Football Practice: News & Notes

McGill Still Questionable

Tailback Ronnie McGill went through the entire practice on Wednesday afternoon and took part in nine-on-seven drills--a contact drill in which Coach Bunting did not expect his participation--but he did not get as many snaps as he would get on a "normal" week.

According to Bunting, "he gave himself a chance to play," but it has yet to be determined how much. Should he play, McGill expects that it will be mostly situational.

"It will probably be shorter distances, so I won't really have to burst and take off too far," he said. "[I'll] just get in there on a couple of short-yardage situations...

"If they put me in, I should be able to go a couple of series to get it loose for this weekend. Hopefully, I'll be able to go a lot longer, next week."

Red Zone Play

Two of the Tar Heels first three drives last week against Florida State stalled in the red zone and resulted in field goals, rather than touchdowns. Against NC State's defense, which is allowing fewer than 200 yards and 15 points per game, trips into the red zone will require touchdowns because scoring opportunities are likely to be scarce. McGill's presence in the line-up could increase Carolina's chances.

"It always helps to have a bigger back," quarterback Darian Durant said, "especially in goal line situations. In the first couple of games, he's punched the ball in there for us. He's the type of back you need around the goal line. Not taking anything away from Chad [Scott] and Jacque [Lewis] at all, but it always helps to have a big guy around the goal line."

If it comes to scoring through the air in the red zone, precision will be the key.

"Execute the plan," Bunting said. "You have to be more precise in the red zone because there is a lot less area to defend, so the coverage is tighter, there is always the chance there are more blitzes down there.

"You have less area to work with; you have to be more precise in everything you do. Everything has to be timed out much better, particularly in the passing game. The running game is about the same. The running game in the red zone is the same as it is out in the field. You have to block people and you have to make a play."

Run-Pass Double Threat

Even with the graduation of NC State quarterback Phillip Rivers and a healthy T.A. McClendon, UNC's defense is giving equal attention to the run and the pass of the Wolfpack offense.

"We have been practicing 50/50, for the run and the pass," defensive tackle Jonas Seawright said. "We are ready for both of them. There really is no main focus. The main focus is the ultimate goal and that is to get the win."

"They are running more than they did last year," Bunting said. "Part of that is because T.A. McClendon is healthy. Part of that is because the quarterbacks are not as experienced, obviously, as Phillip Rivers, but they are very capable. They did a great job. Jay Davis did a terrific job. And we recruited Marcus Stone. We would love to have him here. He's a good player.

"They are good quarterbacks, and they have fine receivers, so they are going to throw the ball. Now, they are going to run the ball. That's something they do extremely well, and they are throwing it very effectively. The receivers are good, and the quarterbacks probably gained a lot of confidence in that Wake Forest game--they should have."

Rivalry or Not?

Every year, the Tar Heel-Wolfpack football game gets a lot of attention as a rivalry game in the state of North Carolina, but not everyone outside the state boundaries sees it the same.

"It's a big rivalry game," Bunting said. "It's bragging rights; it's two state colleges that play every single year, and that's the value. It's a great tradition."

As someone who grew up south of the border, Durant doesn't see it the same way. It's an important game but for other reasons.

"It's not really a rivalry for me," he said. "It's more of an in-state thing, I think, for the in-state guys who have a lot of friends at {NC] State, a lot of people that they dislike at State. For me it's a big ACC game for us. [It] would put us back at .500. It's just a game we need so we can build."

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