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The Two-QB System: It's Worked Well For Other Teams, Who Says It Can't Work For The Hokies!

By Zachary Ozmon | August 24
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Grant Wells named QB1 but Kyron Drones will play every week according to Head Coach Brent Pry. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

The Two-QB System and How It Works

Within the ever-changing sport of college football, coaches and coordinators alike are searching for any advantage and way to get ahead of their opponent week by week. Over the decades witnessed recently, many schemes and schematics have been brought to the field, but none are as interesting and hard to tackle as the coveted two-quarterback system. In traditional football, of course, one and only one quarterback remains under center for the duration of the game unless struggling or injured. In a dual QB system, two quarterbacks, either of the same tier of skill or a great mix of passing for one and running for another, can open up an entirely different offense for the team that is running the system. Although much of the nation is very skeptical of such a system and it is only seen in bizarre situations, several successful coaches and quarterbacks have been able to master this gameplay and take their teams to new heights.

Wells is QB1, but don't forget about Drones

Although the five-month battle between Grant Wells and Kyron Drones seemed to be over when Wells was announced as QB1 for the upcoming season, Pry stated recently on a Triumph NIL Livestream that Drones is "going to play each and every week" with specific packages catered to him and his playstyle. It sounds awfully similar to a little-known system called the two-QB system. With Wells being the primary quarterback and having more skill in the pass game, Drones will be on the backburner to come in for specialty runs and much more. The system is not that easy to succeed with, but just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. With all that said, let’s look at an example of the system being run by Frank Beamer and the Hokies in the past and some other teams that went the distance with the QB arrangement.

Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech

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Glennon was the starter for the 2007 season but Tyrod Taylor was encorporated with him. (Student Union Sports)

As crazy as the 2007 college football season was, the Hokies remained consistent in their winning ways behind their two-QB system, incorporating both Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor into the offense. Glennon, the starter the previous year, was seen as the pocket passer, while Taylor brought his strong arm paired with his ability to scramble and run.

Although not a match made in heaven, the Hokies made it work between the two quarterbacks. Taylor picked Glennon up when struggles began to arise for him early in the season, but Glennon was the one who finished the season out for Tech. While both players threw the ball effectively for most of the season, Tyrod was a big help to the squad, who threw for almost a thousand yards and chipped in 429 rushing yards, which made him Tech’s second-leading rusher. The ability to show multiple looks proved to be noteworthy as the Hokies finished the season 11-3 (7-1), with a 24-21 loss against No. 8 Kansas in the Orange Bowl.

Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, Florida

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The Swamp Kings made it work behind veteran QB Chris Leak and talented prospect Tim Tebow. (Toledo Blade)

In light of the recent documentary on Netflix titled Untold: Swamp Kings, the 2006 Florida Gators led by head coach Urban Meyer enabled a two-QB system like no other. Chris Leak, the four year starter was the reliable quarterback for the Gators during the ‘06 season. Throwing for over 2,900 yards and 23 touchdowns during the year, Leak was all you could ask for from your quarterback.

But in comes the fiery prospect, Tim Tebow, who brought a very interesting play style that paired well with the skills of Leak. Tebow was both strong and could shoot out of a cannon, enabling him to become the perfect QB/FB for the Gators in short third and fourth down situations. Tebow’s ability to use his legs and Leak’s ability to move the ball with his arm functioned well as Florida went on to defeat No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS Championship Game to claim the schools second national championship in ten years.

"It works because they're very good players, they complement each other. They can both hurt you in different ways."

— Florida coach Urban Meyer on the two-qb system

Cardale Jones and J.T Barrett, Ohio State

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Jones and Barrett were one of the best duos to work under the Two-QB system. (BleacherReport)

Jump to 2015 and we can zoom in on a tandem of Buckeye quarterbacks that flourished under the system. Cardale Jones was the starter for much of the first half of the season and was dangerous in the long-pass game aspect of the offense. With a bazooka for an arm, Jones was crucial to the strength of the Ohio State offense.

The other member of the tandem was J.T Barrett. Barrett posed to be a threat in the air and on the ground, which was a common occurrence with a lot of the second quarterbacks in these systems. Barrett’s ability and knowledge of the game allowed him to see what was coming from the defense and flourished in close game situations.

Yet again, Urban Meyer was the man behind the great quarterbacking duo. Meyer’s ability to handle the personalities of two star quarterbacks while keeping both of their spirits high was important to the success of Ohio State in 2015. Jones and Barrett knew their role in the offense and exceeded expectations within it.

Although the Buckeyes didn’t repeat as national champions that year, they still had a record of 12-1 (7-1) with a win over No. 8 Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl to show from their well managed two-QB system.

Kain Colter and Trever Siemian, Northwestern

Kain Colter's ability to run mixed with Trevor Siemian's deep ball led Northwestern to success in 2012. (ESPN)

Another great example of the two-QB system having success was the 2012 Northwestern team under head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald explored the system, with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian both getting equal reps under center for the Wildcats.

Colter was one of, if not the best, running quarterbacks in the nation, averaging 8.3 yards per rush on 170 attempts. He totaled 894 total rushing yards and added 12 rushing touchdowns, as well as passing for 872 yards and eight passing touchdowns.

Siemian did his work in the passing game under center, as he possessed a better deep ball, which made him a threat for defenses anywhere on the field. With a completion percentage of 58.7, he totaled 1312 yards with six touchdowns.

Overall, the pairing worked wonders for the Wildcats, as they finished 10-3 (5-3) with a win against Mississipi State in the Gator Bowl.


Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, LSU: This QB dyad had great success for the 2011 Tigers. With a final record of 13-1 (8-0), their only loss coming in the BCS National Championship to No. 2 Alabama, this team under Les Miles proved that the system can in fact work.

"It will always be about: In this series in the game, which quarterback gives us the best opportunity for victory, I expect that both quarterbacks will play."

— LSU coach Les Miles on playing two quarterbacks

Kolton Browning and Cody Wells, UL Monroe: Probably the most interesting way this system has been run was by the 2012 Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks under head coach Todd Berry. The system, well, speaks for itself in the video, as both quarterbacks would be put under center at the same time to create uncertainty like no other. This tactic led them to go 8-5 (6-2), with a win over No. 8 Arkansas and close defeats against Auburn and Baylor.

Using Two Quarterbacks Is Not As Crazy As You Think It Is

This system has worked for so many teams, and it can work for Virginia Tech in 2023 with Grant Wells and Kyron Drones under center for the Hokies. We will just have to wait and see.

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Born in Chesapeake and raised into a family of hokies, Virginia Tech is where I call home now. Attended New River Community College as a freshman and now a sophomore at VT as a transfer student in Fall 2022. Majoring in Sports Media and Analytics, I’m excited for what’s to come for me as a student at VT.

Virginia Tech sports has always been something I have been a fan of. From afternoons in Lane Stadium to nights in Cassell Coliseum, I have loved every second of it no matter the outcome.

One of my first memories of being a Tech fan was our upset win against Ohio State 35-21 where CB Donovan Riley had the game sealing pick-6. More recently, beating UNC in 6 overtimes, our run to the sweet 16, and of course winning the men’s basketball ACC Championship with upsets over UNC and Duke.

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