Butch Davis indicated on Friday that his coaching staff would be grading film following the Saturday scrimmage in an effort to draw a bead on which QB will take snaps under center for UNC this fall. According to Adam Lucas’ scrimmage notes, there has been some narrowing of the field already which Mike Paulus dropping back some behind T.J. Yates and Cam Sexton. Here is how I see the three prospects at QB:
T.J. Yates, Redshirt Freshman
Pros: Yates was strong in the spring game and stepped up to stake his claim to the QB slot despite having a Sexton returning with experience. Based on media reports, Yates is a great team player, makes good decisions and does a great job reading defense. Yates also spent all last season watching from the sideline which gave him the opportunity to grasp the game.
Cons: Inexperience. Yates has yet to take a snap against a defense not wearing UNC uniforms. While his stint on the sideline is an asset, he also has zero experience in handling live action versus Division I football teams. It has also been two years since Yates stepped in behind center during a meaningful game which means there would be transition if he is the starter.
Cam Sexton, Sophomore
Pros: Sexton is the only Tar Heel QB to see action at the college level. Last season Sexton split time with now WR Joe Dailey in an offense which was more or less a train wreck. That being said, I was of the opinion Sexton should have played QB for the latter half of the season exclusively to prepare for this season and also because Sexton seemed to be a better decision maker than Dailey. Sexton is also confident to go along with some of the potential he showed last season.
Cons: While Sexton was the brighter bulb last season, the offense was such a mess it is hard to know how good he can be. Despite his potential and confidence, there is no way of knowing any of it translates into a successful stater in Davis’ offense. Add to that the fact Sexton did not step up in the spring and make a definitive grab for the starting spot. That may be indicative of a failure to seize the moment despite the confidence he exudes.
Mike Paulus, Freshman
Pros: Paulus is highy rated coming out of high school and considered by some to have the potential to be an elite level college football QB.
Cons: The fact he is highly rated and that is about it. There is really no doubt about his potential but for a true freshman to walk into preseason camp and assume the starting job it either means there is no one else or he blows the doors off the competition in such a way the decision to start him is a no brainer. Obviously the former does not apply and based on reports from camp the latter is not happening either.
I think Yates gets the job, though I am not in practice nor am I a successful college football coach. The fact Yates seized upon the opportunity in spring practice when the job was Sexton’s for the taking speak volume to me about his mentality.
Outside of that it comes down to a smart QB who commits the fewest mistakes. Based on the reports from practice, Yates seems to fit that mold more than Sexton. I think Yates has the potential to be the consistent, steady hand this team needs during what is very much a transition season.