HD Roundtable: Two-QB System a Good Idea?

Question: What is your take on a two-QB system, which is something the Longhorns might go with to start the season at Notre Dame? Are you for it? Against it at all costs?

Greg Powers’ Take

I am against the two-QB system, but not at all costs. I think there are scenarios where two different QBs bring different things to the table and have different or vastly different areas of strengths and you may rotate a runner in at times to give a different look.

If the QBs are relatively close to the same I think it is best for the QB to get as much time running with the offense as possible. Getting a rapport and a trust with the offensive unit is extremely important and in today’s college game. But on the other side of that it is important for the offense to get on board with the QB and be able to work and believe in him. You just do not have any weeks where you can afford to look ahead. It is a win now and win big right now type of situation.

I do think it is important to get the back-up a series or two of reps in case something bad happens to the starter, but that is a game-by-game scenario. Obviously the game action would dictate that stratagem.

Annabel Stephan’s Take

I touched upon this last week and my opinion still hasn't changed: two-quarterback system is a bad idea. I can see and understand arguments for the two-quarterback system, but I just can't think of a time in recent memory where a program has executed this system with success. It almost makes sense if you have two completely different quarterbacks, a dual-threat athlete and a pocket passer who can both bring something different to opposing defenses. But when you take two similar quarterbacks and play them, no one comes out the winner. Yes, maybe if one gets injured the other will have that game experience. But by the same token, aren't you risking them both getting injured if you are constantly rotating?

Either way, here's my main argument against it. When I think of a successful quarterback, two of the main attributes that come to mind are leadership and confidence. If you are pulling an athlete every other drive or sending the message that he's not good enough to take over the offense by himself, how can you expect one -- or both -- of these signal-callers to have confidence in himself? And if he's not confident in his own ability, how is he supposed to lead a team? So it's safe to say I think it's a bad decision.

Chip Brown’s Take

I'm OK with it, and I'll tell you why. Shawn Watson employed a similar system when Teddy Bridgewater was a freshman at Louisville.

Will Stein started the first two games of that 2011 season, and Bridgewater played the first series of the second quarter in those games to gain experience as Stein's backup.

And when Stein went down with a shoulder injury in the third start of the 2011 season, the offense was already used to hearing Bridgewater's voice in the huddle during meaningful playing time. Bridgewater, of course, never left the field as Louisville's QB after that.

I could see the law firm of Watson and Wickline employing a similar concept this season. They'd probably start Tyrone Swoopes if the battle remains in its current state. But then bring in Jerrod Heard for a series to start the second quarter. It gives him experience. And if Heard takes off with a hot hand, you leave him in perhaps for another series or until he shows he is the quarterback to lead the offense.

I don't like an every other series situation at the QB position. And the only way I see a two-QB system is if Heard doesn't beat out Swoopes in fall camp. If Heard does beat out Swoopes in fall camp, I think you go with Heard exclusively because he's the better runner of the two and also appears to carry himself with more confidence than Swoopes showed last year.

Gabe Brooks’ Take

Generally speaking, I don't like ruling out any potential schematic approach with a blanket statement like "against it at all costs," but for me, the two-quarterback system comes pretty close to reaching that point.

I always go back to the old saying, "If you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one."

Today's spread offenses perhaps create an offensive environment that is friendlier to such an approach than your typical pro-style or West Coast offense, but I'm still solidly averse to the two-quarterback system.

That doesn't mean it can't work. And I don't have the statistical analysis in front of me. But I'd be willing to bet that the number of unsuccessful attempts with the two-quarterback system far outnumber the successful examples of such an arrangement.

William Wilkerson’s Take

As much as I’d just like to say that two-quarterback systems are for the birds and be done, I do think there are certain instances where it makes sense… but only for a period of time.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.” It makes sense, to a degree. But I think the Longhorns have to play both Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard to figure out if it does have a QB on this roster worthy of taking over the program.

How should this be handled moving forward? It depends on Heard. If he surpasses Swoopes during fall camp I think you ride Heard until he gives you no choice but to make a change. If he’s the guy, and is going to be the guy, let him prove it from the jump if he’s earned that right. And don’t shake his confidence by rotating Swoopes in.

If Swoopes and Heard stay as is then I think it’s important to, at the very least, see what Heard brings to the table during the regular season. I don’t think it’s wise to rotate every series. QBs need to establish flow and trust in the playmakers around them. But give Heard at least one series by midway through the second half of the Notre Dame game. Let the young man show you what he’s got.

The good news for UT is that it has a QB coach in Shawn Watson who is familiar with two-QB systems. He implemented a variation of one with Teddy Bridgewater and Will Stein back in 2011, and it paid off when Stein injured his shoulder early in the season. At that time Bridgewater was getting a series to start the second quarter so he didn’t jump head first into the deep end when it was his turn to take over.

It’s not an ideal situation. But it might be one that Texas is forced to work with.


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