I'll preface this post by saying that I understand all reasons for keeping Denard at QB this year and realize that what I'm suggesting may be unpopular or not feasible... anyway, whatever. I can take it. I'm a man! I'm 40 (not really).
Anyway, so as I've probably made very clear in other threads, our pass game (or lackthereof) is driving me crazy. We quite simply have no go-to threats among our receiving corps... at least, not at this time. We've all seen Daryl and Jr show flashes of maybe-future-stardom, but not with any consistency. Greg Mathews would be a terrific posession receiver if only he didn't have to also be the 'big-play' guy as well (which he is most certainly NOT). I can't imagine opposing defensive coordinators have any reason to lose sleep over containing our pedestrian corps of wideouts. None of them command attention (maybe Odoms, but only in the sense that, he will get the ball a few times on short passes. TACKLE him thereafter!).
speaking of him, Martavious Odoms leads the team with 22 catches for 270-some yards. That's under 3 catches a game. really? Those are uninspiring numbers 8 games into a season.
You can say, well, the receivers aren't getting chances because of the young quarterbacks and their problems. I don't care which way you slice it, the passing game is not working at this point, and I don't see anything magically happening to improve it, except MAYBE the ineptitude of the next two defenses we face.
Now that Tate and Denard are well documented on opposing teams tape, their savviness and moxie can only take them so far. Sure, Tate will make some really neat plays and Denard will break some runs, but there will also be the fumbles, interceptions and bad reads.
Alright, so my point is this: as I see it, Denard Robinson is our only potential gamebreaker (other than a healthy minor/brown running attack, which seems to bog down when defenses can key in on it) on offense. When he's in the game, it has taken defenses awhile to catch up to him. The flip side, of course, as we've seen, he's repeatedly made horrendous throws/decisions, and has proven he's not yet ready to be a full-time QB in the big-ten. fine!
...find a way to get your playmakers on the field. It's a basic philosophy in football. Tate and Denard absolutely need eachother. Have them both on the field at the same time. You can not tell me that having Denard lined up in the slot wouldn't cause the defense and coaches to run around pointing at him... and what a great time that would be to gash a run up the gut with minor, faking an end round to Denard or hurling it deep to another wideout... not to mention putting the ball in his hands and letting him run around with it. Denard could be that guy that you go to 4 or 5 plays in a row until the defense catches up. Hell, he's DONE that already when he's in at QB. We saw Novorro Bowman spy Tate in the PSU game. Make the opposing team commit another athlete to spy Denard, as well.
I want to see opposing teams have to contain the talents of both young QB's at once.
Now, it may be that Denard can't catch a football to save his life (which, incidentally, makes him more of a receiving threat than Martell Webb), but we ALL have seen, i think, that when he has the ball in his hands, he has the potential to change the course of a game. So why not try to cultivate something out of his talents? I'm fine with him taking a few snaps and running around - maybe even throwing short passes - I just don't see why you can't have Tate there as well. If denard ends up a 4 year quarterback, either things have gone totally wrong, or Denard has undergone incredible growth and understand. His future, as much as we keep hearing 'Denard is staying at QB', just doesn't make sense to be as a fulltime qb.
After a game where Penn State totally flummoxed our offensive 'gameplan', I personally want to see Rich and his staff sell out these last few games and gamble a little bit with the offensive scheming: really find out what Denard and Tate can and can not do. It would be exciting as hell to see those guys work together. I'm sure there would still be some of the same excrutiating 'oh-no' plays, but Denard's not going to break tackles or run by defenders on the sideline.
Anyway, something needs to happen to try to mask the fact that we trot out any random combination of the 25 wideouts we have with similar results each week. We just haven't had an offensive gamebreaker emerge.
Rittenberg summed it up well the other week that Michigan lives and dies by the play of it's young QBs (mumble mumble defense grumble grumble walk-on, but whatever...).
Even if it's mostly smoke and mirrors, the presence of Denard on the field forces a defense to keep track of him - something they haven't had to bother with for anyone else for the most part this season.
hope our guys come out flying around against Illinois.