UNC FB 2002: Practice News and Notes

"It was a typical practice," said head coach John Bunting. But from where we sat, it seemed more intense.

Yesterday marked the first day of the regular practice routine for the North Carolina Tar Heels.  Two-a-day camp is over, classes have begun, and the Tar Heels are beginning preparations for their August 31st matchup against Miami of Ohio.  Yestrday's practice seemed more intense than normal. 

  • Coach Bunting and his assistant coaches had to, on numerous occasions, caution players in practice not to tackle during drills.  It appears that the Tar Heels are getting anxious to hit someone.  "They get mixed signals," says defensive line coach Rod Broadway, "We tell them 'Run to the ball, Run to the ball!' then we tell them not to tackle."  They are just learning this style of practice.  We did things this way at Florida for all the practices."
  • Will Chapman, moved just a day ago to defensive end, looked very natural at that position.  When asked how it felt to lose a player like that to another position, Coach Broadway laughed, "You got a pistol? Nah, we're going to be fine on the interior of the line.  Eric Davis has developed into a really solid player.  Chase Page and Donti Coats will fight it out for Will's spot."
  • Coach Broadway said that Eric Davis is going to stay at the nose tackle spot, rather than move to rush tackle.  Coach Bunting indicated that Page, Coats, and Smalls -- along with Davis, would play the interior line spots.  Chase Page seemed to get the majority of snaps with the first team defense in Chapman's spot.  Page, who injured a groin at the start of fall practice, appears fully recovered and back at full speed. 
  • Defonte Coleman, who sprained a knee in Saturday night's practice, was back in the lineup in a green jersey.  He wore a knee brace but did not seem to be limited in his range or speed.
  • Coach Bunting said that the only starting linebacker spot that was secure was the one held down by Malcolm Stewart.  He indicated that Doug Justice has missed enough practice that he could not see Justice as the starting middle linebacker. 
  • Coach Bunting continues to lament the number of players, particularly on defense, wearing green and red jerseys.  "You can't learn to play football by watching," has been one of Coach Bunting's catch phrases during practice.
  • On Jocques Dumas, Coach Bunting was careful to say that Dumas was a very talented player, but "Dumas did not have a good camp.  He is not the starter, and I don't forsee him being a starter any time soon." 
  • On the bright side, Coach Bunting said, "I am very pleased with where our offense is right now."  He indicated that he thought UNC "had a good camp," but it is clear he is bothered by how injuries on the defense, though not severe, have limited the number of repititions needed by some inexperienced players.
  • Speaking of the walking wounded, Doug Justice is still out with a sprained left ankle, Carl Smalls is out with a back sprain, Victor Worsley is still out with a shoulder problem, Skip Seagraves is out with a back sprain, and Derrele Mitchell was "out sick," yesterday.  None of the injuries are consider severe enough to prevent these players being physically ready by the first game of the season.
  • Freshman Rashad Tindall, who underwent knee surgery this spring, can't stay away from practice.  Though he can't participate in any drills, he observed practice wearing a red no-contact jersey.
  • True frosh Michael Gilmore continues to be impressive.  He had some nice catches in seven-on-seven drills.  He seems to have an instinctive knack for using his body well to prevent the defender from getting to the ball.
  • All the North Carolina running backs looked good yesterday, and if the season were to start tomorrow, our guess is that Willie Parker would be the starter, though the race may be too close to call.  In any event, all the tail backs should get snaps once the games begin.
  • On the quarterback competition, it is clear that Coach Bunting and his staff are withholding judgement until the final week prior to the Miami of Ohio contest.  At this point, that is another race that is too close to call, and Coach Bunting is providing few clues as to who will start in the first game. 

Inside Carolina Top Stories