Battle for Backup QB

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Red-shirt freshman quarterback Marquise Williams was expected to push incumbent Bryn Renner for the starting role during North Carolina's training camp. As it turns out, true freshman Kanler Coker has taken aim at Williams's No. 2 spot instead.

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Williams, hailing from Charlotte, N.C., ran a similar offense at Mallard Creek High School and his physical tools were thought to mesh well into head coach Larry Fedora and offensive coordinator Blake Anderson want out of their quarterback position. Those attributes led many to assume that Williams was the clear No. 2 behind Renner with a possibility of earning playing time in certain packages.

Coker, a true freshman out of Flowery Branch, Ga., has disrupted that plan with his play during training camp.

"We've got a good battle going for No. 2," Anderson told reporters following Friday's practice. "'Quise and Kanler are bringing it every day and splitting reps. We've had good days and bad days from both. We're lucky Kanler's come in and picked it up real well and Marquise is playing better then he did in the spring, so we're moving in the right direction in terms of what we're doing at that position."

Coker switched high schools after his junior year to move out of a Wing-T offense and into a spread. The results (173-of-290 passing, 2,833 yards, 31 TD; 119 rushes, 837 yards, 15 TD) were enough to draw late interest from UNC, Notre Dame, Mississippi and East Carolina.

"The person who has impressed me is Kanler Coker," Renner said on Thursday. "He came in here and with his speed, athleticism and ability to throw the ball, he's gotten better every day. He wants to learn."

Additional Notes

** One question mark surrounding Renner is how well he fits into this spread design with his foot speed. Austin Davis, Fedora's four-year starter at Southern Miss, led the Golden Eagles to a school-record 6,459 total yards in 2011.

Fedora was asked about how the two quarterbacks compared athletically on Friday.

"Very similar athletically," he said. "By no means was Austin a great runner. Austin was a guy that we felt like could get us four yards when he needed to and Bryn can do the same thing. They're very comparable that way."

Renner has continued get a solid handle on this offense, but his progress hasn't come without hiccups. Anderson installed more elements of the offense earlier in camp and the red-shirt junior struggled with the additions.

"I thought he bogged down midway," Anderson said. "The last few days I've seen signs of it starting to make more sense; it's starting to slow down. He's playing with confidence and he's in really good shape. He's moving around better than obviously he did last year."

** Training camp officially comes to ends on Monday. Classes begin on Tuesday and after taking that day off to get settled in, the Tar Heels will return to the practice field on Wednesday to start game prep for their season opener against Elon.

Not much will change in the coaching staff's approach to practice.

"The tempo and all of those things won't change at all," Fedora said. "If anything, we hope it gets faster as we go. As guys become accustomed to it and understand what we expect, we hope that it gets faster."

While Fedora acknowledged his players were working hard, he's not ready to suggest that they're where he wants them to be.

"They're never where I want them to be," Fedora said. "That won't happen on Sept. 1 or [in] December. I'm always going to expect us to be one more step, a little bit farther than we maybe can be. But that's what we're going to do; we're going to push for perfection and we'll see what we get."

** Wondering how the play calls will be relayed in this no-huddle approach?

"Blake will make a call in the box, it goes down to [tight ends coach] Walt [Bell], Walt will signal it in and that gets it to the quarterback," Fedora said. "The speed of it is pretty quick. We've been doing it that way for a long time."

When asked at what point Renner would be allowed to make some calls at the line of scrimmage, Fedora replied, "Probably in his fifth or sixth year of the offense, we'll give him some leeway."

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