Michigan Museday Has a Senior QB

Submitted by Seth on May 9th, 2012 at 8:11 AM



Michigan goes into 2012 with the rarest of all birds (recently at least): a senior returning starter at quarterback. Since we can't count half a season from an injured Henne, the last time we saw this senior-type thing under center was the last time a QB wore 16: Navarre. It's been nine years!

History too has been a bit rough on senior QBs. Brady shared much of his last season with Henson. Todd Collins played almost as much as senior Grbac, who took away half of Michael Taylor's seminal season, who nabbed the bulk of Demetrius Brown's last year.

Since Bo's first year Denard is the 14th senior starter at Michigan. The other 13, by stats:

Season Name Comp Att % Comp TD Int Yds Efficiency
2007 Chad Henne 162 278 58.3% 17 9 1938 130.5
2003 John Navarre 270 456 59.2% 24 10 3331 133.6
1999 Tom Brady 214 341 62.8% 20 6 2586 142.3
1997 Brian Griese 193 307 62.9% 17 6 2293 140.0
1994 Todd Collins 186 288 64.6% 13 10 2518 146.0
1992 Elvis Grbac 129 199 64.8% 17 12 1640 150.2
1989 Michael Taylor 74 121 61.2% 11 3 1081 161.2
1986 Jim Harbaugh 180 277 65.0% 10 11 2729 151.7
1983 Steve Smith 106 205 51.7% 13 8 1420 123.0
1980 John Wangler 117 212 55.2% 16 9 1522 131.9
1978 Rick Leach 78 158 49.4% 17 6 1283 145.5
1974 Dennis Franklin 58 104 55.8% 8 5 933 146.9
1970 Don Moorhead 87 190 45.8% 8 6 1167 105.0

I'll save you some of the suspense: those are good efficiencies. And when that starter wasn't dinged it made for awesome seasons. Even counting '07, over these 13 seasons Michigan went 127-26-3, went to Pasadena 7 times (plus an Orange and Sugar and no bowl one year when Michigan finished 3rd overall), finished in the Top 10 of the Associated Press 11 times (avg finish: 7th), and won a National Championship. Small sample size and whatnot, but special years do seem to follow the seniors around.

Let's all shake our fists at: Chad Henne shoulder-hating god. Three shakes!


You also probably already figured that since players generally improve year to year, that senior quarterbacks are best. What I'm looking at here is whether there's maybe something about being a senior, whether its age, or whether that mythical senior tag has some weight. To the charts!

Senior Quarterbacks-age

Click embiggens. The mythical senior tag didn't seem to do anything except as a function of experience. When broken up by age it wasn't any different than when broken up by how many passes he threw before coming. What age does seem to do is reduce variance. Look at the grouping of 5th year seniors (light blue). There's not enough data here to make a conclusion but I am intrigued by this concept of 5th year players producing no worse than a rating

A better way to decide if age or class means anything at all would be to use the Mathlete's database. Mathlete: you should do this some day: chart year to year improvement of quarterbacks and see what the progression curve looks like. What I'm doing here is just working with Bentley numbers for Michigan quarterbacks, since at least for these guys I can trust we know most of the exigent circumstances behind IMG_4709different swings. Just pulling returning starters and major contributors. In: John Navarre's 77 attempts in 2000, Tate Forcier's 84 attempts in 2010. Out: Drew Henson's 47 attempts in 1998. Show things:

Year Avg. Eff Change Denard
Senior +1.4 ?
Junior +16.6 -9.8
Sophomore +7.3 +58.0 (!)


Denard's freshman to sophomore leap was high, not unheard of. Rick Leach leapt a ludicrous 76.1 points in efficiency between his freshman and sophomore years, a matter of going from 32% completions and 3 TDs to 12 interceptions to 47.6% completion rating and a 13/8 TD/INT ratio. Michael Taylor made a leap similar to Denard's between his Junior and Senior seasons (first and second as at least a part-time starter). Drew Henson, Jim Harbaugh and Demetrius Brown also had huge leaps forward as juniors. If you're smelling a trend, these were all guys who to varying degrees considered "mobile" quarterbacks.


Senior Quarterbacks

The way efficiency is wired, a shift in TD/INT ratio, a shift in completion %, and a shift in yards per attempt. Big chart of returning passers (either starters or guys who got a significant amount of playing time the year before) so we can see if any one of these factors might stand out. Bolding numbers that I think made the difference:

Season Name Att Att-DIF Comp% DIF INT/TD
Avg-DIF Efficiency Eff-D
1976 Rick Leach, So 105 +5 +15.6% +10/-4 +2.5 151.1 +76.1
2000 Drew Henson, Jr 237 +147 +9.4% +15/+2 +3.0 159.4 +49.6
1985 Jim Harbaugh, Jr* 227 +116 +9.8% +15/+1 +2.2 157.9 +49.6
1988 Demetrius Brown, Jr* 84 -84 +9.5% -5/-16 +1.8 158.2 +45.5
1991 Elvis Grbac, Jr* 254 -12 +6.7% +4/-4 +1.0 161.7 +24.5
1989 Michael Taylor, Sr* 121 -1 -1.1% +6/-1 +1.1 161.2 +22.8
1974 Dennis Franklin, Sr 104 +37 +2.0% +4/0 +1.0 146.9 +21.4
1996 Brian Griese, Jr* 61 -177 +4.0% -10/-8 +1.8 137.7 +19.0
2006 Chad Henne, Jr 328 -54 +3.5% -1/0 +1.0 143.4 +13.8
2003 John Navarre, Sr* 456 +8 +3.9% +3/+3 +0.8 133.6 +11.4
1999 Tom Brady, Sr* 341 -9 +1.6% +5/-6 +0.1 142.3 +10.6
1978 Rick Leach, Sr 158 -16 -2.4% +2/-3 +0.4 145.5 +10.6
1993 Todd Collins, Jr* 296 +195 -1.5% +10/+4 +1.6 149.3 +9.4
1973 Dennis Franklin, Jr 67 -56 +5.8% -2/+3 +1.3 125.5 +8.8
2002 John Navarre, Jr* 448 +63 +1.6% +2/-6 +0.2 122.2 +5.7
1970 Don Moorhead, Sr 190 -20 -1.4% +2/-1 +0.1 105.0 +4.6
1996 Scott Dreisbach, So* 269 +163 +2.6% +9/-6 -0.5 126.7 +2.8
1997 Brian Griese, Sr* 307 +246 +5.5% +14/+4 -0.9 140.0 +2.3
2010 Tate Forcier, So 84 -197 +5.6% -9/-6 -0.2 130.2 +2.0
1982 Steve Smith, Jr 227 +17 +5.8% -1/+2 -0.3 125.1 -0.6
1983 Steve Smith, Sr 205 -22 -0.3% -1/-5 -0.7 123.0 -2.1
2005 Chad Henne, So 382 -17 -1.8% -2/-4 -0.3 129.6 -3.0
1990 Elvis Grbac, So* 266 +150 -4.7% -8/+6 +0.1 137.2 -3.0
1994 Todd Collins, Sr* 288 -8 +0.7% -3/+4 +0.3 146.0 -3.3
1986 Jim Harbaugh, Sr* 277 +50 +1.1% -8/+5 +1.1 151.7 -6.2
2011 Denard Robinson, Jr 258 -33 -7.5% +2/+4 -0.4 139.7 -9.8
1992 Elvis Grbac, Sr* 199 -55 -0.1% -8/+6 +0.0 150.2 -11.5
2007 Chad Henne, Sr 278 -50 -3.6% -5/+1 -0.7 130.5 -12.8
1977 Rick Leach, Jr 174 +69 +4.1% +2/+1 -1.5 134.9 -16.2
1980 John Wangler, Sr* 212 +82 -4.8% +8/+2 -3.8 131.9 -30.1
2001 John Navarre, So* 385 +308 +1.8% +11/+12 -1.2 116.4 -30.8

Bolded things of note: If I bolded the name or the amount of attempts you can just discount that guy since his year to year stats are thrown off by a huge difference in his role, e.g. John Navarre went from a guy who murdered MAC teams to full-time Big Ten passer who chucked things in the direction of Marquise Walker. Rick Leach basically learned how to pass a football (to his teammates). Henson and Harbaugh had matching junior leaps as they grew from leggy guy who might throw to polished passers.

jwanglerDemetrius Brown had his numbers saved by Bo halving the amount of pass plays and going full-tilt option. Tom Brady stopped had a major turnaround in TD/INT as a senior, while Todd Collins and Jim Harbaugh went the other way. Johnny Wangler looks to have suffered (EDIT: was this when Carter injured? This is before my time.) his senior season, as YPA dropped terribly and completion suffered a little. I'm not sure Grbac's TD-INT ration can be explained by the similar loss of Desmond Howard—it's possible Dez's Heisman campaign simply separated itself from two similar yet pedestrian seasons.

What does this all mean for Denard? Most of the seniors touched up their games. Most had their big leaps as juniors, but I should point out of the 13 guys to make the biggest one-year leaps, 8 of them were redshirt juniors or seniors, i.e. Denard's age. Also working for him is running the same offense that he did last year. The transition ultimately came more to him than the other way around, though, so don't expect miracles. Working against him will be the loss of his favorite target, and the effective replacement of a tight end for a second back, which isn't always great for the passing game. Unless a deep threat emerges from the unknowns in the receiver corps, expect his YPA avg. to dip again, with a corresponding rise in completion % (something most seniors seemed to have done). I'd also venture Denard will cut down further on his interception and probably get his TDs up the same as Michigan's mite-y backs and receivers score more with screens. +4/-4 would be excellent. Meanwhile the team will win 10 games, place in the Top 10, and end the season in Pasadena, because that's what Michigan senior quarterbacks do.



May 9th, 2012 at 8:46 AM ^

Since we can't count half a season from an injured Henne 

10 games played out of 13, 8 of those games were starts.

If you're going to compare Henne with eras where they hardly passed (seriously, Grbac under 200 attempts in 1992 shows how murderous the Wheatley - Powers - Johnson - Davis backfield was), you might as well keep him in the stat pile since he threw 2/3 of the passes that year.


May 9th, 2012 at 10:00 AM ^

It's not about the attempts and that is the point. In a global study you would never know about the shoulder because Henne kept trying to play and it was a majorly passing offense. But in a statistical review of how seniors perform he will throw off the whole thing because he was so friggin badass he played when he really shouldn't.

There's a very good reason Henne didn't perform better than his junior year in 2007 and it has nothing to do with his level of experience. it wasn't a regression; it was a guy playing hurt because the alternative was having a freshman face ohio state.

That MSU game was one of the gutsiest moments by a Michigan QB in my lifetime; he shouldn't be punished for it not being his 2006 game vs MSU.


May 9th, 2012 at 11:38 AM ^

(though I will blame you if you're "haven't really had a starting QB for 9 years since you can't count 2007" ends up in 2012 being one of those "you can't count" seasons)

Would just add that the Illinois game that year makes the MSU game look like a pretty pretty princess in comparison (and that's not discounting how gutsy MSU was...Illinois was just that much moreso).


May 9th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

Henne's performance against Illinois was magnificent. I think MSU stands out more because the camera kept showing him wincing. I think I said this is the gutsiest thing I've ever seen after Illinois -- I swear at one point he had to put his arm back in its socket on the sideline then go out and throw again. I mean Geebus Price! -- but then I revised it for MSU when he added the ankle to the shoulder and the hand and brought us back from what felt like a deeper hole.

This goes here (HT dangerouslogic)


May 9th, 2012 at 12:52 PM ^

Is that MSU is more gratifying, with the comeback, and being MSU, and all that swirled around it.

But that was a game with a guy playing injuried and finding a way to pull it out. Illinois was a game with a guy who had no business playing in that game willing that team to a victory.

That's why I never like seeing those who want to knock his career here, and don't care what he does in the pros. What he gave to that team that year was above and beyond, and most of his critics would have been crying like newborns rather than taking hits in a football game for a scholly. That was a man that day  (and MSU too).


May 9th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

If you're going to compare Henne with eras where they hardly passed (seriously, Grbac under 200 attempts in 1992 shows how murderous the Wheatley - Powers - Johnson - Davis backfield was),

Part of the reason for that was that Grbac wasn't healthy all year. He missed two early games with an ankle injury and then was knocked out of the OSU game in the first half. Also, we had a ton of blowout wins that year.


May 9th, 2012 at 8:50 AM ^

I like to see the coaches calling quick routes and screens in the beginning of the game.  This not only spreads the Defense to the zone read and runs, but allows for Denard to get a feel for the pocket and comfort in reading the defense.  I expect to see around the same amount of attempts with a much higher completion rate and less INTs. 


May 9th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

I went back 30 years, I came up with 16 Seniors, 10 Juniors, 2 Sophmores, 2 Freshmen.  I don't know how different this is than the distribution of Starting QB's by class.  I'd expect more Seniors and Juniors to start than Sophomores or Freshmen.  

French West Indian

May 9th, 2012 at 9:20 AM ^

"Todd Collins played almost as much as senior Grbac, who took away half of Michael Taylor's seminal season, who nabbed the bulk of Demetrius Brown's last year."

Sorry to be nitpicky, but that doesn't really seem like the correct use of the word "seminal," which usually means something more like original, capable of development or literally of semen.  Hardly seems like an apt description of a senior season.


May 9th, 2012 at 9:21 AM ^

I was in fifth grade at the time so I think, but am not going to take the time to check, that Steve Smith had his shoulder dislocated by Lawrence Taylor in the Bluebonnet Bowl his Jr. year and his senior year he was not the same.  Losing AC didn't help either.


May 9th, 2012 at 10:21 AM ^

You're combining two bowl game injuries to Michigan QBs.

In the Dec. 1979 Gator Bowl, Wangler had set a then-Gator Bowl record for most yards passing in the first half (most to Carter) but then LT cheap-shotted Wangs when he was already on the ground, and tore up his knee.

In the Jan. 1983 Rose Bowl, Smith took a huge hit from UCLA DB Don Rogers and left the game with a separated shoulder.

Angry Michigan bowl game QB-Hating God is what it is.


May 9th, 2012 at 9:22 AM ^

"Johnny Wangler looks to have suffered mostly due to losing Anthony Carter his senior season."

Can you remind me what happened here?  I don't remember this.  Carter was a sophomore when Wangler was a senior, so he was certainly around -- unless he was injured.  I was an undergrad (the same year as Carter) and don't remember this. 

What I remember is how Carter suffered in his last 2 seasons when he didn't have Wangler to pass to him.  Steve Smith was a good athlete and a fast runner, but a passer he was not.


May 9th, 2012 at 10:46 AM ^

This is strictly off memory - 80 was my first year at Michigan - I don't think AC was significantly hurt at all that year.  There was actually a moderate QB contoversy to begin the season as Bo had Rich Hewlett starting the first game before going back to Wangler.  I don't know about  stats but Wangler overall had a great year.  They almost lost to to Northwestern in the first game - Hewlett played ineffectively - lost close ones to ND and South Carolina, then ran the table for Bo's first Rose Bowl.  Wangler, despite coming off the knee injury, was excellent throughout.  AC sorely missed him the next few years.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

May 9th, 2012 at 3:24 PM ^

Well, you could check things like the Bentley Historical Library, which lists Anthony Carter as the 1980 MVP, All-American and All-Conference, or the statistcs archive, which shows stats for all the games (though against California, he only had 1 rush for 1 yd, no receptions) totalling 51 receptions for 818 yds and 14 TDs.  It was his best season for receptions and TDs.

Edit:  Hmmm, I just noticed that his Bentley page lists the 51-818yds-14TDs as 1982,  I found his page at sports-reference.com, which has 46-750yds-13TDs for 1980 (doesn't include bowl), so which is wrong?

Philip A. Duey

May 9th, 2012 at 3:06 PM ^

"Johnny's life changed in the 1979 Gator Bowl against North Carolina...He was sprinting out when he got hit by linebacker Lawrence Taylor (now of New York Giants fame). Wangler was left in a heap on the field. His knee was severely injured; the cruciate ligaments were ripped. He would not touch a football for nearly 10 months...When the 1980 season arrived, we had to go with Rich Hewlett at quarterback..."  (BO, Schembechler and Albom, p. 111-112) He then goes on to relate how Wangler came in after the option (run by Hewlett) was going nowhere against Notre Dame in the infamous Harry Oliver game.  After this, he rattled off 8 straight wins and Bo's first Rose Bowl victory despite the fact that  "He did not run.  He could barely move in that pocket." (p. 113)


May 9th, 2012 at 9:27 AM ^

I have always thought that experienced quarterbacks make a significant difference. The corollary is that Freshman QB play usually pulls a team down.

There is one factor, however, which makes this year very different from all other senior years in the last 42 years. Namely, the change in OC & gameplan from RR to Hoke/Borges was huge. From Bo through 2007 and the end of Carr's reign, there was not significant change in the offensive game plan. (ok, there was change, but not like the change from Carr to RR, and from RR to Hoke.) You allude to this briefly, noting 

Also working for [Denard] is running the same offense that he did last year.

Borges hammered on this again and again and again last year. Because of what Borges said, and because of this being largely the same offense as last year (except that now Borges can significantly expand the playbook,) and because Denard will have had a full year and a half to learn, and because of Borges' previous track record, I anticipate a much larger improvement from Denard than is typical.

Denard can't do it all. He is, after all, part of a TEAM. However, there are two factors which I believe will go a long way to insuring a very successful season, both for the team, and for Denard:

  1. A healthy OL.
  2. For Darboh, Chesson, or Gardner or a combination of all three to make a very strong contribution to the WR Corps.

If Denard has protection, and has one or two more capable receivers, 2012 will be a season to remember, a season that will blow the socks off the Big 10 and will lead to a finish in the top 5 for the team and in the top 5 for Denard in the Heisman.


May 9th, 2012 at 11:11 AM ^

What about the part where we have a brutal schedule including road games to Neb and Ohio including Ohio having UM as its NC game?  Not to mention away/neutrals vs ND and Alabama?  A strong MSU again?  Not to mention the enormous question mark in the D line trenches that may make it hard for Denard to see the field as frequently as he did last season?

The team is definitely moving in the right direction but the brutality of the schedule this year takes away much of my optimism of an enormous year.  Then again, no one expected 11-2 last year.  Cautious optimism here.


May 9th, 2012 at 9:42 AM ^

If we had a huge sample size I wouldn't be picky, but we don't.  I know, I know, it's all in good fun, so just consider this a disclaimer of sorts.

Personnel changes, coaching changes, injury, schedule, evolution of the game and Tacopants having a bad season can all contribute to seasonal variations.  I would expect a trend of improvement if we had, say, 300 or so senior QBs to study, but 14 going back to 1970?

Now, I get the point of the first part of the post is that Michigan has had relatively few senior QBs, but you can't have it both ways.  If we're lean on data, we're lean on analysis.  As for Michigan having good seasons with senior QBs, the sample size is small AND missing context.  We had a few bad years but Michigan IS a traditional powerhouse.  I mean, Wolverines call 8-4 a mediocre season; WSU would be ecstatic to do so well.


May 9th, 2012 at 10:16 AM ^

I used more than 14. Note there's a lot of dots on the left of the charts. The 14 were just the 14 senior seasons. It's still not enough for statistics. We are meant to substitute our memories in place of opponent adjustments and greater data to smooth the outliers.

College QB rating is a good equalizer across this timespan. The thing I wanted to show up top was that "senior" is just a title and that experience is a more plausible measure, as is age, and that senior is a function of that.

That established I got into the individual seasons and picked apart their components to see if, say, seniors cut down on INTs dramatically, or if having a 1 receiver versus not was doing something to the numbers.


May 9th, 2012 at 9:48 AM ^

Can I get a WTF for Harbaugh's 86 season?   10 Td's and 11 interceptions?   I guess Bo wanted to keep his head on straight and not let him pile up stats against the scrubs.   "Just give it to Morris Jim and STFU"

Naked Bootlegger

May 9th, 2012 at 10:12 AM ^

Demetrius Brown, the lefty slinger!!   One of the most depressing football Saturdays of my youth was watching D. Brown suffer through the following stat line in a 11-17 loss to Michigan St:

Att Comp  Int  Comp%  Yds  TD   Lng

26    12       7    46.1      158    1     21

Yes, folks.   7 picks!!   I'm surprised Bo let him drop back to pass at all after the first few.    How did we only lose by 6?  A stout defense, I'm sure.   He did bounce back against Iowa the next week with a solid performance.

I was so excited about Michael Taylor's 1989 senior season and was devastated when he got injured against ND in game 1 (incidentally my first UM game as a skinny freshman).   Elvis performed admirably as a RS frosh, but that team was going to be something special with Taylor at the helm for the full season.





May 9th, 2012 at 10:27 AM ^

In 1970 with senior Don Moorhead we went 9-1, losing only to OSU in Columbus, and finished #9 and #7 in the AP and UPI polls.

In 1974 with senior Dennis Franklin we went 10-1, losing only to OSU in Columbus, and finished ranked #3 and #5 in the AP and UPI.

Due to the criminally idiotic Rose Bowl-only rule that the criminally idiotic Big Ten had at the time, neither team played in a post-season bowl game.


May 9th, 2012 at 12:21 PM ^

If the Big Ten had allowed teams to play in other bowls when Bo arrived in 1969, we would have played in major bowl games after the '70, '72, '73, and '74 seasons when we went 39-3-1. Bo would not have had to wait until Jan. 1, 1981 for his first bowl victory. Those were some frustrating bowl seasons with Michigan sitting at home.


May 9th, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^

But on the other hand it always made that last game against OSU quite special...the winner to the Rosebowl, the loser zilch!

Though the most frustrating game was the 10-10 tie in '73 when Franklin got injured. The big 10 coaches voted to send OSU to the Rosebowl. I was 10 years old at the time and was crushed that Michigan did not get to go to the Rosebowl!

ND Sux

May 9th, 2012 at 10:40 AM ^

Nothing against Michael Taylor, but if you asked me who had the highest efficiency rating on the "senior season" chart above, his name wouldn't have crossed my mind.  (I probably would have guessed Collins.) 

Due to injury, Taylor's is a smaller sampling, but still. 


May 9th, 2012 at 10:53 AM ^

That's not entirely true.

In spite of the great success Wangler had throwing the ball to Carter in 1979, Bo anointed true soph Rich Hewlett the starter to begin the season in 1980. Hewlett was an option QB in the mold of Rick Leach and B.J. Dickey before him, which meant an emphasis on his running the ball. Unfortunately, Hewlett was neither a dynamic runner nor an effective passer, and UM's opening game against lowly Northwestern was a lackluster 17-10 game at home, which was especially alarming considering that NW went on to go 0-11 that season.

Nonetheless, Hewlett started the game against Notre Dame the next week down in South Bend, and again failed to move the option-oriented Michigan offense, and Michigan found itself down 14-0 at the half. In a gutsy coaching move that Bo doesn't get enough credit for, he replaced Hewlett with Wangler to start the second half. Because Wangler had his knee torn up in the Gator Bowl the previous December, running the option was out of the question, so essentially UM scrapped its entire option attack in favor of a simplified pro-set offense with a conventional drop-back QB. Wangler threw 3 TDs in a valiant effort to bring UM from behind, and only a bogus PI call by the refs in the waning seconds and Oliver's miracle field goal prevented the Wolverines from garnering a victory. However, the game made clear that it was time for Michigan to ditch the option in favor of Wangler's throwing ability, especially to Carter. That team ended up giving Bo his first bowl game victory against Washington in the Rose Bowl.


May 9th, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

According to the stats for that game, Wangler was 3 of 4 for 36 yds and no TDs throwing, and carried the ball twice for -10 yds. That doesn't mean that he had no positive effect on the game, though; I wasn't at the game, and it wasn't on TV, so I can't say for sure.

You're right about NW; that 0-11 1980 team played a major role in their huge losing streak.


May 9th, 2012 at 1:26 PM ^

I'll always remember it because it was my first game at Michigan Stadium and it was all new to me.  It was raining.  It was a sluggish game, a lot of rumbling about Hewlett, and Wangler being cheered on entering.  I thought someone threw a TD to AC that won it - must have been Hewlett.

The 1980 team had a slow start but by the end of the year was clearly as good as anyone in the country.


May 9th, 2012 at 11:39 AM ^

I had a single tear drop run down my face when I read the last sentence. It would be awesome to see this team not only go to Rose Bowl, but win it.

Sten Carlson

May 9th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

I am sure pretty much everyone on this site watched the BTN filmroom interview with Borges.  In that interview it became quite obvious to me that Denard will make a HUGE leap forward in his QB skills this season.  Why?  Several reasons.

First, and most significantly, Denard is going to be in the same system this year, and Borges is 100% clear on how to run this offense with these players.  I don't think this can be overstated.  Last season was bascially a giant experiment with two major goals -- keep Denard healthy, and learn how best to use Denard.  Borges accomplished both of these, as evidenced by the Nebraska and OSU games.

Secondly, and going back into the filmroom interview, Denard will (I have no doubt) learn the one thing that will absolutely DESTROY opposing defenses.  It is something that Denard didn't do all that effectively last season.  Borges calls it, "getting into the fight."  He went on to explain that a guy like Denard instinctually wants to break containment and use his speed.  As we've seen in losses to MSU, this is EXACTLY what opposing DC's want him to do.  When they blitz, he bolts, right into the waiting trap.  But, as Borges said, if he learns to stay in his profile, move up into the pocket, he will be able to make the decision to throw or run effectively.  It's being drilled into Denard's head, he's watching film over and over, learning how to do it right.  He will get it, and he will take the leap we're all hoping that he does.


May 9th, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

... Denard will get a lot better, but the loss of two of the best DLmen in recent years, lack of Molk on the OL, missing Hemingway CATCHING ALL THE BALLS and a much more difficult schedule will lead to 2 more losses than last year.  (With which I'd be pleased as long as we beat MSU, OSU and a bowl opponent.)

The 2013 season, on the other hand, when we replace Denard with someone not quite as electric but probably a better passer to start with, and the road-grader OL that we've recruited starts coming on-line ... that could be rough to start with, but the end of that season could be very sweet.

The future is bright.  I'm just not sure the results in 2012 will reflect that.



May 9th, 2012 at 4:43 PM ^

"Brady shared much of his last season with Henson."

This is a common misbelief.  Although Henson got some playing time in the second quarter of early season games, that experiment was over after the MSU game.  Tom threw 341 passes that year, to I think something like 90 for Henson.