Can A Two Quarterback System Work For South Carolina Gamecocks?

By Bryan Zarpentine
Kim Klement – USATODAY Sports

Most college football coaches will tell you that if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks.  But South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier is not your average college football coach, and by the looks of things, Spurrier intends to play with two quarterbacks next season: senior Connor Shaw and junior Dylan Thompson.

Shaw has been the primary starter since midway through the 2011 season when Stephen Garcia was booted from the team, in part because Shaw was waiting in the wings, and the Gamecocks have won a lot of games with him at the helm since then.  However, Thompson received extended playing time in four games last season and performed well, including throwing the game-winning touchdown in the Outback Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines.  With Shaw missing spring practice due to an injury, Thompson is receiving all the first-team snaps and is playing like someone that deserves to be the starter, which could create quite the quandary for Spurrier next fall.

Most coaches would run from an impending quarterback controversy, but Spurrier is just crazy enough to embrace one.  He’s never had a problem playing two quarterbacks in the past; in fact, he would often go out of his way to give Shaw playing time early in his career when Garcia was entrenched as the starter.  However, occasional appearances by Thompson in 2012 could turn into a near-equal split of playing time between Shaw and Thompson in 2013.

Spurrier may try to turn what most coaches would call a “quarterback controversy” into a true two-quarterback system, where both players would be on a level playing field.  If Spurrier can successfully set the egos of both quarterbacks aside, he could play two legitimate starting quarterbacks and force opposing teams to prepare for two talented quarterbacks with two different skill sets, different strengths, and different tendencies.  An already creative and inventive offensive coach would become even more unpredictable and difficult to prepare for if he had two quarterbacks he could utilize in any way and at any time; the possibilities could be seemingly endless.

Obviously, there’s a lot of time between now and the start of the season, and anything could happen between now and then.  However, there is a growing possibility that Shaw and Thompson will split time at quarterback for the Gamecocks this season.  On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to go with two quarterbacks, but considering how talented each quarterback is and how great of an offensive coach Spurrier is, it’s a plan so crazy that it just might work.


Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at  He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer.  Follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.

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