Passing UFR: Rudock vs Northwestern

Submitted by Brian on April 30th, 2015 at 3:27 PM

Since Michigan now has a quarterback who played a lot of football in front of television cameras I thought I'd go back and look at his season to see what we've won.


[Patrick Barron]

THING NOTES: Iowa's outing against Northwestern was slightly easier than Michigan's, as Rudock threw just 19 passes while the Hawkeyes ran it up 48-7. This was an ideal situation for a quarterback. Northwestern's pass rush was all but nonexistent; Iowa ground away with Weisman. So take this as Rudock in ideal circumstances.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass Throwback screen Smith 5
Iowa starts with terrific field position after a long KO return and a late hit flag. They start with a throwback screen against a corner about five yards off. WR does well to make something out of it. (CA, 3, screen. RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 13 min 1st Q. Iowa gives it to Weisman three times and ends up in the endzone as NW gets hammered on stretch plays.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 15 I-Form Twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass PA Dig Smith 18
PA sucks in underneath coverage and slot receiver runs a vertical route; Smith ducks underneath him after faking a corner route, nice route, Rudock puts it in his chest in rhythm. Borderline CA/DO but w/ YAC we usually give the better one. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1, Smith route +)
M33 1 10 Ace Big 1 3 1 4-3 under Pass Flea flicker Vandenberg 42
Pitchback is wonky, Rudock has to take some time to bring it in. Has that time and the flea flicker sucks the safeties in like whoah. Rudock has a guy five yards past the safeties for a TD but leaves it a little short, allowing one of them to catch up. (CA, 3, protection 3/3, RPS +3) 35 yards downfield gets you some leeway, especially since the pitch messed the timing up.
O21 2 6 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass Sack N/A -9
Waggle play sees the fullback biff and knock the ball out of Rudock's hands as he tries to get to his route. Could be on the QB, but since this isn't an issue with the RB at a fake exchange point I think it's the FB. (NA, NA, NA)
O30 3 15 Shotgun trips bunch 1 0 4 Nickel over Pass Fade Hillier Inc
Rudock overthrows this by about five yards; WR got a clean release and had space to make a play. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(47), 10-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 3 9 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Pass Skinny post Martin-Manley 43
Excellent protection; Rudock has time to wait for KMM to clear the linebacker level in the zone and puts it on his hands for 25; KMM does not have to break stride and picks up another ten or so after the catch. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-0, 5 min 1st Q. Weisman batters it in again, the ensuing NW drive is a three and out, the punt is blocked and picked up for a TD, and the rout is on.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 2 13 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Nickel over Pass PA dumpoff Plewa 5
All day, checkdown. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M30 3 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Run QB draw Rudock 5
Nobody gets out on the MLB and there's one guy in space for a DB, so they can cut off the space. Clipped for a glimpse at Rudock's athleticism. Okay, not amazing.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-0, 1 min 1st Q. Punter fumbles snap and NW gets a cheap TD.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M32 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Out Martin-Manley 5
Speed out is slightly behind KMM but he can pivot and bring it in without that much difficulty to move the chains. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)
M48 2 9 Ace 3-wide 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass Dig Martin-Manley Inc
Batted down at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
M48 3 9 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Pass Drag Martin-Manley 18
All day again, time enough for a drag to come open against man coverage. Rudock puts it right in KMM's chest again for a good chunk of YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2). A borderline DO throw but of only nine yards.
O34 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Scramble Rudock 6
Rudock checks one read, a second, and then waits in the pocket a beat before taking off. Decent gain. (SCR, NA, protection 2/2)
O31 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass Fade Smith 31
NW leaves a corner in man press on an island as they look to prevent a conversion; WR goes right by to the outside and has a couple yards separation. Rudock atones for the earlier miss on the fade with a perfect touchdown toss. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-7, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Waggle drag Vandenberg 13
TE options short and long are covered so Rudock finds his slot coming open as he reaches the numbers. Slightly low throw. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
O44 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass Dumpoff Weisman Inc
Looking for a vertical route with the same matchup he just got a TD on, doesn't like it, checks down. Weisman probably has 6-8 if he brings it in; he does not. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O44 2 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Bubble screen Martin-Manley Inc
Slightly in front of KMM; this is juuust slightly forward like a bubble probably should be so not sure if it's him or KMM stumbling a bit. (MA, 2, screen)
O44 3 10 Shotgun trips bunch 1 0 4 3-2-6 dime Pass Scramble Rudock 6
Three man rush that NW telegraphs. Rudock has forever, steps up in the pocket once it cracks, and then decides to take off against a zone that has a bunch of guys looking at him. Prefer a chuck downfield in most situations... not so much 31-7. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-7, 2 min 2nd Q. NW fumbles and Iowa grinds it into the endzone on the ground to end the half.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 0 4 Nickel under Pass Dig Smith 16
Another dart over the middle to a WR who can keep moving. This one does break the WR's stride by a hair. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-7, 10 min 3rd Q. Wadley puts the ball on the ground after a first down carry.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M3 2 8 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under Pass PA cross Vandenberg 26
Probably Rudock's best throw of the day. He gets pressure up the middle in his endzone and has to get rid of the ball. He floats a lovely touch pass to his WR, who's come all the way across the field against man coverage and is able to box out the defender and bring the ball in. (DO+, 3, protection 1/3)
M32 2 7 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass PA cross Martin-Manley Inc
Forever and a day again. Rudock eventually decides on KMM and plays in a pass that's right on the money beyond the corner, but I think he waited too long and let the safety recover. He gets over to get a PBU. (MA, 0, protection 4/4)
M32 3 7 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 3-2-6 dime Pass Dig Smith Inc
Another three man rush; Rudock has a small window for this route and overthrows it. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-7, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O46 2 1 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Improv Hamilton 10
NW finally gets some pass rush as the FB gets beat by the SAM, flushing Rudock, who came off a TE option route with someone sitting underneath it and looked further downfield. He has to bug out and makes a tough throw rolling to his left to his TE, who got open for him. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2)
O6 1 G Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Pass Dig Duzey Inc
Wings it well over his TE's head. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(23), 41-7, 13 min 4th Q. That is it for Rudock, as Beathard mops up.

wut leemee lone seepy


it's april


I kind of hate you

That's right, bolder alter-ego, get that capitalization game working.



What is this?

Going back through Jake Rudock's 2014 to see how he did. Rudock had a weird year: third in passer efficiency in the Big Ten but still all but forced out after the season. He eviscerated some good defenses, and flailed against others. I wanted to get a better view than the one provided by his stats. So here's this.

Can we have a UFR passing chart reminder?

If you hover over the abbreviations in the chart headers you will get a reminder of what each category means. Most good events are DO (dead on, for NFL-level throws) or CA (routine accurate passes). Scrambles are also considered good. Everything else is neutral or bad. Numbers in parentheses are screens.

Asterisks denote very bad versions of bad events: passes so inaccurate they are more likely to be intercepted than caught and bad reads that threaten turnovers. The plus designation is a throw made under considerable duress*.

*[This is a change from last year, when the plus was only awarded when a quarterback broke the pocket and made something out of nothing. That is still included in the definition, but it is going to expand to making tough throws when someone hits you. This comes too late for Devin Gardner, I know.]

And how did Rudock do?

Very well.

Jake Rudock

Northwestern 5+ 7+(1) 3(1) 3 - 1 1 - 1 71%

He was dealing. Rudock was afforded the opportunity to sit, survey, and fire often in this game. He responded with a series of darts that receivers barely had to break stride on.

That ball went right between the arms of a defensive lineman and was maybe fifth on a list of his most accurate passes that day. Here he throws a rope before his WR is even in his break that converts + YAC:

When presented with press coverage on third and medium in no-man's land he calmly nailed his WR on a fade for a TD:

He had missed a similar fade route by about five yards earlier in the game. He calibrated quickly.

And this is 43 yards on third and nine as Rudock surveys and nails Kevonte Martin-Manley in between the 1s on his chest:

All that may as well be a 7-on-7 camp. What about tough stuff?

While Rudock got very little pressure, the two times he did he passed with flying colors. He got rushed right up the middle with Iowa on the shadow of their own goal line and laid in a lovely touch pass thirty yards downfield:

On the replay you can see that Rudock did a great job of throwing the receiver open.

And he demonstrated decent escapability and an ability to make awkward throws the one time he got flushed from the pocket:

Also—and this was clearer when you watched the whole game—Rudock had excellent command of the offense, frequently checking into weakside runs that gashed Northwestern when they aligned in a way they thought was exploitable. The passes above are all right on time, finding holes in the zone and allowing his guys to pick up yards after the catch. He was comfortable coming off his two tight end reads on a waggle to go further inside for a first down, as well.

There were a couple hiccups when Northwestern went to a dime package and rushed only three. That seemed to confuse Rudock. He also waited too long on another deep crossing route that was open; his eventual throw was accurate but the delay allowed a safety to come over and get a PBU.

One of the most notable things from the perspective of a Michigan fan who has endured the past couple years is how low-variance Rudock's mistakes are. There wasn't a single throw in this game that had a chance of being intercepted.

Downsides? Problems? This guy seemed to lose his job at Iowa, he is not a miracle worker.

I'm sure I'll encounter some when I look at other games. There was little to quibble with in this one.

Best I've got so far is that he missed three WRs in exactly the same way: overthrowing them Tacopants-style. In that way he reminded me of Chad Henne. With both QBs it seems like throws are either dead on the money or five yards over the receiver's head.

You mentioned he had a couple hundred rushing yards last year?

He did. There was only one called run in this game, a third and medium QB draw that didn't work out. Normally I would not clip something like this but it's an indicator of what you might expect in a similar situation:

Denard he's not.

This post implies he is a lock for the job.

And here's Shane Morris's 2014 for comparison:

Shane Morris

Central Michigan - 4 - 1 1* 1 - - - N/A
App State 1 2 1   1*          
Utah 1 4   5** 1* 2 1 1 1 40%
Minnesota 1 8(2) - 8** 2 3** 1 - - 33%

Rudock may lose familiarity with the offense but he's going to have to lose an awful lot to not be the guy.

What does it mean for the future?

Stopgap ho!



April 30th, 2015 at 3:46 PM ^

I don't see having to learn the offense as being a big problem for him, especially when Morris and Co. will have only a half year head start.  FWIW, I'll be pretty surprised if he's not the starter.  He's shown so much more than anyone he'll be competing against.

One Inch Woody…

April 30th, 2015 at 3:47 PM ^

I don't know.. if Morris can keep calm in the pocket and actually survey the field (both mental things, mind you), he can be quite good.. especially with that arm strength. I think it's going to be neck and neck, but Rudock starts at Utah and Morris relieves him later on in the season.


April 30th, 2015 at 3:47 PM ^

And Rudock will get us 2 or 3, I think.  Not from stellar play necessarily, but low-variance skill like this will let the D win a few games 16-3 or we might lose 10-21, 2012 ND- style otherwise.


April 30th, 2015 at 3:55 PM ^

Before we anoint him it might behoove us to see what he can do with our OL......last year whoever was back there was under fire the whole game and we couldn't run worth a damn. If he can play like this under those conditions, I'll start to get excited.


April 30th, 2015 at 4:41 PM ^

He's turnover-averse and that's a welcome change.  He may lack the ability to win a game by himself, but he's also not going to throw a pick-six in his own end zone.  Devin was so erratic he did both. . . in the same game.

If Rudock's ceiling is low that may infuriate some fans, but I like the floor.  Pessimistically he projects to be a "boring" QB, but I welcome that as a change of pace.  He's probably no Andrew Luck, but he could be Brian Griese.


April 30th, 2015 at 4:02 PM ^

Different system. Hard to know how he'll connect with Harbaugh(!). He'll only have the Fall to learn the system and receivers.

That said, there's a history of grad-year QBs doing well post transfer. I'm guardedly optimistic. If the run game and protection are even adequate, he could blow up.


April 30th, 2015 at 4:08 PM ^

shores up one critical part of next season, the first game against Utah at Utah. Starting off the season with a win is critical to building confidence. Losing that game continues the negativety. After Utah most of the games are winnable until rival game #1 that could see M going into the game with confidence and momentum.


April 30th, 2015 at 4:25 PM ^

Living in Iowa-surrounded by Hawkeyes. I am so hoping that Rudock does well, so I can rub in the fact that they ran off a competent QB. Suck it Ferentz!


April 30th, 2015 at 4:29 PM ^

Having Rudock on the roster stablizes the QB postition and lessens having to hope for a boom and not a bust. He effectively rasies the floor for QB performance. If someone else beats him out, then so be it. That means they have stepped up their game. 

But at the very least you have a known commodity with Rudock and have a pretty good idea of how he can perform and what he can and can not do. Those are gauges that Malzone/Morris/Speight can't fully provide at the moment.


April 30th, 2015 at 4:39 PM ^

Curious on what you thought about "openess" of Iowa WRs.  Were they open naturally?  Did Rudock throw them open? Etc  Seems like it might be an issue for UM WRs this year (gaining separation).


April 30th, 2015 at 5:54 PM ^

Someone who plays within himself and doesn't try to make something out of nothing. Just get the job done. I think Harbaugh can work with that. He'll also serve as a role model for the QBs and we do need one of those. We've got a bunch of young QBs that need to see what success looks like in Harbaugh's offense.


April 30th, 2015 at 6:55 PM ^

I don't have a side in the Morris controversy, but I'd love to hear a staunch supporter say why they still think he'll one day be the guy. My sense of the trajectory is that he completely wowed as a junior in HS, got injured and didn't do quite so well as a senior (still throwing it 100 miles), and hasn't really done well with limited chances under (admittedly) fairly tough conditions since.

What are those who love him basing their conviction on? 



April 30th, 2015 at 7:51 PM ^

I am not an advocate of Morris, but I think the QB situation is still pretty wide open.  Rudock is far from a shoe-in to start, especially over the whole season.  Morris has considerably more athletic talent than Rudock.  Morris is more mobile and has a stronger arm.  Furthermore, it is really hard to judge how much of Morris's struggle was attributable to him and how much was attributable to the tire fire of an offense.  If Morris develops his skills under Harbaugh's tutelage, he wins the competition.  In the past Harbaugh's been willing to replace a capable quarterback (Smith) with an elite level talent that was considered  a bit of a wildcard (Kaepernick) at the most critical point of the season (the playoffs).


May 1st, 2015 at 12:26 AM ^

You do realize Harbaugh's hand was forced to play Kaepernick?  Smith got hurt and couldn't play.  Kaepernick came in and performed well enough that when Smith was healthy, he had lost the job.  It wasn't like Harbaugh benched a healthy Smith to play Kaepernick.


May 1st, 2015 at 1:58 AM ^

with a bunch of rookies! Odds are the veteran, Rudock, will probably win the QB job. I think Morris has the talent but was lacking coaching, development and confidence. Speight probably needs a few more years of development. Though, O'Korn may win the QB race against Morris and Speight in 2016. My guess is that Getry and Malzone will be battling it out in 2017. I'm not sure if any of Hoke's recruits will get to lead this team. If any do, my guess is that it will be Morris in 2016. He will be the backup this year and may get a lot of playing time if Rudock turns cold in games. I don't see Harbaugh keeping a QB on the field who is playing poorly


May 1st, 2015 at 7:31 AM ^ seems like throws are either dead on the money or five yards over the receiver's head.

Sounds like a recipe for cutting down on INTs. It's been so long since we've had a QB who could take care of the ball.


May 1st, 2015 at 9:06 AM ^

By Harbaugh effect, here I mean having the insight that there was a need for another QB on the roster.  Rudock may make a huge difference for Harbaugh's first Michigan team.


May 1st, 2015 at 11:38 AM ^

Thanks for doing this Brian. Gives some hope for the fall. At the very least we can be assured of decent competition for the starting gig, and if Rudock gets Harbaughed maybe we'll actually have a weapon on our hands! Summer optimism, commence!

On the throw where the ball ends up breaking the receiver's stride by a hair, looks like it was tipped by Northwestern #94. Bet it'd have been DO without the tip. 

SMart WolveFan

May 1st, 2015 at 6:55 PM ^

Although its probably 4 or 5.

Only way he could win in Utah is if the running game dominates, in which case Morris could win just as easily.

Hopefully they can get to the B1G schedule without more than one loss, steal one from OSU or State and avoid more than one other conference loss.


Of course, I'm rooting for Morris to seize the job and never let it go, that's the only way to start 1-0 and have a chance at the playoff. Not to mention give some redemption for the Hoke era.


May 2nd, 2015 at 12:12 PM ^

My Uncle Oliver recently got a nice year old Audi TTS Coupe by working part time from a home pc... 

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