Maybe it's just hopeless nostalgia, but it just won't feel like football season without a quarterback controversy somewhere around the Triangle. For the second straight year, there's not even a debate, at least to start.
Even Larry Fedora, who said last season it “just gives me pleasure” to nurture public uncertainty, is entirely solid on Marquise Williams even after the North Carolina starter missed all of spring practice recovering from hip surgery.
When Fedora isn't interested in playing games, what fun is left?
Quarterback controversies are fun, from the outside at least. They keep interest high and debate churning through the long, sweaty slog of August football, a legitimate subject for discussion at a time when so much of what's really going on in practice and on the depth chart is hidden from view by design.
Only the hard core care about that battle for the left-guard spot, not that coaches are prone to shedding any light on such things anyway. But even the most casual fans think of themselves as quarterbacking experts.
Coaches and players may not enjoy it (other than Fedora) but it's an argument fans love to have, and the media is happy to feed that appetite.
There's nothing to talk about around here this summer. Zero. Two of the starters are firmly and clearly entrenched, and at Duke, David Cutcliffe has already anointed Thomas Sirk as Anthony Boone’s replacement.
“I thought Thomas Sirk had a great spring throwing the football,” Cutcliffe said this week on an ACC spring-football teleconference. “He's a big guy, 6-5, 220. He's got touch. He's got great arm strength, and then he can create as well as Parker (Boehme).”
Cutcliffe's rare honesty about the top of his depth chart is refreshing, even if it removes the fun of hashing over the relative merits of Sirk and Boehme and Nicodem Pierre despite the assembled evidence consisting of a combined 16 pass attempts at Duke.
Leading into last season, Fedora sustained the notion that Mitch Trubisky could potentially usurp the starting job from Williams entirely for his own edification, only to reveal that Williams had the job all along.
After the season Williams had for the Tar Heels – more than 3,800 yards of offense and 34 rushing and passing touchdowns, getting better throughout – Fedora will have to figure out other ways to keep himself entertained.
“Marquise is our starting quarterback,” Fedora said. “I'm looking forward to watching those guys compete in fall camp, but Marquise, I anticipate Marquise taking that first snap against South Carolina and getting after it.”
There is the least controversy at N.C. State, where Jacoby Brissett is the unquestioned starter at quarterback after dazzling at times during his first season with the Wolfpack. The Florida transfer threw for 2,606 yards, but perhaps more crucially took good care of the ball, with 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Brissett will be surrounded by more talent and more experience at running back and wide receiver this season, with leading rusher Shadrach Thornton returning to go with a handful of new freshman playmakers.
In Dave Doeren's first season, uncertainty at the quarterback position was unavoidable and constant and largely unchangeable, like the weather. Not in his second with Brissett. Or his third, although redshirt freshman Jalan McClendon will see the field.
“We're not going to enter the season with a controversy or anything like that,” Doeren said.
Well, thanks for nothing. And with Sirk only a junior and McClendon and Trubisky clearly next in line going forward, there may not be much to talk about next year, either. Other than at left guard, anyway.
DeCock: firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947
ACC Triangle QBs
Marquise Williams (UNC)
Jacoby Brissett (NCSU)
Thomas Sirk (Duke)