Jolly Securing The Blind Side

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – It's one thing to talk about trust, but it is a completely different thing to fully understand what trust is – just ask the hundreds of quarterbacks that will take the field this fall, not knowing what nightmares await their blind side. No position in football demands trust more than left tackle, and Kyle Jolly intends to keep that faith strong during the 2007 season.

The Powhatan, Va. native realizes the responsibility that awaits him in his first true season of live action, and he's anxious to get started.

"I know I've got big shoes to fill because Brian Chacos had been here for six years, so I'm just really excited," Jolly said. "I want to jump at the chance and just run with it."

The red-shirt sophomore essentially started his career at North Carolina during this past spring practice.

"I didn't really get much experience last year," Jolly said. "In practice, we weren't getting many reps. So I had to get all of my reps back in the spring, and tried to grow a lot more than usual."

The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder worked diligently in the offseason on improving a variety of aspects of his game, which led to a starting role this preseason at left tackle.

"I didn't really have a punch in my pass [protection], and I was getting bull-rushed easily, and I just tried to correct that a little bit," Jolly said. "I've also tried to become more urgent in my first step."

He also credits new offensive line coach Sam Pittman, a rowdy individual who uses constructive criticism to get his point across to his linemen in the trenches.

"He's really into it," Jolly said. "Everything you do wrong, he corrects it but he also gives you a compliment at the same time. So it's just not criticism – he's trying to build you up, then dropping you back to tell you what to work on, and then getting you back up there."

Head coach Butch Davis indicated at UNC's Media Day that he hoped to play as many as 10 guys on the offensive line, a move that Jolly said has helped build competition throughout his position group.

"It just pushes everybody, and makes everybody better," Jolly said. "You can't take a day off [and] you can't take a play off, because somebody's right there nipping at your heels."

Jolly will be facing the Atlantic Coast Conference's top pass-rushers from his tackle spot, but he feels as though his teammates on the defensive line have helped accelerate his learning curve heading into the season opener next Saturday.

"Having [defensive ends] Hilee Taylor and Darius Powell – they are as fast as I can imagine," Jolly said. "They're probably the fastest guys that we're going to go up against all year, so I can't even explain how much that helps me."

The offensive line has never been confused with the glamour of the quarterback position or the accolades associated with the other skill slots, but fame in football has never been important to Jolly anyway.

"It doesn't really matter, because it comes with the territory," Jolly said. "We grew up knowing we were going to be offensive linemen, so we're used to it. We just like to get credit from our own players, because they give us all the credit, so that's all we need."

Regardless of how many media articles mention Jolly following the James Madison game next weekend, there's a good chance that red-shirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates and his band of running backs will congratulate him on a job well done.

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