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Danny Green didn't really notice where he was. All he knew was that Bobby Frasor had kicked the ball out to him and that he was open outside the arc just seconds after draining his third 3-pointer.He didn't realize just how far outside the arc he was.""I wasn't expecting to shoot that deep. That's just where I caught it" Green said. Bobby handed it of to me" and I happened to be that far.""But when nobody came up to put a hand in his face"" Green said ""Why not?"" and launched another bomb from about six yards behind the arc. Swish.While Green might have been unaware of his location" coach Roy Williams certainly wasn't and Williams threw a questioning look towards Green. The junior simply grinned and shrugged. Oh" well.Green's six 3-point baskets and 18 points in the second half put an authoritative exclamation point on No. 1 North Carolina's 116-48 shellacking of UNC-Asheville (3-3) on Sunday.""It's usually if you're open" you shoot it and knock it down" Green said. And hopefully you keep getting open and knocking them down.""Green knocked so many of them down Sunday that his thumb needed ice after the game.But Green wasn't the only Tar Heel making things rainy Sunday. UNC (7-0) splashed 14 bombs from beyond the arc" the most since 2005.Ty Lawson contributed two to the 3-pointer total and all told logged 22 points eight assists" five steals and just one turnover — in only 21 minutes of action.""I thought Ty was really dominating" but we took him out early Williams said. He just really set the tone of the whole game. I thought he was really" really something.""But Lawson wasn't the only North Carolina point guard showcasing his ability to keep defenders at bay.Freshman Larry Drew II played just 15 minutes but in that limited court time tallied six assists to only one turnover.While one end of the court was raining" the other end was having a block party.Ed Davis and Deon Thomson combined for seven blocks after they were taken out early in the game for what Williams called a lack of focus. The two long-limbed forwards not only swatted a few after their return but they also intimidated the smaller UNC-Asheville squad into many altered shots and off-balance mid-air adjustments.The result was a dismal shooting performance from the Bulldogs (18-for-68 for just 26.5 percent). Thompson and Davis' presence also could be seen from the Bulldog's 12-for-33 shooting in the paint.The game had a feeling of something missing since star forward Tyler Hansbrough sat out with a sore foot and supersized UNC-Asheville center Kenny George is missing the season after part of his foot was amputated due to a staph infection. But since there would be no repeat of Hansbrough's visceral dunk over the 7-foot-7-inch George from last season's matchup (or George's over Hansbrough) Thompson and Davis managed to carry the load combining for 30 points and 19 boards.The 68-point margin of victory is the third-largest in UNC history and the most ever in the Smith Center.For the game UNC continued its hot shooting of late as Green's performance moves him to 13 of 21 from beyond the arc in the past three games and UNC has shot at a 50 percent clip for nine straight halves.Contact the Sports Editorat firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior North Carolina forward Danny Green said he had one question after hearing of Kentucky's 103-111 loss to heavy underdog VMI on Saturday.""Was anyone playing defense?""A valid question" especially given that Green's Tar Heels face that Kentucky team tonight.But regardless of how poorly Kentucky defended their opening opponent the Tar Heels will certainly be focusing their own defense on slowing down Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson.Patterson's numbers from KU's season-opener were not overwhelming — eight points" seven boards — but numbers can be deceiving. North Carolina and Roy Williams remember all too clearly the 19 points and nine rebounds Patterson hung on the Tar Heels as a freshman last year.""Physically" he is extremely imposing Williams said. When he posts you up down low you stay posted up. I mean" he can bury you underneath the basket and you cannot get around him.""In fact"" one of the biggest anomalies in Kentucky's box score Saturday was that Patterson took only four shots. That's an anomaly that UNC expects the Wildcats to correct.""I would bet that Patrick would be much more of a factor in (tonight's) game"" Williams said. And they're probably going to do a lot more things trying to focus on him.""And if Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie needed any more impetus to look to the post" All-America forward Tyler Hansbrough will not play tonight Williams said Monday.That makes Deon Thompson Patterson's primary defender with help from two freshman big men" Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller.""I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the one guarding him"" Thompson said. And I'm going to accept it and do the best I can.""So how will Thompson" neither lauded for his defense nor considered a liability" slow down Kentucky's best threat?""Just wall him and make him score over me"" Thompson said. That's the best I can do is make him score over me. Don't pick up silly fouls or foul him while you're trying to get position on him.""When Thompson goes out" Patterson also will provide the first test down low for UNC's two freshman forwards Zeller and Davis.Davis in particular could shore up UNC's rebounding woes" as the Tar Heels out-rebounded undersized Penn by only 10. ""I mean"" he's 6'10"" and he can get up off the floor" Thompson said of Davis. He wants to rebound" and I think that's a big thing when you try to rebound the ball is that you have to have a want to do it. And he definitely has that.""And Williams is not hesitant to test the skills of Davis and Zeller against Kentucky — even in a game that serves as the centerpiece of ESPN's 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.""I think it is extremely important to get them as many minutes as you can in game-type scenarios"" Williams said. We can't simulate in practice with Patrick Moody and J.B. (Tanner) and those guys what we're going to face with Patrick Patterson tomorrow night.""Contact the Sports Editorat email@example.com.
As season openers go No. 1 North Carolina's 86-71 victory against Penn got a little awkward.First of all the man in the middle for the Tar Heels was a forward from the Midwest named Tyler.But instead of the No. 50 that has become a Smith Center staple for the last three years it was the No. 44 of freshman Tyler Zeller who filled in for the injured Tyler Hansbrough.Zeller certainly seemed to be channelling aspects of his elder as he led UNC with 18 points.Also making things a little unusual was the fact that Penn overmatched on paper" turned out to be a scrappy bunch of dead-eye shooters.The Quakers even managed to close to within 10 points with just five minutes remaining in the game following four straight blown possessions by UNC.""We had some mental lapses defensively" and they started to make a comeback" Danny Green said. Penn is a good team. They came back like any good team would.""While upset dreams started to form for the unranked Quakers" North Carolina mustered enough fire to put Penn down and gain some separation quickly extending its lead back to 15 and holding it there for the rest of the game.UNC struggled shooting early and no one had more trouble finding the hoop than shooting guard Wayne Ellington. Usually the team's best marksman from deep Ellington put plenty of dents in the rim with a 5-for-15 shooting performance including 2-for-7 from beyond the arc. He even struggled from the foul line" going just 1-for-3.""Ray Charles could see that's not very good"" coach Roy Williams said of Ellington's shooting statistics. But Ellington managed to contribute in other ways. He chased down five rebounds and had five assists, a steal and even a block.You just have to do something else to help out" Ellington said. Distribute the ball get some rebounds" play defense. Just try to do other things.""Green"" in the starting lineup while the injured Marcus Ginyard and Hansbrough man the ""suit crew"" flashed some of the skills NBA scouts looked at this summer after he declared for the draft.Three times, Green — usually a forward — acted the point guard, running the UNC break. And three times, Green bounced a nifty pass through defenders to provide a teammate with an easy bucket.As the Tar Heels started revving up their fast break with pressure defense — at one point Green and Ty Lawson trapped so quickly that Penn point guard Zack Rosen didn't even see it coming — Penn was forced to foul to keep the lightning-quick Tar Heels from running past.The result was that three Penn players fouled out, and the Quakers racked up 30 fouls on the game.And while UNC never could quite stifle Penn's shooting touch — the Quakers shot a respectable 40 percent for the game — the Tar Heels did manage to force 16 turnovers.Early in the night, freshman Justin Watts took up Green's pregame dance duties — and flashed some moves that Green never had.I know he can move a little bit" Green said. I know he has a hurt knee right now" but he might be the replacement.""Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An impromptu party broke out in the North Carolina locker room following the Tar Heels' 102-62 exhibition win against UNC-Pembroke on Saturday night — loud music shouts and laughter filling even the next room over.Apparently" nobody was happier to see the nation's top-ranked basketball team on the court than the team members themselves.""It was fun just to have 20"000 people out there" senior guard Bobby Frasor said. It's been great to get back.""And for Frasor"" getting back is especially sweet. The senior sat out most of the 2007-08 season with a knee injury and endured extensive rehabilitation to be able to return.But he certainly made sure that his time on the court would be worth the wait. Frasor wasn't in the game two minutes before he spotted up on the wing and buried a 3-pointer — one of his three on the game. Frasor's nine points were complemented by two steals.""It's a security blanket to have him out there because he does make your entire defense better"" said Williams, who said Frasor worked harder to come back and do the rehab than anybody I've ever seen.""I'm happy for him"" a youngster that has worked that hard.""Danny Green and Wayne Ellington led the Tar Heels in scoring with 16 each. Green went 5-for-9 from the floor and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.Point guard Ty Lawson flashed his lightning-quick footspeed on offense for 14 points and five assists. But he also showed fire on the defensive side of the ball" with a game-high six steals.But the elephant in the room was firmly planted at the end of the Tar Heel bench.Tyler Hansbrough Marcus Ginyard and freshman Justin Watts did not see action" each nursing an injury. Watts was out after injuring his knee in practice Friday.""We had a nice little suit crew on the sidelines" Green said.Hopefully they'll be back soon" and we'll be even better because everybody else will be so much stronger for picking up the slack from when they're gone.""Hansbrough's absence was the most notable as the forward hasn't missed a game — or exhibition — in the past three years.Frasor and his teammates felt a little odd when the three-time All-America's name wasn't called as one of the five starters.""That's something I've never seen when they call the starting lineups"" Frasor said. I don't think he knew where to go.""Hansbrough and Ginyard's injuries meant that last year's sixth man" Green got the start taking the place of his traditional pregame sideline dance. Even though he was on the court" Green still gave the smallest of shimmies just before tipoff.""As soon as the music came on" coach looked at me waiting to see what I was going to do" Green said. He knows I can't dance on the floor.""Somebody will take over"" hopefully.""Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
CARY — Basketball season is starting up and football season is in full swing but the most successful Tar Heel squad for the past three years also took the field this week.The North Carolina baseball team wrapped up the Fall World Series on Wednesday its preseason intrasquad scrimmage.And while the stakes were somewhat lower — the losing team has to buy pizza for the Christmas party — the competition was still heated with the series coming down to a final 10-inning game Wednesday. Aside from pizza the Tar Heels also are looking for potential replacements in their lineup after five of their starting hitters graduated or left the team for the MLB Draft.While baseball season is still some time away it looks like at least two of those spots are filled.Mike Cavasinni a redshirt junior" looks to find time in the outfield after he was beset with injuries the past two years.""Cavi's got to come back"" coach Mike Fox said. Got to get back to starting form.""You don't face live pitching for two years and you then try to come back"" it takes you a while. He's going to be important for us.""Another player waiting in the wings for the past few years also finally has his shot. Greg Holt flashed power and placement in the FWS"" going 3-for-5 in the 10-inning final game with a game-high three RBI.""It's awesome" Holt said of his chance to start in 2009. It's a great feeling to know that I have an opportunity to come in and help our team win. It feels — I've been waiting a long time for this" let's just say that.""Adding to the importance of Holt's success was that many of his hits came against Adam Warren" UNC's Saturday starter in 2008.North Carolina batters could be much better than their paltry averages showed (the White team went 13-40" while the Blue team went 6-36) but the Tar Heels have what yet again looks to be the best pitching staff in the nation.It didn't even matter that these hitters and pitchers face off against one another every day in practice.""We've got probably the No. 1 pitching staff in the country" Holt said. It really doesn't help seeing them every day" because they're so good. They can just show up one day and the next day change things up.""The Tar Heels return all of their starters" and some newer faces showed promise — none more than Bryant Gaines. The redshirt sophomore pitched three innings and recorded six strikeouts Wednesday" earning praise from Fox.""Bryant" he's improved so much. He weighs 218 pounds … I've never had a kid work like he does. When you work hard and want to be good" you start seeing results. ""He's really moved up the chart for us.""Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Carolina's preseason No. 1 ranking took a Psycho-T-sized hit Thursday night.Senior forward Tyler Hansbrough a three-time first team All-America is out indefinitely with a stress reaction in his right shin. Hansbrough sat out practice Thursday and had an MRI which revealed the stress reaction.There is no timetable for Hansbrough's return and coach Roy Williams will not issue a statement until Friday after he has had a chance to meet with UNC medical staff.Hansbrough's injury is the first to take him off the court in his UNC career. He has played in all 108 games during his first three years at Chapel Hill even playing through a broken nose his sophomore year.Hansbrough averaged 22.6 points and 10.2 rebounds last year en route to garnering ACC Player of the Year and National Player of the Year honors.Compounding matters is the fact that Marcus Ginyard who started at small forward in 2008 is already sidelined for six to eight weeks with a stress fracture in his left foot.The announcement comes hard on the heels of North Carolina's preseason unanimous No. 1 ranking based largely on the strength of all five starters returning.Two of those starters are now down for at least the opening portion of the season opening up opportunities for UNC's talented freshman class.Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
""That's enough.""After watching Boston College run into the end zone with the ball he had just fumbled" UNC quarterback Cameron Sexton decided he was fed up.So Sexton started throwing the ball to Hakeem Nicks — and by the end of the day it was then-No.23 Boston College that'd had enough.After falling behind 10-0 in the game's opening nine minutes Sexton and UNC came storming back to win scoring 24 second-quarter points on its way to a 45-24 win at Kenan Stadium.Nicks' 170 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns keyed the UNC effort which vaulted the Tar Heels (6-2 2-2 ACC) back into the AP's Top 25 at No. 21.Sexton was the offensive leader UNC needed going 19-for-30 with 238 yards and three touchdowns — and more notably no interceptions. The Tar Heels converted eight of 15 third downs largely on the strength of Sexton-to-Nicks hookups and Shaun Draughn's team-high 64 rushing yards.But it was the Tar Heel defense that didn't so much clamp down on the Eagles as devour them.Following BC's game-opening drive that went 58 yards in 12 plays" the Eagles had exactly one drive that lasted more than six plays — and punted six times. Turnovers and poor punting combined to let five UNC drives start in Boston College territory — resulting in 24 UNC points.""They didn't run the ball at all against us" senior linebacker Mark Paschal said. We've still got to improve on our pass defense" but as a whole we played about as good a game defensively as you can.""Boston College's backs Montel Harris and Josh Haden couldn't get past the two hulking frames of defensive tackles Cam Thomas and Marvin Austin. As a team" Boston College (5-2" 2-2 ACC) rushed for a season-low 40 yards. ""Me and Cam" we feel like we're not trying to let anybody run the ball up the middle because we're too big" Austin said. We just try to clog the holes and let the linebackers fill the gaps.""With the running attack stuffed" the Eagles tried to attack the team which leads the nation in interceptions through the pass.It proved not to be the equation for success.Quarterback Chris Crane threw three picks and UNC recorded 21 points off those turnovers. In the third quarter Kendric Burney leapt in front of a Crane throw over the middle and returned it 37 yards" breaking at least four tackles — but came up just short of the end zone.""It felt like I was in high school" running the option again" Burney said of the return.I didn't even think about how frustrating it was (not to score) because I was so tired and I had grass all in my mouth afterwards. I was just ready to lay down.""While Ryan Houston finished what Burney had started with a one-yard touchdown run"" the defense managed a score of its own on the first play of the fourth quarter. Senior safety Trimane Goddard returned his fifth interception of the year 51 yards for his first touchdown since he was a senior in high school — five years ago.""It just felt good to get into the end zone again"" Goddard said.The UNC pass defense also regained some of its menace after allowing Virginia huge chunks of yardage the previous week. On the day, BC's longest pass play was 20 yards. Today was probably the most complete team game that we've played"" coach Butch Davis said.We never felt like we didn't have a grasp and a handle on what we wanted to do in all three phases.""Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than most teams Boston College comes and goes with its quarterback.The consistency of junior signalcaller Chris Crane — or lack thereof — could very well be the story of Saturday's matchup.From game to game it's uncertain which version of Crane will show up to play — the one who has thrown multiple interceptions on three separate occasions" or the one who has accounted for 12 total touchdowns. UNC is preparing for the latter.""This kid's playing really well"" coach Butch Davis said of Crane. They throw the ball well; they know what they're doing.""Crane has five passing scores" but most of his production comes from his feet where the junior has found paydirt seven times to lead BC in rushing touchdowns. Crane and his hulking 6-foot-4-inch 239-lb. frame provide the Eagles' offense with another dimension in the red zone an area where UNC showed vulnerability against Virginia.But that's assuming Crane can lead the Eagles there despite his propensity for throwing picks. In BC's victory against Virginia Tech last week" Crane threw three interceptions — part of five total turnovers by BC.""I don't know how they did it with five turnovers" UNC quarterback Cameron Sexton said. It's difficult to win with turnovers" and we feel like that's a key to a game.""The Tar Heel defense must be licking its chops in watching tape of the strong" but sometimes inaccurate arm of Crane. For the season Crane has thrown nine picks in six games.Compare that even to Sexton's stat line in 2006 when he played in only seven games and still only threw eight picks.One thing that has hampered Crane more than most is pressure from opposing defenses. VT brought pressure all night last week and Crane couldn't get comfortable. But pressure is one thing UNC has struggled to create all season. Even against pass-happy Notre Dame UNC only brought blitzes in the second half.With or without the pressure Crane's stats still do not stack up well against North Carolina's secondary. The Tar Heels lead the nation in interceptions and ball-hawking safety Trimane Goddard has four himself.The UNC secondary will be looking for some balls to snatch especially after not corralling any picks last week against Virginia.While Boston College is a strong team overall UNC has an ideal defense to strike at the Eagles' Achilles' heel.Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
CHARLOTTESVILLE Va. — Just inches away.With Virginia down one point and needing an extra point to complete an astonishing late-game comeback against No. 18 North Carolina Deunta Williams gave a superhuman leap and got one hand on the ball.The kick turned into a wounded duck and fell — just inches above the crossbar.On to overtime in which halfback Cedric Peerman's two-yard run trumped a UNC field goal giving UVa. the come-from-behind 16-13 victory against North Carolina.That late-game surge is doubly painful for UNC since the Tar Heels locked down the Cavaliers for 57 minutes of play.In fact" the only sustained drive Virginia had was its 82-yard march in the game's final two and a half minutes.""It's frustrating" losing a game that you've led for the majority of the game senior linebacker Mark Paschal said. Whenever you do that" it's damn heartbreaking.""Paschal and the rest of UNC's defense still had memories of 2007 and the 186 yards that Peerman racked up in the Cavaliers' 22-20 victory last season.In 2008 they succeeded in slowing down UVa.'s run — Peerman gained only 44 yards in the game" and Virginia's offense managed just 49 yards in all of the first half. But the Tar Heels couldn't stop the senior halfback in the red zone. While limited in the open field Peerman willed his way to two key touchdowns" one at the end of regulation and a second to end the game in overtime.""It just kind of snowballed on us"" said Paschal, who was bulled over trying to stop the first Peerman score.While the game's final minutes were indicative of a close contest, the Tar Heels looked in control for much of the game and several times came inches from a knockout blow.UNC opened the game with an 83-yard touchdown drive, capped by a Ryan Houston run. Shaun Draughn racked up 48 yards on that drive — part of his career-high 138 yards in his first start.But they could not finish Virginia off. On UVa.'s next drive, quarterback Marc Verica's third-down pass was tipped by three separate Tar Heel defenders, but none could reel in the catch.It was unusual, considering that UNC leads the nation in picks.We had one" two maybe even three opportunities for interceptions ourselves where we just missed the ball" coach Butch Davis said. And those balls had gone to us in the previous six ball games.""UNC's offense also managed to keep Virginia in the game with turnovers. On their third drive of the game" the Tar Heels were looking to score from UVa.'s 33 yard-line. But Cameron Sexton's third-down throw didn't have enough zip to get past Virginia's Byron Glaspy at the UVa. 17-yard line. Just like that" the game was still in question. Sexton helped UVa. out again with another offering in the second quarter — that set up a 37-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.""I haven't turned the ball over very much this year" and today those two turnovers they're just costly Sexton said. You can't do that and win football games. And to be honest with you" I feel terrible right now.""UNC also coughed up a fumble when Hakeem Nicks lost his grip on a catch on another third down.""When you lose the turnover battle" as you've seen you put yourself in a big hole" Paschal said.All of that set up for Virginia's final drive. After North Carolina kicked a field goal to make the score 10-3 with just 2:22 remaining, the Cavaliers needed 82 yards to tie the game. With UNC sitting back in a soft defense, Virginia managed to eat up big chunks of yardage in the passing game and Verica was almost perfect on the drive to set up the game-tying touchdown run.You've just got to make them turn the ball over or get them off the field"" Paschal said. And we weren't able to do that.""Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hakeem Nicks barely makes it out of the locker room Tuesday before a camera's in his face and he's being directed for a photo shoot.Nicks takes it all in stride — the light the flashes from the camera; he even manages to ask when and where the shots are running without breaking the photographer's rhythm.It's obvious the junior wideout welcomes the spotlight — which is good because it's going to be focused intensely on him for the rest of the season. With Nicks' running mate wideout Brandon Tate out for the season defenses know exactly where the ball is going: the XXL hands of No. 88.Nicks who wears the largest sized gloves offered (he says they still don't fit) has always welcomed that attention. In the preseason" he casually dropped phrases such as ""national championship"" and ""Heisman.""Those were bold statements when UNC had its full complement of players" and doubly so now" after injuries to starting quarterback T.J. Yates and to Tate. But Nicks doesn't back off his preseason claims. ""We're definitely looking at it the same way" Nicks said. (Injuries are) just a part of football. Guys go down guys gotta step up. A football team is not made up of one or two players on the team" it's 40 or more.""In fact" while Tate has garnered the highlight reels Nicks has been racking up his own stats. Nicks holds the UNC career record with eight games of more than 100 receiving yards. Statistically speaking he is the best wide receiver in the ACC with almost 200 more yards than his closest competition.His quarterback certainly seems to know that. In the past three games Cameron Sexton has thrown to Nicks 23 times for 17 completions. With all his other receivers" Sexton is 21-45.""Cam" he relies on me to make big plays on third down" Nicks said. So I just got to make plays.""Sexton and injured starter Yates both speak about Nicks with the same borderline reverence.""The only thing that's going to stop him is maybe quadruple coverage"" Sexton said Monday, after Nicks reeled in nine of his throws the prior weekend against Notre Dame. I mean"" I really feel like that he can find a way to get open.""The reason? Nicks loves contact.While not the biggest receiver" Nicks doesn't hesitate to get down and maybe a little dirty with defenders — when he put the Tar Heels on his back with three straight catches against Notre Dame" twice Nicks pushed off the cornerback to create some space.""I just wanted to march us downfield. … I was just so antsy about it"" you know?"" Nicks said"" seeming to relish even the memory of competition. ""I just really wasn't thinking about it that much"" I just wanted to keep making plays.""Once he gets the ball"" Nicks has another and more lethal weapon to keep defenders at bay: a nasty stiff-arm. His arms are so long that some smaller cornerbacks can't even reach his shoulder.""The stiff-arm has always kind of stuck with me since high school"" Nicks said. It's just natural. It's like second nature to me.""The result is that Nicks rarely hits the ground after first contact" if at all. Most cornerbacks — and plenty of safeties — just aren't big or strong enough to bring him down. And don't think Nicks doesn't know it. On the field he doesn't shimmy or juke as Tate does. In fact Nicks doesn't change his route at all. If someone's in his way" Nicks goes over or through him. ""I can show you five catches in practice that he'll catch a 15-yard catch and he'll run 60" 70 yards to get to the end zone Davis said.And there's no mystery to why he plays the way he does" he works hard.""Case in point — against Connecticut" Sexton threw to Nicks despite a perfectly positioned cornerback ready to make a interception. Instead of the turnover Nicks reached over and snagged the ball out of the defender's grasp and then ran upfield — as if the cornerback wasn't even there.While Nicks might be athletic enough to make defenders appear invisible he can rest assured that he'll be the biggest blip on their radars from now on.Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
Jimmy Clausen had no chance.On first and 10 from the North Carolina 46 Notre Dame's quarterback couldn't even look downfield before defensive tackle Aleric Mullins was in his face. Clausen cocked his arm to fire but Mullins bulled his way to the ball. Two seconds later the ball was underneath big No. 97 for a turnover.Mullins' sack and fumble recovery was one of several early blows from North Carolina's second-half defense — not to be confused with the unit that took the field in the first half.That group got burned by Clausen's arm and Notre Dame's five-wideout set to the tune of 199 passing yards in the opening two quarters.So UNC changed things up. Butch Davis decided that he'd had enough of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis' offensive gimmicks and threw in some wrinkles of his own.North Carolina brought in Da'Norris Searcy as a third safety" a package that Davis said his team hadn't even practiced.""We just kind of scratched it in the dirt and said" ‘You're going in" and you're going to play this position.'""Improvisational as the scheme was" the package paid immediate dividends. Just 12 seconds into the second half Quan Sturdivant snatched an interception and took it to the house" setting the stage for UNC's frantic late-game comeback.""The key was that we played much better coverage" Davis said. There was not the immediate quick throws. The quarterback had to hold the ball he had to scramble a little bit" he had to throw it into coverage.""The UNC defense frustrated Clausen for most of the second half. Many of his throws were into coverage and on the run"" and the extra defensive backs allowed North Carolina to break up three passes and intercept two others in the games' final two periods.That also allowed the Tar Heels to get some pressure on Clausen. Linebackers and defensive linemen proceeded to make Clausen's life miserable and legs tired in the second half as the quarterback was constantly chased by blue jerseys.""We had worked all week in practice on blitzing" Mullins said. We put a lot of work into it this week" and it really paid off for us.""The payoff? Notre Dame managed only one scoring drive in the second half" as opposed to three in the first.Three times in the second half Clausen was brought down in the backfield. Mullins' sack and fumble recovery was the first of those" as UNC's pressure revved up late in the game. Mullins said Clausen showed the strain of constantly evading rushers.""When you see the frustration in the quarterback's face and he's getting onto his teammates" you knew you had him then" Mullins said.Despite having more coverage players on the field, the Tar Heels still managed to stymie ND's running game. In the first half, the Irish put up 61 rushing yards on just 12 carries.In the second half, ND rushed for only 28 yards. Davis was quick to attribute that to stalwart efforts from the defensive line rotation, pointing out that North Carolina played almost 10 different linemen to keep up pressure and intensity.You count the number of times that you saw Marvin Austin or one of those guys turn and make the tackle from behind"" he said.Those guys get wore out. We were fortunate that we had some depth there.""Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of the press for North Carolina's Saturday matchup with Notre Dame has gone to quarterback Jimmy Clausen's golden arm but the real precious metal of Notre Dame's offense just might be wideout Golden Tate.Tate is the most electrifying of Notre Dame's receivers" and he leads the team with 23 receptions and also has three touchdown grabs.He's also the only ND player to break a play of more than 50 yards this season. ""The thing that really has impressed me is the explosive playmaking of the wide receivers on the outside"" UNC coach Butch Davis said Monday. They're talented kids.""While Tate is the home-run threat" his fellow receivers benefit from Notre Dame's wide-open passing attack — Clausen has thrown 171 times already this season" compared to 115 for all UNC quarterbacks.And the fact is that Clausen and Irish coach Charlie Weis are more than happy to spread the ball around.""We're going to throw it to where the coverage dictates us going"" Weis said. But now you're finally at a point where we don't have to create a star — just call a play and throw it to the weakness of the coverage.""In Notre Dame's five games" three different players have lead the Irish in receptions.That kind of spread-the-wealth attack will put pressure on the UNC secondary to defend every receiver on the field.But against the Tar Heels Notre Dame might be facing a different animal. So far on the season UNC has picked off opposing quarterbacks 12 times — the most in the nation. Trimane Goddard himself has an ACC-leading four picks. UNC repeatedly preys on opposing quarterbacks on third down and passing situations with ball-hawking linebackers Bruce Carter and Mark Paschal featured. And when a pass does find its intended receiver UNC cornerbacks have demonstrated their ability to make one-on-one tackles.Miami tried to run quick bubble screens for wide receivers against UNC two weeks ago but cornerbacks Jordan Hemby and Kendrick Burney responded with a combined 13 solo tackles keeping receivers contained.Granted the Tar Heels haven't faced anything close to Weis's schemes or Clausen's arm.But to garner a third straight win they'll have to make Golden Tate & Co. look a little tarnished.Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
MIAMI — This wasn't supposed to happen.North Carolina wasn't supposed to come back Saturday in Dolphin Stadium.Not with starting quarterback T.J. Yates injured. Not after falling behind 14-0 to open the game. Not after missing a field goal that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter.But somehow someway" the same Tar Heel team that couldn't buy a late-game break for the past two years pulled out the heroics with 14 points in the final 10 minutes to beat Miami 28-24.""He told us that Miami gave us their shot" wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said of Butch Davis' halftime speech. And he told us to go out there and give them our shot" and that's what we did.""With backup quarterback Cameron Sexton at the helm" the odds appeared to be against UNC giving much of a shot to anyone. Sexton a starter during UNC's abortive 2006 3-9 campaign had a reputation for late-game interceptions.That reputation will have to change after his performance Saturday. The jittery 2006 version of Sexton was nowhere to be found replaced by a calm" cool leader who steadied the ship after redshirt freshman Mike Paulus struggled in the opening two drives.""Guys get jacked up and get down"" Sexton said. I feel like it should be my position to keep everybody level and keep everybody on the same page.""Sexton did just that" smoothly leading UNC's (3-1" 1-1 ACC) late-game comeback. First Sexton caught Nicks running wide open in the middle of the field for a 74-yard touchdown pass.""I just ran a post route straight up the middle"" Nicks said. Really I just ran straight up the middle because it was so open. I just went and took it.""That pass energized the Tar Heels on the sidelines"" who went from despondent to what defensive tackle Aleric Mullins could only describe as ""hectic.""""You get paranoid" Mullins said. But you just have to have faith. And that's what we did" have faith.""Apparently" faith was all UNC needed.UNC's defense held Miami (2-2 0-1) to negative four yards on a late possession and then tipped the punt to give Sexton and the Tar Heel offense the ball with a short field and 2:49 to work with.Cue the magic.Sexton took his team 56 yards in seven plays" capping the drive with a perfect pass over the Miami secondary into the outstretched arms of Brooks Foster for the go-ahead score with just 46 seconds remaining in the game.""Oh yeah" he pretty much put it where no one else could get it" Foster said. Pretty much a perfect throw by Cam. Much credit goes to Cam. I just made the catch.""The only thing that could have topped Sexton's performance (11-for-19" 242 yards and two touchdowns) and late-game moxie was Trimane Goddard's interception on the game's final play" Houdini-ing the ball and winning touchdown out of the grasp of Miami's Kayne Farquharson in the end zone as time expired.""Just making a break on the ball" I was going to try to rip it from him Goddard said. Because if he'd have caught it" it would have been over the shoulder and he wouldn't have any power to secure it.""Wide receiver and return specialist Brandon Tate had a quiet day" considering his astronomical numbers thus far in 2008 — 130 all-purpose yards with 62 receiving and 67 return yards.But Tate did have a career day nonetheless breaking the NCAA record for most career return yards on a 29-yard return in the first quarter to set up a Greg Little touchdown run keeping UNC within striking distance.Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Carolina's running game finally looked effective Saturday against Miami.Just don't look at the stat sheet for proof.UNC's grand total for net rushing yards in the 28-24 win was 35 yards on 33 rushes — an average of 1.1 yard. That's less than ideal for a half of football" much less a full game.So why was quarterback Cameron Sexton praising the UNC tailbacks Monday?""Really our rushing statistic was not indicative of how we ran the football" Sexton said.I thought we were physical up front but I really thought that those three guys running" I really thought they ran like warriors.""Sexton has a point in saying those stats are slightly skewed. UNC actually gained 81 yards on the ground and lost 46.Most of that negative yardage came from a turnover on fourth down when UNC muffed a punt snap for negative 19 yards and two sacks of Sexton for negative seven and 11 yards.Add those totals up for negative 37 yards on just three plays — none of them from the running game.Take Sexton and punter Terrence Brown out of the total" and UNC is left with 29 rushes for 72 net yards — an average of 2.5 yards per carry.Granted nobody's going to mistake Greg Little for Reggie Bush with those numbers but even those statistics don't tell the whole story.Through the early games of 2008" the Tar Heels have struggled with losing yards on rushing plays on first and second down.That put the Tar Heel offense in a tough situation of facing a second down and 11 or 12 and forced many drives to end in just three plays in UNC's opening three games.That trend reversed itself Saturday.UNC running backs rushed for loss only twice in the game and only lost five total yards on those rushes.That means that UNC spent most of Saturday's game moving forward on the ground — a vital component to keeping drives alive.""We had so many third and short conversions" Sexton said. And you see the momentum we carried" to keep us out there and keep us driving.""Of UNC's 12 drives Saturday" six went for six plays or more" and only one was a three-and-out.""It was a step forward"" coach Butch Davis said. The thing that I thought they did is they ran hard.""I thought Ryan (Houston) ran hard; I thought Greg ran harder and more physical than in either of the two games at the end of the season last year.""Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
In 2007 North Carolina was coming off a close-fought 17-10 loss to Virginia Tech.Up next on the slate was Miami.Sound familiar?While the quirk of scheduling does not imply that another result like last year's 33-27 victory is imminent for UNC it is worth noting that the Tar Heels have had their fair share of success against the Hurricanes.Of the three expansion teams the ACC added in 2004 and 2005 North Carolina has a winning record against only Miami. The Tar Heels are 6-5 all-time against the Hurricanes including two wins in the past four years. Wins against Boston College and Virginia Tech have proven harder to come by — UNC is 2-2 all-time with BC and 9-15-6 against Va. Tech — but the Tar Heels seem to have Miami's number more so than most.For example in program history North Carolina has only once beaten a team ranked in the AP top five. That game was UNC's 31-28 victory against Miami in 2004.Throw into the mix the fact that Miami coach Randy Shannon both played for and then coached under Butch Davis when Davis was at Miami and things really start to get interesting.Davis is quick to discount the idea that playing Miami especially in Dolphin Stadium" is anything special.""Miami's the opponent" he said. We played them last year and we're just going back down there and playing them again. I've only been there two times in my life as a coach" and it's just another road game.""But it was apparent in 2007 that Davis understood the schemes of his former understudy Shannon" as UNC's running game exploded for 183 yards — the season-high for 2007.That game came just as UNC's rush looked to be foundering" but Davis used misdirection and cut-back running to get the aggressive Miami defenders out of position.UNC will have to do more of the same after suffering an injury to starting quarterback T.J. Yates.""This is a time to prove something" halfback Greg Little said Wednesday.This is a time that we've hit some adversity" and you know T.J. has stepped down. ""It's time to show that we can bounce back from a loss and from an injury to a key position.""Davis already has hinted that UNC will be looking for those misdirection plays that wreaked havoc with the Miami defense in 2007" especially given the success UNC wideouts have had running reverses in 2008.Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster have rushed 10 times for 186 yards an average of 18.6 yards per carry. That's in stark contrast to Tar Heel running backs" who are averaging a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry.""You could be really foolish and say ‘We're going to hand the ball off 27 times" and at the end of the game we've got 53 yards""" Davis said. ""Or you could say … ‘We're going to fake to that tailback back inside there and we're going to give it to Brooks and he's going to run for 57 on the outside.'""What's the difference? Running yards are running yards."" WATCH THE GAMETime: Noon SaturdayTV: ESPN2Radio: WCHL 1360 AM; WRDU 106.1 FMContact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By now" the harsh reality has sunk in.T.J. Yates North Carolina's starting quarterback will not be playing in the near future.And so the team is left with a blank No. 1 spot on the depth chart" and a choice: ""Who goes in now?""Should it be junior Cam Sexton" who has nine games of experience but hasn't thrown a pass since the season opener of 2007?Or should redshirt freshman Mike Paulus" who came in after Yates was injured against Virginia Tech — and received his first significant game action just last week — take the helm?""Certainly a part of it is going to be looking at Miami" coach Butch Davis said. Looking at their defensive scheme things that we think it's going to take to give us a chance to win the game" and we'll ascertain that.""We need the quarterback not only to be efficient"" but we need him to make some plays.""While Davis has yet to name the starter for UNC's next game"" Yates said it won't really matter.""We still have a great offense. Mike — Mike or Cam — is going to do a great job. You know" those receivers made me look good out there" he said. So I think they can do a good job with whoever."" He might have a point. Whoever starts will have the plenty of weapons to work with. After all" playmaking wideouts Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks are catching the passes.And both passers had time to build a rapport with them during the spring while Yates was rehabilitating from an offseason shoulder surgery. Sexton and Paulus both worked out with the first team in that period including the spring game where Paulus went 11-for-16 with 159 yards and Sexton was 7-for-9 with 104 yards and one interception.Now that experience has a chance to pay dividends. While Paulus' fourth-quarter interceptions against Virginia Tech might not be highlight-reel material" Yates pointed out his start wasn't the most conducive to success.""Mike had a horrible situation going into" first time ever getting real playing time" just really thrown into the fire against Virginia Tech.""Sexton does have more experience on the big-game stage" and he started the last game UNC played at Miami in 2006 as well as UNC's game against Virginia Tech that year.But that might not be an advantage. In the 2006 Miami game Sexton completed nine passes in 28 attempts for no touchdowns and two interceptions" and UNC lost 27-7.That season Sexton split time at quarterback with Joe Dailey. On the year he completed 41.9 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and eight interceptions.""Cam has some game experience and has started in the past" linebacker Mark Paschal said. And from a defensive standpoint" Cam is fast and has a good arm.""But Sexton's experience might pale in comparison to the raw talent of Paulus. ""Mike's got a world of potential" Yates said. A big arm a big strong body" everything like that. He just needs to get a little more experience.""You know" it's the one thing you can't teach really" is just being in there in the game experience.""Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
The elephant in the room came back to bite North Carolina square in the backfield Saturday against Virginia Tech.Hushed under the rug during UNC's first two wins was the uncomfortable truth — the Tar Heels lacked a consistent running game.There's nothing like a 20-17 loss to Virginia Tech to throw that into sharp relief.Greg Little's stat line from the game on the surface looks respectable — 18 rushes for 71 yards — but take away his 50-yard touchdown run and the box score turns to a dismal 17 rushes for 21 yards.That's an average of 1.23 yards per carry.Backup Shaun Draughn did no better rushing five times for 10 yards with one fumble lost.As a team North Carolina rushed 32 times for 103 net yards. But factor in that UNC rushed 15 times for no gain or for a loss of yards" and the stats add up to a lack of consistency on the ground.""The holes are definitely there; there are some things here and there that we didn't pick up" Little said.But as a running back it's not always going to be there. But you've got to make it sometimes you've got to make that yard after contact" that's what's going to help your running game.""Some credit can be given to Virginia Tech" always a solid defensive team.The Hokies routinely put eight men in the box on first and second down to clog running lanes" and UNC got virtually nothing between the tackles until Little's 50-yard scamper in the third quarter.""You're not going to get four or five yards every play against Virginia Tech"" coach Butch Davis said. It just doesn't happen.""But Davis also said that a good part of his team's running struggles was self-inflicted.""We've got to do a much better job blocking at the point of attack"" he said.Our offensive line and our tight ends and our running backs have got to run where they're supposed to go. We've got to do a much better job with our running game.""Those problems were thrown into the national spotlight when UNC went up 17-3 on the Hokies and looked poised to break the game open" or at least grind it out. But with Virginia Tech on its heels and an offense that looked to be clicking UNC's last four drives consisted of two three eight and four plays taking a total of 6:34 off the clock.In contrast during that same span Virginia's offense had the ball for 13:53 pounding away at UNC's defense. That same defense which had held Va. Tech to just three points in the first half gave up 17 in the game's final 17 minutes. Where UNC's backs coughed up the football twice in the game Virginia Tech's running backs reeled off three straight runs for first downs in the final quarter to take critical time off the clock and protect the lead from the team's late rally.Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SATURDAY" SEPT. 20" 7:27 p.m. -- Virginia Tech outlasted North Carolina 20-17 Saturday at Kenan Stadium.UNC opened the scoring with a 27-yard field goal with 12:31 remaining in the first quarter. Va. Tech answered after UNC's Shaun Draughn fumbled at the UNC 8-yard line with a 19-yard field goal of their own.With 1:02 remaining in the half"" T.J. Yates hooked up with Brandon Tate for a 30-yard catch and then a 32-yard touchdown reception to put UNC up 10-7 at the half.On UNC's first drive of the second half" T.J. Yates sprained his ankle after being sacked for a 18-yard loss. Yates was not on the field for the Next UNC possession and redshirt freshman Mike Paulus came in to QB. On his first play Paulus handed the ball off to Greg Little" who went 50 yards for the touchdown to put UNC up 17-3.Va. Tech came back in the third quarter" with back-to-back scores on the ground. Daniel Evans rushed up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown and then with 13:46 remaining in the fourth quarter" Kevin Lewis rushed for an 11-yard touchdown scamper to tie the game.Va. Tech stopped UNC's next drive with an interception at the two yard-line"" forcing UNC's third turnover of the game and proceeded to march down the field into UNC territory with backup quarterback Sean Glennon at the helm after Tyrod Taylor also went down with injury. The Hokies punted and pinned UNC at their own 10-yard line with 3:20 to play and in need of a score.It was not to be as UNC backed up to their own 1-yard line and Paulus threw his second interception of the game and Va. Tech cruised to the win.
By now it's old news. The video of North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney unloading a world of pain on Rutgers wide receiver Tiquan Underwood has been played again and again.Burney's hit is even more special given his size (5 feet 8 inches tall 185 pounds) and the fact that he plays cornerback a position not known for heavy hitting.But if you ask Butch Davis" more and more cornerbacks are being put on the spot to make tackles as spread and option offenses make a comeback in collegiate football.""Your secondary" you can't fall into the trap and think that the secondary is only there to defend the pass Davis said.With all the teams that run options they've got to be part of the support group. They've gotta be willing tacklers in college probably way more than they do in the NFL" because the ball gets spilled out.""UNC's secondary will have a gold standard to look up to in Virginia Tech" considered defensively to be the class of the ACC's Coastal division.So far in the season the Hokies are giving up a stingy 177.7 yards through the air. Compare that to UNC's 241.0 yards per game.UNC's offense also has some direct experience with the Hokies' secondary. In 2007 Tech held UNC to 182 receiving yards and no passing touchdowns. More importantly the Hokies did not give up a pass more than 20 yards" taking away North Carolina's trademark big plays.""One thing that won't change about them is their aggressiveness" and how they fly and swarm around the ball and make plays wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said.They always have some standout guys on defense and there's just some standout guys in the ACC in general" and so we just gotta suit up and go out there and play.""Terrence Brown named to watch list for top punterUNC's punter Terrence Brown has been drawing praise from teammates and coaches since before the season even began. Apparently" somebody listened. Brown was named Tuesday to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award given to the best punter in college football.The senior from Fresno Calif. is averaging 41 yards per punt in 2008 with four of his nine attempts downed inside the 20-yard line.Last season Brown averaged 41.4 yards per punt with more than a third of his punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Davis noted improvements in Brown's play as well as that of his team" even during the preseason.""The punting was decidedly better than it was a year ago" he said Aug. 25.Not only did Terrence do a great job punting the ball" but the snap operations were all at 2.1 or less.""Those trends are obviously paying off for Brown.Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
Charcoal grill. Nothing smells more like football than the heat and smoke of a charcoal grill firing up some bratwursts burgers or even steak.Some folks like to do it bigger with a full-out barbecue but a grill is essential regardless.The best part is that even if you don't bring any meat people will throw their own hot dogs or burgers on there. And the owner always gets to eat what's cooked on his grill. Dip. Look everybody brings chips. That's day one stuff for tailgating. But what people don't always bring is a good dip.It could be salsa. It could be crab. It could even be artichoke if it's manly enough.But most importantly a good dip will make everything seem a little tastier. If you doubt me then bring a big tub of salsa to the next tailgate and see how much faster your chips get eaten. Truck. Find one of your buddies that has a truck or at least an SUV. Yeah they're gas-guzzlers but you're just going to be sitting there anyway.It's football and my experience is that no one likes to tailgate off the back of a Taurus.More importantly you need a big bed or trunk to bring all of the eating equipment body paint and a tiny TV to watch the pregame show. Team jersey. Even if you aren't all that into the team you're watching you'll blend into the crowd if either you or one of your tailgating crew has a team jersey on.One jersey immediately makes the rest of the group seem cooler. Experts differ as to why this is.But bonus points if your group's jersey-wearer also happens to be a cute girl. Jams. Gotta have some get-pumped-up music.The Daily Tar Heel recommends the Space Jam soundtrack because there's no better collection of stimulating beats.- Powell Latimer