10 Keys to Spring

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- As the spring football season begins Friday afternoon at Kenan Stadium, head coach John Bunting discussed what he sees as the most important issues to resolve during spring practice ...

1) "Who will emerge as the quarterback starter and backup?" --- With last year's starter, Matt Baker, having graduated, the only quarterback on the roster with significant college experience is Nebraska transfer Joe Dailey. Dailey may have the edge entering the spring over heralded redshirt freshman Cam Sexton, while Joey Bozich is also on the roster.

2) "Who is going to be taking over offensive line positions both from a starting role and backup position? We want to develop that depth on the offensive line throughout the spring." --- New offensive line coach Mark Weber will be faced with the challenge of shaping the depth chart on the offensive line. Brian Chacos (who is sidelined this spring) is an all-ACC candidate at left tackle and Charlston Gray has two full years of experience at right guard, but questions remain at the other three spots. Center Ben Lemming has tremendous promise, but sat out last season recovering from shoulder injury and no one else on the line has proven themselves yet to be a consistent ACC-level force.

3) "Who is somebody who can help us at the tailback position? We have a number of tailbacks going into spring that are going to get opportunities every single day on the practice field to prove they can help us next fall." --- Ronnie McGill is the obvious lead back and could potentially have a huge season, but can he stay healthy? If not, walk-on Justin Warren showed impressive burst in spots and Barrington Edwards got his share of carries last season. A name to watch for, among others, is Richie Rich, who could emerge after redshirting his freshman season.

4) "We're anxious to have Richard Quinn continue to develop as a tight end." -- Senior Jon Hamlett is a proven commodity with three years of heavy hitting experience, including 21 receptions last season. However, Quinn [pictured, right] is an exciting prospect who enrolled last January and created quite a buzz with some of his catches in practice last season.

5) "We're anxious to see some of the freshmen that redshirted last year - see what they can do on special teams and on the offensive and defensive sides." --- In the defensive backfield, Bryan Dixon, Jordan Hemby and Jermaine Strong are redshirt freshmen to look out for. On offense, wide receivers Kenton Thornton and Dirk Engram may be ready to make a splash at an open wideout spot.

6) "We've got to find out who are going to be the leaders of the football team. That is very important to me, to see what leaders could emerge - what guys will do all the right things off the field and on the field to become the leaders of this team next fall." --- Senior safety Kareen Taylor is coming off a season in which he made a number of big plays, including 61 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions. He'll take charge of what should be a formidable secondary.

7) "Defensively, there are a lot of questions relative to who is going to play for Chase Page - who will play as well as he did?" --- Perhaps Kyndraus Guy [pictured, right] will be the standout performer along the defensive line that fills the void left by Page and Tommy Davis. Guy's sophomore season was memorable, from the interception return against Maryland to the emotional encouragement he displayed while being carted off the field against Virginia Tech.

8) "Who will takeover as the signal caller for Tommy Richardson and give us solid play and leadership on the field? We have a number of candidates defensively that I hope will step up." --- The obvious candidate is Edwards. The senior linebacker tied Richardson with a team-high 91 tackles a year ago and has developed a passionate approach to practices and games that, at the least, provides leadership by example.

9) "This is an extremely exciting spring implementing somewhat of a new system with Coach Frank Cignetti and having another year with Coach Marvin Sanders on the defense." --- How long will it take for the new quarterbacks and wideouts -- as well as the rest of the offense -- to learn the system and get in synch? That begins in spring practice. As for the defense, they'll look to build on a breakout season in 2005.

10) "Once again, we're getting a lot of players involved on special teams. Special teams will be a big part of our spring practice." -- The best way for a young Tar Heel to get on the field early is by showing the ability to make a play on special teams, and something Carolina has plenty of are talented underclassmen.

Inside Carolina Top Stories