why they have DG come in (without Denard) to run a few snaps a drive. It doesn't really make sense to me. If you're going to let DG play, let him play an entire series. That being said, I also think they should have Denard in the game on every snap as well, even if DG is taking the snaps. If nothing else, Denard will be a decoy.
Michigan Museday: Playing Devin's Advocate
"There are three stages in an actor's career: Who is John Amos? Get me John Amos. Get me a young John Amos." –John Amos | Photo: John T. Greilick, Detroit News
He's listed at 6'4" and 205 lbs. In his career so far – about 50 snaps – he's thrown 24 passes and completed 14 (58.3%) for 186 yards and 1 TD. He's also rushed for 56 yards (96 forward, 40 backwards) and 2 scores. He kinda looks like a young version of that guy who played Admiral Fitzwallace on the West Wing.*
For the last three games Hoke has been working Devin Gardner into the offense more often, either with the "Fritz" formation, the Denard Jet, or in some practiced Gardner-specific packages. How much of a 'rotation' this is can be overstated. Before Marcus Rush's flagrant roughing the passer knocked out Denard on Michigan's last drive I counted 67 snaps, of which 5 were Gardner's alone, 6 used both QBs, and 56 were just Denard. That's about a 90-10 split.
This is an attempt to discuss some prevailing theories as to why Devin is taking away a tenth of snaps from a Davey O'Brien award semifinalist.
* DYK: John Amos played ball for Colorado State back in the day.
THEORY 1: RUNNING QUARTERBACKS ARE FOR SOCIALISTS
The inevitable result of Denard's 2011 regression has been leagues of old blues who see Devin Gardner's hype and strapping physique and decide that anyone who looks more like a Scot Loeffler acolyte must be able to complete more than 30 percent of his passes in a trash tornado. They would be correct on the last bit; 3 for 7 is 43 percent. He also had a play so freshman-y against MSU it got through the entire first stanza of Yakety Sax:
The old men say things like "he's a better fit for Borges' offense," because the columnists they read break down all offenses into Manballicans and Spreadocrats, Borges being of the former (never mind that he's run a different offense at every stop). Their ranks are swelled by the same "Put in Henson" effect that has made 2nd string QBs and goalies so beloved wherever starters are struggling.
But there is evidence that Gardner is a more accurate passer than Robinson, not from the games but because his coaches say that. Hoke at the post-MSU presser:
Can you talk about philosophy of alternating Devin and Denard? “Yeah, we thought we may do some of that, and part of what pushed it over a little more was that it was a windy day, and I think Devin at times can throw the ball a little more accurately.”
So if we take the politics out and pare this theory down to "Gardner is more accurate," that accounts for two plays last week. One was when Denard overthrew Hemingway down the sideline in the 2nd quarter and was yanked for Gardner. Gardner immediately missed a wide open Hopkins for a 50-yard score. Later on they brought in Devin for an important 3rd and 11 early in the 4th quarter; Gardner fumbled the snap.
THEORY 2: THE MOST TALENTED GUYS ON THE FIELD
By recruiting metrics, Gardner is the most talented offensive player on Michigan's team. He was the No. 1 ranked dual-threat QB in 2010 to everybody but ESPN (Bolden), a 5-star to Scout, and the 5th ranked QB to pretty much everyone. Everyone who has a believable opinion about scouting says Devin has every type of it. After a year and change in the program, is there any way we can get some of that it on the field without giving up the rainbows and love and liquid happy of Denards?
Borges after debuting the Fritz:
We talked about it a little bit and after spring football it became apparent Devin was a skilled kid, we just tried to figure out a way we could use him. It’s hard, without literally giving quarterbacks series, and I know they did that here in the past, I’m just not a fan of breaking the starting quarterback’s rhythm by taking him out for another guy.
Game theorists and bloggers love this explanation. Technically they're replacing a receiver so the talent tradeoff is Roundtree for Devin. But if you're already overreacting to Denard and then you have to deal with Devin's legs on the other side, and Devin's arm, and oh yeah there's a running back who can go up the middle or option or (Gotchya!) pass it, you can see how opposing DC's can end up with disorders.
Last week this was very effective. The Denard Jet play netted two first downs that were both a shoestring tackle away from breaking big, and two well-defended fake jets that Gardner dumped off for 4 yards on 1st down, and a ran for 3 yards that should have been 8 if Devin hadn't missed his hole.
THEORY 3: THE LAW OF DIMINISHING DENARDS
Molk(+.5) and Schofield block down, Robinson(+1) finds a small hole and squirts into the secondary for 7 yards, where two linebackers and a safety converge. Denard gets up holding his hand.
The thinking goes, the more you play Denard, the more banged up he gets and thus the worse his performance. Talk during the offseason was all about limiting Robinson's carries. One way to reduce wear is to have him pass more, but his passing this year—scheme is part of it, inaccuracy is most of it—makes that untenable as his 2009-y performance against MSU shows:
This is rushing and passing together, with baby seals and EMUs excised. I was looking for some evidence that Denard's effectiveness goes down the deeper into a year you get but it doesn't show that. What it does show is Denard is less effective against better defenses (duh moment) and that he was very much Freshman Denard against MSU. It was also his passing-iest game yet.
Another way to keep miles off the Robinsonmobile is to drive the Gardner more. The tradeoff is that the best part of this offense is Denard's legs and that defenses have to overreact to that whenever Denard's legs are in the game.
Thus the Fritz and Denard Jet packages, which so far have gotten Denard hit about a third of the time but have Denard's legs as a threat 100% of the time.
THEORY 4: THE TATE FORCIER EFFECT
One of the reasons advanced stats loved Michigan's offense last year is we put up way above average yards against Illinois and Iowa, two statistically good defenses. Those also happen to be Tate Forcier's two extended appearances not in garbage time.
Tate had 597 yards on 84 passing attempts last year, all but 13 of those passes against real Big Ten defenses when filling in for a dinged Denard. With him gone and most of the Big Ten season ahead, this job falls to Devin Gardner. It might be a good idea to come up with a few plays he can do well and get those snaps logged. We've got that. In the Monday presser Hoke elaborated a little bit on the just-Devin package:
When you put Devin in the game, is there a purpose to that? “There’s three plays that we like Devin to run. One was the touchdown that he had against Northwestern -- that boot. And there’s another boot in there that we really wanted him to be a part of besides the combination of them both in there.”
More of this after NW from Borges:
Does it help to have Devin play a couple snaps when Denard was out from a coaching standpoint and from his standpoint? “Oh yeah, absolutely. Because Devin’s a highly skilled kid. He is. When he can go in the game and score a touchdown, really not make any tactical or technical errors, he gains confidence, and we gain confidence in his ability to do it.
Experience is needed. We had a preview of Devin in relief at the end of the MSU game and Gardner twice tried to throw the ball past the L.O.S. (the one above and the TD pass called back). That is an experience problem, and highlights the main reason, in my opinion, for getting Devin snaps: having a backup ready if/when Denard gets his dings. The experience thing is a double edged sword since it seems Robinson needs the experience snaps in this offense just as much as his backup.
In a perfect world Michigan would have an extra 15 snaps per game per quarterback we can throw away to learning. As it is that opportunity has come once this year, against Minnesota. The rest of the way, I figure the coaches will be looking for opportunities to give Devin a few more looks here and there. If he's replacing Denard more than 1 play in 10, it's because the dings have already come.
I like playing Tom-Harmon-era ball with Denard and Devin in the backfield, both being a threat to run or throw. I do not like taking Denard out completely. The coaches seem to be saying, "We're going to pass" and "We don't have a lot of confidence in Denard" when they do that.
I don't think it is a bad think to give him a blow on the sidelines, collect himself and jump back in after a snap or two. He has issues with reads and getting too amped up, fatigue would not help either. We rotate out backs who are carrying a bunch on a series. Ideally we are not doing QB runs and Denard jet sweeps the majority of the time, but we also sometimes struggle with expanding the offensive package.
I was thinki about that the other day as well. Not sure if he has hands or not, but he would be one heck of a corner fade target in the red zone with his height and speed. Could be a really cool wrinkle to add.
either a 7 on 7 environment or an all american game/practice where I saw Devin running some routes as a WR/TE. He was excellent at it. Made a great 1 handed grab if I remember correctly. My guess is that is a wrinkle that is in the works for the Fritz package, and if not, it should be.
"The coaches seem to be saying, "We're going to pass""
I agree with this. MSU players said they knew we were going to pass everytime Devin was in without Denard. That is a great time to run the ball on a draw with the running back. I don't think there is a problem telegraphing our plays as long as we run the constraint enough to punish defenses for too much anticipation.
I was (one of?) the morons asking repeatedly last yr "Why not?" use Tate & Nard at the same time? The unpredictability of whether Nard will keep, pitch, backwards pass, etc seemed to me extremely difficult to defense.
I feel even much more strongly about using Devin & Nard together, due to Devin's having a body type better able to handle a pounding then either Tate or Nard. More motion will keep opposing LB from crashing the line repeatedly... completing a pass or three in the Fritz will work wonders at keeping the D honest & protecting the QBs.
I really hope we give it enuf snaps to where Devin gets comfortable & the coaches get confidence in the formation. I see a few more games ahead like the last one otherwise.
Is it really that much more work to type "Denard" as opposed to "Nard"? Prickish of me? Perhaps. I've never heard him reference as such. D Rob or Denard. But please not Nard.
Thirded. Denard should not be referred to as a man's testes.
Seeing nard makes me think of The Office and how that nerdy guy from the Hangover calls himeself nard-dog...so yea lets not use that nickname.
I also like the Devin/Denard combo on the field, both for its potential explosiveness and the game experience it gives Devin.
Question is, does Denard understand that its also a tremendous benefit to him? I mean is the kid smart enough to know he's not going to play at the next level as a QB? Have his coaches made him aware of this and explained that scheming him into plays as a slot/wingback/halfback are the best thing for his career at the next level?
I would think that the ideal situation for Denard long term is that Devin matures and with more experience takes over as starting QB next year with Denard being the featured playmaker. That could be the most explosive offense in the country next year and turn Denard into a 1st rounder as his strengths would be maximized and his weakness's hidden.
other QBs can throw and Denard cannot. Denard does not have good arm. He's too inaccurate and sometimes has to wind up to uncork a big one. Most scouts thinks that he's not a NFL QB.
especially from far hash. His is above average but he's far too erratic to be considered a NFL QB. He's too small and is injury prone. His accuracy is atrocious as evidenced by Brian's Henne Chart for this season.
is a NFL QB is a joke and Fox/Elway knows it. Difference between Flutie, Brees and Vick and Denard is Flutie/Brees/Vick all have good arm and can throw with accuracy(well in Vick's case, his arm strength is outstanding). Denard has neither good arm strength and good accuracy(it's atrocious). Accuracy is more important than arm strength and Denard does not have it. This is why he will never be a NFL QB. Denard has erratic accuracy, terrible mechanics/footwork, is too small and doesn't read defense very well. If Denard wants to play as a NFL QB, he'd be UDFA. If he is willing to move to WR, he'd be a 2nd/3rd rounder.
Actually pocket QB get hit just as much as dual threat QB and they get hit harder especially when they have to stand until the last second to deliver the ball.
I'm willing to bet that 99.9% of the scouts would not consider him a NFL QB, much alone a college QB. Denard is a dual threat QB, not a pocket passer. Saying that he's a pocket passer but also is a RB does not make any sense whatsover.
Tebow is much bigger, but has terrible mechanics, footwork, below average accuracy, average arm strength and doesn't go through progression read very well. He shouldn't have been drafted in the 1st round and Josh McDaniels, of course, decided to be an idiot and overdraft Tebow. There are several players who were drafted in the 1st round but were overdrafted mainly because coaches/GM didn't listen to the NFL scouts.
A person gives you an example of what an actual scout says and you say well he is just 1 in a thousand. Tebow beat out the other quarterbacks on his team to become the starter. You don't know what you are talking about.
for the starting job. He outright lost the job to Orton and was the 3rd string behind Brady Quinn. The only reason he started is because of the pressure from the Broncos fans and media. Fox would not prefer to start Tebow because he knows how bad he is at QB and it shows in last week's game.
I don't think any coach in the NFL plays guys because of pressure from fans and the media. Maybe if the owner or president said they wanted Tebow to play, but I believe just about every NFL coach out there will play whoever he thinks gives him the best chance to win. Coaches keep their jobs with victories, not good PR and popular decision making.
it's clearly Fox/Elway succumbing to pressure from fans/media. Orton is clearly the better QB of the three. I guarantee you that they're going to kick Tebow to the curb as soon as they draft a QB for '12 draft.
I am still skeptical. And I agree with you that Tebow won't be a starting QB in the NFL for long.
but look at Pryor. He is taller, stronger, and just as fast (though not as quick or shifty), but their passing is about on par (mechanics and such) and I would bet their rushing would be similar (still favoring Denard, probably) if tsio ever let Pryor run.
Few around here expect TP to be a pro QB, and he has so many physical advantages.
Serious question, what leads you to believe he has the goods to be a QB at the next level given his obvious shortcomings this year?
a rookie "QB" who hasn't seen a snap yet and until he does he is still not a QB. Tebow... What was his completion percentage in his start against MIAMI? 48% percent, and less than 6 yards an attempt. Not exactly impressive... At all. Plus he is about 6'3", 240lbs and runs like a fullback.
Denard's shortcomings include accuracy, decision making, his inability to see over the line, his inability to hit a receiver consistently when rolling the pocket... Sure, it can all be coached up (minus not seeing over the line), but Brian himself has always said that if you are looking for a pocket passer he is not capable. So, he would have to be a more elusive player, but even people like Vick have the ability to keep a play alive AND complete a pass.
Think about how many people are out there that have the ability to throw a football FAST. Outside of speed (and liquid joy and Dilithium), what sets them apart from Denard? Not a whole lot. All those things that Denard "can be coached up" on are exactly what separates an NFL quarterback from a good college quarterback.
Denard has everything he needs to be an outstanding abd effective college quarterback, but no way you make the argument he is an NFL QB, not without at least a 40% improvement statistically.
I am not presuming to know more than NFL scouts, but can you cite any NFL scout that sees him as a potential QB I would like to read about it.
The reason they give those raw QBs a choice is because they have shown a lot of success given their rawness but have a multitude of other physical attributes that give even more room to improve.
Pat White was, statistically, VERY similar to Denard (granted he had Steve Slaton to bear part of the burden, but he still put up huge numbers) and he hasn't worked out, what does Denard do that he doesn't?
Also, in regards to Navarre, he was recruited as a LINEBACKER (EDIT: by some schools, not UM), so I think a jump was a little more predictable. He also didn't work out so well in the NFL.
I guess we will see what the scouts say after this year. That article was written on January 3rd...
seems to have a tools to be a NFL QB but they don't have that "arm" to be successful. Denard is similar to Pat White except he's faster and slightly stronger arm, but mechanics, inaccuracy are remarkably similar. Pat White didn't last in the NFL and apparently didn't want to move to WR. That's why he's out of the league.
Denard won't be drafted as a NFL QB and won't be treated as such. It'd be a huge mistake if Denard insist on working out as a QB for the NFL draft combine/workout because he'll go undrafted as a QB but team will take a chance and move him to WR.
Look at Antwann Randle-El, Brad Smith, Josh Cribbs, Scott Frost, Tommy Crouch, etc., they all moved to different position without ever playing QB in the NFL. Denard will be just like them whether if he'll be successful in the NFL or not.
Pryor is a good runner but he is slower than Denard and its not really close.
And no one is saying Denard WILL be an NFL QB or that its even likely. We're just saying you cannot definitively say he CAN'T be one. Many people doubted he could be a college QB. If he continues to improve he does have the leadership and physical talent to be an NFL QB. Anyone who says differently is a hater.
First of all, Pryor ran a 4.38 40 at the combine. Denard MAY be faster, but yes, it is close.
Secondly, continues to improve? Sorry but he regressed. Some of it is the new system, some of it is not. So he needs to start improving.
Ok, so straight line Pryor may be close to Denard in 40 yards. I still think Denard is able to keep top end speed while juking a million times better than Pryor and would be much faster (in relative terms) over a longer distance.
As far as improvement, I agree that he hasn't played as well this year as last but that is as much scheme as it is the player. I think he improved a lot between freshman and sophomore year. He is still better this year than freshman year. If he improves more, he will get a shot at playing qb in the NFL.
others already have. And I think that he could benefit very much from getting some non-QB experience while at UM.
Besiedes, wouldn't you just love to see him return kicks just once this year.
what you think matters so much.
And, personally, I would not like to see him returning kicks.
I hate to say it, but unless the light comes on for Denard in terms of passing next year, he's not going into the NFL as a QB. He's on the short side to begin with (5' 11" or so despite what is posted on MGoBlue), his arm strength isn't amazing, and he has accuracy issues.
If Denard sticks as a QB I fear he ends up getting taking in a lower round as a conversion project. Michael Vick was beastly for a bit for a before other defenses got used to him again (to be fair the Eagles have other big problems). Vince Young never went anywhere. Troy Smith is a career backup. Pryor was scouted as a TE conversion project. The NFL likes its precision pocket passers.
If Denard wants to play football at the next level I feel like his best move might be to become the Percy Harvin type all purpose skill player of doom. Odds are he goes as a first round pick (if he shows good hands catching) and gets the first round money that comes with it. I know he wants to lead, but you don't have to be the QB to lead the team.
My person fear is whenever we play in bad weather and Denard lacks the arm strength to deal with the wind we become one dimensional and get shut down. I'll admit to sometimes secretly longing for RoboHenne that dropped 40 yard bombs with ease.
There is an assumption being made that Denard has good hands, which may not be valid.
Does anyone know if they ever tried Denard as a return guy when he showed up on campus? It seems that with his speed, he would have been a natural, again assuming he has good hands.
It is obvious to me that against some of the D's we are about to face, we need an average passing game or we are in big trouble.
Won multiple national titles without any semblance of a passing game. We can win our next five games as long as Denard doesn't throw interceptions and our offensive and defensive lines get the job done. We didn't lose to MSU because of Denard's accuracy. We lost because our offensive line sucked and our coaches didn't coach very well. Denard has limitations and strengths. Decrease the plays that show his limitations, increase the plays that showcase his strengths, block for him and we will win.
Denard is the BEST QB on THIS team. He gives Michigan the best chance to win now. Who gives a flying fuck what would be best for his potential pro career 2 years from now. Denard wants to play QB. If at the end of the season next year Denard hasn't made the accuracy leap he needs to be drafted at QB and Devin is ready, then you play him at WR or RB, but not now. This seems increadibly obvious to me and I can't figure out why people want to move him away from where he is best for us and what he wants when he still has at least 17 games at U of M left.
Devin is not RoboHenne and we have all seen that with our own eyes so please for the love of god just stop it. Devin is being used appropriately. If he proves he is a better QB than Denard or if Denard wants to switch, then you do that, but not until then.
he has better arm and is infinitely 1000x more accurate than Denard. It's that much obvious when you compare both as a passer.
do you know these things because I have watched every second of the last two seasons as well as the spring games and a lot of high school highlights and I just don't see it.
For the record, I really like Devin. I think he can be a great QB for us and probably will end up being a better QB than Denard. I just don't think anyone knows for sure if Denard can be an NFL QB. I also don't think we have any proof that Devin is a better QB right now, given the total skill set for both players, (ie taking Denard and Devin's legs and experience into account)
that Devin is a better passer/QB than Denard right now.
Work on your reading a bit. I said if the light fails to come for Denard. It's unfair to go after Denard right now. He's coming out of RR's system which emphasised option reads over passing. He's moving into a new system that likes passing. He gets a complete pass for this year.
However the deal is Borges is clearly not an option guru. He's trying and deserves credit for that, but his skill set is in other areas. Also our line seems to be better at pass protect than run blocking (although that could also be people fearing to blitz and get burned on a broken play). If at the end of 2012 Spring Camp, Devin as the QB allows us to install a more complete offense then we should. Evidence is starting to suggest that teams are learning how to limit Denard and with mininal fear of him as a passer they're stacking the box. MSU was rolling with up to 9 guys in run stopping configuration and we failed to exploit the really weak coverages that result.
There's not doubt that Devin is not ready this year, you can see the inexperienced mistakes he makes, but I don't think it is unthinkable that next year Devin could lead a more productive passing offense.
I probably over reacted to your post because of the string of posts before yours. My biggest issue is saying you would like to see Robohenne. I would too. I just don't think we have any evidence besides high school recruiting that says Devin would be better at throwing than Denard. And that Devin is taller.
John Amos was in one of the best movies of all time...
Nevermind Marc Singers ally Seth from Beastmaster. Ignore the treacherous Major Grant in die Hard 2. Shun the noble patriotism of Admiral Percy Fitzwallace in the award winning West Wing. Forget his best known role as father James Evans on TV's Good Times or even depicting Kunta Kinte in the groundbreaking miniseries Roots.
I always prefer to picture John Amos as Cleo McDowell with a burger to his ear.
I don't disagree that Devin should see snaps (and I agree that he needs more than a spot down here and there; let him be the main QB for a series if needed). But at the same time, the notion of replacing Denard with Devin just seems foolish to me; we saw this the past couple of years with Threet->Tate->Denard. First-year signal callers are, by nature, inexperienced and prone to brain farts like running past the LOS and throwing the ball, or locking onto a receiver and getting it picked off. This year, let the reigning B1G offensive POY play, get better, and hope he stays healthy next year for senior-level Denarding. Bring in Devin as well, but groom him to replace Denard, not sub for him now and again (outside of the correctly-noted times when Denard is unable to play).
The argument I read the most is that "Denard is going to be gone in 2 years, and Devin is the future of the offense, so why not let him play now?" While it has merit at first glance, it drives me crazy because, at best, you have a starter for 4 years before he is forcibly removed from the lineup. This isn't the NFL where Peyton Manning plays for a decade; Devin has (maybe) 3 years left at UM, then he has to leave. And in two years, Shane Morris shows up on campus and he is an even BETTER fit for the offense Borges likes to run. At that point, does the team bench Devin and bring in Shane so that he gets his reps, because he is now the future? That seems patently crazy to me, but then again we've seen it with Denard
I get that Devin is a great talent and unfortunately he plays the same position as the team's best player (Denard), but thems the breaks. Unless Denard absolutely falls apart the next couple of weeks (and while he struggled throwing the ball against MSU, it's not like Cousins was accurate in that trash tornado), I want him to remain the primary QB with Devin getting some spot-drives when a change-up is in order.
for the benching of Denard.
mmm, starting the column with a little eye candy for the ladies
THANK YOU SIR
Signed, your female readership.
A young John Amos is eye candy for ALL readership.
"So if we take the politics out and pare this theory down to "Gardner is more accurate," that accounts for two plays last week. One was when Denard overthrew Hemingway down the sideline in the 2nd quarter and was yanked for Gardner. Gardner immediately missed a wide open Hopkins for a 50-yard score."
Gardner missing Hopkins wasn't an accuracy issue. It was a decision making issue. He may have thrown to the wrong receiver (the one who was covered) but it was still a well thrown ball.
I don't think there's any question Devin's a more accurate passer and has the better arm. His probelms are all related to decision making (which is understandable IMO).
Not throwing to Hopkins was a decision making issue but that was still a mistake. But the throw to Hemingway was not well thrown. Hemingway had a step and Devin missed him.
Obviously it was still a mistake. One that Denard's made several times this year as well though.
... And I completely disagree.
It looked to me like Hemingway tried to make a move to lose the coverage (didn't look like part of the route as it was a split second pause/stutter type thing) and it caused him to be a half-second late. The throw was pretty, deep, and Hemingway still got hands on it and could have (though not necessarily "should have") pulled it in.
I guess its possible Hemingway turned the wrong way. I guess we can't know for sure unless someone knew what the route was supposed to be. My guess is the 5th year senior starter knew more than the true sophomore 2nd stringer.