UNC's Davis doing whatever it takes to win
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 19, 2005 2:21 PM
CHAPEL HILL -- Senior defensive end Tommy Davis and the North Carolina defense knew exactly what was coming from Wisconsin's offense going into Saturday night's matchup at Kenan Stadium.
With an offensive line with an average weight of 300 pounds, the Badgers had every intention of using the big boys up front to create holes for durable running back Brian Calhoun.
But Davis (6-4, 270), a Southern Wayne grad, and the Tar Heel defense stood strong.
Sure, Calhoun got his 171 yards, but it took him 38 carries. By game's end, a Badger offense which had scored 60.5 points per game and was No. 4 in the nation in rushing offense (325.5 ypg) was held to 14 points and almost 160 yards under their ground average in the first two games.
A moral victory for a defense that has been maligned the past few seasons? Perhaps, but Davis admitted "there's no consolation prize, we wanted to win."
But it was, indeed, a confidence builder.
"We knew coming in they were going to run the ball on us. We knew we had to stop it, and we felt like we did a great job," said Davis, one of nine returning starters on UNC's defense.
"We held them on third down and got off the field, but we needed more turnovers when the opportunities presented itself.
"They've got a good offensive line, but we've got a good d-line too."
Following the game, Davis complemented the play of Calhoun, who at one point in the second quarter had more touches than the North Carolina offense had total plays.
"He's a great back. I don't see how he lasts to the end of the season," he said. "I know it's early in the season, but hopefully he can keep it up. That will be the true test."
Davis, now in his third season as a starter at right defensive end, finished with one solo tackle and one assist against the Badgers as most of Calhoun's rushes were between the tackles.
He and fellow right end, sophomore Kentwan Balmer, and the rest of the defensive front stayed fresh by consistently rotating in and out of the game. Davis complemented the rotation for helping keep Wisconsin at bay in a game the Badgers led in time of possession throughout.
"We had a nice rotation, so we weren't tired and we were ready to go," said Davis who also had two tackles in the opener against Georgia Tech. "We aren't worried about how long we are on the field, we just know we have to go out there and stop them. We had a lot of confidence."
Despite being hindered by a handful of injuries last year, Davis finished with 48 total tackles and led the team with 7.5 tackles for losses of 22 yards. He had one of his best games of the season in the Continental Tire Bowl against Boston College, finishing with eight tackles, including two for loss, one sack and one forced fumble.
Coming off of surgery in the spring on a broken foot, his goal in his senior campaign is simple.
"Whatever it takes to help our team win," he said. "Make plays, give up my body ... whatever it takes."
Up next for Davis and the Heel defense is an N.C. State offense, under new coordinator Marc Trestman and his West Coast-like attack on Saturday at noon at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
"We'll move on to the next game ... learn from our mistakes and move on to play State," Davis said.
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