Butch Davis Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters on Wednesday afternoon for the final time before spring practice concludes on Friday.

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You mentioned before spring practice that you usually take the last couple of days to focus on various schemes that you may face during the regular season that your team is not accustomed to. Have you done that this week?
"Yes, this entire week, we've taken certain elements of the practice and we've taken a look at some of the nonconference teams that we're going to play, and also some of the conference teams that we haven't played previously, and devoted maybe 30 minutes a day to that particular team or that particular phase.

"Some bare defensive schemes that we don't see all of the time, and you can never see enough of the read-option offensive things that West Virginia ran, and obviously, our kids have got a little bit of background and history, but there are some kids that are going to have to do that stuff next year that don't have that history and that background. So it was a chance to kind of go out there and see those kinds of things. So we'll just continue that a little bit on [Thursday] and a little bit on Friday, and then we'll pretty much put it to rest until summertime."

What type of development have you seen in the offensive line?
"This whole spring has been a little bit for us to find out about the young players. There's an awful lot of stuff that we know about Kyle Jolly, and that's not to talk about that we don't expect him to get better and to improve and to be a better player next year, but we've got to find out who can start [and] who can push people to be a part of the depth that we know that we can count on – six, seven, eight, maybe nine offensive linemen. And do we have them on campus, or are we going to have to wait for some of the freshmen to come in?

"Obviously, Mike Ingersoll, Kevin Bryant, Mike Dykes, certainly Jonathan Cooper and Carl Gaskins – those guys in the offensive line, along with Greg Elleby – which I think was a very, very positive move for our offensive line, he made some very good progress – they learned about what they can do. They also learned about what they need to work on between now and the start of the season. I think it's an eye-opener for those guys to know, ‘Okay, I'm really pretty good at this, but I need to work on speed rushes,' or ‘I'm really good in the run game, but I've got to work on my play-action pass.' And so it gives them a little bit of what I need to work on for the next 90 days before we get back to training camp."

What type of development have you seen from Braden Hanson this spring?
"One of the things that I think has been very impressive is that his scrimmage performances have been more impressive than his practice performances. There have been times in practice that you're not challenged as much, because in 7-on-7 there's no rush, and so you don't really know, but then he went out Saturday and he threw the ball really well. I think he was 6-of-7 and he threw the ball with some pressure and people trying to be in his face.

"I think there comes a point in time – and I don't think he's there yet – one of the things that probably becomes the make-or-break issue with all quarterbacks, is when will the game slow down enough that all of the moving pieces aren't moving so fast that you have no idea what's going on. When it just calms down in your mind. And you see little glimmers of that in the scrimmage that it's starting to happen…

"[Offensive coordinator] John [Shoop] made mention of it, and I think this is a great trait of all quarterbacks if they're going to be any good, that they can't see the rush coming. They've got to keep their eyes down the field, they've got to see receivers that come open late and if the pocket holds open enough, they've got to slide and find that open receiver and he did some of that."

On the battle at the safety position:
"There are really some people that are pushing to get playing time in the secondary. I think that Melvin Williams has had a very good spring. What looked like it might have been a slam dunk that Da'Norris Searcy was kind of the somewhat unwritten heir apparent to Trimane Goddard's position… Matt Merletti has had a very good spring. Melvin Williams has had a very good spring.

"I don't think that Da'Norris has had a bad spring, I think he's had a good solid spring, but I think that all of those guys are competing and certainly with Deunta [Williams] being out, you don't losing the reps and you don't like letting all of those guys making up that distance on you. So we've had some guys that have really competed pretty well out there at the safety position." "

On the wide receivers:
"We're a long ways away. Thank God we don't play for four months, because this group of receivers, they've worked hard, but they've still got a lot of work in front of them. They're still working on just some of the basic things of great releases and recognizing coverages and how to move a defensive back off a leverage, and then the consistency of catching the balls.

"That's a huge part of [deciding] the guys that are going to play – whether we end up feeling comfortable that we can play three or if we can play six, is going to depend upon when the ball comes to you, are you going to make a play? Are you a guy that the quarterback is going to trust that if I come to you, you've got to make the play. And certainly that trust was there with Hakeem Nicks, Brandon [Tate] and Brooks [Foster], now we've just got to develop that with these younger guys."

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