CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -Butch Davis inherited a woeful North Carolina program that had won seven games just twice in the past decade. Yet in just two seasons, Davis has the Tar Heels in contention for an Atlantic Coast Conference championship and playing to improve their bowl standing.
It's been a rapid rise for a program that had won 47 games in the past 10 seasons. The risk is fans will believe the rebuilding job is ahead of where it actually is, though fan enthusiasm seems to be the most important thing for Davis right now.
``I love the groundswell,'' Davis said. ``They recognize even in light of the games we've lost ... the fans are like, 'Coach, man, this is exciting. I love going to the stadium. We know we're getting better.'''
North Carolina (7-3, 3-3 ACC) has beaten ranked teams Connecticut, Boston College and Georgia Tech on the way to ensuring the first winning season since 2001. Their losses to Virginia Tech, Virginia and Maryland have come by a combined eight points.
with fans in attendance constantly looking for updates from the football game at Maryland. Coach Roy Williams stopped his postgame news conference long enough to ask how much time was left on the game, which was being televised at the back of the press room.
Still, the close losses have served as reminders that this is not going to be an overnight job.
``The program's not where we want it to be yet,'' Davis said. ``It will, as we continue to add more players in the coming years.''
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LOOKING FOR A BETTER EFFORT: Georgia Tech could make a change at receiver for Thursday night's game against No. 23 Miami. Not that it makes a huge difference in the Yellow Jackets' run-oriented offense.
Senior Andrew Smith will likely get the start in his final home game, a reward for the effort he's shown on the practice field.
``Andrew works hard,'' coach Paul Johnson said. ``If you can, you want to reward guys like that.''
Sophomore Correy Earls started the last three games at receiver, but Johnson said, ``We had some effort problems. You're not going to play with effort problems, at least you're not going to start.
``It comes back to accountability,'' the coach added. ``If you tell guys you want them to do something and they don't do it, then you're not being very accountable if you keep trotting them out there.''
he receiving end of more than half of Georgia Tech's completed passes (33 of 61). No other player has more than seven receptions, so don't expect Smith to be a major weapon in the offense.
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THANKS FOR THE TIP: Two of the ACC's more successful coaches clash this weekend when Maryland faces Florida State in a key Atlantic Division game.
The competition between Ralph Friedgen and Bobby Bowden started long before Friedgen, a longtime assistant at several schools, finally was given the reigns to the program at Maryland in 2001.
It appears as if Friedgen will never forget his first game against Bowden, a high-scoring affair in Tallahassee.
``It was 31-31 going into the middle of the fourth quarter, and we turned the ball over three times,'' Friedgen recalled. ``At the end of the game he said, 'Good game. Son, you just can't turn the ball over.'''
``I felt like saying, 'Thanks for the news flash!'''
Not necessarily because of Bowden's insight, the Terrapins have split their last four games against FSU after losing the first three by 52-31, 37-10, 35-10.
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DIFFERENT TACT: Clemson interim coach Dabo Swinney wanted his players to own up to mistakes. He demands the same of himself and his coaches.
month. Quarterback Cullen Harper said both have done things to ramp up responsibility when things go wrong.
The players will watch film as a large group, with coaches pointing out errors. Then, during practices, players will run or do up-down drills for mistakes, errors or poor effort.
There's also what Harper called the ``exposure meeting,'' when players form a circle to admit their miscues.
``Say I had a missed assignment, I'd come out in the middle of the circle and say, 'My name's Cullen Harper, I let the team down one time.'''
Napier takes part, too, admitting mistakes to his players.
``He doesn't do any up-downs, though,'' Harper said.
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EARLY GOODBYE?: It only seems as if Wake Forest is rushing its seniors out the door.
Instead of holding Senior Day ceremonies before next week's home finale, as most teams do, the Demon Deacons are honoring their seniors before this week's game against Boston College.
The reasoning: The students will be on Thanksgiving break for next week's game against Vanderbilt.
bit spoiled with these guys.''
All-ACC cornerback Alphonso Smith and linebacker Aaron Curry are the cornerstones of a Wake Forest senior class that has gone 30-18 - the best four-year mark in school history.
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AP Sports Writers Paul Newberry in Atlanta; David Ginsburg in College Park, Md.; Pete Iacobelli in Clemson, S.C.; and Joedy McCreary in Winston-Salem, N.C.; contributed to this report.
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