All of a sudden, the ACC is chock full of excellent quarterbacks. You knew about Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, who almost led the Tigers to the national championship last season. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is the current top contender for the Heisman Trophy and Miami’s Brad Kaaya is a popular name in NFL draft circles.
But the name you must get familiar with is Mitch Trubisky.
Who, you say?
Trubisky, a 6’3”, 220-pound redshirt junior, is quietly lighting things up for the North Carolina Tar Heels. Through five games, Trubisky has passed for 1,711 yards and 13 touchdowns. Amazingly, he has yet to throw an interception and is completing 76 percent of his passes. Yes—76 percent. Of all quarterbacks that have passed for 13 touchdowns this season—and there are 19 of them—Trubisky is the only one that has yet to throw a pick.
UNC entered this season having to replace three-year starter Marquise Williams. An experienced dual-threat, most observers felt there would be a drop-off from Williams to Trubisky, at least initially. Instead, Trubisky has taken Carolina’s offense to another level.
The Tar Heels are No. 12 in passing offense, No. 32 in total offense and average over 40 points per game. Thanks to Trubisky’s ball-handling skills, the Heels have only turned the ball over four times.
In the season opener against Georgia at the Georgia Dome, Trubisky didn’t take a lot of chances and passed for just 156 yards. First-start jitters, perhaps? Well, since then Trubisky has continued to improve. He has went over 400 yards the last three weeks with 11 touchdowns.
Last week, Trubisky and the Tar Heels went to Tallahassee and ended the nation’s longest home winning streak at 22 games with an upset win over Florida State. With that performance, Trubisky put himself on the national and radar and firmly into the race for the Heisman Trophy.
Now, before you ask is Trubisky a legitimate Heisman contender, consider how impressive Trubisky’s numbers are. Not only is he completing a ridiculously high number of his passes, he’s making big plays down the field, too. And the Heels are winning. That’s the big thing. He has North Carolina winning games and firmly in the driver’s seat for another ACC Coastal Division title.
However, the next two games will tell how strong Trubisky’s candidacy truly is. This week, No. 25 Virginia Tech makes its way to Kenan Stadium. The Hokies are revitalized under new head coach Justin Fuente and longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has another outstanding unit. Tech is averaging over 40 points per game, while Foster’s defense is No. 9 in the country. Yes, Trubisky has faced Georgia and Florida State, but he hasn’t seen anything yet as it pertains to exotic blitz packages and constant pressure. Foster will throw everything at Trubisky and the Heels this weekend. If he thrives and UNC wins, a date with No. 10 Miami looms the following week.
If the Tar Heels win each of the next two games, then Trubisky’s Heisman campaign will kick up a notch. UNC’s schedule is noticeably weaker after Miami, as Virginia, Duke, Georgia Tech and N.C. State are the Heels’ remaining foes.
So, yes, Trubisky is a legit contender for the Heisman. However, we probably should wait about two weeks before putting in Jackson or Watson’s class.
Virginia Tech has a huge opportunity to knock Trubisky out of Heisman contention and give the Tar Heels their second loss of the season on Saturday.