- Associated Press - Friday, April 10, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - John Papuchis hasn’t watched one clip of film from North Carolina’s miserable defensive showing last season.

The Tar Heels’ new linebackers coach skipped all the blown tackles, missed assignments and big plays surrendered that added up to the program’s worst statistical season. Instead, Papuchis and three other new defensive coaches - including ex-Auburn coach Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator - have spent spring practices installing the foundation of a new 4-3 scheme to reverse some of those struggles.

“One of the things we’ve really spent a lot of time doing is identifying how we fix the issues and pointing out every opportunity that we can as to why things occur,” Papuchis said. “Not ever to point blame. That’s not what we’re here to do.

“Our job is not to overanalyze things that happened a year ago. Our job is to fix what we perceive as weaknesses on our defense - and point out how we can make them better.”

The Tar Heels wrap up spring drills Saturday with a team scrimmage in Charlotte, though they didn’t schedule a true spring game this year due to work being done in Kenan Stadium.



UNC brought in Chizik, Papuchis, defensive backs coach Charlton Warren and defensive line coach Tray Scott to fix a defense that gave up the most points (507) and yards (6,472) in program history last season.

Running a 4-2-5 scheme, North Carolina allowed 39 points and 497.8 yards per game last season, the low point coming in a loss at East Carolina in which the Tar Heels allowed program records of 70 points and 789 yards.

That led to the departure of associate coach for defense Vic Koenning, as well as defensive assistants Dan Disch, Keith Gilmore and Ron West.

Coach Larry Fedora then hired Chizik, who had worked as defensive coordinator at Auburn and was co-defensive coordinator during Texas’ 2005 national-title run, to lead the overhaul. And two of the assistants were defensive coordinators elsewhere, Papuchis at Nebraska and Warren at Air Force.

Fedora said after a recent practice that the new coaches have been “spoonfeeding” the players new pieces each day.

“It’s been good for our guys because they keep learning something new each day as they try to master what they learned the day before,” Fedora said.

Linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said the new staff has taught everything as though it’s all part of an entry-level course.

“I want to give credit to coach Chizik and his staff for really starting from scratch,” Schoettmer said. “They basically came in and taught it to us like we didn’t know football at all.”

Chizik, who missed at least a week of spring drills tending to a private family matter, said rate of progress depends on how quickly the players learn each detail to prove they’re ready for the next.

“You can measure everything by a care factor,” Chizik said. “And I think they really care. As long as they care, they’ll have a chance to be much improved.”

Papuchis said team staffers reviewed last year’s film to chart statistics such as missed tackles and three-and-outs as a way to measure progress for this year’s team.

He said that while the coaches have focused on fundamentals through the spring, they are also giving the players looks at additional elements that will be more of a focus by preseason training camp.

“I think it starts with this premise - that if you play hard, you’re tracking the football and you’re tackling, we can make a huge leap just by doing that,” Papuchis said. “No matter what scheme we put in: track the football and tackle.”

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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