Football

Marquise Williams gives UNC quarterbacks an ACC player of the week repeat

North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams (12) scores a touchdown on a seven yard run in the second quarter against Georgia Tech on Saturday, October 3, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.
North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams (12) scores a touchdown on a seven yard run in the second quarter against Georgia Tech on Saturday, October 3, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. rwillett@newsobserver.com

A week ago, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora and his players were answering questions about what appeared to be something of a quarterback controversy after Marquise Williams was benched in favor of Mitch Trubisky during a victory against Delaware.

Now there was a new question on Monday: Had any team had different quarterbacks named an ACC player of the week in consecutive weeks? Because that’s what happened at UNC.

On Sept. 28, Trubisky was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week after he threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns against Delaware.

And on Monday, after Williams was UNC’s leading rusher (148 yards), passer (134) and receiver (37) in a 38-31 win at Georgia Tech Saturday, he was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week.

When it’s conference (play), I’m ready to go. I’m pumped, ready, excited. And I came out with a sting in my eyes, like it’s time to get this victory.

Marquise Williams

It took a couple of hours of research on Monday for an ACC official to determine that Trubisky and Williams weren’t the first quarterbacks from the same team to earn conference player of the week honors in consecutive weeks.

In 1984, Maryland quarterbacks Stan Gelbaugh and Frank Reich accomplished that feat. Reich earned player of the week honors after leading an NCAA record comeback against Miami.

So Trubisky and Williams weren’t the first quarterback teammates to do what they did in the past two weeks. But they’re in rare company.

Against Georgia Tech, Williams ran for two touchdowns and scored another on a 37-yard pass from senior receiver Quinshad Davis. That touchdown, which came early in the fourth quarter, gave the Tar Heels the lead for good after they’d trailed 21-0 in the second quarter.

For Williams, it was a redemptive performance after what had happened the week before. After his benching against Delaware, Williams and Fedora had a productive talk, Williams said.

But still. He entered the game at Georgia Tech amid no shortage of pressure. Had he played poorly early on in that game, he could have been benched again. And had Trubisky entered and played well, then, who knows. It’s not a stretch to suggest Williams might have lost his starting job.

None of that happened, though. After Georgia Tech took a 21-0 lead late in the second quarter, Williams and the UNC offense calmly got back into the game. And in the second half, Williams was spectacular at times, especially with his legs.

It all added up to a performance that earned him ACC Offensive Back of the Week honors. Williams said that during his talk with Fedora, the coach told him to “put on a show” and play like he did most of last season.

“And I’m just like, man, when it’s ACC play I’m ready to go,” Williams said Saturday. “And that is kind of – it’s sad to say that, but that’s just true. When it’s conference (play), I’m ready to go. I’m pumped, ready, excited. And I came out with a sting in my eyes, like it’s time to get this victory.”

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