Andrea Adelson had a chance to sit down with Miami coach Al Golden during a recent visit to Coral Gables. Here is a little of what he had to say.
I know depth is an area of concern. How are you working to address that this spring?
Al Golden: Any time you’re bringing in a class of 33, that’s three starting units. Obviously, those guys are going to have an impact somewhere on your depth. You never want to have a year where you take six receivers or seven defensive backs, but the symmetry at those positions was not good. It was not vertical depth. It wasn’t fifth-year seniors, fourth-year seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, then incoming guys. It didn’t exist. So that was a blanket approach of trying to bring in a lot of guys to fix a depth issue. Between the depth and those guys challenging for playing time as starters, that’s going to improve our team. I’m not worried about playing young guys. We’ll find a way to get them in a game if they’re talented and they learn it and they’re in good condition. I don’t care whether they’re freshmen or seniors, I just need guys who want to execute.
You lost some senior leaders. How is that aspect of your team developing?
AG: So far it’s been good. Mike James and Eduardo Clements at running back, Stephen Morris at quarterback. (Brandon) Linder on the offensive line has been very good. David Perry at tight end has been a nice surprise for us. Allen Hurns at wideout has done a nice job with the leadership. Defensively, (Ramon) Buchanan will be a leader for us, Ray Armstrong will be a leader for us, Jimmy Gaines has been and will be a leader for us. It’s been positive in terms of that. We just have to continue to develop leaders and give them opportunities to lead.
How about some questions that have been answered about your defense so far?
AG: I think the one thing that jumped out in the (first scrimmage) is we had a lot of linebackers that played physical. So that part of it was good. Even the young guys, [Raphael] Kirby was physical, Gionni Paul was physical, Denzel [Perryman] was physical on top of [Tyrone] Cornileus and Jimmy Gaines and those guys. Seeing that was good. We tackled a lot better in Scrimmage 1 this year than Scrimmage 1 a year ago, which was important, and we’re still trying to develop our depth on the defensive line and at cornerback. Those are two positions we need to bolster this spring.
Speaking of the defensive line, you don't have many players with starts or experience. What do you want to see out of that group this spring?
AG: I want to see, like Curtis Porter, I’d like to see him take his game to the next level. Darius Smith has got to continue to improve. Then we’re going to have a host of other guys at the defensive tackle position that need to compete and improve their game. At defensive end, Shayon Green’s had a good spring for us so far, and really at defensive end, we’re going to have in addition to what we have right now, we’re going to have three defensive ends coming in that are going to have to compete for starting jobs and also add depth.
Right now, do you have any idea of what team you will have in the fall?
AG: We have a long way to go. I just think before these other 23 players come in, because 10 are here now, you have to assess where you are at every position and see how they come out of it. We have a long way to go to get through spring ball, and then from April 14 until Aug. 5 there’s a great opportunity for them to grow and develop. It’s too early to assess where we are right now as a team.
A year into the job, what are your impressions of coaching at Miami, a place where championships are always expected?
AG: We’re not at that level right now. The first order of business when you’re trying to fix something or you’re trying to build something is to recognize where you are and then to not only plot a course but then to follow that path, follow that strategy and execute it. I’m glad the standards are where they are, and I’m glad we produce NFL players, and I’m glad we have so many things to offer young people. It’s the reason why you take the job. But we can’t jump from where we are right now to there without taking all the steps we need to take in between. We’re just trying to implement our schemes and our system and follow the process on a daily basis.