Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A QB Hypothetical

This post was originally going to contain 2 hypothetical questions concerning our QB's, but Sports Illustrated online beat me to the punch on one of them (Forcier vs. Pryor):


So... we are down to only one. However I do want to add to that article that had we landed Pryor last year, good bad or otherwise, we would be committed to having him be our QB for at least a large part of this current season. With his current stats at a top football program, that is somewhat of a scary thought. We just may have unintentially dodged a bullet.

Before you read on, please remember that this is only a HYPOTHETICAL musing. What follows assumes a ton of things.

Although it is still way to early to tell, Michigan appears to have found itself a QB capable of running RichRod's show. Much to the delight of Michigan fans everywhere, Tate Forcier had a huge coming out party on Saturday at Notre Dame's expense. The freshman looked poised and prepared for everything that Big Poppa Weis and the God Squad threw at him, and he performed far above expectations.

Here's my question:

Now that we have Devin Gardner (the nation's #1 ranked high-school QB) interested in coming to Michigan, what becomes of Tate and Denard in 2010? Assuming that Tate can only get better from here, plays most if not all of this season as our starting QB, and improves in the offseason, he will arguably be the probable starter entering the 2010 season. Denard, who seems to be being brought along slowly, would then be our default #2 guy, with at least a shot at competing for the starting job. If we get Gardner (IF), and if he is smart and talented enough to run in this system (IF), RichRod would no doubt have a bit of a bottleneck at the QB position.

Assuming the season goes well from here on out, it would be hard to start anyone but Tate, unless he was being out-right beat in QB competitions by one of the other two aforementioned QB's. That being said, RichRod doesn't strike me as an overly loyal person (see Nick Sheridan), and would without a doubt start the guy who deserved it the most.

If Denard Robinson doesn't make some major improvements at the QB position this year, would it be safe to say that he might be the odd man out of this threesome? Obviously he is too talented for RichRod to keep him off of the field, but perhaps his days (years) at QB are limited, espeically now that he appears to be well behind the learning curve of Tate Forcier's. Maybe RichRob could turn him into one of those great Percy Harvin type players, who can be used in a number of ways not limited to any one position.

Maybe the same fate awaits Devin Gardner if he chooses to come to Michigan. Who is to say that he will be smart enough to run RichRod's somewhat complex system? Who is to say he will/won't be able to? He surely has the physical talent to do it, but will he have the opportunity to be a QB? Maybe he won't even decide to come at all if he feels he won't get ample playing time as a QB? Who knows.

No matter what happens the rest of this season, it is clear that, when it comes to talent, we have a bright future at the QB position, regardless of who may be running the show. It sure will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months.

(For recruiting film and notes on Devin Gardner, try www.YouTube.com, and more importantly www.mgoblog.com, and www.yahoo.com/sports, who I find does a better job at in-depth scouting than Rivals and Scouts, Inc. combined.)

Look for a post later this week on my immense frustration with the so-called "Worldwide leader in sports". As always, fire away on the comments and counterpoints.


GregGoBlue said...

this is a great read on the Pryor subject: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/Deconstructing-The-grisly-demise-of-Tressel-Ba?urn=ncaaf,189322

A few things on Pryor before I get to the Meech Qb sitch:

1) Though he wanted to go to a pro-style system (why he decided to go to OSU over Meech), he has clear deficits in the passing game, even in his second year in the system. Many claim that it is because he is "not smart enough" to go through his reads, progressions, etc and grasp the complexity of a pro-style passing system. Given his recent gaffes, the hilarious quote on Michael Vick being one of them, as well as his current enrollment in that school down south, I'd say intelligence is definitely a reasonable question.

2) As stated in Chris's article, Tressel has refused to play to Pryor's strengths (zone-read, etc...), leaving him plodding along in the passing game. Talent with this kid is not a question, but it is his development as a QB. Mobile QB's have thrived in Tressel's system (see Heisman winner Troy Smith), so what it really comes down to is Pryor's ability to learn the offense. So far he hasn't, and it's very clear to everybody. Some say he was overhyped, I believe it. Tate, on the other hand, has assimilated to the college game with almost haunting ease, having been groomed since the third grade to be a QB. So is Pryor's snail-pace progress based on Tressel's inability to adapt and develop him, or is it because Pryor simply can't learn? Would he have progressed more in Meech's system? When all is said and done, I'm so glad he didn't come to Michigan, since we'd have some serious PR problems on our hands.

GregGoBlue said...

hich leads me into my point re: Gardner. On a comparison of Gardner's junior year stats to Pryor's (when he was anointed the #1 player in the country), they are very, very similar. TomVH from mgoblog does a nice comparison here: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/terrelle-pryor-and-recruiting-hype-machine

What this indicates is that Gardner is the player T. Pryor was and then some, at least statwise. Add onto that D. Gardner's fierce dedication to improving his passing game (and he has, dramatically. Following the Elite 11 camp and a summer of workouts, his passing mechanics are day and night from the raw "pushing" of last year. And he hasn't even enrolled in college yet! Compare that with T. Pryor.), his well-documented leadership skills and ability to make plays in the clutch (I like to call that "it," and he's got it) and you've got Michigan's QB of the future. And one hell of a good one.

There has been much speculation that due to Tate's success, Gardner will begin to look elsewhere so he can get some immediate PT, but Sam Webb has repeatedly put these rumors to rest, saying that ALL of the schools Gardner was looking at have similar situations, and that he is solid blue. I also think he will be much more valuable to our program than Pryor is to OSU's. Now to get to your question.

The best situation for Gardner would be to redshirt so that once Tate leaves DG will have had 3 years already in the system, and will have another 2 to start. Heck, who knows, he may even beat out Tate as the starter as his skills develop. If this does in fact occur, I believe Denard should stay at QB for another year to provide a viable backup to Tate. After that year (Gardner's redshirt year), I say move him around in the Percy Harvin type role, and get him into open space. We have yet to see if RR is capable of adapting his system to his personnel (see my tight end post), so I'm not sure if he'll be able to invent a position for D. Rob a la Urban Meyer for Percy Harvin. He may just play at slot receiver, so this whole argument might be moot. Either way, seeing Denard and Tate on the field at the same time would make any defense sweat. The third option is to redshirt D. Gardner, move Denard to a playmaking spot, and have Nick Sheridan be the backup (and pray Tate doesn't get injured). I like Nick Sheridan, and I think he would make a solid backup to Tate, but that option may not be as popular. The third option is to move Denard, throw DG in as a backup immediately, and let him duke it out with Tate for the rest of his days as a wolverine. Not so great for Gardner, but the best for the program. Either way, as you said Josh, we are going to be $$$ for at least the next 5 years.