Let’s rewind just a couple weeks. When last we had seen North Carolina quarterback and Marietta native T.J. Yates, he was throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. He was the squeaking, grinding, and sparking third wheel of the Tar Heel attack, the first two fully functioning wheels being the left side of the defense and the right side of the defense.
Morgan Burnett picked him off twice in his last game against Tech. He was going to be the one thing that would hold Carolina’s first-round defense back from an ACC Coastal title this year. The conference was really, really looking forward to facing Yates.
Now look at us.
In his most recent game against LSU in the Chick Fil A Kickoff, Yates lacerated the Tigers’ speedy defense in public for 412 yards, more than doubling the yardage he compiled in seventeen of his career starts. T.J. freaking Yates led a comeback from 20 points down in basically hostile territory against a bigger, faster team without his best receiver or two best running backs. As Barrel Of Rum puts it, “what the f*** happened to T.J. Yates?”
After only one decent half and one astounding half, he’s quite possibly the ACC’s least embarrassing player thus far. How did this happen?
Paul Johnson has a theory:
“He had a depleted offensive line,” Johnson said. “They had a hard time getting anything going here last year, but when you look at them on tape it’s not the same team.”
Of course, with Tech’s superhighway run defense, Yates might not need to duplicate his Georgia Dome performance. Still, here we are. Look at us. We’re afraid of T.J. Yates. One month ago, who could’ve thought that would ever happen?