Al Golden: ‘Hurricanes Playing With A Chip On Their Shoulder’

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(Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

(Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

We’ll call it the “Nevin Shapiro Effect.”

Due to the uncertainty hovering over Miami’s program – Will it receive a bowl ban? If so, how long? – head coach Al Golden estimates he’s lost 40 kids during recruiting over the last two-and-a-half seasons.

“The greatest sanction of all,” Golden said on The Morning Show, “is the sanction of uncertainty.”

When a recruit asks Golden what will happen with the program, Golden can’t give an answer – because he doesn’t know. Still, he’s been able to piece together a talented squad and has high hopes for 2013.

“Obviously we’ve been through a great deal of adversity and have had this cloud of the NCAA investigation and no closure for more than two years – certainly for three training camps now,” he said. “I think this team has more maturity than last year’s team with the experience we have coming back. We’re getting better leadership right now. It’s been very quiet off the field. I think the team is focused on what we need to achieve, and we’re not wasting a lot of time on distractions or selfish behavior, to be quite honest.

“We’re playing with a chip on our shoulders,” Golden continued. “We haven’t done that in quite some time. I think all the entitlement’s out of here. I think the guys have something to prove. I think, more than anything, they’ve learned to respect the past, but they want to represent the future. They want to move forward.”

The Hurricanes rose to prominence with a culture of attitude and swagger, yes, but that culture, Golden said, was created by people who played a certain way and held each other to a certain standard both mentally and physically. Golden wants that culture back.

“We want to have that attitude,” he said. “I want to have a smart, tough, disciplined team – but I want to play with an edge. I want to walk that line. We want to be a tough team. We want to be a rugged team. We want to play fast. We want to have a lot of passion and energy. There’s nothing more important to me than the guys being fresh and having fun on game day.”

Two of those guys will be senior quarterback Stephen Morris and sophomore running back Duke Johnson. Morris threw for 3,345 yards and 21 touchdowns last year.

“Very smart young man,” Golden said. “He’s a great leader and does a great job for us in the locker room and off the field. But what most people don’t know is he’s got an elite arm – both in velocity and range. And the other thing is, he’s a 4.6 guy. So he can move his feet. He keeps his eyes down the field. He’s able to create on the run. He’s not going to tuck it first; he’ll scramble to get his eyes downfield to make a play. But he can run when we ask him to. We’re excited about Stephen.”

Golden then compared Johnson, who accounted for 1,100+ total yards and 11 touchdowns last year, to, of all people, Tiki Barber.

“Same makeup as you,” Golden told Barber, referring to Johnson’s ability to catch the ball out of the back field, make big gains on screens and play in the slot. “He’s a guy that does a lot of things.”

Golden hopes that his team, which finished 7-5 last year – despite playing 21 freshmen, including 14 on defense – will improve this season. When asked if the Hurricanes can contend for ACC and national championship this year, Golden answered honestly.

“I don’t really get into that, and I know you guys have to ask the question,” he said. “But to answer the first part, no, I didn’t come to Miami to be 7-5. And I say to our fans and alumni all the time: Do me a favor. Keep the bar where it is. That’s why we all came to Miami. Don’t reset the bar. Even though we’re going through a tumultuous time, we’ll chase the bar.”

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