UNC hopes extra practice pays off at Rutgers Print
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Monday, 08 September 2008 11:04
NCAAF Headline News

 CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -North Carolina found a way to avoid the poor performances that plagued the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference over the weekend: The Tar Heels didn't play.
While its league rivals were losing to Middle Tennessee State or struggling with championship-subdivision teams, North Carolina was back on the practice field taking care of its own pesky opening-week struggles while preparing for this week's visit to Rutgers.
``We've got a chance to make corrections from the mistakes in the (first) game as opposed to those errors - you can fix some of them, but you've got to move on to the next opponent'' during a normal week, safety Trumaine Goddard said Monday. ``You had time to make those adjustments and make sure everybody's on the right page.''
ening win against McNeese State two weeks ago, when the step-slow Tar Heels needed a third-quarter rally to take the lead for good against the Championship Subdivision Cowboys.
While the rest of the ACC was back in action last weekend, coach Butch Davis had some extra time to point out the mistakes made by a roster full of young players who perhaps were burdened by the heightened expectations to contend in the up-for-grabs Coastal Division.
As a result, just a couple of weeks after the end of preseason camp, the Tar Heels (1-0) once again found themselves going back to basics.
``If you've got an experienced, veteran football team, if you've got a lot of guys, returning starters that have been in your program two or three years and there's not a lot of fundamental things that you need to fix, it's probably to your advantage to get off to a fast start and play two, three, four weeks and then maybe get an open date,'' Davis said.
``For a young team like us, I think it was somewhat fortunate that we did have an open date for a multitude of reasons.''
s.
``We were trying to be as prudent as possible in how we utilized this extra time, and a certain element of it was fixing the mistakes of the first ball game,'' he said. ``Things the kids were confused on, things they didn't understand. ... The next part of it is working on your own football team, just trying to get better now that they played a game. They understand game speed, they understand some of the schemes of how (opponents) try to attack you.''
Ultimately, the nine freshmen and sophomores listed as starters on North Carolina's depth chart gained an appreciation for how fast the game is played and the other things that can't be replicated on the practice field. Now, Davis hopes that performance becomes one of the building blocks for the foundation of a program he is, in his second season, reviving.
``The McNeese game is one of those layers of building your program,'' Davis said. ``There's so much that can be derived for a football team from good experiences as well as bad experiences ... and everybody that's still here can remember it, relate to those types of things, whether it was a fast start or a slow start, whether it was sideline adjustments or whether it's the plays that turn games around on special teams, offense, defense.
blue in the face,'' he added. ``You can show all the video you want to, but it doesn't really mean something until the guys are actually involved in those scenarios.''
 

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