Sunday, August 17, 2008

UNC Starting Slots Still up for Grabs

By Robbi Pickeral
(Raleigh) News & Observer

CHAPEL HILL - With two weeks left before the season opener against McNeese State, North Carolina sophomore Kendric Burney has almost certainly wrapped up the starting position at one corner. But coach Butch Davis said after Saturday's scrimmage that he's still a ways to naming a starter at the other.


"All of the rest of them are pretty much unknown commodities,'' Davis said. "Jordan Hemby has never played in a game; Johnny [White] and Richie [Richh] are new to the position, so they're battling. We're watching guys, and another guy we haven't talked a whole lot about this fall is Tavorris Jolly' he's one of the players where the light's starting to come on."

In addition, sophomore Charles Brown, who started nine games in the secondary last season, has been sidelined by an ankle injury; Saturday marked the first time he had practiced in a week, and he's still not at 100 percent.

Other scrimmage/practice notes:

* The first 45 minutes of practice focused on special teams, where Jay Wooten and Casey Barth are still competing for kicking duties. Davis has not ruled out using both, in different situations.

"As soon as we finish next Saturday's mock game, we'll probably know . what role each of those guys will have,'' Davis said. "Is one guy going to be the extra point and short field goal guy because of the trajectory? Is one guy going to be the long field goal guy, the kickoff guy? Or is one guy going to do like Connor [Barth last year] and do everything? . It's more important that the kicker is the right guy for that kick, regardless of being able to say, 'I'm the starter, and I'm going to take all 120 kicks over the course of the season on kickoffs, field goals and extra points.'"

Davis said it appears as though Lowell Dyer is going to be the starting extra point and field goal snapper; and Mark House has a "slight lead" on deep snapping duties over Trevor Stewart for punts. But those positions aren't 100 percent settled.

* The scrimmage, which was only open to the media for the first drive, pitted the first-team offense against the second-team defense, and vice versa, in order to judge "how second-team players would play if they have to go into the ballgame,'' Davis said. It also gave the players a chance to play against different competition.

Davis said there were more turnovers than he preferred, something the Tar Heels will continue to work on with two weeks before the first game.

* Wide receiver Cooter Arnold and safety Melvin Williams both sustained ankle injuries, although X-rays were negative. Wide receiver Dwight Jones was still not in pads; Davis said earlier this week he was recovering from a thigh bruise sustained when he was practicing at Valdosta State.