University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden praises camaraderie of offensive line

The Miami Hurricanes have the next week and a half to hone their craft and heal their quarterback. And when they meet the media Saturday after shutting down access during this bye week, their coach will allow right tackle Seantrel Henderson — suspended for the Georgia Tech game — to speak on his own behalf.

Golden, frankly, is done expounding on the 6-8, 345-pound senior who came to UM as the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year. Henderson was considered by many as the No. 1 recruit in the signing Class of 2010 but has been derailed multiple times because of suspensions and various crises.

Henderson was not allowed to attend UM’s game Saturday, a come-from-behind 45-30 victory at Sun Life Stadium. But he is back with the team, Golden confirmed, and “a grown man” who can deal with his own complexities.

“As it relates to Seantrel,” Golden said Sunday, here’s all I’ll say: “Seantrel is a grown man. He’s not a freshman or sophomore. He’s not in here with a new coach or new athletic director anymore.

“I’m going to let Seantrel speak for Seantrel. I’m not going to answer these questions for Seantrel anymore. I think he needs to address it next time we’re available to the media. I’m going to let you guys ask the questions and let him address it. I think it’s really important that he stands up and takes responsibility, and let him communicate that to you guys.

“Let me make it clear though, he’s back with us [Monday], and we’re moving forward.”

The Canes (5-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who rose from No. 14 to 13 in The Associated Press poll on Sunday, and stayed at No. 14 among the coaches, travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on North Carolina (1-4, 0-2) a week from Thursday night.

It appears Golden is expecting Henderson to be in the lineup, but if for some reason he’s not, the coach is extremely impressed with the line that played against Georgia Tech — and how the players moved around the various positions and allowed only one sack.

Brandon Linder, for instance, started at right guard but shifted to tackle for much of the game, and Jared Wheeler, who started at center the two games before Georgia Tech, played both guard positions Saturday. Ereck Flowers started at left tackle, Shane McDermott at center and Jon Feliciano at tackle.

“The offensive line was fantastic,” Golden said. “They played with great energy. We were playing against a defense that was top 25 in six different categories and had been playing really well. It really speaks to their unity; it speaks to the camaraderie that they have. They try to help each other out so nobody gets beat up.

“ There’s not anybody saying, ‘This is my position. I don’t play any other position.’ We’ve all been around that in our careers, and we don’t get that from these guys. They have a tag-team mentality on the offensive line right now, and it’s allowing us to play at a higher level.”

The man they’re protecting, quarterback Stephen Morris, must get better in these extra days before UNC, Golden said. Morris admittedly struggled at times Saturday because of his still-injured right ankle.

“We’ve got to get him healthy this week,” Golden said. “I’d rather have him be honest with me and be a trooper and let me take care of him a little bit during the week, because he keeps telling me he’s fine.”

Golden said there were “a couple plays” Saturday, when the coach said he yelled at offensive coordinator James Coley, “James! What’s going on here?

“Obviously, he was in a lot of pain, and I don’t know if it just gets flared up on him or he aggravates it. Hopefully, we can just put it to rest, put that thing to bed with the treatment this week and get it behind us.”