As we mentioned yesterday, Brian Kelly announced that the Notre Dame offense would play both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire in the Music City Bowl against LSU. Yes, the dreaded two QB system is here and Kelly didn’t completely rule out using it next year either.
I’m not overly keen on the idea. The whole “if you have two QBs, you don’t have one” has rung true more often than not. Despite that mantra, there are still examples of teams that have pulled it off with varying degrees of success.
In my mind, there are four ways this could go down. Let’s take a look at each one and examples of success, if any, such a method has provided.
Whether it is switching off every series or even every quarter, this is one of the more obvious ways to get two QBs playing time. However, I honestly can’t think of a single team that managed to pull this off with any success. This is what you do in a spring game or against a weak opponent at the start of the season to see which QB will eventually take the role.
The issue with alternating in this method is that no QB can really establish their own rhythm or really their place on the offense. If you succeed, congrats, have a seat on the bench. If you fail, head to the bench and stew on it for a series.
If Kelly goes this direction against LSU, in my opinion, he is 100% planning for 2015 and not really trying to win the football game. I just can’t see this working.
2) The Role Player
We’ve heard it before: the passing QB and the running QB. Many teams have actually run this kind of system and some have had loads of success, most notably Florida who won a national title in 2006 with a two-QB system of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.
The running QB tends to have a totally separate package just for them. What can make this method especially deadly is that this running QB, unlike a wildcat RB, is still a passing threat. The moment a defense sells out for the run, there goes a pass (or jump pass) sailing (or floating) over their heads for a TD.
This is the method that I personally think Kelly is most likely to use. Zaire is clearly the better runner and his passing game, especially anything requiring touch, still needs a lot of work. On the other hand, Golson’s arm has been mostly money all season long; however, his running has been beyond suspect and still doesn’t have a handle on the zone read option.
3) The Relief Pitcher
While I doubt Kelly dips into this pool in the bowl game, this method is certainly in his bag of tricks and used it liberally in the 2012 undefeated regular season.
This is slightly different from having a role player as it is a true sub, but unlike alternating, Kelly made this sub depending on the game situation. More often than not, when Tommy Rees came in for Everett Golson, it was to close out a game, whether it was the two-minute drill against Purdue or practically the entire game against Michigan. Pitt was a notable exception here as Kelly required Golson to come back in and give the Irish the needed spark with his ability to extend plays to lead that comeback effort.
However, the 2012 situation was so unique. There was a clear physical talent difference between Golson and Rees with experience, pose, and pre-snap reads being the major benefits to having Tommy in. Because of that, I don’t think we will even see this in 2015 should Kelly stick with two QBs. Golson and Zaire are far more similar in skillset and Golson, to this point, hasn’t shown that he has made that classic upperclassman step in his decision-making and pre-snap reads.
4) The Crazy: Two QBs on the Field at Once
Before you think I’m out of my mind, this has been done before. Moreover, it actually worked and nearly helped major underdog, University of Louisiana-Monroe, upset Baylor in 2012 and actually upset a then top-ten Arkansas team that same year.
Now, ULM’s “Funroe” offense is a stroke of mad genius, but it works so well not just because of the two QBs on the field, but the kind of QBs on the field. As SBNation explains:
The secret to such a system is dexterity. Browning throws left-handed, Wells right-handed. Both quarterbacks run only to their throwing sides. And ULM head coach Todd Berry said that while both players appear to be making calls, the snap and read responsibilities are determined by which hash the ball is on; the left-handed QB snaps on the left hash, the righty on the right. For maximum effectiveness in personnel groupings as well as clarity for quick substitutions, all of ULM’s quarterbacks are trained at running back and wide receiver.
So in order to run this straight-up defense coordinator nightmare, you need both a right-handed and a left-handed QB. And guess what Notre Dame just happens to have on their roster?
Will this actually happen? Probably not. However, if BK just wants to go absolutely crazy and use a month of practice to pull out all the crazy stops, tossing this package in the game would be the most entertaining thing ever. Think of the talent that ULM was running this with. Now sub in ND’s roster.
Even LSU’s superb passing defense would have fits.
This is my new dream. I want to see this. I don’t care how gimmicky it is because I will enjoy every second of it, even if it blows up in the Irish’s face.
We just need a name for this–Double Domer? Double Barrel Shotgun? The Ultimate BK Troll? Let’s get weird.