Spring Football Notebook

OL Coach Mark Weber

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--The University of North Carolina opened spring football practice Friday afternoon in Kenan Stadium, the first of two days in shorts before contact in pads begins on Monday.

  • In only the first day of practice, with no contact, there is a lot of time left to evaluate player performances, but one thing is clear--based on body language, facial expressions, and demeanor, this is the most excited head coach John Bunting has looked to begin spring practice, his sixth at the helm. And a lot of that has to do with the quality of the staff he has in place, the best he's had since he's been at Carolina according to Bunting.

  • Speaking of new coaches, offensive line coach Mark Weber appears to be a tactician who emphasizes fundamentals. He was breaking down instructions to the smallest details for the O-line on Friday afternoon. And it's clear that he has endeared him self to and gained the respect of his players already in his short time in his position.

  • According to Bunting, more of the offense is already in place for the first day of spring practice than in the past. And this in spite of new terminology, no doubt due to the implementation by new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and Weber and their time together at Fresno State. There were lots of personnel groupings, lots of formations, and shifts and motions.

  • It makes sense that the chemistry on offense between Cignetti and Weber is already there, but it appeared as if defensive tackles coach Ken Browning (pictured left) and new defensive ends coach Danny Pearman (pictured right) have been working together for years. They worked with their position groups individually and then brought the groups together seamlessly when it was time to work on common drills.

    "It is really important when you have two guys working on the defensive line that they are joined at the hip," Browning said, "in terms of terminology and working together, and I think we'll be that way. It won't take long, and it is well on its way. That will make our kids play harder and faster. We can help each other and the players will help each other more to become a tighter-knit family out there…

    "We want to have the flexibility to [work on our own and work together], whatever is best for that particular drill and those particular techniques that we are teaching. There will be enough difference in techniques that we won't do everything together, but there is enough similarity in some of the techniques that we will do those together."

  • This year spring practice will be broken into two segments with five practices in the first segment leading up to spring break with shorts on the first two days and pads next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The final 10 sessions will resume in the second segment beginning March 22 and ending with the Spring Game on April the eighth. The focus of the first segment is installing the offense and developing young players, according to Bunting: "This first week is installation, installation, installation."

  • The race for starting quarterback will be a marathon between now and game week of the home opener against Rutgers on Sept. 2nd. Transfer Joe Dailey and red-shirt Cam Sexton will push each other every day between now and then. Both showed the necessary skills to get the job done on the first day of practice, but Dailey looked more consistent on this day, in my eyes.

  • With such great personnel losses at wide receiver, there is plenty of opportunity for young players to fill the void. Brooks Foster, Kenton Thorton, and Dirk Engram are likely candidates along with Brandon Tate, once he sheds his red jersey and begins to participate.

  • With Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards as proven commodities at tailback, the UNC coaching staff is giving some of the younger players a chance to prove that they deserve repetitions this spring: Justin Warren, Antwain Carey, Richie Rich, R.J. Waters, and Bobby Rome.

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