Offensive Efficiency

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The 2007 football season kicks off in exactly two weeks, and North Carolina continued preparations Saturday morning with a scrimmage held at Kenan Stadium, complete with ACC officials and a pregame routine. The first-team offense performed well, drawing positive reviews from head coach Butch Davis.

Butch Davis Saturday Post-Scrimmage:

The scrimmage was designed to work on situational plays, allowing the offensive and defensive units to simulate live game conditions.

"We tried to orchestrate a lot of situations, both special teams-wise, and offense and defense," Davis said. "We had regular drives, where we lined the ball up at the 35-yard line and drove it down. The offense drove down the first two times and scored touchdowns, which was encouraging. The first drive was a 13-play drive, [and] the second drive, I think, was an 11-play drive – with full ACC officials calling everything."

The Tar Heels also worked in backed-up situations, with the offense attempting to move the ball out from their own 5-yard line. While the defense forced punts from each of the three offensive units, the first-string was able to gain a first down before kicking the ball away.

Davis said the two-minute drill is still an area of concern for his offense.

"That's an area that we've got to work at," Davis said. "We haven't had as much success throughout training camp with two-minute [drills]. We're doing a much better job of orchestrating the drill, [but] we're not having as much success of being able to get the ball in the end zone. We're able to get the ball in field goal range, but we're not having the success getting the ball in the end zone. The next two weeks we've really got to try to work on that."

Red-shirt freshman T.J. Yates earned the starter's tag at quarterback on Thursday, and he impressed his head coach with his play on Saturday.

"I thought he had a nice day," Davis said. "He orchestrated the offense very well. He was efficient as I said – he was able to take the ball and drive it down the field. He scored touchdowns, I think, two of the three drives that he had the ball. The only drive that he was unsuccessful in scoring a touchdown was the two-minute drive."

Davis said that red-shirt freshman Johnny White and sophomore Richie Rich did some nice things in the scrimmage, as both took snaps at running back with the first-team unit. The first-year UNC coach also praised junior safety Trimane Goddard, who intercepted a pass in a red-zone drill against the second-team offense.

But Davis also warned not to read too much into the offensive and defensive unit performances on Saturday.

"It's always a mixed-bag when you go against yourself," Davis said. "You're somewhat mad if the offense has a good day [or] the defense gives up a little bit of something. But we had a good week of practice, today's scrimmage was good and the best news is that we didn't get anybody hurt."

North Carolina expects to improve on penalties and turnover margin this fall – areas the Tar Heels have not excelled in over the past several seasons.

"We emphasize the idea that we want to be a smart, efficient football team," Davis said. "Smart means the penalty aspect, too. We want to be one of the least penalized teams in college football. We don't want to turn the ball over [on] offense, and defensively, they're trying as hard as they can – strips, interceptions, trying the scoop and score. And hopefully we're creating the habits where our defense will be an opportunistic defense."

The players will have their first full day of training camp off on Sunday, before resuming practice Monday afternoon.

Notes from Davis' post-scrimmage interview:

  • The defensive backfield has improved steadily throughout training camp.

    "We feel much better about the starting unit, right now. With Trimane Goddard and Deunta Williams at safety, and Kendric Burney and Kendric Williams at corner – those guys are really starting to play well together. The secondary is an awful lot like the offensive line. They have to be cohesive, they have to communicate, [and] they've got to talk, because there are so many adjustments and looks."

  • Penalties were kept to a minimum during the scrimmage, as the first-team offense only committed two or three infractions all day.

    "All the ticky-tacky things that irritate coaches – illegal procedure, illegal formation, jump offsides, all those kinds of things – I don't think we had any of those."

  • Davis indicated that a large number of freshmen may be able to contribute this season, including Greg Little, Ryan Houston, Marvin Austin, Tydreke Powell, Bruce Carter and Zach Pianalto.

    "There's 8-10-12-15 of these guys that I think have really put themselves in a position that we're starting to feel comfortable that maybe they might be considered somebody that we would trust enough to go in and help us win a game with a defined role. For them to go out there and expect them to play 35 to 50 plays, I think, would be horribly unrealistic, at least certainly early in the season."

  • More on Houston: "The more work he's getting, the better he's getting."

  • Davis announced that senior walk-on Kendric Williams had been given a scholarship for the coming season.

    "He is a kid that has really sacrificed a great deal in the program. He's been an excellent special teams player, [and] he's worked himself into a starting role at corner."

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