to worry about. We can't worry about what's going on with the other team before we play them. Again, it speaks to -- every time I have to answer these questions -- what kind of swirls around this program. Right now, we have to get our kids focused on the process and executing everyday and let the product take care of itself."
Q: After watching the film did you see anything as to why there was a lack of a consistent running game in second half?
A: "Like I said after the game, you have to give North Carolina a lot of credit. I think they're an excellent defensive team. Certainly their front seven was excellent and played that well. It was by design early in the game that we passed as much as we did. To their credit, when we tried to go back to the run we couldn't. By virtue of not being able to do that, we enlongated the game. To me, it was a couple plays where a guy was getting beat that type of thing. The individual matchups were difficult for some guys. A guy getting beat here, a guy getting beat then, we didn't run as hard as we needed to run. Overall, I give North Carolina a lot of credit."
Q: Any improvement on defense? There was obviously breakdowns at the end, but what were your thoughts on the overall performance? Progress?
A: "Yeah. Clearly. I think we got two takeaways -- one on a kick cover team and the other, which was really big. I think that was positive. I think we didn't really let up a lot of explosive plays until the end when we gave up the long pass that got them going there in the last minute in a half. So that was good. I think there's more guys that are executing and on the same page than weeks before, which was great. No question I saw a lot of progress. I thought we ran to the ball well and played physically against a very physical team."
Q: Did you come out good as far as injuries?
A: "So far so good. Again, we won't know until we actually get the pads on and see where we're at on Tuesday. But so far so good."
Q: Did you faced any of the triple option when you were at Temple or what Georgia Tech runs?
A: "We faced a guy named Paul Johnson when we we're at Temple. He's the best at it. We faced Navy and or Army every year. One year we played both of them. Again, with a different style of defense than we have here now. We have to take our personnel here and construct a game plan that is going to fit to our personnel and our style. I think the thing that is great about Coach Johnson is he's always evolving with his offense. It's a great challenge for us. We don't have a lot of time to get ready for it. So our guys have to get on the horse tomorrow morning."
Q: North Carolina coach Everett Withers said he spent time in spring and fall camp preparing his team for option offenses like Georgia Tech. Did you do any of that?
A: "Option defense is always part of our installations in summer camp and in spring. But in terms of just playing against full blown Georgia Tech, or trying to defend Georgia Tech, being that we were just installing our defense and those type of things the first year it was a little difficult. But certainly, we covered it in both spring and in summer."
Q: Olivier Vernon will be back this week. What do you expect from him and what kind of role do you think he will play?
A: "I don't know. We're going to see. He's been out for two months. He hasn't been part of our defensive practices for eight weeks total. We've learned as kids come back it's been a difficult transition for them. We learned from the previous guys that have come back. This is not like coming in and working where you rush the passer 65-70 times in game. This is a difficult week for him to come back. It's going to be a great challenge for him to get ready and prepared. We need disciplined football from everybody. For a guy who hasn't played much, it's going to be a great challenge for him. We're going to try and get him going, get him acclimated and get him out there and see how well he responds Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday."
Q: Travis Benjamin has been getting a lot of touches -- wild cat, reverses, punt returns, kickoffs, receiving -- and responding well.
A: "I think he's responding. I think he's in good shape. I just wish we did a good job for him on kick returns and punt returns. We really aren't doing a good job as a staff or as a unit on kick returns and punt returns. That starts with me and ends with me. We're going to have to get it fixed. I think Jedd is doing a good job getting him the ball. Give a lot of credit to the young man. He's working incredibly hard right now at his conditioning. He's shown he can take a hit and carry the load as a ball carrier and as a receiver. We're proud of the way he's working."
Q: Any reason for the lack of scoring in the second half?
"There's a couple plays here and there where we just didn't execute. Again, you have to be careful not taking away anything from what North Carolina did. North Carolina was exactly what we thought they were coming into the game. But we didn't execute the way we wanted to execute. We left a couple plays there, either yards or points on the board. Clearly the holding call coming out of our end was critical. It was a very costly error. And I there were just a couple blocks we missed where we could have had something big going on. Again, we have to get better. We're not a finished product yet. That's the good news right now. As a team, we're still growing, still evolving, still getting better. So, we just have to get back to work here on offense."
Q: Can you tell us what happened on the onside kick late in the game?
A: "There was no miscommunication. We just didn't execute. Period. That's something we work every week. That's something we've worked ever since I've been here. I'm really disappointed. The breakdown wasn't just one guy. It was two or three guys. It's disappointing we didn't perform better in that situation. I think some guys were kind of in shock. We just have to get them to have poise and execute in that part of the game."
Q: Was Lamar Miller dinged up at all in the game or was it a matter of their defense shutting him down?
A: "They played really good defense. We didn't block as well as we could have, or as well as we should moving forward. Also, it was a function of early on of taking what we could. I like to get Lamar 100 yards every game. But if we can get 27 points in the first half, I'd rather get 27 points. We were executing, taking what they were giving us and converting on. It's hard to go back and second guess, 'Say man we should have run the ball more.' I certainly did not think when we did want to go to the run in the situation we had to, we didn't execute the way we wanted to or are accustomed to. Give North Carolina credit. We have to get better still."
Q: Dalton Botts struggled with his punts.
A: "He shortened his swing, came across his body a little bit. H's just got to stay in his rhythm. He has to relax right now and just get back to being aggressive, being in a rhythm, being in his swing and not worry about it as much. That was uncharacteristic of him. Hopefully he'll go back to doing what we need him to do. In general, our special teams were anything but special."