A look at SEC teams who may use two (or more) quarterbacks in 2016

The two-quarterback system. BOO!

Instead of being a case where two talented players get to display their talents, it comes off more times than not as a team employing two quarterbacks who aren’t good enough to take over the reigns of the offense full-time.

Still, in theory, a two-quarterback system can work like a hard-throwing relief pitcher coming on to save a game for a soft-tossing starter. Florida won a national championship in 2006 utilizing Tim Tebow as a relief pitcher (and relief runner) for quarterback Chris Leak, especially in goal-line situations.

For teams like Alabama and Florida, their hope is to find one strong starting quarterback and ride the season with him to success. For others, a second spark to throw off defenses is needed.

Here’s a look at the teams that could potentially benefit from having a two-quarterback situation:


On Sunday, head coach Will Muschamp indicated he is leaning towards playing multiple quarterbacks for the Gamecocks’ opener at Vanderbilt on Sept. 1. He has yet to name a starter.

The competitors are returning starter Perry Orth and newcomers Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain. Orth and Bentley are listed as pro-style quarterbacks while McIlwain is a dual-threat.

It’s been McIlwain, a highly rated prospect, who has impressed in camp enough that Orth, a senior who passed for three touchdowns against both Clemson and Tennessee last season, has still not officially been named the starter.

At times last year, the Gamecocks seemed so hopeless they turned to receivers Lorenzo Nuñez and even Pharoh Cooper to play quarterback, primarily asking them to scramble and improvise. McIlwain would figure to be more disciplined and rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his past two seasons at Council Rock North High (Newtown, Pa.) and gained more than 3,500 yards on the ground in his prep career.

Little is expected from South Carolina this season, so the more McIlwain impresses, the more diverse the offense can be and the more hope for the future.

Still, receivers prefer pocket-passers because they know where the ball is coming from. If the game is on the line and Muschamp turns to Orth because of his experience and downfield passing abilities for a two-minute drive, the message must be sent to McIlwain he isn’t being yanked because his team is trailing, rather that Orth’s skill set may be what is needed for such a situation.


Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and JUCO John Franklin III are battling for the starting position.

White replaced Johnson as the starter in the middle of the season, and the freshman compiled a 2-3 record before surrendering his job back to Johnson. He also started Auburn’s 31-10 Birmingham Bowl victory against Memphis but was limited to 13 passes before Johnson came off the bench to toss one touchdown pass and score another rushing. In all, White threw just one touchdown pass in the season but also threw for 250 yards in three straight games, something not even Cam Newton did as a Tiger.

Franklin, whose college career started at Florida State, is a dual-threat quarterback and said to be one of the fastest players on the team, winning an ACC championship as a member of Florida State’s 4 X 100 relay team in 2013.

Johnson may have the most complete mix of talents but threw six interceptions in his first three games last year, causing Auburn to nearly lose to FCS Jacksonville State.

Franklin actually played in a two-quarterback system at East Mississippi Community College and once scored five rushing touchdowns in a game there. He weighs only 186 pounds, so it is likely he will be used as a bit of a change-up if and when he enters a game; more scrambler than thrower.

The thought here is Johnson threw only one pick down the stretch for Auburn last season, but head coach Gus Malzahn has indicated he may use two quarterbacks in the season opener against Clemson and possibly continue to play that way until midseason.

One problem with a two-quarterback system is the offense can get confused with too many schemes, but if the quarterbacks are White and Franklin, one figures a mix of simple keepers and draws won’t cause Auburn’s dropback passing game with White to get out of synch too much.

Then again, why use Franklin as such a relief pitcher when Johnson performed those duties so well against Memphis?


The Bulldogs must replace a legend in Dak Prescott. Everyone has assumed last year’s primary backup, sophomore Nick Fitzgerald, would succeed him, but three other quarterbacks, Nick Tiano, Damian Williams and Wyatt Roberts, who split time with Auburn’s Franklin at EMCC last season, are also pressing for playing time.

Fitzgerald saw enough mop-up duty last year to throw 14 passes and run the ball 23 times. What’s more intriguing is he completed 11 of those passes for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing for 127 yards and 3 more TDs. A 6-foot-5 sophomore, Fitzgerald has promise, enough for Elijah Staley, who also played on the basketball team, to transfer this month.

While Roberts will likely be the scout team quarterback as he is still a walk-on, Tiano and Williams have been sharing reps with Fitzgerald in August. Tiano had the best spring by rushing for 128 yards and throwing only one interception in 37 passes while completing a team-high 65 percent of his passes.

Williams is the most experienced, a redshirt junior who started the Egg Bowl three years ago after coming off the bench to rally the Bulldogs to a victory against Arkansas the week before. Williams redeemed himself after a horrible performance in the first spring scrimmage to throw for four touchdowns and 365 yards on 48 passes, completing 28.

In this case, if head coach Dan Mullen was looking for a run-pass mix, he’d likely turn to freshman Tiano to be the scrambling change-up. If a two-quarterback system was designed to have a backup pull the Bulldogs out of jams, Williams would have a nod due to seniority.


It’s unlikely Nick Saban will elect to go with a two-quarterback system. With veteran receivers, consistency in the passing game must be established, and that comes with repetition.

Besides, Cooper Bateman started against Ole Miss last season (though he did not fare well) and has wheels and experience. Sophomore Blake Barnett was the most heavily recruited of the signal-callers but reportedly hasn’t had the best August. And freshman Jalen Hurts may have the best overall package of athletic talents, but does Saban really wish to turn to a freshman in 2016?

If Alabama utilizes two or more quarterbacks this season, chances are it will be due to injury or a starter getting pulled for poor play.

Source: Saturday Down South

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