Finished watching Spring Game for 5th time

Submitted by jvp123 on April 21st, 2010 at 6:18 PM

So I just finished watching the Spring Game for a 5th time, and I will admit that watching it that many times has changed the opinion that I had after the first time that I watched the game. First of all, thanks to MgoVideo for posting the 720p torrent so that I could watch the game as often as possible!

So, I only concentrated on Tate's and Denard's drives. This was because I don't see Devin making huge strides this year to supplant both of these QB's. His plays reminded me of Denard's last year, except Devin can run the Zone Read a bit better than Denard at this point of his career (# of practices, that is, since Denard didn't enroll early). That may seem like something that shouldn't just be glossed over, but Devin's inability to read the defenses in the passing game, along with his penchant to revert to his shotput throw under durress causes me to be a bit dismissive. He IS the future, and the future looks bright, but why rush it?

So, after watching the two QB's, I have to say that I do not see Tate and the inevitable #2 nor do I see Denard as the inevitable #1. I'll share what I have, and see if maybe it gives some people a different perspective. I guess I should say that I don't personally care who starts for this team. I don't think a single person is ever bigger than the team.

So, I counted the number of pass plays called, run plays called, and put a check mark next to pass plays that I would consider those that forced the QB to "read the defense". So, WR Screens, HB Screens, etc. wouldn't get a check mark.

Tate: 35 plays, 19 pass plays, 16 run plays

Out of the 19 pass plays, Tate suffered 2 "sacks" due to the pressure from the #1 defense. So, unlike the official box score I actually have 17 passes that Tate threw (completing 10), not 16. Out of the 19 pass plays that have Tate as the QB, 5 required looking downfield and disecting the defense. 1 of these resulted in an Incomplete and 1 resulted in a "Sack". So, 14 pass plays were screens or rollouts to one side of the field where Tate looked for a WR or TE on the play side sideline.

Denard: 30 plays, 16 pass plays, 14 run plays

Here I also have Denard going 9 for 12. Even though there were 16 pass plays, 4 of those had Denard tucking the ball and running for positive yards. Out of the 16 pass plays, though, only 2 required a reading of the defense, and both went to Roundtree. I did not include the 97-yard pass or the pass to T-Rob because both pass plays were a 4 Verticals route with the inside receiver slanting towards the opposite hash (thanks Mark Campbell!). The 2 I gave him included the PA Rollout left to Roundtree (he wasn't primary receiver, FB was, and Roy looked like he played a hitch or dig route) and the 2nd TD pass to Roundtree (was an all curls pattern, but Denard had to direct traffic and wait for a hole in the defense to thread it in there).

My conclusion was that we can win with either of these QBs and that we need to stop using the old-school mentality that you HAVE to have a #1 guy. The playcalling will be totally different based on who is in, but even if the same plays are called, they will have totally different packages depending on who is QB. With Tate, the Zone Read and Belly plays could be successful if they keep a TE in as a pulling H-Back type. That way the line could be used for the RB and the TE could pull in a trap-style block in case Tate wants to keep it (since he is Dilithium-deficient). With Denard, I think the passing game becomes more simplified with more 4- or 5-WR sets so that he has the gaps to take off or be powerful in the Zone Read scheme.

I just think that if you only saw the game in attendance or once or twice, take another look. I was much more excited for both QBs after the last time I watched.

As a sidenote, I bombarded everyone with a lot on the QBs, but I did have other observations:

1. Will Campbell was destroying Centers and Guards all day, but the Michael Cox TD was due in large part because Will pushed himself right out of the play. If he kept his head up he would've wait, that would be inappropriate...

2. Love the nuances of the new defense, and can't wait to see who ends up at Spur, since Kovacs seems to have that Bandit positon locked up.

3. I think Brian was the one that pointed out that the weakness of having guys like Mike Williams and Kovacs as the SS's was that the 4 Verticals route would expose their lack of speed, yet RichRod ran that play several times. Maybe film or GERG?



April 21st, 2010 at 6:41 PM ^

I appreciate the analysis but your conclusion doesn't seem to tie too well to your data (sorry it just seemed a little jumbled to me).

If I understand correctly:

- Tate: Great at throwing the short pass, actually had to dissect the D more than Denard, still needs work on zone reads.

- Denard: Although the long TDs did happen, he didn't have as much of the passing game available to him as Tate did, but he is clearly better with the zone reads.

My conclusion:

- Tate: Can't throw the deep ball, can "shake and bake" with the best of them, but doesn't have a higher ceiling than he did last year (on a per game basis, ala ND and the end of MSU - obviously if he stays healthy his full season totals will improve greatly)

- Denard: Pandora's box. Who knows what we will get in the fall when we open him up again. Sure seems to have made huge strides in the passing game but he will need to prove it against a real defense first.

My prediction? Give Denard the damn ball and see what he does with it. If he gets knocked around a bit and reverts to the "run first, pass to the other team second, pass to our team last" QB, then put Tate in.


April 21st, 2010 at 8:07 PM ^

What I was trying to say was that the overwhelming majority of pass plays called were to one side of the field and to a specific 1st read. Most rollouts were to the short side of the field with the QB throwing it to the shortside receiver, who was cutting or coming back towards the sidelines. So, there weren't many opportunities for us to truly see the QBs having to read a defense and throwing to a 2nd, 3rd or 4th read. But, Tate did have 5 of those types of plays to Denard's 2. It didn't mean Tate couldn't dissect the defense, it means he was called upon to read a defense on several more occassions than Denard with a #2 O-line against a #1 defense. Don't get me wrong, I loved seeing Denard looking downfield. I just think this post was more a way to calm those people down who are thinking that it's Denard or bust this season like it was Tate or bust last season.

As for the Zone Read, Tate's problem is his lack of speed, is all. He was making all the right reads when they did run the Zone Read or Belly play at the Spring Game, but he can't outjuke the first guy as much as Denard can, so adjustments in the blocking scheme may have to be tweaked.


April 21st, 2010 at 7:10 PM ^

He looked at Roy the entire play. Which says even worse things about Vlad Emillien on that play. He said it was a bad read but when Denard stares Roy down, what the hell are you reading? But I don't think he read anything. Just watched Roy run all by himself. Sheridan could have made that TD pass.


April 21st, 2010 at 8:30 PM ^

Sheridan could have made that TD pass.

I don't know about that. That was a nice ball that DRob threw. Sheridan perhaps could've made the right read and thrown it, but I have my doubts that it would've been a perfect pass that hit 'Tree in stride like DRob threw.


April 21st, 2010 at 9:14 PM ^

Just saying that it wasn't a very difficult pass to complete. I was at the Spring game sitting directly behind the offense on that play. Literally 2 seconds before he threw it I yelled "you better hit him." In my opinion that is an easier throw, compared to the same spot between a safety and a linebacker is all, that Tate has thrown many times before.


April 22nd, 2010 at 9:52 AM ^

of the ingnorance of fans at times. I always hate hearing people say things like, "I could've hit that shot" or whatever. The fact is that if it was so easy, then everyone would do it. The reality is that you have no idea how hard it is to throw an accurate pass to an open reciever standing in the endzone with a bunch of guys bearing down on you. I don't know why you think that play was no big deal, but what I saw was Denard standing in the pocket like a real QB, check to his second option, and lead the reciever so that Tree didn't need to break stride in any way.

Why were you sitting in the endzone anyway? I was at the game as well, and I remember looking at the people in the endzone and wondering why anyone would choose that vantage point. It's not like the staduim was anywhere near full on the sidelines.


April 22nd, 2010 at 1:36 PM ^

I say this because I was a QB in High School. That was an easy pass. The skinny post down the middle and the seam pass are very easy throws. That is why they are used at every high school in America. Tough throws are the ones you put in between three defenders. Tough throws are 40 yards down field on the outside shoulder where only your man can get it. A 17 yard touch pass to a guy with nobody within 10 yards of him is like playing catch in your back yard. I love that Denard is making strides but until he is hitting the 15-20 yard crosses and outs over LB and underneath a safety, he still will not be a true threat with his arm. It was an awesome play, no question about that, but don't gage him on that one pass. Without it he was 8-10 for 63 yards.

And I sit in the endzone because I like to be able to see the coverages and read into what the defensive backs are doing. I hate that about watching a game on TV, you cant ever see whats happening down field.


April 24th, 2010 at 7:38 AM ^

offense, a true threat to break a TD on any play doesn't need to make difficult passes in between 4 defenders. The read option is all built off the shotgun read play, and most of the passing options are screens, slants, and posts. I bet you played in the spread option in highschool as well. It is possible that what you just said is true, but this is getting eeriliy similar to arguing with trolls. If I had to bet, you have never been a QB in highschool, and you were not sitting in the endzone for the spring game.

I was just looking through some of my pic's from the spring game and there were only two groups on either end of the staduim. Where exacly were you sitting again? Near the field, or near the top of the stadium?


April 25th, 2010 at 11:39 AM ^

I was a starting WR and back up QB my junior year in the spread offense and the starting QB my senior year in the Wing-T at Houghton Lake High School, under coach Aaron Seiser and then Coach Floyd Carter.

Also I'm sick of hearing about RR's version of the spread. He doesn't have one single version. At Tulane Shawn King threw for 3,000 yards and 30 TDs. Just cause he is the most well known for having Pat White at WV does not mean that is the only kind of offense he can run. He changes the offense to whoever is his best option at QB.

And I sat row 25 section 36 with some of my family and friends. Denard was right in front of me when he threw that pass.


April 21st, 2010 at 7:54 PM ^

Dude, you're slacking off. Real Michigan fans will watch that at least 10 times.

On a more serious note, I would claim that Tate's o-line didn't protect him nearly as well as the #1 line w/ Denard. There were at least 2 plays where Denard had all day to throw, while Tate was forced to do his run-around-the-pocket routine at least a few times. In fact I recall one play where the defense rushed only 3 guys and they still beat the o-line (while Tate was QB).

I think our starting o-line will do well, but hope that they stay healthy, our backups didn't impress.


April 21st, 2010 at 9:07 PM ^

It takes time for an OL to build cohesiveness as a unit. The second-string OL will never spend as much time together as the first because there's always going to be a player or two sliding up or down the depth chart, and consequently it's not going to be as good. Keep in mind that if injuries do strike, they happen to individuals, not to entire five-man units at a time.


April 22nd, 2010 at 12:29 AM ^

This is what I think you said:
1. A good O line requires cohesiveness
2. First team injuries result in less second team cohesiveness
3. Don't worry because injuries affect one person, not the entire line

2 affects the first team as much as the second. 3 results in a loss of cohesiveness which is detrimental based on 1. Which do you think is more important, individual talent or time spent together?


April 21st, 2010 at 10:19 PM ^

the 1st team defense as Tate did. Denard went against the 2nd or so defense, so the #s may be more inflated. Tate was injured so his #s may be lower. Nevertheless, going against the 1st team defense would be more challenging and simulate a "real" game even though no QB sacking. There were a couple of 3 and outs but for the most part the D seemed to perform at 50%. Also, after watching the scrimmage 5+ times, it looked like the 2nd and 3rd offense scored against the 1st team defense a few times. Yikes! So, in conclusion, the scrimmage does nothing to help in deciding who starts, it is only there for entertainment and excitement purposes, like when a hot # flashes you

Sextus Empiricus

April 22nd, 2010 at 12:27 AM ^

in determining whether Devin red shirts or not. I don't see RR putting the season on Conelius or Kennedy. Speaking of shot put form - Jack threw a shot put or two himself.

If Tate or Denard get smushed up for a couple weeks or more early on, Devin is in. His spring out stretches Conelius.

That said, I am comfortable with Kennedy down the stretch if that preserves Devin's red shirt. I'm also curious how Conelius is going to do this fall (is he coming this summer?)


April 22nd, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

You’re talking about a pretty unlikely scenario, as #3 QBs are seldom used, outside of garbage time.

The spring game rotation made pretty clear that Gardner is #3, so if the season were on the line, with Forcier and Robinson not available, he would play. If the season wasn’t on the line, then I suspect Kennedy would play.


April 24th, 2010 at 11:48 PM ^

What were Denards incompletions?

I remember 2 of them, both dropped balls in the flats, one of them was to Roundtree.

Did he have any others?