Al Golden spoke to WQAM's Joe Rose early Monday morning. We did not get him yesterday in his ususal day-after-game teleconference because of a "medical emergency'' in his family, according to a written statement by UM last night.
We will talk to Al later this morning.
Here's an update on freshman defensive end Chad Thomas, who was seen on the sidelines of the Booker T. Washington High game Friday night, and didn't travel with the team because of what UM previously said was muscle spasms.
GOLDEN: "Chad on Thursday had acute back spasms. He couldn’t even stand up right. We took him to the doctor on Thursday and it was an issue with his back. We wanted to see if we could get him to the point where he could relax and function on Friday. So he was a late scratch at about 12 noon on Friday. Doctors didn’t think the six hours on an airplane back and forth was going to help him in the long run. They treated him through the weekend here and it sounds like he’ll be ready to go when we practice tomorrow. It’s not a long-term issue. If anybody is reading into it, that’s absolutely wrong. Chad is a leader, he’s been a model player for us. We obviously needed him. We did not have the depth we needed for as long as we were on the field the other night. Hopefully we’ll get Chad back this week."
ROSE:...How do you learn how to win games and not make mistakes?
"I thought we were right there. I thought we were right on the cusp. There are a lot of things we’ve got to fix. We’re not perfect and we are far from where we need to be but there are a lot of things we can learn from going into that environment and that’s what I don’t want to get lost in that negativity because we did lose, so no one likes to lose, but what I don’t want the team to lose is the preparation, the intensity, how hard they fought, the confidence they had going into the game. You as a coach, you could feel it on the sideline. Two years ago, when a lot of these guys were young and just starting off we go into Notre Dame and you could kind of feel they weren’t... the game was a little different. This one, there was no doubt we were going to win the game.
"So, we didn’t play well enough in certain aspects. But I don’t want to throw it all out. I want to make sure the guys learn that they were right there, they loved the environment, I can honestly that, that they relished it, they were flying around, they were excited about being in that environment. We’ve just got to play better in all three phases to win a game like that. It’s hard to win on the road in that environment with three turnovers. ..we just needed one more takeaway, one more explosive play on special teams or something like that – a sack-fumble, anything like that, or to protect the ball one more time and maybe it’s a different story."
ROSE: Is it hard, your patience, as far as how long it’s taken because, let’s face it, Canes are used to winning down here.. a lot of people are all fired up?
GOLDEN: "That’s what makes the place great, so I appreciate that. But at the end of the day we’ve got a job to do, and our job is to get this thing… Look, we’ve never won the ACC. Now we’re entering ACC play. Forget about Coastal Play, forget about what’s transpired. Let’s learn what we can learn from it. We’ve got to turn the page quickly. From our standpoint – from our players’ standpoint; I’m not talking about the fans. The fans can say whatever they want. But from our players’ standpoint, being negative, or dwelling on the past and not learning, that’s the stuff that’s going to prevent us from playing well this week. So we’ve just got to do what we need to do this week to play well, take it one game at a time now and just settle in. It’s going to be a long road here."
ROSE: ...You gave up 343 yards... did you think about trying to put more people up and force them to throw the ball. Did you make the adjustments?
GOLDEN: “Nobody’s happy after that performance, and it starts with me. Obviously [RB Ameer Abdullah] is a good player. We never got them off track. [QB Tommy] Armstrong did enough passing and had some explosive plays. Armstrong is a good runner. You’ve got to treat it like the option. We did not do a good job of getting them any losses. So we didn’t have any sacks and if we had any types of a loss they were minimal.
"In terms of our first or second-down breakdown I think we were 55-percent pressure. When you play a team like this, when they do spread you out, pressure, a lot of times they just kick the ball out and now you’re playing in space with less guys. So, there has got to be that mix, and clearly it wasn’t good enough. I’m answering your questions. I’m not making excuses. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. We did not do a good enough job on defense. Our tackling wasn’t what it needed to be. We didn’t stop the run. The money downs killed us, it left us on the field too long. And that helped Nebraska in terms of our tackling deterioration."
Rose asked about UM's D-line:
GOLDEN: "We’ve got to do better. There’s no excuse."
Golden talked about how the three-and-outs on offense hurt them, because Nebraska had the ball “for what seemed like for an eternity’’ in second and third quarters.” Golden talked about Nebraska’s long, extended drives. “The reality is the defense did not get off the field on third downs, which just left us on the field too long….”
Then the coach pointed out that in one of the long drives there was only two third-down situations.
“We didn’t get enough losses and we didn’t tackle well enough.’’
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN