John Clay

Two QBs can work for UK

Now that we've used the past week to debate the merits of using your first amendment rights to boo a college student or a winning football coach, let's bust a myth.

That myth is: If you have two quarterbacks, you have none at all.

Tell that to LSU, which used Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux at quarterback last year while bringing a BCS title back to Baton Rouge.

Tell that to Florida, which used both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at quarterback to capture the 2006 BCS crown.

True, the two-quarterback system UK employs, using both sophomore Mike Hartline and true freshman Randall Cobb, can be a recipe for disaster, especially if neither of the quarterbacks is any good.

But we haven't experienced a desirable sample size to make definitive judgments on the merits of UK's signal-callers, which is what these non-conference games are all about.

To be sure, Saturday night's opponent, Middle Tennessee State, is a challenge. The Blue Raiders made Maryland pay for agreeing to visit Murfreesboro by beating the Terps 24-14 last week. No good deed goes unpunished.

And yet, Kentucky is a 16½ -point favorite, even though Rich Brooks will continue to commit the perceived sin of playing two quarterbacks.

Oct. 4 is the SEC opener at Alabama. Now is the evaluation period. Questions will be posed. Answers received. Data considered.

Word is that against Norfolk State, while Cobb provided a serious spark, the offense also benefited from drawing a bead on the Norfolk defense the first two series. Cobb's insertion wasn't a reaction to Hartline's play, but a product of a pre-game plan to judge his capabilities. Turns out, they crackle.

It was the same situation in the second half when Hartline trotted onto the field for the first series, prompting boos, and cringes. When Cobb re-entered on the third series, the sequel fell short of the debut.

All this does is make Saturday night more interesting. Fans (and media) love a good quarterback controversy. It's like a presidential election. You can choose sides. You can debate. You can punch the numbers of a local call-in show, or hit the send button on your e-mail. You can cross civility's line.

What you would like to see Saturday is each quarterback fill in the other's weakness. You would like to see Hartline make the big plays Cobb provided last week. You would like to see Cobb avoid the mistakes Hartline has avoided the first two weeks.

In the end, the idea is not necessarily to have a quarterback, but to have a quarterback plan. Les Miles had one last year at LSU when he combined Flynn's experience with Perrilloux's athletic ability. Urban Meyer had one two years ago when he combined Leak's leadership with Tebow's unusual skills.

In fact, that is Steve Spurrier's problem at South Carolina. The ol' ball coach keeps waffling from week to week, benching one quarterback then the other, spinning his passers around in a revolving door. His plan is to tear up one plan and quickly write another. Over and over. Coach Superior has grown even more impetuous in his old age.

Rich Brooks has not. He's never said he wanted to make a quarterback decision by such-and-such date. He's never imposed the situation with a deadline.

If he wants to make a choice, fine.

But there's no reason for him to feel rushed.

Having one quarterback is not better than two unless you have the right one.

  Comments