Inside Carolina/Jim Hawkins

UNC QB Mitch Trubisky Poised to Enter Heisman Race

Tar Heel quarterback, who leads the country in completion percentage, will be tested by highly-ranked defenses the next two weeks.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – While answering a question about two-minute situations, Ryan Switzer stopped mid-sentence after mentioning Mitch Trubisky’s name. The senior wide receiver then went off script, telling reporters why his longtime roommate is one of the top players in the nation.

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“I may be biased, but I don’t care,” Switzer said after UNC’s 37-35 win over Florida State. “He’s got to be top-3 in the country, quarterback-wise. He doesn’t make mistakes. He puts the ball where it needs to be. He’s composed. He’s got as good of an arm as I’ve seen. Unbelievable.”

Trubisky’s stats through his first five career starts help to back up Switzer’s claims. The junior quarterback has completed 133-of-175 passes for 1,711 yards and 13 touchdowns without an interception. He leads the country in completion percentage (76.0), ranks sixth in quarterback rating (182.6) and ninth in yards per attempt (9.8).

Trubisky is also the only Power 5 conference quarterback with 10 touchdown passes and zero interceptions. His school-record streak of consecutive pass attempts without an interception has grown to 240 (previous record was 154).

At his current rate, Trubisky is on pace to set single-season school records (current records in parentheses) in touchdown passes (28), completions (282), passing yards (3,418), completion percentage (69.3) and QB rating (174.3).

Larry Fedora’s offensive scheme is built to make quarterbacks look good with quick reads and a mantra of short passes for long gains. Trubisky has played four consecutive games with a quarterback rating of 194 or higher. In Fedora’s previous eight years and 105 games as head coach, his starting quarterbacks – Austin Davis, Martevious Young, Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams – combined for 11 games with a QB rating of 194 or higher.

Trubisky’s production through five games has elevated him into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

While the aforementioned statistics stand on their own, Trubisky’s play in clutch situations is even more impressive. With UNC trailing by eight points or more, he’s completed 76.9 percent of his passes (30-of-39) for 394 yards and four touchdowns. With the game tied, Trubisky is 14-of-15 for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

After Florida State tied the game at 28-28 with 5:11 to play on Saturday, Trubisky was 6-of-7 for 107 yards and a touchdown on UNC’s final two scoring drives.

Trubisky has also been more efficient in the passing game in 3rd-and-long/fourth down situations than the current Heisman Trophy candidates. 

Player  Passing Yards TDs INTs First Downs
Mitch Trubisky (UNC) 20-29  317 2 0 16
Greg Ward (HOU) 16-21 255 0 0 12
J.T. Barrett (OSU) 7-12 83 2 0 2
Deshaun Watson (CU) 10-27 196 4 2 6
Lamar Jackson (LOU) 14-25 187 3 2 8

The lone knock on Trubisky to date has been the level of defensive competition that he has encountered through five games. Illinois is statistically the top defense UNC has played - the Illini rank 50th nationally in total defense - while Georgia leads the group in pass efficiency defense at 92nd (140.9). The five-game sample size also gives significant weight to Trubisky's performances against those teams. 

Regardless, any doubts about competition will be answered over the next two weeks. No. 25 Virginia Tech and No. 10 Miami both rank in the top-10 nationally in pass efficiency defense. 

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