UNC football: Drake Maye off to historically good start for Heels
North Carolina is 2-0 thanks to an offense that has come out of the gate on fire.
Carolina topped Florida A&M 56-24 in Week 0 before beating Appalachian State 63-61 in a thriller. While the Heels’ defense has struggled, their offense led by 1st-year starter Drake Maye has been exceptional.
There was a quarterback battle in Chapel Hill throughout fall camp, with the redshirt freshman Maye beating out sophomore Jacolby Criswell for the starting job. Now through 2 games, Maye is showing the national stage why he was the man who won the job.
Though early, Maye is on a wild pace. While he’ll surely slow down as ACC play hits, Maye has had arguably the best 2-game start to a season in UNC history.
Here is how Maye stacks up against some other great Carolina quarterbacks early on:
The UNC single-season passing yard record belongs to Mitch Trubisky, who threw for 3,748 yards in 2016. Trubisky played in all 13 games that year, averaging 288.3 passing yards per game.
Now in 2022, Maye has thrown for 646 yards in his first 2 games of the season. That’s an average of 323 yards per game. He threw for 352 yards in the barnburner Saturday against the Mountaineers.
Extended out to a 13-game season, Maye is on pace to crush Trubisky’s season record. If Maye were to continue this pace, he’d put up 4,199 through the air over the course of the season. Obviously Maye likely will slow down some, but he’s also well beyond where Trubisky was after 2 games in 2016.
While Carolina’s first 2 games of that 2016 season came against Power 5 competition – Georgia and Illinois – Trubisky only passed for 421 yards over those games.
There’s a whole lot of season left, but the way Maye has started the 2022 campaign is unlike anything Carolina really has seen before.
Maye isn’t just moving the ball down the field, but he’s finishing drives as well. Carolina has scored 15 offensive touchdowns in 2 games, and Maye’s arm has been responsible for 9 of them.
He tossed 5 touchdowns against Florida A&M and followed that up with 4 against the Mountaineers. With 9 touchdown passes so far, Maye’s 13-game pace would put him at a staggering 59 touchdowns.
The Carolina record is 38, set by Sam Howell back in 2019. Again, Maye will slow down, but he’s off to a much hotter start than Howell had during his record-setting campaign. In fact, Howell had just 4 touchdown passes through 2 games that season.
Pretty much everything is going right for Maye. He’s throwing the ball often and accurately, as Maye is 53-for-73 passing after 2 games.
That’s a completion percentage of 72.6%, well above UNC’s single-season record. That belongs to Chris Kupec, who completed 69.3% way back in 1974. That obviously was a different era of football, but even in today’s more wide-open passing game Maye is connecting with consistency.
Will Maye finish the season throwing better than 70%? Probably not. But his start to the season has been historic, and he really hasn’t had much of a misstep yet.
Rushing yards by quarterback
Through 2 games, Carolina’s leading rusher is Maye. He has 131 yards on the ground, 13 more than lead back Omarion Hampton.
And with his 65.5 yards per game, Maye’s 13-game pace would put him at 852 rushing yards, just shy of the Carolina record held by Marquise Williams. In 2015 Williams rushed for 948 yards, as the dual-threat quarterback was heavy on designed runs that year.
But even in that campaign Williams had just 62 yards on the ground in his first 2 games, as Maye has even had a start as good as any Carolina quarterback in that regard, too.
With his arm talent and Carolina’s talented pool of running backs it’s doubtful Maye will break Williams’ record, but so far he’s showing he himself is a true dual-threat option for the Tar Heels.
Knock the competition if you want – though Appalachian State is a very good team – but Maye’s start to 2022 is historic across the board. He’s off to probably the hottest start of any quarterback in team history, and it’s especially impressive considering this is Maye’s first year as a starter.
Any thought that Carolina’s quarterback competition was going to carry into the season has been quelled, as Maye is proving consistently that he’s the main man for the Heels.