Monday, August 23, 2010

UNC hangs hopes on Yates, at least for now

T.J. Yates is North Carolina's starting quarterback, at least for the opener Sept. 4 against LSU. Now, the hard part for Yates may be hanging onto the job.

Yates has been pushed hard in preseason by redshirt freshman Bryn Renner. UNC coach Butch Davis has raved about Renner's arm, and you can't help but be impressed when you see Renner roll out and throw. But Davis told reporters Monday that Yates remains No. 1.

“Clearly, as I said the other day, T.J. Yates is still the starting quarterback,” Davis said. “And I think that he’s done a very, very good job. I think that Bryn has pushed him and Bryn has earned the respect. ..."

Davis said it "wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that [Renner] could certainly play in the first game."

But he hedged that by saying he didn't know how the game would unfold, and there was no set plan to play Renner.

You can't help but like Yates if you meet him. He's patient, quotable, funny, and smart enough to handle any hard question. You'd have to imagine his teammates respect him and want him to succeed. The real question on Yates isn't whether he's a good quarterback. Obviously he is - his 2,655 yards passing in 2007 was a UNC record, and he had a strong sophomore year despite missing five games.

But is Yates a great quarterback? Yates had some tough games in 2009, going 11 of 26 with two picks in the loss at Georgia Tech, throwing two more interceptions against Virginia with no touchdowns, and completing only 12 of 25 against Florida State.

Can he put Carolina in position to compete for an ACC title, which it hasn't won since 1980?  Beginning with LSU, the Tar Heels will find out.

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