Senior Safety Maurice Sikes
On the major differences this season from last season:
"Last year we understood about 75 percent of the defense. Guys knew it, but didn't understand it. This year we have a complete understanding of the defense, and I think we'll be ten times better this year."
Will there be a more aggressive approach defensively this season?
"This year will be more fun for us, because we get to just cover. We'll be one on one, and the quarterback will not have as much time because we will be able blitz with seven or eight guys. It will give us opportunities to get us off the field, we're going to get sacks, fumbles, and picks. We are just going to put offenses in bad situations, and it will help us tremendously."
Senior Middle Linebacker Jonathan Vilma
About replacing the starters in the defensive line...
"All we do here is reload, we take the young guys and teach them how it's done and what it takes to win. It does not matter if they are young or not, everyone here is talented enough to go in and play. The secondary was able to do it last year, and the defensive line will do it this year."
What will it take to get back to the national championship game?
"Fundamentals and intensity will get us to a national championship. My only goal this year is to win, it's all about winning The National Championship."
In your fourth season at Miami, do you feel the wise old man of the group?
"I do think of myself as more wise but I am not coming into training camp with an attitude like I know it all. I am still learning the defensive schemes just like Roger McIntosh and D.J. Williams."
On Vince Wilfork's ability to overcome personal struggles of the last year:
"I told him I am not good with things like that. I even called him up and let him know I couldn't be as strong as he was through the funerals and things like that nature. He came back ready to play football. He was back with the team and ready to contribute. He was tough throughout it."
Senior Offensive Tackle Vernon Carey
On the progress the team is making in fall practice:
"The last two days we have improved and we are running the ball well. Some people aren't pass protecting very well, and that will come with time. Everyone knows what we have to do, we have to get tougher and block people."
On the offensive line playing rotation:
"Kehoe always has a seven- to eight-man rotation, even though he has a six-man core rotation. He only needs six men to win the ball game, and if someone gets hurt that is when he needs a seventh or eighth guy. I'm confident that some guys will be able to step up into that role."
On the importance of having a versatile offensive line:
"Sometimes having versatility makes it more difficult to fit players into a position. Right now we are a little bit over depth at tackle and we need to get more guys learning the inside. We are still trying to find the right chemistry between us. We are understanding things, but we aren't where we need to be yet. Don't let anybody fool you, we are getting better, we're just not where we want to be yet. But when we meet Louisiana Tech we will be ready."
Can Brock Berlin lead Miami to another title?
"He can throw the deep ball, he can throw the outside shoulder ball and that can turn the game around in an instant. That can just crush a defense. If we can do that and be able to run the ball well, then the game is easier."
Junior Tight End Kellen Winslow II
Has the sting of the Fiesta Bowl loss worn off yet?
"I don't like to lose, I lost a little in high school but it really didn't mean anything because we did not work hard. I was really the only one working hard. All those two a days, all those practices, all those seven on sevens, the team meetings, were for nothing and we only had two yards to go. It's a game of inches and you have to fight for the full 60 minutes to win. At the end of that game I wasn't even tired, I was in the zone that game."
Do you feel like this year will be your breakout season?
"Last year was my first season at tight end, I didn't know what I was doing early on, I didn't understand the game fully, and I relied on my natural talent. As the season progressed, I began to understand the game and using my talent as a weapon. I became dangerous when I knew what I was doing during a game."
What is your comfort level with Brock Berlin at quarterback?
"Brock and I are comfortable together. He's so competitive and wants to be the best. We just connected in this way, where I know what he's thinking and he knows what I'm thinking. We've done a lot of work in the offseason, doing a lot of individual work together. Brock, (Derrick) Crudup and I worked out a lot over the summer together."
What personal goals have you set for this season?
"I haven't set any personal goals, I just want to win a National Championship. I wouldn't be happy if I had twenty catches and we lost."
What was your offseason like?
"I worked out in California, I needed a break after the season to clear my mind. My body was tired and I just needed a break from Miami."
A lot of people are talking about you calling yourself "The Chosen One". How did that come about?
"I one-handed a catch one time over this summer and I was so hyped I said 'I must be the chosen one because no one can catch like me', and the other players started talking about it and giving me a hard time about it and it just kinda took off."
Do you compare yourself to your father?
"My father really knows everything, he knows what to say and when not say it. I'm just me. I don't know what to say or what not to say. I just say it and I think that's how it should be. I am arrogant sometimes, but I'm also a modest guy. I know my capabilities, but I don't brag about it. When I'm real hyped on the field that's when I'm arrogant, but off the field I'm just another guy."
Today was the first day of two-a-days. The first practice began at 8:30 and was halted for about 30…