In a game that the University of North Carolina has dubbed "Zero Dark Thursday", the Tar Heels have announced Tuesday that quarterback Bryn Renner will lead UNC (1-4, 0-2) into their battle with the University of Miami (5-0, 1-0) Thursday night in a game that will be featured nationally on ESPN.
The fifth-year senior, who is considered by many NFL Draft experts to be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, had a streak of starting 29 consecutive games snapped when he missed the Tar Heels' last game against Virginia Tech with a left ankle sprain. Despite missing that game, Renner still has seven touchdown throws on the season and has passed for over 1,750 yards. Renner is third in the ACC in passing and is averaging 279.3 yards passing per game.
This will be the second Thursday night game of the year for Renner. He and the Tar Heels dropped a 27-10 decision to South Carolina to kickoff the season.
When asked if his top quarterback was ready to take the field and start against the Hurricanes, Tar Heel head coach Larry Fedora answered in the affirmative. "Yes, definitely," Fedora said.
In his two previous starts against Miami, Renner is 54-of-77 for 502 yards. He has thrown for two touchdowns and has had one interception. In last season's 18-14 win at Miami, Renner was 25-of-40 for 214 yards.
Miami coach Al Golden had an inkling over the weekend that Renner would be ready to face the tenth-ranked Hurricanes. The Canes have been preparing for Renner and Golden looks forward to the challenge.
"He's excellent. He's tough to replicate, he's got great vision and an excellent arm," Golden said on Sunday of Renner. "He can sit in the pocket, but he's not afraid to run it and when he does, he is a big man. We are going to have to account for him on every play."
Renner is predominantly a pocket passer and his protection has let him down some this year. Look for Miami's front seven to challenge him early and often.