First of all, a look at the starting position so to speak. The USA Today Coaches Poll was released. UNC was ranked 18th, one of five ACC teams in the rankings. The others were #6 Virginia Tech, #13 Miami, #17 Georgia Tech and #20 Florida St. Note three Coastal Division teams are ranked ahead of UNC and the media pick to win the Atlantic Division is behind the four Coastal teams. Translation: The Coastal is stacked and then some. UNC's opening week opponent, LSU is ranked two slots ahead of UNC at #16. This poll also speaks to the difficulty of UNC's schedule which includes five ranked teams, two teams UNC has not beaten in three years(NCSU and UVa) and pretty good Clemson team. Not to mention Duke and Rutgers who will not be terrible in their own right.
As for practice news, the story of the day was the fact presumptive NCAA targets Marvin Austin and Greg Little participated in drills as part of the 2nd unit. Butch Davis indicated there may come a point where a decision will have to be made on what to do with Austin and Little seeing they have an NCAA probe hanging over their head. For now it is just practice. As it stands now, allowing the backups to takes reps with the first team is a sensible move. No one knows what is going to happen with either player. Preparing for the worst case scenario is the best move right now. Since both Little and Austin are seniors and in the fourth year with Davis, they know the system and can afford to take reps with the 2nd string.
Also of note is the fact Davis was riding the team hard on what could be seen as fairly simple matters. There were some drills that had to be repeated due to a perceived lack of intensity. Davis also chastised players for not clapping during stretching. If I had to guess, I would say in some respects Davis is less worried about the execution and more worried about the finer details. This team is plenty experienced, especially on defense. There is always room for development during training camp. However, for the most part, these guys have much of the system down. Davis appears to be setting the bar high from day one on execution and intensity. Whether it is a tackling drill or clapping during stretching, the message from the Tar Heel coach appears to be: "We will execute with intensity and perfection." Given the composition of this team, that is probably the best way to go since Davis has a good inkling they can handle it.
The overall feeling, based on media reports, is the players are much relieved to be focusing on football and not the NCAA inquiry. It will be nice when we all can do that.