edit: not sure why this posted twice. just ignore this one.
In the aftermath of Michigan's 25-23 loss to Utah on Saturday, a lot of armchair quarterbacks blasted Nick Sheridan. A redshirt sophomore quarterback, Sheridan beat out most people's favorite, Steven Threet, to start the first game of the Rich Rodriguez era. Sheridan is a former walk-on who earned a scholarship during summer practices.
The complaints were numerous. Sheridan made poor decisions by throwing into coverage. He messed up a read option play by trying to take the ball back from running back Sam McGuffie after he had already handed it to him. He had poor arm strength. Etc.
Every single one of us Michigan fans would love to have a Vince Young or a Pat White or, yes, even a Troy Smith at our disposal. But that guy doesn't attend Michigan right now. Maybe next year. But until then Michigan followers have to do the best with what we have.
Steven Threet didn't exactly light the world on fire when he came on in relief during the third quarter. Threet made several poor decisions, including taking a couple sacks and a monstrous hit when he could have thrown the ball away or run out of bounds. He did make a nice throw on a 33-yard TD pass to Junior Hemingway, but other than that, many of his throws were off target. Even his second-best play - a short pass to Carson Butler near the sideline - was a throw that required every iota of Butler's 6'5" frame and freak athleticism to catch.
Threet deserves to start next Saturday against Miami (OH). He led two touchdown drives (as opposed to Sheridan's one) and had a little more success at moving the football than Sheridan did. Overall, Michigan played better in the second half than they did in the first. Whether that's because Threet brought new life to the team or it's because the defense made halftime adjustments and regained the momentum, it's hard to say. Regardless, the offense played better when he was in, so he deserves another shot.
Still, Sheridan played okay for being a former walk-on in his first significant minutes ever. He was 11-for-13 early and looked sharp on short to intermediate throws. His last six passes were incomplete, but he was obviously pressing, which is understandable for the underdog in front of 106,000 people and national TV. Toward the end of the game, when Threet badly overthrew a leaping Darryl Stonum on a 4th-and-5, I thought to myself, "Sheridan could have made that throw." Each player has his positives and negatives.
But I wonder: If fortunes were reversed and Threet was the walk-on while Sheridan was the former four-star recruit, would we be so quick to throw Sheridan under the bus? Sheridan didn't play poorly enough to be torched for his performance, and Threet didn't play well enough to be anointed the full-time starter. To me, this quarterback battle is still far from over.
I just read Brandon Harrison's Clubhouse Confidential on mgoblue and this quote jumped out at me:
Nick Sheridan has impressed me a lot this year. Some of us were joking the other day talking about how last year Nick was our scout team Tim Tebow at the bowl practices and now he's competing for a starting quarterback spot. It's amazing.
I'm sure he means amazing as in "we're really impressed at Nick's Tebow-esque performance this summer," and not "it's amazing how screwed we're going to be."
Looking at some of the video from practice, seeing Carlos Brown pitching the ball, and considering things I've seen RichRod run elsewhere, I wonder if there's a "quad option" in the playbook (this is probably a poor name for it).
What I'm envisioning this this: Sheridan in the shotgun with split backs, Minor to his left, Brown to this right. WR split to each side, with Shaw (for example) in the slot to the right.
On the snap, Brown crosses in front of Sheridan in the traditional zone read scheme. If Sheridan hands to Brown, Brown heads off tackle left, with Minor in position to take a pitch. This essentially greats a speed option left.
On the other hand, if Sheridan keeps it, Shaw stutters into a slot option position. So now you have a slot option right. With the right WR on a curl, slant, or other hot route, you also have a quick pass option for Sheridan should need or opportunity arise.
Maybe I need to get more sleep or play less Xbox, but I think this could be coachable and fundamentally sound. When you think about, the QB has no more reads than he would on a typical zone-read triple option, and Brown only has a simple read - keep or pitch.