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To Northwestern, two quarterbacks are better than one

Northwestern quarterback KaColter told coaches it was best if backup Trevor Siemian led team last drive last week Syracuse. |

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter told coaches it was best if backup Trevor Siemian led the team on the last drive last week at Syracuse. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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The facts: 7, BTN, 1000-AM.

Updated: October 9, 2012 3:06PM

If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one. That statement has been repeated so often at every level that it’s considered gospel.

Pat Fitzgerald respectfully disagrees. He has used two quarterbacks several times in his seven years as Northwestern’s coach, and he plans to do so again when the Wildcats host Vanderbilt in their home opener Saturday night.

Barring injuries, he expects junior Kain Colter and backup Trevor Siemian, a sophomore, to play in every game this season.

“We’re going to do what we’re going to do, and that means we’re going to play multiple quarterbacks, and we’re all right with it,” Fitzgerald said.

Northwestern’s season opening win over Syracuse offered insight into why Fitzgerald embraces what many coaches consider taboo. When Colter’s bruised ribs made it too painful for him to throw, Siemian, who had played a series at the start of the fourth quarter, was prepared to lead the team on a 10-play, 75-yard game-winning drive in the final two minutes.

Fitzgerald expects he will need both quarterbacks at some point this season, so why not have them ready?

“You do it at every other position,” Fitzgerald said. “I worked with [former Oklahoma quarterback] Garrick McGee, who is now the coach at UAB. Garrick talked about that happening to him at Oklahoma. Things might not have been going great for him. His coach would take him out, give him a blow for a series, let him smell the smells, see the sights and relax. Then he would go back in and play the rest of the game. I’m not saying that’s our model, but sometimes that can work, too.”

It helps when both quarterbacks put the team before their self-interests. The injured Colter told coaches that Siemian was a better option to lead the team on a potential game-winning drive against Syracuse. After completing 6 of 7 passes for 64 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown to Demetrius Fields with 44 seconds left, Siemian heads back to the bench.

“It gives you a chance to step away from the game a little bit,” Siemian said. “For me, being able to sit on the sidelines and see everybody’s faces and understand the tempo of the game, it’s helpful, definitely, but at the same time you want to be out there, too.”

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