Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason plans on working with a two-quarterback system when his Commodores (3-4, 1-3 SEC) take on No. 18 Houston (7-0). This week’s depth chart listed both Kyle Shurmur and Johnny McCrary at the No. 1 position.
“I think the pressure’s on Houston,” Mason said. “For us, man, we just have to continue to do what we do and gain a little bit of ground.”
Speculation over Vanderbilt’s new starting quarterback began when Mason added Shurmur to the depth chart with McCrary and Wade Freebeck last week. Instead of a new starting quarterback, however, Vanderbilt seems inclined to utilize two.
The two offensive styles will pose a threat to the Cougars because the two quarterbacks have “two different dimensions to what they do” and have sharpened their game-management skills in order to compete.
McCrary, who has an SEC-worst 10 interceptions, initially was not a viable option. However, Mason decided that the balance between Shurmur and McCrary together would be the best chance for the Commodores to maximize management of the football.
Houston’s defense will have to prepare for Shurmur, who will run a West Coast offense and McCrary, who will pilot a spread attack, according to Mason. This could be a chance for the Vanderbilt quarterbacks to have some success. Houston is ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense, but the Cougars are 104th against the pass. They are yielding more than 260 yards per game through the air.
Mason is still looking for the best option, but the two quarterbacks are playing better because one can lean on the other and vice versa.
“I think Johnny has helped Kyle, and Kyle has helped Johnny,” Mason said. “These two guys make sure that they can help the team win, and that’s where we’re at right now. I think these guys are doing a great job of managing not only the game but helping each other become better quarterbacks.”
The Commodores are still learning what it takes to win, but the offense is making gradual improvements with the help of a dual-quarterback system.