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The Daily Tar Heel

Bruce Carter forces special teams changes

Junior linebacker Bruce Carter blocked three punts when North Carolina played Connecticut in 2008.
Junior linebacker Bruce Carter blocked three punts when North Carolina played Connecticut in 2008.

Connecticut remembered this offseason just what North Carolina linebacker Bruce Carter can do.

A season after Carter blocked three punts in the Tar Heels’ 38-12 beatdown of the Huskies, UConn’s special teams completely revamped its punting formation into an elephant scheme to relieve some of the pressure.

“It’s different from a traditional punt team where everybody is set in one area. It’s kind of like defending the goal line versus a spread-out shotgun formation,” Carter said.

“You kind of spread the field. You’ve got to have guys in areas in case they run a fake or something like that.”

Carter wasn’t the only one who got his hands on a punt against the Huskies last season. Connecticut had a total of six punts blocked to prompt the change.

And in addition to the new formation, punter Desi Cullen said during UConn’s media day that he worked with his long snapper after last season to expedite the punting process.

The value of all those offseason changes will be put to the test Saturday when Carter and UNC’s special teams unit comes calling.

Carter said that while the elephant punt formation will force him and the rest of the punt team to think a little bit more, he thought the unit should be prepared.

Coach Butch Davis agreed.

“We have to adapt, but we’ve been practicing,” Davis said. “What they changed to is something we saw several times last year. So you’ve just got to be flexible and adaptable week in and week out.”

Déja vu

UNC’s trip to Storrs, Conn., might give a couple players deja vu of the 2008 season.

Just like last year, the Tar Heels’ first road game is the second game of the season, and it will again be against a Big East school in the northeast.

The similarities to the Rutgers game were not lost on Davis, but he was quick to point out a couple differences.

“Last year that game really was a shot of confidence for a football team that really had only won four games the year before,” Davis said. “Rutgers was ranked in the preseason, and it was a Thursday night game and going to New York.”

While a shot of confidence may benefit some of UNC’s young receivers on offense, North Carolina’s defense already has plenty of trust in itself.

The Tar Heels racked up four interceptions in their first road test last season, and cornerback Kendric Burney set the tone for UNC in the first quarter with a bone-crushing blow that decleated Scarlet Knights receiver Tiquan Underwood.

Burney noted that with nine of 11 starters returning, the defense will again be ready to swarm to the ball, and Carter said he knows how his teammates will react on what he calls a “business trip.”

“I think we’re just going to go in there with great intensity — everybody’s going to be jacked up,” Carter said.

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