Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- While it might not sit well with his backups, it's clear the starting job this fall goes to T.J. Yates, despite the fact that he missed spring practices to recover from offseason shoulder surgery for a torn labrum.
Yates, who began throwing again on April 7 nearly fourth months after his surgery, is more confident and more comfortable not only in recognizing what the defense is doing, but also in figuring out what the right play is for the offense to be in.
"T.J. is clearly right now, he is the starter," coach Butch Davis said. "He has the benefit of 12 games of experience. That certainly is an advantage for him. The other two quarterbacks pushing him is making him a better quarterback. He puts pressure on himself, but those guys are putting pressure on him to perform well every day in practice."
Even though his efficiency dropped in the latter half of 2007 -- in large part because he began to feel the effects of his shoulder injury -- Yates still passed for a school single-season record 2,655 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"They're both battling, and that's what you want," Davis said. "They're clearly better, especially because of the opportunities they had in the spring time. They had an opportunity to get undivided attention. They got all the reps, and all the snaps, and all the meeting time, so they're doing a good job. We're alternating them back and forth every time the second team offense goes. In different situations we use a different guy and it's a pretty close competition."