Preseason Roundtable, Part V

Inside Carolina counts down to the start of training camp on Friday by analyzing the key preseason topics. In this final installment of the roundtable, the IC staff takes a closer look at the roles in the defensive backfield ...

Roundtable participants: Don Callahan, Mark Paschal, Greg Barnes and Buck Sanders. Paschal, who was a standout linebacker for the Tar Heels last year, is joining the IC staff this season and will provide weekly analysis on the site as well as co-hosting the Inside Carolina Call-In postgame show. Stay tuned for more details.)

During spring practice it appeared that Charles Brown had stepped up and claimed the starting cornerback spot opposite Kendric Burney. Do you expect that to hold up during fall camp, or that Jordan Hemby will reclaim that spot?

Greg: The best-case scenario is for Hemby to continue to improve his coverage skills and warrant the starting role, as Davis has made it clear that Brown is the ideal nickel back in those packages. Until the Tar Heel coaching staff brings in lockdown corners, it's safe to assume that Davis and DC Everett Withers will continue to put five defensive backs on the field in obvious passing situations, and having three quality – and healthy – corners is something that UNC has not had in recent years.

Don: When healthy, Charles Brown is a better cornerback than Jordan Hemby. It wouldn't surprise me, though, to see in nickel situations Hemby play cornerback and Brown line up at nickelback.

Mark: I think you have to expect both of them to play. I think in nickel situations they will take Charles and move him back to nickel and bring Jordan in. Both guys are great athletes who will help UNC in a variety of ways. I don't see it being 100% one guy or the other.

Buck: There seems to be a consensus of opinion here – the most likely scenario is that Brown will shift to nickel back in obvious passing situations, but the starting corner spot may still be up for grabs between Hemby and Brown. Because of his injuries early in his career, it would be a great story for Hemby to excel as a senior, and he did start every game last season.

What we're hearing is that safety Melvin Williams is a defensive stud – Shaun Draughn called him the hardest-hitting defender on the team. With this being Williams' last year of eligibility, will he see the field more, and how will we be able to tell during fall camp? Can or will he move over to strong safety?

Melvin Williams
Mark: What you are hearing is right about Melvin. That guy is not afraid of anything. Big-time hitter, enjoys playing the game, and I would take him on my team. I would bet we see him primarily on special teams and in defensive situations. Goal line, jumbo personnel, and they might even play him at nickel because of his ability to play the run. Hope nothing but the best for Melvin, he does it the right way, on and off the field.

Greg: The safety positions have been a luxury item for North Carolina ever since Davis took over this program three years ago. Deunta Williams and Trimane Goddard formed one of the ACC's top-tandems in the defensive secondary in '08, leaving Melvin Williams and Da'Norris Searcy fighting for scraps. For all of the accolades Williams has picked up from his teammates, Searcy's not far behind him in that regard. It would not surprise me to see Withers allow M. Williams to battle for the strong safety position this fall, in an attempt to get the best talent on the field.

Don: Melvin Williams is probably the most versatile defensive back UNC has, and thus he could make the move to strong safety. With Deunta Williams having free safety basically locked down, I wouldn't be surprised to see Melvin move to strong safety to drive up competition at that position with Da'Norris Searcy. Additionally, if UNC ever utilizes a 4-2-5 like they did against West Virginia in the bowl game, Williams could be the extra defensive back.

Buck: It will be interesting to see how Williams is utilized during fall camp. Obviously there are specialty formations like the defense used against West Virginia that Don mentioned where Williams could fit in, but I look for Everett Withers and Butch Davis to find other ways to get the senior on the field. It speaks to the depth of the defense when you have these types of problems.

Part V concludes Inside Carolina's Preseason Roundtable.

Inside Carolina Top Stories