Chad Henne v. Tate Forcier - 3 Games in

Submitted by Koyote on September 22nd, 2009 at 5:09 PM

So, I read the recent mail bag questions and was reminded of Chad Henne the Robot. The question came to me. If Chad was a robot, what is Tate? Is Tate a mere human? Or is Tate the next in line of Michigan Robo QBs? I had to know. So it was time to investigate and compare the two.

So what better way to compare than via stats? But I was left with the issue. Chad has a whole body of work for Michigan, while young Tate has only 3 games. Ok, well maybe we will just compare their first 3 games. 

What would Brian do? He would use a chart, so I will also.

Forcier’s First 3 Games





































Henne’s First 3 Games (2004)








Miami (OH)







at ND





















*San Diego State

But there is so much more to a QB comparison than just pure numbers, you have to look at things like their teams and other factors that might not show up in a chart. Who had the better set of circumstances to allow success?


Non-Chartable factors to consider
1. Wide Receivers
  • Chad had Braylon Edwards, Avant and Breaston (All Future Pros)
  • Tate has Hemmingway, Mathews, Stonum, and Odoms (Hopeful future pros, but probably not the same talent level
  • Advantage = Chad

2. Running Backs
  • Chad had Underwood and a rarely used Mike Hart (at least for the first few games)
  • Tate has Minor and Brown
  • Advantage = Tate

3. Tight End
  • Chad had Ecker and Massaquoi
  • Tate has Koger and Webb
  • Advantage = ??? I think Koger has potential to be great. But right now I'd say it is a Push

4. O-Line (Starters)
  • Chad had Kolodziej, Riley, Bas, Lentz, and a Young Jake Long
  • Tate has Ortmann, Schilling, Molk, Moosman, Huyge
  • Advantage = Chad

5. Scheduling
  • Chad had Miami (OH), at ND, SDSU
  • Tate had WMU, ND, EMU
  • Advantage = Tate - All home games

6. Opponent Strength (Comparing each team 3 games in - seeing how it is hard to judge our current opponents ignoring final records because they are not available for this year (obviously)).
  • Chad - Miami (OH) (1-2), ND (2-1), SDSU (2-1)
  • Tate - WMU (1-2), ND (2-1), EMU (0-3)
  • Advantage = Tate - Opponents combined win total was weaker at 3-6, Chad's were 5-4

7. System
  • Chad was in a pro-style offense
  • Tate is in a spread offense
  • Advantage = Push, both are good fits for the QB

8. "it"
  • Chad had swagger as a freshman QB - although he didn't do his come from behind victory over MSU (which made him Robo Henne) at this point
  • Tate has moxie - he led a come from behind drive against ND
  • Advantage = I'd guess Push again. Although you could argue Tate

Non-chartable results
  • Henne - 2 (better WR&OL)
  • Tate - 3 (Favorable scheduling, Weaker Opponents, Better RB support)
  • Push - 3 (TE, System, 'it")

So what were my findings?


I propose that Focier is QB Robot v 2.0

Ok, maybe that is a bit early for that, but hear me out. 

Tate appears to compare favorably with Henne on a pure stats basis. Tate has a higher completion percentage, an equal number of passing TDs, far less interceptions.  The only category he seems to be behind is yards. Which can be attributed to the fact that the running game steamrolled EMU and didn't need to have much throwing.

In terms of the non-chartables. Tate appears to have been in a better situation as a freshman, although it could easily be argued that he was in the worse position because of the pressure that came onto him when he entered. I don't think Chad Henne was ever billed as the savior of the program before he came in.

So yeah, high hopes for Tate

  1. Three games is a pretty small sample size
  2. It would likely be helpful if done at the end of the season (Future Diary Post maybe)
  3. Didn't examine overall team strength - no analysis of Special Teams and Defense's ability to help out a young QB.
  4. I thought about comparing him to other QB starters, however, considering that the majority of our QB sit for a few years learning the system, it didn't seem fair.
  5. I was unsure if Tate had more time to learn the offense than Henne. Does anyone know when Chad came in? Did he enroll early? If not, did Coach Carr send him a playbook early?



September 22nd, 2009 at 5:18 PM ^

the go to stat is YPA. and Forcier's killing Chad in that regard. though Chad wasn't an early enrollee, a factor you probably should have mentioned. age is something to consider as well, though it would appear moot here (July 2 vs. August 10).


you did mention it. apologies for skimming.


September 22nd, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

14 carries for -35 yards through 3 games; Tate managed 30 carries for 112 yards. That's sacks + carries, really, but cfbstats doesn't differentiate. Whatever the case, Tate's been slightly above average so far with just his passing. His mobility is another tick in that direction.


September 22nd, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

Tate has a coach that allows him to make plays - advantage Tate.

Chad had coaches that held him back, initially. The ND game was frustrating. I was at that game and believe we had first and goal a couple times in the 1H; only to run it 3 times and settle for field goals. Leaving those potential points off the board cost us big time in the 2H. A bunch of chad's yards and TD came late in the 4Q after the game was decided.


September 22nd, 2009 at 5:39 PM ^

translating INTs to a yard value isn't that tough (estimates I've seen range from 40 for college to 60 in the NFL), so you can do an adjusted YPA (that could be made better with sack yardage):

(Yards - 40*INTs)/attempts

So we'd have 487 - 40 = 447/66 ~ 6.8 YPA for Tate

544 - 200 = 344/88 ~ 3.9 YPA for Chad

That's about a touchdown per game difference.


September 22nd, 2009 at 7:18 PM ^

colin, last season, if I remember correctly, didn't you write a diary or post on college football statistics? I want to say it was something of a comparison between baseball stats (significant re: player productivity viz a viz moneyball) and football stats which are just now coming into their own re: key indicators for determining positive field match-ups (sometimes).

More background: taking into account the very different aspects of baseball (a far more individualized sport) and football (emphasis on team play to succeed), I remember there was a lot of talk and speculation that there would eventually come to light certain football stats that could potentially project success in something of a moneyball fashion. That, especially in a spread offense with an emphasis on isolating players in space, maybe there is room to get all 'stat-crazy' so to speak with college football as you would with baseball. that was a hell of an intro. Anyway, my question for you is whether you've been continuing to pay close attention to anything in particular, because I enjoyed your stat analysis very much.



September 22nd, 2009 at 7:57 PM ^

and i haven't paid a ton of attention. personally, i thought the separations aspects that people were concerned about were mostly quantifiable and not especially foreboding for skilled stats folk (which i am not). Tom Tango, for example, has used a With You Without You method of determining catcher defense value (see what happens when player X is in, see what happens when he's not, compare) that would be very useful in application to college football. example: determine Percy Harvin's value by comparing '09 Gator offense with '08. i'm guessing he's fairly replaceable within the Gator offense. picking out useful test cases after figuring out what happens to everyone (e.g. expected freshman QB performance vs. soph QB performance) should make this stuff eventually determinable. so while we may be a little far from assessing the true talent of a quarterback, accounting for what happened on pass plays is not. and a watchful fan should be able to add appropriate context to make useful conclusions.

yards lead to points pretty directly and there aren't really "accidental" yards like there are, more or less, accidental hits in baseball. i was using the analogy to baseball mostly to help the audience make the connection more easily, but i'm not sure i accomplished much in that regard. like i said at the time, this sort of analysis has long been done by GMs (see the Hidden Game of Football, as mentioned in my post), so i'm not sure why the laity felt the need to object overly. when i was running the stats, i was amazed at how well the projected points and the actual lined up.

the guy who wrote for the Missouri SBN blog is now at Football Outsiders doing his thing, statistically, for college football. it's quite good. the biggest problem by far is the quality of the statistics kept. is helping a lot and basically enabled me to do the pretty simple stuff i did. it would be awesome if UFR were undertaken for at least the bigger BCS teams, but for whatever reason it hasn't caught on. i understand it's quite the commitment, but Brian has always said he felt that UFR is what made him standout and he's reaped the success as a result. make quality content and it pays off.

anyway, if you're interested in doing your own stuff, i approximate 15 yards for 1 point and 40 yards for a turnover. i can't remember what i found wrt point expectancies based on starting field position, but Brian Fremeau (aforementioned FO, nee SBN dude) has that stuff down. frankly, just graphing starting field position versus points scored for the big ten teams' offense and defense would be pretty interesting to look at.


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:35 AM ^

actually, it looks like an INT is worth 60 yards, which meshes with what advancednflstats found for the NFL. Tate's lack of INTs so far is maybe his best skill. Chad threw for fewer yards and more interceptions...but also found out he was starting for sure a day before.

Musket Rebellion

September 22nd, 2009 at 8:03 PM ^

I'm saying it is premature because the sample size is so small. I realize it isn't a projection, but the idea that we can compare an immobile ROBOHenne and Tate White Jesus at all, let alone after 3 games worth of stats, seems ridiculous.

I like what the poster had to say, and that he used a lot of stats to back up his findings, I just think it is like comparing apples to babbies here.


September 22nd, 2009 at 8:25 PM ^

Chad seemed to improve a lot as the season went on, iirc. It's just nice confirmation that, so far, we're seeing some pretty legit quarterbacking. I remember thinking to myself that Tate wasn't going to go the entire ND game without a pick just because no true freshman is that good. I think mgoblogginites in general have been pretty decent in reining in their expectations. Hurt too many times at this point, I guess.


September 22nd, 2009 at 6:09 PM ^

This is much more in depth than I would have imagined. Very nice. I think that these stats support the Forcier = 4 year starter very well, except for the sample size being so small.


September 22nd, 2009 at 6:21 PM ^

You have not considered that Tate was on the run constantly against ND, and that he had great moments no matter how the pocket broke down or how much he had to roll out in anticipation of the pocket breaking down. Whereas under Lloyd, especially in 2004, Chad did what he was asked to do, which was limited. Chad may have had more ability than Lloyd allowed for. But from a fan perspective, he never did what Tate did against ND. Even as a junior in the USC Rose Bowl Chad looked a lot like Navarre under the huge USC rush. Tate is part of a huge breath of fresh air which is why we are all so excited with him and the offensive team in general. Let's admit there is no chance Chad wins the ND game with our offensive line.


September 22nd, 2009 at 7:12 PM ^

I dont think anyone in this thread has mentioned that Tate enrolled early, while Chad didn't even know he was starting until like a week before the first game, as I recall.

[EDIT: To answer the poster's question, Chad did not enroll early. He likely had access to a playbook, but I believe he only had about three weeks of actual practice with the team, and like I said above, he probably wasn't working with the starters until Gutz went down]

So basically Chad had less time to learn an offense that I'd consider more complex, while Tate had all spring to learn an easier offense.

Nonetheless, I think I like Tate better (even though I liked Chad, too). Chad was always quiet and not very public, IMO, whereas Tate walks around with a little more swagger. I like that in a quarterback.


September 22nd, 2009 at 8:23 PM ^

There is no doubt Tate, at this stage, is not only more advanced than Chad in so many ways, that he maybe more along now, than Chad was several years down the road.

Another thing, Chad, on any year, never showed the pocket awareness that Tate has shown in 3 games. Its almost like a violinist whose been playing since 4 yrs old.


September 22nd, 2009 at 8:18 PM ^

and this is just observation based on personally witnessed things, I'm almost kind of worried for tate. This is the oh no the glass is half full argument, but, from all the things I have seen, and in many sports, it's quite often that the ones that start the strongest do not finish as such. And by this, I dont necassarily mean the collegiate career only, its sometimes the pros expectations.

Sometimes you see someone show such brilliance early on, and then what they showed was the best they ever did, ie, they never developed.

IF Tate develops and shows a good improvement curve, he will be in the pros. I have never seen a freshman, and rarely see an nfl qb, that can throw the way he does on the run.

At this point, I hope my Broncos get him!


September 22nd, 2009 at 8:56 PM ^

I think Forcier understands that, unless he has a miraculous late growth spurt, he is considered "too short" to play QB in the NFL, and won't get the opportunity, no matter what his talent level is, to do so.

In UM, Forcier has found a coach and system that are perfect for his skill set, combined with a school whose degree carries a lot more clout than one from many other schools. I see Forcier as having three great options that his performance on the field, combined with a UM education, will provide for him:

1. Broadcasting
2. Coaching.
3. Private business sector, particularly something along the lines of "Forcier Academy of Quarterbacking."

I find the third possibility to be the most intriguing, because he could involve his entire family. His reputation, assuming that his career path at UM remains where it is, would make him the "franchise player" whose name brings in the most business. He could combine this with some scouting and blogging, and do really well for himself without ever having to punch anyone's clock but his own. He wouldn't have to work assistant coaching jobs with eighty-hour weeks, or head coach jobs with hundred-hour weeks.

At any rate, he is doing fine at UM so far, and has been a pleasure to watch.


September 22nd, 2009 at 9:41 PM ^

This is not a premature comparison. If we had more data, say an entire season's worth, we wouldn't have anything left to wonder about. We'd know if Henne as a freshman was better than Tate as a freshman, because we'd have all the stats.

It's basically just an exercise for fun.

Tate's pocket presence is already more advanced than Henne's ever was. That's just a gift Tate has that can't be taught...kind of like Henne's rocket arm.


September 22nd, 2009 at 9:41 PM ^

I think there are some factors that should be taken into account. First off I think Chad was put in rough situations by bad play calling in his freshman year, at least at the beginning of the season. It was typical Carr to close the playbook with a freshman quarterback, so this inevitably meant that a lot of Chad's passes were on third down and long or in a "safe situation." I don't have hard data, but having watched Michigan football religiously for years I would bet that Chad threw a lot of passes on third and long his freshman year.
With Tate, Coach Rod has put him in better situations to succeed with more aggressive play calling. Tate is also somewhat of a dual threat QB, so he has that over the relatively immobile Henne. It would be interesting to see how the numbers would compare had Henne been in a more aggressive pro-style system because he had, IMO, as much offensive talent around him if not more. Also, I believe 04 was the year that the running game struggled the first two games and a half until Hart "emerged" to salvage the San Diego State "scare."
Hopefully Tate can continue to handle adversity like a five year senior, because if he does and stays healthy, he'll have a chance to set some records.


September 22nd, 2009 at 10:57 PM ^

I cannot help but feel that Chad had a much, much better offense around him than Tate does, although it is hard to judge this year's team only three games in.

In Chad's freshman year, I probably would not have considered him one of the best players on the offense considering they had a very talented O-line and a ridiculous WR core.

On the other hand, I think Tate is definitely one of our best players on offense this year, coming in behind Minor, maybe one OL, and no one else IMO.

Chad had an amazing freshman year, but I think if I had to choose one of them for just that first year, I would go with Tate right now. He can carry us!


September 23rd, 2009 at 1:10 AM ^

As someone mentioned, Chad didn't enroll early.

How many starts did UM's oline have going into the 2004 season? I'm guessing UM's oline this year had over 50, if not over 60. Was Andy Moeller the oline coach in 2004? I'm not sure how much of an advantage I would give to Chad with regards to the oline.

Also, the UM running game has been very solid so far this year. I don't think the same can be said for 2004. It wasn't until Hart got his shot that the UM running game got going in 2004.


September 23rd, 2009 at 8:30 AM ^

I'd suggest reversing who gets the "advantage" in some of your non-chartable factors. For example, since Chad had better receivers, I'd give the advantage to Tate because Tate had to be better to get the same with receivers who may not be as good.


September 23rd, 2009 at 12:00 PM ^

since Chad will soon be Terminator (due to his robotic time-warp to the NFL) perhaps Tate can become the Liquid Metal Terminator? It all likely depends on his ability to time-warp us back into a New Years Day Bowl...