CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -Butch Davis has come up with a way to bolster North Carolina's depleted secondary.
``We'd like to get Dre' Bly back, but I don't think the Denver Broncos are going to let him come back and play,'' Davis joked Monday.
The impossible return of an All-American from a decade ago notwithstanding, there's little to laugh about in the Tar Heels' thinned defensive backfield. The indefinite suspension of starting cornerback Jermaine Strong - who earlier this month replaced injured starter Kendric Williams - has Davis searching for answers as he prepares for Wake Forest's unique misdirection offense.
``Clearly in the secondary, you do not like change,'' Davis said. ``It's like losing a member of the offensive line. You like that consistency and that continuity of guys being able to play together, but somebody's going to have to step up.''
The likely replacement for Strong - who along with offensive lineman Andre Barbour was suspended for violating undisclosed team and university rules - figures to be freshman Charles Brown, who would give the Tar Heels three first-year players starting in the secondary. Anthony Parker-Boyd also has been moved from running back to defensive back to add depth, and Tavorris Jolly also is under consideration, Davis said.
The coaching staff will ``try to find out which of those guys might be the guy that can step up and accept that responsibility,'' Davis said.
Linebacker Durell Mapp, the team's leader with 76 tackles, expects continued strong play from Brown, who is sixth on the team with 29 stops and has one interception.
``He has a lot of game experience under his belt, and (the defensive backs) go against some of the best receivers in the nation every day,'' Mapp said. ``So that takes care of the (question of) 'Can he cover?'''
Now, the nation's 43rd-ranked defense against the pass is getting ready to face a Demon Deacons offense that historically has been run-first, but now boasts the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading receiver in Kenneth Moore (56 catches) and an efficient quarterback in Riley Skinner who has shown he's capable of beating teams through the air.
``They're not a complicated team. They do what they do well,'' Mapp said.
The Tar Heels (2-5) hope to draw encouragement from their strong second half two weeks ago against South Carolina. They held the Gamecocks to no points and 62 total yards - 36 through the air - in the final 30 minutes of a 21-15 loss.
``They are a lot more familiar with the scheme and a lot more familiar with the adjustments,'' Davis said. ``Having now played seven games, let's be honest ... (the team has) three seniors playing on defense and everybody else is basically almost a rookie, so there were some growing pains. But I think they recognized the fact that over the last three or four games, they've gotten a little bit more confident of where they're supposed to be.''
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