With Sam Howell taking the Saturday off with a shoulder injury on his non-throwing arm, the North Carolina Tar Heels will see a new starter for the first time since the 2018 season.
It is important to note Howell said this week that he has not made a decision on the NFL Draft, although he will be participating in Senior Day festivities on Saturday.
Jacolby Criswell and Drake Maye will be under center for Carolina, although it is not known who will start or how much each will play.
Head coach Mack Brown had this to say about the quarterback situation for this Saturday:
I haven’t decided yet, if Sam doesn’t play, how we’re going to rotate the quarterbacks. I wanted to watch practice all week- I wanted to see who’s more comfortable, who’s having the best week’s practice- before we decided who started and if and how we would rotate them. The most important thing is always to win the game. That’s what important. And then you would love to get both of them some time because they’re our future.
Brown makes a critical point with winning the game. But if the Tar Heels perform as they should against the 1-9 Terriers, the live action experience will be priceless for the two young quarterbacks.
Will there be a rotation? A set number of consecutive series? A half each? Ride the hot hand?
More than likely, we will be unable to to christen the 2022 starter from this one game, but it will provide valuable insight on how well these players understand the UNC playbook.
Offensive coordinator Phil Longo had this to say in the coordinators press conference Monday:
I feel like we need to scale it down. We’re not going to do the elite progressive stuff that we do with Sam, obviously, nor do we need to right now with them, because they’re just not ready to do that. But they’re going to run the offense in its form that Sam had at his disposal going in when he was not a veteran of a lot of starts in a lot of games. It’s no different.
Perhaps it will be a simpler playbook to start, and add more in as the game progresses.
At the end of the day, execution of the offensive game plan and not turning the ball over will be the key metrics in this quarterback showcase.
In a season that has not gone to plan, this showcase of the future is of great interest to Carolina fans.