CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It turns out Mitch Trubisky just needed a little bit of time.
North Carolina’s first-time starting quarterback looked uncomfortable and out of rhythm in his debut against Georgia. Three games later, the junior enters October in a mistake-free groove, racking up big numbers and ranking as one of the nation’s top passers while showing the composed play coach Larry Fedora had hoped to see.
Good timing, too, considering the Tar Heels visit No. 12 Florida State this weekend.
“Really it’s just doing what I’ve been doing in practice,” Trubisky said Monday. “The Georgia game, I was doing things I wasn’t coached to do, things I haven’t shown in practice. And I just corrected those mistakes and played like the player I am . and distribute the ball to the playmakers really. It’s getting more comfortable each week and learning from my mistakes.”
Trubisky isn’t making many for the Tar Heels (3-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The Mentor, Ohio native has thrown 202 straight passes without an interception, beating the previous program record that had stood for 19 years by nearly 50 attempts. He’s one of 11 quarterbacks in the NCAA’s statistical leaders yet to throw an interception and ranks eighth nationally in passing efficiency.
But he’s no game manager. He’s running a fast-paced offense that calls on him to make the right call at the line with a run-pass option and push the ball downfield. And that has him ranked among the national leaders in passing yardage and passing touchdowns, too.
“I like him,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said, “but he’s going to be a pain in the tail this week.”
Trubisky is coming off a huge day in the ACC opener against Pittsburgh, completing 35 of 46 passes for 453 yards and five touchdowns — including a scoring throw to Bug Howard with 2 seconds left — to help UNC rally from 13 down with 6 minutes left in a 37-36 win.
Add in his 432-yard day against James Madison, and Trubisky threw for 885 yards, completed 81 percent of his passes and recorded two of the top four single-game performances in program history in an eight-day span.
It’s been a huge difference from his 156-yard day in his first starting debut in the Georgia loss. Fedora criticized Trubisky’s footwork then and said he was trying to do too much as he failed to connect downfield.
Fedora sees more poise now.
“He was anxious and he was aware of the rush,” Fedora said. “Now he’s sitting in there doing what he needs to do, seeing the field. He’s aware of the rush because he still has to move in the pocket and he still has to move in the lanes. . That means he’s aware but he’s seeing all that in his peripheral vision because he’s still downfield on all his throws.”
Trubisky showed that on UNC’s final drive against Pitt, directing a 17-play drive that included three fourth-down conversions before Trubisky’s last-second winning throw.
“To be honest with you, you almost get more nervous (watching the film), even though you already know what’s going to happen,” receiver Austin Proehl said. “He’s very composed. He’s very, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do, this is the play I want to run. This is what they’re going to do and this is how we’re going to beat it.'”
AP Sports Writer Joe Reedy in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.