10 College Football Programs That Should Run a 2-QB System
There are three good reasons to run a two-quarterback system and one bad one:
1. You have two great quarterbacks with different styles of play. (Good)
2. You have no idea how your quarterbacks play in real games, and you need to find out before you commit to one. (Good)
3. You have a great quarterback and a good one, but the great one is leaving soon. (Good)
4. Both your quarterbacks are terrible, and you really are just grasping at straws to find a win. (Bad)
College football is full of teams that are just one minor adjustment away from making a BCS bowl. For this piece, we will focus on the teams that don't have a lot of time to waste.
In these 10 situations, running the two-quarterback system may be the difference between a BCS bowl and a 5-7 season that nobody cares to remember. (Unless you're Washington State, then the 5-7 season would be a step in the right direction.)
10. Nebraska Cornhuskers
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One reason to institute a two-quarterback offense is to maximize both the potential to win and the development of the backup quarterback.
Starting quarterback Taylor Martinez will be a senior in 2013, and he should split time with his backup. This will presumably be freshman 4-star, dual-threat Johnny Stanton.
While Martinez would provide the 'Huskers with the ability to win games, he will not be around in 2014.
Why throw all of 2014 away for development of a new quarterback when you can get him some meaningful snaps alongside one of the best quarterbacks in the country right now?
As soon as Nebraska is up by double-digits, Stanton should be placed in the game. As soon as the enemy brings the score within nine points, Martinez should go back in on the next drive.
Again, this has nothing to do with Martinez being a bad quarterback. It is all about sustaining the Nebraska brand without losing almost an entire season in 2014 to train someone who's here in 2013.
The Cornhuskers only lost four games last season. If the offensive line has improved, then Stanton can get into at least six games for experience. Martinez can come in and preserve a seven-point lead, especially if he's just had a series or two of rest.
9. Ohio State Buckeyes
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The second good reason to run a two-quarterback system is to split game time with quarterbacks that vary in skill sets. Braxton Miller is a good runner, but he's not nearly as good at passing.
Completion percentage only tells part of the story. Miller completed almost 60 percent of his passes in 2012, but his touchdown-to-interception ratio was 15-to-6. That left his efficiency rating at 140.5, which was only good for 44th in the FBS last year.
Miller needs to be part of the offense, and that is beyond question. However, he's not a passing quarterback. The good news for Buckeyes fans is that he's much better than Denard Robinson was for Michigan, so it's not a complete misappropriation of talent.
Miller just needs some passing support, especially in Urban Meyer's spread offense. Miller may be just fine, but the difference between a 12-0 regular season and a national championship is more than just a slightly improved Miller.
Miller carried the Buckeyes quite far in 2012, but he may have peaked last year. If that's true, the only solution is a pocket passer for situations when Miller just won't do.
8. USC Trojans
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The final good reason to run a two-quarterback offense is to give potential starters a shot at establishing themselves as the better option for the future.
Matt Barkley will leave for the NFL in April, and that will leave Max Wittek and 4-star recruit Max Browne to battle for the starting position.
Wittek already started in the final two games of 2012, and he posted a 28-of-60 completion mark with two touchdowns and five interceptions in those matches.
Wittek has established that he has the potential to do great things. Browne is the No. 2 quarterback coming out of high school, and he has clearly established that he has potential as well.
The key to running this system is making sure the coaches don't punish them for mistakes. Both quarterbacks need to be given time in each game in order to develop.
Playing at a championship level requires that you ignore mistakes that you may have just made 30 seconds ago in order to pull off a win.
If the coaches pull them after interceptions, all that will do is make the players nervous about making mistakes. That doesn't cultivate a culture of success, it builds nothing but fear.
If each player plays a full half of a game, then the clear starter should emerge much more quickly than the other way.
If you want hard evidence of the way things go by playing the quarterback with the "hot hand," pay attention to the Texas slide later in the show.
7. Baylor Bears
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Baylor's senior, Nick Florence, is leaving at the end of the school year. He's taking off from a Baylor team that's won at least eight games in each of its past two seasons.
The next signal caller has big shoes to fill, and it may be Bryce Petty. He was the quarterback-in-waiting during the 2012 season. The issue is that he only attempted 10 passes last year.
Baylor's recruiting class has a major 4-star quarterback in Chris Johnson. He's a stellar athlete that would supplement a pocket passer quite well. Baylor needs to split time with these guys.
The advantage Baylor has over other teams on this list is that the Bears would do well to either put Johnson in under specific circumstances, or split halves with the guys.
Either scenario would put Baylor in a great spot to surprise other teams who are losing senior quarterbacks as well.
6. Washington State Cougars
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Washington State had a terrible season in 2012. The Cougars only won three games, but the victory over Washington to end the season was a great note to end on.
Washington State needs to approach the 2013 season with an incredibly open mind. If there is a player on the team that can play quarterback, the Cougars needs to take advantage of that.
There's no time to lose for the Cougars. They need to implement a two-quarterback system (or more) until they find the combination that's successful. After that, they can spend time figuring out which one should be the full-time starter.
Connor Halliday is going to step into the starting role if everything plays out as college football traditionally does. (The backup from the previous year steps into the starting role when the starter leaves.)
Unfortunately for Washington State, Halliday's 15-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio doesn't give the Cougars much hope for a brighter future.
They should play both Halliday and 4-star Tyler Bruggman until one of them proves himself to be the official starter.
5. Tennessee Volunteers
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Tennessee had one thing going for it in 2012: offense. The defense only got five wins out of an offense that averaged 36.2 points per game. The Vols need an offense that will immediately step up.
Unfortunately, they are losing star quarterback Tyler Bray to the draft. Justin Worley will be more than happy to give it a whirl, but he will need competition in order to quickly become as good as Tennessee needs him to be.
Enter Joshua Dobbs, the 4-star dual-threat quarterback ranked No. 4 at his position. This recruit could instantly fire up Tennessee's offense. If not, he will motivate Worley to new heights.
Competition breeds excellence, and Tennessee certainly has been missing excellence. Unfortunately for the quarterbacks, most of the shortcomings were on defense over the past few seasons.
If Tennessee plays its quarterback cards correctly, then the Vols can pick up where Bray left off. If not, then the defense is going to have to transform incredibly quickly.
4. South Carolina Gamecocks
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South Carolina was put in an interesting situation against Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Starting quarterback Connor Shaw was on the sideline injured while South Carolina was down by one point late in the game.
Backup Dylan Thompson came in and led a game-winning drive that scored with 11 seconds left. Jadeveon Clowney may have gotten most of the hype from the game, but Shaw and Thompson both got game balls.
This is a great argument for Steve Spurrier to work Thompson into the game plan for 2013. Shaw is going to be in his final season, and Thompson will likely be the favorite to replace him.
If Spurrier fully realizes what just happened in the Outback Bowl, then it's a no-brainer to put both quarterbacks in the game. They are both talented, and defenses would have to split practice time preparing for two quarterbacks.
It could be just the advantage that the Gamecocks need to move into the SEC title game again. If not, then it will at least give Thompson some valuable training to prepare him for the starting role in 2014.
3. Florida Gators
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Florida's quarterback from 2012 was responsible for leading the nation's 118th-ranked passing offense. Jeff Driskel's stats from 2012: 156-of-245 for 1,646 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions for a 132.2 efficiency rating.
Driskel is entering his junior season in 2013, and he needs to be a much better passer in order to keep the starting job. In the meantime, Will Muschamp needs to split halves with any one of the other quarterbacks in order to give someone else an opportunity to step up.
The two-quarterback system is not a viable long-term option for a team in Florida's position. It is the only short-term option right now, though. The Gators need to raise an offense that matches its fifth-ranked scoring defense.
Florida doesn't exactly have stellar options, and Driskel was the least of all evils in 2012. Maybe Max Staver, the 3-star quarterback of the 2013 class, will step up and show what he is capable of.
Either way, Florida needs to split time between at least two quarterbacks until a true passer emerges.
2. Oregon State Beavers
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Oregon State did well last season, and the only blemish on the program was the Washington game that the coaches blew. Sean Mannion was throwing interceptions, and the coaches didn't pull him in favor of Cody Vaz until it was too late.
Mannion is the future of the program, but he was coming off an injury for that Washington game. Vaz is the older quarterback of the two, and he provides a different style of success than Mannion does.
During the 2013 season, these two quarterbacks need to be played one half at a time to keep defenses on their toes. The Beavers can even rotate which one starts each half if they want. Both signal-callers proved themselves last season.
There's no reason to leave one on the bench unless one can prove he's significantly better than the other. Right now, that's actually Vaz, at least in terms of touchdown-to-interception ratio.
When they are both healthy and have spent time on the field, neither has real deficiencies. Oregon State should use that not only to train Vaz further, but to keep defenses from preparing for just one quarterback.
1. Texas Longhorns
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Texas may seem like a mismatch for this list because the Longhorns basically ran a two-quarterback system last season. Unfortunately for Texas, it didn't work out. The Longhorns finished 9-4 after a miraculous Alamo Bowl comeback over the Oregon State Beavers.
Texas ran its system to utter failure. No, nine wins wasn't "utter failure," but the way Mack Brown and company switched quarterbacks all year was completely wrong.
Brown was switching quarterbacks mid-game, and he was playing whichever quarterback wasn't making mistakes. This is exactly how you run that system with two established quarterbacks who have both learned to cope with making mistakes.
With Case McCoy and David Ash, though, Brown didn't leave either quarterback in the game long enough to overcome self-created adversity. Neither quarterback was forced to stay in a game and find a way to win after he had caused the problem.
Ash was the better of the two, and he was allowed to play more minutes by far. Unfortunately, pulling him after mistakes never gave him a shot at learning. He went out on the field nervous that he would get pulled for screwing up.
The big "surprise?" He screwed up and got pulled out of games. He never learned how not to beat himself. The only exception was the bowl game. Ash was left in the game to fend for himself. What happened? That miraculous comeback victory.
Imagine if he'd been forced to do that earlier in the season. Texas may have made it to a BCS bowl.
Brown needs to pick a half for each and let his quarterbacks battle it out statistically. The way he ran the system in 2012 basically guaranteed that both quarterbacks would stay at high school-level skill.
Yes, Texas ran a two-quarterback system, in a sense, last year, but the Longhorns certainly didn't run it for success. They ran it out of desperation, and they never gave themselves a chance to climb out of the desperation gutter.
Texas is full of talented recruits, and those recruits need to be developed as much as possible. Telling your quarterbacks that someone will always be there to bail them out is not the way to win a national championship.
To Mack Brown: "Remember the Alamo...Bowl!" Develop both your signal-callers like you did Ash in that game and see who wins in the long run.