2010 Quarterback Derby: You Make The Call Comment Count

Brian May 24th, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Thanks to three exceptionally useful videos put out by MGoVideo now you can take in the performances of all three Michigan quarterbacks during the spring game in about 15 minutes. Bonus points for the awesome audio selections.




Standard caveats about spring apply, but it's still amazing to watch Denard's development.



May 24th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

I didn't like the play so much. Unsurprisingly, Devin looked like a freshman - which he's not, really - in the normal course of things he'd still be a senior in high school.

Flying Dutchman

May 24th, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

Great point Nothsa,

I can certainly live with a HS Senior playing like a college freshman, especially one with such physical gifts.   I strongly hope for a redshirt, and two years from now he will be just going into his sophomore year.  That sounds nice.

My gut tells me that Denard gets the nod against UConn.  If he can just make the throws, we know he will turn on the burners, especially if he can keep the D honest with his arm.   This guy can be exciting as hell.   Tate will get his reps, make some plays, and shake things up a bit.   And hopefully we won't see much of #7 until 2011


May 24th, 2010 at 1:42 PM ^

I'm still on the Tate bandwagon although I was really close to switching this spring. Basically, it comes down to whether Denard can do that in real games. He has earned himself more playing time and a chance to show us what he's got but I am not putting too much stock into his offseason play. I mean the Lions went 4-0 in the preseason recently. We talkin bout practice here..

Foote Fetish

May 24th, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

Guess what I've been doing for the past 30 minutes of my work day?

You know, when taken all together, I didn't think Tate's performance was too shabby given that he was up against the 1s on D.  When he had time to throw, he generally made the completion.  I'm hoping that just means we have a really good D line.

Denard looks like night and day from last year.

And Devin's video is where I actually got to hear the original "Temptation."  So that's good.  Also, please redshirt.


May 24th, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

Love the Dilithium Rage block on the reverse!  Upside is soooooo BIG with Denard.  Downfield eyes now...making as many passing plays as running plays with his feet.  Tate looks like Tate last season during games in which he had poor blocking and was running for his life, so it's hard to tell.  Only real takeaway for me from spring game (I was there) is that Denard is a true alternative this year, so hopefully the change-up will yield dividends regardless of who gets the bulk of playing time.  Also, didn't look like the D gave up much on the ground when the O was in the I, regardless of which units were on the field...good sign for the D or bad sign for the O?  Finally, if Taylor Lewan is not the starting LT for the UConn game, I'll be highly bummed.


May 24th, 2010 at 2:33 PM ^

Obviously Devin is behind the others, but honestly, watching all the vids he looks like the most natural running the read option.  He holds the ball in the RB's gut a beat longer and carries out his fakes.  As far as the starter, I'm with Brian in that I think both Forcier and Robinson get reps this year.  If Denard hadn't shown that much improvement I would have expected him to be a RB/slot hybrid.


May 24th, 2010 at 3:07 PM ^

I'm sure Rodriguez would like to have one QB, just like every other coach. But given the vagaries of translating practice-field success to game conditions, I'm sure Forcier and Robinson will share reps until/unless one guy clearly distinguishes himself. I do not think Gardner will see the field, barring injury or total collapse by at least one of the two sophomores.

I never thought there was any realistic scenario where Robinson would move to slot/RB in 2010: Michigan is too thin at the position to consider moving him, even if he were the #3 guy (which, any event, doesn't look likely now).


May 24th, 2010 at 3:02 PM ^

Of those three, Devin will be the best.  In 2010, he gets the bronze.  

Of the other 2, the good news is that I think they are both good enough to start (as opposed to the last few years where none of our QB's were starter material).  I was always a big Tate fan and I pushed moving Denard to a different role, but now I am squarely in the "Denard for QB" boat.  He can now run the offense the way it should be run, and we will win with him doing so.


May 24th, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

Pre-snap, Gardner is the only one who *looks* like a QB. Robinson and Forcier are so small, I almost feel like Rodriguez should have both of them out there at the same time to compensate.

But seriously, why not have Robinson and Forcier in the backfield at once? They could line up side-by-side and either could take a direct snap on any given down. How would anyone defend that?


May 24th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

(1) Tate didn't look very good, but agree with the poster that said he looked like he did last year - scrambling for his life too often.  Whether that's blocking of the DL, or Tate's lack of patience, always hard to say.  Also, even when his feet were set, seemed like a lot of flutter on those throws - the INC he threw in the back of the end zone smacked of MSU OT last year.

(2) Re: two QBs in the backfield.  It adds nothing.  If anything, it only confuses protection schemes.  In other words, there's nothing that Denard/Tate on the field together adds that either Tate + RB or Denard + RB doesn't have, minus the half second confusion over whether the ball will be snapped one yard left or one yard right.  Put another way, in the Denard/Tate backfield, ask yourself - for plays run to Denard, is the slight confusion over who is taking the snap enough of an advantage for the drop off any play that uses Tate as an RB or blocking back?


May 24th, 2010 at 3:38 PM ^

Really, the major disadvantage is taking a block out of the backfield.

The two QB idea is only half serious. I'm just anticipating that defenses do what they did last year: Denard = load up, Tate = drop back


May 24th, 2010 at 4:28 PM ^

But this fall, opponents won't be able to load up against DR because now he'll throw right over you.  Then when you drop back he'll take off around the corner and be gone.  TD every drive.

Number 7

May 24th, 2010 at 3:40 PM ^

Anyone else try to see who was doing good things on the other side of the ball?  Big Willie caught my eye a couple of times.  It may have been simply that he takes up more screen than anybody else, but a couple of times he moved the pile into where the play was supposed to be going.  Roh was his destructive self a few times.  Kovacs looked good, but seemed to be trailing at least a play or two that were probably supposed to be his. 

Also, fumble aside, I liekd the way Cox was running.

Monocle Smile

May 25th, 2010 at 2:24 AM ^

On the Big Ten broadcast of the spring game, they talked about his "burst" to the ball carrier. If you watch run plays or blitzes when he's out there, he's usually in on the tackle or about a foot away from total demolition. Guy covers the last five yards to the ball carrier like a lightning bolt. The problem last year was that this lightning bolt was never pointed directly at the ball carrier.

His instincts look far more polished and I'm extremely excited because he has the athleticism to be an All-Big Ten linebacker and might actually manage it this time. All he needs to do is cut down on the "GODDAMNIT" plays.

I also liked how Stephen Hopkins laid into Kovacs those couple of times...anyone who demolishes the best tackler on the team will probably send half the league's linebackers into orbit.


May 24th, 2010 at 3:41 PM ^

Tate will be the starter in the spring game he was hurt couldnt move as fast as usual or plant as hard as he wants and he was agaisnt the first team D with the second team O the second team oline is Garbage when you watch denards tape he has so much protection and time that even steve threet would be killing it. Come august tate will be healed and he will show he is the starter but im all for denard bieng on the field cause he is a deadly wepon


May 24th, 2010 at 3:55 PM ^

Punctuation will be used in your last post it was hard to come by couldnt period or comma as much as usual or not run on sentence and you were trying to get your post up fast which makes it Garbage when you transition straight into another thought without any protection from a period or new paragraph.


May 24th, 2010 at 3:58 PM ^

I was going to make the same point but didn't because you beat me to it not only was punctuation missing making the sentences Garbage parenthetical statements were obviously inserted here and there which is why it often sounds like someone has ADHD.


May 24th, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

The one thing that concerns me is Tate's bread-loaf carrying style. It's clearly a problem that hasn't gone away. It seems like such an obvious bad habit that would be easily corrected, so why hasn't he cleaned it up yet? Does he think it would hinder his improvisational playmaking? I'm sure it's been discussed in many a film session by now. Has me scratching my head a little.

Just imagining Gardner as an upperclassman makes me feel like I know I'm getting the best Christmas present ever...but it's only February 12. A prototypical Michigan-sized qb standing tall in the pocket and gliding like Scottie Pippen in the open court on long runs has me wishing it was 2012 already. Gotta redshirt him, in the meantime, obviously. 


May 24th, 2010 at 3:55 PM ^

In looking at Tate's snaps again, he really didn't look bad. He had a couple of ill-advised throws, but considering he was playing the 2nd O versus the 1st D, he did a more than respectable job.


May 24th, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^


I think he was under more pressure (from the defenders rushing/blitzing) than Denard was. Including one instance against only a 3 man rush... yikes.  

Still Denard looks better throwing, that's undeniable.  I think we'll have 2 very good QB's next season.


May 24th, 2010 at 4:12 PM ^

Denard is better than he was and Tate is better than he played (for reasons stated by other posters). I hope both of them continue to progress and give RR what he has been looking for - two QBs that he can win with. IMO, it will be very difficult not to start Denard if he keeps hitting targets and doesn't turn the ball over. Plus his acceleration is so tough to compete with (for other teams and his QB teammates).  Tate will still get his opportunities and please redshirt Gardener so he doesn't suffer the mental and physical beating as a freshman QB.


May 24th, 2010 at 4:23 PM ^

I don't see how DRob could get a start over Tate unless he is just clearly head and shoulders better by the end of fall camp. We don't have a tomato can to start the season, and Tate just has more game experience (and definitely more "somewhat successful" game experience).

I wish we could be lucky enough to have a true sophomore that no (few?) BCS schools offered as a QB come from nowhere to pass the incumbent - even with only a year when said incumbent was the obviously better option - but I just don't think we are that lucky right now. Denard will surely play, but my bet is on a platooning season like last year, with hopefully better results. If he somehow passes Tate, that to me is more concerning for Tate's development than it is the miracle of the dreads.

Watching the video of the spring game, which every opponent can of course save for their own use, also doesn't give you much to go by either, IMO. Denard just doesn't *look* like a QB back there to me (from a purely non-UFR, qualitative, casual observer standpoint), and there weren't enough gamelike situations...like tackling the QB...to get too excited one way or another. Or maybe I am just trying to lower my own expectations.

We need to be better than the 9th best scoring offense this year in B11 play. My bet is that with a healthy Molk and 2-3 tailbacks emerging from the void, there is a very good chance that will be the case. I am far more interested in what happens with our defense between now and September 4th.


May 24th, 2010 at 5:19 PM ^


Also: our 1st string defensive line looks pretty good, which I think was making things difficult for Tate. Denard's play was great, but I also got the feeling that our second team defense looked scarily reminiscent of Delaware St. (the last time Denard looked that awesome).

My best guess is that it's still Tate, but that Denard has made big strides. And fortunately, Gardner is more likely to redshirt.


May 24th, 2010 at 6:24 PM ^

I am so torn.  I just hope the coaches are not as torn as I and can settle on one or the other to start predominantly.  Denard looked flat awesome in his montage and sells his fakes better than Tate.  Tate looked overwhelmed at times and much more tentative than last season, and I don't feel burning Gardner's redshirt makes sense, but with the first team/second team stuff to consider who really knows?  

I guess at this point I would rather see Denard get the nod if his progression continues through fall camp.  I think the team has the most to gain if he can come in with the starter's swagger Tate had early last season.

The best I can take from these videos is that having the starting QB (god forbid) go down with an injury is no longer a huge drop-off.  That is BIG.

S.G. Rice

May 24th, 2010 at 6:41 PM ^

Denard looked better than last year but honestly after hearing the raves I expected a bit more.  It's great that he now appears to have a solid grasp on the offense.  He's still fast.  His throws looked to be better.  But (and this is an inexpert opinion) it looked to me like his mechanics are still pretty shaky.  Of course if he can deliver the ball who gives a ****.

Gardner looked like a true freshman.   He made some nice plays but has a long, long way to go.  Too many passes that would get his receiver killed.  Also could use a lot of work on his mechanics.  Please let him redshirt.


Jack Kennedy for highlight reel!


May 24th, 2010 at 6:44 PM ^

I think that Drob should start and here are the reasons why: 1st of the kid IMO can run our offense better in the long run than tate will be ble to. Drob is not a bad passer at all i would say he is just as good as tate and i like him more as a passer because he throws the ball hard which mean it is less likely to get picked off if it a good pass .. people can make breaks on some of tates passes because he doesn't throw it as hard as Drob .. I also would start Drob over tate because the first 5 games that we have are not big ten teams and he will gain experience through these games and the comp. will not be as good .. Drob would also get the start in my book because he is a burner when he runs and in this O that is huge. He can turn a 3 yrd run by tate into a 5 yrd run at least and every yards means something .. I think we should give the ball to Drob and if he doesn't get anything going by the 3rd quarter and we aren't falling behind by to much then bring in tate and see if he can pull it out in the last 2 quarters ..


May 24th, 2010 at 7:21 PM ^

I thought Tate was solid for the most part considering he was throwing to two early enrollee wide receivers going up against the first string defense Devin looks like all the tools are there but he definitely needs a year of development. Lastly I thought Denard looked amazing and I think he should start because he could run this offense amazingly if his passing continues to improve.

Crime Reporter

May 24th, 2010 at 7:41 PM ^

Come Fall, I still think Tate will be the QB, but Denard looks night and day from last year.

I would like to see Tate stay in the pocket and secure the ball when he dances around waiting for an open receiver.

Overall, the position looks solid top to bottom. Depth is good.


May 24th, 2010 at 9:21 PM ^

is that QB play is one less thing we have to worry about. no matter who starts, tate vs denard is a hell of a lot better than sheridan v threet or even tate v sheridan. this is going to be good


May 24th, 2010 at 10:10 PM ^

I will say this - any team we play this year that is of the caliber of our second string D (UMass, Bowling Green, Indiana?) is going to get smoked by Denard. 

Still not confidant this team can beat the elites of the Big 10 (I'm a realist), but this offense is going to move the ball even better than last year. 


May 24th, 2010 at 10:26 PM ^

Not to take anything away Denard's performance but I did accidentally omit his second series which was a three and out. If people like these, I might do offense/defense every snap videos in the fall.  


May 25th, 2010 at 12:24 AM ^

I don't buy the Tate optimism. Sure they look more or less equally good in the spring game, but for Tate to have a chance to start he's going to have to dramatically alter the relative rate at which he's improving.


May 25th, 2010 at 10:39 AM ^

Odoms had an atrocious uncontested drop in the Gardner vid. Thats not supposed to happen.

He seems to come through in the clutch (If someone can get him the ball.) Hes fast, and awesome at blocking. I thought he was going to be a star for us.

But before that happens he needs to,

A: Fumble a lot over the summer, just to get it out of his system.

B: Catch that same pass he dropped in that video, because I literally would have punched a dolphin if that happened in a real game. 

That is all.


May 25th, 2010 at 3:26 PM ^

... is an unfair comparison from these videos. To have a fair analysis, we need to see them with the same offensive personnel going up against the same defensive people. 

I still think Tate should start with Denard getting plenty of opportunities to play and grow.

Right now, the thought of Denard facing tough passing situations during difficult games makes me a little nervous. That said, time and experience will remedy that, but I think I'd prefer to break Denard in slowly by giving him ample opportunities to throw against our lesser opponents. Then, WATCH OUT!