Deep ball and Turnover fears

Submitted by gsimmons85 on October 22nd, 2015 at 3:36 PM

I know this isnt rocket science, but i do think that a lot of our deep throw misses can be attributed to ball control and turnover margin issues.  Becasue of early turnovers Michigan has been working in a hole,  and loosing the turnover margin means losses to a ball control team.  I think the shots downfield that are missed are as bad as turnovers, but since they arent counted as such they still show up on stat sheets as a zero gain play.     Confidence is still an issue because of those early turnovers.

 Its better to throw a ball with zero percent chance of completeion with a zero percent change of interception then it is to throw a ball that is 50/50, When you are lacking the confidence and are still in the half full mentallity.  

my hope is that a few more games with zero bad interceptions will lead to a qb that puts balls closer to that 50/50 and less to the 0/0...  there is still something to be said about atempting the long ball enough to where the defense at least has to take the top off the coverage, and harbaugh knows this which is why they are still taking those shots,  But i still think at this point not throwing an interception is more important to the staff and maybe to the QB then completing the pass..





October 22nd, 2015 at 3:57 PM ^

I really do, I am too chicken to start posts, but...

I don't agree. The whole point of the deep ball discussion is not that we shouldn't do it, it is that we CAN"T do it.

Most of the long ball throws are not even close to being intercepted and even if they were they would be armpunts with the opponent in bad field position.

I have seen very few arguments that start wtih "Darn I wish Rudock would not have tried to throw to Chesson when he was wide open for a touchdown"  They are more related to" Darn he missed the wide open receiver again, or he underthrew Darboh by 20 yards"

You have to have this option in your offense or the safeties sneak in on every play and the short passing game is clogged up.



October 23rd, 2015 at 10:03 AM ^

If we are talking about a new Qb without any past history to suggest he can make those throws at the collegiate level the argument would be that we CANT make those throws. . That is not the case here though, you have a Qb that has had at least some success throwing the deep ball in past seasons at this level.  Therefore the problem is not a physical one, rather a mental one.  My point was just that the mentall problem problaby has something to do with a combination of things, one being the desire of him and the coaching staff to not turn the ball over.

I think its great that we are still attempting those passes, and i think by the end of the year he will be connecting on those throws and over the mental hump.  (hopefully)




October 31st, 2015 at 1:26 PM ^

Rudock's interceptions--such as those against Utah, including the pick-6--have occurred on short or medium throws.  On deep throws, he's tended to overthrow open receivers.  Although I remember him underthrowing Darboh, who made the catch anyway but didn't get extra yards after.

Crisler 71

October 22nd, 2015 at 4:17 PM ^

I think what he means is that Jake is so afraid of turnovers that he overcompensates by throwing the ball where it can't possibly be intercepted even if it means that the receiver can't get to it either.  He feels it is better to overthrow than underthrow.


October 25th, 2015 at 12:49 PM ^

I've believed that since Week 1.  All the misses are long - always on the more conservative side.  With the week off and some winnable games coming up hopefully he hits a few and the confidence returns.

Ecky Pting

October 22nd, 2015 at 4:20 PM ^

I'm not exactly sure what Rudock's issues might be at this point, but he needs to have some success on deep balls in these next 3 games (Minny, Rutgers, Indiana) in order to have absolute confidence before going into Happy Valley, which is a tough setting to play in (esp. if it's a night game).  Even with a win at PSU, if things don't go well there vis a vis the deep ball, OSU will be smelling blood in the water and the sharks will be circling Ruddock in the pocket.


October 22nd, 2015 at 4:31 PM ^

Our offensive mindset shouldn't be aftraid of a high risk, high reward plays. With our defense and special teams, we have the ingredients to pretty much take every risk that presents itself, because we have such faith in the other 2 aspects of the game.

A QB's dream should be to have a defense like we have this year. When going through his checks, he shouldn't avoid 50/50 situations. We have talented WR's, and an exceptional defense. Trust your teammates, and take a chance. Just as long as it doesn't result in a pick-6!

Also, is this diary worthy? Seems like we're missing statistics, charts, tables, analysis, etc. 


October 22nd, 2015 at 4:33 PM ^

man this kid takes alot of heat for not being great. qbs will always get too much credit and too much blame. i dont know how old some of you are  but all qbs go thru this, its just the nature of the position.

   brady was too slow, so play henson. griese had a weak arm, play anybody else would be better then him. weak arm, not mobile, not very many have it all. i would bet that rudock hits those in practice most the time. but it is true for some reason he cant connect in the games. 

    step back and take a good look at him though, he keeps his head at all times and i get the feeling that harbaugh really trusts him not to make hugh mistakes. and cook  without that one freak 75 yard pass didnt exactly pick michigan apart.


October 22nd, 2015 at 5:28 PM ^

Rudock isn't great but he is doing fine.  We are now looking at a FLOOR of 8-4 (losses to PSU and OSU), a realistic possibility of 9-3, and a small chance to 10-2 in HARBAUGH's first year.

Please, what did most people think we would do at the beginning of the season?  I posted a Koolaid happy 10-2 but most posted 7-5 / 8-4.

This is the first year with probably the best coach in college football.  MSU won due to sheer luck, we played well enough to win.

Be happy.  Yes Rudock isn't a top tier QB but is doing well enough.  Now if this was Harbaugh's third year ... yeah, that would be a problem.  This is YEAR ONE of HARBAUGH.  I am satisfied with the progress and I think (hope) most people are too.



October 22nd, 2015 at 8:12 PM ^

I came to Ann Arbor in 1999. So I saw only one year of the Brady-Henson controversy. Carr seemed to have a preference for Brady. But everyone else wanted Henson to be the starter. Every thursday or friday, there was a segment on the local TV channel where Carr and one of the QBs would be interviewed. One could see the passion in Brady. And the way Carr used blast the critics. 

Look how that turned out. 


October 23rd, 2015 at 2:52 PM ^

That's sort of a straw man, though, isn't it?  No one is saying (at least not in this thread) that Rudock should be benched.  He's just addressing one specific, and very real, deficiency in his game to this point in the season.  I think your points about Rudock's good qualities are true.  But that doesn't mean he's without flaws.  And it's bye week so why not discuss them?  

I agree with the OP that aversion to turnovers has played some role in Rudock missing guys deep.  But then he also missed two of those throws way short against MSU, which is the opposite of what you'd expect from someone trying to put it where it was a completion or nothing.  So, was he just overcorrecting?  Between that and how open some of the guys he's missed have been, it seems like there's more to it.  


October 22nd, 2015 at 6:30 PM ^

is that Harbaugh pushed Jake to take more chances early on, saw that Jake wasn't able to make the throws, and dialed it back.

Jake isn't comfortable throwing into traffic and Harbaugh doesn't trust him to do it, anyway.

We'll just have to put up with it until next year. Rudock is what he is, he's not going to change.


October 22nd, 2015 at 10:56 PM ^

The WRs are part of the problem, too. 

Chesson does not seem to do well adjusting to a ball in flight, particularly on long passes.  Darboh does get separation from time to time but not that often. 

A lot of people complained when Rudock overthrew either Darboh or Chesson, and in the last game they were equally critical when he made sure he got a completion by slightly underthrowing to Darboh.  Can't win unless it's perfect, and very few QBs throw a high percentage of perfect long passes.


October 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 AM ^

Thanks for posting, gsimmons85. Hadn't seen anything from you for a long time. I've really puzzled over what has happened with Rudock. Appreciate your analysis. Where are you in the coaching world now?


October 23rd, 2015 at 11:07 AM ^

ive never really liked Rudock's throwing motion, but it might just be because he isnt hitting all of his targets yet, so i am being over critical.  I never really liked Chad Henne's either.  I always felt like his deep balls were too high and relied too much on braylon jumping and not enough on our speed getting behind defensive backs.   But for the most part it worked, so no big deal, and it might have been by design. 

I compare throwing mechanics of qb's with pitchers.  When the strike zone gets squeezed or when they feel like they are loosing control, their mechanics start to break down.  They start over gripping, they start shortening their motion, they start aiming instead of throwing.  I think Rudock is a bit gun shy right now and perhaps any mechanical issues are due to that mental block.  


Im sure the coaching staff are harping on his mechanics to the point to where perhaps something might click.  Im not sure what mechanical techniques are being utilized at michigan practices, (R-4, etc)  or even if they are trying to maybe change something he has done for a long time in order to get him out of this funk.  



Im just plugging along.  !7 years now....


October 23rd, 2015 at 4:34 PM ^

"I compare throwing mechanics of qb's with pitchers.  When the strike zone gets squeezed or when they feel like they are loosing control, their mechanics start to break down."


It does seem like the mechanics only go wrong because they "feel" like they are losing control.

Rudock has been incredibly accurate, confident, and successful at the quick 10-yards or less passes (which not all QBs are by the way), but as soon as he has too much time to think, or set up for a long throw, he gets all wonky.

It's got to be 100% mental.



October 23rd, 2015 at 10:43 AM ^

The deep passes on third down are the ones that bother me.  If its third down and you have single coverage just throw it up there.  Best case we get a first down and flip the field.  Worst case we throw a 40 yard pick, which is essential just a punt.  No reason to be conservative about an interception in that situation.


October 23rd, 2015 at 11:12 AM ^

But a turnover is still a turnover.  Coaches use the "well its just like a punt"  really to justify and to calm nerves after a 3rd down turnover.  Turnovers create momentum swings even if they are on a 4th down throw down the field.  Its why a defensive back has a hard time just knocking a ball down on a 4th and long throw.   The confidence a defense gains forma turnover is really unmeasurable.   So i get what you are saying, and i agree that those are the ones that make you cringe the most.  But at the same time in his mind he still is not wanting to risk a turnover regardless of the down.  


October 23rd, 2015 at 1:48 PM ^

First and foremost I like the idea of valuing the ball and not turning it over by taking bad chances with the long ball.   I also look foward to seeing a deep ball with more air or loft, complete or not. 

I believe the open receiver is this case can truly make a great adjustment to the ball.  I think this type of ball would be harder to intercept too as long as there is only one defensive player in the play and especially if he is a step behind the receiver.   If you throw a low ball it will get picked and there can be no adjustment by the receiver.






October 24th, 2015 at 11:35 AM ^

I had projected a mean of 8-4 presuming we had the Rudock of last year.  I did not realize our defense would be so dominant.  In my opinion if we had the Rudock of last year we would be undeated.  When I see someone lose accuracy I begin to wonder if there is an undisclosed injury.  Compare Gardner end of 2012 to Gardner of 2014.  After DR's nerve injury in 2012 it made me review some of the inexplicable misses in 2010.  I have no evidence that Rudock is hurt.  However this "mental" argument just does not make sense.  If it is discovered by the staff Rudock really is hurt, they will not want to disclose it until after the season.  At least now they can retain the pretense he is just missing.


October 24th, 2015 at 7:10 PM ^

I would think giving the other qb's a chance would make more sense.  SO a hurt Ruddock is better than a healthy number 2, who up to the first game of the season was in a  neck and neck battle for the number 1 spot?


If he is hurt, i would be more inclined to think that other qb's would get more reps.


Why does the mental argument not make sense?   It is 100% part of the game.


October 24th, 2015 at 7:26 PM ^

I'm just pointing out another possibility.  We could have all said that Verlander's problems were mental also.  As we now know injuries prevented him from peak performance.  So when I see someone perform at a certain level and than it goes away, I always wonder if it has to with injury.  Yeah without verification could be mental also.  Either way, tells us how bad the backups must be that a guy with a mental block or a bum shoulder is still the best we have.


October 24th, 2015 at 6:50 PM ^

Remember that last year Rudock was working with recivers he had worked with for years.  The leading reciver by catches was a senior, the second-leading a junior.  His tight end (and third-leading receiver) was a junior.  Coming into a new team he doesn't have that chemistry and experience.

Having said that, I also see a different throwing style on the long balls, like he doesn't trust his arm strength any more and really winds up.  Maybe there is something to the injury speculation.


October 26th, 2015 at 6:17 AM ^

I hope he hits several big ones soon. Only way to believe in the lofty goals and dreams of us fans is to take the top end off the defense and open up the running game and play action passes. 


October 26th, 2015 at 11:31 AM ^

Rudock was brought in to take care of the football, and set a disciplined example for the younger QBs in doing so. 

Obviously Harbaugh and the staff looked at Morris, and figured they needed somebody who is careful with the ball.  With the defense Michigan was already expected to have, and the defense it now has; and what has turned out  solid special teams (other than THAT play) and positive net yards in the punting game, Michigan is wise to play the field position game and ride that to victory until genuine offensive playmaking talent develops. 

All that can derail that strategy is turnovers, or freak plays as we have seen.  So Rudock may be injured; he may have altered his mechanics; or may be psyching himself out, but for the most part he is doing what Harbaugh is asking and expecting him to do: first and foremost stay out of trouble.


October 26th, 2015 at 11:48 AM ^

Broken down by interceptions made <15 yards vs. >15 yards from scrimmage:

Direction INT Perc Pass Perc RATE
Short Left 579 17.30% 33111 28.50% 1.70%
Short Middle 572 17.10% 22309 19.20% 2.60%
Short Right 662 19.80% 38695 33.30% 1.70%
Deep Left 479 14.30% 7951 6.80% 6%
Deep Middle 500 14.90% 5949 5.10% 8.40%
Deep Right 553 16.50% 8283 7.10% 6.70%

Seems like downfield caution is warranted. Unless it's Cook to Burbridge, apparently.