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Tudor: Start Sexton

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The reasons are...well...interesting.

It has actually been awhile since I vehemently disagreed with Caulton Tudor but here ya go:

This is not 2009. It’s 2008. That’s why North Carolina coach Butch Davis should start Cameron Sexton at quarterback when the Tar Heels face N.C. State on Saturday at noon in Chapel Hill.

Whether Sexton is the best quarterback in the program isn’t really the issue at this point. His primary rival and early-season starter T.J. Yates may be the more complete player and the logical choice to direct what will be an ACC title contender in '09.

But Sexton, a long-suffering redshirt junior, deserves this start and for several reasons:

• The Heels would not be 7-3 overall and in contention for bigger things down the line without Sexton. Having been the team’s starting quarterback earlier in his career, Sexton could have transferred when Yates won the starting job in preseason. Most guys in the same situation would have. He stayed. He stood by Carolina. Now, the school should stay with him for at least a while against State.

• Sexton is undefeated at home this season. He wasn’t a factor in the Sept. 20 loss to Virginia Tech. He was plenty good enough in ensuing home games against Connecticut, Notre Dame, Boston College and Georgia Tech.

• The 16-13 overtime loss at Virginia on Oct. 18 was not Sexton’s fault. Davis and his offensive staff have to take that hit. The offensive calls  at Charlottesville came right out of Woody Hayes’ long-buried  playbook. Graham Harrell himself isn’t capable of throwing a touchdown pass when he’s under orders to get into field-goal position.

I am not sure how you logically argue that Sexton being the best QB available is not an issue.  It is the heart of the issue.  TJ Yates is a better passer and you are taking on a defense that is fairly porous against the pass so you decide.

As for the first reason swap the names Sexton and Yates out for the names Thomas and Lawson.  Does the logic follow?  Thomas could have left UNC at any point but he stayed and stepped up in a dire situation to help the Tar Heels win all but one game in basketball as the starter.  However when Lawson reasonably healthy does Thomas' willingness to stick out three bad seasons give him a leg up on Lawson as the starter?  Of course not.  The same is true here.  Now, I know the distinction between the two QBs is cloudier than it was between the two PGs however Yates was the starter for a reason.  Yates is also a better passer in general and probably considered the better QB on the team.  Tudor is contending Sexton should be rewarded for staying at UNC but should Yates be punished for simply getting injured?

The second point is actually valid.  Sexton is undefeated at home and did manage all of those games fairly well.  I am sure that is a factor in the decision but by no means does it preclude the possibility that Yates might be just as successful or negate Yates as the better option.

Tudor also brings up the loss at UVa saying it was not his fault but rather falls on the coaches for bad play calling.  I do agree that UNC's play calling in the first post-Tate game was suspect.  The absence of a 2nd big time playmaker at WR led to some interesting choices.  Sexton is not entirely absolved since he did throw two INTs.  There is also the matter of the Maryland game which Tudor neglects to mention.  Sexton shoulders blame for that loss on the basis of two turnovers, the final one an INT so bad, I cannot figure out who he intended the pass for.

I understand where Tudor is coming from.  His argument is that Sexton deserves a 2nd chance, really has had only one bad game that he can be totally blamed for and his commitment to the program should be rewarded with some grace after last week.  The problem with that is Butch Davis does not really have time to make people comfortable.  Davis has said more times than I can count that he will play the players who give the team it's best chance to win the game.  That is exactly the approach he should take and issues of a player staying with the program or whether this guy or that is not to be blamed for a certain loss is all poppycock.  The only conclusion Tudor offered above that bears any relevance on the criteria set by Davis is Sexton's home record which is unblemished.  Aside from that, whatever happens in practice will give the UNC head coach the information he needs to deploy the best option at QB for UNC on Saturday.