Last week against Delaware, UNC Head Football Coach Larry Fedora made a bold move halfway through the second quarter.
He benched his senior quarterback, Marquise Williams, in favor of sophomore Mitch Trubisky.
Trubisky ended up posting career-best numbers, completing 17 of his 20 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns—leading the team to a 41-14 blowout. With UNC all set for its ACC opener against Georgia Tech this weekend, Fedora has been forced to respond about his latest quarterback controversy.
“Let me go ahead and address the quarterback issue so we don’t have to answer 78 questions about the quarterbacks,” Fedora said at his Monday press conference. “Marquise Williams is our starter.
“Yes, I have talked to him. He knows why I did what did [last Saturday]. That’s where we’re at. He’s our starter going into this game.”
Williams led a touchdown drive on the Tar Heels’ first possession last Saturday, but the team stalled in the red zone on its next two possessions—coming away with just three points combined on those drives. Leading a lesser opponent by a score of just 10-7, Fedora decided it was best to switch things up a bit—bringing Trubisky into the game.
“I was looking for a spark offensively,” he said. “I didn’t think we were executing very well–looking for a spark. [I] put him in there at that time, and I thought he added a little bit to the offense. And as he got rolling, he got hot and things were moving. So I didn’t feel like going back the other way.”
After Trubisky ended up having the best performance of his young career, it inevitably reminded many people of last season. The Tar Heels rotated their two quarterbacks for the early portion of the year before finally settling with Williams as their guy.
Despite trading the job back-and-forth on a regular basis, Williams said he and Trubisky get along just fine.
“There’s no hard feelings,” Williams said after practice Tuesday. “A lot of people might think we hate each other.
“If you didn’t see, I was running down the sidelines on Saturday [while Trubisky was performing well]. As soon as I got home, I texted him and I said, ‘You did a great job today. You seized that opportunity.’”
With the starting job back in his hands, Williams knows he’s going to have to be sharp in order to stay there. He’s struggled dealing with some of the external stress that comes with being a senior, but he knows he’ll have to get past some of that if he wants to have a shot at holding off Trubisky, let alone making it to the next level.
“When [I] think about the draft, and [I] think about the technique I need, the mechanics I have–or getting away from what I’m used to doing–that interrupts things, Williams said.
“I’ve just gotta come out and have fun playing this game. That stuff will come.”
Having two talented and capable quarterbacks seems to be the least of Fedora’s concerns at this point in the season. He has stated Williams will indeed start the game in Atlanta, but he’s still non-committal about whether he’ll use some type of rotation.
“What we’ve done in the past has been good, because Mitch is prepared and ready to go,” Fedora said. “Whether or not we’ll keep going with [the rotation], I really don’t know. I haven’t made a decision like that. And don’t know that I will going into the game.
“It’ll be more about the flow of the game and what’s going on.”
Consistency is truly what Fedora wants to see from Williams, who has been up and down through the first four games. If he can get that, there’s no reason to believe he won’t stick with his experienced leader.
If not, Trubisky has proven to anyone who’s been watching—including his head coach–that he’s plenty qualified to take over if needed.