The kickoff of spring football is still a few weeks away, but head coach Al Golden has already started setting the tone for The Golden Era in Coral Gables. Some ways the Canes’ first-year leader has made it clear that the culture is changing:
– Changing the speed / tempo of practice, stating that there hasn’t been enough “energy” or “enthusiasm” as far as he’s concerned.
– Creating a tougher and more disciplined football team.
– Making some personnel changes. Thus far Jordan Futch has been moved to middle linebacker and Cory White has been moved off the offensive line to tight end, where Miami lacks depth.
For those who watched the recent “UTough” video posted on UM’s official Canes All Access page, they got a little insight to Golden’s attitude towards conditioning; most notably having strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey push players both mentally and physically.
Golden’s philosophy is empowering players in the off-season so that they remain focused all year long, with a belief that the first eight weeks is crucial. He’s getting inside players’ heads, in an effort to change a culture that simply wasn’t working.
In Golden’s system, players are ranked weekly in the off-season program – where assistant coaches are asked to get together every Friday, reporting back the weight room data. How players rank in the off-season determines where they’ll line up when spring ball kicks off in a few weeks.
Golden and staff are on a mission to create competition and to instill accountability. The lack of toughness seen with recent Miami teams isn’t reminiscent of what made the Canes successful in years passed. Go back and watch the “Decade of Dominance” era Canes on “The U” documentary talking about how Saturdays were a cake walk compared to what they dealt with at Greentree when Jimmy Johnson and crew were running them into the dirt.
Based on performance, Golden and staff will award players a jersey in one of four colors – black being the best, and green, orange and white, in that order.
“A white jersey means you’re pretty much horrible and you need to step up your game,” said Futch, who happened to earn a black jersey.
According to a recent report in the Palm Beach Post, “On Wednesday and Fridays at 6 a.m., players are run through a series off stations where they continuously perform a drill – pushing sleds, flipping tires, etc. – until a whistle signals them to sprint to the next station. That goes on non-stop for around 40 minutes.”
Hopefully players are taking the new regime serious as Golden has promised that workouts will intensify before they lighten up.
“We want to put them in difficult situations that cause them to unite and come together and not crack,” said Golden. “You push their threshold in terms of what they can handle.”
The long-term goal? Toughen players up so they can “concentrate longer under stress and duress”.
Golden’s workouts began mid-January, with players starting the day with weight training and running, as well as a “fifth quarter” of drills. The shock to the system ran players into the ground, but in the same breath, the intensity was welcomed. Furthermore, upperclassmen and team leaders were given the opportunity to prove their leadership skills, calling out anyone who was complaining or half-assing it.
“They’re looking for warriors,” Futch said. “These coaches are the type of dudes that won’t settle for mediocrity. You have to want it every day. That’s what coach Golden is instilling in us.”
To get back to the top and to overcome a near “Decade of Disaster”, Golden’s balls-out approach looks to be the perfect remedy.
IN OTHER NEWS : Former Wake Forest cornerback Michael Williams is completing his transfer to Miami. Williams will graduate from Wake Forest this May, meaning he won’t have to sit out a season as an incoming graduate student. The experienced cornerback will have one year of eligibility remaining and with cornerback a depleted position at UM, the veteran leadership is welcomed … For those interested in roster numbers, there have been some recent changes – notable players such as wideout LaRon Byrd will now wear No. 2 instead of No. 47, running back Storm Johnson will take over No. 1, dropping No. 24, wideout Tommy Streeter has changed rom No. 86 to No. 8 and USC transfer tight end Blake Ayles will take over Streeter’s vacant No. 86 … Also, check out some good ink in the Sun-Sentinel from Steve Gorten regarding Golden’s thoughts on Michigan quarterback turned Cane, Tate Forcier. Golden feels Forcier has moxie and is a winner, citing the highly-touted quarterback’s “football intellect”. Gorten also penned a worthwhile read regarding Art Kehoe and some new experiences with his old job. Check it out.