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UM's Wednesday practice report: Kirby continues to improve; no leaders emerging at offensive tackle

Hurricanes coach Al Golden told reporters after Wednesday's practice his team’s energy “wasn’t good enough.”

Asked if it might be a byproduct of the team relaxing coming off a big win at Georgia Tech, Golden said: “I don’t really care because all I’m worried about is today, so it’s really important that our guys just get better today, everybody check the boxes today, attention to detail, and the rest of it will take care of itself.”

After spending all last week preparing for the Yellow Jackets’ spread option attack, UM is now focused facing a more conventional offense in NC State.

“The transition’s hard,” he said. “We tried to wash that out, flush that out on Monday, and here we are on Wednesday and we got most of the game plan, if not all of it, in.”

Freshman linebacker Raphael Kirby practiced more than expected on Tuesday and Golden said Wednesday that Kirby’s health continues to improve. Asked if he would play in Saturday's game Golden said: “We’ll look at it on tape, but he’s making progress and he’s moving in the right direction for sure.” 

Golden would not indicate any leaders in the position battles at either offensive tackle spots. Ereck Flowers and Ben Jones are currently listed as co-starters at right tackle, and Malcolm Bunche and Seantrel Henderson are fighting for reps at left tackle.

“They’ve got to keep fighting and be consistent,” Golden said. “All of them should play.”

Golden did not specify either if a receiver would receive an increase in reps with Malcolm Lewis sidelined for the season after the gruesome ankle injury he suffered late in the first quarter in Atlanta this past Saturday. But he did mentioned freshman Herb Waters and fifth-year senior Kendal Thompkins as candidates for the job.

Golden has a track record with Tom O’Brien, head coach at NC State, that dates back to the 90’s. He was linebackers coach at Boston College from 1997-1999 under O’Brien and a graduate assistant at Virginia for three years prior while O’Brien was offensive coordinator there.

Golden says, however, familiarity with the opposing coach will not help him this week. What he’s seen from O’Brien thus far this year deviates from what he would expect.

“On offense, it looks different,” Golden said. “Each team is different for him. He does things with [quarterback Mike] Glennon that he wouldn’t do with [Russell] Wilson… So, again, there’s not too much familiarity in terms of what they’re going to do.”