"When you go one-versus-one, you are obviously going to see who is performing best at what we perceive to be the best competition," UNC coach John Bunting said. "We have put the first up against the seconds, we have moved some thirds up to seconds and turned some seconds into ones."
After some skeleton drills with the quarterbacks and wide receivers going up against the linebackers and defensive backs, the linemen then joined the fray for a full contact scrimmage.
Tailbacks' Ronnie McGill (cramps) and Jacque Lewis (thigh sprain) did not participate. Fullback James Gibson injured his shoulder and spent most of practice on the sideline with his arm in a sling. According to trainer Dan Hooker, none of the injuries are serious.
High appears to have been promoted to second team defense and Worsley has been working there as well, while Rackley and A. Blizzard have slipped back to the third team for now.
"Right now, we're stirring the pot a bunch," Bunting said. "We're moving some guys around quite a bit, which I believe we have the opportunity to do this week. By the beginning of next week, we're going to try to get some things narrowed down more – which are the ones, who are the twos and who are the main backups. We're not juggling a whole lot of people right now, but we're juggling enough people to try and give them an opportunity."
Holley caught several difficult balls in practice and was in with the first unit frequently, as was Bowman, Mason, and upperclassmen Derrele Mitchell, Jawarski Pollock, Brandon Russell, Chris Curry, Wallace Wright and Danny Rumley.
Rumley caught numerous balls in practice and so did Scott out of the backfield.
Mason and Bowman both looked sharp returning kickoffs as well. However, Bowman looked extra special in that role, returning one kickoff practically untouched.
Green, Edwards and Fred Sparkman saw action on the kickoff team, while Kedra, along with Bowman and Mason were on the kickoff return team.
Kedra and Edwards seem to be developing quicker than Gedin and Sparkman.
"I don't expect a lot of [true freshmen] to start at linebacker; it's just too hard of a position," Bunting said. "I don't expect too many freshmen quarterbacks to come in and start, but some could. We've worked a lot of linebackers in with the third and the second groups. We've also worked them into nickel situations. I am expecting our freshmen linebackers to play a big role on special teams, so we're force-feeding that.
Bunting said his decision not to move the freshmen up too soon draws from his own experience as a collegiate and professional linebacker.
"I've been around that position a long time and not too many rookies play," he said. "I started my first, second and third game as a rookie, and then [my coaches] saw they weren't doing a real smart thing, so the sat me on the bench for the rest of the year. I know from personal experience, it's very difficult going from high school to college. It's a big jump."
"He's right there," Bunting said of Green. "[Friday] will be the first day that he has had double-days so he'll have two sessions. I watched him specifically running today, and he ran well. We were concerned about his conditioning when he first came in, but I think he's getting back. It's more about his legs than his breathing."
In the dime package, Seawright comes out and Banks goes in at nose tackle, Dumas is replaced by Hedgecock and Page stays in at defensive end. Justice and Brown are the linebackers, Taylor and Reid are the safeties, with Green, Michael Waddell, Derrick Johnson and Cedrick Holt at cornerback.
"I respect this whole freshman class. They've got a lot of spunk. They're different from anything I've here so far. They have a lot of energy and confidence. They are going to help our football team some this year, and they are going to be part of a special class in a few years from now."