Monday, September 22, 2008

Role reversal for Yates, Tar Heels

CHAPEL HILL — For the last 15 games, North Carolina back-up quarterbacks Cameron Sexton and Mike Paulus have greeted T.J. Yates on the sideline after almost every series — offering suggestions, comments and help.

Starting Saturday, the roles will be reversed.

Yates, who will be out for at least six weeks with a fractured ankle, said he will still contribute to his team — even if it is only by watching tape in the film room, or offering suggestions during possessions.

“When I come off the field sometimes, I don’t see everything out there,’’ Yates, wearing a walking boot and on crutches, said Monday. “So sometimes Cam or Mike will tell me what blitz came, or what coverage or what stance the corner was in. So I’m going to do that as much as possible, and let them know what I see out there, and try to help as much as possible.”

Coach Butch Davis said he has not decided which back-up quarterback will start against the Hurricanes, but Yates said he is confident in both.

“Cam’s been here for a while, he knows what he’s doing, he’s a smart player,’’ he said of Sexton, a redshirt junior who started five games in 2006. “He knows where to go with the ball, he’s played against Vriginia Tech, he’s played against Miami. He’s been there.

“Mike’s got a world of potential,’’ Yates said of the redshirt freshman who played the final 1 1/2 quarters against the Hokies. “He’s got a big arm, a big body and everything like that. He’s just got to get a little more experience. It’s one thing you can’t teach, really, just being in the game, experience. I think they both have amazing qualities they can bring to this team, and I’m completely comfortable with whoever plays.”

Yates, who set the school record for passing yards in a season last year, has not marked a date on his calendar for his return. But UNC’s bye week falls on Nov. 1, meaning he may only have to miss five games if he heals fast.

“I’m going to try everything in my power to get in the rehab room, get in the training room,’’ he said. “Just try to do everything they tell me to do and just drink as much milk as possible.”
And in the meantime, try to help — even from the sidelines.