ORLANDO - Many different college football programs operated a two-quarterback system successfully. Each one of them provided a unique style of its own. Sometimes it’s rotating a series, or it can be the player playing the best receiving the bulk of the snaps behind center for the remainder of the game. UCF might be headed for something unique with its own two-quarterback system.
With Mikey Keene taking over at quarterback for Dillon Gabriel due to injury, there’s still ample opportunity for Joey Gatewood to make his mark as well.
While this will be a work in progress during the time Gabriel heals from injury, there will be specific aspects of Gatewood’s skills that benefit the Knights the most. The following provides an exploratory view of what the UCF offense will look like when it takes on Navy as well as each game thereafter.
First and Ten, to Begin a Drive
Most of the time, this should be Keene behind center. After a kickoff or punt return, Keene will likely be the man taking the snaps as the Knights attempt to move the football.
To start a drive, could UCF occasionally insert Gatewood into the lineup as a change of pace? Of course. There might be a specific matchup that UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn and his offensive assistants will attack with Gatewood’s running skills. This could also be an opportunity to witness how much of the offense Gatewood absorbed.
Overall, look for Keene to begin a drive, but Gatewood could be inserted into the lineup to start a drive as well. Once the football reaches the opponent’s 20 yard line, that’s Gatewood’s chance to make a true impact.
The red zone would be the opponent’s 20 yard line all the way to the goal line. There’s limited space for passing and the offense needs to be more creative with how it attacks a defense to generate positive yardage. Gatewood will likely be an option once the Knights move into this area of the field.
With Gatewood’s size, he’s a powerful runner. Especially if Isaiah Bowswer needs a breather or if the Knights just want to hammer the football downhill at the opposing defense, Gatewood could operate a Wildcat package or some form of option football. He’s really good at running between the tackles with his 6’5”, 221 pound frame, and that opens up several other opportunities for other players to run the football or catch a pass.
Goal Line and Short Yardage
This category provides an extension of the red zone. Gatewood could be used when it’s third down and one, fourth down and inches, or when the football goes into the area near the goal line; inside the five yard line Gatewood might run the football three consecutive times. He could also be a threat with the run-pass option (RPO) making defenses commit to stopping the run while still being able to make throws.
Two Quarterbacks in One Formation
Watching Gatewood in the lineup at the same time as Keene should not be surprising to UCF fans either. They could insert Gatewood in the lineup and move Keene out wide while Gatewood operates the Wildcat. That’s a fairly common practice with running quarterbacks because the opposing defensive coordinator must guess with his substitution pattern as to what the Knights will do with both signal callers in the game at the same time. There will be other possibilities.
Playing Gatewood at running back, H-back, or wide receiver could come about. He could be a decoy, run the football, catch a pass, be used in motion as part of an option look with Keene at quarterback or even take a handoff and then throw the football.
The total number of options that could be seen depends on what UCF offensive coaches feel would be best for any one situation. Just keep it in mind for future games. There’s one last situation to consider, and it probably depends on Gatewood’s knowledge of the offense as to how soon it could be implemented.
Uptempo Power Football
As mentioned above, Gatewood could play quarterback and begin a drive for the Knights. Within this particular scenario, however, the weapon would be the pace of play as much as it would be Gatewood’s physical skills and quarterback knowledge.
Running a no-huddle offense can present challenges to a defense. Not being able to substitute the way a defense prefers, as well as possibly not even having the best defensive players on the field for what the Knights might be attempting to do can be a reason for uptempo. Gatewood’s skills fit right into this offensive philosophy.
If he’s ready to handle even a moderate amount of the passing game, Gatewood should be able to run some no huddle with his best skill of running the football as the primary weapon. Mixing in a few passes to keep the defense off balance will be the key to this concept working consistently, however.
How and when Gatewood operates any form of no-huddle offense will depend on his ability to absorb the playbook. It can be a limited passing game package so that he helps keep the tempo fast and operates the plays with efficiency. That’s the more important aspect of the no-huddle. It will be interesting to see if and when UCF allows Gatewood a chance to run a series without Keene playing even one snap when the Knights take on the Midshipmen.
The talent and upside of Gatewood would be tremendous. He’s a really physically gifted young man that relishes contact like a running back, while also being able to make decisions in the passing game. UCF fans should be excited about the opportunity to watch what this young man can do to help the Knights move the football and score points.
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