Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
On Wednesday's ACC teleconference, North Carolina coach Butch Davis spent a significant amount of time talking about his coaching tenure at Miami. While the Tar Heels aren't exactly a mirror image of the teams Davis had there from 1995-2000 when he went 51-20 and won three Big East titles, he's rebuilding Carolina football with the same recruiting philosophy -- speed.
"We want to try to build a very fast, athletic, defensive team that can run, a lot of depth in the defensive line, we would love to have playmakers at all five of the skill positions on offense," he said. "We want to be able to run the football. I think a lot of our concepts are pro oriented because of the backgrounds of the coaching staff, but we're trying to put our kids in the best position they can to move the football and score points."
Davis took over a Miami program that had been hit by NCAA sanctions that restricted the number of scholarships he had in his first three seasons. He was able to overcome that, though, and by the time he decided to take the job with the Cleveland Browns, had lured a national championship recruiting class for Larry Coker.
Similarly, the team he inherited at North Carolina was "paper thin" when it came to depth in 2007. Davis said the Tar Heels were "one injury away" on almost every single possession from having to use a player who either didn't have enough experience or simply wasn't ready to play.
That depth improved last year -- evidenced by the fact UNC doubled its win total despite injuries to the starting quarterback, top tackler and leading receiver. Davis said it should be even better this year, and it should be particularly noticeable up front on defense.
"We've tried to really emphasize through our recruiting efforts and through our strength and conditioning program to overall enhance the speed of our football team," Davis said. "College football is a game of speed. As offenses have changed so much to the spread offense, like Florida's running ... three and four wide receivers, and quarterbacks who are very athletic ... It really puts a premium on trying to have a fast, athletic defensive team and I think we're moving in that direction. We've got some guys that certainly can run and each recruiting class we hope to continue to add to that."