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Football: Davis, UNC simplifying offensive playbook

Greg Little leads North Carolina with 25 receptions, but the Tar Heels are still lacking in offense. DTH File/Andrew Dye
Greg Little leads North Carolina with 25 receptions, but the Tar Heels are still lacking in offense. DTH File/Andrew Dye

North Carolina’s offensive playbook is getting thinner — at least for a few weeks.

After reviewing film of the Tar Heels’ latest offensive struggles in the 16-3 loss to Virginia, head coach Butch Davis said he and UNC’s offensive coaches have decided to simplify the play-calling to iron out their team’s offensive inconsistencies.

“As coaches, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Are we trying to do too much with a young team?’” Davis said in his weekly press conference Monday.

“When you’re struggling offensively, and that’s where we’re at right now, we’ve got to look at what’s we’re trying to do and say, ‘OK, how much simplification will help these guys with execution?’”

And Davis said that execution should be the key to helping give his inexperienced offensive players confidence.

Injuries to UNC’s offensive line have forced two starters off the field. Left tackle Kyle Jolly limped off the field in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s game.

UNC scored a total of 10 points in its last two matchups, and the Tar Heels also failed to gain 200 total yards in each of those two games.

Quarterback T.J. Yates said he was “frustrated” that the offense is taking a step back in his third season under center, but at this point, he’s willing to do pretty much anything to get his unit to start moving the chains again.

“I think as an offense we’re better than what we’ve shown on the field,” Yates said. “If that’s what it’s going to take to get us moving a little bit more, then that’s what we’ve got to do.”

“I’ll do anything — whatever it takes to get this offense rolling.”

UNC’s depth chart didn’t show any major shake-ups on Monday, but Davis did mention that Ryan Houston should get a larger share of the carries this week.

Shaun Draughn has been getting the bulk of the work on ground for the Tar Heels, but Davis said the split between the two running backs should move closer to 50-50 against Georgia Southern.

North Carolina gained only 17 and 39 rushing yards in its last two games against Georgia Tech and Virginia, respectively.

“We’ve got run the ball more effectively than we did last weekend and against Georgia Tech,” Davis said. “The offensive line’s got to identify the fronts better. They’ve got to get on the right guys. And the running backs, they’ve got to sometimes make their own holes.”

Even if the offensive adjustments do create more rhythm on offense and give his team more scoring opportunities, Davis said finishing those chances can be the difference between winning and losing.

He cited Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers as an example.

“As much as we struggled to move the football, twice we had the football inside the 25-yard line,” Davis said.

“Two touchdowns would have gone a long way Saturday instead of kicking a field goal.”

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