Mid-Week Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters following Wednesday's practice, as the Tar Heels prepare for Saturday's annual spring game.

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Butch Davis Wednesday Post-Practice:

* North Carolina held its second and final scrimmage of the spring on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Saturday's spring game, and there was no question which side of the ball put on the better performance.

"The defense dominated," Davis said. "They are playing very fast [and] very physical. They are out-executing at this stage right now. The offense has got some potential to make some plays. Right now, we're not being as consistent as we need to be. We'll have 4-5-6 positive plays, some good runs, some good passes and then, shoot ourselves in the foot with a turnover, busted protection or a sack. So we've got to learn to be more consistent offensively."

Red-shirt freshman quarterback Mike Paulus got the nod to run with the first-string offense on Wednesday, and despite a strong showing in last week's scrimmage, the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder was not pleased with his individual play.

"No, not at all – I stunk it up today," Paulus said. "That's just being real. Last week in the scrimmage, I think my mindset was just to go out there and make a move and do something big. And I did – I just felt really comfortable out there. And then today…

"It was just different. I'm not going to blame it on the defense. The defense is very good, but either way, I've got to react and play better than that. It'll make me better. I didn't do well today, but it will make me better in the long run and I'll learn from it and we'll get back after it."

* While Paulus and junior Cam Sexton have split reps for much of the spring, their performances in practice and in scrimmage situations will play a significant role in determining which one has the head start in challenging incumbent starter T.J. Yates, who has missed spring ball due to offseason shoulder surgery.

"I think there is huge competition on both of those guys to find out if there is somebody that has earned the opportunity to put the pressure on T.J. to compete for the job, to push him, and then, to earn the backup quarterback position," Davis said. "And certainly, this spring will be a portion of that evaluation to find out after 15 practices who had the best spring practice, who is the most efficient, who made the best decisions, who can step in the huddle and lead an offense down the field."

* Last season's defensive secondary was short on bodies and experience, and this spring has been spent determining which players are ready to contribute in the fall. The lone newcomer this semester was junior college prospect Melvin Williams, who has slowly begun to make his presence known at both free and strong safety.

"Just about every single day, he's making a play," Davis said. "He's going to be a real asset to our secondary."

Junior Richie Rich and sophomore Johnny White made the transition from running back to defensive back during the offseason, while junior Jordan Hemby has finally gotten healthy. All three are being pushed and prodded to test their resolve and ability.

"They're starting to exert themselves," Davis said. "We've put a lot of pressure on them at corner. We've tried to match them up as often as we possibly can against our best receivers to find out how much they can help us and how much can they grow. So they're doing a nice job defensively."

The glaring negative for new secondary coach Everett Withers is not having veteran safety Trimane Goddard for the spring sessions, but that absence has allowed sophomore Da'Norris Searcy to display his talents at safety after gaining experience last season primarily on special teams.

"The silver lining is that it has given Da'Norris Searcy a lot of opportunity," Davis said. "He's in with the first team. He's playing with the best group. He's going against the best runners and the best receivers, and so you get a better chance to evaluate yourself, and for us to see him. So I think it's really benefited him."

* One position where Davis has expressed concerns over depth this offseason is the defensive line, in particular at defensive end. The second-year head coach has been up front about wanting 10 solid line prospects – five at defensive end, five at defensive tackle – but stated on Wednesday that right now, he only has six or seven players that fit that label.

Losing Darius Massenburg for the spring due to a wrist injury did not sooth any of those worries.

"I really hate that Darrius Massenburg has missed this spring," Davis said. "This was a spring that we really needed to try to find out what kind of role can he play for us."

But he can take some solace in the fact that junior defensive end E.J. Wilson has begun to emerge on the edge, playing what Davis called his best ball since the new staff has been in Chapel Hill.

"He's more physical right now," Davis said. "[He's] more confident with his hands. He's more dominating at the point of attack."

And while sophomore sensation Marvin Austin is having a good-as-expected first spring, several other defensive tackles have also stepped up their game.

"I think that we've really gotten a chance to get Tydreke Powell a lot of work," Davis said. "I think that Cam Thomas is having a very good, solid spring [and] Tavares Brown is doing a nice job."

* Aaron Stahl started last season at left guard on the offensive line, but made the switch to center this offseason to help fill the void left by fifth-year senior Scott Lenahan. Davis indicated that move has been relatively smooth, save for some minor technicalities.

"We're still having a few little exchange issues when we rotate quarterbacks… We haven't gotten the consistency there that I think has kind of hurt our offense a little bit, but as a whole, it's been pretty positive."

* North Carolina's Spring Showcase gets underway with the Fans' Zone opening at 10 a.m. on Saturday, followed by the annual spring game at 12:30 p.m. The Tar Heels will practice for approximately 30-45 minutes before beginning the scrimmage.

Davis indicated that he hoped to have 60 and 75 full-speed live scrimmage plays, with 35 percent of the snaps going to the starters and the other 65 percent being dominated by the second- and third-team players.

"We want to get a great evaluation of those guys to see how much they've grown, how much they've developed, and to give them more playing opportunities," Davis said.

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