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Probing the Sexton Decision

The News and Observer delves into the QB situation providing us some insight into the decision and some rather useless comparisons to the 2001 season.

Redshirt freshman Cam Sexton -- who completed 9 of 21 passes for a touchdown and two interceptions in his first college game last weekend -- will start Saturday against I-AA Furman. He replaces Nebraska transfer Joe Dailey, who "will play in this game," Bunting said, despite tossing four interceptions in losses to Rutgers and Virginia Tech.

"We want to give this man [Sexton] an opportunity and see if he can help us do some things to help the offense improve its production," said Bunting, whose 0-2 team has managed only 26 points.

"The first game, we moved the ball and had a lot of yards. Game 2, we had almost twice as many first downs as our opponent but we didn't score points. So we've got to get better at scoring points."

First of all, no one is buying what Bunting is selling on that "Dailey will play in this game." He said the same thing before the Rutgers game and Sexton never saw the field. I honestly do not know why you would even bring Dailey in. I just don't see the two QB system working at this point so let's just start Sexton and be done with it. Secondly, what does "he can help us do some things to help the offense improve its production" mean? That has to be the most convuluted sentence I have ever read which was then followed by the statement of the obvious in asserting that UNC has to "get better at scoring points." I am glad he cleared that up because I was under the impression that scoring 13 points a game was sufficient. Besides why hasn't anyone questioned why the running game, which was supposed to be the bread and butter, is not producing effectively for the offense? Just wondering.

UNC's coaches are hoping Sexton can make better decisions behind center than Dailey, who has shown a habit of keying in on one receiver and attempting questionable passes. Those problems date back to his starting days at Nebraska, where he threw 19 interceptions in 2004, the Cornhuskers' first losing season since 1961.

Dailey said he takes responsibility for all of the interceptions and is determined to improve whether he plays first or second in the quarterback rotation.

Does anyone remember what everyone was saying about Dailey during the preseason? The story was that he stuggled at Nebraska because he had trouble learning Bill Callahan's West Coast offense which he was not recruited to run. So when he threw 19 interceptions in one season it was chalked up to being inexperienced and unable to cope with the offense. The story now is Dailey sucks. Period. In a span of two games and four interceptions Dailey has become the QB from Nebraska who makes questionable passes due to his tendacy to lock on to one receiver. This tendancy led to the INTs at Nebraska which also make him responsible for Nebraska's first losing season since the Kennedy presidency. Nice way to throw him under the bus. Of course I do not disagree with the assessment of Dailey nor do the stats lie but this is quite an about face by the media. To Dailey's credit he accepted the decision without complaint or at least he said the right things.

Perhaps fittingly, that sit-down came five years to the day after Bunting had a similar discussion with senior Ronald Curry and redshirt freshman Darian Durant.

The Tar Heels were 0-3 on Sept. 11, 2001, and although Bunting didn't yank Curry from the starting position, he did give Durant more playing time -- shuttling the signal-callers in and out every two series for the next five games, before Curry got hurt.

The result: UNC won five in a row as Durant threw for seven touchdowns and completed 68.9 percent of his passes; that pushed the Heels back into the bowl picture.

Dailey and Sexton watched tape of their 2001 predecessors Monday night. Dailey took it as a sign of what the rotation could be like; Sexton as an example of how a two-quarterback system can succeed.

"They scored a lot of points and they ran the football well -- and we didn't see them throw an interception," Sexton said. "... It worked. And we're going to have a two-quarterback system on Saturday, and if we can both play efficiently it's going to work for us, too."

My first question is what was John Bunting and his team doing on September 11, 2001? I know I was watching the events in New York and Washington but apparently Bunting was tinkering with his QB rotation during the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century. My second question is why are we talking about the 2001 team? I know the 2001 situation came up during the preseason because it was the last time UNC ran a two QB system and we were also told that this version of the two headed QB would look nothing like the 2001 version. So why are we talking about it now. I guess the conicidence of Bunting making a QB change on the same day five years ago provides an interesting sidebar but other than that is it a pointless trip into the past. Which is were Sexton and Dailey went via the magic of videotape. And these videotapes were so special that they apparently do not show the 16 interceptions Durant/Curry threw in 2001. This revelation also gave Sexton and Dailey hope that the two QB system will work which is really kind of sad.

Sexton's top goal is to remain mistake-free.

He contributes a stronger arm, but less experience, to the position than Dailey. A broken right ankle sidelined him last season, and when he checked into Saturday's game in the second quarter, his first pass bounced off a UNC lineman's helmet. Still, he showed calm in the pocket, where he is more likely to camp than more-mobile Dailey. Sexton, 19, is poised in the huddle, as well.

"Cam looks at me and says, 'So, how do you think I look on HDTV?' " wide receiver Jesse Holley said Saturday. "That's the way he is. ... He's a confident kid, and he's only going to get better."

I really do not understand why lines like that first one make it into articles. Well of course he is shooting for a mistake free performance, I mean I have never seen a QB assert that his goal to make as many mistakes as possible. And if Sexton is so interested in seeing how he looks on HDTV perhaps UNC can schedule a game at Texas. Against Virginia Tech he look pretty bad on my non-HDTV but then again they say everything looks better in HD. As for his confidence please show me some numbers and wins before showing me anything else.

Bunting said the coaches haven't decided how the new rotation will work, although it probably won't be as cut-and-dried as the two-series rotation used with Curry and Durant five years ago.

Sexton prefers to play it by ear.

Will all due respect to Sexton, I have zero confidence in this coaching staff to do anything by ear. The QB rotation against VT was horrible. This is not a position that can be substituted on a whim and if the rest of the offense has no idea from one series to the next who will be the QB, how are they supposed to get into a rhythym. And while I appeciate deferring to a QB who has the hot hand the flip side of that is the constant fear of being pulled if you make too many mistakes. Then again Sexton plans on being mistake free so perhaps that will not be an issue.

The one issue the article does not broach is whether a single QB system is being considered. Apparently it is not but I am of the opinion that this system will not work because Dailey cannot handle the passing game. Sexton is a gamble but given the direction this season is heading I would be happy to make Sexton the permanant starter with an eye on next season. Given Sexton's youth and the fact there is time to develop him, I would stick with him come hell or high water. Dailey just did not get it done beyond some very good things he did against Rutgers. His decisionmaking, which was poor at Nebraska, has not shown signs of getting better. The Heels have some good young receivers so why not put Sexton in and let him devleop a good relationship with those guys which by season's end and into 2007 will only make the offense better.