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Friday, March 27, 2009
Butch Davis' midspring report

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

North Carolina has its spring game on Saturday, but the Tar Heels will continue to practice through April 4. Coach Butch Davis gave his midspring report after practice on Wednesday.

So, I'll just sit back and let him do the talking ...

"I think we've made some strides," he said. "The effort level and the energy level has been very good. Guys have adjusted to the new coaches, that part has been very positive, some things have been revealing. We're starting to find a few guys on the offensive line, and we're starting to develop some confidence.

"Carl Gaskins, he's done a nice job. Kevin Bryant is a much, much better football player than he was any time since he's been here. Moving Greg Elleby to the offensive line I think has helped develop a little bit of depth.

"We're starting to develop a little bit of depth at linebacker. We're still unsettled. We've got some good position competition between Jordan Hemby and Charlie Brown at the left corner position. But for the most part I think it's going pretty well."

Some competitions -- like wide receiver -- will continue through summer camp.

"Certainly we are still a long ways away from being good enough at wide receiver to be able to even remotely make the assumption that we've replaced the three guys, and we probably won't," Davis said. "It's conceivable by the first game of the season we may not be where we need to be. It's going to be a work in progress throughout the season. All of these guys have got the athletic ability and the talent to be able to eventually do it, but there's no way to get them the experience necessary until they just go out and have to play."

As for what he wants to see in the spring game on Saturday? Davis said he wants his players to be able to fix breakdowns without having to talk to any coaches.

"That's really and truly the hallmark of your football team, is when a quarterback can step in the huddle and he can fix a protection," Davis said. "Maybe they didn't get to the quarterback, but there was a little bit of leakage and he can talk to guys, or he can talk to the receivers. Same thing with the defense ... they don't have to wait until the possession is over with, the drive is over with. They can fix it.

"And we're looking at all the positions where it's critical for guys to step up -- the receivers, we're looking at Quan Sturdivant, who's now the new middle linebacker. How well does he take control of the huddle? The battle at corner, the battle at punter ... We've got some areas we're very interested in seeing how they scrimmage."