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The Daily Tar Heel

Davis looks for improvement

Butch Davis cited “first game jitters” for the drops by UNC’s young wide receiving corps. Davis expects them to improve quickly.
Butch Davis cited “first game jitters” for the drops by UNC’s young wide receiving corps. Davis expects them to improve quickly.

Sometimes a 34-point win isn’t good enough — at least to UNC coach Butch Davis.

Davis wants his teams to show improvement, and not just a modest amount.

“The most improvement that football teams have a chance to make usually occurs in the first month of the season,” Davis said in a press conference Monday.

“It’s going to be very critical for our football team to make strides and improvement from week one to week two. The challenge is dramatically different from a week ago.”

UNC’s competition level this week rises from a physically inferior Football Championship Series foe to a more talented Bowl Championship Series opponent, and the Tar Heels won’t be playing in front of a crowd clad in blue.

That means Davis is looking for consistency and performance from positions that showed weakness against The Citadel.

UNC’s wide receiving corps was one such culprit. While the group nabbed two touchdowns, several players dropped easy catches that induced groans from the crowd and the coaching staff.

Davis chalked up some of the mistakes to “first-game jitters,” but said he expects his young pass-catchers to begin to relax on the field.

“Some of it comes with experience and stuff. Some of those things you can’t really work out until you get into game situations,” said quarterback T.J. Yates.

“I’ve got total confidence in the young guys who are playing out there. We’re just going to try to go this week during practice to work as hard as possible.”

A few other areas Davis singled out were the continued development of his special teams and increasing the depth at offensive line.

Though 10 offensive lineman played against The Citadel, Davis said right now the coaches would feel comfortable with playing seven or eight against an elite opponent.

“It was a mismatch in some respects,” he said. “We’re not going to get many opportunities like that where physically we’re going to outman the other team.”

UNC’s third-year coach praised the play of the Tar Heels defensive line, especially the play of Robert Quinn. Davis even used an interesting adjective when describing the defensive end’s production.

“There’s a category called beast,” Davis said. “When you start to cross that threshold of being able to take your area of responsibility and cover that, fundamentally sound and with gap integrity, … You’re really starting to get into that threshold of being kind of an elite type of player.”

Davis said Quinn, a former wrestler, utilized great balance with his ability to control a blocker with his hands to get after the Bulldogs’ running backs and quarterback.

“Everybody knows about Rob,” said linebacker Quan Sturdivant. “He’s a freak out there — size, speed, athleticism — he can flat-out play.”

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