The North Carolina Tar Heels did not live up to expectations in 2013 and took a step back in the ACC this season. Larry Fedora couldn’t get his offense on track early enough and had to overcome the loss of starting quarterback Bryn Renner to a season-ending shoulder injury in late October. But that opened the door for sophomore Marquise Williams to take over the offense and he showed some excellent flashes of ability both running and passing the football that make him an intriguing dual-threat option for the Heels in 2014.
Williams provides an added dimension to the UNC offense that Renner can’t provide with his ability to run the football. He was used regularly as a change-of-pace option for the Heels before taking over full time following Renner’s injury against the Boston College Eagles. North Carolina won four straight with Williams under center before losing the regular-season finale against the Duke Blue Devils. They bounced back in a major way, however, with a blowout win over the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl to finish the year on a very high note.
Despite seeing limited action in the early part of the 2013 season, Williams made a huge impact on the team in 2013. He led the team in rushing, gaining 536 yards on 111 carries with six rushing touchdowns to go along with 1,698 yards passing and 15 touchdowns through the air. He fueled the UNC offense with his ability to run and throw the ball, recording 15 carries or more in five of his seven starts this season (the two he didn’t were early blowouts). Fedora was able to find a way to create the offense, which had been stagnant for most of 2013, by running it completely through Williams.
And that’s a gameplan that he’ll look to continue using in 2014. Williams will need to work on his accuracy after completing just 58.1 percent of his passes this season and completing less than 60 percent of his passes in five of seven starts. If he tightens up the throwing mechanics this offseason and can continue to use his athleticism to pace the running game, North Carolina will have the key to getting their offense on track next fall.