UNC Football: Breaking down the quarterback battle

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Chazz Surratt
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Chazz Surratt /

All eyes will be on the quarterback battle for UNC Football leading up to the 2018 season. Larry Fedora hopes that the decision will be an easy one to make by the start of the season.

The Tar Heels entered last season with questions at quarterback, wondering who would replace Mitchell Trubisky, who was selected second overall. UNC Football ended up having three quarterbacks start last year with Brandon Harris, Chazz Surratt and Nathan Elliott.

Entering this year, it will be a battle between Surratt and Elliott for the starting job. Redshirt sophomore Surratt started seven games and finished with 1,342 passing yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He also had 210 rushing yards with five rushing touchdowns.

After Surratt suffered an injury against Miami, Elliott replaced him at quarterback and started the final three games of the season. He finished the year with 926 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns and five interceptions, with three coming in the game against Miami. He also had 134 rushing yards.

During the ACC Kickoff, head coach Larry Fedora was asked a number of questions about this key position battle. The UNC football coach was asked what he will be looking for and the one thing he wants to see is separation.

"Q. With the season approaching, what traits are you looking for in your starting quarterback, and what do they need to win the job? LARRY FEDORA: Well, we’re looking for separation. That’s the No. 1 thing, somebody that takes over the team, and then the team becomes theirs. They’ve got to be able to do it not only on the field but off the field. We obviously — they’ve got to be able to run the plays, run the offense, take command of the offense, have a presence out there that all the guys relate to. They have to be an influencer. They’ve got to be able to influence the guys around them. They’ve got to be able to raise the level of the players around them. They do that, then they’ve got to do the same things off the field. And when somebody separates themselves from the others, then we’ll make a call."

Fedora was also asked to describe the playing style of the two quarterbacks and how they compare to previous quarterbacks he has coached.

"Q. How do the two primary players in the quarterback competition kind of compare to previous quarterbacks that have experienced success during your tenure at UNC? LARRY FEDORA: That’s good. So if I’m trying to compare those guys, I have a quarterback at Southern Miss, Austin Davis, who’s playing for Seattle now, and he’s going into his seventh year. I think Nathan is very comparable to him, his demeanor, his leadership ability, the way he throws the ball, all those things. I had a guy at Oklahoma State by the name of Zach Robinson who Chaz is a lot like. And as Chaz grows and matures in the offense, he’s going to be a lot like him. Zach also went on and played in the league and had a lot of success."

Austin Davis had a productive career at Southern Miss, playing in 46 games and throwing for over 10,000 passing yards with 83 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. Meanwhile, Zac Robinson played in 45 games, throwing for over 8,000 passing yards with 66 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.

If either of these quarterbacks currently on the Tar Heels is able to produce like their player comparisons, Fedora would be very happy with the production at the position.

The question becomes, who is the favorite entering the season?

The edge right now would likely go to Chazz Surratt, who has a little more playing experience and is a little more explosive on the ground than Elliott. The ability of Surratt to make plays on the ground will go a long way in helping an offensive line that has a number of questions with only one starter returning.

Next: Predicting the most important games for UNC Football

This will be a fun battle to watch leading into the 2018 season but the sooner the UNC Football coaching staff is able to make a decision, the better it will be for their preparation for the upcoming year.