BLACKSBURG, Va. — North Carolina attempted some gamesmanship on Saturday, and tried to keep secret that Marquise Williams, the third-year sophomore, would start at quarterback. It wasn’t a secret to Williams, though.
After the Tar Heels’ 27-17 loss at Virginia Tech, Williams said he learned on Friday that he’d start in place of Bryn Renner, the senior who sat out with a foot injury.
“I really didn’t know until coming into Friday’s walkthrough that Bryn wasn’t going to be able to go,” said Williams, whose first collegiate start coincided with his 21st birthday. “So I had to be prepared. … I practiced (this week) like I was going to go with the (first team), as I did today.”
Williams threw two interceptions, including a costly one in the fourth quarter on a 4th-and-1 play when UNC trailed 21-10. But there were plenty of positives in his performance, too. He completed 23 of his 35 attempts for 277 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 56 yards.
“I thought the kid did a heck of a job stepping in for Bryn,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said.
Renner sustained a foot injury late in the Tar Heels’ loss against ECU last week. He had said he expected to play against Virginia Tech, but he was limited in practice throughout the week.
UNC simplified the playbook for Williams, and called on him to run often. He finished with 18 carries.
Renner’s status, meanwhile, is unclear going forward. But UNC doesn’t play again until Oct. 17 in a Thursday night game against Miami. Renner went through pregame warm-ups on Saturday.
“He was throwing the ball fine,” Fedora said. “It was just he couldn’t push off the foot enough.”
T.J. Logan, UNC’s freshman running back, gained 25 yards on five carries in his first collegiate game. He missed UNC’s first four games due to an undisclosed injury.
“It’s been a long ordeal – since training camp,” Logan said. “So I just had to have patience and I just waited my turn, kind of get mental reps on certain things and just try to not give up and buy in.”
Logan’s first action came on a kickoff return in the first quarter after Virginia Tech’s first touchdown.
“When I first got out there, I just tried to not do too much and just keep calm and not be nervous, and just try to drown the crowd out,” said Logan, the most heralded recruit in UNC’s freshmen class. “But it was hard to do that.”
UNC tight end Jack Tabb started on Saturday at linebacker in place of Travis Hughes, who missed a team meeting. Tabb, though, wasn’t around to finish the game. He was ejected in the fourth quarter after committing UNC’s second personal foul penalty of the game.
“Evidently Jack retaliated to something that happened to him on a play, which is unacceptable either way,” Fedora said. “And he evidently threw a punch, is what I was told, and so that’s why he was ejected.”
UNC committed 11 penalties for 79 yards.
Tabb’s ejection came on the kickoff moments after the Hokies had taken a 27-10 lead. The play will be reviewed by the ACC, which will determine whether Tabb serves a one-game suspension. Tabb missed UNC’s previous two games while serving a suspension for violating team rules.
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