The 2013 North Carolina football team is proving the old saying that “having one quarterback is better than having two” is downright false. For the third consecutive game UNC rotated quarterbacks Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams and the offense continued to improve.
Against North Carolina State on Saturday, Renner played the first two series. On the first, he threw an awful interception that the Wolfpack eventually turned into seven points. The second offensive drive for UNC was a three-and-out that included a fumble that was recovered by the Heels.
After these first two offensive series, UNC was trailing 10-0 and was in serious need of a spark. In came change-of-pace quarterback Williams, who is known for his legs more than his arm. However, on this series Williams showed off both his rushing and passing abilities. He completed all four of his pass attempts for 43 yards including a two yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Quinshad Davis, while adding 16 yards on the ground.
Renner took over the offense for the fourth series of the game, still trailing 10-7. Fortunately for Renner and the Heels, their fourth drive started at the NC State 29 yard line due to a failed fake punt by the Wolfpack.
Four plays later, Renner ran in the end zone for a one yard touchdown and gave Carolina a 14-10 lead.
At the start of this fourth series, many UNC fans were groaning on several social media outlets. The common theme was fans wondering why head coach Larry Fedora would go back to Renner after he looked so awful on the first two drives and Williams moved the ball so efficiently on his only drive.
However, Fedora trusted the fifth-year senior to bounce back from his poor start, and he responded well – not only for the fourth drive, but for the rest of the game. Despite the fact that Renner finished the game with mediocre stats, only going 15 of 22 for 124 yards passing, he completed several key third down passes that kept drives moving.
In all, Renner accounted for 129 total yards and a touchdown, while Williams totaled 142 yards and a touchdown. The reason this two-quarterback system is working so well for UNC is because each quarterback brings a different element to the offense.
The Carolina offense has even bought into the quarterback rotation so well that the quarterbacks are not just rotating series. During the NC State game, Fedora would switch Renner and Williams on plays throughout a particular drive depending on the situation.
For Renner, he is a more traditional pocket-passer and although it would seem Fedora’s spread offense is better suited for a dual-threat quarterback, there are times on 3rd and long when the offense needs a big completion down the field and Renner delivers.
On the other side, Williams is the prototypical quarterback for Fedora’s offense. He helps the run game tremendously due to the fact that opposing defenses now have to be wary of both the running back and the quarterback in the running game. Williams is also slowly improving as a passer, but still is behind Renner when it comes to accuracy.
Behind the two-headed monster of Renner and Williams, the Carolina offense totaled 427 yards, including a season high 152 rushing yards, leading to a 27-19 victory over arch-rival NC State.
North Carolina improved their record to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the ACC. With four games remaining, UNC needs at least three wins to become bowl eligible.
Expect the quarterback rotation to continue over the last four games, something Carolina fans should be pleased about if they want to see their Heels playing football in late December.
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