Lions two-quarterback system has much success

Sophomore quarterback Jacob Tucker looks down field for an open receiver against Western Oregon Oct. 4. Tucker leads the team in total touchdowns with six. 

In football there is an old saying, “If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none.”

UNA on the other hand seems to be the exception. The Lions rotate quarterbacks Luke Wingo and Jacob Tucker throughout the game without missing a beat on offense. Wingo starts and Tucker enters the game every third offensive possession of the half.

The plan has been successful for the Lions since platooning the two at the start of the 2013 season as they have a 14-3 record, a Gulf South Conference Championship, a trip to the third round in the Division II playoffs and a No. 6 ranking this year.

“We have total confidence in both players. They’re both very similar to the fact they’re both great leaders, both very tough, both can throw the football, both very smart, and both can run,” said head coach Bobby Wallace. “There’s not a lot of difference (between the two.) We’re very fortunate to have recruited two quarterbacks like that in the same year.”

Wingo and Tucker came to UNA in 2012. During fall camp coaches did not know who they would use as backup and who they would redshirt, Wallace said.

“During two-a-days when they were both freshmen Tucker got a bulging disk in his back, and that pretty much made our decision on who to redshirt,” he said. “The injury made the decision for us. That decision could’ve been reversed very easily and their roles would be different.”

Wingo has thrown for 415 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 116 yards and three touchdowns this season. Tucker has passed for 196 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 273 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think we just complement each other very well,” Wingo said. “He can run the ball well and throw it well, and I can run the ball fairly well too.”

Through four games this season Wingo and Tucker have guided the Lions to second highest scoring offense in the GSC with an average of 43.8 points per game.

Tucker said the similarities between the two are the reason the offense does not miss a beat when either is in the game.

“We’re both the same age, we came in at the same time, and we got started with the offense at the same time,” he said. “So we had the same upbringing and that has a lot to do with it. (Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Cody) Gross has done a great job with us as far as introducing us to this offense.”

The luxury of having two quarterbacks so similar is that UNA can run the same plays with either in the game, Gross said.

“We don’t say ‘look Luke here’s your plan and Jacob here’s you plan,’” he said. “We just run what the other team is giving us regardless of who who the guy is.”

It also makes it easier on the coaches to see Tucker cheer on Wingo from the sidelines when he is in the game and vice versa, Wallace said.

“They are both very smart and very unselfish, and that really gives us the edge to be able to do what we want with them,” he said. “Neither one of them is going to create any controversy over playing time. They both want what’s best for the team, and that’s to win a championship.”

Tucker said the reason most two-quarterback offenses fail is because the two quarterbacks tend to root against each other, and the team becomes split between the two players.

“We have the complete opposite of that. When Luke’s in the game I’m rooting for him and when I’m in the game he’s rooting for me,” he said.

Gross said it helps that the Lions use two quarterbacks because they like to run the ball with both Wingo and Tucker.

“I think they’re the two toughest quarterbacks in America,” he said. “They run in between the tackles so they take a pounding, so it helps to have two quarterbacks.”