Mid-Week Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters following Wednesday's practice, as the Tar Heels prepare to travel to Winston-Salem for a noon showdown with Wake Forest on Saturday.

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Butch Davis Wednesday Post-Practice:

* The rumors surrounding Davis' ties to the Arkansas coaching position continue to draw increased media attention, despite the lack of factual evidence relating to the speculation. The first-year North Carolina coach quickly dismissed the topic after practice on Wednesday.

"I'm not even going to talk about that anymore today," Davis said. "If you've got something about Wake Forest or our players, then I'll be happy to talk about it."

Davis was then pressed with the question, "Will you be the head coach here next year?"

His response? "That's my plan, yeah."

* Junior college transfers have not been a significant part of North Carolina football during the history of the program. Sure, quarterback Chris Keldorf turned out to be a huge success toward the end of the Mack Brown era, but those examples are few and far between. Former head coach John Bunting brought only one JUCO in during his six-year tenure in Chapel Hill – cornerback Lionel Green in the 2003 recruiting class.

So when the Tar Heels picked up commitments earlier this week from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College standouts Melvin Williams and Nathan Guillory (who has already de-committed), it prompted some interest from the fan base. After all, Davis already brought in one JUCO last spring – punter Terrance Brown.

Just how pertinent a role will junior college athletes play in rebuilding the UNC program?

"In all of my college experiences at Oklahoma State and Miami, we've never really significantly relied exclusively [on junior college players]," Davis said. "There's programs where they'll go after 10 [or] 12 guys every single year. I don't believe that that's the way that you build a program, but I do believe that junior college players and [post grad] players at prep schools have a role, because they're older, have a little more experience, but they have to fill a specific need."

During Davis' time at Miami – both as an assistant and as the head coach – the Hurricanes brought in as many as three JUCOs with each recruiting class. Cortez Kennedy, Jeremy Shockey and Jeff Feagles are just some of the NFL players that entered Davis' program through the junior college ranks.

This coaching staff is determined to fill gaps as effectively and as quickly as possible – look no farther than Brown, who has proved to be a valuable pickup for the Tar Heels, stabilizing a position of great concern in the offseason with a 42.9 average with 14 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

"I think there is a place for it," Davis said. "You look and you say, ‘Okay, who are we losing on the football team currently?' And then as those guys leave, and then areas of concern, either because of depth or potentially someone that might could come in and start – if there is somebody out there – you go after them and you take a look at them."

* With more than a dozen true freshmen seeing the field through the first seven games of the season, leaders are beginning to step up and take responsibility in their teammates. Davis pointed out that Greg Little and Marvin Austin are just two of the freshmen that have moved into that role, something the head coach said is instrumental throughout each of the classes.

"I think that each class has an identity," Davis said. "I think that as guys contribute more to the team, new leaders in each class emerge. I'm a huge believer that position groups have to have leaders within that position. I think that you have to have strong leadership within those [groups]. You have to have leaders on both sides of the ball, and I think that you have to have leaders within classes."

* Some football coaches like to focus on one specific facet of their football team. South Carolina's Steve Spurrier is known for running his own offense, while Miami's Randy Shannon elects not to wear a headset when his offense is on the field. Davis' mentor, Jimmy Johnson, took the CEO approach, taking a keen interest in every part of his program on game day.

"I always admired the fact that he was into all three phases," Davis said. "I think something has to suffer if you are going to be exclusively involved in one little niche… It's been my experience with Jimmy that it's better to have a total grasp of all the things that are going on, because you get a chance to see trends during the game."

Davis indicated that the ability to trust his coordinators is important in his decision to act as an overseer of sorts.

"Coordinators actually have to learn cohesiveness with each other," Davis said. "I know that working side-by-side with Norv Turner, and the difference between working with Norv and working with Ernie Zampese. And you learn their style and how they call plays so you can kind of compliment each other, and I think learning to trust those guys is a lot more important than trying to micromanage one phase of it."

* The coaching staff plays particular attention to the facial expressions and body movements of their young players during the course of a game, trying to spot any player that has lost confidence or that is overly upset.

"You have to watch emotional swings, because they're going to happen," Davis said. "You're going to have highs, you're going to have lows, there are going to be guys that make mental mistakes, there's going to be turnovers, and you just absolutely cannot afford one of your players psychologically and emotionally lose it. Because you need that player to help you win the game before the game's over with."

* Wake Forest has 22 fourth or fifth-year players on their two-deep, compared to just eight for North Carolina.

Davis was asked if he had ever faced this level of discrepancy in veteran experience before as a coach.

"Just about every Saturday this year," Davis said with a smile, adding, "I've never been in any situation like this with this young of a football team any time I've ever coached."

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