The best (in-game) player will play?

Submitted by karpodiem on August 23rd, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Let's rewind to a year ago. Sheridan started against Utah. Threw up a pop-fly, was yanked out. Threet is put in, made some good plays, nice TD toss (to Matthews?). We ended up coming short, but the rest of the season proved that Sheridan wasn't our guy.

I place my trust in RR however I hope the staff is taking into consideration that at some point, the burden of being a starting Michigan quarterback has to be put on a kid. I understand the merit of trying to ease them into the role, but I feel that a 3 QB rotation is not what is going to give us a very good shot at Iowa, MSU, and Illinois (not that the odds aren't stacked up against us in these games anyway). We need a leader.

And what happened the collective sigh of relief from 2008 Spring game Tate Forcier? Again, I defer to Brian's position; I know it in my bones. Sheridan is not our guy. I'd rather have ALL reps going to Tate/Denard, than Tate/Denard/Sheridan.



August 23rd, 2009 at 2:43 PM ^

IIRC, Threet's TD throw was to Hemingway.

But I think by the time the we start our Big Ten schedule, our starter will be decided or say Tate starting, and Denard coming in for for a fair amount of plays each game as a wrinkle.


August 23rd, 2009 at 2:54 PM ^

I don't think anyone wants Sheridan to play. Hopefully it's not more than a series. I guess Sheridan must have improved significantly to be able to play.


August 23rd, 2009 at 3:25 PM ^

I'm not sure RR has much of a choice. He HAS to see them all in live game action, otherwise he really only has practice to draw from, which doesn't tell him everything he needs to know.

I won't freak out to see Sheridan on the field to start. We do need a leader, but we need a leader on the field.

I am not nearly concerned with who takes the actual 'first snaps' start at WMU as I am with establishing a clear QB scheme over the first 2-3 games upon which the team can establish some sort of rythm.

I can see the wisdom of putting the most experienced QB on the field for the first set of reps in game one. Sheridan is less likely to experience jitters, mistakes, etc. than a freshman stepping onto the field in front of 110,000 fans for the first time ever. I can see letting Tate and Denard spend a series or two getting acclimated on the ssideline and preparing mentally to step onto the field and pick up after the offense has settled in.

Remember that the first series and game for these freshman is very, very key. As a coach, I would want to give them the absolute best chance at a succesful first series as I could, because it will mean so much mentally to them in terms of development and attitude.

If Tate (or Denard, who knows, but not likely) takes the field for snap one and goes three and out, that can be a bit of a mental hole to get out of when he next takes the field, especially if he doesn't get back on for a series or two. A turnover would be worse.

To me, the optimal scenario would be the following:

Drive 1. Sheridan starts and takes the offense down the field and employs a wide range of new playbook items/looks to get the offense warmed up. Say what you want, but Sheridan has the most comprehensive knowledge of formations/assignments and execution of the QBs, just based on time in the system, not to mention actual game experience. The offense would hopefully score a TD on that possession, but being realistic I would hope for a 40-50 yard drive with some good long-gain plays that involve good execution, before perhaps a few mistakes in a row result in field goal or decent punt out situation and at least decent field position for the D. Sheridan in the game will keep the likelyhood of a turnover as low as possible, which would be a worst case scenario for both the O and the D.

Drive 2. Sheridan again, same as above with play calling tweaked based on drive one. If we are up 14-0 at this point, the world is your oyster Mister Rodriguez. Dog willing ;)(If we are behind at this point, then Tate comes in as an improvement and if not then put on your foul weather gear, because the shizzle is going to fly and we are in for a long season, or two).

Drive 3. Tate steps in with hopefully some form of a lead to take his first snap. The offense has had some success and is clicking and Tate integrates himself nicelt and creates a positive, mistake free drive that goes 40-50 yards and a few first downs. Yay. If he scores, gravy.

I think from there, it would look like Tate taking the rest of the first half, assuming it isn't a catastrophe, or at least going with whatever QB looks optimal in the game. If we get up by a few TDs, i can see dropping Denard into a series or two as well.

Second half is all going to be results driven. If we are inm a fight with WM, then you stick with whatever QB has the best drives. If neither Sheridan or Tate is moving the sticks, I would definitely drop Denard in for a series or two to see if that gets something going, but talent aside, he only has a few weeks in the system and couldn't possibly have an in-depth knowledge of the playbook sufficient to present a lot of variety. If it works, keep using it until it WM adjusts. If not, back to the better of sheridan/Tate.

Again, I'm not going to freak out and read too much into which QB actually takes the first snaps in the game. I am going be looking for a game long strategy of testing the QBs in a live situation that will drive a clear, game results oriented approach for the next week.

Regardless of WM results, I could still see dropping Sheridan in for the first few reps there as well, for much the same reasoning. ND is a major step up as an opponent and dropping a freshman in aginst that could freak them out a bit also and rattle them.


August 23rd, 2009 at 3:41 PM ^

Based on everything we have seen from Sheridan I don't see the reasoning in thinking that he is less likely to turn the ball over than Tate...

Sure he is a season more experienced than Tate (albeit an awful experience), but Tate is far more talented based on everything we have seen and from the O-line's comments it sounds like he's hard to rattle.


August 23rd, 2009 at 4:05 PM ^

I could be wrong, but there is a decided difference in a player that has a whole season of game experience and one that does not.

There is a reason that starting a freshman QB is extremely rare and only done out of necessity. That reason being mistakes, learning the game at the D-1 level is a process that is hopefully not a trial by fire.

Remember that Henne only started his freshman year b/c Gutierrez was injured and there wasn't a better option. If G wasn't injured, Henne would have been brought along much more slowly over the course of that season.

I'm not saying Sheridan is a better QB, but he may be the best option for the first series or two.

If all the QBs are going to get meaningful reps, it only makes sense to put in Sheridan first.


August 23rd, 2009 at 3:42 PM ^

i'm not one to bash players, but sheridan should not see the field unless both forcier and robinson are injured. sheridan does not have the arm to be QB. that was proven last year. i would much rather see the frosh get all the reps. it can only help them down the road this year and next year.

El Jeffe

August 23rd, 2009 at 3:17 PM ^

I think this all highlights some differences in the philosophy of RR vs. others, Lloyd perhaps included. At least from many of his statements, RR seems to value competition for playing time at all times. I.e., no starters are "annointed," and no one's job is safe ever.

In terms of the freshmen, I don't think he wants them to "go through the gauntlet to gain experience" if he thinks he has someone on the bench who could play better.

So, if Tate is playing the best, I don't see him getting yanked just to give Shoelace and Sheridan "some reps." If he has some plays he thinks will work with the other two, well then he'll put them in for that. Conversely, if Tate is struggling, I don't see him leaving him in there just so he can work through it. Same with the others.

I'm not totally sure I like this philosophy, though there are some appealing aspects to it--nothing is granted; everything is earned--but I think that's what we may have to get used to.

El Jeffe

August 23rd, 2009 at 4:00 PM ^

And here is the down side of that philosophy--yanking guys too early, perhaps causing them to lose confidence. My answer, speaking as RR (clears throat impressively), would be that the culture of the team fosters intense competition, so much so that if you fuck up, you'll get yanked, but you're never far from getting back in.

Also, I don't think RR has or will have such a hair trigger that he'll yank anyone at any time for one bad play. That's the tightrope I guess.

Again, if this is his philosophy (and I'm only just basing this on comments he's made at press conferences, plus some post-hoc observations of the subtitution strategy last year (e.g., Sheridan played the best in practice, so he started against Utah. Then he fucked up so Threet got a chance, etc.)), then I'm not totally sure I agree with it; however, it conditionally is what it conditionally is, I guess.


August 23rd, 2009 at 3:42 PM ^

That his system is about getting his best athletes in space and letting them do their thing. While it is clear that Tate is a much crisper and more polished passer then the other guys on the depth chart, it is Denard Robinson who is by far the best athlete (maybe even on the team). It's easier for Denard to make big plays out of nothing with his 4.3 speed. I'm not saying that I think Denard should start because he is so raw at the QB position in terms of passing, but to have a guy that can take it to the house anytime he gets in space is dangerous and something you cannot teach. I hope Tate and Denard both get equal reps in the WMU game and whoever gives us the best chance to win should be the starter the rest of the season.


August 23rd, 2009 at 4:18 PM ^

...but if they want to give reps to all three, I'm good with that. RR et al. are not in the business of making our QBs happy; they're doing what they think will help the team win.


August 23rd, 2009 at 5:01 PM ^

Not that I don't value some preseason banter. But ultimately we all are privy to such a tiny percentage of the information available to the coaching staff. Whatever they do, whomever they start, I'm of the opinion that we just fondle our prayer beads and hope for the best. The only thing I'm certain of is that the QB role will outperform 2008 by leaps and bounds. How that happens matters not.

This is why OT threads win at this point in the year: I won't feel stupid come December when I look back at my August advocacy of Casey's over Mr. Spots.


August 23rd, 2009 at 9:18 PM ^

I'm keen on food threads, you want Disney. Which dwarf would you eat first, and with which sauce? I say Sleepy (like veal, sedentary and therefore fatty and succulent.) In either a simple coriander, cumin and garlic rub or slow cooked on apple wood then pulled and served with BBQ sauce and 'slaw.


August 23rd, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

Call me crazy, but...

I think this "3 person roation" in the first game is RR's way of saying "we are going to use both Tate and Denard, and if one of them sucks, we'll throw in Sheridan because he has looked a lot better over the last month".

In no way is he thinking Sheridan is going to give us the best chance to win, but because of his improvement, he deserves a chance if one of our two true frosh disappoint.


August 23rd, 2009 at 7:21 PM ^

because although Denard and Tate will spread the defense a bit wider with their ability to run, all we're going to need is hand the ball to Minor, Brown, et al for the first few series.


August 23rd, 2009 at 7:40 PM ^

It has been use befor but a 3 qb rotation? That is just stupid. How is any of them going to get into a rhythm when they are sharring the position with 2 other guys? Not only am I opposed to the 3 qb rotation, if Nick Sheridan is one of the three, I won't be happy. Anyone can do better then him. I would rather see him help the team on the sideline helping coach. That is his future anyways.

Blue boy johnson

August 23rd, 2009 at 7:44 PM ^

I think I am in denial, I'm thinking our Freshman QB's are not going to make poor decisions, say like Matthew Stafford did last night. The major step up in competion is not going to matter that much, they are going to be ok.
If I am truly in denial and our young QB's are going to struggle and throw off their back foot into coverage, I think we will see quite a bit of Denard this year. Simply put he is going to be our best running QB. As Bo said, when you pass the ball 3 things can happen and 2 of them are bad. This may be doubly true for true freshman and triply true for scramblers.
It is going to be exciting but it is also going to be exasperating at times. Not for the faint of heart, will this brand of football be.


August 23rd, 2009 at 9:31 PM ^

I was at the scrimmage Saturday and had a chance to see Tate,
Denard,Sheridan, and Cone taking snaps. The way it looked to me Denard is going to give Tate a real run for the starting spot and playing time this year. Denard Robinson is lightening
fast and has the ability to throw the ball.

PSALM 23 Rod N…

August 23rd, 2009 at 9:33 PM ^

I am excited to see what our Frosh QBs can do. To ordain Tate, underestimate Denard, or discount Sheridan would be insanely premature at this point. I fully expect to see Sheridan start. What he lacks in talent, he has in experience and knowledge. I must say I will be very disappointed to see him under center, since I look forward to seeing Tate and Denard. However I expect to see Sheridan start 9/5.

I think RR went with "Practice Experience" over "Big House Experience" last year. I think in retrospect, (Yes Hindsight is 20/20) it would have been better to have Minor at the helm, or taking reps rather than Sam McGuffy. This time last year, Sam was taking Practice snaps, since Minor was mildly injured. RR opted for the guy with practice reps rather than BIg House Experience. The same can be said for players playing Punt Returner, Kick Returner, and Wide Receivers to some extent.

I think that RR made a mistake doing so. I think, he would concede there is a correlation between playing 18 year olds in front of 110,000 people and turnovers. RR has commented much more about how players perform in Games versus Practices.
A huge point of emphasis in all of RR's press conferences has been to protect the ball better.

For all of these reasons, I expect to see Nick Sheridan named starter. Additionally, I expect to see Matthews and Minor on Returns, at least early in the season.


August 23rd, 2009 at 9:40 PM ^

Minor was more than mildly injured last year. His right wrist was so mangled that he could not hold the ball in it, and would require two surgeries in the offseason. As for wide receiver, which veteran wasn't seeing the field? Mathews played, Hemingway went down with mono in September and pretty much everyone else had never seen the field before.

PSALM 23 Rod N…

August 23rd, 2009 at 9:52 PM ^


I thought Minor injury was sustained primarily throughout the season? I know he was injured prior to season start, but I did not think his hand was the principal injury early. I was under the impression, from Information that I had, that RR opted for Practice reps rather than Big House Reps. I must concede I was not as informed and may have missed dialogue here.

Frankly, we played many 18 year old Freshman at Slot, Punt Return, Kick Return, etc and there were a number of turnovers. The point is not that more experienced players did not play, but that many Frosh did play immediately in key roles, and there were a lot of turnovers.