Posted: 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013
By Brian Barbour
North Carolina is now one week into preseason training camp, here are the storylines making the rounds.
-T.J. Thorpe is looking to bounce back from missing all of 2012 with a broken foot suffered at the beginning of training camp last August. When it looked as though Thorpe was on his way to a full return in the spring, he suffered a setback.
On Feb. 12 during preparation for Blue Dawn, UNC’s winter conditioning program, Thorpe felt pain in his left foot while doing a shuttle drill. A trip to the trainer’s office confirmed that his foot had started to crack again.
Doctors took a bone graft from his left hip and attached it to his foot with a longer screw, according to Thorpe.
This time he took more appropriate precautionary measures to ensure that his foot would be completely healed by the start of training camp. Thorpe told reporters on Monday that he’s not as explosive cutting off his left foot was he was prior to the injury, but believes that’s a mental hurdle as he’s been able to plant harder and get up the field quicker with each practice.
UNC has a definite hole to fill at punt returner and Thorpe is touted to have the speed for the job. The question now is if he can physically and mentally get back to where needs to be for full effectiveness.
-The offensive line is in the process of being rebuilt having lost three players to the NFL.
Coach Larry Fedora admitted a couple weeks ago that concerns about the offensive line – and the defensive line, for that matter – keep him awake at night, worrying. Chris Kapilovic, though, has likely experienced more stress.
Kapilovic, the Tar Heels’ offensive line coach, didn’t exactly have it easy last summer. He was part of teaching a new scheme at a faster pace, but his students were experienced – all with high football IQs.
Now he’s having to teach things he didn’t have to worry about last year. And all those questions? He’s the one in charge of putting UNC in the best position to produce positive answers.
The left side of the line, so far, hasn’t been a concern, Kapilovic said. Hurst is among the best left tackles in the nation and, beside him, redshirt freshman Caleb Peterson has done an admirable job of replacing Cooper. The right side, though, is cause for concern – especially on the outside.
By now Kapilovic was hoping that Holts, a sophomore, would have taken hold of the starting position at right tackle. But the position remains in flux. Kapilovic said four players have received time with the first team in camp.
Adding to the challenge of rebuilding the offensive line is facing South Carolina and Jadeveon Clowney in the first game of the season. The hype surrounding Clowney has been off the charts. Hurst is the first to admit it is well deserved but he plans to be ready to face him. For more on Hurst check out this interview with the N&O;'s Andrew Carter.
-Also from the N&O; is a rundown of some position changes which are primarily intended to enhance UNC's overall depth. Of note is Darius Lipford moving to bandit and J.J. Peterson making the switch from offensive line to the defensive side of the ball.
-Linebacker Travis Hughes was apparently arrested for possession of drug paraphenalia in January, something not even Larry Fedora knew about until it was reported on Monday. While the charge isn't a big deal(only a misdemeanor) I imagine Fedora not finding out about it until now will likely earn Hughes some extra running.