Al Golden was intense today. He didn't seem pleased with much of anything. With Georgia Tech coming up at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Sun Life Stadium, he has precious little time to prepare his troops for Tech's triple-option offense.
Golden seemed especially disgusted at the play of UM's left tackles -- starter Brandon Washington and backup Seantrel Henderson. On this week's depth chart, there's an "OR'' between the names of Washington and Henderson at left tackle.
Golden said Henderson played "15 or 16" snaps last game.
"We’re not getting enough out of the left tackle,'' he said. "It’s just as simple as that. We’ve tried multiple guys over there. I don’t like the way it looks and it’s going to get fixed. Art [Kehoe] knows it. Jedd [Fisch] knows it. And I know it, and I can’t look at it anymore. We need to play better at left tackle."
Golden was asked if Henderson ended up starting at left tackle, would that slide Washington over to guard, his former position. But the way the coach answered, no one was good enough yet to play left tackle proficiently, let alone going to another position on the line.
"We just play the best five. That’s it. Whoever the best five are, they’ll play, and we’ll go from there.
"It’s a function of ‘Who do you want me to take out right now?’' So he [Henderson] is going to have a chance to compete over Brandon, over at the left side, for the very reason you’re asking me the question. Maybe he should be giving us more. He hasn’t demonstrated that he’s better than the other four. Maybe he’ll have a chance to compete over there at left tackle.''
Pretty harsh words. Golden obviously is trying to light a fire under Henderson -- and Washington for that matter, who had what looked like some sort of cast or heavy-duty wrapping on his left hand/forearm. But Golden usually is pretty frank about these things, and is also obviously disappointed in those players. The Canes had a great first half passing the ball, but were stifled in the second half.
UNC held the Canes to 44 yards rushing for the game, and the Canes allowed two sacks Saturday. The Canes are 37th nationally in sacks allowed (Georgia Tech is the ACC leader in that category, by the way). Two weeks ago, they were 20th. Three weeks ago, they were 10th.
Golden continues to praise right tackle Jon Feliciano.
"Very well,'' he said, when asked how Feliciano was doing. "I don’t want to go ranking them. I think guard [Harland] Gunn has performed the most consistent. [guard Brandon] Linder was [like that] the first three games and I think Gunn has taken his game up to the next notch. Now it’s time for [center Tyler] Horn and Linder to try to take their game up. I don’t think there’s anybody in that building that would say right now Felic isn’t really doing an excellent job for us.''
Golden also expressed his dissatisfaction with punter Dalton Botts, who had been having a fine season -- until last Saturday. Botts punted five times for an average of 34.2 yards, and put UNC in some very favorable field positions. In the fourth quarter, a 23-net-yard punt gave the Tar Heels the ball at the UM 27-yard line. It only took the Heels four plays to get a touchdown and narrow the score to 27-17.
Golden said he will put place kicker Jake Wieclaw in as punter this week if Wieclaw outpunts Botts in practice. What did Botts do wrong? His punts were "short and there wasn’t a lot of hang,'' Golden said. "His last one was his best one so hopefully he’ll build off that. [He's] Just not relaxing through the swing, not rhythmic and he just has to settle down and relax.''
Golden: "Dalton [Botts] struggled the other day and we can’t have that in a game of that magnitude. Period. We’ll let them compete all week. We’ll probably figure it out by game time."
NEXT ON HIT LIST: RAY-RAY
Golden on safety Ray-Ray Armstrong: "He’s got to be more consistent. He has definitely improved from Week 1 to Week 2 but there are still too many glaring plays in there where he just has to become consistent. He has to learn how to prepare. That’s a process. If you don’t submit to the process you can’t get better. Until it becomes a habit you can’t get better. So, it’s a process each week, to gameplan, prepare, do all the mental work and let it rip. And that’s where we have to get with him.''
Here's the gist of where Golden is going. He does not want the Canes thinking they are better than they are because of one road victory. He seems to think that's what happened after Ohio State, and he does not want to go there again.
"Hopefully they’re not as high as they were after Ohio State,'' he said Monday. "We’re trying to keep them consistent."
SPENCE AT IT AGAIN
Congratulations once again to linebacker Sean Spence, who was named Atlantic Coast Conference Linebacker of the Week for the second consecutive week. Sean made the game-saving sack against UNC and had 14 tackles.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN