Honestly, I think Hunter Furr got hosed here but we'll take it.
OFFENSIVE BACK - T.J. Yates, North Carolina, QB, Sr., 6-4, 220, Marietta, Ga. (Pope) Yates was 24-of-35 for a school-record 439 yards and three touchdowns in Carolina's 37-35 win at Florida State. It was his fifth career 300-plus yard game and his second career 400-plus yard game. He became the first player in program history to pass for 400-plus yards twice in a career and the second player all-time in the ACC to have the two performances in the same season against nationally ranked opponents (No. 24 Florida State and No. 21 LSU). Yates, who passed for 412 yards earlier this season against LSU, has the top two passing performances in the ACC this season. He threw touchdown passes of 67, 14 and 4 yards in the Tar Heels' first ever win in Tallahassee.
Okay, show of hands. How many of you had Yates down for two 400 yard passing games and being named ACC Offensive POW twice this season? Yates is doing work. Yates is saying "put me on that 'I am a Tar Heel' video now and see what happens!"
First of all, let's talk about UNC records. At present Yates has thrown for 8271 yards in his career at UNC. That means Yates only need 485 yards to eclipse Darin Durant's career passing mark at UNC. It should be noted that includes Yates only having 1100-yards passing in 2008 when he missed several games. In this season Yates has thrown for 2312 yards which puts him 343 yards off his own school record for passing yards in a season at 2655. Yates has thrown 54 career TDs and would need to be fairly prolific in his final four games to catch Durant's 68 TD total. Chris Keldorf's single season TD mark of 23 is in reach with Yates current sitting on a career high 15 TDs. There might very well be other records Yates is near but I will let you email Adam Lucas to find out what those are.
Probably the more relevant discussion is first team All-ACC quarterback and maybe ACC POY. I am going to make a semi-bold statement. I think being first team All-ACC and POY are very real possibilities for Yates. Here is why. The other two real candidates for All-ACC QB are Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor and NCSU's Russell Wilson. By and large the stats for all three are more or less in the same ballpark. Wilson throws for roughly 20 more yards per game than Yates and has five more TDs. Yates has a better passing efficiency, completion percentage and seven fewer INTs than Wilson who has quite literally cost his team a couple of games with back breaking INTs. There is also the fact UNC's record vs common opponents is 3-1 while NCSU went 2-2. Tyrod Taylor does not have as many yards passing as either of the two but leads the league in passing efficiency. Taylor also averages 64 ypg rushing the football, has only four INTs and has thrown for 16 TDs. Virginia Tech is also 5-0 in the ACC which is credited heavily to Taylor. In short, there are merits to arguments for each player. If I had to rank them right now I would say Taylor, Yates then Wilson.
All that being said, Yates has an opportunity to stake his claim to first team All-ACC QB and possibly POY in the eyeball department. UNC plays Virginia Tech this week and NCSU the next, both at Kenan Stadium. That places Yates in direct competition with his two closest rivals in the race for these awards. If he can outduel both Taylor and Wilson the same way he did FSU's Christian Ponder and UNC wins both games, he might very well be a lock. Heck, if he outplays both and UNC loses one or both in close contests he might still be a candidate though Taylor or Wilson leading their team to a divisional title is going to make their case stronger. In other words, if Yates plays well and his defense can limit the damage down by his counterpart, staking a claim to first team All-ACC and maybe POY is a very real possibility.