A Public Service Announcement About Spying A Mobile Quarterback

Submitted by Brian on October 28th, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Kittens Kill Superman

Dear people of the internet who without fail suggest that they will contain Michigan's offense by having a linebacker or safety "spy" Denard Robinson,

Please stop saying this.

A player placed in a spying role drops into a short zone on a pass play and is tasked with running down the quarterback if he breaks contain or starts scrambling. Denard Robinson doesn't really scramble. He prefers launching deep balls into whatever coverage you've got handy. You can put a guy in a spying role if you want but it won't do much other than make your defense more predictable on passing downs.

It will not do anything to slow the Michigan run game. When Michigan runs the ball with Denard your spy is just going to be playing run defense. This is hard against Denard, I know. However, telling one of your linebackers that he should watch for potential scrambles on pass plays does not help him on non-pass plays. Michigan runs the ball over 60% of the time. Denard Robinson scrambles maybe 3% of the time.


When you post on a message board or leave a comment on a blog that says "we should spy Robinson" like you're the second friggin' guy to ever think of this—your defensive coordinator is evidently the first—you should know that God throws a six-inch-tall Japanese schoolgirl with enormous glistening innocent eyes and a Hello Kitty lunchbox into a wood chipper.

Thank you for your attention.

Brian Cook



October 28th, 2010 at 1:25 PM ^

DC's will gladly have Denard launching air missiles all day than hav him galloping all over them. 

Until he has a B10 game where he burns the secondary to a crisp, this meme will not die. 


October 28th, 2010 at 1:29 PM ^

When it's a pass, the linebacker will be watching Denard.  And then if everybody's covered, and Denard tucks and runs, the linebacker will be able to run towards an area near him.  Or as close to near him as the linebacker's footspeed will allow him to get.  See?  Effective!


October 28th, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

Why doesn't he like to scramble for yards?  Is it because it would be too easy and he wants a challenge? 

All I know is, after a lifetime of watching Michigan defenses of yore line up against a running QB and have perfect coverage for 3 full seconds, produce a solid pass rush, and generally do everything you're supposed to do defensively only to have (fill in the blank... Michael Robinson... Terrelle Pryor... Donovan Freakin' McNabb...)  take off and pick up the first down on 3rd-and-8 and cause me to go aaaaaaaiiiiiiiieeieieieie, I want to do it to other people. 

APU:  "Hello. I am not interested in buying your house, but I would like to use your rest room, flip through your magazines, rearrange your carefully shelved items and handle your food products in an unsanitary manner. Ha! Now you know how it feels!"

HOMER:  "Thank you, come again!"

I want to do unto others as they have done unto us.

So, young Sir Denard, Duke of Dilithium, if you drop back and like what you see, throw.

If not, run.

If someone gets in your way, turn.

You may find this unchallenging and it may tweak your sense of sportsmanship and fair play because you'll be up against some poor sap of a spying linebacker in space, leaving him to flail helplessly in the air like a blind, uh, spying linebacker, but I assure you that it is not only within the bounds of the rules according to Hoyle but also well within the borders of deceny and the spirit of the game. 


October 28th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

He either drops back and passes or executes the Zone read (or the step up a little, fake and throw).

Not once has he shown the Troy Smith ability to look downfield while moving around and scramble for a first down if he doesn't like what he sees. Which btw is perfectly NORMAL for a first year QB.  Once he has this down, he is going to make DC's cry.  


October 28th, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

except, you know, routinely.   I was at that game, and after that play my first thought was "ohhhh.... so this is what it feels like to be on the happy side of a scramble.  Me likey."

Put another way, I get the heebie-jeebies when he's sitting in the pocket and going through the progression (which usually ends with "which guy is deepest down the field?") when he could be emasculating defenders by running with it. 

Yes, I know this is kind of like looking at your 2010 Ferrari F430 Spider (which I just looked up strictly for purposes of this analogy because I know nothing about cars) and saying "Yeah, this is a sweet Ferrari F430 Spider, but it's got this scratch on the bumper right over here, and if I could just fix that, this would be a perfect car." 

Perfection is not for this world.  Discuss.


October 28th, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

I believe the play you are referring to was a draw, and therefore, not a scramble but a designed qb run. I feel like Robinson has scrambled for a few first downs, but the  point is well taken that he doesn't scramble very much.

It is partially because our offensive line is doing a great job pass protecting and opposing teams are getting very little pressure on Denard. I think it is also because defenses would rather see him pass than run and are slowing their pass rush accordingly. When Denard has a ton of time he just sits there and waits for something to open up and will throw a bad  pass late rather than run. Its definetely an area in which he can improve.


October 28th, 2010 at 1:51 PM ^

I would much rather have the problem of Denard not scrambling enough rather than Denard being impatient and not waiting for plays to develop before taking off.  The knock against a lot of dual-threat QBs is that they just take off and run the moment they feel any pressure or that they have "happy feet" in the pocket. 

I like Denard's willingness to wait in the pocket to see if something develops b/c in all honesty he can take off and generally outrun linemen whenever he wants regardless of whether he waits 3 seconds or 7 seconds after the play starts.  Contrast that with Tate who sometimes has the tendency to break off plays way too early and starts running/scrambling.

As a side note, I was very impressed with Tate's improvement in the pocket against Iowa though.  I honestly think RR has achieved what he has always set out to do: "find two QBs that we can win with".  Maybe we will have 3 QBs with Devin over the next few years.


October 28th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

should put a spy on Brian.


I think run blitzing Denard has been more effective than any kind of spying.  Make him read and decide faster than he wants to by sending run blitzers.  With Denard, it's pick your poison.