Enough wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth regarding Steven Threet’s departure.
While I believe he could have developed into a competent quarterback (does anyone else see John Navarre parallels with this guy?) it’s still obvious that he was a square peg in a round hole in Michigan’s spread offense. His growth and development would have come at the expense of the whole offense.
So we face the likelihood of a true freshman starting at QB. Certainly not the preferred option, but an investigation of numbers shows that it can be survivable. I’ve got an analysis that says that if Tate Forcier gives Michigan the average output that BCS level true freshman QBs have given since 2003, it’ll be a vast improvement over last year. In fact, if U-M had that output last year, it likely would’ve meant 3-4 more wins. Put your faith in numbers, ladies and gentlemen.
I looked at the NCAA stats website and found that since 2003, there have been ten true freshman starting QBs at BCS level schools. This includes Sam Bradford from Oklahoma a couple years ago, as well as Chad Henne at U-M. However, it also includes two QBs from Duke, which barely qualifies as a BCS level program. This is how they fared, with averages at the bottom (my inexperience with formatting issues prevents me from making this more clear, so bear with me):
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT Wins Losses
Sam Bradford, Okla. 2007 237 341 69.5% 3121 36 8 11 3
Matthew Stafford, UGA 2006 135 256 52.7% 1749 7 13 9 4
Chad Henne, MICH 2004 240 399 60.2% 2743 25 12 9 3
Chris Leak, Fla. 2003 190 320 59.4% 2435 16 11 8 5
Josh Freeman, K St. 2006 140 270 51.9% 1780 6 15 7 6
Reggie Ball, Ga. Tech 2003 181 350 51.7% 1996 10 11 7 6
Brady Quinn, UND 2003 157 332 47.3% 1831 9 15 5 7
Jimmy Clausen, UND 2007 138 245 56.3% 1254 7 6 3 9
Zack Asack, Duke 2005 90 180 50.0% 966 5 8 1 10
Thaddeus Lewis, Duke 2006 180 340 52.9% 2134 11 16 0 12
Season Averages 168.8 303.3 55.7% 2000.9 13.2 11.5 6.0 6.5
The data is sorted by the number of wins posted that season by the representative teams. It could be said that Bradford, Henne, Leak and (to a lesser extent) Stafford each played with considerable talent that gave them better numbers than they would’ve had otherwise. It could also be said that this table includes two Duke QBs and two frosh Domers who pulled the numbers down. That’s why the averages are important.
Let’s look at what our guys Threet and Sheridan did last year:
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT Wins Losses
Steven Threet 2008 102 200 51.0% 1105 9 7 2 6
Nick Sheridan 2008 63 137 46.0% 613 2 5 1 3
Season Totals 165 337 49.0% 1718 11 12 3 9
So, uh, not that well.
Now, let’s make some assumptions regarding the upcoming season:
1) Tate Forcier comes in and performs at the average level of the QBs listed above, with the requisite TD and INT percentages.
2) However, because he is a freshman, he eases into the season before taking over completely at midseason – playing the equivalent of about 8 games.
3) Nick Sheridan actually improves to where Sheridan ≠ DEATH, but maybe Sheridan = Threet 2008 (which might be near death). He starts or plays significantly early in the season, but total PT is about 4 games. Again, with the requisite TD and INT percentages.
4) The last assumption would be to assume about 25 pass attempts a game.
How would such a scenario look?
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT
Tate Forcier (projected) 2009 112 200 56.0% 1319 8.7 7.6
Nick Sheridan (projected) 2009 77 150 51.3% 829 6.8 5.3
Season Totals 189 350 54.0% 2148 15.5 12.8
That is a huge improvement over last season. And I think it’s a reasonable base expectation for QB production in 2009.
I think what’s most important to look at in these numbers is the increase in completions, passing yards and TDs. Similar numbers last year would have meant, at a minimum, more sustained offensive drives, a few more third-down conversions and maybe 2-4 more first downs a game. Those things alone might have been enough to make a difference against Toledo, Purdue and Northwestern last year. The increase in the number of TD passes from last year’s 11 to 15-16 might have made the difference in the MSU and Utah games.
I know there are a lot of assumptions here, but it’s clear that poor QB play was probably the difference between a 3-9 season and a potential 6-6 or 7-5 season. Honestly, I think a best-case scenario for QB production this year might be like 2003 Chris Leak at Florida, and a worst-case would be like 2003 Reggie Ball at Georgia Tech.
I did like Threet, and I believe he had the potential, because of his experience, to post numbers similar to what I have here. However, it would’ve come at the expense of the offense that RichRod is trying to employ.
Let go of the angst, Wolverine fans. If Michigan gets mediocre production from the QB, things will likely improve greatly.
Hi everyone, my name is Ron and you may recognize my last name. But I am NOT in any way related to Tom. I just thought it would be clever to use his VH moniker. I live in Texas and work as a trainer for a lot of the local players. I recently found this site and would like to contribute in any way that I can. So without further ado, here is an interview with Jay Guy, a defensive tackle prospect out of Eisenhower TX. He is listed as 6-0 and 315, a little bit on the short side but plenty of substance.
Ron: So Jay, how is everything going as you prepare for your senior season?
Jay: It's going good. I've been hitting the weight room to get bigger. Coach also wanted me to get faster.
Ron: I see that Michigan is on your list of schools to consider. Tell me about how you became interested in them, and some of the other schools on your list right now.
Jay: Michigan has great tradition. I've been watching them since I was a kid. I've talked with Coach Rodriguez and he seems like a real cool down to earth kind of guy. I'm excited to visit Ann Arbor and show everyone what I can do. I'm also considering LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas right now. I really like Texas, but haven't received an offer.
Ron: Recently there seems to be a lot of kids who get home sick and transfer. Would you be okay with leaving Texas and going somewhere else that might be colder and far from home?
Jay: I mean, Texas is great and I love it here. But I'd have no problems going somewhere else. It's like, when you in the NFL, you have to be traveling all the time. So it's something I wouldn't mind getting adjusted to.
Ron: Is early playing time a factor for you?
Jay: Yeah, I'd like to see the field early. A lot of coaches have been telling them I can come in and compete right away.
Ron: What're you most excited about this next year?
Jay: Just the chance to visit all these different schools. I want to get accustomed to being away from home and just take in everything.
Ron: Have you been talking with any other recruits, and has anyone been persuading you to go anywhere?
Jay: Not really, I'd really like to meet some of the other recruits to see what they have to say about some of the schools I'm considering.
Ron: Is there any schools you grew up rooting against?
Jay: No, but I love to watch rivalry games, especially Michigan/Ohio State, and Oklahoma/Texas.
Ron: What is your biggest asset?
Jay: My will to work hard. I'm in the weight room everyday, and I just want to maximize my potential.
Ron: When do you think you'll make a decision?
Jay: Not until this fall, I want to take it all in.
Ron: Has anyone been in your ear about where to go to school?
Jay: Nah, but there's always people wanting me to stay home. But I don't listen to that too much.
Ron: Thanks man.
With the transfer of Threet and the potential for another mediocre season next year, it's become a bit of a common theme to say "OMG, if we go 4-8 next year RR won't be the coach in 2010".
Come on guys. Seriously? Do you really think Bill Martin wants to go through another coaching search? Do you think he would only give RR 2 years with a roster that is ill-equipped for his scheme? Only 1 year with recruits that he signed? Given the attrition and injuries that have occurred over that period?
Look at the history of this administration and athletic department as far as patience with coaches. Carr was clearly winding down for at least 3 years without ever receiving so much as a single criticism from the AD. When Lloyd left (after a couple of medicore seasons and constant losses to our bitter rivals) BM said he would hire a clone of LC if he could. Tommy Amaker was given SEVEN years to try to bring the Bball program back to glory. SEVEN! And that is in a sport where it's much easier to acquire a few players that can turn your program around. Do you really think that RR, the most proven winner of any of these coaches, is only going to get 2-3 years? Though people say that M is a cut throat place to coach, I think we have one of the most forgiving and patient athletic departments of any big time program.
To those of you thinking that RR might be canned in the next year or two if we don’t show immediate improvement: Do you actually believe that he SHOULD be fired, or just that he will because of today’s “what have you done for me lately” standards? And if you are in the latter camp, do you really think that BM is so ignorant as to throw away one of the highest regarded coaches in the game before he really gets a chance to make his mark on the program? Trust me, Bill Martin knows as much about RR and his potential for huge success as we do.
Personally, I think we could go 4-8 next year and 6-6 in 2010 and RR would still be the coach is 2011, though the leash would be short at that point. Of course, I don’t think any off this will matter, because I think we’ll be challenging for the Big 10 title in 2010.
That is, if RR isn’t fired first.
The recent diary by the NYWolverine has awakened me, at least momentarily, from my winter slumber (mediated only by true Canadian past times like curling and the drinking of quality beer). Anyway, what a well written and well thought out article; problematically, the focus of apologism and rationalization is completely remarkable.
Now NYWolverine, I'm not entirely in disagreement with you in that there are any number of factors that do make Michigan game day extremely unique e.g day games, the Victors, Let's go Blue, the Band etc. (as you have well described). There are many cultural norms involved with attending any Michigan game that all of us accept and/or expect.
So, here's where I take issue:
"Where you see boring, I see Michigan culture."
You have essentially undertaken a stunningly limited and specious sociological analysis of the game attending Michigan fanbase (mostly season ticket holders) and also "midwesterners" and overgeneralized this to the Michigan fanbase. We must sit in different sections since the modesty and humility seem less evident where I am located. Where I sit there is a culture of remarkable entitlement and sometimes (like last year) completely unreasonable expectation. These are the features of the fans who leave at halftime, who don't particularly cheer for anything and are just there to, seemingly, sing the Victors 8 or 9 times per game.
As for "loyalty through thick and thin" I ask you NYWolverine, how many people in your section left in the 3rd Quarter of the Appy State 2007 game? I was proud of the fans who stayed with us and, frankly, I have not before or since heard the stadium louder than Henne's last drive of that game (obviously the outcome of that game need not be discussed further). That same game thousands of fans, multiples indeed, were booing. These same fans were yelling to fire Carr, to fire DeBord (a reasonable thought, perhaps) and yelling at 18 year olds (hello Stevie). I'm certainly not proud of that element of the Loyal Michigan Fanbase (who all left after the 3rd, anyway).
NYWolverine, you made many interesting points and spurred me to respond. Generally, this is the sign of an informative and interesting commentary, I think. On point however, I think it clear that you are rationalizing for a culture of entitlement. This culture of fan, of supporter, of donor (myself included) looked past the limited recruiting of much of the past decade, the limited innovation (both on field and in game day experience), the malaise that had settled somewhat on the program in that time and tacitly accepted it.
Unquestionably the Michigan Experience is something to enjoy and celebrate. Rationalizing entitlement and malaise is, however, completely unnecessary.
Best wishes all; back to the Canadian winter for me.
"Ok, a few short notes. I am a Texas high school football coach, so I am knowledgeable and not just some n00b. I don't post much on here because I don't have much free time (see above). Having stated thus, this is meant as my own dream class, if you will. Before you point out the obvious, I am fully aware that these kids are not all (or even close to most) going to commit to U-M and/or ever play in the Maize and Blue. That's why it is my "dream" class. Because we don't know the exact number of kids that will be in this class, I am using a 25 member "full class" as my baseline. Have at it:
Devin Gardner (QB)
Christian Green (QB)
Lache Seastrunk (RB)
Corey Brown (RB)
Austin White (RB)
Ricardo Miller (OWR)
Jeremy Jackson (OWR)
Jerald Robinson (OWR)
Brandon Ifill (SWR)
Chris Dunkley (SWR)
Robert Crisp (OL)
Seantrel Henderson (OL)
Torrian Wilson (OL)
Dior Mathis (CB)
Lo Wood (CB)
Cullen Christian (CB)
Marvin Robinson (S)
Jordan Haden (S)
William Gholston (LB)
Ishmael Thomas (LB)
Derrick Bryant (DE)
Darryl Baldwin (DE)
Jonathon Hankins (DT)
Jay Guy (DT)
Torrea Peterson (DT)
So, that makes 13 on offense, on 12 on defense. Obviously a "dream" class, but we can all dream can't we?
Feel free to comment/suggest/question any of my choices. I'm aware that there aren't many in-state names on this list, but again, this is not how I would recruit, just a pipedream of a once in a lifetime class. Like I said, it's nice to dream...
This is to be the second in a string of diaries looking for reasons to think positively about the upcoming season. For my first edition, I covered DBs.
For those of you that did not read my first entry, I'm writing these because it is depressing to think that we're going to go 3-9 or 4-8 again. This is not meant to be a 100% honest look at everything, I intentionally have my Maize and Blue glasses on; I'm looking for the positives here. Still, if you think we're going 9-3 or 10-2 I hope you're right, but that seems lofty. The aim and tone of this is set to show we can go 7-5, or maybe 8-4 if we get some bounces. Additionally, I don't have the time or patience to do extensive research, there is a lot of opinion in here, with some stats and background research, but not a lot.
For my second submission, I'll look at LBs and try to convince everyone that overall we are better off at this position than last year. I can't stress enough that "better off" is relative...
Okay, so as an intro, I feel like I was a lot more frustrated with our middle linebacker play than most, particularly in coverage. The curl zones and flats (7-15 yards, from sideline to sideline, roughly) are usually the linebackers' responsibility . It seemed like anytime an opposing team had a 3rd and 5 or 3rd and 10, these are the zones they would attack. By and large they were successful. They kept the chains moving, scored points and caused us to be the 2nd worst defense in the big 10 statistically. So, definitely plenty of room for improvement.
Obi Ezeh: Definitely our most seasoned guy. His play was hot and cold last year, showing flashes of promise, raw athleticism mixed with misreads and blown coverages. I don't really remember his recruitment, but if rivals is to be believed, he was actually recruited as a 3* running back (you'll have to select 2006 fromt he pulldown menue). So I know what you're thinking: Why do we have a 3* running back playing linebacker? Well, I don't know. What I do know is that this isn't a 'simple' transition like the transition from corner to safety is thought to be. This takes time. He was a redshirt sophmore last year. With another year of experience and learning, given the position change, significant improvements can (and probably will) still be made. I think we see a noticeable uptick in his play this year. He was our team leader in tackles last year, by far (98 vs. 76). With the extra experience, he will cut down on his blown coverages and hold down the middle.
JB Fitzgerald: True freshmen last year who saw the majority of his action on special teams. At 6'3" 230 and running a 4.7 coming into college, he's built in the mold of the old school middle linebacker. These are almost exactly the same physical attributes John Thompson had coming in. Thompson, however, was a 3*, whereas Fitzgerald was a 4*. With identical physical stats, to garner the extra star Fitzgerald must have more intuition and/or physicality. I'm hoping Barwis can chop 0.1 or 0.15 seconds off that 40 time, because to realistically be decent in coverage, he'll need that speed. However Thompson (who will always hold a special place in my heart due to the Wisconsin pick six) definitely lacked instincts. He bit on fakes and was in the wrong place at the wrong time more than he should have been. He was also slow in coverage, but I have no real reason to believe Fitzgerald will be any faster. I do, however, believe he will have better instincts and can fill Thompson's role just fine.
Others: Kenny Demens was a 4* linebacker that I believe redshirted. He was average size coming in at 6'1" 225 and decent speed running a 4.6. Haven't seen him play yet, so it's possible he ends up at OLB. If not, he may well be the most athletic of the inside linebackers. I can see him getting some duty in passing situations, and maybe push for more playing time toward the end of the season.
Mouton: This is a guy who throughout last season we said has potential. He does. He was second on the team in tackles. He was a DB coming into school, and a 4* at that. he was a redshirt sophmore this past season. Before this past season he had only seen action on special teams. The position change along with limited action explains the occasional bonehead play. I really think he's going to surprise a lot of people and is going to surpass Ezeh as our best linebacker this year. And that's not a knock against Ezeh, because as stated above I think he's going to be good.
Evans: In a word... bad. Evans just is not that skilled. He started one game, saw decent action, and still was only in on 4 tackles. He'll probably start the season with the starting job. Nothing against him (he was only a 2*, afterall), but I hope somebody starts outperforming him midway through this year. But, he is around if we need him. And, he should be improved.
Others: As stated above it is possible Kenny Demens ends up outside. He was already kind-of broken down above. Also, we have Heron. He seems destined for special teams play, but who knows. Maybe he'll get a chance if Demens or Evans doesn't pan out. There is also a couple of freshmen, but they are 3* types and probably need some time to develop. One of them (Brandon Hawthorne) is enrolled early, so maybe he'll be better than anticipated. Finally, there's always the possibility of a young, large safety-type making the move to OLB (Vlad Emilian?). Who knows? This second OLB spot is going to be interesting.
In the middle, Ezeh will be improved. Not just improved, he will be good. JB Fitzgerald is ready to play run-stuffer, but will probably have to work on his coverage.
On the outside, Mouton is making his move. He won't be an all American, but he cracks all big-ten (2nd team), and I bet he'll be in the running for most improved player on the team. The second spot on the outside is a little bit shady, but worst case scenario, we have an improved Evans.
Finally, we have Kenny Demens who could be a coverage ILB or if we're lucky, an every down OLB opposite Mouton. Anybody have any info on where the coaches are putting him?
At any rate... I see LBs as a whole being the most improved group on the defense. This is more of a function of them having so much room to improve than amazing play. Overly optimistic prediction? Yes: they will be better than average this year, even for Michigan defenses if they can figure out that last OLB spot. Not all-time great linebacking corps, but better than average.