It’s 3rd and 8 on the Michigan 28 yard line. After a fumbled snap and a short pickup through the air, Michigan is in danger of ending this possession with a punt. The Wolverines are in their new Hydra formation, looking to pick up the remaining yards. The formation includes a tight end, 3 wide receivers, and two dual threat quarterbacks, Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner. The team breaks the huddle with two plays called, one where the ball is snapped to Robinson, and one where it goes to Gardner. After reviewing the defense, Robinson makes the call on which play they will run. Shortly after relaying the play to the line and the receivers, the ball is hiked. It goes to the quarterback on the left, Devin Gardner. Gardner fakes the hand-off to Denard, who briefly cuts in front of the quarterback with the ball before sprinting out to the left side of the field. Gardner rolls to the right, still clutching the football . The two receivers on his side of the field run a ten yard curl pattern and an out pattern towards the sideline. The receiver on the other side of the field fakes a block for a split second to sell the fake, before running a drag route to the ball side of the field. Gardner hits the curling receiver who cuts up field for a few yards before being brought down. First down Michigan. The Wolverines go on to win by 1,000 because its my scenario and what I say goes.
Sure this sounds gimmicky, but take a second to think about it. Michigan had two of the most dynamic players in the country who were not able to be on the field at the same time. This offense would allow the quarterbacks to dissect the defense and choose which play would work the best. The offensive coordinator would be able to create routes that played to the strengths of his quarterbacks. Maybe Robinson sucked at hitting out patterns but was great at hitting curling receivers. If the out pattern looked like it was going to be open, they would just switch to the play that had Gardner throwing it. The pass rush would be slowed down by virtue of the defense having no idea who in the world they were even supposed to tackle. Running would still be an option because it wouldn’t be much different than having a quarterback and a running back in the backfield, since that’s what Robinson was relegated to at the end of his career anyway. And let’s not even get started on the trick plays that would be possible. For the record when Jim Harbaugh was at Stanford he recruited both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and told them he wanted to run a two quarterback system where they would each be on the field at the same time. So there’s that.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to running this type of offense. Coaches would have to be confident that their quarterbacks would be able to read a defense before the snap and make the right call. Blocking on the running plays could pose an issue, because your quarterbacks are not going to be good blockers, and you probably wouldn’t want them to be throwing blocks anyway. Then of course there’s the fact that not many teams have two guys who have the correct skill set to run something like this. Also communication would be vital, and we all know communication is not the strong suit of many 18-22 year old men.
Michigan did try something like this during Denard’s senior year, kind of. They tried to run some kooky formation where Robinson, Gardner, and a running back would line up in a triangle pattern, but it never showed much promise. Most of the time the play wound up being a run with the running back being a fullback type of person. They never snapped the ball and had Robinson and Gardner both drop back like they were both going to pass. This formation was short lived and eventually just scrapped for a more conventional offense.
Now, I’m not saying Michigan should have run this offense exclusively during the time both Robinson and Gardner were at Michigan. But 30% of the time? 40%? It certainly would have been an interesting wrinkle for an offense that sputtered at times. So what do you think? Would a two quarterback system have worked when Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner were both at Michigan?
Before we get to the poll, let’s take a look at last week’s Weekly What-If poll results. The question was: Suppose Michigan drops games to Akron, UConn, and Northwestern in 2013. What is the state of the program heading into 2014?
37%: Everyone gets fired and we start from scratch again.
28%: All the coaches stay but are set firmly on a seat made of fiery lava from the center of the Earth.
22%: Hoke stays, everybody else is out.
9%: What’s football? HOORAY BASKETBALL
4%: Dave Brandon says “Screw it” and makes John Beilein head football coach
Michigan had two very dynamic quarterbacks on their roster during the 2012-2013 season. Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner both possessed the ability to run and throw the ball very effectively at times. Could a two quarterback system be effective, or is it simply too gimmicky? Let me know what know what you think in the poll down below. You can also drop me a line on twitter @gbMWint. TO THE POLL!