Day Five Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The North Carolina football program met sweltering temperatures head on Tuesday afternoon, practicing in full pads for the first time this preseason. Head coach Butch Davis broached numerous topics following practice, including Donte Moss, Donovan Tate and Zach Brown.

Inside Carolina audio is available to IC premium subscribers. To listen, you'll need an updated version of Windows Media Player - click here to download the software.
Butch Davis Post-Practice
(9:59)

** Davis indicated that he has been pleased with his team's progress through the first five days of training camp, including the results of a successful offseason conditioning program. Despite an abundance of press clippings touting the Tar Heels as a legitimate top-20 club and a serious ACC Championship contender, the players have tuned out the hype and focused on improvement across the board.

"Probably the most impressive thing about our football team right now is their willingness to work on the things that we don't do well," Davis said. "We've talked to them an awful lot about if we're going to improve as a football team, this is an unbelievably critical period of time.

"We get 29 practice opportunities before the first game. After that first game, there will be 11 regular season games left and if we have three practices a week, that means that we're only going to have 33 practices… It's the most significant time of practice for us to get better, to identify players, to identify guys with roles [and] there's an awful lot of stuff going on from an installation standpoint."

** Inside Carolina reported on Tuesday morning that freshman defensive end Donte Moss is scheduled to appear in Orange County court on Aug. 20 for a misdemeanor charge of simple assault. The victim was none other than fellow freshman and teammate Hunter Furr. The third-year UNC head coach discussed the situation in further detail following practice.

"I think it was a very unfortunate situation," Davis said. "I think both guys are very, very good friends. They were friends before the incident [and] they're certainly friends now. I think it was a great learning experience for them… I think it was a great learning experience for our football team…

"Sometimes part of going off to college is that you've got to learn what's appropriate. Clearly, we don't ever condone any kind of [violence] – whether it's player-on-player, a player on someone else or someone on one of our players. You've got to be smart enough to learn to walk away from a situation and you've got to be able to diffuse a situation if you're present and not actively involved."

Neither player will miss any games this season.

"There are some things that they're both going to have to do for the program, and we've already handled it internally," Davis said.

There was one comical exchange between one reporter and Davis on this particular subject:

Reporter: "Were they roommates at the time?"

Davis: "Yes."

Reporter: "Are they still roommates?"

Davis: "They're still friends, yes."

** Zach Brown missed two days of practice over the weekend to attend his sister's wedding, but the sophomore from Columbia, Md. quickly regained his spot with the first-team linebacker corps.

"I don't think he's going to retire from football and go into a singing career anytime in the near future, but it was good for him to be a part of that," Davis said. "It's good to have him back. I don't think missing one or two days of practice is going to set him back. He's practiced well now that he's back."

Sophomore offensive lineman Kevin Bryant was also excused from practice for personal reasons last Friday, but according to Davis, the backup tackle has yet to return to the team.

** While the offense had its best day of the preseason on Tuesday, Davis pointed to his defensive front four as being the catalyst for the entire roster thus far.

"I think our defensive line has clearly set the tempo for all of our practices," he said. "They're really pushing themselves. They're older, they're more mature [and] they're able to push themselves longer during the heat of the battle."

** Standout performers on the defensive side of the ball include cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Jordan Hemby, as well as linebackers Kevin Reddick, Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant.

** Standouts on the offensive end include wide receiver Greg Little and tight ends Zack Pianalto and Ed Barham.

"I like what I see out of Greg Little," Davis said. "Greg is really pushing himself… The leadership aspect of it – if that comes, that comes. Right now, we need him to be a leader of himself, go out and work extremely hard and set a great practice tempo for the other receivers, kind of be a little bit of a role model for all of those young kids."

** Davis also praised his youth at offensive line, highlighting the play of freshmen Travis Bond and Brennan Williams and red-shirt freshman Jonathan Cooper.

"Because of the lack of depth, they're getting challenged probably more in this training camp than they would have clearly ever gotten challenged [in other years]," Davis said. "They're getting opportunities at times to go sometimes with the second unit, which means that they get a face full of guys like Tydreke Powell and some of those second-team defensive linemen."

** As expected, the local media is eating up the Donavan Tate saga, despite all signs pointing toward the two-sport star signing with the San Diego Padres for a signing bonus in the range of $5 million by the Aug. 17th deadline.

When asked how much "practicing" Tate was actually doing, Davis responded, "He's doing all of the meetings [and] he's going through a lot of the exercise stuff outside of the actual practice on the field."

The third-year UNC head coach admitted that he wasn't sure if or when Tate would participate in contact drills this preseason.

"Right now, we're just being wise and just trying to get him into the program and get him acclimated," said Davis, who also indicated that he has not spoken with Tate's advisor, high-profile agent Scott Boras. "We haven't made a decision on that right now. So basically, it's a week from today and it's not a big deal."


Inside Carolina Top Stories