Monday, August 30, 2010

UNC raving about its depth - and may need it

North Carolina coach Butch Davis raved about his depth on Monday, but the question that remains is how much he will need it as Saturday’s game with LSU approaches.

The Tar Heels refused to release a depth chart, which teams customarily do at their early week news conferences. However, ACC spokesman Mike Finn said there are no league or NCAA rules requiring a depth chart.

Carolina plays LSU Saturday night in Atlanta, and many UNC players might not be eligible pending NCAA investigations into agents and academics.

Monday’s news conference had a strange feel. UNC spokesman Kevin Best opened by saying Davis wouldn’t address issues involving the NCAA investigation but only about the LSU game. Davis started off by saying the academic integrity of the school and program superseded any game, but otherwise avoided any specific questions on the subject. And Carolina brought two offensive players – quarterback T.J. Yates and tight end Zack Pianalto – and no defensive players to the news conference.

Yates and Pianalto, of course, are senior players who are well-versed in how to deal with the media. Both insisted they know no more than the media about the NCAA probe.

The Tar Heels do not practice Monday and resume workouts Tuesday.

The scripted approach only underscored the serious nature of what is happening in Chapel Hill. The Carolina team that takes the field Saturday may lack much of the talent that earned it a No. 18 ranking in the AP and USA Today polls.

Davis said the team has a “tentative” depth chart for Tuesday’s practice, but added, “I’d say it’s been fluid.”

He said he is impressed by improved depth across the team, and that UNC has made an effort to get the players on the second and third teams more seasoning.

“Part of this training camp has been about these players and getting them more experience,” he said. “It’s one the reasons we have featured them. They have had two-to-one scrimmage opportunities over the veteran players.”
They may get more than that Saturday – they may play, and the starters may not play at all.

Davis did repeat that T.J. Yates will start at quarterback. Yates himself said he’d really worked diligently in preseason, in part because he knew redshirt freshman Bryn Renner was pushing hard for the job.

“He never stops,” Yates said of Renner. “He’s high energy, works as hard as he can.”

Davis said he couldn’t predict whether Renner will play Saturday, but said it is possible.

Who else plays is hard to predict as well As the game approaches, the players continue to wait to see what will happen.

“It’s not like we can go to the NCAA and say, Hey, hurry up,” Pianalto quipped.

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