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Football '85Thursdayv September 12, 19855
By LEE ROBERTS
Quick: name a great defensive .
back who played at North Carolina
in the last five years.
There is, simply puVno answer
to that question. While great
offensive backs have been syn
onymous with the Tar Heels over
that, span, the defensive backfield
has long been a North Carolina
So last spring the UNC coaches
devised a wicked little scheme for
1985 construct a defensive
backfield that is downright
The North Carolina defense will
have a new look this year, featuring
five defensive backs. And three of
those backs were offensive players
Larry Griffin and Norris Davis,
wide recievers in 84, and Antonio
Goss, a running back last year, all
made the switch to defense last
spring. Two have starting jobs and
a third played extensively last
Saturday against Navy, and
shudder at the thought all could
be keys"" in making the backfield
stronger than it's ever been.
.... "Oh, I don't think there's any
question," defensive backs coach
Dale Evans said, "the backfield will
be better this vear. Those moves
hnvp helrvrl rnr Hpfpirsp "
Griffin and Davis both made key
interceptions in the 21-19 win over
Navy. Griffin's came on the Navy
three-yard line and stopped an
apparent Midshipmen scoring
drive, and Davis came with 4;36
left in the game, setting up Brad
Lopp's winning touchdown.
Switching Goss and Davis to the
other side of the ball wasnY as big
a surprise as the transfer of Griffin.
After all, Goss and Davis had both
been defensive backs in high school
and both are young (Goss a redshirt
freshman and Davis a sophomore).
But Griffin, a fifth-year senior
who'd come to UNC as a quarter
back and been switched to wide
reciever, where he played for four
years, was a bit more unexpected.
In fact, Griffin himself was in shock
and more than a little reluctant
when coach Marc Dove asked him
last spring to consider the switch.
"My first, thought was, 'I can't
do this!'," Griffin said recently,
smiling at the recollection. "I'm a
M&vcin switches defense to a new eimM-man foont
By MIKE VATERS
Staff Writer '
Every year spring football prac
tice yields renewed hope. Each
rapidly approaching fall season
A lot of the excitement in the
University of North Carolina camp
this August didn't always have to
do with the offense and optimistic
talk of an air game.
No, a lot of the locker-room
patter this year concerns a slightly
varied defensive look. A look that,
unlike the rumored inclination to
the pass, should stick around for
the entire season.
"Basically, it's an eight-man
front," defensive coordinator
Denny Marcin said of the new
alignment. "We use four linemen
with two inside linebackers and the
two strong safeties which make up
the eight-man front."
If that sounds a lot like a normal
4-2 defense with two safeties
assigned more responsibility for the
senior, I know the offense, and it
took me a year to learn it. I just
thought, God, I couldn't make it."
He told coach Dove he didn't
think he wanted to switch. But
Dove, as well as head coach Dick
Crum and the rest of the coaching
staff, told Griffin he could just try
defense out in the spring and if he
didn't like it, switch back to offense.
Griffin went back to his room
and thought about it. He talked to
trusted ones about it. To friend and
fellow wide reciever Earl Winfield,
to his brother, to his high school
coach, Ron Forresta. ,
He thought about his 1984
season. "I had problems last year,
Griffin said. "Maybe relaxing a
little too much, not concentrating
hard enough. Coach Forresta said,
'maybe this changell help you.' "
Finally, Griffin decided the
change would help him. "From that
time on, IVe thought like a def
ensive back," he said. "You can't
And the dividends from that
change have paid off quickly.
Listen to these people comment-
ing on Griffin's change of position:
Linebacker Carl Carr: "Any
questions we had were answered on
the first day of practice."
Coach Evans: "Larry is a great
athlete at any position."
Crum: "It was amazing. On the
first day of practice he was better
than any guy we had out there last
year. He may be one of the best
defensive backs weVe ever had."
But couldn't Griffin's inexpe
rience at the position lead to some
key mistakes come game time?
"He was there all spring and
- didn't make any mistakes," Crum
Griffin picked off a pass and
batted away a few others in the
spring games. Can it be that easy?
Has the change just been fun times
for Griffin from Day One?
"It has surprised me," Griffin
said of the success of his switch,
"but it hasnt been simple. You
have to get used to hitting people.
The first several days of spring
practice I didn't think I'd make it.
I was very sore bumps and
bruises all around." T
But now it is Griffin doling out
The other two, Goss and Davis,
have been a major help to the
defense, as well. "Both have the
run, it is. "It's very similar to some
of what we did last year," Marcin
said two weeks before the Navy
season opener. "Hopefully, it will
create some blocking difficulties,
and free up the linebackers."
The success of the eight-man
front will hinge on a multitude of
interrelated factors. First, the front
four must keep the offensive line
men off the linebackers, as always
the strong suit of the UNC defense.
Second, the same line must provide
more of a pass rush.
Finally, the safeties, who are
responsible for the run as well as
pass coverage, must key this new
defense. If guys like Norris Davis,
Darryl Johnson and Antonio Goss
cant stop the run while concentrat
ing on the pass, then teams like
LSU, Florida State and Maryland
will run around end all season.
The line recieved a big blow
when it was learned junior guard
Dennis Barron, who injured his
knee in the 21-19 win over Navy
i- v y (Iff V)
" V HI)'
t- r r"
Tim Morrison (28), shown returning an interception vs. N.C. State, is back at free safety.
opportunity to be impact players," receiver. The presence of Eric son brashly predicted he'd have an
Evans said. "Norris is bie, quick, Streater, Earl Winfield. Eric Lewis, interception a game this year.
tough a good athlete. I think
Antonio will be a great athlete."
Davis, at the strong safety, or
stud position, looked to be the
starter as fall practice ended. While
listed second on the depth chart at
the newly-established ram position,
Crum said Goss could be the starter
by opening day.
The ram is a combination
linebacker-defensive back. He has
to be big and strong enough to play
the run, but with enough speed to
cover the pass. Evans described the
ram as "a different type of athlete."
Goss, at 6-4, 213-pounds, looks
to fit that bill after spending his
redshirt year as a running back.
"With William Humes and Brad
Sullivan ahead of him at tailback,
we felt Tony was good enough he
could contribute someplace else,"
Davis, like Goss at running back,
was a talented player in a position
stockpiled with talent wide
last week, would be lost to the team
for the season. His probable
replacement is either freshman
Chris Jacobs or junior Mike
"The defensive line's job is to
keep the offensive line off the
linebackers," Barron said before
Defensive end Ron Burton puts
it even more bluntly, "Our inside
linebackers have to be able to run
all over the field. As usual, line
backer is our forte."
Still, much will depend on an
improved pass rush and Marcin
hopes that a fourth lineman will
give him just that.
"We should have a better pass
rush," Marcin said. "That usually
comes with playing experience.
That's what makes the difference."
Marcin believes, that inexpe
rience was the main cause of last
"It hurt us early last year," the
UNC coach said. "We stayed with
f v ' V
Randy Marriott, Ouint Smith.
Junnie Demery and Kenny Miller
convinced Davis his playing time
would have to be found at another
"I was shaking," Davis said of
his first day at defensive back. But
soon Davis had . his opponents
shaking. He can hit, and hit hard.
"Some of the plays Norris makes
remind me in a way of Lawrence
Taylor," Griffin said of his fellow
transferee. "It excites me to see him
To top it all off, the Tar Heels
have some talented returning
defenders. Derrick Donald, second
on the team m interceptions last
year, and Eric Starr will man the
left cornerback position.
Seniors Darryl Johnson and Tim
Morrison are both quick, hard
hitters at free safety, and both will
see plenty of playing time. Mor-
rison is probably the quickest
player on the defense, while John-
vanilla defenses for the first few
games. We improved. I dont think
we would have been where we were
if we hadn't done things that way,"
"Last year our defense was put
down because we didn't get many
sacks," Barron said. "Well get
more this year."
Linebacker" Carl Carr, along
with Brett Rudolph, will be one of
the main beneficiaries of the new
look. Carr had 85 hits last year
including 41 solo tackles. Look for
him to pad those figures. He had
27 tackles, five unassisted, in last
week's 21-19 win over Navy.
"We're going to do a lot of stunts
and whatever we've got to do to
get to the quarterback," Carr said.
"We're just going to line up and
go after them."
Sophomore nose guard Tim
Goad realizes the possible added
sacks, but refuses to forget about
the run. "It's gonna help us rush
(the passer) a lot more than last
Howard Feggms, a 5-9, 196-
pound steel ball, started Saturday
at the ram position, and Walter
Bailey backed up he and Goss.
Bailey was having a fine season in
1984 before injuring his knee
against Memphis State, Despite
missing the last four games of the
season, Bailey still wound up
fourth among defensive backs on
the team in hits and second in
passes broken up.
Danny Burmeister and , Jim
Jauch will back up Griffin, while
John Keller and Joel Freeze will
back up Davis.
But the offensive transfers are
the ones whoU probably make the
biggest difference in this year's
defensive backfield. They'll
know what their offensive oppo
nents will, be thinking this fall.
because they've been on that side
of the field before,
And the havoc they could wreak
may just be downright offensive.
year," Goad said.
Add to that assessment Burton
at one end and tackle Reuben
Davis' 131 hits and 48 solo tackles,
and maybe UNC has the line to
make this defense work. However,
questions must still surround an
Marcin is optimistic.
"The guys we have in there
Norris, Feggins, Johnson and Goss
are all in the 6-3 range," Marcin
said. "They take up more space
when they take their drops. They
are good athletes."
The secondary is the one crucial
part of this defense that can't be
compared to anything at UNC in
the past. UNC hasn't had a pass
defense in awhile. Marcin hopes an
added pass rush and the use of a
total of five defensive backs will end
that unwanted tradition.
It will have to end in order for
the eight-man front to succeed in
the face of the toughest UNC
schedule in recent years.