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UNC preseason practice preview: Quarterback

By Andrew Carter
acarter@newsobserver.com

CHAPEL HILL North Carolina starts football practice on Friday. Between now and then, I'm providing some thoughts on where the Tar Heels stand at every position entering preseason practice.

Now we'll look at …

QUARTERBACK

Who's gone: Bryn Renner (1,765 passing yards per game, 10 touchdowns, 5 INT)

Who's back: Kanler Coker; Mitch Trubisky; Marquise Williams (1,698 yards, 15 TD, INT TD; 536 rushing yards, 6 TD)

Newcomers: Caleb Henderson

By class: One junior, one sophomore, two freshmen

Average recruiting rank (Rivals.com): 3.5

Depth chart entering practice

Williams (6-2, 220, Jr.) OR

Trubisky (6-3, 215, Fr.^)

Coker (6-4, 220, Soph.)

^ – indicates player has redshirted

What to like: UNC coach Larry Fedora seems to like his quarterback situation, and that should provide fans some comfort. Fedora has said the Tar Heels can be successful with either Williams or Trubisky starting, and both are entering the preseason competing for the starting job. Though he wasn’t always a sharp passer, Williams played well overall last season when he took over for Bryn Renner, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in UNC's eighth game. Williams led the Tar Heels to victory in that game, against N.C. State, and led UNC to wins in five of its final six games. Trubisky and Williams are similar in that they're both mobile, though Trubisky is considered the more polished passer. Williams, of course, has the edge in experience.

What to question: Quarterback competitions can quickly become quarterback controversies – the things fans and media members obsess over. The question is how the team handles the competition at quarterback. The players are likely to say all the right things throughout the preseason, but they're human, too, and it wouldn't be the first time if factions developed and some players preferred one quarterback while others preferred the other. Maintaining a healthy chemistry and balance will be important. There are also questions about how the quarterback situation will work, exactly. Will the player who wins the starting job play the vast majority of snaps, or will there be a rotation? Fedora has said he's prepared to do whatever helps UNC wins games. He hasn't ruled out a two-quarterback approach.

Preseason storylines: The Williams-Trubisky competition will be the most significant storyline throughout the preseason. In Williams, you have a player who rebuilt himself, and his image, and succeeded when opportunity struck last year. In Trubisky, you have a player who Fedora probably thought would be the immediate successor to Renner. Williams' emergence last season has made this a competition.

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