Vanderbilt tops Tennessee with, in spite of two-quarterback approach

It is a long-held and deep belief in football that if you have two starting quarterbacks, you actually don’t have any. It’s akin to the notion that too many cooks spoil to stew because confusion in regard to that position can undermine an entire team, not just the offense.

With its 14-10 victory over Tennessee on Saturday, though, Vanderbilt provided reason to question that line of thinking. Eventually.

Patton Robinette scored the game-winning touchdown on a five-yard run with 14 seconds remaining and capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive on which Austyn Carta-Samuels completed six passes for 72 yards and rushed twice of four yards and one fourth-down conversion (courtesy of a video review).

The rest of the game the two-quarterback approach seemed to undermine efforts of a team that had scored more than 20 points in every previous contest and had not committed a turnover in the previous two.

“Resilience is the big thing,” Robinette said. “We were resilient on the final drive although things had not been going our way the entire game. We put together a nice long touchdown drive to seal the win.”

Robinette proved himself capable during the two and half games he played when Carta-Samuels was hurt. Carta-Samuels promptly reestablished himself in the victory over Kentucky – but only to a point.

Coaches found limited opportunities to get Robinette involved against Kentucky and plenty of chances for him against Tennessee. It seemed a questionable course of action in the latter when the Commodores committed a season-high four turnovers (three fumbles, one interception) and all of them came no more than two plays after a quarterback swap.

“We've got to diversify the offense a little bit but I did like the fact we were able to use Patton Robinette,” coach James Franklin said. “He had a bigger role in the game. We just can't turn the ball over.”

Yet that’s exactly what they did.

• Carta-Samuels threw an interception on the first play of Vanderbilt’s second possession. Robinette made his first appearance late on the opening drive.

• A missed handoff between Carta-Samuels and running back Brian Kimbrow resulted in a lost fumble immediately after two Robinette passes.

• Record-setting wide receiver Jordan Matthews fumbled near the goal line on a 20-yard completion by Carta-Samuels, one play after a Robinette run.

• Robinette fumbled on his first snap of the second half after Carta-Samuels had opened that drive.

“Tennessee is a great team — all respect to them,” Matthews said. “Those guys fought hard. We fought hard, too. Our guys, they stayed resilient, never hung their heads, just stuck with it. Then for us to get that run on the last drive, Carta-Samuels came up big and then [Robinette] to be able to go in and score like that … that is a storybook ending for him.”

For anyone who thinks two quarterbacks are one too many, the whole thing probably sounds like make-believe.