There is really not much to report out of spring practice for UNC. Barring injury or Quan Sturdivant destroying something, we thought that would be the case. There only attention worthy item on the agenda was the quarterback position. IC is reporting(with a tinge of disappointment in the tone) that the highly anticipated epic spring battle for quarterback supremacy at UNC...never really happened?
North Carolina football fans had hoped for a spring full of tales about incumbent T.J. Yates and newcomer Bryn Renner entrenched in a heated battle at quarterback. But as spring ball comes to a close this week, reality has begun to sink in that Yates will likely remain UNC’s starter.
Renner has earned high praise for his strong arm, foot speed and overall athletic ability from practically everyone that has watched him practice since arriving in Chapel Hill last summer. Yates, on the other hand, has endured a pelting of criticism after completing 214-of-355 passes for 2,136 yards, 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in ’09.
A portion of the UNC fan base is convinced that Renner should be handed the reins to the offense this fall to improve a unit that has hovered around the No. 100 mark nationally in total offense over the past three seasons. But fans don’t have access to the inner workings of a football program, and while they may be able to blast Yates for what he has done on the field, they can only live on the hype surrounding Renner’s potential.
When asked on Wednesday what he does best as a quarterback, Renner provided an insanely realistic response: "I really haven’t proven myself, so I guess I can’t really answer that."
I am going to go out on a limb and say half the UNC fans will curse John Shoop's name while the other half shrugs before refreshing Ed Davis' Twitter feed. The problem with the expectations on Bryn Renner is he would have to be really, really, really good to supplant T.J. Yates, mainly because the latter is experienced. If Renner came in and just blew the doors off then Yates is holding clipboard. That has not been the case by Renner's own admission and probably was never going to be the case or else he probably does not redshirt last season. That being said, the push behind Renner had a lot to do with his being able to do things that Yates could not do. Renner is more mobile, athletic and said to have a better arm. I also imagine Renner would be more accurate with his throws, not because I have seen him throw but because I have seen Yates pass the football and Renner cannot possibly be worse.
On the flip side, Renner is not experienced and some of the issues with Yates last season could be traced back to poor offensive line play and a green receiving corps. Assuming the line is healthy Yates should get better protection. Greg Little has shown signs of being a good receiver assuming he can stop negating whole pass plays with stupid penalties. Zach Pianalto was a huge part of the offense and a good target for Yates' short passes which is the bread and butter of the Shoop offense. I also think Shoop has a better grasp on how to use running backs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston in tandem which should result in a more productive rushing attack. If the other aspects of the offense surrounding Yates improve and the defense provides the Heels with good field position, then it will give the senior QB a wider margin of error than he had last season. All he needs to do is not panic and float stupid INTs up at the goal line to be returned 99 yards for a TD. If that kind of crap continues to happen then I hope Butch Davis pulls the trigger on Renner.
Of course none of this is to say John Shoop won't screw the pooch with poor offensive scheming but I am going to wait and see on that one.
UNC will play its spring game on Saturday, April 10th at 3:00 PM. Admission to the game is free and my understanding is there will be tons of activities all day in Chapel Hill. If you can make it, show up and support the Heels since the game will be televised on ESPN and good crowd would be nice to see.