Pros and cons of playing 2 QBs

I thought it was interesting that in the poll on whether UGA should consider playing two quarterbacks this season, 63 percent of the folks responding said yes.

On the surface, it seems like a no-brainer. The more real game experience your backup quarterback gets, the better off you’ll be if your starter goes down for some reason. And it’ll be a plus the following season when your senior starter has graduated. We all remember all too well what it’s like to enter a season with no experienced QB.

But it’s not that cut-and-dried. While D.J. Shockley went on to become a UGA hero when he finally became the starter in his senior season, the not-quite-but-sort-of dual quarterback system that Mark Richt used during the time Shockley was backing up David Greene didn’t work all that smoothly.

Initially there was some minor controversy among fans as to which QB should be starting, with a vocal minority lobbying for Shockley. Noises from the Shockley camp about him possibly tranferring didn’t help. But Richt wisely stuck with Greene, though he continued to give Shockley regular playing time. I remember watching Greene thread the needle on a particularly difficult pass for a first down that season and my son commenting, “How can you not keep in a player who can make a throw like that?”

Once Greene was established, the tide in fan sentiment turned a bit, at least in my section of Sanford Stadium. I remember fans gritting their teeth and muttering when Greene would be pulled according to Richt’s arbitrary game “script” (usually for the third offensive series) to insert Shockley, frequently taking the momentum out of Georgia’s offense and disrupting Greene’s rhythm. It’s not like Greene wasn’t getting it done; it was simply Shockley’s turn. 

But Shockley the backup wasn’t nearly the confident, proficient player that Shockley the starter later would be, and he often tried to do too much in his brief time in the game, resulting in errors like that dismal pick he threw against Florida, resulting in a Gator touchdown.

At the same time, I’m sure Shockley’s performance his senior season was due at least in part to the playing time he’d had as a backup.

So, to bring it back to the current situation, I don’t really have a problem with giving the backup (presumably Logan Gray) regular playing time. In fact, I think it would be a good idea. (This is assuming, of course, that Joe Cox plays up to expectations and remains the starter.) 

The key is how you do it. Following an artificial script that doesn’t take into account how the game’s momentum is going, as Richt initially did with Shockley, is counterproductive. Of course, it can be tough to determine when is the right time to insert a “change of pace” quarterback. Should he be used for entire series, or is it better to put him in, for instance, on a down when it might help to have a quarterback who’s more of a running threat? And if you give him entire series, should you wait until the game is well in hand, or is such “mop-up” playing time not really all that valuable? That’s something Mike Bobo and Richt have to determine.

As my son pointed out when we were discussing this, one danger in playing two QBs, of course, is falling into the Spurrier syndrome where you pull them so often that the players’ confidence is wrecked. But Richt has never shown that tendency, thank goodness, as was evidenced when he stuck with Matthew Stafford through thick and thin once he’d settled on him as the starter in the second half of the 2006 season.

So what do you think? Alternate series? Insert Gray for key plays? Mop-up duty only?


62 comments Add your comment


April 21st, 2009
5:15 pm

I have one question. How in the world does Florida continue to have an easy schedule? They have 3 super easy out of conference games.


April 21st, 2009
5:22 pm

Cox has the ear of his teammates, so he should start. At least as long as he does well. I do think Gray can be used in certain situations and formations. I was just thinking about a Jumbo backfield with Muzzy at tail and Gray at QB. Throw in an unbalenced line and DCs will be pulling their hair out, unless they look like Willie and don’t have any.


April 21st, 2009
6:39 pm

Just wondering what all this chatter about qbs means anyway. After the first game, the talk will be about the defense, or lack of it, just like last year. I watched the G-Day game, and I noticed the D-coach whats his name running around with his mean game face on. That will wear thin in a real game.

Denver Dog

April 21st, 2009
6:46 pm

Brandon, here is how they do it. They schedule it.

Here is how we handle the quarteback situation. Start Aaron Murray

where is staff when you need him?

April 21st, 2009
7:26 pm

I say let the fans vote on the QB…loudest cheer wins it!


April 21st, 2009
9:04 pm

Denver, start Aaron Murray? I don’t know about that bra. He’s a great talent, but I don’t feel comfortable with him under the center, not yet anyway. I’m all for Joe Cox as our man! Let Logan come in on every 3rd or 4th series. Joe Cox should take majority of the series.


April 21st, 2009
9:13 pm

Our D will be much improved, I GUARANTEEd! Jeff Owen/Geno Atkin will anchor the front four. They’ll free up our DE to provide pressure we lacked last season. We’ll be a top 10 D again!


April 21st, 2009
10:12 pm

Yea, I can’t see any wisdom from not starting Joe Cox. As far as the other guys, I think you couldnt do a young QB who was talented enough that he “could start” a bigger favor than to NOT start him, then allow him an opportunity to change that. And I am not even talking some subtle lesson here, or some kind of a test. Not some “lets see what the kid is made of”. I think you flat out tell him, this is what we are doing to prepare you and this is what we expect.


April 21st, 2009
10:20 pm

Samoan, I don’t think it can be overstated just how important Owens was in late 2007 to our DEs.


April 21st, 2009
10:41 pm

Huh, in the hypothetical Ga/Fl spring game….did you already figure out which 25 players they have to leave at home?


April 21st, 2009
10:52 pm

Altamaha, I agreed. With Owens presence, teams will double Geno and that should free up Owen on one on and benefits the DEs of course. Willie won’t have to dial up the LB blitz.. the secondaries will be able to locked down their man. I hope to God the injury bug won’t bite us again.


April 21st, 2009
11:37 pm

Great points by many here …….. for one, I still have the gut-feel that Joe Cox is gonna surprise many of us. Although leadership qualities can be debated on a number of levels, I kinda like the ” fiery ” quality mentioned with JC. We all remember the ” Colorado Comeback ” …. wouldn’t have happened without Cox. He could be the surprise QB in the SEC in ‘09.

And the defense …. Owens / Atkins are the keys, period. Our problems with the DE’s are well documented ….. & severe. If, Owens & Atkins are stuffing the middle and we STILL can’t get pressure … Lord help us ! But assuming we do have a top tier D, the offense will prosper and it should be a great season for us all ……

Still think we need work / coaching, etc., with special teams / kickoffs / return teams ….. quite simply …. they WIN games !