Cats and dogs living together!
If I told you before Saturday that either T.J. Yates or NCSU's Russell Wilson would throw for 412 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT on 28-46 passing 99.9999999% of people would have chosen Wilson. I guess this strange few months of UNC football in a way just got a tad stranger. Via the ACC:
OFFENSIVE BACK – T.J. Yates, North Carolina, QB, Sr., 6-4, 220, Marietta, Ga. (Pope) Georgia native T.J. Yates completed 28 of 46 pass attempts for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns in North Carolina’s 30-24 loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. Down by 20 points entering the fourth quarter, Yates connected on a 97-yard touchdown pass to Jheranie Boyd with 10:34 remaining, then tossed a touchdown to Erik Highsmith in the back corner of the end zone with 2:32 left. The 97-yard pass to Boyd is the longest play from scrimmage in UNC history, topping a 93-yard pass play in 1987 and a 95-yard run in 1891. Yates’ attempts (46), completions (28) and yards (412) are the third-highest single-game totals in UNC history. He also had no interceptions against the Tigers.
I am still befuddled that Yates played as well as he did to the point I really hope this is not some kind of flash-in-the-pan outlier. It is not just the stats, which were incredibly impressive, so much so that Yates gets a permanent slot in the media guide for years to come. If you watched the game you will note that Yates seemed to make good decisions all night long save a couple of sacks he could have avoided by getting rid of the ball sooner. Yates forced nothing and there were multiple dropped passes which were well thrown balls. Then there were the passes that were completed, many of them right on target. The 97-yard TD pass to Jhey Boyd was possibly the best pass he has ever thrown in game action. The back corner toss to Erik Highsmith which closed the deficit to six was a nice display of touch by a QB much maligned for having none. Yates was also cold blooded during the final drive. When John Shoop made the right calls, Yates delivered quick, short passes in an efficient manner. Oh, did I mention Yates did not thrown any INTs nor did I see any that were remotely close? In short it was epic and six yards away from being legendary.
The question we all have now is can Yates continue to play that well? Heck, I think if Yates plays half that well he will still be very good. You have to think if UNC can get Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston back behind Yates and resolve the QB-center exchange issues, the senior QB will continue to excel. If Yates can perform like this vs a decent defense like LSU with a struggling OL and no running game, working those issues out will help him even more. Of course it is only one game and by week five we could all be clamoring for Bryn Renner again. For now, enjoy the moment and congrats to Yates on the honor.