Amidst an ongoing NCAA investigation that ranges from player-agent relations to academic wrongdoing, the North Carolina football team still has a game to play on Saturday evening – and recent reports say that as many as 16 players could be missing from the Tar Heels roster.
Status of the damage: undetermined, but certainly rising.
The same fate could find star wide receiver Greg Little and defensive end Robert Quinn, though on Tuesday Quinn said that he was not involved in the academic misconduct with a tutor that was employed by the Davis family. Little was involved in the same investigation into agent relations as Austin.
Regardless, Quinn is one of a handful of standout players on the defensive side that have been demoted to second team and scout team work over the past week, in the process giving way to the backup names that might have to step into a full-time role on Saturday in Atlanta.
“We’ve had to be somewhat prudent in the number of practice repetitions that certain guys get,” Davis said. “It was important for us to develop some depth with this football team on both sides of the ball. The twos and the threes have been somewhat of the featured players when we’ve had scrimmages, so I think they are getting sufficient work.”
Despite the distractions that have surrounded the nation’s 18th-best team these past few weeks, Davis said the Tar Heels have shown an impressive focus.
“They realize that we’re playing a very talented football team,” he said. “They know it’s a big challenge and I think that we’ve had very good practices and preparation.”
Only able to watch the ordeal play out from afar, LSU coach Les Miles has taken the same task-at-hand approach.
“All we are doing over here is taking care of our business,” Miles said. “We are truly focused on what we can do to make our chances in that game best.
“I don’t care which 11 show up. I’m not taking attendance.”
As for the team’s offensive philosophy, Miles said not to expect any shift in the game plan given what names step into uniform for UNC.
“It’s not going to affect us at all,” he said. “It will be the same style of defense that they run. I can’t imagine that they would run it any differently.”