QB comparisons, Miller, Martinez, and Denard

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on November 16th, 2011 at 6:19 PM

"Not such a great passer, but dangerous running the ball"

To the casual fan, it's easy to think that these three QB's have a lot in common, but the fact of the matter is that they are very different in their styles.  They have different strengths and weaknesses that have as much to do with their football IQ and personality as their athletic ability

Taylor Martinez

Taylor is the only one of the three to enjoy a redshirt season and the only one who hasn't had a change of head coaches. Because of that, he has slightly less playing time than Denard, but more time in the same system.  

Running Style:

Taylor likes to run.  He's got great acceleration and gets up to full speed in a hurry.  He runs with urgency.  He's not afraid of contact and will get north and south to maximize yards.  He will try to run through small creases. 

Favorite move:

Shoulder shake. He likes to keep both hands on the ball as he's running and so his shoulders are naturally moving back and forth.  He doesn't have elite change of direction but is quite shifty and has quick feet.

Most Dangerous Running Play:

Veer Option.  He has a good sense of when to hold and when to pitch.  He will hold the ball and suck in the defender before pitching late.  He is good with the fake pitch to open up running lanes for himself. 

Honarable Mention: Midline option keeper. 


He keeps the ball too much on zone read plays.  Against Penn State, he misread several zone read options like he had already decided to keep the ball. 

Passing Style:

He has a bit of a sidearm motion.  He likes to zip the ball in on a frozen rope.  Doesn't show much touch.  Not a great scrambler, he doesn't have the strongest arm and can't get much velocity on the ball when his feet aren't set.  He's very inaccurate on deep balls, especially deep sideline routes.

Most Dangerous Passing Play:

Intermediate in's and crossing routes.  He's not very good at hitting receivers on the fly so he likes to have a nearly stationary target to throw at.  Because of his low trajectory, he needs clear passing lanes and a direct line of sight to the receiver.  

How to defend:

Attack Martinez with a free rusher.  Assume he's going to keep the ball on 60% or more of the option plays, and force early pitches by commiting to hitting the QB.  (Like Jake Ryan did on Sheelhaassseeee last week). 

On passing downs, try to get underneath zone coverage in the passing lanes.  Try to make him throw over a linebacker.  And the coverage should flow to the rollout side.


Braxton Miller

Braxton played in a shotgun passing spread offense in Highschool.  He's a true freshman pressed into duty because Terrelle Pryor is stupid and never met a handout he wouldn't take, and also because Joe Bauserman just sucks.

So, he's been learning a lot this season about things that worked in H.S. but don't work as well in college. He is also without any experienced receivers until Posey gets back this week, so we'll have to see how much that affects his game.   

Running Style:

He's like a gazelle.  He runs away from danger.  He has exceptional speed. He likes to improvise and runs on his instincts.  He will not force himself to go where the play is designed to go.  Very dangerous once he breaks contain.

He runs around like he thinks other people can't catch him, but this is only sometimes true at the college level. 

Favorite move:

The reverse cut and the jump cut.  He will go backwards to make people miss and has enough acceleration and speed to make it pay off enough times that his coaches let him keep doing it.  He has elite change of direction, great balance, and will duck under tacklers who go too high.  

Most Dangerous Running Play:

QB lead draw. He does not like to run through tight spaces and traffic.  On the draw play, if the DE's rush past him, his instinct is to head upfield.  He's very dangerous in space. If it's 3rd and long, there's a high probability that the lead draw has been called. 

Honarable Mention:  Scramble


Inexperience.  He does not read blocking very well.  He will cut back against the grain even when there are decent holes in front of him.  Even if a guy is blocked, his instinct is to run away from traffic.  

He doesn't read the zone option or the pitch option very well. 

Passing Style:

Not as bad as advertised.  He doesn't throw a tight spiral, so the ball will flutter on him.  This causes inaccuracy, especially on deep routes.  But he has better touch and a better throwing motion than Martinez.  His low completion percentage is due more to the lack of talent at WR, and his inexperience rather than his arm.  

Most Dangerous Passing Play:

Wheel route to the RB's.  Boom Herron and Jordan Hall are the biggest threats when Miller isn't running.  All eyes will be interested to see what kind of impact Devier Posey will make this week (and then we'll wonder about how much money he made for the game). 

Honarable mention: Throwback screen and short routes to Stonebrunner

How to defend:

Corral him on the pass rush and play coverage.  (May I suggest man-free).  This is not the game for speed rushes around the outside.  I'd blitz him up the middle and have the the DE's stay home (like what MSU did).  He will cut back into free pursuing defenders if you give him the chance.  The pass rush needs to be under control so that you make him move laterally without losing contain. 

Denard Robinson

Anyone reading this blog probably already knows everything they need to about Dilithium, but just to complete the comparison. here goes...

Running Style:

Patience with great vision.  Denard is a team player and he relies on his blockers to open up running lanes for him.  He has elite speed and elite change of direction.  He has been a little more tentative in traffic this year, but is a determined runner on the goal line and is able to avoid the really big hits.  

He is better at reading the zone read than the other two guys.  

He is not a great improvisor and will not cut back all the way across the field by giving up yards.  He usually makes a few cuts and then heads to the sideline or upfield. 

Favorite move:

Being fast.  Denard doesn't do a lot of shake and bake, instead he just changes direction quicker than the defenders are able to. 

Most Dangerous Running Play:

QB power lead.  With the defense spread out, if the two running backs are good blockers he's a threat to go all the way on any play where every defender is accounted for.  

Honarable Mention:  Inverted zone read.  


He does not have a good feel for when to pitch and when to keep of veer or triple option plays.  He tends to get injured often over the course of the season. 

Passing Style:

He has a very strong arm but struggles with footwork.  He is very accurate when his feet are set.  But he has trouble with his deep accurace when on the rollout.  When he scrambles, he's looking to pass.  This has evolved a lot and is almost a 180 from his freshman year.  He's very good on seams and jump balls.   

Most Dangerous Passing Play:

QB dive pull-up. (a.k.a. the "QB, OH NOES!")  Has excellent touch throwing while running forward in a fluid motion.  

Honarable mention: The throwback screen

How to defend:

Have him take snaps from under center (jk). Overload the box to maintain a numbers advantage. Blitz up the middle and play man coverage on the outsides and hope your DB's can defend a jump ball.  Jump hot routes otherwise you could give up easy TD's if he completes a pass.  (if you're wondering why I would write this and give our opponents a blueprint, it's nothing that isn't obvious from the game tapes, and I'm hoping that this self scouting will give our staff some head's up and time to put in adjustments)



November 16th, 2011 at 7:13 PM ^

Good post - an enjoyable read. 

"give our opponents a blueprint.. I'm hoping that this self scouting will give our staff some head's up"

Do you think coaches (ours or our opponents) read this site and get tips from it?


November 16th, 2011 at 8:56 PM ^

they're probably too busy.  But I think people around them do.  The information gets out there and becomes common knowledge.  It's like the same thing with newspapers.  Most coaches won't admit to ever reading a newspaper, but if a nugget of something useful or important comes out, they'll be made aware of it by assistants or other people around them.

Also I forgot to mention that MSU got good pressure on Miller using CB blitzes because that's something you don't see much of at the H.S. level, but we haven't done much of that this season.  Our blitzing usually comes from safeties.  Miller should be susceptible to zone blitzes.  


November 17th, 2011 at 12:02 PM ^

about our coaches hearing MgoBlog views via the grapevine (at least for front-page stuff).  Borges' bubble screen reaction indicates that might be true.

But opposing coaches?  I don't know that they'd have anyone patient enough to read through opposing team's blogs on a regular basis.  The pertinent informative bits are going to be so infrequent...I could see a maniaclly-obsessed rival like OSU/MSU, maybe even PSU in years past...but I doubt anyone on, say, Iowa's staff is reading MGoBlog regularly.  I could be wrong of course.  Maybe every team has student managers and such scouring the internet for potentially enlightening tidbits.


November 16th, 2011 at 7:21 PM ^

There is good information on this site but there is probably 75% of this website that the coaches wouldn't care about.  Things like OT or articles about other sports or opinion pieces.  Their time is better spent watching tape themselves and coming to the same conclusions.  They probably come to the same conclusions that the smart posters on this site do in the same amount of time or faster.  They have almost 75 years of coaching experience (im guessing on this number it's about right) just between Hoke, Mattison, and Borges alone.  They get paid the big bucks to see these things :)


November 18th, 2011 at 2:19 AM ^

While I basically agree with you, wouldn't we all also say GERG knew 1000x more about football than any of us? This isn't to say that any of us could have done better, but I think it shows success generally has more to do with knowing what your players can execute under your direction, than knowing the optimal context free answer.


November 18th, 2011 at 11:38 AM ^

To think that any football analysis on this blog has ANY relevance to coaches is laughable.  These guys have been doing this for 30 years, happen to be the most talented of the many that try to get into their profession, and work 100 hours a week to get ready for opponents.  I love these scouting reports because posters like BlueSeoul know way more about football than I do, but the coaches have managers that are charting every play these teams run.  They know the tendencies, and they know the strengths/weaknesses of opposing players, as well as their own players.  Analysis here is strictly for our own enjoyment and understanding.

Incredible Hoke

November 17th, 2011 at 10:35 AM ^

Great job man, well done. 

I was looking for something on Taylor Martinez this week. I knew he was not a very accomplished passer and his throwing motion was uglier than Bo Pelini himself. Thanks for all the research and time you took. 


November 17th, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

Especially before we play both of them.  Both opposing QBs are good but both teams have proven that they can get beat this year. 

Last week was a GREAT time to have our best defensive game of the year (yeah you D-line) so I think our momentum carries us to victory this week.


November 17th, 2011 at 11:55 AM ^

 I've been overly critical on Denard all year. After that 5 years without Bo thread i started feeling bad about it even tho my opinion is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. win or lose just play the best game you can #Go Blue


November 17th, 2011 at 10:07 PM ^

Excellent post BlueSeoul. I've enjoy reading your diaries. This is much more informative than the watered down version we'll hear over and over from ESPN this weekend.