Previewing fall practice

A thumbnail sketch of what to look for as the Tar Heels begin two-a-day practices.

The freshmen completed their first day of practice, and fall two-a-day practices are set to begin this week. Here is Inside Carolina's take on the key position battles and what the staff will likely try to accomplish in the fall.
  • During the spring, a lot of emphasis was placed on the running game. We look for that to continue into two-a-day practices, but also look for the playbook to be expanded.
  • At defensive end, the staff will look for a "playmaker" to emerge from among the veterans and/or true frosh.
  • At defensive tackle, Will Chapman will return to practice, and it will be interesting to see how that changes the dynamics on the interior of the line.
  • At linebacker, Coach Dave Huxtable is looking for six good men. ""You like to be two deep, but last year our second group of linebackers did not play a lot. Our first group of linebackers took most of the snaps," Huxtable told Inside Carolina, "That happens a lot at the linebacker position. We didn't work the second group a whole lot. This year, coming out of spring, I would like to play six linebackers." True frosh Victor Worsley and Xavier Rainey may find themselves in that group.
  • In the secondary, the battle to watch will be between Defonte' Coleman who is coming on after an injury and Chris Curry who looked very good in the spring. It will be interesting to see how the staff works in true frosh Tommy Richardson in this group.
  • The offensive line may have outworked the rest of the team in off-season strength and conditioning and the progress of the line will be closely watched. Will the progress from last year be incremental, or is the line ready for a giant step forward? The staff will likely be looking to get comfortable with the depth there. Of particular note might be the progress of reserve Jonas Seawright, switched from defensive tackle in the spring to the offensive line, and Justin Barton who may be just maturing. Also, the staff will have Skip Seagraves and Willie McNeil will change ends of the line.
  • In terms of expanding the playbook, the tight ends may have a few more plays in the fall thrown their way in practice. Hilton and Blizzard provide excellent targets and a somewhat depleted wide receiver corps may draw them more into the offense.
  • For the fullbacks, see the above comments on the tight ends. Madison Hedgecock may find more opportunities to run or catch the ball in the fall.
  • At tailback, Andre Williams will likely be worked in slowly, as the staff could be antsy about not exposing him to the risk of an injury in the pre-season. Parker and Lewis will get a lot of snaps, but look for Williams to get more as it gets closer to August 31st.
  • At wide receiver, the staff will be taking a hard look at the true frosh to see who will emerge from this group. One or two of the frosh will play this year. Derrele Mitchell seems to have the inside track to be one of those players. The second receiver will likely come from the group of Duante Fields, Michael Gilmore, and Ian Firestone.
  • We look for the staff to keep the quarterback situation very close to the vest, alternating Durant and Stephens equally with the first team offense.  The staff may not announce the starter until just prior to the Miami of Ohio game.

Inside Carolina will get you posted on practices and update you on these and other developments.

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