I know this is sacriledge in these parts, but I will go forth anyhow. An analysis of why we need a qb change. This is not out of panic mode as many will attest, but instead from watching our offense struggle the past two years whenever facing a top 25 defense that stacks the box.
1) Denard is not a qb unless he is in a spread option attack
Denard is an amazing athlete that needs to be on the field all the time. I totally agree with that. He is also a great kid and leader on this team. However, trying to run a hybrid offense with him simply won't work. As a drop back passer he does not look the part. You can say, "new system", "needs time", etc, but nobody can deny that Devin look the part as a passer. Sure he is not there yet, but he stands in and throws bullets....not always to the right man yet unfortunately. Some of Denard's thows are just mind boggling punt looking ducks. He is not that accurate and has to think about his footwork. There is reason other schools did not recruit him as a qb. Even in RRs system we struggled against good d-lines because if you make an offense one dimensional (in our case force Denard to throw), then you are predictable and play into the defense's hands. I love Denard and he should still be in on every play on offense, and we need to run a bunch of plays where he is the centerpiece, but if the run is being taken away we need our most accurate passer under center. He is not that guy...even Coach Hoke said so yesterday.
2) Don't delay the inevitable
Denard will not be a qb in the NFL and it is very likely Devin would start over him next year. Devin has already closed ground on him in terms of playing time and it is clear as we transition back to a more pro-style balanced attack that Gardner fits the mold. Denard is not Michael Vick....Vick is taller and was always more accurate, even as a freshman in college. It is a disservice to Denard to not train him for his future in the NFL as a slot man / return man. It is also a disservice to Gardener to not have him get the qb training under center he deserves. Gardner plays a very similar game as one Vince Young....except he has much better mechanics and accuracy. Also, the Shane Morris era is around the corner, and Devin probably should get 2-3 full years as starter befor Shane takes over in his sophomore year. Let the natural qb play qb, and let the most athletic player on our team stand next to him as a qb/rb/wr hybrid in the backfield.
3) Spread has not worked against one good Big 10 defense in two years
For those of you who wish to cry heresy, "how could I throw such a great kid under the bus" etc, please realize none of this is personal. It's about the team. I love Denard, and he needs to be on the field. This is just a realistic assessment of his abilities and what we have seen the past couple years. As a passer, his deep throws are jump balls, he struggles to set his feet, and he is innacurrate on out patterns. His best throw are laser slant throws, but he often makes the wrong reads on blitzes, especially on obvious passing downs. Gardner on the other hand, does not have happy feet, looks the part of a division 1 qb, and has had much less playing time and opportunity than Denard. We will continue to rack up yards against the Minnesotas and Purdues of the world, but we will not improve for the future or be able to consistently beat solid big 10 defenses with a gimmick offense.
OK, go ahead and rip me a new one with the usual...."stop your panic", "one bad game with wind", "Borges called a bad game", etc. But realize this assessment is from observing the last two years, not just yesterday.
On a positive not....Greg Mattison is a freaking genius. While a couple of the missed tackles yesterday were sadly reminicent of the RR era, what that man has done with the defense in one year is nothing short of magical. All this in spite of a slew of injuries on that side of the ball.