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Week Four Roundtable

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I wonder what we should talk about this week?

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Brian: As Paul noted in his game analysis there were two big questions from UNC's win over Delaware. Not sure talking about the rush defense is worth another discussion since next week versus Georgia Tech is going to be ugly.

The quarterback change, on the other hand, is well worth all the hot takes we can muster.

Larry Fedora essentially said he was riding the hot hand and wasn't necessarily making a change in the starter. That sounds nice in theory but having done it once, doesn't that mean it will be easier for Fedora to pull Marquise Williams again if he struggles?

Paul: I think that Mitch comes in if Marquise doesn't score on the first two possessions.  I also think Mitch was the better player yesterday and has look more poised than Williams season. We know Fedora wants to play Trubisky above Williams. I think he'll take any excuse to do it.

Doc: There is an old saying that the most popular guy on any football team is the backup quarterback. With that said, Trubisky did look much sharper than Williams in the passing game, but then again Trubisky has always been the better true passer. Despite the weather conditions, UNC seemed determined to pass the ball so maybe Trubisky was the better choice for the situation.

Still, this situation begs two questions: First, what does it say that a third of the way into the season a head coach is questioning his 5th-year senior quarterback's decision-making; and second, will Fedora defuse the situation early by re-affirming Williams as the starter?

Brian: He already said Williams was still the starter. Whether that simply lip service or reality remains to be seen. It is also important to remember Fedora's tenure at UNC has included more rotation than not at QB. The only season we didn't see the second QB taking meaningful snaps in games was 2012 when Bryn Renner was the clear starter. In 2013, Fedora started sneaking Williams into the game after Renner missed the VT game & Williams got his first start. Williams ultimately took over for good when Renner was knocked out for the season versus NC State.  Last season he wanted to use Trubisky and did but finally realized he was doing more harm than good with the haphazard manner in which the rotation was executed.

The problem here is Fedora has shown he's willing to yank Williams if he struggles which can be good and bad. On one hand, Trubisky is a better passer. Those quick outs to Ryan Switzer or Romar Morris coming out of the backfield require on target throws and perfect timing. Williams has struggled with those this season, including on Saturday. Trubisky nailed those and nailed the long throws to Mack Hollins. If Williams can't execute short pass plays which are a staple of the offense it certainly raises questions. The flip side of that is the fact Williams has shown he can recover from a bad start passing the ball as he did last year versus Pitt where he was awful then completed like 16 passes in a row. The length of the leash for Williams is unclear not to mention if the senior QB is chewing up yards on the ground, you might be able to live with some off target throws.

Benching Williams has given him notice that he needs to play better in all facets of the game but knowing when to pull a QB is delicate business. So far Fedora hasn't shown much of a feel for the game flow when he rotated QBs. It was a disaster last season and even in 2013, he made odd subs at QB such as during the Thursday night game versus Miami. Question is has he figured out the best way to handle two QBs?

Paul: I don't think he's figured out how to use two QBs since he's learning on the fly. It's not like he's ever had two passers of similar merit in previous stops. Fedora will probably give Williams a short leash again on Saturday unless Williams comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders. I think that if Carolina has the ball down by two scores, then Trubisky gets the ball on that drive. Fedora said at his press conference that Trubisky and Williams split 1st team reps 55-45. It seems like he looked at last season and realized that the platoon wasn't effective but he didn't change anything behind the scenes about how the team practices or how it's structured.

I also think that Trubisky is a pretty good runner with the ball. There will not be as many called QB runs with Trubisky under center but if he can hit the open man on most plays then Trubisky seems like the better option. Trubisky also seems to have improved dramatically since last season while Williams has regressed. Considering most of the team's starters on both offense and defense are juniors or sophomores this year, does it make more sense for Trubisky to take

Brian: In a vacuum, yes Trubisky is the better choice but there are other factors in play. Williams is a senior and has a solid body of work. The biggest issue here from a perception standpoint is what have you done for me lately. Williams hasn't been great this season even factoring in the NC A&T game. Last season's bowl game, the regular season finale versus NC State and even the Duke game where he committed three turnovers have him on a bit of a slide. Trubisky's appearances have been solid but he hasn't been truly tested. Sticking with Williams isn't a horrible idea but now that Fedora has shown he's willing to yank his starter if the offense stalls, I would bet on it happening more not less.

Doc: I think Paul hit on something, which is the apparent regression of Williams. Remember that in the middle of last season, Williams was in the first-team All-ACC quarterback conversation. Then since the State game where it was famously said if he was hit he would fold up, Williams hasn't been the same. His passing is not as crisp and again, you've got a head coach questioning the decision-making of his 5th-year senior QB. What's up with that?

There is also this idea that Fedora would rather play Trubisky, who is his recruit, over Williams, who he did not recruit. I think coaches would rather win games than play favorites but the haphazard manner of the QB rotation and the seemingly forced manner in which Trubisky has seen snaps doesn't do much to dispel this notion.