What is this “football” you speak of?
At the risk of looking like a UNC fan who does not care about football, I have largely ignored the fall sport mainly because blogging a deep NCAA Tournament run is time consuming enough. UNC wrapped up it’s spring practice with a scrimmage this past Monday which replaced the annual spring game that had been cancelled due to weather two days before.
Last season’s starting QB T.J. Yates did not participate in drills since he was going through rehab on a surgically repaired shoulder. Yates was cleared to begin throwing again and Butch Davis indicated Yates was still the starter for next season. The absence of Yates meant redshirt freshman Mike Paulus would have a chance to prove himself and the reviews are mixed. Paulus was used in a shotgun formation in high school and now must learn how to run the offense from under center. This has apparently taken longer to adjust that was originally anticipated.
Of course what the QB does will not matter if the Heels cannot generate a decent running game. Without some kind of balanced offense, you could put Chris Keldorf back there and it will not matter without a legitimate ground game to keep the defense in check. Greg Little, who showed flashes late in the season of being able to handle the RB slot, took the bulls by the horn in the spring. Little will be the featured back next season and the hope is he can be effective working in tandem with Ryan Houston who is more of a physical RB.
On defense, the Heels are breaking in a new defensive coordinator in the person of Everett Whithers. There will be some changes to the defense which is said to include more man-to-man in the secondary as opposed to zone. Davis said there are only so many ways the Xs and Os can line up and downplayed any notion the defense was being overhauled in any way. Given this is a new DC with slightly different personnel than last season added to the fact they did not show much of their scheme in the scrimmage, defense will be a wait and see sort of thing.
Then again the whole thing is wait and see which is another reason I was less inclined to pay attention to spring drills this season. Last season, many were anxious to see what Davis would bring as the new head coach and there was a lot in the way of personnel shifting. That has not been the case this season but there is still no getting around the fact this is one team scrimmaging against itself and any reports you get will be largely positive. Once fall practice begins we will know a little more but based on the current information the outlook is as positive as it could be for April, especially since the roles were better defined allowing the coaches to work on aspects of the offense and defense at a more detailed level.