Larry Fedora now has a month of preseason practice and one game – the Tar Heels' 35-30 season-opening defeat against California on Saturday – behind him, and he's still not ready to name a full-time starter at quarterback.
And so the competition will continue, Fedora said on Monday, between Brandon Harris, who started on Saturday in the defeat against Cal, and Chazz Surratt, the second-year freshman. For one game, at least, Surratt performed better than Harris but Fedora cautioned that it was but one game.
Harris, a graduate transfer from LSU, completed seven of his 16 attempts for 60 yards on Saturday. He threw two interceptions. Surratt, who entered the game on UNC’s third series, completed 18 of his 28 attempts for 141 yards and one touchdown. UNC scored all four of its touchdowns with Surratt at quarterback.
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Surratt, who led the offense for all but one series in the second half on Saturday, finished with superior statistics compared to Harris. The offense also played with more efficiency with Surratt at quarterback. Even so, Fedora said he wouldn't make a longterm decision based on a single game.
“You can’t do it all on one game,” said Fedora, who’s in his sixth season at UNC. “You just, you can’t. There’s too many things, there’s too many variables. But we’ll see. We’ll continue to battle it out there and we’re going to put the guy on the field that we think can help us win the football game.”
One such variable is a quarterback's supporting cast. Surratt had the benefit on Saturday of playing more often alongside freshman running back Michael Carter, whose 11 carries for 94 yards was among the bright spots of an otherwise disappointing season debut for the UNC offense.
Neither Harris nor Surratt spoke with much joy on Saturday about a quarterback rotation. Both players implied that the arrangement made it more difficult for them to discover a rhythm. The rotation could “possibly” continue into UNC's game against Louisville on Saturday, Fedora said.
UNC used a rotation at quarterback in 2014, when Marquise Williams started and Mitch Trubisky entered games on UNC’s third offensive series. Neither thrived amid the rotation and Fedora eventually abandoned it, leaving Williams as the starter and Trubisky the back-up until he started last season.
Asked if Harris would start against Louisville as he did against Cal, Fedora said, “We haven't decided that yet.”
“We’ll go through this week again and decide on what we’re going to do,” he said. “You would think based on what you saw Saturday, whether or not that was enough to make a change, I don’t know yet. But we’ll see how they handle this week in practice.”