University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes focus on academics, healing before showdown with FSU

UM’s Duke Johnson is stopped by FSU’s Christian Jones at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013.
UM’s Duke Johnson is stopped by FSU’s Christian Jones at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Miami Herald Staff

While Hurricanes fans get ready for the rowdiest UM football game of the year, Miami coach Al Golden on Monday praised his Canes for improving “in all three phases” and said he wants them focused on academics and healing during the bye week.

A few hours after Golden spoke on a teleconference, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that UM’s home game against No. 2 Florida State will kick off at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 on ABC.

The Hurricanes (6-3, 3-2 ACC) lead the all-time series 31-27, but have not defeated FSU (8-0, 5-0) since a 38-34 victory at Tallahassee in 2009. The last time UM won a home game against FSU was a 16-10 overtime victory at the Orange Bowl in September 2004.

When asked about having an extra week to prepare for FSU, Golden said he will concentrate on his own players this week and “move on” to FSU afterward.

“We’re going to alter everything that would be a normal practice week for sure,” Golden said. “Priority No. 1 is getting the team healthy and rested up; No. 2, getting stronger; No. 3, making sure that we devote a lot of our schedule time to academics – actually yield that time to them.

“This whole week is going to be about us.”

Meanwhile, Florida State, fresh off a come-from-behind victory at Louisville on Thursday, meets Virginia (4-5, 2-3) in Tallahassee on Saturday.

Injury-wise, Golden briefly addressed running back Gus Edwards (ankle), offensive guard Alex Gall (back) and starting veteran left tackle Ereck Flowers (knee surgery last Wednesday).

“We hope Gall will be back next week,” the coach said. “We miss him tremendously because he has played, he does have experience. He’ll never get a better opportunity than right now.

“Ereck is making progress. I don’t know what that means. No one knows what that means.

“And Gus, we’re going to take care of him this week and see where his injury goes. I really have no idea where he’s at right now. I haven’t really asked him to do anything.”

As for that new-and-improved defense that has risen to 11th in the nation and tallied a season-high six sacks Saturday in a 47-20 victory over North Carolina, it’s “an attack” defense “that is really a hybrid – somewhere between a 4-3 and 3-4,” Golden said.

He lauded his players for “not missing tackles and not giving up explosive plays.”

“We’re seeing the ball thrown in zone, we’re covering better in man,” Golden said. “…We want to attack, and the reason you do that is so you can zone pressure more. Now we’re making people pay.

“If we call a corner fire we’re not late, we’re making them pay. If we call an inside pressure with the two inside backers – [Raphael] Kirby on the third-and-one, for instance, at Virginia Tech makes them pay; Denzel [Perryman] gets a sack the other day. We’re making them pay ... and we’re being very unselfish on our run fits right now. Guys are where they need to be.

“We have a collective mentality right now and we’ve got to continue to make progress and stay together.”

▪ According to UM, a limited number of tickets are still available for the FSU at Miami game, starting at $89. Visit CanesTix.com for more information.

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