James Franklin Discusses Idea Of Using Mobile QB In Redzone
Anything you can do, I can can do better?
It’s a known fact that Urban Meyer, regardless of his hand being essentially forced in this situation, employs a two-quarterback system at Ohio State, or at least did when Cardale Jones was the starter. His original gameplan was to have Jones trot out to begin the game, allowing him play like a normal starting quarterback would and manage the game accordingly. But, given the unique circumstance Ohio State was faced with this offseason in regards to quarterback depth, Meyer would insert reigning Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year J.T. Barrett into the lineup once the team entered the redzone. While relatively unorthodox, this method proved to be quite effective for the Buckeyes, who boast a redzone scoring percentage of 85.71 so far in 2015.
Although J.T. Barrett was named the full-time starter over Jones this week, it seems as though Urban Meyer isn’t the only Big Ten coach who supports this philosophy. James Franklin spoke to the media during his Wednesday post-practice availability, and didn’t necessarily shun the notion of implementing a practice similar to the one seen in Columbus.
“We’ve talked about that a number of times, both last year, this year, and really this week,” Franklin said. “It’s a little bit different dynamic because the guy that [Ohio State] was putting in was the Big Ten Player of the Year, and the guy they pulled out hasn’t lost a game. But yes, there have been plenty of discussions of doing some things like that to keep people on their toes and giving them some extra things to work with.”
If you think you’ve seen everything at Penn State under the Franklin regime, you probably haven’t. But on a serious note, the implementation of a mobile quarterback into the game when Penn State is faced with a scoring opportunity opens up a new world of possibilities for an offense that’s struggled to consistently pound the football into the endzone inside of 20 yards — let alone walk away with a field goal. Penn State owns a redzone scoring percentage of 75 percent, good for No. 101 in the country, and well behind Ohio State who sits at No. 50.
Now, while Franklin wouldn’t necessarily confirm or deny his plan to use this pseudo-relief quarterback, he pointed to his program’s upcoming opponent as an example of a team that successfully uses a mobile quarterback to its advantage, and the subsequent effect it can have on opposing defensive units.
“Look at Maryland right now. They are going to run the quarterback, that’s going to be the team’s gameplan in our opinion,” Franklin said. “They have their fullback, a player who used to play quarterback for them, and have guys that can execute a system of designed quarterback runs, and that’s what we’re expecting. It can wear a defense out, so we need to be prepared.”
While he might’ve enjoyed a successful outing on the ground against Indiana, it’s obvious that Christian Hackenberg is far from your prototypical mobile quarterback. Imagining a world in which Penn State operates out of the two-quarterback system is both unusual and far-fetched to consider this as a feasible idea, given the sheer notion that Christian Hackenberg is the entrenched starting quarterback, and that it would take only an injury to relegate him to the sideline.
Though nothing is set in stone, the fact that Franklin didn’t kibosh the idea from the get go certainly says something. Besides, I’d take Hackenberg and Trace McSorely used as a sort of air-to-ground combo over another predictable John Donovan screen pass any day.