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** UNC released the rosters for the spring game on Monday afternoon, with T.J. Yates, Shaun Draughn and Robert Quinn highlighting the blue team while Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Bruce Carter anchor the white team.
Instead of using a player draft, the coaching staff developed the rosters with a specific approach in mind.
“The goal was to try to create matchups,” Davis said. “For example, we put Travis Bond on one team so that he would be opposite of Marvin Austin so that the matchup would be challenging for both of them… So we looked strategically as to how each guy, if he was on that team, who would be the guy that he was playing across from? We hope that what it will do is that it will give a lot of guys that are second-team guys chances to play as starters with starters.”
Needless to say, the players have been anxiously awaiting the release of the rosters for the past three weeks.
“There’s a lot of trash talking in the locker room,” Davis said. “There are already divided loyalties. Guys that were best friends yesterday, they’re now kind of like, ‘I’m not hanging out with him; he’s on the other team.’ It’s a lot of good-natured teasing.”
** Unlike Davis’ first three years in Chapel Hill, Saturday’s spring game will actually be a game, with four 12-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime. Due to a lack of bodies, earlier years had a spring showcase that was nothing more than a glorified scrimmage, complete with a variety of scripted plays.
Time constraints, otherwise known as ESPN’s two-hour window, will lead to some breakdowns of the typical game parameters. For example, while the first half will include clock stoppage on incomplete passes and players stepping out of bounds, that might not be the case after intermission.
“In the second half, [the clock] may run if it looks like there’s 13 minutes left to go in the game and they’ve got to be off the air in 14 minutes,” Davis said. “There are some scripted scenarios that we would like to try to have happen in the course of the game, that if they don’t happen naturally, we’re going to try to end the game with a couple of two-minute drives where both the white team and the blue team can get an opportunity.”
Davis also indicated that he plans to script some red zone work, if time allows.
** If you were expecting to see new offensive wrinkles or multiple blitz packages on display Saturday afternoon, don’t get your hopes up. The spring game will be a bare bones event for two reasons – (1) to not give away too much to the 12 opponents on the season’s schedule; and (2) to allow the student-athletes a level playing field without any gimmicks.
“We want to see what guys can do,” Davis said. “Who can get off blocks and make plays defensively? Who, on offense, can block guys? We’re not interested in trying to trick the other side of the ball. We’re not trying to trick them into blitzes and we’re not trying to show a bunch of unusual formations and trick plays on offense.”
** No one has ever doubted Donte Paige-Moss’ talent and athleticism. Where the issue resided for the nation’s former No. 1 defensive end recruit was in between his ears. His temper, to be exact.
The Jacksonville, N.C. native was involved in an on-campus altercation with a teammate in July before being suspended for the Meineke Car Care Bowl after his involvement in an altercation at the conclusion of the N.C. State game in late November.
But through 12 spring practices, the sophomore has made strides on and off the field.
“The thing that he’s probably developed over the springtime is discipline,” Davis said. “I think everybody recognized the fact that he had an awful lot of physical athletic ability. He’s got speed, but it was unharnessed ability. Now he’s really trying to work on being fundamentally sound, playing blocks, reading schemes and being responsible [about where he’s supposed to be.]”
** Davis also updated left tackle Carl Gaskins’ recovery from an ACL injury last August. The rising red-shirt junior owns the school record for offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash with a 4.87 effort.
“I’m encouraged,” Davis said. “Carl is actually doing more in practice than I actually even thought. Now, he clearly hasn’t done all of the things that you would love him to do, but he’s been able to come out here and have some real physical contact in one-on-one situations in controlled [settings]. He’s done some group work and he’s done a lot of individual stuff. The full-speed live contact – we’ve held him out of that. But I think that he is clearly on track to make it back.
“If spring practice was another month or six weeks away, he’d have been able to do it.”