Before the news broke concerning the announcement of the impending NCAA sanctions, Al Golden’s Miami Hurricanes began preparing for their next game against Wake Forest by trying to block out the outside noise of being ranked seventh in the BCS as well as the mega-matchup with BCS No. 2 Florida State a week from Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say [there has been] slippage, but it’s a challenge,” Golden said of blocking out the distractions.
“There is cheese all around them. Don’t take the cheese. Don’t take the trap. You have a guy here or there that all of a sudden they’re seduced by it. They want to hear about it. They want to talk about it. It has nothing to do with the outcome. Doing your job, preparing, asking questions, being engaged, doing your role — all those little things, that’s what we need to focus on. That’s what we need leadership for.”
Golden said he completely ignored the movement up the polls this weekend, went out to dinner with his wife Saturday night and didn’t watch any of Florida State’s blowout win at Clemson.
“We’re going to continue to ignore it,” Golden said of the polls and hype surrounding the team. “I need the coaches to do that. I need the players to do that. I need anybody that touches a Miami Hurricane to do that. Families, academic support, strength and conditioning, training room, it doesn’t matter. We got to make sure we’re all on the same page and keeping the guys focused on what we need to do because the rest of it doesn’t matter. The rest of it will take care of itself if we take care of our business and do our job every day.”
That challenge figures to get harder Tuesday. Two hours after the NCAA makes its sanctions public to the media at 10 a.m., Golden and his players are scheduled to meet with reporters again around noon.
Starting safety Kacy Rodgers was the only player injured last week at North Carolina aside from receiver Phillip Dorsett (expected to miss four to six weeks with a slight tear of his MCL) to not practice on Monday.
“Kacy is probable right now,” Golden said. “We’re being careful with him early in the week because he’s still in the recovery phase, if you will. Once they take him from taking it slow in recovery to the rehabilitation phase we’ll know more, which will probably be Wednesday. I’m hopeful for Kacy.”
Quarterback Stephen Morris (ankle), running back Duke Johnson (head), running back Walter Tucker (lower extremity), safeties Deon Bush (leg) and Rayshawn Jenkins (leg), and receiver Rashawn Scott (shoulder) “were all fine [Monday],” Golden said.
Johnson, who suffers from migraine headaches and has been tested for concussions on the sidelines in previous games, confirmed he was injured last Thursday when he took a knee to the head trying to make a block.
“I came back the next drive and kind of felt a headache coming on,” Johnson said. “Because I suffer from headaches, I wasn’t trying to [play] after that.”
Johnson said he has been working with the training staff to eat the right foods so his diet doesn’t trigger his migraines. Johnson said his mother also battles migraines.• Offensive coordinator James Coley said Morris’ ankle is still tender, and his four interceptions last week were a combination of that and receivers not always running routes the way they should have.
“The common thread is he’s out there competing, and he wants to make a play,” Coley said. “Sometimes, making the play when something breaks down is do the next best thing and get the ball out of your hands and throw it away and have your coach call another play.”
“We were trying a lot of different things; I know it didn’t appear that way,” D’Onofrio said. “We had a lot of different things to try and combat him, but he’s a great player, he made some plays. We had some unforced errors, we hit a couple 10 rows deep over the net.
“We helped him move up in his ranking. I hope he appreciates it.”