Quarterback Intrigue & Injury for UNC

Marquise Williams was benched in Saturday's win over Delaware, opening the door for Mitch Trubisky's career day.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Larry Fedora dismissed any notion of a quarterback controversy during his weekly press conference on Monday. 

“Let me go ahead and address the quarterback issue so we don’t have to answer 78 questions about the quarterbacks,” Fedora said. “Marquise Williams is our starter. Yes, I’ve talked to him. He knows why I did what I did on Saturday, and that’s where we’re at. He’s our starter going into this game.”

How a potential injury factors into the quarterback situation may not be known until Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech.

Williams was pulled after three series in the second quarter of UNC’s 41-14 win over Delaware on Saturday. He completed 6-of-12 passes for 65 yards and ran for 31 yards and a touchdown before leaving with a 10-7 lead.

Backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky entered and led the Tar Heels to scores on five of their next six possessions. The redshirt sophomore completed 17 of his 20 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns, setting a single-game school record with a 282 quarterback efficiency rating.

Trubisky was named the ACC’s Offensive Back of the Week on Monday.

Fedora told reporters following the game that he inserted Trubisky because he did not like some of Williams’s decision-making against the Blue Hens.

“I was looking for a spark offensively,” Fedora said. “I didn’t think we were executing very well. [I] was looking for a spark and put him in there at that time. I thought he added a little bit to the offense, and as he got rolling, he got hot and things were moving, so I didn’t feel like going back the other way.”

Fedora declined to provide examples of Williams’s miscues on Monday. The All-ACC quarterback overthrew Bug Howard on a possible touchdown pass play in the red zone on his penultimate snap, and then was sacked for an 11-yard loss on 3rd-and-9 from Delaware’s 18.

Delaware linebacker Larry Spears came on a delayed blitz off the right side for the sack, knocking Williams off his feet and driving him into the ground backside first.

Early in the third quarter, as seen in the video above, Williams appears to be in pain as he asks an athletic trainer to check his left hip on the sideline. The fifth-year senior had surgery in February to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, an injury dating back to 2013. He also had chips in his hip bone, prompting doctors to shave down the bone during the surgical process. 

Fedora refuses to discuss injuries unless it’s of the season-ending variety. He told reporters after Saturday’s game that he was not aware of any injury to Williams.

Williams was not available for postgame interviews due to receiving treatment on his hip, according to a team spokesperson.

On Monday, Fedora said he had “no idea” about a potential injury to his starting quarterback, adding, “He hasn’t said anything to me about a hip.”

He also indicated that he had no concern regarding Williams’s confidence level after a postgame conversation following Saturday’s benching.

“I think he has complete confidence,” Fedora said. “He knows I have complete confidence in him. I don’t think there’s an issue. I don’t want to try to start some type of controversy or anything, because there’s not. It’s really not.”

Fedora said Trubisky’s performance against Delaware confirmed the offensive coaching staff made a good decision in giving the backup quarterback live game reps dating back to last season.  

Senior right guard Landon Turner said there hasn’t been any locker room conversation about how the quarterback situation played out on Saturday.  

“We’re all on the same team,” Turner said. “No one’s going against each other. I think we’re all prepared to play. Marquise is ready to play and Mitch is ready to play for every game, and it really doesn’t go beyond that…

“For us, it doesn’t really make a difference.”

Video courtesy Louis Fernandez

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