Below is exactly what Al Golden said after Saturday's first bowl practice in three years. He'll be out recruiting instead of with the Hurricanes when the bowl announcement is made at about 8:45 tonight. Golden said he regrets not being able to be with his players.
The Canes have another football practice this morning at 11. It's at Cobb Stadium on campus and open to the public. After today's practice, fans can go see the men's basketball team (5-4) take on Virginia Tech (6-3) in UM's first ACC game of the season. The hoops game is at 12:30 p.m. at BankUnited Center.
AL GOLDEN AFTER CANES' FIRST BOWL PRACTICE
"We got a lot done. We were out there for an hour 40 but it was a great tempo. We probably rested 25, 26 guys, so guys who had high play counts we rested and put the pressure on some of the younger guys to step up. I was pleased with the effort, and we’ll come out here tomorrow and get another good one and then we’ll get ready for exams.
Extra significance waiting three years for this one shot?
(Laughing) "Man, it felt great. It was unbelievable. The whole week felt great. I didn’t answer one question about the NCAA. We got a great recruiting group in here today. I didn’t get one guy on the list all week. They just took care of business. I know they’re excited about going to the postseason and growing and learning. All the young guys came out here today. You could see it. They were giving good effort. It was hot, but they gave great effort.
"These two days we’re going to take care a lot of the vets. And next weekend we’re going to get going. Youll see everybody out here starting Friday night at 5 O’Clock. It should really ramp up another couple notches because those guys are two weeks rested."
On practice being open:
"It’s great. Obviously we’ve been waiting for the postseason and there’s really nothing to these. We’re not trying anything new or we’re not hiding anything. No trick plays or anything like that. It’s just about getting better.
"They understand. We’re grateful to the seniors. We’re going to try like heck – I think you see the attitude today. We’re going to try like heck to send them out the first 10-win team in a decade. We’re grateful for all they endured and what they went through to get us to where we are and everybody else had got to carry the torch now, everybody else has to move forward, including the guys on the official visit.
"I don’t think I will be [with the players Sunday night for the bowl announcement] only because the new recruiting calendar has really squeezed us. It’s unfortunate. I would love to be. But it sounds like I’m going to have to be on the road because we’re dead a week from [Sunday]. I would love for them to be together."
How important are these bowl practices for young guys’ development?
"Huge. We haven’t had it. We’re going to be able to look at the film and some guys really stepped up. You guys see it. A catch here. A play there. Somebody has got their mind right for practice. A guy like Alex Gall, man, he had his mind right, we started him. He responded. I thought Taylor Gadbois is the same way. Jermaine Grace made some plays, D'Mauri Jones. It’s just exciting to see some of those guys step up, [such as] Jelani Hamilton."
How is Ladarius Gunter (neck) doing?
"He’s good. He missed some time so we wanted to practice him today. He’s fine."
Have you spent time thinking of bowl opponents?
"Not a second. This is about us getting better right now. We didn’t do anything with them all week. They lifted a little bit so we could maintain some structure. They went to school, they took care of study hall. That’s what it’s about right now. Take care of exams, control what we can control and then when we find out where we’re going we’ll get ready.
Anthony Chickillo is wearing a boot. What's wrong?
"[It's a] little toe deal. We just have to be careful. I suspect he’ll be out here Friday. Tests were negative there and he should be back soon."
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN