"Time is a Flat Football" is a series of posts which will explore players from Michigan football history members of the 2015 team resembles the most. Tackled in these posts will be the offensive "skill" position groups: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Receivers/Tight Ends. My apologies go out to the offensive line, but it's very difficult to get o-line statistics, and more difficult to compare the groups.
Disclaimer: Obviously caveats do apply here. These are namely the effects of other position groups, coaching, and style of offense on the players being analyzed. I plan to deal with these issues by completely ignoring them. It's the off season, people.
This year's QB race appears to be between RS Sr transfer Jake Rudock and true Jr Shane Morris. We've watched Morris for the last few years and have become acquainted with Rudock's work thanks to a number of front page and board posts on the newly minted Wolverine. Let's take a look at their stats, gathered from sports-reference.com.
Before we get going, here's a list of a few of explanations for statistics shown above (and a few that are included later).
- Cls - Class (1 - Freshman, 2 - Sophomore, etc)
- Pct - Completion Percentage (Cmp/Att)
- Y/A - Passing Yards per Attempt
- AY/A - Adjusted Yards per Attempt ( [Yds + 20 * TD - 45 * Int] / Att)
- Rate - QB Rating ( [8.4 * Yds + 330 * TD - 200 * Int + 100 * Cmp] / Att)
- TD/Int - (TD - Int)
Rudock is the more experienced of the two, with a full season's worth of starter snaps to look at. Let's fire up the time machine and see who looks similar statistically.
(Rudock and Kirk Ferentz, whose right hand is reserved for things other than high fives.)
Like Rudock, each of these players completed their RS Jr season and stuck around for their RS Sr year. As has been covered by others, an apt comparison for RS Junior Rudock is RS Junior Gardner from the 2013 season. Attempts, completion percentages, and TD/Int ratio are very similar. The major difference between 2013 Gardner and 2014 Rudock is in the yardage, where Gardner averaged about 1.5 more Yds/Att and 1.1 more Adjusted Yds/Att. This can be interpreted in two ways: either Gardner threw downfield more often or Rudock's receivers were lousy at picking up yards after the catch.
Beyond the Gardner comparisons, Rudock appears to be a less turnover prone version of 1998 RS Junior Tom Brady, which is nice. Rudock had 22 more attempts than Brady and 5 less INTs with a TD/Int ratio of +11 to Brady's +4. The Y/Att and Adjusted Y/Att are very similar, and the QB Ratings are damn near identical. Let's see how these RS Junior QBs (and more specifically Brady) progressed between their final years.
The overwhelming evidence here suggests that Michigan quarterbacks have already reached their full potential by the 4 year mark. There are a few major outliers here, with guys like Jim Harbaugh and Devin Gardner taking a major step back in their TD/Int ratio. Generally fifth year senior QBs have higher completion percentages compared to their RS junior years, while also throwing a few more interceptions.
As far as what we can expect from Rudock based on this data, we should see him remain largely the same. If he is Tom Brady 2.0 he might see a bump in his TD/Int ratio, but given that Tom Brady was operating at a much less efficient pace than Rudock, I wouldn't expect much change there. Insert the mitigating factors such as a new school, new coach, and new system, and I'd expect Rudock to operate at a lower level this year, perhaps only due to a limited playbook and increased reliance on a running game I expect Harbaugh to be pretty stubborn on getting to work.
Bottom Line: Jake Rudock should have a season similar to RS Sr Tom Brady (1999).
The 1999 team went 10-2 and most notably beat OSU and Alabama. Brady had help in the form of Anthony Thomas and David Terrell, both of which compare very favorably to guys on the 2015 roster. If you're a glass half full kinda guy Rudock will be drafted in the sixth round by the Patriots and should ditch Tinder for a Victoria's Secret catalog. If you're like me you might be worried about Rudock's supporting cast. Still, a guy like Rudock should be able to come in and Alabama QB the 2015 Michigan squad to a decent offensive season.
(from @umichfootball, for some reason)
Now let's say Shane Morris wins the starting job come September. In this case we'll want to compare him to other players with limited playing experience. Below is a list of Michigan QBs who took on either the starting role or a significant portion of the QB snaps after seeing a similar amount of game experience to Shane Morris. Note that many of these QBs have a little more experience in terms of Attempts. Also, keep in mind that these comparisons have only been made for QBs who started or played significant portions of their upperclassmen careers. Morris may become one of these guys or he could spend the season as the backup and get another chance at the starting gig next year.
At this point Morris has seen two seasons of limited action. His stats from last year look...rough, so I'll mostly be using his 2013 stats in comparisons. I believe (hope) his 2013 stats more accurately represent what he's capable of doing. The table above also shows other Michigan QBs since 1975 with similar experience who went on to start as upperclassmen. I made the cutoff at no more than 110 Attempts in a season and no less than 20, which did include starter Rick Leach who showed up just as the forward pass was gaining traction.
A couple things stick out right away here: Morris looks similar to a number of QBs who were fairly successful. Rick Leach (who started both the 1975 and 1976 seasons) had one similarly uninspiring season to Morris' 2014, as far as Completion Percentage goes, and also a tough time with turnovers. The best comparison to Morris' freshman season might actually be Todd Collins' 1991 sophomore campaign. The completion percentages are nearly identical, as are the Yards/Attempt. Sample sizes are obviously small, but these are guys who were primarily coming off the bench at that point in their career.
The more troubling thing that sticks out here is that Morris' sophomore season was significantly less promising than his freshman season. Every important stat went in the wrong direction. His TD/Int ratio is similar to Denard's 2009 freshman campaign. Morris may be mobile for a quarterback who isn't known for his speed, but he does not have Robinson's running ability to make up for his passing. What does this mean? I don't know exactly. Let's see how each of these guys turned out the next season.
Todd Collins, arguably the most similar QB to Morris, put up the most impressive next season. After seeing a moderate number of snaps during his Sophomore and Junior years, he made an important leap from his to his Senior year in Adjusted Y/Att, jumping from 6.9 to 8.6. Morris is in a similar situation this year, after seeing limited action his Freshman and Sophomore years.
Based on the rest of these seasons, it appears that we should expect a small degree of improvement in nearly all important statistics if we see a JR Shane Morris starting this season. A "Todd Collins"-like jump is best case scenario, and at that point we'd be looking at a relatively efficient and effective QB.
However, if we apply the average improvement numbers for newly minted starting QBs entering their third year of play to Morris' freshman (best) season, we're looking at a guy averaging about 5.9 Y/A and 4.0 AY/A, which is most comparable to a RS Sophomore John Navarre (6.3 Y/A, 5.8 AY/A). Morris' numbers are obviously significantly lower, which is in part due to Ints making up a decent proportion of his Attempts. Hopefully he's a victim of a small sample size and not poor decision making.
Bottom Line: Should he start, Shane Morris could have a season similar to RS Sophomore John Navarre (2001).
While Navarre was not the most efficient QB in terms of Completion Percentage (just 53.8%), he was asked to shoulder a lot of the offensive load that year, attempting 346(!) passes on a team with both B.J. Askew and Chris Perry on the roster. Somehow this team didn't have a 1,000 yd rusher. The 2001 team went 8-4, which seems like a reasonable expectation for this year. The major caveat to this comparison is that John Navarre's supporting cast included All-American WR Marquise Walker, a luxury Morris will have to do without.
What Does It All Mean?
Whether Rudock or Morris wins the starting spot, we're probably going to be looking at a borderline competent starter at worst and a pretty damn good one at best. Not very comforting, I know. Let me know what you guys think, and what I missed!
Not much new information in the article, more of a summary of things we already know.
I really like that Drevno plans to organize the offense around the strengths of the QB, instead of putting a square peg into a round hole like we've been doing since 2008.
The national record for HS QB completions in a game was 47 (set by Grant Sherman, Kenton, OH). Trey Tinsley completed 50 in a game last weekend. Tinsley is junior QB of El Toro High School in Southern California. He's the son of former USC quarterback Scott Tinsley from the 1980s.
I could find no Scout or Rivals profile on him.
During his first offensive coordinator job at Portland State University (1986-1992) under famous HC Pokey Allen, Al Borges coached one of Division II's most talented quarterbacks in John Charles.
Charles' career at PSU was brief. He played only his junior and senior years at PSU, but broke dozens of passing records at the Division II level and won several post season awards. Charles is most famous for leading the Vikings to an improbable 1992 52-26 trouncing of Boise State on the road, a game that later cost Skip Allen his job at Boise State and motiviated Boise State administrators to hire away Allen and his entire staff (including Al Borges) to Boise State in 1993.
As a junior, Portland State finished 11-3. Charles went 201 of 331 (61%) for 3,527 yards, 41 TDs and only 11 INTs. As a senior, Charles was 194 of 281(69%) for 2,944 yards, 24 TDs and 8 INTs.
Here is some footage of John Charles' quarterbacking exploits vs. Boise State in 1992, running what many regarded as the most complex offense in the nation. Note the variations of offensive formations, tons of 3+ wide, single, 2- and 3-back sets, lots of pre-snap motion, screen passes, reverses and all of it with the QB under center.
Today John Charles runs his own quarterbacking clinic in Camas, Washington called AirOne Quarterback Academy.
Al Borges provides his own testimonial of John Charles below:
"John Charles was one of the finest fundamentals quarterbacks I ever coached. His courage in the pocket and overall understanding of our offense made him one of the finest quarterbacks I've ever coached. He has great communication skills and is a valuable resource to anyone he comes into contact with. I've been fortunate enough to coach four first-round draft picks at the quarterback position. John was as good as any of them."
So I can't take this anymore. Since the hire of Borges and spring football, I have taken the route of nodding knowingly to myself everytime Denard's footwork is mentioned when passing from the pocket. I understand (or at least think I do) that this mystical "footwork" are the steps the quarterback takes after the ball is snapped to him so he can get set for the pass. That, in my non-quarterbacking simple football mind, makes sense.
But then I read over and over how his footwork is causing incompletions and even interceptions, and my mind goes 'splode. Here are my questions, someone please answer them:
What is wrong with Denard's footwork?
How can it be fixed?
What do his feet have to do with interceptions?
Don't know if anyone posted this, but our boy Adam over at ESPN has his ranking of the big 10 qb's up.
Anyways, here they are.
|1.||Terrelle Pryor OSU|
|2.||Ricki Stanzi Iowa|
|3.||Scott Tolzier WISC|
|4.||Kirk Cousins MSU|
|5.||Ben Chappell IND|
|6.||Adam Weber MINN|
|7.||Robert Marve PUR|
|8.||Tate/ Denard MICH|
|9.||Dan Persa NW|
|10.||Kevin Newsome PSU|
|11.||Nathan Scheelchase ILL|
Thoughts? Top 4 is pretty spot on.. I think Tolzien and Cousins are both better than Stanzi, but I suppose the records don't lie. A little hard seeing Marve at 7 considering how his career started and the fact that he hasn't played a down of football yet in the b10..