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.