Here's the thing about covering football: It's easy to think you know what you're seeing, but sometimes what you're seeing is not what you think it is. For example: a play where a quarterback throws an interception right to an opposing cornerback.
Awful throw, right? And then you learn that the throw was on target, and that the receiver didn't run his route properly. Or some other thing – a missed block, another incorrect route – caused a domino effect, causing the play to fail.
So it's difficult enough to know what's going on when we actually have a chance to watch what we're writing about. In the case of North Carolina football practices, we – meaning media members – don't really have much of a chance to do any of that.
We get an hour per week – two 30-minute segments at the start of two practices – and it just so happens that in the hour we're allowed to watch, a whole lot of nothing happens. During the 30 minutes we're allowed to watch at the start of practice, we might see some (very) light and partial 11-on-11 work, some basic position drills and that's pretty much it.
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What we're not allowed to see: The “real” part of practice and, of course, any kind of live scrimmage. So trying to write about things that happened in practice, and things that happened in scrimmages, is sort of an exercise in futility. There's another way to put it, too, that probably isn't appropriate for this kind of a family-friendly blog.
Nonetheless, UNC scrimmaged on Saturday, and I need to write some words about it – the diligent beat reporter I am – so here goes: It was, coach Larry Fedora said earlier today, “sloppy.” Lots of turnovers. Fumbles, interceptions. Some big plays allowed by the defense. You know, the norm, perhaps, for a first scrimmage.
In the words of Fedora:
“It was sloppy in some areas. We had too many balls on the ground, offensively, but then again on the other side of the ball, the defense created some turnovers, which was a really big thing. We gave up a few big plays, defensively, I thought that we've got to get corrected, and it was basic things about kids not fitting the proper gap, those kinds of things, so those are mental mistakes.
“But overall, it was your typical first one. Everybody's effort was really good. We got a bunch of reps with some young kids that were swimming mentally, and so it was good for them to get out there and see themselves doing it in real life.”
What else happened? It's difficult to really say. If the coaching staff wanted info out there, the scrimmage probably would have been open. It wasn't, so we can probably conclude Fedora would rather keep people guessing.
I did ask if the quarterbacks, Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky, separated themselves from each other at all on Saturday. The answer, predictably, was no.
Fedora didn't have much to say, either, about what he liked about Williams and Trubisky.
“I thought Marquise, you know, he's very comfortable about managing and moving the chains and all the things that we're trying to do offensively,” Fedora said. “And I thought Mitch did a nice job running the offense, also. I mean, the nice thing is that there's not really a change with the rest of the guys depending on who's back there, and that's what we're looking for.”
So there you have it. Not much. By design.