Tuesday, September 23, 2008

UNC coach undecided on starting QB

North Carolina coach Butch Davis indicated Tuesday that he still hasn’t made a decision about whether redshirt freshman Mike Paulus or junior Cameron Sexton will start at Miami on Saturday.

“I’ll tell you when I know,’’ he said after practice.

Former starter T.J. Yates — who is out at least six weeks with a fractured left ankle — watched from the sideline on crutches as his two understudies competed for the starting gig. At one point, the sophomore even sat on a cooler, foot in a walking boot, whipping passes to wide receiver Dwight Jones. But later, his attention was focused on the players who must now lead the offense until at least early November.

“We’re playing this week, and T.J. is the first one in the meeting room, getting these guys going, and he’s been watching film with them,’’ offensive coordinator John Shoop said earlier in the day. “It’s a fact of life in a football season; it keeps going.”

Davis said Paulus and Sexton “responded good” to the situation and split reps with the first team during practice; when Yates was healthy he took about 75 percent of the snaps with the first team.

“We did everything we would have done in any given week,’’ Davis said. “We didn't add any more plays. We ran the exact same number of plays in the things that we did.”

Asked if he would name a starter before Saturday, or keep people guessing, he said: “It really isn't about guessing. When you think about there's mystery and intrigue as to who the starting quarterback is going to be, if one of these guys was Michael Vick and one was a classic drop-back passer … [then] there'd be an advantage. Whoever starts, we're going to run the same offense. It really doesn't make any difference.”

Paulus is 3-for-9 this season with two interceptions. Sexton went 1-4 as a starter in 2006, but hasn’t played in a game since last year’s opener against James Madison.

- Robbi Pickeral, (Raleigh) News & Observer