Tag Archives: Mitch Trubisky

Trubisky officially UNC’s starting quarterback

CHAPEL HILL — For the first time in three seasons, there’s no quarterback controversy in Chapel Hill.

Unlike the last two seasons when he’s waited until the fall to announce his starter, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora officially named Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback Friday morning.

“I thought Mitch did a good job this spring and didn’t just assume he was going to be the starter. He worked extremely hard and earned it,” Fedora said in a release. “We always want to have competition at every position. Mitch is the QB with the most experience returning, but he worked hard this spring, competed every day and deserves to be the starter.”

The reality of UNC’s situation became pretty apparent after presumed second-stringer Caleb Henderson threw three interceptions in last week’s spring game. Considering Trubisky completed 13-of-22 passes for 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception, it was pretty unlikely he’d be anywhere other than top spot on the depth chart when the season opens against Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game on Sept. 3 in Atlanta.

Despite the lengthy path to the job, Trubisky has been Fedora’s guy all along. Graduating early from Mentor (OH) to enroll at UNC in January 2013 as a part of Fedora’s second recruiting class, Trubisky was handpicked to run the coach’s uptempo offense.

But with Williams’ talent and support from the locker room, Fedora was forced to keep Trubisky in the wings until Williams exhausted his eligibility.

Though this year’s quarterback competition was very much contrived, it’s not the first quarterback controversy Trubisky’s been part of. He and Williams engaged in a very real battle during Trubisky’s redshirt freshman preseason. Fedora refused to tap a starter until Sept. 1, 2014, an ‘or’ appearing between Williams’ and Trubisky’s names on the depth chart until after both quarterbacks played in UNC’s season-opening wallop of Liberty.

Williams, who replaced injured Bryn Renner as the starter midway through the previous season, earned the nod, but Trubisky still appeared in 10 games during his first season.

Trubisky was often inserted for the third offensive series of games during the 2014 season, and he completed 42-of-78 passes for 459 yards.

Last year, Fedora halted the third series rotation, and Trubisky’s
playing time became more irregular. Fedora benched Williams in favor of

Trubisky in the second quarter of an early season game against Delaware,
because he apparently just enjoys creating controversy at the position.

But two days later, Fedora reaffirmed his commitment to Williams and kept Trubisky in a reserve role for the rest of the season. (Williams and the UNC offense shredding through the ACC schedule didn’t hurt matters.)

Trubisky made appearances in nine of 14 games last season, but he became more efficient and completed 40-of-47 passes for 555 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added 101 yards on the ground and scored three rushing touchdowns.

“I learned a lot,” Trubisky said of his time as backup. “I think mostly just patience, being patient for my opportunity and just doing my role to help the team. It’s all about the team, and just executing and doing what I’ve got to do for the team, just being a team player. It’s not about me or my playing time, it’s about the success of the Tar Heels, and that’s what I’m about.”

With Williams exhausting his eligibility, it was in the team’s best interest to hand the keys over to Trubisky.

Though he’s never started a game, by playing in 19 games during the first two seasons of his career, Trubisky is far from a rookie stepping into a new role.

“We don’t feel that he’s a newcomer by any means,” wideout Ryan Switzer said. “Mitch has been one of the leaders since he stepped on campus. That’s just his personality. It’s not any different for us when we step out on the field. Everybody has their full faith and confidence in him and not that we’re trying to put any pressure on him, but we believe that he can get it done. He’s shown that he can so we definitely feel like he’s mentally and physically prepared as well.”

Switzer, who’s also Trubisky’s roommate, says underneath all the humble team-first talk is a confident quarterback who’s ready to take the reins.

“He’s always been a team-first guy,” Switzer said after the spring game. “I think that with that being said, he does believe that he is the best option for us going forward. I feel like he thinks this is long over-due and he’s ready to take the reins of this team.”

UNC football piles on the points in annual spring game

CHAPEL HILL — The North Carolina football team scored a combined 144 points in its annual spring game Saturday afternoon.

That’s not a typo. 144 points. Blue team 74, White team 70.

But in this scenario, 144 points doesn’t mean that the Tar Heels, who went 11-3 last season, made 48 field goals or scored 18 touchdowns and six field goals.

Instead, coach Larry Fedora and his staff replaced the traditional scoring system for a more complicated one used in every practice, one borrowed from the Seattle Seahawks to give both offensive and defensive players a numerical measure of their success.

“Anytime the offense and the defense are going against each other, in any phase in practice, we use that scoring system to create competition,” Fedora said. “Just so they know what they’re doing. It’s not the score that you’re used to but that way, within the practice, your defense has the opportunity to see how they’re performing. It’s not just did we keep them from scoring touchdowns. It’s really not a difficult deal.”

Well actually, that depends on who you ask.

“It didn’t make sense to me,” said senior wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who had two catches for 10 yards Saturday. “I don’t know. I just go out there and run my route and do what’s asked of me. I didn’t pay too much attention to the score today but I know probably confused a lot of people out there, including me.”

The system relies on different point values assigned to different downs. On first and second down, if the offense gains more than four yards, they get a point. If the defense holds them to less than four yards on first or second down, they get a point. If it’s third-and-short and the offense converts, they get one point, but if the defense gets a stop, they get two. But on third-and-long, the offense gets two points for a conversion while the defense gets one for a stop. On third-and-mediums, only a point is up for grabs for either side.

The defense earns three points for creating a turnover while the offense earns three points for a touchdown. Special teams can’t earn any points, meaning that Nick Weiler’s 52-yard field goal Saturday afternoon didn’t put anything up on the scoreboard.

“I looked up at the beginning and was like, ‘ah this is going to confuse everybody,’” said quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “That’s how we score practice too, so it was nothing new to us. It’s about being efficient on first and second and converting third downs. So it wasn’t confusing to us but I felt bad for the fans because they don’t know how it’s being scored.”

Because so many players, including six starters from last season’s Coastal Division Championship team, missed the spring game with injuries, the offense squared off against defense in front of a crowd around 5,000. With only one side of the ball typically scoring touchdowns, the traditional final score would’ve been a bit lopsided and not give a full picture of the team’s defensive success.

The offense led 41-34 at halftime, but the defense came roaring back in the second half and outscored their counterparts 36-33.

In the second spring under defensive coordinator coordinator Gene Chizik, UNC’s defensive unit showed more understanding of the complex schemes, grabbing four interceptions and making six sacks.

“Last year, we were much more vanilla,” senior cornerback Des Lawrence said. “We were only able to come out here with two calls last year. They just wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing. This year, we were able to put a lot of things in.

“I feel like this year everyone knows where the next man is going to be it allows them to play faster and also allows us not to think and when you’re not able to think and you’re just playing out there on god-given ability, you’re going to be able to make plays that you usually make.”

Sophomore safety Cameron Albright made two interceptions, including two on throws by sophomore quarterback Caleb Henderson.

Lawrence and linebacker Cole Holcomb led with nine and 10 tackles, respectively, while sophomore defensive end Malik Carney tallied two sacks. Lawrence made the play on Trubisky’s lone interception, adding three more points to his team’s tally.

For the defensive players, the point system is a motivational tool since the stakes, at least during practices, are pretty high.

“It’s a lot of trash-talking going on during practice because you get mad because some of the point system, you don’t like it,” Lawrence said. “It’s just some way they have to tally it. But when practice is over, the loser has to carry the winners’ pads. I think that’s a big thing for us that allows the competition to stay up.”

Offensively Saturday afternoon, UNC put together three touchdown drives, including two in the first half on an 18-yard pass from Trubisky to Mack Hollins and a 16-yard run by Khris Francis.

In the second half, sophomore running back Jacob Schmidt finished a 96-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run, part of his big afternoon with 16-carry for 74 yards.

Putting up a lot of points is nothing new for UNC’s offense, but the practice system helps them break down the plays in a new way.

For junior running back T.J. Logan, who had 53 yards on 12 carries, it helps him understand the importance gaining any kind of yardage on each individual down, something that will come in handy with the season opens Sept. 3 against Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome.

“When I’m out there, if I can just get three or four yards, not even take it to the house, I can get some points for my team and help us win the game,” Logan said. “Every run isn’t going to break, so getting three, four hard yards, running into people, things like that, it helps us keep the drive going and make big plays.”