MORGANTOWN — One team ... two quarterbacks.
Not a coach’s dream, often a coach’s nightmare.
But it can work.
Now comes the ultimate test of it as West Virginia football coach Neal Brown tries to draw up a way to merge quarterbacks Jarret Doege and Garrett Greene into one position that can challenge Oklahoma’s golden boy at the position, Spencer Rattler, in Saturday’s shootout at what historically for WVU has been the “Not-So-OK-Corral” in Norman.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on ABC.
Doege is the starter, a senior veteran who won the job fairly during the off-season and who has his strong points and weak points. Greene is a, shall we say, green redshirt freshman who also has pluses and minuses on his ledger.
If they were similar in style, perhaps, it would be easier for Brown to work them into the same offense, but they are not similar at all. Doege is a traditional pocket passer and Greene a more mobile running threat.
Putting that together in one offensive unit creates complex problems for both the WVU offense and whomever must defend it.
“There’s only so many reps to go around and there’s very little crossover with these two,” Brown said. “It’s probably more difficult for the defenses but there’s some challenges when you’re putting together a game plan because it’s really important that you keep everything for the offensive line the same.
“That’s where the challenge comes in like, OK, how much can you do? How can we present differently to the defense with each quarterback? And how you rotate them within a game, there’s a feel to it.”
It is more how he put it after both combined for the victory over Virginia Tech last week, calling it a “science” in working with two quarterbacks.
“Garrett, I don’t know if I have a total feel for him in games yet,” Brown said. “I thought he did some really good things on Saturday. There’s a couple that weren’t so good but I thought he ran the ball well. And he can throw it.
“You know, we haven’t asked him to do it as much but he can — he’s got a really strong arm.”
Brown, however, has to gain confidence in Greene’s throwing ability before he places the outcome of games on his arm.
The problem is that Doege’s passing has been inconsistent at the most inconvenient of times, like the screen interception he threw while trying to run the clock out at the end of the Tech game, a play Brown tried to take the blame for as the wrong play to call.
But the man throwing the ball cannot, under any circumstances, make such a fatal mistake.
The thing is, this two-quarterback thing can succeed.
And it has been done at West Virginia before, most notably in 1993 when Don Nehlen used both Jake Kelchner and Darren Studstill led the Mountaineers to an undefeated regular season.
There were others throughout history which worked out well, most notably:
1999: Tom Brady and Drew Henson, Michigan
2006: Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, Florida
1997: Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise, Florida
1979: Jimmy Jordan and Wally Woodham, Florida State
It just comes down to figuring out the way to make it work.
“We, as a staff have to keep finding ways for our guys to gain yards, gain confidence and improve,” offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said. “What Garrett has done is allowed us to find a different way to attack people. I think you will see growth in that as we go along.
“It allows us to be different in a way we need to be at that position. It complements us very well, having a two-quarterback package. We can grow it as people begin to game plan for us and stay in front of it.”
The style of attack is starkly different.
Doege has thrown the ball 88 times and has 729 passing yards and 6 touchdowns. Greene has thrown 8 passes and has 57 passing yards with no scores.
But Greene is the team’s second leading rusher behind Leddie Brown with 26 rushing yards while Doege has 12 rushing attempts and has a net minus-33 yards.
“It’s important for us to make our plays work,” Parker said. “Like anything, we are sitting here as coaches and players trying to put our best foot forward to put our guys in the best position to be successful. But also to run our offense, do the things they know how to do; the things they have worked tirelessly on from January to now.
“It’s a careful balance, but we’re capable of that while keeping our foot on the gas”
Follow @bhertzel on Twitter