2 QBs, Part II: Jax State, EKU follow similar plan
by Al Muskewitz
amuskewitz@annistonstar.com
Sep 19, 2012 | 2682 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marques Ivory (left) and Coty Blanchard alternate at quarterback for Jacksonville State. While many pundits say a two-quarterback system can't work, the Gamecocks feel this gives them the best chance to win. (File photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
Marques Ivory (left) and Coty Blanchard alternate at quarterback for Jacksonville State. While many pundits say a two-quarterback system can't work, the Gamecocks feel this gives them the best chance to win. (File photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
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JACKSONVILLE — Trying to keep up with which quarterback is in the game for Jacksonville State and Eastern Kentucky in their season-opening showdown Saturday night will be a lot like trying to follow the pea in a street corner shell game.

No. 24 JSU (1-1) has been alternating fifth-year senior Marques Ivory and junior Coty Blanchard all season -- sometimes within the same set of downs -- and the 21st-ranked Colonels (2-1) are aspiring to do the same with fifth-year senior T.J. Pryor and sophomore Jared McClain.

"We've been trying to do the same thing for two weeks," EKU coach Dean Hood said. "I think both have legitimate reasons for doing it and it's similar in that both kids can run the whole offense but they have different skill sets. We haven't worked out all the kinks, but we're headed down the same road."

It's not that neither team knows which one to use, it's both quarterbacks bring something unique to keep a defense on its toes.


Next: JSU at E. Kentucky, Saturday, 5 p.m., 91.9 FM

Pryor and Ivory are the throwers, while McClain and Blanchard are the runners. That's the conventional wisdom, anyway.

"It's the same dude," Hood said.

Jax State has had better luck getting its approach to work, mainly because both of its quarterbacks have been starters and both have remained healthy this season.

The Gamecocks even got the snap ratio to a symmetrical 2-to-1 in the opener at Arkansas. It was closer to nearly 4-to-1 for Ivory in the win over Chattanooga. For the year, Ivory has taken 100 snaps, while Blanchard has taken 40. And as for that conventional wisdom, Ivory has been in on 53 running plays -- 10 of which are his own carries -- while Blanchard, the OVC pass efficiency leader the past two seasons, has thrown 12 passes.

The Colonels have wanted a similar snap split with Pryor and McClain, but have been limited by Pryor's bothersome hamstring, which Hood described as a day-to-day proposition. McClain played the whole game in the opener with Purdue, his second straight season-opener start.

For the year, Pryor has taken 131 snaps to 74 for McClain. And that conventional wisdom, Pryor has been under center on 99 running plays and McClain has thrown 30 passes -- including his first career touchdown pass last week at Coastal Carolina.

"We've been trying to make it where it's playing 50-50 because I do think it's a heck of an advantage to do it," Hood said. "We haven't gotten there because it's been so unstable with T.J.’s situation. It's been weird. We've not been able to truly use them 50-50."

When facing a two-quarterback system, JSU coordinator Chris Boone said his evolving defense has to be ready for all aspects of the games.

Senior linebacker Nick Johnson said the Gamecocks will be. They already know what the revolving door looks like.

"I think that will be very helpful," he said. "We get to practice against two of the best quarterbacks in the conference every day."

Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @JSUSports_Star.

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