Training camp comes to a close as the Tar Heels will soon begin game week preparation for South Carolina. Here's a roundup of the weekend's key Carolina football news:
Adjustments to rule changes
Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and his staff have drawn from a line from Mickey Goldmill, the boxing trainer for Rocky Balboa in the movie Rocky, for their tackling mindset in 2013 in the wake of new stricter penalties for targeting.
"To the body, to the body, to the body," Koenning says.
"It's been quite a challenge and we've given it a lot of thought. We're trying to get them to attack the body. It's hard to change habits of a whole lifetime of tackling to the numbers and working up, tackling on the rise. These are habits defensive players have had forever."
Head coach Larry Fedora says the targeting emphasis and automatic suspension of the offending player is "one of the scariest things I can remember going into a season. I'm really worried about it. I know they say, 'Hey, we're going to replay it and get the call right,' but still, once it's been called, it's something that's very scary."
The targeting rule has been in place since 2008, but the change this year is that in addition to the 15-yard penalty, the player making the hit can be ejected. If he is ejected in the first half, then he sits the rest of the game; if it occurs in the second half, he sits out the first half of the next game. Such fouls include targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet, and targeting and initiating contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.
Internet news sites and social media pages were filled with images and video clips of the damage in the wake of the storm that dumped five inches of rain on Chapel Hill the afternoon of June 30. Two notable ones were photos of the low area of West Franklin Street, where Mallette Street intersects with Franklin, and video of the 18th hole at Chapel Hill Country Club--both showing the areas in question resembling lakes.
Less publicized was the damage to the Kenan Football Center on the west side of Kenan Stadium. The building, opened in 1997, sits at the low point of the natural rises on the north and south sides of the playing field. The rainfall cascaded downward from the high points, accumulating some six inches above floor level on the first floor of the building. The floors of the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor, weight room, equipment room, training room and players and coaches locker rooms received substantial damage.
Of most timely concern was the quick relocation of the weight room so that summer strength conditioning workouts could continue on schedule. Football strength and conditioning director Lou Hernandez supervised the moving of the football center's dumb bells, plates and lifting stations to the workout facility in the Loudermilk Center for Excellence on the east side of the stadium. The team is now sharing that facility with athletes from Carolina's Olympic sports until the flooring is replaced in a month to six weeks.
"We haven't missed a beat," Hernandez says. "Greg Gatz and his staff have been tremendous help in allowing us to come in and train the way we train. He's allowed us to take care of our business as if it's our own home. We're thankful to him."
A huge thank you should go to the Rams Club and its members for financing the Loudermilk Center, which opened two years ago. Without the Olympic Sports weight room on the ground floor, the football team would have been severely limited in their ability to train throughout the end of summer and beginning of the season.
ESPN in town
Among the observers who took in Saturday's scrimmage was ESPN's Rece Davis, who was in town on personal business. Davis withstood the on-and-off showers as the Tar Heels scrimmaged for 2 ½ hours at Kenan Stadium. Later that day, Davis tweeted:
Tar Heels gutted it out through lousy weather this morning. Great day to be at practice. UNC has weapons pic.twitter.com/mbA3yqLaoP— Rece Davis (@ESPN_ReceDavis) August 17, 2013
Davis will call the Tar Heels game vs. South Carolina in Columbia on Aug. 29, along with Jesse Palmer, David Pollack and Samantha Ponder. Later in the year, Davis and crew will return to Chapel Hill for the Miami game on Thursday, Oct. 17.
If you haven't read Lee Pace's last two Extra Points features, you've missed out on the best behind-the-scenes tidbits and storylines that you can find anywhere about Carolina football. Last week, he wrote about Fedora's emphasis on special teams, and over the weekend he summarized training camp.
If you missed it, this is a fun read on the history behind the Kenan Stadium card section.
South Carolina notes
The Gamecocks likewise held a scrimmage on Saturday. The star of the day, predictably, was Jadeveon Clowney, who was "unblockable." One injury to watch is leading South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington, who has missed a significant amount of training camp.
The Gamecocks are trying to prepare for the Carolina tempo.
Radio show returns
The Larry Fedora Live! radio show will make its season debut on Tuesday, Aug. 20 from Top of the Hill restaurant in downtown Chapel Hill. Fedora will open the show by calling in from Austin, Texas, where he will be helping his daughter Sydney, a freshman at UT, move into her dorm room. Coordinators Blake Anderson and Vic Koenning will join UNC play-by-play announcer Jones Angell on the set to answer questions about the upcoming season.
Tar Heels in the NFL
He's not playing anymore, but this story on Jeff Saturday--or, more accurately, the photo accompanying it--is eye-opening. The former Pro Bowler has lost sixty pounds and looks great.
Remember last year at this time, when Carolina fans were largely the only ones who knew about the prodigious talents of Gio Bernard? Now he's earning raves in Bengals training camp. Brandon Tate is solidifying his spot with those same Bengals.
Another Tar Heel in a roster battle is T.J. Yates, who is trying to win Houston's backup QB job. Yates was good again this weekend (7-9, 1 TD) and has been impressive in camp.
Bad news for Quinton Coples, who suffered an ankle injury and will be out for three to four weeks. At the same time Coples went out, Hakeem Nicks came back from an injury, and caught two passes for 40 yards against the Colts. Brennan Williams is also back in Texans camp after a prolonged battle with a nagging knee injury.
The best stories of training camp aren't always the high draft picks. Congratulations to Quan Sturdivant, who signed with the Redskins. Kevin Reddick remains in fairly solid position as he tries to make the Saints as an undrafted free agent.
Tar Heel coaches in the NFL
There are approximately two dozen coaches/key administrators in the NFL today who are either former Tar Heels or have ties to Chapel Hill. The royal blue of the Indianapolis Colts has a decided accent of Carolina blue. Two former Tar Heels are on the staff there--QB coach Clyde Christensen was a Tar Heel quarterback in the 1970s, and director of player engagement David Thornton was a linebacker from 1998-2001. Head coach Chuck Pagano spent one year as defensive coordinator at Carolina in 2007, and WR coach Charlie Williams was on Butch Davis's staff for five years. Assistant offensive line coach Hal Hunter just joined the Colts staff from San Diego; he was on John Bunting's staff for five years from 2002-06.
Elsewhere on NFL coaching/staff rosters:
New York Jets-TE coach Steve Hagen (UNC asst. 2007-8).
Jacksonville-S&C coach Tom Myslinski (UNC 2011).
Tennessee-Asst. O-Line/TE coach Arthur Smith (Letterman 2005).
San Diego-Asst. Secondary coach Greg Williams (Letterman 1994-97).
New York Giants-Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell (UNC grad assistant 1985-86).
Philadelphia Eagles-DBs coach John Lovett (UNC 2007-8.)
Carolina Panthers-O-line coach John Matsko (UNC 1978-85).
Tampa Bay-Special Asst. to the head coach Butch Davis (UNC 2007-10).
Arizona-OLB coach James Bettcher (UNC grad assistant 2007-09).
St. Louis-QB coach Frank Cignetti (UNC 2006)
San Francisco- Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio (UNC grad assistant 1983), Offensive Asst. Ronald Curry (Letterman 1998-2001).
Buffalo-Scout Darrell Moody (UNC asst. 1988-95, 1998-2000.
Jacksonville-Scout Brian Simmons (Letterman 1994-97).
Denver-Scout Nick Schiralli (UNC GA, player personnel 2002-05).
And as of the third week of August, the following Tar Heels were on NFL rosters: Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati), Jonathan Cooper (Arizona), Sylvester Williams (Denver), Brennan Williams (Houston), Travis Bond (Minnesota), Kevin Reddick (New Orleans), Quinton Coples (New York Jets), Zach Brown (Tennessee), T.J. Yates (Houston), Ryan Taylor (Green Bay), Quan Sturdivant (Washington), Bruce Carter (Dallas), Da'Norris Searcy (Buffalo), Greg Little (Cleveland), Marvin Austin (NY Giants), Robert Quinn (St. Louis), Cam Thomas (San Diego), Garrett Reynolds (Atlanta), Brandon Tate (Cincinnati), Hakeem Nicks (Giants), Julius Peppers (Chicago) and Zack Pianalto (Carolina).
Tar Heels in NCAA coaching
Among Tar Heel lettermen in the college coaching ranks, most notable over the last year was Ron Burton moving after a decade at Air Force as defensive line coach to Michigan State to take a similar position. Tommy Thigpen moved from Auburn to Tennessee, and Allen Mogridge moved from Central Florida to Temple.
Former head coach Carl Torbush announced his retirement as linebackers coach at Liberty University in the off-season but then was hired in early summer as the new head coach at East Tennessee State. ETSU discontinued its football program in 2003 but will return to the field in 2015 in the Southern Conference.
Meanwhile, the following lettermen were on college coaching staffs to begin the 2013 season.
Rod Broadway, N.C. A&T head coach.
Ron Burton, Michigan State D-line.
Joe Dailey, Liberty QBs.
John Dunn, Maryland TEs, recruiting coordinator.
Tommy Thigpen, Tennessee LBs.
Antonio Goss, Furman nickel backs, special teams coordinator.
Billy Hite, Virginia Tech assistant to the head coach.
Stuart Holt, South Florida special teams coordinator.
Landon Mariani, Campbell QBs, offensive coordinator.
Allen Mogridge, Temple O-line.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana head coach.
Chad Scott, Kentucky RBs.
Bob Trott, Richmond defensive coordinator.