Saturday practice report
Darian Durant
- Inside Carolina
Posted Aug 24, 2003


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina charged off the field Saturday as the Florida State war chant blared over the Kenan Stadium public address system. In shoulder pads and helmets, the Tar Heels scrimmaged for the final time before game week preparations begin for the Seminoles.

“It was something for them to remember when they take this day and a half off,” UNC coach John Bunting said of the music he chose to send off his troops for a Sunday day of rest. “We took the pads off their legs so they can have a little more freshness in their legs.”

The Tar Heels were fired up as they entered the locker room, and so was their coach.

“We’ve run a real good camp,” Bunting said. “I think the players are excited about how good they feel and how much they’ve learned. That’s what we saw today – a lot of urgency on special teams, offense and defense.”

Bunting spoke briefly with the media following the closed session.

Due to improved depth across the board, the special teams units have been able to practice at full speed more this year than in 2002. Throughout training camp, Bunting has emphasized the need to win the battle of the kicking game and the Heels continued that work during the workout.

“I’ve got a list of about 80 things that can happen on special teams, and we’ve probably only covered about 50 of them so far,” Bunting said. “We’ve had a lot of live coverage, but today we did not.”

Bunting said he still has concerns about who will start alongside Dexter Reid and strong safety, how the coaching staff will organize the four running backs and whether C.J. Stephens or Matt Baker will be the backup quarterback.

“Other than that, I think we’ve got everything straightened out,” Bunting said. “We’ve got a great rotation going on the offensive line and we’ve got a great rotation going with our defensive line.

“We know what our rookie linebackers can do, and we keep grooming them. They’re going to get a heavy dose of special teams. They are ready to go out and play. We’ve done a great job getting them organized and understanding of our defense.”

Considering Carolina has had trouble holding on to the ball in its last two season openers, Bunting said the Tar Heels are taking a more aggressive approach to turnovers this season.

“Our defense has done an unbelievable job trying to strip the ball,” he said. “When you’re working on stripping the ball all the time and working on getting the ball out, it makes everybody more alert to turnovers.”

The Tar Heels return to practice on Monday.



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