Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy recently said that the team has been exploring the simultaneous usage of quarterbacks J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph. At this point, we can only speculate how this could be achieved within the Cowboy offense, but it's always fun to see what other teams have done and imagine how the Cowboys could replicate it in a game. This intriguing idea motivated a CRFF search of all of the times that two quarterbacks have been used simultaneously; surprisingly, it's not as uncommon as you think. In today's Chalk Talk, we will dissect three occasions in which teams took the term "two quarterback system" to the next level.
UL Monroe head coach Todd Berry used a dual quarterback package in his offense both at UNLV and at ULM. The ULM Warhawks had an interesting feature in their personnel in 2012 -- the Warhawks had quarterbacks Kolton Browning and Cody Wells, both of them talented dual threats. In order to take advantage of the two, Berry would occasionally use both Browning and Wells in the backfield at the same time.
The diagram above is one example from the Warhawk's two quarterback package. In it, one quarterback aligns behind center (QB1) and one aligns next to him as a halfback (QB2). The QB2, who receives the handoff from QB1, can either run the ball or throw to the stick pattern in front of him.
Along with a called sprint out play, Berry also created plays where the QB1 could hand the ball off to QB2 or keep it himself. The QB with the ball could then roll out and have the option to pass to an open receiver or take it upfield. ULM had an extra advantage because Browning was left-handed and Wells was right-handed, so whichever quarterback who had the ball would be rolling out to his dominant-hand side.
This wrinkle was shown in front of a national audience in the Warhawks' non-conference game against the Baylor Bears.
They ran both a called rollout to the left (also the diagrammed play above):
And a called rollout to the right:
Baylor eventually had to call a timeout because their defense was so confused at what was happening. Not only did they not know which quarterback would keep the ball, but they also didn't know if he was going to run or throw.
Current Princeton head coach Bob Surace used a very similar concept at both Princeton and Western Connecticut State.
He found himself in an interesting predicament in the 2013 season with three competent dual threat quarterbacks on the roster: Kedric Bostic, Quinn Epperley and Connor Michelson. To utilize the talents of all three players, Surace took his previous wrinkle and updated it to fit his team. This resulted in a three quarterback package that garnered quite a bit of attention in that 2013 season.
They would run a sprint out play that featured an exchange between QB1 and QB2 and a throw from QB2 to QB3:
And they would have a throwback play from QB2 to QB1:
The Tigers used this wrinkle to round out one of the most potent offenses in the Ivy League; they finished 8-2 and ended the season co-Ivy League champions.
The two quarterback wrinkle has been featured in the NFL as well. Teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Seattle Seahawks are some of the more noteworthy teams to use throwback screens or double passes out of dual quarterback packages. One of the more interesting examples comes from the Cleveland Browns. In 2011, the Browns had two quarterbacks, Colt Mccoy and Seneca Wallace. They would occasionally use Wallace as a package quarterback, similar to how OSU uses Walsh. In a game against the Rams, the Browns ran a play featuring Wallace, Mccoy and Wildcat package quarterback Josh Cribbs.
In it, Cribbs flipped the ball to a motioning Wallace, who then pitched it to McCoy, who then threw it back to Wallace along the sideline.
This play was ultimately discredited because the initial exchange was a flip and not a handoff, but the play is interesting nonetheless.
In conclusion, the limit of this hypothetical two quarterback package is only the imagination of OSU's coaching staff. Looking at these plays, our hope was that the viewer imagined how the Cowboys could incorporate the same play in their offense. Wouldn't it be fun to see a package with both Rudolph and Walsh? It would certainly confuse the defense, and it could get them a much-needed edge in their tough upcoming November schedule. Right now it's still only an idea, but boy it's still exciting.