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A Look at the Quarterback Battle

While Marquise Williams got the start and the majority of offensive snaps, Mitch Trubisky got his fair share of reps. Neither quarterback was breathtaking however and Larry Fedora will not commit to a permanent choice yet. This is a recap of each player's performance in the Liberty game. Note: After this story was written Larry Fedora announced that Marquise Williams will be the permanent starter while Mitch Trubisky will be used sparingly in games. Consider this a defense of that decision in the short-term.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina passing attack was moderately successful in its first game of the season. Coach Fedora gave the ball to Marquise Williams as the starter and throughout most of the game Williams would have the ball for two series and then Mitch Trubisky had the ball for a series. This held for most of the contest until the game became a blow out and Trubisky got the ball more. Schematically play-calling was very consistent and unusual. Nearly all passing plays were to the outside, away from the middle of the field. The quarterbacks also rarely had the ball in their hand long, quick throws for between 5-8 yards were the norm. This may be due to the fact that the coaches did not want to show much of the playbook in a game against an over-matched FCS foe. However, the offense did not show any plays that developed into open receivers down the field. If this is not a calculated choice by the coaching staff then fans should be worried. The avoidance of the middle of the field and the deep ball could also show that the coaching staff is not particularly confident in the arm strength and/or decision making of its quarterbacks. The two quarterbacks play similar styles but not with the same outcomes.

Marquise Williams:

Williams was given every opportunity to take the starting job early in this game but he routinely did not seize the opportunity. Liberty played a zone most of the game, particularly against Williams and he struggled to make the correct reads. He also struggled with accuracy and had sloppy mechanics. There were holes in the zone coverage and Williams routinely locked onto one receiver on plays, forcing throws and neglecting open targets. Williams routinely threw behind receivers, most notably on each of his interceptions. On each interception Williams was throwing deep and the receivers were open, having beat man coverage. Additionally there was no safety help behind those receivers and if the receivers were properly led by the throw, could have resulted in touchdowns each time. Each of these throws were under-thrown and easy interceptions. There's no excuse for these throws, if they're long, he misses deep balls but short as they were, they're turnovers that could cost Williams the starting job.

Williams did demonstrate good pocket awareness. Williams knew when to scramble and when to stay in the pocket. Williams' scrambles were very effective, particularly his 15 yard touchdown run. In the open field Williams was a dynamic runner who took care of the ball and got plenty of yards. His performance as a passer is what prevents him having the job permanently(though it appears to be for now) and unless his decision making and mechanics improve, he might lose the job.

Mitch Trubisky:

Trubisky also had a chance to grab the starter's job as well but came up short. His mechanics as a passer, his accuracy, and his decision making were quite good. Trubisky was given more freedom to target the middle of the field, his touchdown pass was a pass up the seam to Jack Tabb. Trubisky played a more complete game as a pure pocket passer when compared to Williams. However in the other factors of the game Trubisky showed that he is still a relatively raw player. His pocket awareness was lacking, he was sacked several times and stripped from behind once. He often stayed in the pocket too long and declined obvious lanes where he could scramble. Trubisky's interception was a terrible decision to throw. On that play the screen had been obviously detected and countered by the defensive line and Trubisky forced the throw, one of the few all game he forced. The ball was batted and intercepted, and kept the starter's job up for grabs.

Trubisky showed flashes of being a great college quarterback against Liberty but they were only flashes. Against the rush he looked out of sorts and particularly unprepared to be the starter. His decision making was good and accuracy similarly on point but the awareness and ability to run effectively was lacking and that is what holds Trubisky back from being the starter.

Trubisky has a higher ceiling as a player and quarterback compared to Williams, but he may still be too raw to play well at quarterback this year. As such, Fedora appears to have settled on Williams as a starter, at least in the short term.