CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner had started 29 consecutive games for the Tar Heels. And then game Saturday, when his injured left foot forced him to miss UNC’s 27-17 loss at Virginia Tech.
Renner on Tuesday described sitting out as “one of the toughest experiences of my career.” But he resumed practicing with the first team on Monday and sounded confident that he will be able to play on Oct. 17 when the Tar Heels host Miami in a nationally-televised Thursday night game.
That game has lost some of its luster – OK, a lot of its luster – given UNC’s 1-4 start. Renner, though, is hoping to lead a turnaround. Which means he’s confident in his position as the Tar Heels’ starting quarterback. Marquise Williams, the third-year sophomore, played well at times in Renner’s absence on Saturday.
Even so, Renner’s position as the permanent starter at quarterback seems secure.
He said after practice on Tuesday:
“If I’m running with the ones or twos or whatever the case may be, or even the threes, I just want to play the game. And I think I came out here with the mindset that I’m the starting quarterback of this team and nothing’s changed.”
Renner spoke on a variety of topics after practice. Here’s what he had to say on …:
-the play of Marquise Williams:
“You know, I think he did a great job. Coming in, he was preparing for the last three years to possibly step in. I think he did a phenomenal job of leading the team. And I think he did a great job.”
-whether he was surprised he couldn’t play on Saturday:
“Oh, yeah. I worked my tail off in the training room. Talking with coach Fedora, coach Anderson on a daily basis – I was improving, improving. And tried to give it a go at pregame. And couldn’t be 100 percent for the team. And I think I did everything I could to try and play and I’m looking forward to this week coming up and playing against Miami.”
-what the extra time before the Miami game could do for his health:
“Yeah, I think it’s a huge advantage for me – just more of an opportunity to get in the training room and keep rehabbing it. And it feels a ton better today and it felt great. Running with the ones again, so it was good to get back out there.”
-the deciding factor in not playing on Saturday:
“Yeah, just wasn’t 100 percent. I just couldn’t make a cut on the inside of my foot quite yet. So I thought I could run straight ahead but just the cutting movement and making a football play, I really wasn’t ready yet. And I talked with coach Fedora, coach Anderson before the game and the training staff and they let me know. And really kind of just didn’t feel 100 percent.”
-how close he was to being able to play at Virginia Tech:
“Really close. I wasn’t far off at all. I just ran out of time, basically. I was obviously disappointed, because I was preparing like I was playing, and went through the whole week like I was playing and then, you know, coming out in pregame and just couldn’t make a football cut and things like that. So the training staff did a great job – Scott Trulock and everybody, and they let me know and I thought Quise did a good job.”
-what he did during days off on Sunday and Monday in effort to get healthy:
“I was icing and elevating the whole time and they do a great job. The training staff, I was here at 6:30 in the morning until they were closing at 9 o’clock. I was doing everything that they required me to play and just couldn’t do it.”
-whether he feels better now:
“Yeah, absolutely. The days off helped. I think this is what I needed to get back, and I’m still not 100 percent but I think with this 10-day, 11-day layoff, and just getting practice reps is going to be good for Miami.”
-where the offense showed improvement on Saturday:
“You know, I think we ran the ball decently. I think Quise did a great job. In between the tackles, he was our leading rushers. So I think he did a good job running the ball. And we made explosive plays. I think we had eight in the game, and our goal was eight or more, and we accomplished that. Just consistent drives are still hurting us. Getting third and longs and penalties. Pre and post-snap penalties are really killing us, and we need to improve on those.”
-what Saturday was like for him, having to watch:
“It was one of the toughest experiences of my career. I’d started 30 games, or 29 or something like that, and not to be able to be out there with my teammates – it really hit me right before the game. I broke down and just kind of brought the team in and kind of wanted to talk to them and just how much I missed being out there. So it was very difficult for me – probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through.”
So there you have it. It should be noted, too, that Renner wasn’t wearing a boot or a protective covering on his left foot on Tuesday.