Illini plan 2-quarterback system for Gophers
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — In the absence of the injured Wes Lunt, Illinois will play a pair of quarterbacks Saturday against Minnesota.
Coach Tim Beckman said Monday that the Gophers (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) can expect to see both senior Reilly O’Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey, something he believes will make their preparation more difficult.
“I think that for them to prepare for two is always a little more challenging than to prepare for one,” he said.
How the Illini (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten) will make that work remains to be seen, offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said. He doesn’t appear to be a big fan of the idea.
“I don’t know. I’ll be honest with you — I’ve never done it before,” Cubit said. “Both guys have pretty good qualities. We’ll figure it out.”
He raised concerns about limiting his playbook to accommodate the two very different quarterbacks, O’Toole is the more traditional passer, and Bailey is the running threat.
“The playbook gets really expanded for one guy,” Cubit said. “You just can’t run two plays, three plays out there. You’ve got to give the other team a little bit of credit that they’re going to come out there in defense and they’re going to have different schemes for it.”
Asked whether he liked the idea of planning to play both quarterbacks, Cubit didn’t exactly endorse the idea.
“If it helps us win, yeah,” he said.
The team has said Lunt is out until mid-November with a broken bone in his left leg sustained against Purdue. Cubit said Lunt is off crutches and has started some throwing.
O’Toole started Illinois’ only game since, the 38-28 loss at Wisconsin. He was 12-19 for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and was sacked four times.
Bailey relieved him late, with Illinois down by 24 points, and rallied the Illini for a pair of touchdowns. One he ran in himself from 29 yards. Bailey was 2-for-5 for 39 yards with an interception and ran the ball 12 times for 75 yards and the touchdown. He was Illinois’ leading rusher.
The team, which has lost three straight, didn’t list either O’Toole or Bailey as the likely starter on Monday.
O’Toole said he hasn’t played much in a two-quarterback system but thinks Bailey’s running ability can add to the Illinois offense.
“I’m just excited to see what he can do,” O’Toole said.
Bailey wasn’t available for comment.
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