Erin Summers

Texans Yates to make UNC history Sunday

Posted November 29, 2011

Former North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates will make school history, yet again, in his first career start in the NFL.

Yates broke the school’s records for total passing yards, single-season passing yards and single season total offense, and now he will be the first UNC quarterback to start in an NFL game ever.

Yates will take the helm for the Houston Texans Sunday after first-stringer Matt Schaub was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury and second-stringer Matt Leinart injured his collarbone in the team’s last game.

It’s been a rough season for injuries for the Texans but head coach Gary Kubiak is standing behind his rookie quarterback.

I made a point of watching the Texans game against the Jaguars last week because I was curious to see how Leinart would play. It’s not exactly been an easy road for the former University of Southern California quarterback.

Leinart collected accolades at USC, studying under Carson Palmer and then beating out Matt Cassel for the starting job. He took the Trojans to a National Championship title (though he has teammate Reggie Bush to thank for that being taken away) and earned himself the Manning award and Heisman trophy.

Leinart was drafted 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals, backing up Kurt Warner for four seasons before being cut and signed by the Texans.

Though he hasn’t made the impression in the pros that he did in college, Sunday was his chance. A chance taken from him before the half was over as Leinart went out with an injury.

With only two quarterbacks dressed for the game, the team turned to T.J. Yates. Yates played for North Carolina from 2007 to 2010. Though the team as a whole didn’t live up to expectations, he himself excelled. 

He broke records and led a team through the adversity of a NCAA investigation. Even when he fractured his ankle during the 2008 season, head coach Butch Davis was quick to opt for Yates over back-up Cam Sexton (who had played great in Yates’ absence) once Yates was healthy.

Having watched Yates play throughout college, I’ll admit I wasn’t ever his biggest fan. (I still think Davis should have left Sexton continue to play once Yates was healthy but that’s an argument for another day). Yates was drafted with the 152nd pick in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft, and I highly doubt anyone thought he'd see action in his rookie season.

But the Texans played even more conservative after Leinart went out and Yates was able to hold onto the win.

Coach Kubiak and even former UNC head coach Butch Davis have been very open about their belief that Yates will succeed Sunday. And I’m even more intrigued to see how Yates will do.

It'll be a game that maybe even Matt Schuab couldn’t have won as the Texans take on the Atlanta Falcons, so expectations for a win shouldn't be too high.

But it’s been awhile since the Tar Heels have had a quarterback in a NFL game at all (1987 Scott Stankavage to be exact) and the coaches, players and media around him all feel like Yates will be just fine.




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  • 4tarheels Dec 5, 2011

    Great job Yates. Leading a team towards the playoffs.

  • kennywalters Dec 5, 2011

    Anyway, Yates had a good first NFL start. His numbers may not have been flashy, but that goose egg in the INT column certainly helped the Texans win the game.

  • daniel81nc Dec 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    some will say he stunk it against the pack his junior year because of the INT considering it happened at the end of the game when unc was trying to drive down the field to get in field goal range at least. i might have it confused on his sophmore year but i thought sexton was the injured starter that year and yates was playing til he did bad and they put sexton in when he was not 100% to try and stop the bleeding and he did just as bad as yates did. either way its still not on yates for that game. he was a young qb.

  • daniel81nc Dec 3, 2011

    and to think he got booed out of the gym. does "i'm tj yates and i am a tarheel" "BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" bring back any memories? what about the throwing of projectiles after the fsu loss (i think it was fsu) his junior year.
    the guy was nasty his senior year i will give him that and congrats on him reaching the big time. after all the grief he got, he deserves to live it up in the light at the next level.

  • kennywalters Dec 2, 2011

    View quoted thread


    Freshman year, agreed. 22/42 241 yards 0 TD 2 INT
    Sophomore year, agreed. 10/22 116 yards 0 TD 1 INT though in his defense he was just coming back from injury and it has been widely argued that Butch should've started Cam Sexton instead.
    Junior year, don't agree. 13/19 280 yards 2 TD 1 INT. UNC ran the ball 34 times that game and it is hard to argue that a QB stunk it up when he throws 14.7 ypa. That's pretty efficient passing.
    Senior year, only State-red glasses would make someone agree with you. 33/44 411 yards 2TD 0 INT. Yates didn't lose that game.

  • Packman24 Dec 2, 2011

    Good luck to T.J. he is one tarheel I don't hate because he always stunk it up vs the pack!!

  • OGE Dec 2, 2011

    View quoted thread

    While he is not nearly as pretty a man...could he be another Tom Brady?

  • Clifftopper Dec 2, 2011

    I don't think Stankavage ever started. I think he told me that himself at a party one time years ago. I do think that Danny Talbott may have started a game in the late 1960s but it would have been an exhibition game (now called preseason game). He played for the Redskins behind Sonny Jurgensen for three seasons.
    More info:

  • Big Mike Dec 1, 2011

    What impressed me most about TJ is his ability to stay calm and be smart with his decisions..he is the "Professor" at will be fun to see how he reacts with a 300lb Falcon trying to rip his head off..I htink he's about to impress some folks..

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Dec 1, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Did Strankavage start for the Broncos? Or did he just play? It looks like he only played in four games in his career. That doesn't mean he started in those games.

    Looks like he attempted a total of 25 passes in four appearances. Doesn't sound like he was the starter in those games.




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