Joe Ovies

Talking Points: Triangle quarterbacks in the spotlight

Posted August 31

1. After months of poring through preview magazines, parsing countless media day interviews and diligently reading every camp update -- college football is finally back.

Let me guess. Your first Saturday of the season probably started out like this, correct?

By now the initial excitement has worn off and you've been pondering the deeper meaning of the results ever since. Perhaps your favorite program trounced the competition. Maybe it took a few quarters for everything to click and the win was too close for comfort. And heaven forbid your squad suffered an embarrassing loss.

It was a Saturday where Florida State was taken to the brink, Clemson was run over by Todd Gurley and Virginia was left wondering "what if those turnovers didn't turn into touchdowns?" Whatever happened, just keep in mind the first Saturday of football does not define the rest of the season.

2. The anticipation of Jacoby Brissett's NC State quarterback debut grew with every injury and bad throw at the position last season. The glowing reviews from his Wolfpack teammates and head coach Dave Doeren only added to the hype, but Brissett had to shake off the cobwebs first. Considering he hadn't seen actual football competition in almost two years, his early struggles should've surprised no one. 

Brissett was 10-of-17 for 78 yards and an interception in the opening half. There were at least three passes that could have turned into touchdowns had they not been overthrown. Eventually Brissett settled down and delivered when NC State desperately needed it in the fourth quarter. Two of his three second half touchdowns came in the final 7:00.

The moment where it all came together for Brissett came on the game-winning drive, where he completed a series of quick strikes to his receivers. NC State's offense was moving so efficiently that Georgia Southern was forced to burn their final timeout. Unable to adjust, Brissett eventually hooked up with Matt Dayes for a 35-yard touchdown.

The Wolfpack lacked that level of consistency seen in Brissett's second half performance all of the previous season. While credit should also go to the offensive line and runningback Shadrach Thornton, NC State doesn't rally without him. Just another not-so-subtle reminder how much that position matters.

3. North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora openly trolled the media over who would be his starting quarterback against Liberty. Would it be Marquise Williams or Mitch Trubisky? Fedora simply wouldn't reveal his choice, going so far as to drop a bunch of "or" qualifiers in the game week depth chart.

Which was fine. Common sense said Williams would start against the Flames and sure enough that was the case. Fedora felt that his experience from last season gave him a slight edge. However, Trubisky also earned the opportunity to take meaningful snaps. So this quarterback competition is far from over despite Williams getting the first crack at it. 

Williams finished 19 of 29 for 169 yards. While he did throw two interceptions, Williams did toss two touchdowns and rushed for two more scores. Trubisky wrapped up the evening 10 for 16 for 66 yards, one interception and one touchdown.

Although Williams didn't exactly wow on Saturday night, he does have a better grasp of the action compared to Trubisky. Call it a hunch, but Williams will continue to start for the Tar Heels.

4. Duke cruised past Elon as quarterback Anthony Boone threw for 247 yards and four touchdowns. The Blue Devils scored on all but three of their offensive drives against the Phoenix.

And that's about it. Seriously. 

5. Duke made it look easy. North Carolina and NC State not so much. Both the Tar Heels and Wolfpack experienced self inflicted moments of severe anxiety in the second half of each game. 

Those mistakes will undoubtedly be addressed by the respective coaching staffs in the coming weeks, but some of these issues are holdovers from last season.

NC State's rushing defense, which gave up an average of 217.4 yards per game in the ACC in 2013, had similar trouble stopping Georgia Southern's ground attack. Down 20-10 to the fourth quarter, the Wolfpack got a break when Eagles runningback Kevin Ellis fumbled at the goal line. NC State turned that stop into a 99-yards touchdown drive and changed the momentum of game.

North Carolina upped the difficult level of knocking off Liberty with early turnovers, a missed field goal and a botched snap that resulted in a safety. It got real dicey for the Tar Heels when Liberty took a 22-21 lead in the third quarter after safety Jacob Hagen returned a fumble for a touchdown. 

The Flames were then extinguished with a combination of their own mistakes and opportunistic defense from the Heels. 


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  • @JonesyWales Sep 3, 7:24 p.m.

    The author has 23 Years of Tecmo Bowl Experience. I guess that was hyperbole and and attempt at humor.

  • lewiskr45 Sep 2, 9:31 a.m.

    wow, only four Tweets in an Ovaries blog....

    — Posted by dave437

    And 2 of them are his! Sad

  • heelsforever Aug 31, 5:04 p.m.

    Six wins and everybody is happy. Did anyone see Todd Gurley yesterday? People wonder why he went... View More

    — Posted by Toddler10-21

    He was most certainly on everyone's RADAR. I'm pretty sure Carolina was in his top 2-3 and State may have been in the running too. In the end he chose a football school. Can't say that I blame him, ar any other top player in NC for that matter, for leaving the state to attend a football school.

  • maadkowz Aug 31, 4:40 p.m.

    Since when is Greenville in the Triangle madkkowz?

    — Posted by 4DukeTillDeath

    You're right...He won WRAL's award for best football player last year and they cover them on TV, but yes, you're right...

  • Toddler10-21 Aug 31, 12:43 p.m.

    Six wins and everybody is happy. Did anyone see Todd Gurley yesterday? People wonder why he went out of state. Was he even on State/UNC/Wake/Duke's radar? Young man will be a top pick in the draft next year. Kelvin Bryant is a legend in Tarboro, but Gurley may surpass!

  • 4DukeTillDeath Aug 31, 10:29 a.m.

    Since when is Greenville in the Triangle madkkowz?

  • ACC EXPERT Aug 31, 8:36 a.m.

    with the exception of WAKE I think the triangle teams and ECU will go to a bowl game this year-STATE AND UNC WILL BE BETTER and while Duke may not be better they will be the best in the triangle.

  • dave437 Aug 31, 8:07 a.m.

    wow, only four Tweets in an Ovaries blog....

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Aug 31, 7:22 a.m.

    While the final score would suggest otherwise, until halfway through the third quarter, the game was anything but easy for the Heels. State had a tougher time beating GS. Agree that the opening game doesn't define the rest of the season.

  • maadkowz Aug 31, 6:52 a.m.

    Thanks for not mentioning the best of the bunch - Shane Carden.

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