Author note: This got long. Real long. My bad.
In this diary I build off of the foundation laid out in the White Rainbow entry over the weekend to size up the QB around the Big Ten as well as other QBs of particular interest to Michigan. This is a list of player expectations going into the season based on the investigations I’ve conducted previously. This list is presented in order of worst to best expected year end pass efficiency for each category.
Before I begin, I wanted to share a technique for ranking QBs that came to me after I published the White Rainbow diary. In that diary I talk about how I think passer rating does a decent enough job at determining large differences between players but a poor job at distinguishing subtle differences between them. Well, after playing with the numbers a bit, it looks like taking the average ranking for all four categories yields a method for differentiating players with similar QB ratings but vastly different subjective quality.
The following table* shows an excerpt of the NCAA QB rankings for the 2009 season.
|1||Tim Tebow, Florida||QB||SR||164.17||67.83||9.22||6.69||1.59|
|2||Kellen Moore, Boise St.||QB||SO||161.65||64.27||8.2||9.05||0.7|
|3||Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame||QB||JR||161.42||68||8.76||6.59||0.94|
|22||Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin||QB||JR||142.99||64.33||8.25||4.88||3.35|
|23||Daryll Clark, Penn St.||QB||SR||142.64||60.89||7.88||6.3||2.62|
|25||Kirk Cousins, Michigan St.||QB||SO||142.63||60.37||8.17||5.79||2.74|
|48||Richard Stanzi, Iowa||QB||JR||131.62||56.25||7.95||5.59||4.93|
|51||Joey Elliott, Purdue||QB||SR||131.13||61.66||6.99||5.08||3|
|57||Juice Williams, Illinois||QB||SR||129.38||57.71||7.19||5.29||3.08|
|58||Mike Kafka, Northwestern||QB||SR||129.25||64.84||6.97||3.25||2.44|
|59||Terrelle Pryor, Ohio St.||QB||SO||128.91||56.61||7.1||6.1||3.73|
|64||Tate Forcier, Michigan||QB||FR||128.15||58.72||7.3||4.63||3.56|
|67||Ben Chappell, Indiana||QB||JR||126.44||62.62||6.87||3.97||3.5|
|98||Adam Weber, Minnesota||QB||JR||114.66||52.04||7.04||3.54||4.09|
If you take that same data and rank each player for each of the four categories then average that ranking, you end up with what I’m calling the QB Prism Score yielding the following final ranking.
QB Prism Score
|Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame||3||6.75||1|
|Kellen Moore, Boise St.||2||8.5||2|
|Tim Tebow, Florida||1||8.75||3|
|Daryll Clark, Penn St.||23||31.25||21|
|Kirk Cousins, Michigan St.||25||33.5||24|
|Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin||22||37.75||34|
|Joey Elliott, Purdue||51||50.25||44|
|Mike Kafka, Northwestern||58||52.75||48|
|Juice Williams, Illinois||57||58||57|
|Richard Stanzi, Iowa||48||60||62|
|Terrelle Pryor, Ohio St.||59||61.75||64|
|Ben Chappell, Indiana||67||62.5||67|
|Tate Forcier, Michigan||64||62.75||68|
|Adam Weber, Minnesota||98||85||100|
Notice how this technique improves differentiation between similar QBs using the exact same data and very simple math (rank and average). At the very top we see that the all three guys had awesome numbers, but Tebow had the worst INT % of all of them. The method distinguished Clausen as a higher overall performer than Moore and Tebow.
A similar thing occurs when looking at Big Ten QBs. The traditional passer rating ranks Daryll Clark, Kirk Cousins, and Scott Tolzien as virtually identical passers; Prism score separates them substantially.
Now look at the log jam between Ricky Stanzy and Ben Chappell; only 5 passer rating points seperate 7 players. The Prism Score breaks these into main groups: Elliot-Kafka and Williams-Stanzi-Pryor-Chappell-Forcier.
Some bunching still exists but the bunches are smaller.
Anyway, I thought that might be a useful and easy technique for people who are so inclined to apply. On with the purpose of this diary.
Adam was ranked 98 - of - 100 in NCAA passer rating for 2009. I would actually rank him 100 - of - 100. His completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interception rate were terrible, especially for a redshirt Junior in his third year as starter. His touchdown rate ... I'll be good and listen to Thumper's dad ("if you don't have anything nice to say..."). Eric Decker did get hurt, but that's not the reason Weber wasn't throwing TDs. Of his 13 TDs last year, 5 were to Decker, 5 were against Michigan State, and the other 3 were flukes. OK, so that last part was mean. Recall that MSU's secondary was worse than Michigan's in 2009.
Going into 2009, Minnesota had 10 returning offensive starters available to them; that was a mature squad. My previous QB-centric work has shown that by year 3 as starter, QBs are what they are. Adam Weber is bad at passing. Phil Steele thinks Weber will end his career on a high note, I don't. Alas, I think Thumper's dad is disappointed in me.
Side Note: Minnesota's D only has 2 players returning and Phil Steele points out that they play USC, Penn St., Ohio St., and Iowa at home so they'll have to go on the road in order to try and win. That's just mean. Short Minnesota; with leverage. When do we play them again? Oh ... sweet.
I make no bones about it; I think Stanzi is hugely over rated. He throws a worse ball than Brady Quinn and is inaccurate to boot. I tried to find a picture of him throwing a pick but couldn’t confirm the result of the pass shown. There’s a 5% chance that what you’re looking at is a pick (no joke) so I’m assuming that it is until proven otherwise. Relax, I’m mostly kidding.
Anyway, last year he actually had the highest rating of the next four QB in this list, which were in a tight cluster, but his high YPA and solid TD rate obscured the fact that his completion percentage and INT rate were the worst of the bunch. The two categories he was good in, YPA and TD rate, are highly influenced by things outside of the QB himself (receiving corps, O-Line, run game, opposing defense). The two things he has direct influence over, Cmp % and Int rate, he was really bad in.
Coming into his third year as starter he should improve somewhat and has McNutt and DJK returning but loses Bulaga and Moeaki. Net, net, I think Iowa sees modest improvement in their passing efficiency. The problem is, they need more than that.
Now excuse me, I’m about to get kicked out of the country by the Americanzis.
Apparently, I hate senior quarterbacks with oodles of experience. That has nothing to do with the fact that Michigan doesn’t have any, I swear.
In all honestly, I think Chappell is a fine QB and a great find for Indiana. He has progressed nicely so far and should take another step forward this year if Indiana’s O-Line can absorb the losses of two 4-year starters. Maybe, maybe not.
As far as the quality of his passer rating he is the opposite of Stanzi; He did the things he could control (Cmp %, Int %) well, but didn’t do so well in the things he needed help in (YPA, TD %). The latter two categories should take a step forward this year as IU’s top 5 WRs return this year. Again, if the O-line holds up IU should be a pretty saucy passing team.
All in all, I expect there to be a significant gap between Stanzi and Chappell. He’s slotted here because the support he has around him isn’t as good as that of the others ahead of him.
Originally I was going to do a spotlight diary on Forcier similar to one I’m working on for Denard Robinson but, since Forcier is more of a known quantity in terms of style and actual production evaluating his prospects is much more straight forward.
As most Michigan fans know, Forcier was a Godsend for Rich Rodriguez in 2009. From his pedigree to his tutelage by Marv Marinovich to his early enrollment, Forcier’s freshman performance didn’t exactly come without signal. Based on my previous work on QB maturation, Forcier’s freshman year was solidly that of an average true freshman 5 star recruit which is well above that of the typical first year starter. Considering that 5 star QB recruits almost always go to very good, if not elite, football programs and are therefore surrounded by elite and mostly mature talent (see Chad Henne), Forcier proved that all the fanfare that accompanied his arrival in Ann Arbor wasn’t just optimistic hype. And he sustained a meaningful injury to his throwing shoulder early in the season.
What’s more remarkable to me is that as polished as he was, he still showed room for tremendous growth. In terms of performance metrics Forcier was ahead of schedule in completion percentage and YPA, and he met expectations for TD rate and INT rate. The four picks he threw in the Ohio State game took his INT rate from 2.5% to 3.5%. If he had maintained the INT rate had going into the game—resulting in 1 INT and 3 INC instead of 4 INTs—his final passer rating would have been 2 points higher with all else being equal.
Those keeping track will note that, true to his hype, Forcier was ahead of schedule in terms of the self-controlled parameters (Comp. %, INT %) and solid in the team help parameters (YPA, TD %). Michigan has a stable of high potential receivers with extensive starting experience and development time and also has the best offensive line it has had since 2007. With reasonable personal development and the supporting cast he has around him, Forcier has every opportunity to be all Big Ten this year. Michigan might not have a senior QB in the strict sense, but it has one in the practical sense.
As insurance against Michigan slappy-ism, I’m placing him further down the list than I think he’ll end up.
Terrelle Pryor, JR, Ohio State
Say what you want about TP, no one would think twice about him if he weren’t a baller. As a true freshman, he a had a high passer rating that met the long term quality thresholds establish in the White Rainbow diary. Last year was a step back statistically for him as he regressed in completion percentage, YPA, and INT rate; his TD rate remained solid though. The regression makes some sense between the expansion of his responsibilities in OSU’s offense and the breaking in of new contributors at the skill positions.
Another difference between his freshman and sophomore years is that Pryor ran less often in 2009. This is a bad idea; if Pryor is allowed to flash his running ability explicitly, opposing defenses must respect the threat which would leave easy opportunities in the passing game. Josh Nesbitt is the uber-example of this effect. Nesbitt rarely throws and is inaccurate (46.3%) when he does, but when he connects, the result is a big play. Nesbitt’s YPA in 2009 was a staggering 10.5 accompanied by a good TD rate (6.2%) and solid INT rate (3.1%). I’m pretty sure Nebitt’s YPA was the highest (by over a yard!) in the FBS, and certainly the highest in BCS conferences. He’s not a great passer, but that doesn’t stop him from doing extensive damage when he throws.
This season Ohio State has everybody coming back except for the tight end. Pryos has already shown how much damage he can do when he puts it all together; if you don’t know, ask Oregon. This year he will be better and will have high quality support around him. The result is likely to be an emetic wave of OSU/Pryor hype. Chin up though, chances are that this is his last year on campus.
Cousin’s superiority over Keith Nichol in 2009 was apparent to everyone except Mark Dantonio. Maybe Dantonio had a problem with the fact that it looks like Cousins likes to rub his butt up against his lineman’s during a wind up. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Even though it was his first year as starter, Cousins put up the numbers of a seasoned veteran. His YPA of 8.1 was above the threshold of good QB play, and his Comp.%, TD rate, and INT rate were just a hair’s width away from the thresholds; that’s close enough.
Coming into 2010, Cousins will lose his top receiver in Blair White along with a bunch of other knuckleheads who ain’t going out like dat, son. But, because of Dantonio’s preference for only disciplining players that are either expendable or not worth the heat of benevolence, Cousins has some good to very good WRs retuning in B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell, along with non-knucklehead Keshawn Martin.
The challenge for Cousins will be finding enough time to hook up with his receivers. MSU loses 3 starters from a so-so offensive line in 2009. I don’t expect that to slow Cousins down too much though.
Tolzien and Cousins were neck-and-neck for best returning passers and based on 2009 numbers alone, Cousins actually wins. Both had the same-ish YPA and Tolzien had a better completion percentage, but Cousins had a better TD rate and lower INT rate along with an adequate completion percentage. However, when you look at the team Tolzien has coming with him, his prospects for 2010 look higher and that give him the nod in my book.
The Badgers have a monster offensive line coming back all of which are either returning starters of have substantial starting experience. Running back John Clay was the Offensive Player of the Year in 2009. Tolzien has his top wide receiver back, too. So yeah, there’s absolutely no reason why Wisconsin’s passing attack shouldn’t be very, very good this year.
I don’t have much else to say except that I think Bucky Badger is dumb, and that makes me feel better. What? That’s totally germane to the topic of this diary.
Scheelhasse was a rivals.com 4 star recruit who also received offers from Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and bunch of other solid programs according to Rivals. That’s solid endorsement, but his supporting cast is likely to be a drag. The Illini need to establish all new receivers this season and also need to replace two multi-year starters on the O-line. Beyond that, Illinois is bringing in a new offensive coordinator this year, so there are strong headwinds against Scheelhaase.
Despite grim sounding early returns, 4-star and one time Michigan recruit Kevin Newsome should be the guy for Penn State this year. He has been around for a year and therefore has time invested in a collegiate strength and conditioning program, play book study time, technique development. Penn State has to find a new combination at O-line, but there’s plenty of talent available to make that happen. They have their top 2 WRs retuning as well as really good running back in Evan Royster to take the heat off.
Dan Persa, RS-JR, Northwestern
Persa was a rivals.com 2-star recruit in 2007 who’s biggest offer besides NW came from West Virginia. So, theoretically, Rich Rodriguez thought this guy had some skillz. Northwestern has a solid supporting cast around him with all 5 starters on the O-line returning this year, as well has two WRs who each caught more than 40 balls last year and the teams leading RB (Kafka was the team’s rushing leader in 2009). I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up having a better year than all of these guys.
Robert Marve, RS-JR, Purdue
Marve originally committed to Miami (FL) as a 4 star recruit in the class of 2007. He also received offers from Purdue, Michigan State, and Alabama. He started as a RS-SO at Miami but split time heavily with Jacory Harris. He was suspended for the first game in 2008 for disciplinary reasons related to his arrest for a misdemeanor mischief charge during his redshirt year. He was also suspended for the bowl game for missing class. Oops, I got carried away with the Google-stalking. What can I say, I was fascinated. Besides, I think its worth wondering how this kid handles adversity. This is basically the anti-Tom Brady story.
He transferred because of an apparent falling out with HC Randy Shannon; but Jacory Harris flat out beat him head to head that year. Marve was pretty inaccurate (54.5%) and had an extremely high INT rate (6.1%) and a low YPA (6.0). Marve is coming off a torn ACL suffered just before fall camp last year. His knee is probably fine now, but he had to have missed a lot of pratice time rehabbing his knee rather than working on his accuracy and timing with the receivers.
If he’s grown up since his Miami days Marve has a shot at being the best new QB in the Big Ten saving for a certain someone. Purdue returns the Big Ten’s most prolific WR of 2009, Keith Smith, but is pretty thin at OL. The running game took a big hit when Robert Bolden tore his ACL this spring so a lot of pressure will be put on Marve to produce.
Other QBs of Interest
Kyle Havens, 5th Yr, UMass
I wasn’t going to write anything about UMass because they’re an FCS team that was sub-500 last year and who lost their top rusher and receiver from that team, but then I saw this video from the spring and figured people might get a kick out of it. Madre. Same team, dude.
Anyway, I thought it’d be rude to link that video and not do a write up so here it goes. Havens was actually a rivals.com 3-star JUCO recruit in 2009. He played in and started 10 games last year but his prism stats were terrible: 55.3% Completion percentage, 7.2 YPA (OK, I guess), 3.4% TD Rate, 5.7% INT Rate. That’s against FCS competition.
BGSU had a crazy prolific passing attack last year. They’re all gone, only 4 offensive starters are back this year. As far as QB there are four guys vying for the gig: Matt Schilz, RS-FR, 3 star; Aaron Pankratz, RS-FR, 2 star; Kellen Pagel, RS-FR, not ranked; Caleb Watkins, FR, 2 star.
Pankratz is the only guy to have thrown the ball in a college game (13 attempts), but Schilz was purported to have the inside edge in the spring. Watkins had a bunch of offers from MAC teams, but, his Rivals profile also lists Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, and Cincinnati, for whatever that’s worth.
Frazer is another senior QB with a lot of experience that I’m turning my nose up at. It’s not me, it’s him. I promise. This will be his 3rd year with meaningful playing time as a starter. His passer rating for the last two years has been dreadful: 103 in 2008, 116 in 2009. Running those numbers through the prism shows that he was indeed a bad passer. Last year was an improvement over 2008 as he improved his completion percentage, YPA and TD rate by normal amounts while improving his INT rate by a large amount. Unfortunately, all of those numbers were bad save for TD rate which was sligtly below average.
This year Frazer has a solid to good RB and an experienced offensive line returning but loses his top 2 WRs from last year. Frazer should be able to improve is Cmp % and INT rate of his own accord, but he has a significant way to go in order to reach high quality veteran numbers and this is his last year to do it. As for YPA and TD rate, my opinion is that you need help from the rest of the offense to get good numbers there, and while the O-line and running game should be solid, having 2 new starting WRs to break in will cut into the progression there.
The Notre Dame offense has a lot going on this off season, new head coach, new offensive scheme, and a new starting QB. Sounds like a tough transition, huh? I actually don’t think so. I don’t see the transition from a Pro Style offense to a Passing Spread to be all that different. Both systems need guys who can pass block, throw, and catch; Notre Dame has all of that, in spades. Crist is a new starter but he was a 5 star recruit who has been on campus working out and improving his technique for two years. Sure, he has to learn a new playbook but Brian Kelly’s system is notoriously simple making it easier for inexperienced players to step right in and be effective. Crist will have a whole off season to learn the system. Sure, he won’t be flawless out of the gate, but I can’t imagine that he’ll be a liability either.
As for the team around him, Crist and Kelly inherit Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph who have already established themselves as elite players at their positions. The O-line has three 4-star recruits returning as starters and the other two spots are likely to be filled with 4-star recruits as well. The retained talent fits the new system like a tailor made glove lined with memory foam. Are we really to believe that Brian Kelly wouldn’t have recruited these players himself?
Some people look at Notre Dame in 2010 and see a situation similar to what Rich Rodriguez walked into at Michigan in 2008. They are wrong. Oh, so wrong.
And there it is. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on these players, how big a threat they pose to Michigan’s secondary, and anything I may have overlooked/understated in my assessments. Also any feedback on the Prism Score would be helpful as well.
*Can someone please explain to me how to format tables so they show up with Maize and Blue row and column headers? I’ve tried many things, I’ve failed many times.
/desperate plea for assistance.
Like many of you I got NCAA 11 yesterday. I have not started my dynasty yet as I am waiting for named rosters to be released for the PS3. So, for those of you doing Michigan dynasties: Who are you gonna start at QB? I'm leaning towards Denard after I just beat ND 35-12 and Denard was 9-11 passing with a TD, had 62 rushing yards and 2 TDs, and had a 63 yard TD reception. Tate was just 3-10, with a TD pass to Denard.
Sidenote: Formation subs rock. I'm putting Denard all over the field.
I know Tate seems to be a pretty popular guy around here, but I guess I just had to ask if anybody else finds him to be a bit cocky/kinda douchey. No doubt he is a good football player, but I can't help but feel like if he were the starting QB at any other big ten school (even ones we traditionally don't have much animosity for like Northwestern) many of us would probably point out that he seems like a douchenozzle.
As a current student I've seen both Denard and Tate around the Union some (havent talked to either of them personally) and Denard is usually laughing about something and talking with regular students. Tate, on the other hand, seems to keep more to himself, keeping himself relatively separated from the random student body.
But more than that, and more than just a general sense of arrogance I see when he talks to the media, one specific thing sticks in my mind. A couple days after an article came up (I think it was on rivals but I'm not sure) praising Denard's strides as a QB in the spring game, Tate put the article up on his facebook "wall of shame" and added the comment "I was against the 1s he was against the 2s." Personally if Tate can't get excited for a teammate's success, even at the same position, then I find myself really not wanting to root against him.
Obviously as a UM fan/student I'll be rooting for Tate's success every time he touches the ball, but I can't help but feel a really strong hope that Denard somehow manages to win the starting job outright and Tate transfers in 2011 (when DG would be able to be a solid backup as a RS Freshman). Personally this is not a guy I want to have to cheer for and not a guy I want representing my school. Undoubtedly an extremely unpopular opinion here but I just wanted to see if literally anybody else on this board feels the same way.
This is just going to be fairly brief, but I really feel optimistic about the outlook for this season. First, a few brief thoughts about last season. Michigan was about 6 inches away from 6-6 (Illinois), and a few "bad bounces" away from 8-4 (MSU and Iowa). With this view, we should all be thinking that 8-4 is certainly reachable.
Let's start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start!) Back at Center, we will see David Molk, who should be fully healed from his injury. Molk is potentially an all-conference center who can anchor the line. As far as the rest of the O-line goes, I'll let people smarter than me about these things tell you more, but from what I understand, it seems like signs are good that the team will be as good or better than last season on the offensive line.
I'm not going to weigh in on Denard vs. Tate at this time. (So what if that makes me chicken!) But at the very least, we should have a QB that is better than last season's QB. Tate is healthy, and with one more year of experience and work should be better than he was last year. Denard is beginning to look like a real QB, and not just a TB who occasionally throws the ball. By all accounts the sophomore version of Shoelace should be better than the freshman version of Forcier. So barring the double gut-punch injury to BOTH QBs, we should have a better QB than last year. Also, the competition this season between the two seems more active, which should make the current starter (whomever that may be) have to work harder to stay in that role. This means that the starting QB should be improving even more than last season. In the doomsday scenario, both of the best options get injured and we have (OMG) yet another true freshman playing QB in Devin Gardner, which--let's face it--is still better than a walk-on. In all liklihood, the starting QB at Michigan should be better than last season (and doesn't that make you feel better too?)\
Ok, so Minor and Brown (and Grady) graduated...and this is maybe a little sad. But Minor or Brown was hurt almost every week and Grady rarely saw the field. It seems like the important thing to have here is depth. And this Michigan has, perhaps even in abundance. There is some experience in this system for guys like Shaw and Smith (who should be healthy again). And this gives me hope that the status quo will be maintained and this group is at least as good as last season.
This year, Michigan has lost Matthews and Savoy (who I fondly remember for those catches against Notre Dame...happy thoughts!) But Hemmingway and Stonum are back on the outside. And Odoms and Roundtree will be awesome in the slot. Maybe Koger gives us a decent middle of the field threat, you know, the one we hoped he would be last season. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic with this skill group as well.
So to summarize, the offense should be better, in just about every phase of play this season. This might even make up for not having a space emperor (of space) winning the field position battle so often. We can always hope, right?
There can be hope with this group too. Briefly, can it really be worse than last season?
You don't lose Brandon Graham and get better. But Martin, VanBergen, Roh, Campbell, and Segasse make a good nucleus for DL depth. Who will step up? It is possible that the DL is still the strength of the defense this season.
Ok seriously. It can't get worse. Right? Please? If I close my eyes and wish really hard, does that make it so? Maybe this change in scheme we heard about is really about simplifying life for the LBs...and this can be a group that doesn't kill us on Defense. It's still the off-season, so I can be optimistic. Just ask any Lions fan you know (for whom the off-season, and sometimes, the preseason, are the best times to be a Lions fan).
Again, it can't get worse, can it? The big questions to answer. Will we have a reliable deep safety that doesn't get burned at least once per game? Will we have the athletes at corner to play adequate coverage? I think that there are enough hands on deck in that position group to be effective.
So in summary, the defense might even be adequate this season. Nobody will mistake them for one of the stellar defenses of the past (see 1997) but they should make do.
I think we can all crawl back from the ledge. I can't wait for September 4th to come!...And not just because it will be my 6th anniversary! ;)
I don't recall any posts about QBforce.com and it's hall of shame in the few short months I've been around here, but I was perusing the site again today, and they've basically put every single spring article praising Denard and Devin up on the Hall of Shame...
What are your thoughts on this? I see no good coming from it. There's nothing better than putting articles praising your teammates on a "Hall of Shame" to break up team unity.
I can't believe the coaching staff hasn't jumped all over this and squashed it. It's completely immature and un-becoming of a teammate, in my opinion.
Link for those who haven't seen it: http://qbforce.com/NEW2009/TATE/Hall-of-Shame/hall-of-shame.htm
So I just finished watching the Spring Game for a 5th time, and I will admit that watching it that many times has changed the opinion that I had after the first time that I watched the game. First of all, thanks to MgoVideo for posting the 720p torrent so that I could watch the game as often as possible!
So, I only concentrated on Tate's and Denard's drives. This was because I don't see Devin making huge strides this year to supplant both of these QB's. His plays reminded me of Denard's last year, except Devin can run the Zone Read a bit better than Denard at this point of his career (# of practices, that is, since Denard didn't enroll early). That may seem like something that shouldn't just be glossed over, but Devin's inability to read the defenses in the passing game, along with his penchant to revert to his shotput throw under durress causes me to be a bit dismissive. He IS the future, and the future looks bright, but why rush it?
So, after watching the two QB's, I have to say that I do not see Tate and the inevitable #2 nor do I see Denard as the inevitable #1. I'll share what I have, and see if maybe it gives some people a different perspective. I guess I should say that I don't personally care who starts for this team. I don't think a single person is ever bigger than the team.
So, I counted the number of pass plays called, run plays called, and put a check mark next to pass plays that I would consider those that forced the QB to "read the defense". So, WR Screens, HB Screens, etc. wouldn't get a check mark.
Tate: 35 plays, 19 pass plays, 16 run plays
Out of the 19 pass plays, Tate suffered 2 "sacks" due to the pressure from the #1 defense. So, unlike the official box score I actually have 17 passes that Tate threw (completing 10), not 16. Out of the 19 pass plays that have Tate as the QB, 5 required looking downfield and disecting the defense. 1 of these resulted in an Incomplete and 1 resulted in a "Sack". So, 14 pass plays were screens or rollouts to one side of the field where Tate looked for a WR or TE on the play side sideline.
Denard: 30 plays, 16 pass plays, 14 run plays
Here I also have Denard going 9 for 12. Even though there were 16 pass plays, 4 of those had Denard tucking the ball and running for positive yards. Out of the 16 pass plays, though, only 2 required a reading of the defense, and both went to Roundtree. I did not include the 97-yard pass or the pass to T-Rob because both pass plays were a 4 Verticals route with the inside receiver slanting towards the opposite hash (thanks Mark Campbell!). The 2 I gave him included the PA Rollout left to Roundtree (he wasn't primary receiver, FB was, and Roy looked like he played a hitch or dig route) and the 2nd TD pass to Roundtree (was an all curls pattern, but Denard had to direct traffic and wait for a hole in the defense to thread it in there).
My conclusion was that we can win with either of these QBs and that we need to stop using the old-school mentality that you HAVE to have a #1 guy. The playcalling will be totally different based on who is in, but even if the same plays are called, they will have totally different packages depending on who is QB. With Tate, the Zone Read and Belly plays could be successful if they keep a TE in as a pulling H-Back type. That way the line could be used for the RB and the TE could pull in a trap-style block in case Tate wants to keep it (since he is Dilithium-deficient). With Denard, I think the passing game becomes more simplified with more 4- or 5-WR sets so that he has the gaps to take off or be powerful in the Zone Read scheme.
I just think that if you only saw the game in attendance or once or twice, take another look. I was much more excited for both QBs after the last time I watched.
As a sidenote, I bombarded everyone with a lot on the QBs, but I did have other observations:
1. Will Campbell was destroying Centers and Guards all day, but the Michael Cox TD was due in large part because Will pushed himself right out of the play. If he kept his head up he would've eaten....no wait, that would be inappropriate...
2. Love the nuances of the new defense, and can't wait to see who ends up at Spur, since Kovacs seems to have that Bandit positon locked up.
3. I think Brian was the one that pointed out that the weakness of having guys like Mike Williams and Kovacs as the SS's was that the 4 Verticals route would expose their lack of speed, yet RichRod ran that play several times. Maybe film or GERG?