Hurricanes coach Al Golden was not interested Sunday in perpetuating the strong words that Miami quarterback Stephen Morris said about the “dirty play” of USF defensive linemen.
“I’m not going to address it,” Golden said when asked his perspective on the issue. “You should ask Stephen when you get him [Monday] or whatever.
“We’re moving forward. We’re going to Georgia Tech week. The first third of the season is over, and I just want to move on.”
Miami (4-0), which moved up a spot to No. 14 in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls after its 49-21 victory in Tampa, will open its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against fellow Coastal Division competitor Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-1) in relatively good health, Golden indicated.
The one player who did not fare as well is running back Eduardo Clements, who was seen limping heavily near the locker room area at Raymond James Stadium after the game. Golden said Clements hurt his hamstring.
“I don’t know to what extent,’’ the coach said. “But other than that it looks like we’re pretty clean.”
Golden said Morris, who is still healing a bruised right ankle, looked “great” Sunday morning. He said center Shane McDermott (foot) “would have played if we needed him” against USF and that he is expected to be “full go” for Georgia Tech.
Left guard Jon Feliciano, “who went down just before the half’” and took a shot to the helmet, “is fine, too,” the coach said. “He’s was looking at one guy and another guy came and hit him. I don’t think he saw it. I’m sure it startled him as much as anything.”
Receiver Phillip Dorsett, whom he praised heartily, “is fine,’’ though Golden said he wasn’t sure if Dorsett “got a stinger.’’
Finally, freshman linebacker Jermaine Grace has “a little bit of an oblique issue that we’re fighting through. But I think he’ll be OK.’’
He said tight end Standish Dobard, who appeared to injure his knee on the game’s final play, is fine.
Golden added that guard Danny Isidora could be back participating next week.
The Yellow Jackets, famous for coach Paul Johnson’s spread option offense, have lost to the Hurricanes the past four years, including last year’s overtime victory in Atlanta.
“I don’t think anything makes it easier, but certainly there should be some familiarity,’’ Golden said. “We can’t do the same things we did last year against them and think we’re going to win. They got a lot of explosive plays against us last year, and we were very fortunate to win up there.
“All three phases have to be much better than they were Saturday to beat Georgia Tech.’’
Despite coming out of the game early in the second quarter, Morris still threw for 222 yards and and two touchdowns and connected on 11 of 16 passes (68.7 percent). Eight of his targets – Allen Hurns, Stacy Coley, Phillip Dorsett, Herb Waters, Beau Sandland, Clive Walford, Maurice Hagens and Dallas Crawford — caught at least one pass Saturday, and Golden praised the improvement in the passing game.
He particularly likes the wideout production, and how third-down efficiency, in turn, has gotten better. At halftime, UM had converted five of its seven conversion attempts against the Bulls but ended the game converting seven of 14 chances.
“We were 65 or 70 percent on third-down yesterday before we started subbing wildly in the middle of the third quarter and fourth,’’ Golden said. “We had a good day on third down. I love the competition right now at wideout, and certainly when Rashawn Scott comes back he’s going to make us deeper in a position that’s not very deep right now.’’
Golden was effusive about center Jared Wheeler, starting for the second consecutive game in place of McDermott, who graded out at 94 percent. “He was unbelievable.’’
The biggest criticism came over special teams errors and Duke Johnson’s two fumbles from within USF’s 5-yard line.
“He made the same mistake against South Florida last year reaching the ball across the goal line, and that’s unacceptable,’’ Golden said. “He knows it.’’