Mid-Week Notebook

Mid-Week Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Head coach Butch Davis spoke to reporters following Wednesday's practice, as the Tar Heels concluded their fifth of 15 spring sessions.

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Butch Davis Wednesday Post-Practice:
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* After suffering through the infinite basic details of last season's spring practice, coaches and players alike are happy to be focused on just one thing this spring – the sport of football. With the players now knowing what is expected of them, the first five practices have moved quickly, allowing the coaching staff to work more on an individual basis with the members of their position groups.

"The whole thing is teaching right now," Davis said. "This is the best opportunity as a coach that you have to lay a great foundation, to really truly teach great fundamentals, great techniques. Whether it's a pass rusher that's trying to perfect a particular move [or] whether its corners that are trying to press and jam and re-route, or receivers running certain routes that we'd like for them to try to accomplish and master. It's a big teaching time."

* The NCAA governing body mandates that the first two spring practices take place in shorts. But while the offense can work on rhythm, timing and routes just as well with pads on as without, the same cannot be said about defense, where physicality rules the day.

"Defense is about attitude, tenacity, getting off the blocks, running to the football, running and tackling and you just can't get enough of that," Davis said.

* With 2007 starting quarterback T.J. Yates sidelined this spring as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, red-shirt junior Cam Sexton has taken advantage of more reps in the offensive backfield.

"All of the years of maturity of being a college quarterback and being in college have kind of come into full fruition right now for him," Davis said. "He understands the offense so much better than he did a year ago. I think that he is focusing on being efficient with the football… I think Cam is having a very good spring practice thus far."

And if there was a silver lining in Yates' injury, its that heralded red-shirt freshman Mike Paulus has also been given more opportunities to continue learning and developing in the Tar Heel offense.

"Every day, you can see him getting better," Davis said. "I think having been here [last season] and having the benefit of learning in the fall has put him further ahead than T.J. and Cam were at this same stage a year ago."

* The spring game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 5th, and while there simply aren't enough bodies to hold a full game, Davis is intent on letting his players put their abilities on display for the Tar Heel faithful.

"I hope that we're healthy enough to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-75 full-speed live scrimmage plays," Davis said. "You don't have enough depth – I don't know that many colleges do anymore – to have a full-blown actual game, where there's special teams and you can go out there and scrimmage 100 plays like you could 10 or 12 years ago.

"But we'd love to be able to have 60-70 plays that's a full-speed live scrimmage and cut the players loose. Take a lot of the mental burden off them and just let them go and play and see who can make plays in their own innate ability."

* Mark this down as something that you don't see everyday – the coaching staff actually utilized last week's Spring Break for its intended purpose. After three-and-a-half months of solid recruiting since the season-ending Duke victory, Davis and his assistants partook in leisure activities with their families.

"I really felt like it was important for our coaches to spend some time with their children and their wives," Davis said.

* For the second practice in a row, former Dallas Cowboy Leon Lett roamed the sidelines at Navy Field. The three-time Super Bowl champion was all smiles as he watched his former coaches – Davis and defensive line coach John Blake – run the Tar Heels' two-hour practice on Wednesday.

"I had the good pleasure of obviously coaching Leon for six years," Davis said. "He came in as a rookie and was a significant part of all of those Super Bowl teams. He's really just a great human being. He's got a kind heart, and he loves football – he got excited about watching practice. It's awesome to see him.

"It's probably the most rewarding part of being a coach is developing relationships, and certainly I look forward to 5-10-15 years down the line, having the same relationships with the kids that have played here at Carolina. I look forward to seeing Kentwan Balmer come back and Hilee Taylor and Durell Mapp and those guys after having good, successful NFL careers and some of the kids now."

* When you think of North Carolina football, what comes to mind? At this point, everybody probably has a different opinion – some burdened by the hardships of the past decade, while others soak in the optimism surrounding the Kenan Football Center right now. But Davis made it clear on Wednesday that he wants UNC to universally become known as championship program.

"You really, truly want people to start drawing the equation that this is a team that is building toward a national championship," Davis said. "We want to have a chance to win the ACC every single year. We're trying obviously to build on last year's momentum.

"I think there was an awful lot accomplished in Year One. Not necessarily on the scoreboard, but there were a lot of the fundamental pieces that it takes to be a champion that were put in place. The fans played a big part in it. Great sellout crowds, the players playing with passion for the entire 60 minutes and those are the things that I think are trademarks of championship programs."

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