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Davis Defends Shoop

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Not that we expected anything else which is why fans asking for the OC's head on a platter is utterly pointless and the media even asking the question is equally pointless. Nevertheless this is the dance we must dance so here it is for the record.

"I think John's bright, he's smart," Davis said. "I don't think he needs defending."

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Davis said he encountered a similar scenario when he was head coach at Miami. He said then-coordinator Larry Coker was criticized by the fan base early in his tenure.

"Then unbelievably when we got Reggie Wayne got there and Kellen Winslow got there and Andre Johnson got there and Clinton Portis got there and we started averaging 40 points, all of the sudden Larry Coker looked like a genius," Davis said.

"All it was, was growth in your program, experience and depth," Davis said. "I think our offensive coaching staff is working extremely hard."

Okay, am I the only one who is slightly disturbed by this statement? Isn't Davis basically saying UNC will get better on offense when the talent gets better not because the coaching will get better? And by extension isn't he sort of tossing the current crop of players under the bus by implying the talent is not already there to make Shoop's job easier? From where I sit this does not inspire much confidence especially since I am not convinced the kind of talent Miami had is going to show up in Chapel Hill anytime soon.

As for the here and now, Davis points to the offensive line as the root cause.

It speaks volumes that the third-year UNC head coach points to front identification as a basic key that the current offensive line has yet to nail down.

"We’ve been beleaguered for two straight weeks where we have turned guys absolutely loose in the hole," Davis said. "Whether it’s been on runs or even on passes, where the guy was misidentified and instantly he was right in the quarterback’s face or he was right in the backfield and at the point of attack… Getting our offensive line all on the same page with the right identification – I think that’s one thing that hopefully is fixable."

When the problems are that fundamental along the offensive line, it prevents new and creative packages from being rolled out to help aid Yates and the skill players. For example, A.J. Blue’s "Diesel" package may be put on the shelf until the blocking schemes can be executed properly.

"Here’s another 10 or 11 plays that are totally different than everything else you’re doing – how much practice time can you devote to the stuff when T.J.’s the quarterback to when A.J.’s the quarterback?" Davis said. "That’s just more things. They’ve got to learn more blocking schemes, they’ve got to learn more protections [and] it’s new runs. So sometimes that compounds the problem more than it helps the problem."

Translation? The offensive line is not even capable of doing very basic things correctly much less handle a variety of plays with greater degrees of complexity. In all honestly I am not sure what you do with that other than recruit more offensive linemen and that will be of no help in 2009. At this point Shoop will no choice but to stick to very basic offensive plays which probably won't work either since that robs the Heels of the ability to throw an offense off-balance with misdirection or different looks. It is clear that UNC will be an easy team to scout on the offensive side of the ball given they cannot really dig deep into the playbook since the inexperience of the OL precludes doing more.

In short, there are no real answers available. Hopefully the players themselves get better and whatever tweaks the coaches come up with are enough to get the Heels moving in the right direction.