Four Down Territory: Why 2-QB Systems Are In, Tigers' Tough Schedule, OSU Offense vs TCU Defense
First Down: This is The First of Many Multi-Screen Weekends: Hurricane Florence has put a dent into the schedule but there are still some great games. The noon slot holds little intrigue, but at 3:30 you’ll need a TV, Tablet and Smartphone. In that slot BYU goes to #6 Wisconsin, #12 LSU is at Auburn, and #17 Boise State is at #24 Oklahoma State. In the prime time slot at 7:00 #1 Alabama is at surprising 2-0 Ole Miss which overlaps with 8:00 games #4 Ohio State at #15 TCU and #22 USC at Texas. The 8:00 games then overlap with the 10:00 kick of #10 Washington at Utah. Pack a cooler with food, snacks and beverages, throw on a pair of Depends adult diapers and don’t leave your couch this Saturday.
Second Down: Tigers’ Rugged September Slate: When Auburn and LSU play, the Tigers will play their second game against a Top 12 team in the first three weeks. Since Auburn and LSU are both Tigers which Tiger team is playing a second top 12 team in their first three games? They both are. Auburn defeated #6 Washington two weeks ago while LSU beat #8 Miami. While both teams always have the rugged SEC West slate, this year both teams play a divisional crossover game against #3 Georgia. The team that starts off their SEC season with a loss on Saturday faces a real uphill run.
Third Down: The Immovable Object Vs The Unstoppable Force: TCU Coach Gary Patterson is known to place a high value on defense. This year is no different and the unit ranks in the top 10 nationally in 3rd down defense, Passing yards allowed, passing efficiency, total defense and is 13th in Scoring defense. Saturday night they face a big test against Ohio State. Their offense ranks in the National Top 4 in 3rd down conversions, passing efficiency, total offense and scoring offense. How explosive has Ohio State been? When QB Dwayne Haskins and the starters are in the game they have 12 TD drives in just 5 quarters. Those drives averaged just 2:35 in length, 7.3 plays, 69.9 yards and a gaudy 9.5 yards per play. Saturday night will be a true test of strength on strength for both Ohio State’s offense and TCU’s defense in a big game with playoff implications.
Fourth Down: Why 2-QB Systems are In Vogue: The list of teams using 2 QBs this year includes #1 Alabama, #2 Clemson and #4 Ohio State. Alabama's Jalen Hurts with a 26-2 record as a starter now comes off the bench behind Sophomore Tua Tagovailoa. He has played in the first half as part of Nick Saban’s plans to use both QBs. At Clemson returning starter Kelly Bryant led the Tigers to the College Football playoff last year, but comes off the field to give highly-touted freshman backup Trevor Lawrence a few drives. At Ohio State, Sophomore Dwayne Haskins is the starter but freshman Tate Martell has also seen pre-planned first-half action. These are just 3 of the most visible teams using 2 quarterbacks, but why is this a trend? First, with transfer rules looser than ever and with QBs willing to jump from school to school, it is important to keep them encouraged while they wait their turn to be the full-time starter. The second reason, as it relates to freshmen, is the new NCAA redshirt rule that allows players to participate in up to four games and still retain their ability to redshirt and have four years of eligibility left. Both of those factors mean playing 2 QBs in a game could be a growing trend.