Scouting the Tar Heels

Little by little, North Carolina is getting some of the players it expected to have this season -- but hasn't -- back on the field.

The most recent returnee from the suspended list is safety Deunta Williams, who served a four-game suspension for receiving what the NCAA determined as extra benefits in violation of NCAA rules.

Williams will be available when the Tar Heels resume ACC play with a visit from Clemson.

In their last game, the Tar Heels got back safety Da'Norris Searcy, who didn't start in the secondary against East Carolina but returned three punts for 24 yards and a pair of kickoffs for 55 more. He also had a 46-yard interception return to set up a touchdown and three tackles.

Earlier, the Tar Heels got back tailback Sean Draughn from the 13 players who were being held out while both the NCAA and the school conducted investigations into eligibility and academic issues.

Linebackers Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter escaped sitting out a game when they were cleared less than 24 hours before the opener against LSU.

The return of Searcy and now Williams gives the Tar Heels half of the four returning starters in the secondary. Cornerback Kendric Burney, a third returning starter, still has to sit two more weeks.

Williams was put right back into his usual game-week routine following his reinstatement.

"The way we work most of our starters they're probably going to get 65 percent of our reps, maybe 70," coach Butch Davis said. "The backups are going to get 30, 35 percent.


The most recent returnee from the suspended list is safety Deunta Williams, who served a four-game suspension for receiving what the NCAA determined as extra benefits in violation of NCAA rules. (Getty Images)
"Just simply by the idea that he's been out for a while, he may get a little more than the normal work week."

The game against Clemson stacks up pretty much as a "must-win" situation if the Tar Heels are to challenge for the Coastal Division title and a berth in the ACC Championship game.

The Heels already have one league loss, to division rival Georgia Tech, and can't afford another early setback with road games at Virginia (a nemesis) and Miami coming up after Clemson.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Tar Heels opened up their running game for really the first time this season in their win over East Carolina, rushing for 263 yards against the Pirates, more than doubling their production for the first three games in the process. TBs Johnny White and Shaun Draughn are a solid 1-2 punch. QB T.J. Yates has become a very proficient passer as a senior with seven touchdown passes against one interception on a 68.3 completion percentage, throwing to his tight end Zack Pianalto (26 catches) more than any other target.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Racked by suspensions, North Carolina's defense has played surprisingly well. The Tar Heels are giving up 338.0 yards a game to rank sixth in the conference in total defense. The unit will welcome back FS Deunta Williams for the game against Clemson. SS Da'Norris Searcy returned in the last game against East Carolina.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is a team that I've never played before. I know a lot of guys on this team. I've never faced them. It's exciting to play somebody new. I think it's going to bring a little more energy to our preparation." -- QB T.J. Yates, on his first game against Clemson since he has been at North Carolina.

SERIES HISTORY: Clemson leads North Carolina 34-18-2 (last meeting, 2006, Clemson 52-7).


CUTigers.com Top Stories