I watched and listened to Al Golden as part of ESPN's "Car Wash'' today, and I was impressed by his answer to Samantha (Steele) Ponder, when she asked him...
"Defensively I know you wanted to make some changes this last year. What are the things you think need to change in order to get the defense where it needs to be?"
"I think the biggest thing was to not change, was just to take all the young kids, the 14 or 15 freshmen we played over there and just to quiet their minds down, settle them down a little bit. I felt different about the defense in the spring – there was a calmness, they were communicating more. And then of course getting [defensive tackle] Curtis Porter back and then giving everybody another year in the weight room.
"[Linebacker] Denzel Perryman grew up on the stage for us, played at 208 and then 212. He’s 243 now. [Linebacker] Jimmy Gaines is 240. [Linebacker] Alex Figueroa is 238. [Defensive end] Anthony Chickillo is another guy who played for us at 45 and 50. He is now 275. So those kids had to grow up and were forced to play before they were ready. Now, they’re settled in, they know the system and we’re excited about who we have coming back on defense."
The Canes ranked 116th (of 120 FBS teams) in total defense last season, allowing an average of 486.4 yards per game. They ranked 112th in rushing defense (217.9 yards allowed per game), 102nd in pass defense (268.5), 105th in tackles-for-loss and 113 in sacks.
We'll see this season if Golden's patience pays off and if the D-linemen get free to attack the quarrterback. That will make all the difference to a team that appears to be offensively gifted.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN