The spot that the UNC football team could probably least afford an injury was at quarterback. T.J. Yates had brought a calmness and an effectiveness to the position, but behind him on the depth chart -- well, it could make a baby-blue fan cringe.
Now it's time to cringe. Yates is out at least six weeks with a broken ankle. He will likely be replaced by Mike Paulus, who will get thrown to the Hurricanes Saturday when UNC plays at Miami at noon. Here's the full announcement from UNC officials today:
"University of North Carolina sophomore quarterback T.J. Yates sustained an injury to his left ankle during Saturday's game vs. Virginia Tech. Although x-rays taken during the game were negative, an MRI Sunday evening revealed a small non-displaced fracture in his ankle. Yates' injury will not require surgery. He is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks. During that time he will undergo treatment and rehabilitation. His status will be re-evaluated after six weeks."
This is awful news for the Tar Heels in the short term. Paulus, the younger brother of Duke point guard Greg Paulus, looked terrible against Virginia Tech (two interceptions, just three completions). At least he'll have a full week to prepare now.
Long term, who knows? Paulus might be the answer eventually -- he was certainly hailed as such when he signed with the Tar Heels. But for now, this is the sort of injury that can spoil a season. As Panther fans know from last year's QB experimentation after Jake Delhomme's injury, no matter how you spin this news, it ain't good.