Mid-Week Notebook

Mapp

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters following Wednesday's practice, as the Tar Heels prepare for another road trip on Saturday – this time for a noon kickoff against the Virginia Tech Hokies in Blacksburg, Va.

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Butch Davis Wednesday Post-Practice:
(3:10)

* On Monday, Davis indicated that one positive to come out of the South Florida defeat was the defensive unit's performance in the second half. The Bulls' first five drives of the game netted 304 yards of offense, while their final nine possessions only resulted in 133 yards.

While veterans such as linebacker Durell Mapp and defensive end Hilee Taylor are able to help the coaching staff with sideline adjustments during the course of the game, some of the younger, less experienced players are having trouble with their ability to relay valuable information.

Some of those concerns showed improvement on Saturday, leading to the turnaround in the latter stages of the contest.

"One of the things that we're kind of working through some issues is with the players it's a brand new scheme [with] new offenses every week, and [we are] trying to get them [to communicate] back on the sidelines," Davis said. "Helping them to give us the correct information and then that certainly will help you set the fronts right, get the right checks, identify the formations and I think it's kind of a trust factor.

"First you've got to learn to trust the coaches that if you make a mistake, it's okay if you're going hard and it's a honest mistake, but give us the right feedback so that we don't make any incorrect sideline adjustments at times that are unnecessary…A certain element of that a factor in some of the yardage in the first half, but clearly not all of it."

* The word ‘patience' has been used in connection with this North Carolina program almost as much as ‘youth' and ‘inexperience' have, but however cliché those terms may be, they are definitely accurate.

And that patience is finally beginning to show results within Davis' program.

"One of the things that our players are starting to learn is that there are no insignificant opportunities – that every play in practice is significant," Davis said. "That every game you play and every play you play in a game is significant. It gives you a chance to grow, gain experience, get some fundamentals and go out and compete and play.

"And you never know, truly, with a football program at what point the light is going to come on. For some kids, it's going to come on after one, two or three games, [and] for some kids its halfway through the season somewhere next year. I think it does take patience, and it certainly takes optimism and takes perseverance."

* South Florida jumped out to a 14-0 lead on North Carolina on Saturday, which allowed their defense to become even more aggressive in their defensive schemes. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on both sides of the ball for the Tar Heels this weekend in Blacksburg, as the Hokies have held each of their last seven opponents at Lane Stadium to seven points or less.

"When a team has the ability to have a significant lead on the other team, and they totally disregard the run, [then] their defensive line – all they are doing is pinning their ears backs and racing up the field and going after the quarterback," Davis said. "And who cares if you make a nine or 10-yard run, it's insignificant at that particular time. If you're having to throw to get back into the game, that's a bad position to be in."

* Yates had trouble communicating with his offensive line during the South Florida game last weekend, due to crowd noise at a venue barely half full. As usual, Virginia Tech expects all 66,233 seats at Lane Stadium to be full, giving the Tar Heels' young quarterback an even tougher this Saturday.

Davis said his coaching staff implements crowd noise into practices before every road game.

"Tuesdays is a major teaching day, so we try not to use the crowd noise in practice because there's a significant amount of installation and talking and correcting, but on Wednesday and Thursday's practices, we turn it up to [the max]," Davis said.

"You always know when the people come out of the law library and they're complaining about the noise that its probably about the right level."

When you also factor in that the Hokies are 33-7-2 in Homecoming games played at Lane Stadium, then you realize that staying calm under pressure will be a necessity if North Carolina intends on making this a four-quarter ball game.

"It's a loud stadium – most stadiums are," Davis said. "When you sell out and its packed, and you've got a crowd that's loud… Blacksburg is a loud stadium."

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