Shoop, Part II: QB Breakdown

There's no question that Bryn Renner is a special breed of competitor. John Shoop, UNC's offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, relayed a story that helps illustrate Renner's approach to living life "full throttle," as Shoop would say.

"He had two tests yesterday, in biology and in history, so two nights ago he shaved his head into a Mohawk in an effort to pump himself up for these tests," Shoop said. That's Bryn – didn't even think twice about it – he showed up the next day and had a Mohawk and went, ‘Well, I had to pump myself up.' That's just how he is and we love him."

As much exposure as Renner had to the offense as the top reserve last season, he's not going to just get handed the starting quarterback's position, at least not according to Shoop. For starters, Braden Hanson, a rising junior, is no stranger to competition.

"Two years ago he battled another quarterback, not Bryn, to earn the backup position," Shoop said.

"I think Braden Hanson is a really smart guy; as smart of a quarterback as we've had since I've been here. And, he's worked really hard and has gotten stronger since he's been here."

What are Hanson's strengths?

"He has a really strong knack for just throwing completions," Shoop continued. "Every time we throw him into a scrimmage situation, he has an awful lot of production. He didn't come here to sit on the bench and he sees this as an opportunity as well. I think he's even stepped up his game, or is going to step up his game, this spring in an effort to try to win this job."

Last year A.J. Blue sat out the entire season rehabilitating a devastating knee injury. As the year wore on Blue was able to do more, and he did it with the quarterbacks.

"When he came in here we kind of had him in a wildcat mold – he even played a little tailback," Shoop said. "But when he got injured, he came and sat with us and stayed in the quarterback meeting room for the last year and a half.

"He's one smart son-of-a-gun and he understands that the smart take from the strong and you've got to be a smart dude to play the quarterback position.

"He's worked his tail off at the mental aspect of the deal, because if you have ever see him throw, everybody knows he's got some tools. His body type, his demeanor, is in the mold of a David Garrard-type of guy. He can really whiz the ball and he's starting to learn. He's really worked hard at the mental aspect of it."

What Shoop says is true about Blue's arm strength. From the moment he stepped on campus it was apparent he wasn't, from a sheer skill-set perspective, just a running back who played quarterback in high school. He's got a cannon for an arm.

The final candidate who'll be testing the quarterback depth chart is true freshman Marquise Williams, who enrolled in January and will participate in spring ball. Though Shoop hasn't been able to work Williams out as a Tar Heel, he has had Williams in camp at UNC enough to be intricately familiar with his strengths and weaknesses.

"There's a lot that's new for him, but he's a really bright guy himself," Shoop said. "He's got a really good release, a repetitive release. I think that he's going to be a really accurate passer and it's probably the first time we've recruited a quarterback that runs as well as he does.

"When we recruited A.J., we weren't sure it was going to be a quarterback, maybe play a little bit of everything. This guy (Marquise), we recruited as a quarterback. And, his ability to run as well, on top of the way that he can throw it, is something else. He knows he's got a lot of work to do on the mental side of it, but he is willing to do it."

Speaking of the ability to run, that's not something T.J. Yates demonstrated often, or particularly well, during his four years at UNC. Everyone in the stadium always knew that when the ball was in Yates' hands, he was going to throw the ball. From a offensive philosophy standpoint, that may not change for North Carolina, but from a practical standpoint, a quarterback running with the ball might be something UNC fans see more often.

"It's something that guys like Bryn, A.J. and Marquise bring to the table, so yeah, we're going to try to accentuate it," Shoop said. "It's not that the offense will change. We've recruited really hard to fit this offense.

"Quarterbacks tend to make the offense their own as well. Picture Joe Montana at the 49ers and they transition to Steve Young, who still made all the passes, but also had 12 rushing touchdowns in 1994. So, I think that these guys, when it's not there or it's a two-deep zone with a man under, might have the ability to take off and go - maybe not necessarily even a designed run, but pick up the play call on that third down when everybody's covered."

It's clear that Shoop is fond of all of his charges and isn't going to publicly anoint Renner prior to a competitive spring, and perhaps even fall, practice. In any case, it is beneficial for UNC to know that there is some competition at the position, as whoever wins the starting job is just a twisted ankle away from holding a clipboard on the sideline.

(Check back Monday for Part III ...)

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