CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – One theme remained consistent in head coach Larry Fedora’s remarks about Marquise Williams during his radio show on Tuesday: maturity.
Fedora discussed Williams’s bounce back game at Georgia Tech in length at Top of the Hill restaurant, detailing how quarterback’s age and experience helped him recover from a benching against Delaware.
“I expect it from him,” Fedora said. “He’s a guy that’s a fifth-year senior. He’s been in the offense now a couple of years. He’s run the offense, he’s taken us to a bowl game before [and] he understands what needs to be done, so I expect him to play that way.”
Williams turned in a strong performance in North Carolina’s 38-31 win on Saturday, leading the team in rushing (148), receiving (37) and passing yards (134). However, what may have impressed Fedora the most was the way Williams communicated with the coaching staff.
“He did a great job communicating with us on the sideline,” Fedora said. “There were certain things we were suggesting and he was like ‘No, I don’t like that here, I want to do this here and that,’ which says a lot about how he’s matured as a quarterback.
“There’s a lot of times where they’re not mature enough, and they’ll just take whatever you give them and say, ‘Okay.’ But he had a lot of input on the things we were using, especially late in the game. So I’m really proud of the way he played.”
That feel for the game is an intangible part of Williams’s skillset that makes him such a dangerous weapon for the Tar Heels. It’s something that comes with experience, and it adds an extra dimension to an already explosive UNC offense.
That was an emotional victory.
“It really was. I’m proud of the guys and the way they fought the entire game. Again, it took the entire team, and when we were down 21, nobody blamed anyone, everybody just kept playing. Nobody panicked, and that shows they’re improving, because that’s hard not to do.”
How do you remain calm when you feel the game getting away at 21-0?
“I’m talking to the coaches on the phone, just like, ‘Hey, when they come to the sideline, you’ve got to really make sure they’re okay, look in their eyes.’ You can tell a lot just by their eyes. All the assistants would say they’re good, no problems, and they would just stay the course. Don’t panic, and offensively, it was ‘hey, let’s continue to run the football, we’ve got to get something going.’ We put that drive together, the one that made it 21-7, which was really important. Then they threw the ball around a little bit and gave us an opportunity to come back out and score again. We only had the ball four times in the first half, so it was important that we get a couple of scores out of those four.”
What was the reason for the success against the run in the second half against Georgia Tech?
“Well, one thing they were hurting us on two plays in the first half. They made a triple loop scheme, and things that you don’t know what I’m talking about, but they made two plays, and we really wanted to make adjustments, but at the same time, we knew that if we made those adjustments it would create other problems for us, so we left them they way they were. We let them play, and we made a couple of small adjustments at halftime. We talked them through the plays that were giving them problems, and they adjusted to the speed of the game. They refused to be blocked. They got off blocks, made tackles, and got the job done.”
What allowed Marquise Williams to be so successful rushing the football?
“That offensive line is the reason we’re having success running the football. And then, Elijah Hood’s success running the football makes it a whole lot easier on the quarterback’s runs. Then when you have the guys on the perimeter that we do, people can’t just load up all the time, and if they do, we’ve got to beat them with the outside guys. We’ve got a lot of weapons there. They’ve got to pick their poison.”
What did you think of that questionable 4th down spot in the second half?
“I didn’t get an explanation. He signaled first down, and then they reviewed it, and then he signaled first down. So that was it. What do you say? What are they going say? What does it matter what I feel? They said first down, so it doesn’t matter after that. I mean, the guy reviewed it, so surely he got it right, right?”
How did Cayson Collins earn more playing time against Georgia Tech?
“He had great practices all week. Strictly that. And he finally decided, you know what, and (John Papuchis) has been holding him to a standard, and he hadn’t been meeting that standard in practice, therefore he hadn’t played as much. He finally met that standard this past week in practice, therefore he played more, and he had an opportunity to make a lot of plays. I’m hoping he understands that, and that he will continue to do that, because he is a very athletic linebacker that can make a lot of plays for us."
How many trick plays do you carry with you from week to week throughout the season, and how do you use them after showing them in a game?
“We usually carry at least two every week. Now, we may go into a game and carry two and not use either one of them, or only use one of them, and may carry it over into the next week. We may change the formation according to how we’re working that game, but for a season, we probably carry in our bag, I’ve got a lot, but we use one or two a game, so you’re talking 22 or 20 in a season. But that very seldom happens. Now the onside kick, to take that as an example, that means now teams, when we line up that way, teams have to be prepared for an onside kick, so there are things we can do out of that to take advantage of that. So I would rather not tell you what those are on the radio.”