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?