The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday September 29th

Bye Week Allows Tar Heels to Focus

The North Carolina football team's bye week couldn't have come at a more opportune time.

The Tar Heels used last week to get over their 42-28 loss to Georgia Tech on Sept. 30 - a game they should have won.

The team got back to basics, working on blocking schemes and line assignments for the majority of last week's practices. UNC focused more on improving its game than worrying about N.C. State, its opponent on Saturday.

"Normally, if you've won the (previous) ballgame, it's probably three-fourths preparation on the next opponent," UNC coach Carl Torbush said of the off-week practice regimen. "We had to spend at least half or more of the time fundamentally because of some of the things we did not do very well against Georgia Tech."

UNC did not hold its usual Friday practice after the week of back-to-basics training, and Torbush gave the players the weekend off.

"We just totally got away from football," tight end Alge Crumpler said. "Some guys got to go home. Sometimes you need to do those things."

Back on the practice field Monday, the Tar Heels devoted their full attention to this week's contest instead of thinking back to what could have been against the Yellow Jackets.

"It kind of lingered last week," Crumpler said. "Guys were talking about Georgia Tech. Guys were kind of upset. I didn't think about Georgia Tech this week, and I didn't hear any guys talking about it. Knowing that we're at least focused on N.C. State right now is a positive thing for our team."

The extra week also gave UNC more time to prepare for an explosive Wolfpack offense. Freshman quarterback Philip Rivers ranks second in the nation with 16 touchdown passes (Idaho's John Welsh has 17) and has piled up 1,707 passing yards in five games (seventh nationally).

The UNC defense has had two full weeks to watch tapes of what the Wolfpack can do.

"We get tape in all the time," linebacker Brandon Spoon said. "We can look at it ahead, but the extra week gives us a chance to focus on them. You never want to look ahead if you don't have an off week.

"Plus, they were on national TV this weekend (against Clemson), so it was good to get a chance to watch them live in action and see how things panned out for them."

Spoon said he learned more about the Wolfpack's emotion and intensity from watching an entire game on television instead of cut up portions of a contest on tape.

While watching State play its game, the Tar Heels were able to allow their bodies to recover from the rigors of practice - an advantage the Wolfpack won't enjoy this weekend.

"We got to rest," Spoon said. "That's the big thing. I got to rest this weekend and got my body back under me."

It also afforded some injured Tar Heels time to recover. But UNC won't know the status of wideout Kory Bailey, who pulled a hamstring against Georgia Tech, until Wednesday.

"I talked to Kory, and I know he's real anxious on getting back out there to play," Crumpler said. "This (time off) probably affects him more than most out there."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.



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