The Brigham Young Cougars 2 QB System: A Rousing Success?

The Brigham Young Cougars suffered an ugly loss last Saturday to the Air Force Falcons. It is easy to look at what happened in Colorado Springs and call BYU's two quarterback system a failure. In fact, many are doing just that. However, after letting the emotions subside and reassessing the results of this system thus far, it is far from failing.

We can all agree that the two quarterback system was a success in game one against Washington. The offense gained 408 total yards, scored 21 points, and the quarterbacks combined for a modest 131.5 pass efficiency rating. The points and total offense in this game were better than all other season openers under Bronco Mendenhall, except the 2008 opener against Northern Iowa.

Game two against Air Force, the two quarterback system was not the major failure that many people have said it was. Before forming any opinion or any judgment on this system based on game two, it is crucial to remember that BYU only employed the system in the first half. In the first 30 minutes, BYU had 216 yards of total offense and 14 points. That is 3 more points than the offense produced in game one against Washington, and about the same number of yards (226). In the second game of 2007, BYU only had 182 yards of total offense and 3 points in the first half. The BYU offense fell apart in the second half when BYU used one quarterback.

It is true, BYU turned the ball over three times in the first half against Air Force, including one turnover apiece for the quarterbacks, but that is not enough negative results to erase all the positive results and label the two quarterback system a failure. Yes, each possession is more important against Air Force because of the time they run off the clock using the option, but let's be reasonable. We all knew that BYU would have turnovers this year. All of the great, and not so great, BYU quarterbacks have fumbled and thrown interceptions. I would venture that BYU has had at least three turnovers in the same game hundreds of times, and those were games with a one quarterback system (BYU had 3 against Air Force in 2009). Even with the first half turnovers, BYU went into the locker room down by only 7 points. BYU has overcome seven point deficits many, many times, including the season opener against Washington. There was no need to panic.

BYU had weathered the storm of the three turnovers. They had the half to regroup and come back out in the second half the same way they started the game. Now, I wasn't in the locker room. I wasn't on the sideline. I don't know what happened or what was said, but, in my opinion, the loss to Air Force was not a result of the two QB system. It was a result of inexperienced players overreacting to the miscues, and poor coaching that did not help the young players see that they were outplaying a very motivated Air Force team, that this game was still very winnable, and that they should have stuck with the game plan--particularly the two QB system.

Scrap the two QB system? Not yet. It has worked. Go ahead and start Riley Nelson for the Florida State game, but don't give him more than half of the offensive series's.

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For this week's Flashback, click here.


  1. I agree, for the most part. Everyone is too eager to scrape the two-QB system, for no apparent reason. I do not think the system was why BYU failed. Remember the JJ Di Luigi fumble? If he had held onto that ball, there is another TD. Plus the Chambers drop in the end zone! That is 14 points that BYU should have had - and know one can blame the QB's for not getting them. Those touchdowns could have been game changer's.

    I do think it is a good idea to adapt the two QB system to be more "situational" as Bronco has been talking about, though maybe we should give it more time just alternating series, so we can better understand what each quarterback can do in various situations. That way, our "situational system" can be more effective.

  2. This year is a rebuilding year, I just hope they end up with a winning record. They should but the cougars are to young and inexperienced. This will be the year to choose a QB and make all their weaknesses into strengths so they can be a more competitive in the NCAA. Because right now they look very average. Branco needs to expect more of them and they the players need to expect more of themselves. Can they handle the pressure? Can they make quick and accurate decisions? Do they really have the heart to be champions?

  3. Maybe they need to watch Rudy, so they can see what real heart is about and build from there.


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