Recruits In Retrospect: 2009 Quarterbacks

Submitted by Ace on June 16th, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Note: With roundups of last weekend's Sound Mind Sound Body camp still being published, as well as various visit reactions from prospects currently on campus for Michigan's technique camp, I'm pushing back the recruiting roundup to tomorrow. Breathing into a paper bag in preparation for USA-Ghana may also have played a role here. Thankfully, I started writing this post last week.

Melanie Maxwell/MLive

Previously: 2008 Offense, 2008 Defense, 2009 Defense

I started writing up the 2009 offensive recruits as a whole, but I couldn't get past the first paragraph of Tate Forcier's profile before realizing the two quarterbacks in the class needed their own post. Hell, I couldn't get past the first sentence [emphasis mine]:

Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.

When this post was written, Forcier had already enrolled at Michigan and subsequently dominated the Spring Game—back when it actually resembled real football—in a fashion that caused junior-in-college me to make this video, and I'll admit it was no small thrill to see my name on this here site:

Then, of course, came spring:

I just watched that thing again and it's pure sport porn; I sort of wish Ace had left in Forcier's three incompletions—one bad read, one Stonum drop, and one overthrown screen—so it wasn't a just a possibly-misleading highlight reel but was instead the whole spring performance. My favorite part is that little swing pass to Moundros on the rollout: Forcier's getting pressure from a defender, calmly positions himself, and puts a perfectly-led ball right in Moundros' arms, allowing him to turn upfield against the chasing linebacker. That is the sort of precision Michigan's offense was lacking last year.

After a season of the Threetsheridammit offense, the fawning over Forcier's readily apparent potential was more than understandable. His accuracy and YPA for a high school quarterback were off the charts, as evidenced by... a (chart?) chart:

Year Comp-Att Yards Pct YPA YPC TD-INT
So 157 / 221 1637 71.0% 7.4 10.4 17-4
Jr 164 / 213 2387 77.0% 11.2 14.6 21-5
Sr 208 / 326 3424 63.8% 10.5 16.5 23-15

The disconcerting rise in interceptions and drop in completion percentage as a senior was chalked up to a heavily increased workload and a sieve-like offensive line, the latter quite apparent to those who watched him play that season. This brought forth a foreboding aspect to Brian's eerily on-the-money comparison to former Iowa QB Drew Tate:

Forcier was often reduced to scrambling around and chucking it hopefully, which obviously led to the interceptions. Here's another piece of the Drew Tate comparison I've been beating into the ground for months now: Tate (Iowa Version) also saw a senior-year spike in interceptions as Iowa's offensive line regressed (they gave up an extra half-sack per game when Tate was a senior) and Tate took matters into his own hands more often. This tendency can be either wildly good or wildly bad, and threatens to do so on consecutive plays this fall. Only experience will teach Forcier what he can and cannot do at this level.

As it turned out, we'd never learn if added experience would've reduced the considerable "no no no YES"/"no no no AAAAAARRRGGHHHHH" aspect of Forcier's game. As we all well know, he left school after being ruled academically ineligible for the 2010 Gator Bowl, by which time he'd lost his starting gig to Denard Robinson. A certain aspect of Forcier's schooling, at the time noted as a positive—his home-school setup enabled him to work with QB guru Marv Marinovich for hours upon hours—was probably not so positive:

On Fridays in the fall, Tate Forcier doesn't feel like going to school. The night's game is on his mind, and the quarterback for Scripps Ranch High in San Diego can't imagine studying a textbook rather than studying a defense.

No big deal.

"I'll tell my teacher, 'I have a game today,'" Forcier said. "He'll say, 'That's fine; you don't have to come.' And I'll go to my football school and watch film all day."

Ability to shred a cover zero or no, this doesn't really fly at U-M.

I swear I'll get to Denard soon, but first a couple more blockquotes. Marinovich's scouting report of his pupil was so oddly poetic Brian turned it into actual poetry:

"Tate springs off his feet. He bounds from side-to-side to avoid the rush and then accelerates. His peripheral vision is key allowing him stay focused and scan downfield. But really, his mental attitude toward the position along with quick feet and hand-eye coordination blended together is ridiculous."

A haiku version of this:

Tate springs off his feet 
He bounds from side to side, and 
Then accelerates

Finally, Brian makes a most unfortunate typo:

Why Drew Tate? That's my go-to comparison and I'm sticking to it. Forcier is about 6', maybe 6'1". He's nimble and though he took off frequently in high school, in college he won't have as much of an athletic advantage and will mostly use his feet to buy time to throw downfield. He has the proverbial moxie, which occasionally gets him into trouble. The Tate comparison is eerily accurate, except maybe Forcier is better school and will be more accurate than the occasionally-erratic Tate.

Welp.

With that out of the way, DENARD ROBINSON HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS AHOY:

Huh.

Oddly, Denard's otherworldly running abilty wasn't nearly as prominent in those clips as you'd expect. There isn't so much as a hint of a run until nearly the two-minute mark. In fact, there are only a couple plays in the whole reel that really show off what he was capable of doing, probably because his offensive coordinator ripped the "OBVIOUS ROLLOUTS" page from the Al Borges playbook and left the rest. Denard's highlights are way better in theory than they are in reality.

I'm not sure there's better evidence of how much football offense has evolved even in the last half-decade than Denard Effin' Robinson running every play on his high school highlight tape from under center. In 2008, this may have gone unquestioned. In 2014, there'd be a federal investigation.

Denard's passing stats fell well short of Forcier's, as would be expected. Less expected were the rushing stats:

Oddly, Robinson's rushing yards weren't spectacular. He had only 538, which was fewer than Forcier had, though Forcier wasn't going up against big schools in Florida at Scripps Ranch. Does this indicate a Drew Tate Forcier-like tendency to run around in the backfield and then launch it deep? A couple of throws above and that yards per completion number indicate "yes", but he also breaks contain several times and takes off and those are just highlights so maybe he got sacked a lot for ridiculous yardage after running around like a headless chicken and I guess what I'm trying to say is we just don't know, dude.

We just have to go on the universal heavy panting about this guy's ability to outrun a cheetah in a Porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane. Which, like, okay.

I'd say the first bit is explained by the highlight tape. About that last bit: Both the "cheetah in a Porsche..." and "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium" tags were fixtures on this site before Robinson ever got to campus. Even before he proved Mike Patrick's "broken plays are very dangerous" mantra in real time, this was totally justified.

Deerfield Beach's Denard Robinson got the near-perfect start he needed, motored down the straightaway and won the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.44 seconds at the BCAA Track Championships at Coral Springs on Saturday.

Robinson's personal-best … is the second-fastest high school time in the nation, according to Dyestat Elite 100 rankings.

Denard's reaction was even better:

''I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that,'' Robinson said.

It comes as little surprise that a bolt of lightning recruited to play quarterback for Rich Rodriguez received comparisons to Pat White from everyone, Brian included. The excitement to see this athlete in that offense managed to rival the avalanche of Forcier hype even though Robinson didn't get the benefit of an early enrollment. Surely the blogger who set Sam McGuffie's general excitement level at "AAAAIIEEEE!" saw the nearly unlimited potential that would soon be realized in arguably the greatest QB rushing season ever:

General Excitement Level: Slightly under high.

We're no longer on speaking terms, boss.

Comments

AlaskanYeti

June 16th, 2014 at 2:26 PM ^

These Retrospect posts make us relive painful memories (albeit good ones too - thank you Denard), but in order for this program and we as fans to get where we want to go, we have to know where we came from. Thanks for the post Ace!

GoWings2008

June 16th, 2014 at 2:51 PM ^

Despite his misgivings, one of my favorite plays in the recent past is the run for a TD he made against ND where he juked right, went left right up the middle and handed the defender his jock strap after the play.  The look on the ND fans in the stadium was priceless.  But yeah, I wish he wasn't such a head case later on...would have liked to see him in a solid back up role.

markusr2007

June 16th, 2014 at 2:53 PM ^

But to me there were two who struck me as players where you knew something spectacular was going to happen whenever they got the football, and there was genuine anticipation and excitement before the snap: Anthony Carter and Denard Robinson.

I'm not saying that feel is lost, but the emotion has drifted from excitement more to fear.

I'm so happy I got to witness Denard's first touch vs. Western Michigan sitting next to my dad in a jam-packed Michigan Stadium.

Blarvey

June 16th, 2014 at 4:29 PM ^

Watching old Tate highlights always reminds me of how much he was like Johnny Manziel. Not just the white QB that can run comparison but his cuts, fakes, throwing motion, and just overall playing style was very similar to how Manziel played in college.

Mr. Yost

June 17th, 2014 at 9:20 AM ^

Always which we could've got some Spurrier to our offense with these two. Never thought either was going to lead us to the promise land alone, but together, I liked that idea. (Whether that is accurate or not).

Oh well, I gave everything I had for the past in the last Rich Rod/2009 thread on defense. I'm drained, you all have at it. 

I'm putting everything 2009-2013 into a little mental lock box. Maybe I'll open it 20 years from now after we've won shit, we're back, we're relevent and I'll think "oh, remember that period? Ha, we we so impantient and naive."

Or maybe I'll just chose to let it go like that same period in Michigan Basketball (which was actually a lot longer). As good as some of those guys were, I never really find myself thinking back. Every year, the period between the 2nd Fab Five National Championship game and Darius Morris' freshman year gets more grey.

I think the period between Carr's last game and this year will be the same one. Not forgotten, not unappreciated, just grey. 

At least, for me that's how it is. And it's not just (yes "just" - because part of it certainly is) that weren't very good in these periods. For me, it's also about teams I can identify with and get behind.

Fab Five was an era, like the Bad Boys, if you're from the area...you loved them, period.

The Novak years weren't always the prettiest, but they were what we, or at least I embody, look at our '97 Championship. Sure that team was fucking good. But they were also boring as FUCK for any non-Michigan fan. They were REALLY good Novak's with a Charles Woodson cherry on top.

Now these Beilein teams have talent, but the way we play, the way we conduct ourselves, they fun and energy, I love that. Win or lose I love these Michigan basketball teams. I love our offense, our style, everything. It's just an identity.

We haven't had an identity since Henne, Hart, Long left in football.

I'm thinking football is entering a period now where this year we're going to finally start building that identity. Whether it's tough, dare I say gritty, and boring for everyone else to watch (plus a Woodson cherry). Whether it's brash, arrogant, athletic, one of a kind...whether it's mash your teeth in, tough, even dirty.

I love to identify with the teams I love. I think that starts now and I'm very excited to see the beginning of a new era. 

And if you disagree - fine, but just stick with CFB. Think Oregon, Alabama, Stanford, even MSU. Those teams have a brand, an identity, and so it's (more) fun to be part of that as a fan. Michigan hasn't had that in football in a long time.

When Michigan Basketball loses to UK, it sucks, but we loss playing Michigan Basketball, period. We weren't big and tough and overpowering. As a fan, you still stand and cheer because we gave it our best shot doing what we do...and we almost had it. But I'd go back and relive this year in basketball in a heartbeat, because we did what we do and when it worked, it worked, when it didn't, it didn't. I'm sure VCU fans feel the same way.

In the end, year 1, new era, hoping like heck it starts now. Personally, I think it will.