We had our news conference with Al Golden today.
While the ailing UM defense has gotten back middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, as you know, it has likely lost starting defensive tackle Olsen Pierre for the Notre Dame game. Pierre did not practice Tuesday again. Golden said he was "doubtful'' for Saturday. The coach said Corey King will likely replace Pierre, and freshman Dequan Ivery will be included in the rotation. Ivery has not played yet.
Defensive end Shayon Green (knee) wore a yellow (limited) jersey in practice Tuesday, as did linebackers Jimmy Gaines (ankle) and Perryman (ankle). You've got to figure that UM coach Golden is being cautious and making sure these guys don't get hurt more, or again, leading up to the game. Shayon, I've noticed, has been limping at times on that same right knee on which he's had two reconstructive surgeries. And Jimmy was sidelined Monday with a boot over his left ankle.
UM sophomore Phillip Dorsett has had two breakout games in a row, and the nation has noticed. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation announced Tuesday that Dorsett was one of 11 receivers added to the Biletnikof Award Watch List. Dorsett, who went to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High, leads UM with 28 receptions, 464 receiving yards and three touchdowns through five games. He had a career-high nine catches for 184 yards at Georgia Tech and then outdid that with seven catches for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns against North Carolina State last weekend.
"I honestly didn't even know that,'' Dorsett told me Tuesday. "It's a great honor, obviously. Every receiver wants to be on that list, but I'm focusing on Notre Dame. We've got to go out there and get that W.''
Junior Allen Hurns was on the Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List.
ODDS AND ENDS
*Golden was asked what he thought of neutral site games.
"Well,'' he answered, "I'd prefer it to be neutral.''
*The game Saturday at Soldier Field is technically a neutral site (less than a two-hour drive from South Bend, Indiana), but everyone knows it's a home game for Notre Dame. The Irish will serve as the home team and will have basically the entire stadium rooting for them. (Or at least most of it! The Canes fans will do their best to be heard, I'm sure. They are a devoted bunch when we see them at away games.)
I was told by UM that Canes fans have three separate scattered sections at Soldier Field.
*When Golden was asked about the Canes' second- and third-quarter lulls (UM has scored 47 points in those quarters compared to 125 points in the first and fourth quarters), he said, "I wish I had the answer to that. We're constantly striving for consistency and yet we're inconsistent... Sometimes that just comes with experience.''
SEANTREL TAKING CHARGE
Seantrel Henderson has the edge to start at right tackle, judging by Tuesday's practice.
"If I had to tell you just by observing,'' Golden said, "I would tell you Seantrel was better than [Ereck] Flowers today.''
The Canes now don't have two offensive tackles for this game: Ben Jones, who has an injured foot; and Jermaine Johnson, who is not on the team right now, Golden told us Monday. That will put a lot more pressure on the UM line, which is going against a great defense. They'll need their conditioning to come through Saturday.
*Miami practices tomorrow morning, but Golden has cut off access to the players after today. We usually get them on Wednesdays.
Al Golden wants no excuses about the cold that is expected Saturday in Chicago. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, weather.com had Saturday's nighttime low for Chicago at 37 degrees and the high that day at 51 -- with 20 percent chance of rain and winds at 16 miles an hour.
Keep in mind that the game begins at 6:30 p.m. Chicago time, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
"I hope we're not to the point where we have to all huddle around the heater,'' Golden said. "I hope we're all tough enough to just go out and play.''
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN