Scrimmage No. 1 in the Books

Davis

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina's first scrimmage of training camp took place at Navy Field on Saturday morning, and in a mild upset, Butch Davis told reporters in his post-practice press conference that the offense slightly outperformed the defense.

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Butch Davis Post-Scrimmage:
(15:05)

"Today, if you were trying to give one side of the ball a little bit of the advantage, it would probably be the offense," Davis said. "They executed the running game very well today. T.J. [Yates] made some good decisions throwing the football. I thought the second group did the exact same thing – I thought that they ran the ball very effectively.

"Both Greg Little and Shaun Draughn really had a good scrimmage today running the football. The offensive line did a nice job, and Mike [Paulus] did a nice job executing at quarterback."

With Ryan Houston nursing some minor injuries, Draughn took advantage of the opportunity in one of the more intriguing story lines of the preseason.

"[Draughn's] embraced the position," Davis said. "His effort and his enthusiasm for it has just been outstanding, and his performance has been very surprising. We are pleased as a coaching staff how quickly he has grown. His God-given athletic abilities have allowed him to make some plays. He's got to continue – there are a lot of things that he doesn't know. But his passion to continue to learn is certainly encouraging."

The offense's execution was far from perfect, however, which is to be expected only nine days into training camp.

"The disappointing part was maybe there was a few more penalties on offense than you would like to have – some because of aggression and some because of a lack of focus," Davis said. "And we had a little more dropped balls than we would like to see. We've got to be very, very consistent in catching the football."

Davis did provide some reasoning behind the defense' performance on Saturday, indicating that out of the 50-75 plays involved in the scrimmage, less than 10 percent included schematic pressures, such as blitzes, zone dogs and fire zones.

"We really wanted to focus on just guys playing the scheme," Davis said. "We didn't want to try to help them make plays… We wanted to just see guys line up, read and react and get off the blocks and make plays. And our defensive team is going to learn an awful lot from watching this tape."

The second-year head coach also highlighted several defensive players that made some plays in the scrimmage, singling out Kennedy Tinsley, Marvin Austin, E.J. Wilson, and freshmen defensive ends Quinton Coples and Robert Quinn.

And after the Tar Heels allowed more than 400 yards in after-contact gains in 2007, Davis was encouraged with the progress his defensive backs have made in cutting down on those excesses.

"I was really pleased with the way our secondary tackled," Davis said. "We're working very hard on our secondary being very aggressive, but also very sure tacklers, that when we make contact, we're trying to wrap up, club up, get our fingers in the cloth and get the guy down or get him out of bounds, and not let run after catch or run after contact yards occur."

One area that Davis has voiced concern about ever since last fall is the Tar Heels' special teams units.

"We had a chance to do some full speed live special teams today for the first time," Davis said. "A lot of it has just been installation and a lot of it has just been drills, but we were able to kick off and we were able to do kickoff returns and we were able to work on punt protections. Those are critical for the success of this football team this year."

As for the part of the scrimmage session that Davis enjoyed the most?

"The best news of the whole day is that nobody got hurt," Davis said. "That's always good news in training camp. If you can go out and have the quality of scrimmage that we had with the amount of contact. And as physical as we've been practicing, I thought it was very good."

After 11 practices through the first nine days of camp, the Tar Heels will take their first day off on Sunday before returning to Navy Field for a two-a-day on Monday.


Davis Q&A on Dwight Jones:

How much can Dwight Jones contribute after missing a week of practice?

"It'll be interesting, because certainly Dwight is a very gifted athlete. He played some last year at Hargrave, obviously he's practiced a couple of days this fall already. There's a learning curve; he's going to have to come in and he's going to have to learn formations, personnel groupings and those kinds of things.

"But I think probably the one caveat for any skilled athlete coming in as a freshman – and Dwight would be no different than Zach Brown and Herman Davidson and Quinton Coples – guys that are skilled athletes have an opportunity to figure into a chance to play quicker than, say, an offensive lineman, where it's so enormously physical – their transition from high school to college.

"So we'll see when he gets here. I'm anxious for him to get here, [and] I know the team is anxious to have him as part of our team. And we'll try to get him assimilated into the learning part as quick as possible."

Do you expect him to practice on Monday?

"Valdosta – their coaching staff and their administration and compliance people have done an excellent job helping to navigate through a very difficult, touchy thing. When he gets here, he's got a lot of things he has to do. He has to do a physical, he has to do some of the things that these guys have already done.

"We've got to find out exactly, specifically, how many days that he did actually practice because of the five days of acclimation all players have got to go through to find out at what [day] can he go into shells, or can he immediately go into pads. When he gets here, it is our hope that he will be able to practice with us on Monday."

How does an oversight with admissions like that happen, and how was it caught?

"It really wasn't so much an admissions issue as it was a compliance issue. The NCAA changes rules every year. If you've ever looked at the NCAA manual, it is mindboggling, the rules and regulations. And I think in this particular case, what happened was it slipped through the cracks because of the interpretation. Because he went to Hargrave, the assumption was that he was an '08 graduate and [needed] 16 core curriculum courses as opposed to an ‘07 graduate – which he actually was – [and needed only 14 core courses].

"And basically all he did was submit a later ACT test score that he took in April that qualified him. We hate it, that it was an oversight, and we're very, very fortunate and glad that it was corrected and caught. I guess you could say that our personnel department is doing a great job at looking at the waiver wires and finding guys and picking guys up.... We lost out on the Brett Favre deal, but we got Dwight Jones."

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