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Meet The Press: @GoldenAl Previews FSU

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden met with members of the media Tuesday to preview the Canes’ upcoming Top 10 showdown with Florida State.

No. 7 Miami (7-0, 3-0 ACC) takes its nine-game winning streak to Tallahassee to face No. 3 Florida State (7-0, 5-0 ACC) for yet another Top 10 showdown in the epic rivalry. Saturday’s game will kick at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and will be the feature site for College GameDay Built by the Home Depot.

Miami leads the all-time series 31-26, but Florida State has won each of the last three meetings. The Hurricanes are 14-8 all-time in Tallahassee.

Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Al Golden Transcription

Opening remarks…
“We’re excited about the opportunity this week with Florida State. We just finished our second practice of the week, and as soon as I’m done here we’ll get back to our meetings and continue our preparation.”

On the health of senior quarterback Stephen Morris
“He looked better. He has been looking better. I fully expect him to be with a clean bill of health by Saturday. He looked markedly better today. I’m excited about him.

“I think he looked better this past game than he has looked. He moved better. In the pocket, he moved better in terms of when we moved the pocket on him. He looks different. His personality is coming back, he’s not worried about it, there is no anguish over anything. He’s starting to feel good and get back, and we’re excited about it.”

On the health of senior Kacy Rodgers II and junior wide receiver Rashawn Scott
“Kacy was better than I thought today. We’re going to go look at the film, but it looks like he’s going to make it. Rashawn Scott is fine. I think by now he should be caught up on his conditioning, he has no problem with his learning or understanding of what we’re doing on offense. He’s doing good.”

On how much the speculations of his health affected Morris…
“I think that’s fair. I do. It was a really good lesson, not just for Stephen but for all of us. It doesn’t matter anymore. You have to perform in practice, have to execute, and carry over into the game. I do want to make sure we’re not making excuses for anybody, starting with me. We have to separate the element from the decision-making for the North Carolina game. Even though he still had the ailment, he made better decisions in the pass game. He swung the pendulum, as you would imagine, after four turnovers against North Carolina, he swung it way to the left – now he just has to go out and play. He understands the importance of protecting the ball. Now he just has to go out and prepare to play.”

On the health of senior wide receiver Allen Hurns
“Allen was ahead of schedule today, so we fully expect him. We’re probably not going to let him get hit tomorrow, but we do expect him to run routes and things of that nature. That’s kind of a hip pointer, for you guys that don’t know. I expect Allen to be markedly better tomorrow.”

On the health of redshirt freshman offensive lineman Danny Isidora
“That is all the medical team right now. As anxious as you are to cover him, I want him to play. He had such a good spring, really had a great summer, and really had an unfortunate accident just running – he turned his foot and needed to have surgery on it. We’re being careful of his size and his youth and we’re going to be prudent with that. When he’s clear, I’ll let you know. It doesn’t look like that will be this week.

On if the Hurricanes feel like “his team” now in his third season…
“I don’t, only because we’re been embroiled for two and a half years. I wish I felt like that. I feel like we’re making progress. I think clearly you have to be a program to graduate the number they have and yet be in the same situation they are in right now. We’re building that. A lot of people are premature and saying ‘The U is back’ – the U is building. We have to continue to recruit, continue to cultivate and get our guys in the system to grow and mature. I do like the direction we’re going, despite what we’ve been through. I’ m excited about the future. If there was a moment like that, it was probably about 8:35 Tuesday when I felt, ‘Okay, here we go.’ It felt a lot better. I couldn’t sleep on Sunday because I wanted to get to work so bad. I think there a lot of kids and coaches on this team who feel that way now, because we’ve left [the NCAA investigation] in the past.

On if the investigation’s end has had tangible effects (i.e. phone calls, conversations, etc.)…
“It’s two-fold. Number one, our conversations are taking a different path now. All of the things you said would happen have come to fruition now. So that really supports the trust factor you had with those families, that’s number one. Number two, you’re not a sitting duck anymore. They can say whatever they want about our football program right now, but they really can’t say anything about the ongoing investigation, or if there’s going to be a death penalty, or if they’re going to lose 30 scholarships, or they’re not going to a bowl game. All those things that I classified as toxic over the last 28 months have disappeared. We still have some things we need to move forward with and there are still some things we have to deal with as far as sanctions, but if they’re going to negative recruit or recruit against us, it’s going to be about what we do on the field, it’s going to be about our beautiful surroundings, it’s going to be the weather, it’s going to be about our tradition – it’s not going to be about the NCAA.”

How much easier it is as a coach without the distractions of the ongoing investigation…
“It’s an experience I’d hate to go through again. I got blindsided – this is ‘part deux’ for me. March of my first year at Temple we lost nine scholarships that spring from APR that happened before I got there. We know how to manage it from being involved in that. We’ll do that moving forward. I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t looked at the other things we need that we need to do. Jenn [Strawley] and Craig [Anderson] in Compliance are going to sit down with me once we get away from the intensity of where we are right now in this season.”

On his initial reaction to losing nine scholarship as a result of the investigation…
“You don’t want to lose any. At the end of the day, you accept it and you move forward it. You really can’t do anything about it. I will say this in defense of our administration and young people that have endured this and our staff, when people say, ‘They got a slap on the wrist,’ I take offense to that. Unless you’ve lived it, unless you’ve been here, it’s hard to quantify that. It’s immeasurable what these kids have given up – they’ve given up a lot. How grateful to the leadership we have had – not just President Shalala & Blake James – but our legal counsel was phenomenal leading us through this, and because of that, we have a chance to move forward Tuesday, not start the penalties. I’m grateful for them.”

On what positives the coaching staff can draw from winning games late…
“It’s really all about you extracting what you can extract that’s positive from each of those games. Certainly winning late in those games, overcoming adversity, things not being perfect – all those things we extract. The biggest thing is – are we learning? We have to learn a great deal and improve individually a lot from last Saturday to this Saturday to have a chance in Tallahassee. I think we had a good mindset today. I think we got better today. I’m going to look at the film and look if the execution is where it needs to be, but you cannot have breakdowns on special teams, you cannot turn the ball over, you cannot have penalties. All of those elements are factors in this game.”

On if he’s found a solution to stopping Seminoles redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston…
“I’d be worth a lot more if I cracked that code. He’s playing really good football. He’s mature beyond his years, he’s directing the ball where it needs to go, his touchdown-to-interception ratio is phenomenal. His completion percentage is elite. He’s using everyone around him. The yards-per-completion of their receivers and tight ends is through the roof, they have a running game to go with it, and a veteran offensive line. It’s a great challenge and an opportunity – it’s nothing to be nervous about or anxious about. We have to prepare, and we have to have a really good game plan and execute it against this young man, because he is really talented.”