Heels Improving on a Daily Basis

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- It's only Day 2 in North Carolina's preseason training camp, but head coach Butch Davis told the media following practice on Saturday afternoon that he has already seen improvement from his squad.

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Butch Davis Saturday Post-Practice:
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"It's baby steps right now," Davis said. "I mean it is just literally practice No. 2 of 29, and I think we're a better football team today than we were yesterday."

Some changes took place only one day into training camp, as Davis told reporters at UNC's Media Day on Friday that the first five days would allow the true and redshirt freshmen a 45-minute acclimation period before the veterans joined the fray. But when Saturday's afternoon practice began, the entire team took the field.

"As coaches, we scripted way too long of a practice," Davis said. "Obviously, as you saw today, we kind of tweaked it last night. It's kind of like coaches in the course of a game, instead of waiting for halftime, right in the middle of the first quarter, get on the sidelines and come up with a whole new game plan. And we kind of shortened the practice by about 45 minutes."

The extended practice on Friday tired many of the freshmen out, but today's adjustment provided for more intensity and enthusiasm from the entire squad.

The coaching staff has used the first two days of practice to evaluate not only the freshmen, but also some upperclassmen that are capable of playing multiple positions, including senior defensive tackle Kyndraus Guy, who also practiced at defensive end.

"Part of it is easing him back into football after surgery," Davis said. "Part of it is out of necessity to take a look at, you know, is that a place that he could really help us. We already know how well he can play inside, possibly in nickel, in some of it as a defensive tackle, but you know, just trying to ease him back into football. We felt like that would be the smart way to try to break him back in."

Davis said wide receivers Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks were both making catches and making plays, and he also complimented the entire passing attack.

"It's so much better than the first four or five days of spring practice," Davis said. "If you remember back, I was bemoaning the fact of how inefficient we were in the passing game – we couldn't catch, we couldn't throw, all those kinds of things. And you can tell the amount of effort that the players have put into the last seven months, [in] that their efficiency is better. Quarterbacks are throwing the ball better, receivers are clearly catching the ball better, so they're doing a nice job."

Senior defensive linemen Hilee Taylor and Kentwan Balmer were singled out by Davis for their effort and intensity, as well as for their leadership abilities, and junior free safety Trimane Goddard was praised for his ability to learn defensive play calls.

Redshirt freshman running back Johnny White was also mentioned by his head coach.

"It's good to see Johnny White back, he looks fast and explosive like he did the first couple of days of spring practice, so that's good," Davis said.

The Tar Heels will begin using helmets and shoulder pads over the next two practices, before moving to full pads on Tuesday.


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