Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Criticism, strength and leadership

Some notes from training camp in North Carolina:

Tar Heels LB Mapp takes criticism personally

Senior Durell Mapp, North Carolina’s leading tackler last season, took personally the criticism he received from preseason magazines.

He was disappointed when one magazine said he wasn’t an ACC-caliber linebacker.

“I’ve got it at the house,” he said. “I put it up for motivation.”

That motivation has been apparent at North Carolina’s practices.

“He is relentless, running to the football, making plays,” said coach Butch Davis.

Davis said another linebacker, Mark Paschal of Charlotte, had one of the most productive offseasons on the team.

“I think he realized he needed to drop some weight, get faster, get quicker,” Davis said. “And I think that adjustment has certainly helped his playmaking ability.”

N.C. State's O-line a strength

The middle of N.C. State’s offensive line is expected to be a strong point with center Luke Lathan flanked by left guard Kalani Heppe and right guard Curtis Crouch.

In their careers, Heppe has started 15 games, Crouch 12 and Lathan eight. Offensive coordinator Dana Bible told the players that a cohesive middle of the line of scrimmage is essential in pass protection.

“Somebody on the outside can be let loose and the quarterback can step up in the pocket,” Lathan said. “But he can’t step up in the pocket if somebody is coming right at him. It’s good because Kalani and Curtis and I, we’ve all had games together and so many snaps together in practice that we know each other’s tendencies.”

Davis awarding yellow jerseys to leaders

In many training camps, a yellow jersey is a sign that a player is injured and unavailable for contact.

Not so at North Carolina’s camp. In Tour de France fashion, coach Butch Davis sometimes awards the jersey to a player who has been a leader in camp. Sometimes he gives it to challenge a player to raise his play another level.

So far, Kentwan Balmer, Hilee Taylor, Aleric Mullins and Trimane Goddard are among the players who have worn the jersey.

- Ken Tysiac