Theory on why RR secretly wants to start TWO viable QBs...

Submitted by caguab on August 26th, 2009 at 3:42 AM
So I was thinking, and having two spread QBs that play this season is an advantage.  We all know the most important position in the spread is the QB.  Remember what happened when West Virginia lost Pat White due to injury in the Pitt game?  Well, they lost.  The offense wasn't the same without him.  Same goes for Oregon when they lost Denis Dixon.  Thus, what makes the Spread so powerful (a dynamic QB) 
 concomitantly makes it an achilles heal because the vitality of the team is dependent on the QB.  How do you remedy the situation?  Well, you have to go against the popular dogma that if u have two QBs, you don't have one.  A spread coach MUST then prepare and play two QBs...thus it isn't a season ender or loss if one of the QBs goes out.  This is where I think RR is ahead of the pack.  Having both Tate and Denard playing at the same time is a bonus not a liability.  He wants both to play throughout the season and for the coming years.  Losing to PITT cost him a chance to go to the big game.  Just imagine what would happen to Florida if Tebow broke his leg.  I guarantee you they would no longer be the favorite to win the SEC or title.  Imagine a Michigan team with two QBs perfectly capable of running the offense, with experience, and different strengths.  The added bonus is that defensive coordinators have to prepare for two distinct QBs running the offense.  I think as M fans we need to realize that the days of the statue QB who is protected at all costs has been replaced with dynamic QBs that are asked to run and who can be replaced if need be.  The higher risk to the QB in a spread needs to be offset somehow.  That is the lesson learned by RR.  The only way to offset that risk is to have more than one QB ready to take the reigns that way if one goes down, the team doesn't miss a beat.  What do you guys think?



August 26th, 2009 at 3:50 AM ^

maybe there is no damned conspiracy... because

1) he has stated since he has been here that "he wants competition at every position"

2) he wants to have at least 2-3 guys that he can with with....

so imo its as simple as that and the reasons behind it are complex, including the one that you stated above


August 26th, 2009 at 4:16 AM ^

Wait- so you're telling me Rich Rodriguez would rather have 2 great quarterbacks than 1 great quarterback. So if one great quarterback gets injured you can just put in another great quarterback. Well dammit, that's just brilliant. I can't believe nobody's thought of this yet. This is going to change EVERYTHING.


August 26th, 2009 at 5:42 AM ^

I agree with your comment. If Coach Rod didn't learn the lesson post Pitt while at WVU, he definitely learned it last year here; without a competent QB, this offense runs the risk of totally shutting down. Hopefully that never happens again here.

The King of Belch

August 26th, 2009 at 6:58 AM ^

Great post, IMO. I totally way rad think that Rodriguez was sickened by what happened to his team in that 13-9 loss to Pitt and said to himself, "I'll NEVER get it done here. Too little depth, too dependent on three stars and having to develop marginal talent. I want a better, bigger job. And Rita needs more hair spray!"

He prolly thought, "Shit. Ala-freaking BAMA?! What the FUCK was I thinking?" Then Michigan opens up, the dufus in New Jersey says, "Uh, I really tink I can win multiple national championships right here at Rutgers"--and Rich Rod's agent does the rest (and Mary Sue dragging Bill Martin by the ear to Toledo helped as well).

More depth, a TRUE two-three deep depth chart that is acheivable here, and who knows? Maize jerseys, chocolate milk, and, counting decommits, possibly as many as SIX quarterback commits within 18 months that tell him he made the right move.


August 26th, 2009 at 7:21 AM ^

Great statement concerning dogma; I agree wholeheartedly with this post. I have commented a few times here that I would love to see a two-QB system, and that I think the game is evolving toward exactly that.

If there is one thing RR has demonstrated in the past, it's that he is not afraid to challange dogma. For example, even now, he is challanging old Big Ten dogma that you need thick, heavy linemen for "leverage" when the weather gets cold in November. Also, creating the spread option was another challange to lore and prevailing "wisdom."

I truly hope that RR, in addition to being known as the "Godfather of the Spread Option," will someday be known as the "Godfather of the multi-QB system."

The biggest benefit, besides having at least a truly viable option B, is that you can keep more four and five-star recruits happy if you get more of them on the field on a regular basis. This could help prevent not only transfers, but a situation where a highly-recruited QB disappears on the depth chart and is never heard of again.

Also, the combination of Forcier and Robinson, who appear to have complimentary strengths and weaknesses, could really accelerate UM's return to glory if it works out right. Besides, there is at least one QB coming in who will probably need to be kept happy next year.

I hope I live long enough to see the day when QB's are shuttled in and out like RB's or WR's.

The King of Belch

August 26th, 2009 at 7:50 AM ^

I think I agree with you and like the challenge to the old saying about having two quarterbacks, not one, etc.

I'm not in favor of shuttling them in and out, but there should be no reason to work two guys into a rotation consistently. Kind of like the "specialist" pitcher in baseball.

And you just never know when you are going to get Dixoned or Henned during a game. Even if you are beating the snot out of an aopponent, an injury to your QB can turn the tide completely. Or worse yet, getting Hensoned really sucks as well. Beter to have more than one guy ready to go at all times.


August 26th, 2009 at 7:42 AM ^

Rich is simply staying ahead of the pack. 2 guys who can give you a chance to win so if one goes down injured you're covered. Having 2 QBs gives the defenses a slightly different look too. Different tendancies and playing styles will keep the D on their toes


August 26th, 2009 at 8:09 AM ^

Both Tate and Denard are going to see significant playing time from the get-go because both are pure freshmen with no game experience at the college level. As others have pointed out RR doesn't want to be left without a talented QB if one goes down, but it doesn't do him much good if the second talented QB he can put in doesn't have any playing time under his belt. He has to get both Tate and Denard as many snaps as quickly as he can. If RR had an experienced, reasonably talented senior available as a backup, he could more easily afford to give the large majority of the snaps to a talented true freshmen.

That was exactly the case in 1975 when Rick Leach was a freshman. The presumed starter at the QB position going into 1975 was Mark Elzinga, a guy who was considered pretty talented in his own right and who had a good amount of PT in 1974 as a junior. However, Leach's ability simply surpassed Elzinga's even as a freshmen, and Bo recognized that right away. Elzinga swallowed his disappointment and accepted his new role as a mentor to Leach during his initial season. He did play some, but it was primarily in mop-up duty and spot situations. To this day Leach lauds Elzinga for the help he provided to him.

RR does not have this luxury, unfortunately, which is why both TF and DR will see significant action.


August 26th, 2009 at 8:29 AM ^

I'm amazed that it took a college coach until 2009 to actually figure out that having two great quarterbacks is better than having one great quarterback BRADYHENSON. What's that in my throat HOBERTBRUNELL. I think I'm feeling a little queasy LEAKTEBOW.


August 26th, 2009 at 8:39 AM ^

This whole shift from the power game to the speed game has been way more traumatic than we expected (understatement).

There are no rules anymore. Multiple quarterbacks is only going to be the tip of the iceberg, but I am confident the offense will be completely upgraded by a year of experience and an influx of talent.

What scares me this year is the defense. Being thin in the secondary going into the season does not bode well. What we really need this year is for Coach Robinson to figure out how to stop our opponents.

Are we ready for 42-38 games?


August 26th, 2009 at 8:47 AM ^

The higher risk to the QB in a spread needs to be offset somehow.

I thought we have gone through this multiple times that there really isn't a higher risk to a QB running the spread.


August 26th, 2009 at 8:52 AM ^

If Florida loses Tebow they are still the SEC favorites. They are loaded up everywhere. Was this diary wrote by Dennis Dodd or Pete Fituiak??


August 26th, 2009 at 10:36 AM ^

Got to disagree with your police work there Ziff. Tebow goes down, Gators aren't championship caliber...they're very good but not great. Let's say Tebow goes down in the 3rd game against Kentucky in Lexington (that team after all is known for its ferocious play ;)) do you seriously think the Gators can then go into LSU the next game and win? The Gators do get a bye between those games but you get my drift.


August 26th, 2009 at 11:21 PM ^

I'd love to know the running back situation at florida Tebow's freshmen year. One of the things I've found odd about Meyer's tenure at Florida is the Gators inability to find a decent rb. Tebow (a QB) and Harvin (a wr) accounted for a pretty big percentage of Florida's rushing yds last year.

With regards to this year and Tebow/Brantley. I think the situation is vastly different then what UM is looking at. Brantley was a very highly regarded recruit coming out of high school and from I've read has performed very well in practices and the spring games.

Florida is going to be a huge favorite in about 95% of their games this year and have the luxury of letting their backup QB getting some quality time, if not a ton of time once Florida gets a big lead.

Lastly, there's no doubt that Tebow is the leader at Florida and should they be in a tight situation everyone on the Gator sideline knows Tebow will be the QB getting snaps. That definitely can't be said about any of the QB's at UM.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:26 AM ^

about Pat White and the infamous Pitt game. But I'm not sure how that has anything to do with the spread-option. Ever since the forward pass became part of the game, losing the starting QB has been a major catastrophe.

However, it may be true that the spread-option is more conducive to a dual QB system. I'm not convinced Rich is secretly trying to install that -- I take him at his word when he says he is waiting for one player to separate from the others -- but I also think he is flexible enough that if that doesn't happen and a dual QB system evolves in the process, then he will go with it provided his players are happy and it helps to win games.

Sheridan is his backup. There's no guarantee the freshmen are mature enough to be ready to play. I'd be very surprised to see both of them fail, but Rich has to prepare for that possibility. Thus, Sheridan gets plenty of reps this month and continues to do so until it's clear that Forcier and/or Robinson is going to make it. But the competition is between the two of them -- nobody who saw Nick's limitations last year can really think otherwise.


August 26th, 2009 at 8:58 AM ^

I didn't see anyone mention another reason for having 2 good QB's. Some days a QB just doesn't have it. There were some games when Henne couldn't hit the broad side of a barn (kinda like all of last year). Wouldn't it be great to be able to yank them on those days and stick someone with just as much skill in there?

Will Trade Sou…

August 26th, 2009 at 12:36 PM ^

I have to respectfully disagree here. I think you need your QB to have confidence in himself and not be looking over his shoulder. I think he has to be able to execute the game plan and take his time even when the game starts off a bit rocky. I think the offense needs to know that he's your QB and be thinking that they're going to win games together, not hoping that the Other Guy gets up off the bench. If the QBs know that they're going to get yanked for a slow start, I think it will hurt you more in the long run.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:19 AM ^

reason, and a really important one, is that, as we fear, there isn't one guy who has proven to be superior. If there was, you would still see a second qb come in during blow outs. But you wouldn't see two qbs in a close contest. It seems a little crazy to me to play someone who isn't as good just to get them practice. What if he never gets hurt but you lose games because qb #2 tosses a pick six.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:38 AM ^

RR has said in the last year that he wants to have 2-3 QBs ready to go. He's also coached QBs across the runner-passer spectrum during his career. So I'm not sure this is a secret.

But your analysis isn't wrong. Having 2 QBs with distinct styles getting playing time can be a great thing. Tebow is actually a good example (I know everyone hates him, but stay with me). As a freshman he was behind Chris Leak, but was used effectively in certain situations and helped them beat the Buckeyes for the National Championship.

That said, I think you still need to have one guy designated as your leader (i.e. starter). And the other guy is a change-of-pace guy. In today's era of college football, they guy who can throw the best usually is your starter, while the guy who's got wheels is your change-of-pace guy.

So, Tate starts, Denard gets lots of time, Sheridan goes back to signaling in plays.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:40 AM ^

movie before, except it was titled "Ohio State" and stared Stanley Jackson and Joey Germaine.

It was a pretty good flick, with a surprise ending ( out for "the Snake").


August 26th, 2009 at 10:08 AM ^

TF/DR should both be on the field a ton this year. Even occasionally on the same play! They'll be fresher, compete more, and we're less crippled with an injury.

Only caveat is that if one is demonstrably better in game situations, that player becomes the starter and gets the majority of snaps. Should this happen, I would hope that the number two would see the writing on the wall and either shift positions or adapt to being the backup.

Elno Lewis

August 26th, 2009 at 10:29 AM ^

Just imagine what would happen to Florida if Tebow broke his leg. I guarantee you they would no longer be the favorite to win the SEC or title.

How insightful.

potato salad

caw caw


August 26th, 2009 at 10:34 AM ^

There's no reason why both of them can't be on the field at the same time, with Robinson as a slot receiver or direct snap guy. That would really be innovative, but you get the best of both worlds (Tate's arm, Denard's legs).

Of course, Tate must be willing to block and Denard has to make some throws to keep defenses honest.


August 26th, 2009 at 10:14 PM ^

or maybe not.

We can argue the merits of playing two to make sure your secondary option has at least a smidgen of game experience in case the primary goes down.

Putting one in a position that risks injury in roles that can be played by other is insane.



Tully Mars

August 26th, 2009 at 11:21 PM ^

Can't we imagine something similar happening with Tate and Denard? Denard is obviously more of a burner than a bulldozer like Tebow, but it seems like having packages for both of them and using them when each package is appropriate would work. Presuming that Tate's package is heavier on the throwing, he would still have a good opportunity to meld with the first team receivers.


August 27th, 2009 at 11:19 AM ^

Exactly, Tate would be our Leak and Denard our Tebow. I could see Tate getting 80% of meaningfull plays with the first team with the whole playbook implanted. Then the other 20% is Denard in a more run orriented package of plays with the occasional pass. I could see it working well.


August 26th, 2009 at 11:14 AM ^

The importance of the QB isn't limited to the spread offense. Regardless of the style of play, most teams aren't as good if they have to play their #2 guy. It's extremely rare to have two QBs who are equally capable of running the offense. It's not as if Urban Meyer hasn't thought of the idea of having a second QB who could be as effective as Tim Tebow. That kind of talent is tough to come by. Most teams would consider themselves lucky just to have ONE guy like that.

Right now, Rodriguez is preparing three QBs because he has to. Neither Forcier nor Robinson has played a live down of college football, and for all his limitations Sheridan is the closest thing he has to a veteran presence. At some point, it will become clear that one of the three is clearly better than the other two, and that guy will start getting most of the snaps. It is always that way.


August 26th, 2009 at 12:34 PM ^

that we don't have Forcier, Gardner, and Robinson on the same team at the same time.

These are three guys who are too good to have one of them as backup. Someone will rise to the top and get most of the snaps, and someone will inevitably decide to push their draft stock up somewhere else or commit elsewhere for a chance to start three years.

Strictly business.

Will Trade Sou…

August 26th, 2009 at 12:52 PM ^

I think you're on target here about potentially losing some of these guys, especially if Robinson ends up as our starter (or Gardner seizes the reins next year).

I am not sure that the chances are quite that high, though. If Tate wins the starting position (I am assuming he is still the favorite despite the recent Robinson buzz), I could easily see Robinson playing defense. Then Gardner could redshirt or just end up as the #2 QB awaiting his turn to start.

Will Trade Sou…

August 26th, 2009 at 12:45 PM ^

The whole goal of the Rodriguez hire/change of direction was to win some national championships. I don't think you can do that without staying healthy. While planning for contingencies is helpful and prudent, you need to make sure your back-up plan doesn't hamper your ceiling.

With the limited number of practices and games in college athletics, the reps at QB are too precious to split evenly two ways. This is especially true for young players. A QB's rapport with his first team receivers, the center, etc., build over time. His ability to make good decisions and good plays hopefully improves over time. I want one of these young kids to seize the reins and end up the concensus starter. If that means the other eventually changes positions or even transfers, so be it. I like our changes of competing for a national championship in the next few years a lot better if we end up with one established, experienced quarterback.


August 26th, 2009 at 1:01 PM ^

Imagine two dual-threat guys in the backfield at the same time. The Mad Magicians of Michigan with their quadruple-threat QB spread option. Ya gotta love it unless you're the opposing DC.


August 26th, 2009 at 2:39 PM ^

How many college spread QB's, below 6'0, start in the NFL as of today? Versus the percentage of college based drop back passers who start? How about a ratio of how many qb's per roster is spread based vs drop back?