Mitch Trubisky has a big decision to make in the two weeks after Friday’s Sun Bowl.
NFL teams are salivating over the Tar Heel signal-caller’s skillset and football IQ, despite the 2016 campaign being Trubisky’s first in Chapel Hill as a full-fledged starter. However, after receiving a first round grade earlier this week from the NFL’s Draft Advisory Board, the redshirt junior quarterback has one more game (and possibly one more season) ahead of him against a young, energetic Stanford defense.
Trubisky has more than impressed throwing for 3468 yards and a completion percentage close to 70 (68.9%) while tossing 28 touchdowns to a measly four interceptions. But the former four-star recruit from Mentor, Ohio wasn’t thrust into the QB1 slot right away.
Head coach Larry Fedora convinced him to sign with UNC as the marquee name in the Heels’ recruiting class of 2012. After redshirting his first year in 2013, Mitch waited his turn playing second fiddle to Marquise Williams in the last two seasons. When Williams left, the fourth-year junior put forth a strong effort last spring to win the starting job outright.
Since then, he has spent exactly ZERO minutes looking like a college football rookie.
I might’ve even tabbed him for ACC Offensive Player of the Year, but that’s the downside of sharing a Power-5 Conference with Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson, who both have at least two years of starting experience. I can’t help but feel he has a pretty strong case.
As for Trubisky’s strengths, he fields an extensive list.
In combing through film, there’s not much that most opposing defenders can do when Mitch cocks and fires into the teeth of the defense. His placement on his own throws is impeccable, no matter the distance or difficulty. He is extremely disciplined in his knowledge of coverage, and immediately exploits busted assignments or mismatches after the ball is snapped.
The thing that is most impressive to me though is his pocket awareness. With starting right guard John Ferranto (torn pectoral) and left guard Caleb Peterson (back) missing all if not most of the season with serious injuries, what was thought to be one of the best offensive lines in the ACC was in tatters by the end of the season. By mid-October, only two linemen had retained their starting spots from the beginning of the spring.
Still, Trubisky kept his wits about him as he was sacked 18 times on 408 dropbacks, the 65th best (tied) takedown rate in the nation. Most of these (7) came in back-to-back games against Pitt and Florida State, both of whom finished inside the top ten in sacks. This meant he was making a majority of throws on the run to escape pressure.
And if he wasn’t getting rid of the ball, he was escaping as a shifty, hard-nosed runner (79 carries for 270 yards and five scores. His 6’2”, 220-pound frame yields quickness and agility, while also allowing Trubisky to bowl over smaller defenders on the edge. Admittedly, his mobility was a larger part of his game during his high school career, but the UNC offense has helped him learn to rely on the cannon attached to his shoulder.
Trubisky is, without argument, one of the top quarterback prospects Stanford will have faced this season. Will the Cardinal defense answer the challenge? They have in almost every game this season. And there’s no reason to break that routine, right?
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