Joe Rose of WQAM had great interview this morning with UM football coach Al Golden. Plenty of information below, taken from interview, courtesy of WQAM.
Al GOLDEN THIS MORNING:
“We were all just thrilled with the effort given Friday night – we were fired up – and then obviously deflated a little bit with the injury of Ryan Williams. Disappointed for the young man, but he’s going to fight back.
“He’s in great spirits, not a lot of swelling, so that’s going to help his recovery time. We’ve got a chance to have some other guys step up, including Kevin Olsen, and move this thing forward.
“We were fairly confident because as a staff we stayed here and watched it Friday night. There was no swing of the knee, there was nothing that was like, ‘Whoa, boy! We’re in trouble.’ We were confident that he was going to be OK.
“It was just one of those freak deals. He was running. So, you don’t know why it happens. I feel badly even talking about it.
“As a team, He’s got a lot of support. He’s a class act. He’s going to continue to lead, but now he’s going to need our help, as opposed to the guy who is always helping everybody else. Because as everybody who has been through rehab knows, there are moments of denial, there are moments of isolation and we can’t let that happen. We’ve got to let him continue to lead and be there for him and at the same time I know he’s going to do the same for us, because he’s as tough as they come and a class act.
“We’ll get him back and get him going as soon as possible.’’
ANY IDEA OF A TIME FRAME FOR GETTING RYAN BACK?
“The only thing I know right now is what Dr. [Lee] Kaplan shared with us and the fact that there’s no swelling is a great sign in terms of the recovery. Clearly if it remains that way they’ll be able to do the surgery immediately. If there’s any silver lining it’s that.
“Kevin Olsen came in and did a really good job. We were really pleased with his effort. The guys rallied around him and he came up with a big night Friday night to finish the scrimmage."
WAS THE COMPETITION CLOSE OR WAS RYAN THE CLEAR CUT NO. 1 IN YOUR EYES?
"Ryan was clear cut. Ryan was the starter, there’s no question. But was Kevin gaining ground? Was Kevin improving? Yeah. I think everybody in the building could see that.
"Even before we knew the diagnosis of Ryan on Saturday, everybody left with a really good feeling for what Kevin could do by the way he conducted the second half of that scrimmage and led the two-minute drive.
"Kevin has been doing a lot better. His preparation is better, his process is better and it’s allowing him to play. We’re starting to see his personality on the field, which is important. At some point you’ve got to get to that time in the game or that place in his mind where you can just go play and Kevin is getting there now so that’s good."
On incoming [four-star] freshman Brad Kaaya. Does this change your mindset for a true-freshman quarterback who is so far behind but has physical talent?
GOLDEN: “No. 1, the two young people who are here – Kevin Olsen and Gray Crow – they’re going to get a great opportunity here in the next three days and they’re gong to continue to improve and clearly they’ll have the upper hand because they’ll be able to work on site with our receivers. But [fellow incoming freshman QB Malik] Rosier and Kaaya coming in, they have to step up their game too. We really don’t know what the diagnosis is right now. But as a team, we’re at the point right now where Duke Johnson is going to have to step up and lead, and Clive Walford is going to have to step up and lead and Herb Waters, and Stacy Coley has been leading and Phillip Dorsett is going to have to step. We’re going to have to have some guys step up and rally.
“We’re not a throw it 60-time game operation. We’re going to have to fit any of those guys I mentioned and clearly there’s going to be a competition if in fact Ryan is going to be out. We’re going to have to see what that brings. But right now Kevin and Gray will be running the show and competing and we’ll see where it goes."
MORE NEWS FROM GOLDEN FROM THE INTERVIEW:
*** "[WR] Rashawn Scott has probably made the biggest difference this spring. He’s changed the whole dynamic. Everyone has stepped up their game there."
*** [WR] Malcolm Lewis, on Friday night, that was the best we’ve seen Malcolm probably since his freshman year. He just was never 100 percent. He had five catches for 103 yards the other night.
*** Both RBs [Joe] Yearby and Duke [Johnson] will be taking snaps in controlled settings this week, those guys plus Gus [Edwards] and [Walter] Tuck[er] give us an opportunity to make our defense better by moving Dallas [Crawford to safety.] If we didn’t feel better about that running back group than we wouldn’t have moved Dallas. Whoever is the quarterback on opening night is going to have guys around him to get the ball to."
Golden stressed that Yearby and Johnson will get “individual drills, teach periods, walk throughs, things where we can get them locked in to their aim points or their assignments on pass routes and protections. Everything I’m hearing is that they’re doing great. We’ll get them out there and of course we’ll protect them.
“I see both of these guys running full speed and being back way before that. I’m guessing May, if not the end of this month.’’
Golden said “if you haven’t seen Duke Johnson you are going to be blown away by him – 205, 206 pounds. He has really turned a negative into a positive, changed his body. He has an edge about him, can’t wait to come back.’’
*** Who has impressed you on defense from start to finish during spring?
"The guys who jump out the most for me is the safety play. The safety play has changed dramatically this spring. [Deon] Bush is completely healthy and playing with more confidence, [Jamal] Carter clearly is not a freshman anymore and doing a great job. And Dallas brings a toughness, that blue-collar mentality, that work ethic, don’t back down to anybody – so that position has changed and really those three jump out as guys that are competing everybody. They’re getting better and they’re making us better."
Defensive tackle [Ufomba] Kamalu is another young man who is really making progess… But probably the most consistent guy is linebacker [Raphael] Kirby. Kirby has really had a good spring for us and we needed that. Kirby, Armbrister, Figueroa, those guys at linebacker have been more consistent. They’re bigger.. we’re getting stronger."
Also, "[CB] Artie Burns has really come on as late now that he’s back in the groove."
NEWS ON SPRING GAME, WHICH IS REALLY NOT A GAME THIS YEAR, GOLDEN EXPLAINED..
GOLDEN: "No. 1, which is going to be a departure, it’s just going to be offense vs. defense. Because of some injuries, we really don’t have the opportunity to go an orange squad or white squad. It’s going to be just offense vs. defense. We’ll start out with some one on ones.. then seven on sevens… then put the ball in various spots.. backed up or goal line or a couple shots from every area of the field.. We’ll have a couple cameras on some players. It should be fun."
On Seantrel Henderson’s UM Pro Timing Day: “I don’t think that was a fair representation, because he did finish. He did dehydrate. I don’t know if he got sick but he did come back and finish the workout. He just needed to step out and get some Gatorade and then he came back.
“No. 2, Seantrel toward the end of his career was playing his best football, was playing his most consistent football. I’d tell [NFL teams] that he’s a guy that needs structure, that he needs to continue to be part of the process but he has come a long way. He was 388 poiunds when he got here, he’s 331 now. He’s made a different commitment to his body.
“There is room for him to grow. He can still improve in terms of his football intelligence, his technique, all of those things. …Sometimes people say, ‘Is he the type of guy that will divide a locker room?’ That is not Seantrel. Seantrel is not a divisive figure, at all. In fact, he’s a lovable kid. People like him. He’s had some hiccups, but clearly those are things that he’s addressed and has been open and honest about. I just hope he gets the chance to move forward now and really get focused in, get in somewhere where he has structure, where he has leadership and where he’s around some veterans who will take him under their wing and take him ultimately where he wants to go as a person and player."
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN