CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Marquise Williams’s job, as defined by the senior quarterback and head coach Larry Fedora, is to protect the football.
Williams failed to do that on the first drive of Saturday’s 48-14 victory over Illinois, throwing an interception into double coverage on the Illini 20-yard-line when he had room to run for a first down.
“There was green grass; I should have went,” Williams told reporters after the game. “And that’s what my dad is going to tell me.”
After that early blemish, however, the fifth-year quarterback showed that he is capable of far more than just managing the game.
“I made an early mistake, but bounced back strong,” Williams said. “As a quarterback, you have to have a short term memory, and I bounced back strong.”
Williams finished the game completing 17 of his 24 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns, while exploding for 105 yards on nine carries. Saturday marked the eighth time in school history that a Tar Heel passed for 200 yards and rushed for 100 more. Williams is responsible for four of those occasions.
In the first two games of the season, Williams appeared hesitant at times to tuck the football and run. In Saturday’s win, though, Williams showed signs of being comfortable with using his feet to move the ball.
“When I get my feet involved with the game, that brings a lot to the table,” Williams said. “If everybody’s covered, take off for that five yards.”
Williams even showed off his juke move on a long run in the first half, something that took him back to the days when former tight end Eric Ebron suited up in a UNC uniform.
“(Ebron) was like, ‘man, when you’re juking, you’re not really moving,’ and I’ve been trying to work on that, just get a little step when I’m juking,” Williams said. “It’s just so funny to think about the times like that. I’m going to get better. I’m going start on my spin move like Braxton Miller next.”
UNC hosts FCS opponent Delaware next Saturday before the ACC slate starts at Georgia Tech. Playing a third straight game in Chapel Hill will provide extra confidence for Williams, who believes in home field advantage.
“When you come in the Tar Pit, it’s a different story,” Williams said. “It’s a different chapter, and we’re going write that chapter off for you, and we’re going to send you on your way."