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.