Columbia Star

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Collins, Herden making two quarterback system work at Blythewood

There are many theories about whether having a two-quarterback system will work or not.

For most of his coaching career, Blythewood head coach Jason Seidel was not a fan. However, over the last two years that opinion has changed.

Since the beginning of the 2021 season, the Bengals have operated with either Harrison Collins or David Herden under center.

“I’ve always been an old school type of coach,” Seidel said. “I like for the offense to get used to one guy. But with the way Harrison and David compete, their attitude and their character, how do you not put guys on the field that do everything we ask?”

One way Seidel has made it work is by instituting a rule. If the quarterback in the game leads the offense to a touchdown, then he stays in the game. If not, the other quarterback gets an opportunity. That rule has been used a lot so far in 2022. In Friday’s 42-28 win over Goose Creek, Collins completed 24-of-35 passes for 410 yards and five touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown against the Gators.

“I want to credit my offensive line and wide receivers,” Collins said. “I had time in the pocket. I was able to get the ball to my playmakers.”

While one might think that would give Collins the upper hand at the full-time job, Herden also had an important play in the game where he ran for a first down following a botched punt. That drive turned into a Blythewood score. He has also turned in a big performance earlier this year against Westwood.

“If David comes out and has a great performance in our next game, then we’re back where we started,” Seidel said. “We don’t let them get satisfied. Both guys start out with a clean slate every week and have four days to win the job. I think it’ll help them in the long run.”

Another reason for the success of the two-quarterback system is their difference in styles. Collins prefers to stay in the pocket. Following his 410-yard output against Goose Creek, Collins has now completed 61-of-90 passes for 911 yards and ten touchdowns. He also has two rushing touchdowns.

Herden is more of a runner, although he only has one rushing touchdown on the season. He is not afraid to sling it downfield as well. For the season, he’s completed 20-of-29 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns.

While he prefers to run and get outside the pocket, Herden said it is Collins that has helped him develop his game.

“He’s helped teach me about staying in the pocket more and reading the field,” Herden said.

Both quarterbacks credited their receivers Deon Tyler, Chris Thomas, Josh Gary, Trent Lewis, and Nate Rabon.

Gary is the team’s leading receiver with 28 receptions for 405 yards and four touchdowns, including nine receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns against Goose Creek.

Tyler has 18 catches for 312 yards and five touchdowns. Thomas has 17 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. Rabon has 18 catches for 255 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite having two quarterbacks with two different styles, Seidel said it doesn’t affect how the coaches form the game plan week-to-week.

“We have packages for both,” Seidel said. “The whole game plan is wide open. Both can run; both can throw any route. We make a decision on Thursday about who starts based on practice. They are constantly fighting for the position. That’s how it’s going to be in life.”

What has helped Seidel the most is the way the two quarterbacks have handled the situation.

“ They’ve made it easy on the coaches,” Seidel said. “They come in, watch film, compete in drills, and help each other. They don’t complain. I don’t have to deal with any drama.

“That attitude helps the whole team. They are two men with high character with great academics who work their tails off.”

While the coaches have seen the benefit of the two players working together, the question is how do two guys competing for one of the biggest positions in sports set ego aside for the team?

“David and I are great friends,” Collins said. “We know once we step onto the field it’s a competition. We both love to play the game and we know it’s constantly a competition, but off the field we’re good friends.”

“I feel like it’s been a healthy competition,” Herden said. “No one is trying to bring the other one down. We’re trying to help each other. The competition has made us better quarterbacks, especially since last year. We both made a lot of mistakes last year, but it’s helped strengthen us.”

Both said Seidel encourages them to continue playing hard.

“During practice he tells us not to be afraid of making mistakes,” Herden said. “His focus is on what we do after the mistake. During the game he wants us to limit turnovers, take what the defense gives us, and don’t force the ball.”

Blythewood currently has a 3-2 record going into a bye week. Region 3-5A play begins September 30 with a game against Fort Mill.

Seidel likes where his team is, but knows the Bengals can get better and feels like they will need to be once region play begins.

Blythewood’s five region opponents hold a combined 4-18 record. However, the other region foes have faced teams like White Knoll, Ridge View, Northwestern, South Pointe, Dorman, Catawba Ridge, and Hillcrest.

“Even though their records may not be great, our region has some good teams,” Seidel said. “I’ve told the kids not to worry about the records. It’s going to be a dog fight every week.”

As Seidel and the Bengals march through the region slate, they will do so with the benefit of two quality, experienced quarterbacks.

Collins and Herden both want to continue developing. Seidel wants them to focus on holding onto the ball, take what the defense gives them, and focus on moving the chains.

They all agreed that their goals for the team are to win the region and make the playoffs.

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