With his team on a three-game losing skid and his defense in the midst of one of the worst runs in school history, UM coach Al Golden continued to face questions Tuesday about defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, his scheme and the basic philosophy behind it.
Once again, Golden reiterated he signs off on everything the defense does.
"I'm going to keep saying it, that I'm involved in every aspect of football here at the University of Miami," Golden said. "I'm responsible for it all. Right now we're not playing well enough collectively. Again we had some good performances the other night. I indicated those to you the other night on Sunday. But really collectively it's not good enough and I'm responsible for it."
What exactly is the philosophy behind this 3-4 scheme? And why does it seem like players are reading and reacting instead of being aggressive?
"There's never a day where we ever talk about read and react. That's not even a mention," Golden said. "Depending where you are on a defense you have a key and have to respond. That's defense. We want to be a 3-4 because a 3-4 lets you get more speed at linebacker, get in and out of over and under fronts. It allows you to play with four down or go to an odd front, allows you to have speed, allows you to attack more. Interceptions are up, takeaways are up, sacks are up. All that's up, but it's not good enough. So we have to continue to build it. We have to continue to build our depth, continue to develop kids. Obviously we want to attack, want to be a dynamic defense, a defense that can fly around and disrupt the passer and get tackles for loss. Otherwise you don't want to be in that configuration. Again, it hasn't been good enough. I want to own the fact it hasn't been good enough the last couple of weeks."
Why did Golden choose this style of defense?
"Because we didn't have a million defensive linemen," Golden said. "We didn't have 16 defensive linemen. For the real big guys, the noses, you only needed a couple of those. [Curtis] Porter, Earl Moore, we had to bring [Justin] Renfrow in to have enough to go through the season. We didn't have the depth on the defensive line. We had more linebackers, more guys like [Tyriq] McCord that were a hybrid guy. I think it was the best decision for us coming into this season and we'll continue to personnel it. But we're going to have to continue to improve and continue to build depth and move forward."
How important is scheme in relation to execution?
"At the end of the day you summed up any coordinator or any entity. You lay out what the philosophy is, what you're trying to execute and ultimately it comes down to the execution of it," Golden said. "It comes down to whether or not we're carrying out everything we need to do in those positions. The problem with our defense is you can get exposed if there's nine or 10 guys doing it right one play and one guys is not. No. 2 when you have issues you weaken other areas by trying to fix those. I don't think there's any question in my career I've seen just about every defense, been a part of a staff of any defense that you can have. Ultimately it comes down to the execution of what you're trying to get done on any single play. That's it at the end of the day. There's a million different things we can call. We look at that every day. We're evaluating that, we're evaluating our personnel, making sure we putting guys in position to execute and get their talent in the game."
Have you seen a difference in run defense in the 3-4 compared to the 4-3?
"I think we had more success early in the year by continuing to be multiple, by lining up in both, by pressuring out of both, and we'll continue to do that," Golden said. "We need more tackles for losses, more sacks. And we need more takeaways. All three of those can be tied together. We need that kind of output to return."
NEWS AND NOTES
> Golden said there will be personnel changes this week, but he didn't want to delve deeper into than what UM released in its depth chart late Sunday night.
He did say senior Justin Renfrow would play more at end so Curtis Porter and Earl Moore see more time at tackle. Golden also said sophomore Tyriq McCord has played well at strongside linebacker the past couple weeks.
"[Freshman] Corn Elder is on the depth chart now. He is going to get more reps," Golden said. "[Freshman] Jamal Carter got a lot of reps today. Some of those guys are earning reps and doing a good job in the roles that we're giving them. We'll see if they can't add spark us or add something to it.
Is Golden going younger on purpose to get those players more experience? He stayed away from saying that -- or upsetting his seniors.
"It has nothing to do with their age," Golden said. "The one thing I want everybody to know -- we're going to support the seniors through this. Because we lost a couple of games I'm not going to turn my back on the seniors that really stood with us through all this tumult. I'm not going to do it.
"But certain kids I mentioned, Jamal [Carter], [Al-Quadin] Muhammad, [Ufomba] Kamalu, Corn Elder, they're earning reps. And they're earning reps because they're producing. It's just like Stacy [Coley]. Stacy is producing on kick and punt returns so now he's going to earn more reps. It's not that were taking any reps from any seniors. Some of these guys have earned reps and we're going to give them an opportunity."
> Golden said if the Hurricanes played Wednesday receiver Phillip Dorsett would be listed as doubtful.
"We have to be careful not to go too fast," Golden said. "If he's not ready to go we're going to have to continue to have Rashawn [Scott] and Stacy [Coley] and Herb [Waters] and those guys step up and chase the rabbit - the rabbit right now is Allen Hurns, he's doing a great job for us."
As for the other players battling injuries: "[Offensive lineman] Danny [Isidora], it's positive he's in yellow. Stacy [Coley] has already been integrated, will be clear. Corn [Elder] is moving forward. Artie we had to protect today. We'll know more about Artie [Wednesday] and Phillip [Thursday]. [Receiver] Herb [Waters] was fine. We were on our seventh returner in the game, lost our returners, needed guys to step up and they did."
> What has Golden seen out of freshman quarterback Kevin Olsen?
"He's starting to understand," he said. "Every opportunity he's in the film room he needs to listen, learn, take notes. Every time we're in a team meeting, go in that environment on the road, he has to learn. He has to learn to give him the best chance to compete with Ryan [Williams]. We have a smart team, know where to go with the football. Ryan and Stephen [Morris], very fortunate they can talk football the way they talk. They watch film, have ideas and reasons why they're doing it. We need Kevin to develop into that as well. Our biggest concern with Kevin was adhering to a process and learning how to do it. Because at the end of the day, playing quarterback, that process has to be second nature."