Al Golden said he doesn’t “have a crystal ball,’’ but the Miami Hurricanes football coach nonetheless expects his entire staff to return for 2013.
That might not make a large contingent of UM fans happy, given that the Canes (7-5 overall, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) ended the year with the 116th-ranked defense of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
Miami gave up an average of 486 yards a game, while Florida State led the league by allowing 249 yards a game.
But as he has all along, Golden adamantly defended defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, saying D’Onofrio should be as angry as his detractors.
“Before we’re telling everybody how to make changes, I hope we’re looking at Mark’s record in terms of playing defense, in terms of his track record, in terms of player development,’’ Golden said. “And to be honest with you, Mark should be as mad as anybody, because imagine coming to the University of Miami and having to play a bunch of kids. Imagine being saddled with that. He’s the one who should be mad.
“To come in here, and he’s got one corner in the program, Brandon McGee. He should be mad. And he is mad. And he’s going to fight.
“Everybody wants this change or that change. He’s not a quitter. None of us are. This staff will be together and we’re excited about moving the program forward.
“The guys we have that played gave up a 99-yard touchdown the other day. You want me to sell out what happened on the play — that a young kid [safety Rayshawn Jenkins] went the wrong way and gave up a 99-yard touchdown? I think everybody knows.
Backing his staff
“But I wouldn’t trade that kid for anybody. I think he’s going to be a champion. I feel that way about Mark and the whole defensive staff. We’re not going anywhere.’’
Golden said he wasn’t “discouraged,’’ just “disappointed.
“I wish we would have played better. But it’s not just a function of the defense. It’s the decision that I made in May to say, ‘Hey, we’re so damn young on defense, that we’re going to have to outscore people. So, let’s go, Jedd,’’ referring to offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.
“Pick up the tempo, don’t worry about time of possession and try to score more than the opposition.’’
Thanks to a solid offensive line, freshman running back Duke Johnson, receiver Phillip Dorsett — among several others — and an impressive season by Stephen Morris, the Canes improved offensively and could be among the best in the nation next season.
Morris hot at end
Morris, a junior, ended the season with 3,415 yards of total offense for a new UM record. In his last four games he threw 11 touchdowns without an interception — finishing with seven interceptions to 21 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 58.2.
“We have maybe the hottest quarterback in America right now,’’ Golden said. “He is white hot. And we would have had a chance to bring a hot quarterback into a [conference] championship game.
“He has just been spectacular.’’
• Golden said he has educated his players about petitioning the NFL’s draft advisory board to get their draft projections should they forgo their senior seasons. “Some of them didn’t want to go through the process,’’ he said. “I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but we’re here for them.’’
When asked if he learned anything from last year after so many players entered the draft early, Golden said, “I think our current players learned. I didn’t learn anything. They know that some guys left for 20 cents on the dollar.’’
• Golden said he expects to sign 15 players — “could be plus or minus.’’ He said he will fill some openings with junior college players.
• Linebacker Eddie Johnson, who was suspended for two of the last three games, has been asked by coaches to concentrate on his academics for now. “I expect fully that he’ll be back with us,’’ Golden said. “He’s been great.’’
• The coach was asked once again about other programs targeting him to fill vacancies.
“My wife would cry if I said we’re moving out of town,’’ he said.