CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Mitch Trubisky took the reins of UNC’s offense from Marquise Williams in the second quarter of a 41-14 victory over FCS opponent Delaware on Saturday. He then delivered a record-setting performance, possibly igniting a quarterback controversy along the way.
The redshirt sophomore entered the game as UNC held a 10-7 lead with 5:24 remaining in the half. He led the Tar Heels to scores on five of their next six possessions, including touchdown passes on four consecutive series.
Trubisky completed 17 of his 20 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns, setting a new school record with a 282 quarterback efficiency rating. Jason Stanicek held the previous record with a 263.48 passer rating against Maryland in 1993.
Williams ran for 31 yards and a touchdown on six carries in UNC’s first three possessions, but struggled with his accuracy in completing 6-of-12 passes for 65 yards before being sacked for an 11-yard loss on his final play of the game.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we were executing, and so we put Mitch in,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora told reporters during his postgame press conference. “Mitch ran the offense well and did a nice job, so I decided to leave him in.”
When asked about his concerns regarding his offense’s play in the first half, Fedora replied: “I didn’t like some of the decisions that were made, and that was probably the majority of it. It was more decision making in what we were doing.”
Fedora dismissed a question about a potential injury to Williams, saying he had no idea about any kind of injury. Fedora’s policy is to not discuss injuries unless they are of the season-ending variety.
Williams was not available for postgame interviews because he was receiving treatment, according to a team spokesperson.
Trubisky made the most of his opportunity, setting single-game career highs for completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes.
“When there’s an opportunity in front of me, I’m going to take full advantage of it,” Trubisky said. “I might not have taken advantage of opportunities in the past, but I think today I did what I needed to do for my team and I’m pretty happy about that."
Trubisky appeared to make the correct decisions throughout the game, including the right read on a play that resulted in a costly fumble early in the second half.
“Playing within yourself, playing within the offense and making good decisions, that’s what quarterbacking is all about,” Trubisky said.
Fedora indicated that Williams and Trubisky have been operating at a 55/45 split in terms of practice reps this season. That approach, in theory, leads to a seamless transition with the first-team offense whenever the backup quarterback enters the game.
Establishing a rhythm can be tough when opportunities are often presented as isolated offensive series. Against Delaware, Trubisky completed his first five passes, misfired on three of his next attempts and then finished the game with nine straight completions, including three of his last five resulting in touchdowns.
“It helps a lot, definitely,” Trubisky said. “It was nice to get consecutive series. It gave me a lot of confidence. I was able to get into a good rhythm. The offensive line did a great job up front, so I was able to just go through my progressions and get the ball to the receivers. It just felt like I was in a good rhythm today.”
How Saturday’s results will affect UNC’s quarterback rotation remains to be seen.
“As of right now, there’s no changes,” Fedora said.