UNC Football Positional Previews: Quarterback


The North Carolina Tar Heels football season kicks off on August 30th against the Liberty Flames at home in Kenan Stadium. To get you ready for the nationally ranked Tar Heel’s first game, Keeping It Heel will have an extensive football preview series previewing all of Carolina’s positions, games and reviewing 2013’s games. Check back to Keeping It Heel every afternoon for new preview posts. Today, let’s preview UNC Football’s quarterbacks.

Departures: Bryn Renner

Renner was a very good quarterback at Carolina and never really got a storybook ending to a career that was underappreciated by Tar Heel fans. After a strong junior season, Renner had big plans for his senior season. But injuries and poor play quickly derailed those plans, and the quarterback played his final game against N.C. State and was quitely motioned out of Chapel Hill before the season’s end because he hired an agent to prepare for the NFL Draft. That meant Renner couldn’t be around the team in the second half of the season, giving the keys to the car full time to Marquise Williams. As bad as it was for Renner, it turned out to be a real positive for the team going forward. Speaking of Marquise…

Returning/Arrivals: Marquise Williams, Mitch Trubisky, Kanler Coker, Caleb Henderson

Williams played in 11 of UNC’s 13 games last season due to Renner’s injury and his strong running ability. Last season seemingly provided the perfect transition period from the Bryn Renner era to the Marquise Williams era, but a dark horse candidate for starting QB emerged in the spring in Mitch Trubisky. Coach Fedora has been hesitant to address the quarterback competition…

Fedora hasn’t ruled out a two quarterback approach or named a starter, but the answer to the quarterback question will be answered in fall practice, which starts up on Friday.  Williams and Trubisky are shooting for the starting job, while Coker is third string and Henderson may redshirt. I know your all wondering…

Who is better?

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There is a very important distinction to make in this quarterback battle. There are two different questions- “Who is better?” and “Who should start?” The answer to who is better seems to be Trubisky. He has a much better arm and as a freshman, has much higher to climb that Williams will over his next two seasons. However, that doesn’t mean he should start. Marquise Williams has two distinct advantages over Trubisky, which are 1. His legs and 2. His experience. Williams’s was the Tar Heel’s leading rusher in 2013, a stat that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Williams provided a lot of value to the Tar Heel offense via the possibility of a QB scramble or read-option. Also, Williams has much more experience running the offense and already has 234 passing attempts compared to Trubisky’s 0. (On the contrary, UNC got a new offensive coordinator this spring, so does that negate some of the experience Williams racked up last year?)

Who will start?

Nobody knows. The Tar Heels have an easy start to the schedule, starting at home against Liberty and San Diego State, so maybe Coach Fedora uses the first third of the season to tinker with who starts and who plays for how long. I could see Coach Fedora going to a dual-quarterback system, but that doesn’t quite work when one QB is passing-focused and one running- the defense can very easily adjust personnel to defend the quarterback’s strengths.

Keeping It Heel will dive into some of the film and numbers later in the summer, and eventually will outline in a post who we think should start. Any way Coach Fedora goes, the choice will be highly scrutinized. For now, the answer to the question of who will start is answered not with a name but with a ‘To Be Continued…’