5 Issues We Would Love for Miami's Al Golden to Address at ACC Media Days
Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden will appear before a slew of reporters at ACC Media Day on July 21, answering questions about the upcoming college football season.
Followers of the program certainly have wondered aloud about a variety of topics and issues around the program we would love for Golden to address.
Of course, Golden is a master of sidestepping questions, finding a way around giving a direct response. Consequently, even if asked, a couple of the following topics will definitely not be answered, but it doesn't mean we can't wish.
Did Penn State Officially Offer the Job?
In early January, Golden was—in some fashion—contacted by his alma mater, Penn State, about the head coaching position. He played tight end at State College from 1989-91 and was also a team captain as a senior.
Golden eventually elected to stay with the Hurricanes, helping Miami hold onto a superb class headlined by defensive end Chad Thomas, quarterback Brad Kaaya and other highly ranked prospects.
But what officially happened during that tense week in South Florida?
Whether it was a formal rejection from Golden or the Penn State brass merely gauging interest is unknown, leaving us very, very curious about what officially happened.
Are the Young Linebackers Actually Ready?
The Miami defense requires a vastly improved front seven, and the (necessary, if charges are true) dismissals of Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue complicated the picture. Presently, the linebacker position is a glaring weakness.
Behind Denzel Perryman and Thurston Armbrister, Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace are the two top linebackers. However, neither has played an overwhelming amount of meaningful snaps, and "trial by fire" is an adequate way to describe the first month for the duo.
Juwon Young moves into Blue's vacated backup position, forcing the true freshman into a role for which he might be ready at best. Even Terry McCray could be given some garbage-time reps at inside linebacker, keeping him from a redshirt season.
Unless Tyriq McCord rapidly becomes more than an edge-rusher, another first-year player in Darrion Owens is a second-string 'backer.
But other than Perryman and maybe Armbrister, are they actually ready? Kirby has averaged 1.3 tackles per game in 20 appearances, Grace was essentially a special teams contributor in 2013, and the others are new to college ball.
Golden will address this issue in some manner, but he'll probably manage to coach-speak around the situation.
What Must Mark D'Onofrio Do to Be Retained?
Ask Miami fans what angered them most about a given loss, and they will probably say Mark Onofrio. Get it? Because there's no D.
Defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio has been under constant pressure for a vanilla scheme and lackluster pass rush. The 'Canes conceded the 89th-most yards per game and the 100th-most first downs in the nation last year.
Many fans would love a minimum threshold for production to constantly compare D'Onofrio's unit's performance—for instance, yardage or points allowed per game marks.
Granted, while the numbers would help gauge how the defense is performing compared to expectations, it would not be a logical grading system.
Like every other assistant, D'Onofrio will be evaluated on Golden's criteria, but any insight into what those may be would be extremely appreciated.
Who Will Return Kicks?
Duke Johnson and Stacy Coley are two of the most dynamic players in the entire country, but their kick-return duties may be limited because of Ryan Williams' absence.
The Miami offense will be especially focused on getting Johnson and Coley involved while the senior is sidelined, relying on the combination to break down opposing defenses.
In turn, Golden could send Artie Burns, Joe Yearby or another speedster back deep, even though Johnson and Coley are so dangerous. While missing their respective firepower would sting, it's probably the right decision.
With that being said, seeing an established Johnson or Coley as the kick returner would be a welcome sight when Miami travels to Louisville and Nebraska.
Is Ryan Williams the Starter When Healthy, Period?
One-time expected starter Ryan Williams is recovering from an ACL injury, and his target return date is ambitious. According to Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald, the senior wants to make his starting debut with the 'Canes on Labor Day—a mere six months after the tear.
However, if he is not physically ready for Louisville and Jake Heaps, Kevin Olsen or Brad Kaaya is named starter, what will happen upon Williams' return?
Miami could be undefeated, off to a decent start or limping into October by the time he does, and Golden's decision may be affected by the team's record.
On the other hand, he could choose Williams no matter the circumstance—we simply do not definitively know what Golden is thinking.