Thursday Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –- North Carolina head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters prior to Thursday afternoon's practice, touching on the status of Ryan Houston, the health of Shaun Draughn and the emergence of Josh Adams.

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BUTCH DAVIS
(7:56)

** The decision whether or not to lift running back Ryan Houston's red-shirt continues to be mulled over at the Kenan Football Center, but it's looking as though it will stay on, provided the current stable of running backs is able to get healthy and play against Virginia Tech on Saturday.

"I'm conflicted," Davis replied when asked about Houston's situation. "You get torn between what's the best for the team, what's the best for the kid, what's the best for this team, what's the best for next year's team. Nothing has really changed from 2-3 weeks ago that barring any major catastrophe, we'd like to get through the season and red-shirt him. We've put him in practice significantly more this week just because of the injury to Johnny White, but nothing has really changed from our position a week ago."

Houston had been working with the scout team before moving into the rotation this week after White suffered a season-ending broken clavicle against Florida State on Saturday.

Shaun Draughn's sprained ankle will play a significant role in Houston's future. Davis indicated that Draughn's limb was "a little better." The Tarboro, N.C. senior took practice snaps on Wednesday and the staff planned to increase his activity on Thursday.

Backup fullback Anthony Elzy and reserve tailback Hunter Furr also saw action in the second half against the Seminoles, but there is no current pecking order.

"They're going to all play," Davis said. "Right now, there's not like a 1-1A-1B. It's just, "Get in the game and go play.'"

Outside of the aforementioned four players, North Carolina may be forced to turn to old high school cut-ups of current Tar Heels that played running back in their former lives.

"Trust me, we're just about to the bottom of the barrel," Davis said.

** While Dwight Jones's meteoric ascension has deservedly grabbed all of the headlines, red-shirt freshman Josh Adams has also emerged from the shadows with a strong showing against Florida State, finishing with career highs of five catches and 91 yards. The Cambridge, Mass. native also scored his first career touchdown on a four-yard pass play that gave UNC a 31-28 lead in the third quarter.

"We were very happy with the way Josh played this past Saturday," Davis said. "And it was all brought about by clearly 2-3-4 weeks of just great practices. He brought a lot of energy to practice, he was doing a great job blocking, he was really working hard on special teams and he really earned an opportunity to get more opportunities to play in the game, and he made the most of it…

"I think the week before that he had a really critical catch across the middle of the field and that was validation of the [things] he was doing in practice."

** Offensive coordinator John Shoop joined Davis on his Wednesday night radio show and went beyond the call of duty in praising quarterback T.J. Yates (180-of-271 passing, 2,312 yards, 15 TD, 4 INT). The fourth-year OC credited his signal caller's "tremendous" work ethic in explaining his vast improvement this season, and even suggested that Yates may watch more film than he does.

Yates has completed passes to 15 different Tar Heels, and five different players have 200 receiving yards or more for the first time since 2005.

"He's just the point guard – he's the facilitator," Shoop said. "John Stockton is going to the Hall of Fame because of Karl Malone. It's about who you distribute the ball to. T.J. gets that and he doesn't discriminate. We've got a lot of guys on our team that have a lot of catches. If you're open, he'll get you the ball. He understands that in this offense, all he has to do is distribute the ball and let guys like Dwight Jones – in the past its been Hakeem Nicks – make sensational plays. He's just getting them the ball. He's the assist man."

** Following the team's pregame meal every Saturday, Shoop huddles his offense and stresses the importance of winning the "double positive" during the game.

What is the "double positive" exactly? It's the combination of winning the turnover and explosive play battles. An explosive play counts as any pass over 18 yards and any run over 12 yards. Yates's 16-yard jaunt against the Seminoles gave him his first explosive run play of the season.

North Carolina is undefeated this season when winning the "double positive."


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