Here's what I transcribed from this evening's teleconference with Al Golden going into Florida State week:
One thing we didn’t touch on yesterday is how much you’ve learned and followed about the Penn State situation in the last 48 hours? I was just curious just to learn your reaction to that story and some of the people’s names that are in it.
“Just shocked and disheartened, but other than that I really don’t know much about it or what’s going on. But just the news that I did learn I was shocked and disheartened just like so many others, I’m sure.’’
I know you have a big game to prepare for, and that takes up much of your time. But is this one of those times where you sort of will find time to follow this a little bit more than maybe you would some other outside stories this week. I know it’s Florida State week and it’s a big week and you’ve got enough to do, but is this a story that you will find time to stay up to date on because you know so many of the principals involved?
“I think you know me well enough to know that I’m just focused on what we’re doing here. I got home last night at about 9 O’Clock last night and I was in here about 6:30 this morning. So, I don’t really have time to worry about anything else other than Florida State. This is as big as it gets in college football. I really can’t split my time."
How much more of a big deal is it to beat a storied program like that, when it is such a huge program like that on the other side? How much more does it add?
"I don’t know how much you could possibly add any more to this rivalry than what it has become over the yrs. This is one of those deals that is kind of self-explanatory. I don’t think either side needs to talk much about it. I’m sure we’re both just going to be focused on what we need to do in this game. Because I think the kids and everybody associated with both programs understand what it’s all about."
Given that so many kids usually know each other or have grown up together or have played together, is this the type of game that you have to work extra hard to not let get in the way of your focus – or your process so to speak?
"To me what’s going to be publicized or in the media and all those different angles or sound bytes that come with a game like this is really immaterial to me. For us and especially for our student-athletes, we’re trying to teach them the process and we’re trying to teach them to be consistent and we haven’t done that really for consecutive games. That’s the challenge this week and clearly there’s no better way to challenge your team and test your team on whether or not they believe in that process, than Florida State week. From that standpoint I’m fine with it."
They talk to their friends from FSU or they text and they have little whatever it is they have going on back and forth. Would you rather them not?
"I hope they don’t have anything going on like that. Nothing has been brought to my attention. I hope that’s not going on."
Seantrel said after the game that this was one of his most studied weeks and he talked about the process and said he studied and really got prepared the best he’s ever done. Did you see him doing that? And other players who are starting to buy in more?
"There’s no question Seantrel did make that commitment this week and I’m glad he said that because I think even he recognizes he wasn’t preparing or studying to the degree he needed to. But I think that’s the floor for Seantrel, not the ceiling. That’s the starting point."
Anyone else mimicking him in the process?
"I don’t think there’s any question. The biggest point there is the guys who have bought in the most are having the most success right now, whether it’s Jake Wieclaw or Tommy Streeter or Jacory or JoJo Nicolas or Sean Spence. The guys that have bought in the most are having the most success right now. They really are. I don’t think there’s any question that Malcolm Bunche improved in that category this week and Dyron Dye and David Perry. Certainly other guys. Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque have been doing a better job there. So we’re making a lot of progress there.’’
On Jacory, he actually has a better quarterback efficiency rating than Andrew luck over his last six games. Any part of what he’s done since the second half of the Kansas State game been a surprise you?
"No it really hasn’t to be honest with you. I think he’s been locked in since January. I think he was a man on a mission. He’s a very bright young man, he’s talented. He has learned to trust not just the coaches but his teammates and himself. Right now he’s having success by raising the game of everybody around him. He distributed the ball beautifully yesterday. You guys would know the facts but it seems to me there were more people who touched the ball than any game so far, especially in the first half. I think he’s doing a really good job. He’s making good decisions with the football and I’m real proud of him. He’s doing a great job."
He had a great game the last time they played in Tallahassee. He led a fourth-quarter comeback to lead UM to victory. Does that play any role come Saturday?
"No. I don’t think. I don’t think he’s the type of young man that gets flustered. He’s got poise and we’re going to need that certainly in this environment. Certainly he can draw from being in a loud stadium and having been up there before but different teams, different systems and so many things have changed since then. I think it’s just a function of him going out and continuing to do what he’s doing. Right now he’s honoring the process every day. He has bought in. He spent a lot of time studying, he’s prepared and he’s making quick decisions on the field."
Did Seantrel play well enough to keep that starting job?
"He played pretty good. He didn’t play great but he played pretty good and he’s improving. He’s getting better. I was kind of joking with him after the game, I said, ‘Preseason is over now.’ It looked to me like he played a lot of snaps. He went from a guy playing in the teens to all of a sudden playing 60 snaps. I know Feliciano is going to be as close to 100 percent as he’ll be the rest of the year come Monday morning so clearly he was a young man who was playing really well before he got injured, so we’ll see how that works and how we want to orchestrate the offensive line. But clearly Seantrel is improving and Feliciano had played well up until his victory."
At least two or three times you guys have won the coin toss and elected to receive? Your thinking on that?
"There are so many things that go into it, in addition to the weather. It’s the opponent and how the opponent tries to operate and what they’re trying to do and also what we’re trying to get done. I don’t want it to be overplayed. Sometimes it’s just a hunch. You’ve got to go with your gut and how you feel and based on what the other team is doing and whether or not you believe you can either score or pin the other team deep. You better if you take the ball. You can’t be three-and-out. So that’s what it’s a function of."
Is there an update on Jordan Futch and Tommy Streeter's status?
"I just can’t chase all these down. Tommy Streeter has been in a walking boot since last Wednesday. He seemed to do all right in the game. And then Futch, I don’t know what his status is. He’s a guy who got treatment today. I don’t think we’ll need any additional X-rays. Hopefully he’ll be ready. We’ll learn more as the week evolves."
Talk about offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and the innovation he’s brought to the offense recently and his ability to use everybody on offense and the weapons you have?
"Obviously Jedd, to some degree – most certainly the defensive side – but Jedd to a certain degree, and the growth and maybe the development of the offense was stunted a little bit by the events of late August. I don’t think there’s any question about that. We really didn’t play any warmup games so every game we were kind of fighting for our life right from the beginning. And then we had a bye week. So we really didn’t have three or four games of let’s see where we’re at and then a bye week and then let’s add some things. So we’ve been kind of running right out of the chute because so many guys didn’t practice or play in the first game that all we were trying to do with the second game was get them back in the offense and get them going. With the nine days here it gave us an opportunity to add some things."
When you hired him when you took over, I’m going to guess that this was all part of that process of knowing that he would get the job done and get the ball to the playmakers?
"Yeah, I don’t think there’s any question. He’s overqualified. He’s got a tremendous pedigree and has done a great job everywhere he’s been. He came highly recommended. I knew he was going to run a pro system, an NFL system. The thing that I like – because there are a lot of teams that run a pro system – the thing that I like is that it’s really not about Jedd, it’s about getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers. From that standpoint, how can you be disappointned with what he’s done in that capacity?"
You guys are on TV just about every game. When it’s coast-to-coast, when most of the country is going to see your team at 3:30 on Saturday, is that still a big deal given the fact that so many teams are on TV so often?
" I think it’s a big deal. Obviously it’s a great opportunity to represent your program and your university. I don’t think there’s any question, especially when you have a chance to be a national game. I think that’s great for our program and obviously a great opportunity for both universities in this case. And it should be. It’s that type of game. It’s clearly one of the greatest rivalries in sport and I’m just really excited to be a part of it for the first time."
Is this one of those games where you’ve gotten the sense that no matter what you do, you beat Florida State, is this on par with Auburn-Alabama, Michigan State-Ohio State. Have you gotten the sense from people down here that this means as much as any game you play?
"I don’t think there’s any question that this is that game. There are maybe a few that have rivaled the intensity and what it has meant from a national implication standpoint and of course the breadth and depth in talent that has been represented in this gamee over the past quarter centerury. The mantle has been passed and it’s our job to carry it and move the program forward. It should be a great game and a great atmosphere and a great challenge for our program."
Florida State is very strong on defense. Can you talk about that?
"Because it’s Sunday, we just wrapped up all three of our phases and started on their special teams and their offense but we’ll have a better idea. What I don’t want to do is start saying things and not be ready to back it up."
--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN