Mid-Week Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters following Wednesday's practice, as the Tar Heels prepare for a high noon showdown with the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday at Kenan Stadium.

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Butch Davis Wednesday Post-Practice:
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* Despite UVa head coach Al Groh's reluctance to name a starting quarterback between Jameel Sewell and Peter Lalich for this weekend's game, Davis is not concerned with who starts, because he expects to see both players take the field.

"We had to get ready for four last week, so it should be half as hard this week," Davis said. "They have two very talented young quarterbacks, and they're going to both play. I think they're probably going to both make a lot of plays during the course of their career, because they are both young.

"We just have to be ready for whichever quarterback is in the game, and realize that there are different things that they ask each one of them to do. But by the same token, some of the stuff is exactly the same, regardless of which guy is in."

* During Davis' tenure with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL, every game was important in earning a playoff spot. While the coaching staff has carried that mentally over to the college game, Davis acknowledges that this home battle against UVa carries some added weight.

"Conference games are very important, because you'd love to compete and have an opportunity to have a say in the ACC Championship," Davis said. "And just simply because of the rivalry and the proximity of the recruiting areas. It carries pretty much a lot of significance."

One thing is clear, though – Davis will not factor the importance of this game into his pre-game speech.

"It's more about us," Davis said. "When we talk pre-game speech, it's truly about us. It's about our football team. It's never about the opponent."

* Defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer has dramatically increased his production through two games in his final season as a Tar Heel, recording 12 tackles, three tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks to go along with a quarterback hit. The Weldon, N.C. native only posted 16 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss during the entire 2006 season.

But his biggest impact on this young North Carolina may come in the form of his leadership abilities.

"He really, truly has done everything that this coaching staff has asked him to do," Davis said. "In the weight room, he's a fanatic workout guy. He watches film. On the field, he's charismatic and I think the other thing that all great leaders do is that he tries to help others around him… We need guys like that, to be honest with you. I'd like to have 15 or 20 guys. You need lightning rods."

* Davis indicated at the beginning of training camp that he would like to play as many as 10 defensive linemen throughout the course of a game to keep energy levels up and to remain aggressive on the front line. Eleven defensive linemen have seen action this year, and Davis commented on how the staff keeps up with player rotation throughout the game.

"Surprisingly, there is a little bit of method to the madness," Davis said. "We're not just throwing guys out there. We're not trying to make wholesale changes, but we trying to judge how long did the previous drive go. What's the other team's offense – what are they trying to do? Are they throwing the ball a lot? Are they running the ball a lot? Is the person coming into the game going to contribute as a pass rusher or as a run stopper? So we just try to rotate guys around and try to keep guys fresh."

* The first-year UNC head coach has been pleased with the defensive line's performance thus far this season, but emphasized that the front four must continue to improve on the nuances of the position.

"The first test of the season was a little bit of an insight into who we were, but they weren't really challenged that much," Davis said. "Last week, it was a little bit more of a challenge. East Carolina has a good offensive line. They had the ability to run the ball. They had some success certainly against Virginia Tech. I thought our defense's front seven responded reasonably well against that, but we're still a long ways away from being anywhere near what we need to be."

* Heralded true freshman tackle Marvin Austin is one of those defensive linemen that has seen a significant amount of action through two games.

"I wouldn't say he's played 50 percent of the snaps, but pretty close," Davis said. "He's getting in quite a bit… We're playing so many [freshmen] on offense and defense and special teams – every opportunity to play in a game gives them a chance to grow and get better."

* If anyone was wondering about quarterback Cam Sexton's level of dedication, the sophomore signal-caller was seen Wednesday working on passing routes with sophomore wide receiver Kenton Thornton on the Kenan Stadium field a full hour after practice ended.


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