Football season is finally here. All the months of waiting and daydreaming about the gridiron have paid off. By tomorrow morning, we’ll all be packed into Kenan, excited as children on Christmas Eve, awaiting that opening kick.
However, a portion of the anticipation is drowned out by the uncertainty behind center, an uncertainty Tar Heel fans haven’t felt in quite some time.
Sure, we’ve had our fair share of battles for the position, but a majority of the time those competitions were between future NFL players and Carolina legends.
Be honest, was anybody worried about who would win the job in 2014? Mitch Trubisky and Marquise Williams were both plenty qualified to handle the ball on any given Saturday. But this season, we truly don’t know who will direct the Tar Heel attack.
This sense of ambiguity led my brain to think back in UNC history, specifically the time frame I’ve been a fan — starting around 2004.
Darian Durant was at quarterback — I’ll be wearing his jersey to Saturday’s game — and while the team was far less than great, Durant wasn’t a question going into the season. We all knew what to expect.
The next few years brought some unpredictability, but since 2007, Tar Heel faithful have gone into every season with the comfort of knowing that quarterback wouldn’t be a problem.
I remember them all too well, those good ol' days when who would start under center wasn’t an issue.
I walk around campus hearing people talk about football, and find myself reminiscing like an old timer. “Back in my day,” I start, as I try to find the words to describe what it’s like to dive into a season with the signal-caller's status a foregone conclusion.
It’s been a gift, really. One less thing to worry about as you prepare for weekends in the fall. The 'quarterback by committee strategy' that could be deployed tomorrow is a scary one, and one that doesn’t seem to be all that conducive for success.
This is bad news for us, because if you’re like me, watching the Tar Heels lose is similar to having a rainstorm during a picnic in the quad. Both less than desirable, with the potential to ruin a day.
Sure, the team might be better with a four quarterback merry-go-round, and I’d be stoked if they were. But it doesn’t change the fact that we won't have that security blanket of knowing who will be behind center when the whistle blows.
But all is not lost. The defense is solid, there are exciting new players all over the field, and Larry Fedora will still be out there in a visor, cranking up that high-octane offense we’ve all come to love.
So as we walk into this fog of uncertainty tomorrow, let us all take a deep breath. It may be a roller coaster of emotions, but we’ll make it through this together.
Only time will tell if we’re in for a rough four-month stretch or a joy ride into December, but one thing remains true. I’ll be out there in Kenan every chance I get to cheer on my Tar Heels.
See you in the morning, Go Heels.