Thursday Practice Coverage:John Bunting Quotes + Audio
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"As a team, you want to try to build up our intensity," senior linebacker Tommy Richardson said.
John Bunting was especially fired up, and ultimately pleased with the first of a two-a-day session.
At one point, Bunting became so incensed that he ran over and got in Richardson's face, yelling as his hat flew off and his clipboard hit the ground, "You're not in the Pro Bowl yet!"
"It was just a regular day for us," Richardson said afterwards. "We're just running around trying to get better."
"We had a discussion," Bunting added with tongue in cheek referring to an error made prior to lining up for action. "I want drills to go fast and I want our practices to get a lot of repetitions."
But just as fervently as he chastened Richardson, moments later he heaped praise on freshman defensive back Bryan Dixon for his proper execution of his assignment during a rep.
Freshman fullback Michael Briggs was also congratulated by coaches for his blocking during the seven-on-seven portion of the practice.
"I just thought it was a very smooth practice," Bunting said. "I thought [Matt] Baker played extremely well today. I was excited about the way he threw the ball. There was some good secondary play. We converged very well in zone coverage – limiting the catch and run. I thought we had great pursuit on defense. I thought there was good execution by the offensive line. And I was excited about the goal line drill.
"There was some very physical toughness exhibited and I liked what I saw."
What had been widely speculated was confirmed; sophomore quarterback Roger Heinz has injured disc(s) in his back. How serious and his timeframe for recovery is not yet known, a UNC spokesperson said. The staff has known about the condition for a while and Heinz is considered to be out indefinitely.
"We're evaluating it every day to see if he can get better and go from there," Bunting said. "There's no reason to panic about anything. Here's where we're at: We want Roger to get well."
Coincidently, Heinz' older brother Matt, a former offensive lineman at Florida State, had to accept a medical hardship and end his college career on July 20 for a similar problem.
It now appears redshirt freshman Joey Bozich is the backup, but true freshman Bobby Rome and walk-on sophomore Jay Spence are also getting repetitions at quarterback.
Rome had some difficulty with his footing, slipping down twice during drills.
On a positive note, freshman Cam Sexton was doing some light running with the trainers, along with injured running back Ronnie McGill.
"We're having a number of guys work towards that goal (of No. 2 behind Baker) with [Joey] Bozich being one of them," Bunting said. "Of course we're hoping (Sexton) can get back. We're working a couple of other kids in there – a couple of walk on players."
UNC will hold its first scrimmage (closed) on Saturday. Kenan Stadium grounds crew officials were busy painting yard lines and markers while the players practiced down the street at Navy field.