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Yates still UNC's QB, but Renner's on his heels

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CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina coach Butch Davis called senior T.J. Yates his "starting quarterback" today but left open the possibility that freshman Bryn Renner could get the start in the No. 18 Tar Heels'  Sept. 4 opener against No. 21 Louisiana State.

Both quarterbacks will continue to work with the first team, Davis said, but Yates, who has 31 career starts, continues to lead the competition over the talented redshirt freshman.

"T.J. has the one distinct advantage that you can't take away from him, ... that he has been in games before and he has played in big games," Davis said. "I love the competition. I love the way Bryn is pushing him, and I think that will continue certainly throughout the year."

The Tar Heels are turning their attention to  LSU, Davis said, with 75 to 80 percent of the next 11 days focused on the Tigers, their schemes and personnel.

And while Davis said Yates is "still the starting quarterback," he said the final starting lineups have not been set.

"We're pretty close," Davis said. "If we were playing Saturday, we'd have a pretty good idea who the starting 11 would be on both sides of the ball."

Renner has zero pass attempts on his college resume, while Yates has recorded 855 in his career, but the redshirt freshman has earned the team's respect, according to Davis.

"It wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that [Renner] could certainly play in the first game," Davis said.

Yates struggled with his decision-making in 2009, throwing more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (14). Davis, who has previously attributed some of Yates' errors to playing behind a patchwork offensive line, complimented Yates for his improved decision-making in training camp and for his overall fitness.

"He's a bigger, stronger kid than he was at any time in his career," Davis said.

A final decision on who will get the start behind center against LSU likely won't be made public until Monday.

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Yates will be the starter,

Yates will be the starter, but Renner will definitely play in the opener against LSU.  They need somebody to go under center whenever TJ fakes being injured in an attempt to draw a bogus illegal hit flag.

Laundry

Beeeeeep, (whistle) 15 yards against Max for unsportsmanlike (is that one word?) conduct.

It certainly looks as if T.J. will start, but I think Bryn will see some action (because he has earned it) regardless of any "fake" injuries or poor performance on T.J.'s part. In other words, even if T.J. is having the perfect game and avoids "injury", I still think we will see Bryn, and I don't mean in mop up duty, if it were to come to that.

Agreed

Although your "bogus illegal hit flag" comment was random and unnecessary, I think Renner will see action against LSU.  TJ has collapsed under the spotlight in more situations than not, and until he does something to make me think differently, I think he'll be on the sideline by the second half.  Let's just hope that by that point his mistakes won't be substantial enough for us to be completely out of the game.

I am confident

That TJ is the quarterback of the future for unc.

unc needs to move Renner to tight end.

Ditto Ditto

Yates and Droo Boo......mediocre at best...on a good day....

I believe TJ will play

I believe TJ will play better this season for all the aforementioned reasons. But I also think Renner will be getting considerable playing time this season. Experience is the key and Renner is the heir apparent once TJ packs his bags. 

qb's sharing time

I have never seen that work at either the college or pro level.

I don't see how one or the other gets significant playing time unless one just tanks, the game is a blowout or they share time. The first could happen. The second won't happen a lot. The third is a recipe for disaster, especially with a questionable experienced guy and a talented, but unproven younger one.

Butch will have to make a choice and stick with it until proven wrong. If he then makes the change, he has to let it ride for a while. I don't think he can go back and forth. 

Curry and Durant shared

Curry and Durant shared duties quite well and complimented each others strengths in 2001 under Gary Tranquill's offensive scheme. As I recall each played about 2 series and then the other would come in and really create havoc for the opposing  defenses. Both QB's were very mobile and athletic.

This situation is different with TJ being more of a drop back passer and Renner the more mobile and quicker of the two. From some of TJ's comments it doesn't sound like a scheme he would relish. 

I agree with Surfer's comment that Renner has earned playing time and we will see him on the field fairly early in the season. BD sounds like he has confidence in what Renner is showing in  practice.

Renner

Just to add on to 098 and Surfer's comments about Renner, I think there is no doubt he has earned respect that could lead to playing time.  He had a very good spring, an impressive outing at the spring game, dropped baseball to focus on football and seems to have won over the confidence of many of his teammates.  Davis talks a lot about how valuable Yates' 3 years of experience is, but experience is only beneficial when it leads to leadership and production in crucial situations.  Yates' interception numbers were poor, but not tremendously high (Jacory Harris had 17, Russell Wilson only had 4 fewer).  The problem was that he wasn't throwing nearly as many TDs as he should have and his INTs came in very untimely situations (2 late INTs against UVa, INT inside the 5 yard line against FSU, INT in the endzone against Pitt).  I expect Renner to show a few growing pains if he does get considerable playing time, but I also expect him to impress people as a redshirt freshman.  Time will tell, but I don't think TJ should be granted much wiggle room when he has a back-up with so much potential.

One time

Florida of '06 made it work pretty well.  But instead of a 5th year senior who still may yet to perfect the forward pass, they had Chris Leak, and instead of Renner they had a big-time freshman who turned out to be alright.

leak AND TEBOW

How could I forget about them? Probably the PTSD from the NC game against Ohio State.

All I remember from that game is my daughter dissing Ted Ginn Jr. for sitting out the entire game after he got hurt in the celebration of his kickoff return for an early TD.

speaking of celebration injuries

who will take an over/under on when Zack Pianalto will have a season ending injury celebrating a first down?

He only gets hurt when he

He only gets hurt when he scores TDs, so we will just have him run out of bounds at the 1 yard line all year.  Problem solved!

Ginn Jr

Yet another athlete whose ego and fan related talk has done more than his play ever truly has. Don't get me wrong, Ginn Jr can fly and has decent hands, but he's as fragile as cheap plastic. Wonder how his time in San Fran's gonna be? Nothing like having two premadonna athletes to worry about to make a roster sound-Ginn and Crabtree.

Track guy

A friend of mine who played for YSU on one of their NC teams in the '90's and is now YSU's AD called Ginn Jr. a track guy who happens to play football. His point was that football players at least try to play through injuries. Track guys shut down as soon as they feel a twinge.

I have sometimes wondered if TJ Graham falls in this category.

Right on

When I read the first paragraph of your post, all I could think of was TJ Graham. Sounds like he had a good spring though, so it should be interesting to see if that translates to game days. He's already proven himself on special teams, so now we'll have to see if he can catch.

Just as I replied to the twitter post...

Yates starting is no surprise. The question is how long is the rope? The fact is Renner will eventually play. Yates can delay it by playing well. The coaches know Yates is going into his last year, and Renner needs to get into games to get some experience. Yates' play will help determine how much time he gets. I have my ideas, just as I'm sure a lot of people do. I'll say Renner will play quite a bit for a backup qb.

Thanks, Geraldo...

More super investigative work...it is good to know that TJ is a "bigger, stronger kid".  The key question is whether he is any wiser in terms of learning from his bad decisions over the last 2 seasons.  I do not "buy into" the explanation of a bad O-line and inexperienced receivers.  Anyone who watched the meltdown against FSU or the dismal performances against UConn, GT or UVa should know that the likelihood is that TJ can hurt you more times than rescue the team.  Granted, he played well enough to help engineer a big upset at VT.  But is he consistently reliable?  No.  That is odd for someone who has started since his sophomore season.

not trying to stir the pot

but the VT fumble in VT territory had more to do with the outcome of that game than anything heroic TJY did.

Thanks, Geraldo...

More super investigative work...it is good to know that TJ is a "bigger, stronger kid".  The key question is whether he is any wiser in terms of learning from his bad decisions over the last 2 seasons.  I do not "buy into" the explanation of a bad O-line and inexperienced receivers.  Anyone who watched the meltdown against FSU or the dismal performances against UConn, GT or UVa should know that the likelihood is that TJ can hurt you more times than rescue the team.  Granted, he played well enough to help engineer a big upset at VT.  But is he consistently reliable?  No.  That is odd for someone who has started since his sophomore season.

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.
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