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T-Time: Dual-quarterback play is a legitimate strategy

first_imgThere’s a common adage in college and professional football — “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.”College football’s elite clearly beg to differ.When looking at the AP Top-25 standings, the top three teams aren’t especially surprising. Alabama,  Georgia and Clemson all reached the College Football Playoff last season, and all three look geared to make return trips. They’ve destroyed opponents by a combined score of 556-165 in 2018.However, there is something odd happening at the sport’s most important position. Each of the top three teams employ some version of a two-quarterback system, and others should follow.It seemed like a fad early in the season. After all, it’s common for quarterback competitions to spill over into early-season cupcake games.But we’re now four games into the 2018 season and the top three teams are still using multiple quarterbacks. Somewhere, football traditionalists are losing their freaking minds.At Alabama, the Tide is rolling with sophomore phenom Tua Tagovailoa and decorated junior Jalen Hurts. The team’s savior in last year’s National Championship triumph, Tagovailoa has taken the bulk of snaps at signal caller, becoming a Heisman frontrunner in the process.With the scrambling ability of former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and the precision of  Katniss Everdeen, Tagovailoa is expected to reign as the unquestioned starter. But his backup is far from a slouch. Hurts led Alabama to two national championships in his first two seasons as starter, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors as a true freshman. He’s played often this season and will continue to be a contributor due to his running ability.At Clemson and Georgia, the situations are slightly different. Clemson uses the purest form of a two-quarterback offense, sprinkling in freshman Trevor Lawrence and incumbent Kelly Bryant based on the situation (Lawrence was named the official starter on Monday, but Bryant is sure to keep playing).Seventy miles south, sophomore Jake Fromm is entrenched as Georgia’s starter after leading the Bulldogs to a 12-2 finish in 2017. But a tantalizing freshman, Justin Fields, looms in the background. The Cam Newton-esque prospect is completing 82 percent of his passes and averaging almost nine yards per carry.What started as an oddity is now strategy for the nation’s preeminent teams — and it’s obviously working. So where is this all heading?In today’s college football landscape, backup quarterbacks transfer more than Viterbi students do to Marshall. And it makes sense. Most Division I quarterbacks dream of competing on Sundays, and they can’t get there by sitting on a bench. Keeping quarterbacks happy is a challenge, especially since only one can play at a time, unlike a wide receiver or linebacker.But under new rules, players can now redshirt after playing in up to four games. This makes it more feasible than ever for teams to retain reserve quarterbacks. For instance, Georgia could shut down Fields for the remainder of the season and preserve a year of eligibility — after he’s already gotten valuable reps.Two-quarterback systems also make sense from a health perspective. Quarterbacks take a pounding in college football, just like they do in the NFL. Just look at the 11 sacks USC freshman quarterback JT Daniels has taken so far. By splitting time, college quarterbacks can minimize risk of injury and potentially prolong their professional careers.Of course, most teams don’t carry enough depth to utilize two quarterbacks. At USC, Daniels became just the second true freshman in school history to start in the season opener. It’s an impressive feat, sure, but it’s not like he had the stiffest competition. The Trojans’ other quarterbacks name them had a combined nine career pass attempts before this season, and no player was overly impressive in camp. Most schools don’t have the luxury of playing two quarterbacks like Clemson, Georgia and Alabama do.It’s hard to determine whether two-quarterback systems are here to stay. But with the new redshirt rule and increased concerns about player safety, the nation’s top teams are taking steps in the right direction.Here are a couple things I enjoyed in sports this week:USC gets back in the win columnIt wasn’t pretty, but USC managed to eke out a victory over Washington State thanks to a blocked field goal by freshman defensive lineman Jay Tufele. The defense gave up three fourth-down conversions and mounted little pressure aside from senior outside linebacker Porter Gustin’s lone sack. Yet there are plenty of positive takeaways from Friday night. Daniels avoided turnovers and completed a trio of tight-window touchdown passes. Sophomore running back Vavae Malepai displayed his knack for reaching the end-zone, adding a pair of touchdown runs. My main complaint? Give sophomore running back Stephen Carr the rock more! He’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry on just 33 attempts. USC women’s soccer keeps rolling They say, “Saturdays are for the boys,” but this Saturday belonged to the women’s soccer team. The team opened conference play against a tough Washington team and won 3-0, with three different Trojans scoring goals. At 8-0-1, USC looks poised to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Women’s soccer is currently the best team at USC (on land), and it’s not particularly close. Trevor Denton is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “T-Time,” runs every other Wednesday.last_img read more