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Arizona-Toledo Preview: Two-Quarterback Rocket Offense Bucks Trends

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 28: Terrance Owens #2 of the Toledo Rockets celebrates their 42-41 win over the Air Force Falcons during the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium on December 28, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 28: Terrance Owens #2 of the Toledo Rockets celebrates their 42-41 win over the Air Force Falcons during the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium on December 28, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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You know the adage: if you have a two-quarterback offense, you have a no-quarterback offense. Someone forgot to remind the Toldeo Rockets. UT was among the nation's most explosive offensive teams a season ago, lighting up scoreboards while regularly featuring two quarterbacks.

Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin shared snaps in 2011, not because of situational need or to compensate for one or the other's inefficiencies.

"T.O. and I really complement each other well. We do a lot of the same things," Dantin said.

And there's no controversy as to who should be the full-time No. 1. Dantin added that in the two years UT has operated with the two-quarterback system, the Rockets have thrived. The duo puts winning above individual statistics -- and both accrued some impressive individual statistics.

Dantin threw for 1404 yards on 188 attempts and 15 touchdowns. Owens completed better than 72 percent of his 203 passes, 18 of which were touchdowns. So impressive was Owens' throwing, it earned him national headlines and professional attention this summer -- from Major League Baseball.

"I was really confused. It was really random...[when] I got a call from the [San Diego Padres] manager and he said they were interested in me. Then I got another call the day of the draft," Owens said.

The Padres exhausted the No. 1215 pick on the Rocket quarterback, which teammate Dantin said "[the team] thought it was a joke." Owens does not anticipate a career on the baseball diamond -- he hasn't played since high school -- but said he does dream of reaching the NFL. While for some that might translate to refusing to share playing time, Owens and Dantin seem to understand what a good thing they have going.

UT scored more than 42 points per game last season with each quarterback guiding the offense.

Tim Beckman left for Illinois, but assistant Matt Campbell ascended to the head coaching position. Campbell is opting not to mess with a successful formula. In addition to scoring at a six-touchdown-a-game clip, the Rockets were one of the most successful teams in the nation when it came to protecting the ball. Owens and Dantin combined for just seven interceptions last season, putting them in company with the likes of Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson.

More than the coaching change, the biggest adjustment the Rocket offense faces is in the departure of do-everything wide receiver Eric Page. Page was among the nation's most prolific pass catchers -- in fact, only fellow Mid-American Conference product Jordan White (Western Michigan) caught more balls in 2011.

Replacing Page's 1182 yards and 10 touchdowns isn't something one single player does. The Rocket offense will rely on a committee to supplement the production Page's departure leaves.

"We have a lot more depth now and a lot of players stepping up," Owens said.

Bernard Reedy is the leading returner. He hauled in nine touchdowns last season. Otherwise, it's going to be a very young group integrating into the offense. In that sense, UT and UA share a few things in common.

Preparing for two quarterbacks is a rare scenario for Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. Similarly, gameplanning for the 3-3-5 stack is something UT will only do once.

"It's not something we face very much. Luckily, we've had multiple games to get ready for this game coming out of camp. Our coaches have done a great job watching film to get ready for what we're going to see," Dantin said.

Combine the oddities of the 3-3-5 stack with Saturday being the first time Rodriguez, Casteel and Co. have coached an Arizona team, and studying for this match-up has meant extended film sessions for the Rockets.

"It's kind of a mix what we're watching and how we're preparing for this game," Dantin said. "We're watching a lot of Michigan [film] with Rich Rodriguez. We're watching a lot of West Virginia for [Casteel]. But we're also watching Arizona just to see personnel who we'll be facing."

Getting a sense of what the Wildcats can do individually might alleviate some of the guesswork in facing a completely new scheme, though some players are taking on entirely new roles.

Owens praised Marquis Flowers' aggressiveness at safety. This year, Flowers makes the move to linebacker to supplement that depleted unit. Tra'Mayne Bondurant transitions to the new Spur position, and a host of new faces are ready to make appearances.

That element of the unknown promises for a fascinating first week for both teams.