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August 31, 2013

Golden on Duke's injury, struggling passing game and more after season-opening win over FAU

Hurricanes coach Al Golden addressed the health of star running back Duke Johnson, receiver Rashawn Scott and the struggles of Miami's passing game in it's opener.

Here is a transcript of his press conference.

> On team’s overall performance... “I thought we played really hard. I thought Florida Atlantic played incredibly tough. They were very physical, well-coached. I thought their punter was amazing - I thought he changed the field for them all night. As I just said to our guys, give them a lot of credit. Any time you play one of these rival games in the state, that’s what you’re going to get. Give Florida Atlantic a lot of credit – they played hard and they made us earn it. We were overzealous a little bit with some penalties early in the game. We dropped some passes that we hadn’t been dropping. Our timing wasn’t where it needed to be in some instances, but I thought our guys played hard. We didn’t play smart all the time, weren’t as good as we needed to be on third down on offense, but I thought our defense played really, really hard, played physical, and ran to the ball well.”

On the performance of Duke Johnson... “I don’t know what his overall numbers were...I’m guessing 20 touches. That’s kind of what we need him to be, somewhere around there. I thought he did a good job with that. He’s healthy. He cut two guys down on the [Herb Waters run] where we scored. He’s a very unselfish player.”

On his assessment of the team’s passing game... “I didn’t think it was as sharp as we have been, for sure. We were really humming coming into this week in the pass game, and obviously it wasn’t where it needed to be. We need to go back to work. We’ll go back tomorrow, watch it, and we’ll get back on the passing game. We certainly didn’t do a good enough job on third down.”

On managing an excited team playing in its season opener... “All of those things you think about, we don’t think about until it’s the eventuality. We don’t talk about any of that, because all of these first games – they’re hard. We have idea what they were going to do. We saw three different quarterbacks. Opening games are hard – you have no track record to go by, really. I thought they were well-coached, tough as can be, physical. I thought they were excellent on special teams, and I thought their punter gave us a long field all night. As well as Pat [O’Donnell] was hitting the ball, this kid changed the field for them. That was the big difference in the game.”

On nerves affecting the passing game... “That’s something that’s disappointing to me. Monday and Tuesday, I thought we were really sharp in the passing game. It’s a shame. It is. We didn’t look like we had our timing, so we have to get back to work on that. Obviously that was reflective in our third downs – not where we need to be. We need to be on more third and shorts too, we weren’t in enough of them.”

On the play of his team’s pass rush... “We have more depth and we have more guys that can rush the passer now. Certainly Quan [Muhammad] made a difference, I thought [David] Gilbert made a difference. I thought we had more power inside, so I think that helped. We need to get takeaways, but we were physical, we were running to the ball. We made some errors, but I thought we played hard. I really did. We didn’t put the defense in good situations too often, and they battled their way out of it. We need to do a better job on offense on third down - that would really help us in time of possession and help our defense.”

On rotating young players in... “Those guys, there were a lot of freshmen that were redshirting that we were not going to play. Those guys that played, we made the decision in camp that they’re going to help us at some time this year and help us significantly. That’s why we played them. We have to get Stacy [Coley] to forget about this one. He had a tough first quarter – he just has to forget about it and move on. He’s very talented, he just needs to relax and let it come to him. He has worked really hard, but I think he was pressing a little bit. Obviously he and Stan [Dobard] and Gus [Edwards] and Artie [Burns] and Corn Elder and [Jermaine] Grace, and all those guys, they’re all in the mix. They’re all going to be helping us this year.”

On Rashawn Scott’s catch and injury... “It was a great catch. I don’t know what his status is - hopefully not too bad.”

On the performance of Eduardo Clements... "I’m happy for him. We had the first scrimmage, then the second scrimmage, now it’s the first game - these are all baselines, and he’s moving up every time. He’s in better condition. He’s feeling more confident and we’re feeling more confident that he’s ready to go. He has had a great attitude. I’m happy for him that he got going on that.”

On Duke Johnson being issued a concussion test... “That’s our protocol. We follow a strict protocol for anybody that we think is woozy or got their bell rung. We have a great concussion institution, and we have great sideline protocol with Vinny Scavo and Dr. Kaplan. We just do that to make sure that we’re protecting any kids that have any kind of head trauma.”