Comparable QB situations and results

Submitted by papabear16 on April 17th, 2017 at 4:12 PM

I don't want to overreact to the Spring Game, of course, but with our first game still months away, I'm imagining what I might do if I were the coach of our football team, and specifically about the QB situation. Hell, it's the off-season.

Here is one interpretation of the current QB situation: We have an incumbent starter, Speight, who had a good but not great year last year, is a fine leader, works his ass off, but may be near his ceiling. And we have a younger kid, Peters, who probably has more natural talent and who is showing signs of rapid progress. It is possible that if we start Peters, then by the end of the season he will have surpassed Speight and could be on his way to being Andrew Luck 2.0. But there are no guarantees, and Peters could flame out. And if he flames out, we may have caused Speight to regress by shaking his confidence, leaving us worse off. 

If I were the coach, I'd look to other examples of this situation around college football, going back at least ten years, and see how those played out. What similar situations could I study? In other words, can anyone think of other situations where either the incumbent kept the job while a promising recruit was kept on the bench for a few years, or where a solid incumbent was benched in favor of a less-skilled but higher-upside kid? And how did those situations work out?



April 17th, 2017 at 4:15 PM ^

Trubisky (who may be the #1 pick in the draft) cooled his heels for two years behind an established starter at UNC who most people judged merely "good" but not great. And now UNC has this paper classes scandal. I, for one, care too much about UM's academic rep for us to start Speight again. 


April 17th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

A) It's pretty lame to respond to a joke with anything close to a real argument. Besides, he did say "almost always".

B) Plenty of people were calling for Gutierrez over Navarre heading into 2003. I am not saying it was right, but it was there. 


April 17th, 2017 at 4:43 PM ^

Speight, Rudock, Gardner, Robinson, Forcier, Threet

Henne's junior year - correct

Robinson's Junior and Senior year, it wasn't unaimous, but there were plenty of people who wanted Gardner.  I was not one of them.

Navarre's senior year, I was more than ready to see Gutierrez or anyone other than Navarre.

Mercury Hayes

April 17th, 2017 at 4:19 PM ^

Because that's how things work. No use getting worked up over it. Although great to have two options as good as Speight. Remember when we were trotting out backups that couldn't sling a pass at all?


April 17th, 2017 at 10:28 PM ^

where the best guy doesn't necessarily start. Speight isn't losing his starting job anytime soon IMO. You don't bench a QB who led them to a 10 win season and a NY6 Bowl berth. If Michigan was coming off a 5-7 win season, then yes, I can see the argument for competition. However, QB is where experience trumps talent more often than not. Speight has the support of his teammates and there's a locker room dynamic at play when it comes to QB.


April 17th, 2017 at 6:38 PM ^

Brady/Henson is a very good analogy IMO. most thought Brady was good, but hit his ceiling. Henson was the young phenom. Carr played both, and it led to an all out QB conteoversy.

clearly Speight is not as good as Brady, nor is Peters as highly touted as Henson. but the storyline seems familiar.

I stand by the things I've said before:

-Speight will start vs Florida. we need experience on the road vs a good team.

-Peters will get reps in early games. he needs experience and he can't redshirt again, so he will get time.

-what Peters does in game opportunities will dictate largely how the QB situation play out this year. if he comes out strong and Speight struggles, we might have a controversy brewing.

-no matter what, our floor is Speight, which isn't bad at all.

SC Wolverine

April 17th, 2017 at 4:25 PM ^

Unless Wilton flames out, there is little likelihood that Peters starts in his place.  All Wilton will be asked to do is be a sound game manager, avoid bad pics (yes, I know...), and be efficient in the red zone.  All we saw was one practice on Saturday, whereas the coaches saw all spring.  Wilton will spend the summer getting in synch with the younger receivers, his game plans will prime him to avoid throwing pics, and he will be our starting QB this year.  

As for '18, that's another matter.


April 17th, 2017 at 6:23 PM ^

Am I too out of line to say that at Michigan we need to demand better than a game manager for Quarterback? Look at the recent teams to win national championships not named Alabama? Deshaun Watson, an on-fire Cardale Jones, and Cam Newton. Unless you are Alabama, odds are not in your favor to win titles with a game manager.

Wee-Bey Brice

April 17th, 2017 at 7:14 PM ^

lol demand from who? If it was that easy, everybody would have a Deshaun Watson. Projecting QBs is not an exact science, coaches aren't going into the film room/high schools ignoring studs for game managers. There are very few schools each year with a game changing QB and there's a reason for that. Reality is that reason. 


April 17th, 2017 at 4:26 PM ^

You're probably less likely to win a national championship with Speight but more likely to lose 4 games with Peters.  There is a reason Saban has been so comfortable with game manager QB's.  If you have an elite defense you want the QB option that provides the most stable performance, not necessarily the one with the most upside.

So in reality I think it depends on how the defense matures.  If we are going to beat OSU or Psu 24-14 I'd rather have Speight.  If the defense looks like it might be at risk at give up 30+ points to those elite offense you might as well go boom or bust with Peters.

MI Expat NY

April 17th, 2017 at 6:06 PM ^

People always say that about Saban, but to my eyes, his "game manager QBs" have tended to be pretty good.  Sims and Coker weren't great, but both were better than Speight was last year.  And the last QB Saban chose was a true freshman.  Seems like he was going at least a little bit on upside there.  

I'm not sure in college football if you can win a national title with a true game manager QB anymore.  At some point, no matter how good your defense is, you're going to need your offense to score points to win.  Again using Alabama as an example, this is the highest point total they've overcome in each of the last 5 years: 43, 40 (lost a game 43-37), 44, 42 (lost a game 45-31), and 28 (lost a game 29-24).  I think we can all agree that Alabama has been the gold standard of consistent excellent defense over the last few years, yet look at what they had to do to win a national championship.  A simple game manager that won't win games 38-35 simply doesn't get it done anymore.  

The Oracle

April 17th, 2017 at 4:27 PM ^

I'm a huge fan of Harbaugh and his job change caused me to become a Michigan fan, but choosing players isn't an exact science. Harbaugh thought Kaepernick, the guy with the upside, would be better than incumbent Alex Smith, but was he? Kaepernick did take the 49ers to the Super Bowl, but only two fumbled punt returns prevented Alex Smith from doing the same thing in a great NFC Championship Game performance against the Saints. Smith, while not at the top of the NFL QB hierarchy, is still successful while Kaepernick is unemployed.

But I don't think examples matter. Each situation depends on the individuals involved. It's the biggest decision Harbaugh has to make. Better QB play could've made the difference in each loss last season. They absolutely need someone who's better than 2016 Speight, whether that's an improved Speight or the more talented Peters. The one thing Harbaugh doesn't want to do is go back and forth on who starts.


April 17th, 2017 at 4:41 PM ^

The fact that there is no science to it is one of the things that is so interesting to me. That's why I'm curious about comparable situations, but of course realize that they aren't scientific data points, either. For example, we know how Navarre did in 2003 and were pretty happy with it. But might we have done better with Gutierrez? There's no way to know. Comparable situations are informative but not determinative.


April 17th, 2017 at 8:02 PM ^

Kaepernick is unemployed because of the Black Lives Matter movement and him taking a stand in something he believes in.  Both Harbaugh and Kelly have publicly stated that he is a good QB.

Are you by any chance second guessing Harbaugh's superior evaluation of what a good QB is???


April 17th, 2017 at 4:30 PM ^

Other situations aren't that useful to judge these two players because Speight and Peters aren't those other people.

Peters starts if 1) he passes Speight during camp, 2) Speight performs inadequately during the season and cedes his spot or 3) Speight get injured. Peters doesn't start because Harbaugh looked at other dudes around the country and identifies a best practice that applies universally to unique human beings.


April 17th, 2017 at 4:33 PM ^

Whoever gives us the best chance each week to win should be the starter.  It's a given that every QB on our roster will develop under Harbaugh.  You can't compare the past 10 years to today's players.  I'd love for Speight to be a better version of himself.  I'd love for Peters to emerge as QB1.  Either way, we will have a decent starter who will give us a chance to win this year.



April 17th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

I really like the Spring Game format because you just can't simulate that kind of live fire in front of an audience with just practice sessions.  How players perform in the Spring Game is indeed illuminating and noteworthy. 

But let's not get carried away.  The Spring Game is a very synthetic environment. 

This will all be worked out over fall practice (just like Speight / O'Korn was worked out last year).

That's enough time for the coaches to see how Speight / Peters truly mesh with the 1's on offense, working with the full playbook.  They will get to see enough of a full body of work to make the best QB decision.

There is nothing to see here until then.