Film Room: Marquise Williams

The Inside Carolina staff convened to review and discuss the film of the Spring Game. In this segment, beat writer Greg Barnes, columnist Buck Sanders and analyst Jason Staples discuss two clips of quarterback Marquise Williams.

Play No. 1

Greg: This is the type of play that won Marquise so many fans last season. While he may not have had Bryn Renner's accuracy, he was able to make plays with his feet when plays broke down. The defense reacted well enough to the swing pass into the left flat that Williams had to look elsewhere. He found a seam and used his size and speed to get down the sideline for what would have been a 38-yard touchdown run.

Jason: This was a good play. There wasn't anything there and he made the right decision. That was all good. I'll give him a plus there.

Greg: His feet aren't an issue. After all, he was UNC's leading rusher last season.

Buck: The Virginia Tech game, his first start, showed us how tough he can be. Virginia Tech is a great team against the run and he had, I think, more yards on the ground than all of UNC's running backs combined in that game. He demonstrated from the get-go that he can be a tough runner.

Jason: One of the things that's a weakness in the Spring Game context for someone like Marquise is that he doesn't really get to show his legs and his ability to be a tough runner. He's somebody who can not just make the play like he makes there but actually can really get tough yards between the tackles and can present that dual threat, that second threat on first and second down that forces defenses to play often times a bit of a different cover because you're having to worry about him as another running back in the backfield. So he can't show everything he's able to do. And you can see that a little bit on that play. Even though he needs to get rid of the ball faster, at the end of the day he has a 38-yard gain and shows he can make a play when plays break down and can present a threat with his legs that you have to account for as a defense.

Greg: Can intangibles factor into this discussion of the quarterback battle when it comes to the Spring Game?

Jason: You have a guy who has already won games, proven in the heat of the moment that he can win games, that he's going to take shots, and he's already earned the respect of his teammates as a team leader. So he has some intangibles on his side and in the context of a spring game - a glorified scrimmage - that type of thing isn't going to come out because you're not going to battle like you do on game day. He's earned the trust and respect of his teammates. That isn't going to show as much in this context.

Buck: It is an important intangible to consider. Oviously it's never a given how a quarterback will react in a college football game. And Williams has proven that he reacts with poise and confidence and that poise and confidence is something that his teammates picked up on and earned him leadership points with the team. That has to be taken into consideration on some level.

Play No. 2

Jason: You've got 3-on-3 top side. You're not going bottom side because you've got the safety over top. So now you're going to read top side. You should go right now because you've got the flat. The flat is the play right now and you've got a first down. He's reading that inside guy, but he got knocked off his route. That's really good coverage there, by the way.

Greg: His only play here is to throw to the flat.

Jason: As soon he sees that contact. That's his first read. He should know right now where he's going. He should go to the flat right now because he actually got blocked off by his first read. So if you've got those two guys there (over the middle), where can he not be? If I'm the quarterbacks coach, I'm going, ‘What are you seeing?' He did not get over top – he's going underneath.

Buck: His only three options are on the left side of the field and two of them are dead.

Jason: If you get it to the back, you've got 10-15 yards before the back has to break a tackle. As soon as the linebacker hasn't cleared the tight end at that point, you know where you're going. There's your read.

Buck: That linebacker is going to have to make a tackle in space or it's going to go for a big play.

Jason: That's a good point. That's a first down at worst. And then the thing that you cannot do is make this throw.

Buck: Almost across his body.

Jason: Whether it's across his body or not, his momentum is bad, but he basically makes a throw into a spot where you've got a sitting corner. So at this point, what do you need to do? You've got a blocker on the outside, so it's another bad decision. Just run to the sideline. You may get four or five yards. Live to see another play…

Greg: With regard to your experience with quarterbacks, does Marquise have enough time between now and August to improve some of these mechanical issues dramatically?

Jason: No. Here's the thing. Spring is when you get better on that stuff and then you reinforce it in the summer. The spring is when you should get better.

Buck: There are mechanical issues involved, but even if you had perfect mechanics, holding the ball too long…

Jason: Mechanics are the least of my concerns. Mechanics are only a piece of the puzzle. Getting the ball out on time, over and over again, exacerbates the problem. He can improve his mechanics, you do get better over the summer, hopefully, but you're not going to make drastic improvement like that.

Buck: Do you think in this kind of scrimmage setting, where you've got an empty stadium basically, that Williams actually improves and gets better when the cameras are on?

Jason: No, I don't think he gets better when the cameras are on. I think the notion of a gamer is something of a myth. You are who you are. A lot of times the guys that people say are gamers – a guy like Williams – the reason he was better in games than his reputation is because in this kind of environment he's not able to show his feet to the same level. But did he ever have a game where he made you go, ‘Yeah, this guy can really throw?'

Greg: Old Dominion.

Video by J.B. Cissell

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