Both quarterbacks are key to Bulls’ success
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Four botched field goals. Two interceptions. One fumble. Countless dropped passes.
On Saturday, Toledo did everything it could to lose its game against Buffalo – one of the strangest games I have ever seen. But the strangest thing wasn’t anything the Rockets did.
Very late into the third quarter, head coach Jeff Quinn unleashed freshman quarterback Joe Licata, who subbed in for junior Alex Zordich after a timeout. Not a strange sight on the surface, considering Licata has played in six of eight games for the Bulls this year.
This game was different. This wasn’t mop-up duty. At the time of Licata’s entrance, the Bulls were still in striking distance, down nine points to a team that is unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference.
Licata, for the first time all season, looked as if he owned the place. He drove right down the field on his first possession and threw a beautiful ball to junior receiver Alex Neutz in the end zone to bring the Bulls right back in the game.
Even though the Bulls eventually fell 25-20 and are now a disappointing 1-7 and unable to become bowl eligible for the fourth straight season, this quarterback controversy is in the local limelight. The whispers around Western New York are slowly turning into screams for the local product out of Williamsville South High School.
I have a crazy suggestion: play them both.
Why do we have to choose between Zordich’s running and Licata’s passing when the Bulls could just use them both equally?
Instead of worrying about whether it would be wiser to play the veteran runner or the freshman passer, I think it would be good to give them both game experience on a regular basis. Why wait until late in games to switch between quarterbacks?
My theory gives Zordich the opportunity to do what he does best, as he is one of the toughest dual-threat quarterbacks in the conference. He has this uncanny ability to find holes in opposing defenses. He will have less pressure to consistently complete those arduous third-and-long passes – something he tends to struggle with from time to time – when Licata can sub in.
It gives Licata valuable game experience, as he is getting better with every game. The vertical passing game will be more complete with his arm. There’s no question he is the more accurate QB, and his poise is slowly becoming more apparent after playing on Saturday. Why keep that on the bench for quarters at a time?
This two-quarterback system has worked in recent college football history. Florida famously introduced a rookie dual-threat quarterback even while having one of the most accomplished passers in Gators history. They finished the season as National Champions.
The veteran passer was Chris Leak. The rookie runner? None other than Timothy Richard Tebow.
A few years ago, in ’08, Quinn experienced this firsthand as the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. Quarterback Tony Pike suffered an injury to his non-throwing hand. In came a freshman, Zach Collaros, and his running ability impressed the coaching staff as well as his arm. When Pike came back, he was still effective, though Quinn alternated between quarterbacks. That team went to the Sugar Bowl and finished with a sterling 12-1 record.
Of course, in the MAC Championship season of ’08, the Bulls used Zach Maynard’s running abilities alongside veteran starter Drew Willy.
This has also happened at LSU, as the Tigers have used two quarterbacks over the last few years.
This year, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Kansas are three of many schools that are shuffling between two different quarterbacks.
I understand situations are very different at each school. In UB’s case, the runner is the veteran and the passer is the younger, more inexperienced quarterback. However, the fact remains: it can work.
The Bulls have nothing to lose this season. Why not give it a shot?