Denard Robinson Emerging as a Solid QB?

Submitted by wildbackdunesman on August 21st, 2009 at 5:34 AM

Denard Robinson keeps getting singled out for big plays on the "letters from camp" section of the official team website. I know that for every big play posted could be several mistakes omitted. However, this seems to be a really positive sign for competition and multiple decent QBs, even if he doesn't win the QB job by season's end.

This freshman QB should continue to grow.



August 21st, 2009 at 7:04 AM ^

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out. RR being the offensive coach he is I am sure that the wheels are turning. Also the competence of Robinson will allow Gardner to RS and solidify our QB situation for even longer.


August 21st, 2009 at 7:04 AM ^

He is a great runner, but we need to realistically look at him as a passer and be skeptical. He only completed 47% of his passes as a HS senior last year, which is terrible at any level...and Tate completed over 70% in HS which is exceptional.

Not a big deal? Hold on. IMO, Accuracy is THE most important attribute that a QB can have....and it is 85% innate, and about 15% taught.

In other words: Accurate QBs, usually are accurate as a trait rather than something that they can improve on significantly.

Can Denard improve his accuracy? Absolutely....but he needs to be at 60% or above to be an effective CF QB.

Dont get me wrong, I am excited about his potential...especially as a big play guy, but his accuracy...hitting the WR in stride and allowing for YAC MUST improve or it will be his achilles (sp) heel and people will be bitching about it.


August 21st, 2009 at 7:13 AM ^

Couldn't agree more. Thats what I have been thinking after reading all of the DRob articles. It seems like the guy will be great for a trick play or two every game, but not as the starting, go to QB for Michigan. Maybe with more practice and time he could get to that level, but he does already fit RRod's offense very well. Its a tough call on how much he will be used.

15 days....


August 21st, 2009 at 7:15 AM ^

I disagree about your 85% innate, 15% taught percentages. Coming out of a Wing-T offense, I doubt Robinson had a whole lot of quarterback coaching in high school. Wing-T offenses don't typically throw the ball a whole lot, and Wing-T coaches (in my experience) don't spend a whole lot of time working on mechanics or reads.

Accuracy can be improved quite a bit with some small mechanical and mental fixes. I'm not saying that's Denard's case because I haven't seen him enough/close up, but I've seen scattershot quarterbacks get much more accurate with a little bit of good coaching.

(I am not a quarterback coach, so I'm not patting myself on the back for those improvements.)

Maize and Blue…

August 21st, 2009 at 7:31 AM ^

Mechanics and footwork go a long way to making an accurate QB and if Tate was so innate how come he had a QB coach most of his life. This isn't meant as a slap at Tate who I think will do a great job this year but, more as a disclaimer to the 85% innate comment.
Denard will have a package for him because he is extremely dangerous with th ball in his hands. If he gets out on the edge CBs and LBs will have to make a decision if they want to stay with their man or go after DRob which will make for easier passes to open targets. Personally, I hope that a package is put in with both Tate and Denard in the game at the same time. Hopefully not until the ND game though!


August 21st, 2009 at 8:11 AM ^

there is only so much that mechanics will do to fix accuracy problems. I agree that a lot of it has got to be innate, but I don't know the %. There are tons of QB's in the NFL that entered the league with accuracy issues (Harrington was one of many) and never improved, despite the best coaching in the world. I would add however, that in addition to accuracy, decision making is the other key to good QB play. Give me an accurate QB that makes good decisions and I'll beat a QB with a great arm and legs most of the time, all things being equal.


August 21st, 2009 at 8:50 AM ^

Yeah, but Harrington isn't a good example. He had Division I coaching for four years (or however many he had at Oregon) to hone his quarterbacking skills. Any mechanical issues he had at that point were likely beyond being fixed.

A lot of high school teams don't have a quarterback coach. They have a guy who coaches the backfield or a guy who's the QBs and receivers coach. Rod Smith is the QB coach. Scott Loeffler was the QB coach.

A high school QB can improve significantly with solid college coaching.

By the time he gets to the NFL, there's not much more mechanical stuff that an NFL quarterback coach can do. By the time a QB reaches the NFL, the quarterback coach is there to work more on the mental stuff (plays, reads, audibles, etc.) than mechanics.

Brewers Yost

August 21st, 2009 at 10:41 AM ^

Steve Young is a great example of how much a person can improve their accuracy through hard work. The details are in his wiki page. In summary he only completed 41% of his passes as an option QB in high school. However, he put in a lot of work to become a passing QB, which he became very good at. I am not saying Denard will become Steve Young but he should be able to improve his accuracy to an acceptable level (60%) if he puts in the work.


August 21st, 2009 at 7:18 AM ^

I think hitting those swing passes in stride was the single best thing I saw from Tate in the spring game highlights. What a difference from those guys having to stop and jump to make catches last year. The fastest slot ninja in the world is in a ton of trouble standing there waiting for a pass to arrive.


August 21st, 2009 at 7:32 AM ^

He needs to be 60% or above to be an effective regular quarterback. If the coaches use him the way I think would be optimal, he'll throw a little but only just enough to keep the defenses honest about his running ability, and Tate will be doing most of the quarterbacking anyway. And hopefully the infrequent throws mean he has easier targets to hit while defenses focus on his running.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:26 AM ^

I'm not arguing that Denard pulling a freshman year Juice Williams would be adequate. It's more that there isn't some sort of mythical 60% mendoza line that separates good QBs from bad ones. Pointing out the completion percentages from high school quarterbacks and using that sole statistic to say "QB A is better than QB B" isn't good practice.

Pat White completed 50% of his passes his senior year of high school, and had a career completion percentage of 64.8% at WVU, most of which was in the same offense Denard will be running. To completely discredit Denard simply because "wow 47% sucks in high school" would be jumping the gun, don't you think?


August 21st, 2009 at 9:20 AM ^

Colt McCoy had a 76.7% completion rate last year and set an NCAA season record with that. Henne had 60% in his Freshman year and never really went above that level.

I am sorry he couldnt cut it a CFB QB for you. I am sure the Dolphins are distraught now that they are stuck with him. If only they had called your ass before the draft!!!

On a more serious note, completion rate is a function of ATLEAST two people (QB and receiver). More practically, the scheme, blocking ability of the RB's, the Line etc play a huge factor also.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:37 AM ^

I'm totally on board with this.

Threet was barely over 50% accurate, and Sheridan far worse. In this style of offense, that's obscenely bad. You have 4 or 5 wideouts to throw to (usually) on every pass play. Someone should be open every play. And when you add in the high percentage of screens/short passes, anything less than 60% really is on the verge of dismal. from the looks of it, I think Tate brings the consistent accuracy on the easy throws, and denard brings the raw athleticism and ability to create off busted plays. time will tell which skillset wins out. Denard seems like a total wildcard at this point, which is exciting but nerveracking as well.


August 21st, 2009 at 12:27 PM ^

Thankfully, RR won't be basing playing time decisions on the completion percentage of the two players in high school - he'll be basing it on their performance in practice.

We've seen a small bit of Tate playing QB, and precious little of Denard playing, aside from a 90-second clip. I don't doubt that Tate has better accuracy, but completion percentages can be mitigated by the types of throws being made (long vs. short, screens vs other, etc.). Further, I'd guess that there are MAYBE 3 people on this board remotely qualified to determine how much ceiling Denard has with improved coaching.

Hemlock Philosopher

August 21st, 2009 at 8:27 AM ^

Anyone foresee Denard playing a different position? Since he's got the speed to burn but has questionable accuracy, could we use him as a receiver/ return man/ trick play extraordinaire vis-a-vis Randle-El on the Steelers?


August 21st, 2009 at 8:36 AM ^

seems to come up every day. The answer is: NO. Denard Robinson is a QB. Maybe in 2010 or beyond he plays somewhere else. But I don't understand why people want to move him around to other positions this year, when he is the meat in the Tate / Death sandwich.

Any reps he takes at a position other than QB hinders his development as the #2 QB. I have no idea why you'd want to make Sheridan a greater threat to see the field, by stunting Denard's QB development, after 2008.

Raback Omaba

August 21st, 2009 at 8:39 AM ^

+1 for the "meat in the Tate/Death Sandwich"

My friends at Zingermans informed me that this will be a new sandwich, the Tate/Denard/Death Sandwich, come football'll be awesome and Zingermans expensive, but worth every penny.

Hemlock Philosopher

August 21st, 2009 at 8:47 AM ^

...writing that I would want this. BUT if Denard cannot pass effectively beyond this season, then it's a possibility. I'm with you with respect to this season (a 47% passing Robinson >> Sheridan). However, with Gardner waiting in the wings, it's a possibility for the future.

What I want is for Denard to complete 80% of his passes and run for 1,500 yards.


August 21st, 2009 at 8:50 AM ^

Indeed and well put. I'm serious, people seem to forget that you need your backup QB to be pretty much as dangerous as your starter if you want to be a truly elite team. I think Tate will be the starter. I do. But I'll be damned if I want my faster than fast backup QB wasting time practicing at WR or DB when he could be working on his throws.


August 21st, 2009 at 8:53 AM ^

Robinson will still be a QB in 2010. There's no doubt in my mind. The coaching staff can't afford to have Forcier and two true freshmen (Gardner and Jones) be the only options at quarterback next year. If Robinson moves to another position, it will be in 2011 or later.


August 21st, 2009 at 9:15 AM ^

As impressed as I am by Nick Sheridan's innate accuracy, he's a redshirt junior this year and probably won't get a scholarship in his fifth year. He wants to coach so maybe he'll come back as a GA a la the horribly-done-wrong Andre Criswell.


August 21st, 2009 at 8:41 AM ^

Everything that I've heard is that they're only practicing Denard at QB (for this year at least). You won't see Denard playing any defense this year and I highly highly doubt you'll see him play anything other than QB on offense and maybe a slot receiver (but more for the trick play and not because he's a slot).

I do think that should Tate lock up the starting job (which I think he will) with Gardner coming in, Denard will eventually get moved to another position. I'd guess slot or CB but I guess it could be a few other spots too.

Hemlock Philosopher

August 21st, 2009 at 9:28 AM ^

Really, man, let's go ahead and call someone racist because he repeat stats and observations:

tomhagan: "He only completed 47% of his passes as a HS senior last year, which is terrible at any level."

BleedMaizeNBlue. "It seems like the guy will be great for a trick play or two every game, but not as the starting, go to QB for Michigan."

Give me a break. I said I want him to complete 80% of his passes and run for 1,500 yards. I said he's better than Sheridan, even at 47% passing. Some how I am a racist because of this? Get off your soapbox, jerk.


August 21st, 2009 at 9:47 AM ^

are also stereo-typing. Not that you are anywhere near this level (I just cant think of any better analogies) , if Hitler were to say "Whoa, that Mussolini is just as bad", it wouldnt make him any more right.

Also, Stereo-typing !=(not equal to) Racism. One is just ignorance , the other is active hatred.Both are bad, the point is I accused you of one and not the other.

Hemlock Philosopher

August 21st, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

Fact is, I grew up in and work in a mixed racial environment. I am going on 8-years of an interracial marriage and have two bi-racial kids. Your accusation is bull crap and your applying your perspective on what I wrote without knowing me.

Stats are stats and observations are observations. I have no idea what skin color Tom and Maize are - nor do I really care. This has nothing to do with Denard's skin color or hair style. It has to do with past performance and it is a wholly hypothetical question. (Before you ask why I didn't ask it about Tate, recall that we are talking about Denard).

I wish Denard the best of luck in his college career. For the last time: 80% 1,500 yards rushing.

STW P. Brabbs

August 21st, 2009 at 9:57 AM ^

I gotta side with Hemlock on this one - while I personally think Denard will almost definitely improved upon his HS accuracy, I think it's pretty clear Hemlock is criticizing him based on his high school stats, and not his dreads. There are plenty of examples of racist stereotyping out there, but this ain't one of 'em.

I will say, however, that the point that Henne's sub-60% accuracy should be taken with a grain of salt because of the number of downfield passes he threw should also consider that Robinson's offense might have been more geared to either running plays or chucking it to keep the defense honest. It's hard to say how accurate he'll be with swing passes and screens until we see him actually try them.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:08 AM ^

Let us just agree to disagree then.

I just don't think it is fair to judge him and start talking about changing positions (after spending the last year recruiting him for QB) even before he has the chance to prove himself.

No hard feelings Hemlock.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:04 AM ^

47% accuracy is evidence enough of problems with accuracy. Sure, he might have a poor offensive line and poor receivers, but he played at a school that has produced/is producing Adrian Witty and Cassius McDowell, too. Tate's high school (Scripps Ranch) has produced/is producing Brennan Clay and a decent LB recruit whose name I can't think of, so it's not like either school is devoid of talent.

Anyway, just because the guy said Robinson is inaccurate doesn't mean he's stereotyping. There's statistical evidence to suggest such a conclusion, and reports from practice have said that he's had accuracy issues.


August 21st, 2009 at 9:16 AM ^

I don't even see the guy passing all that much this year. He will get his snaps and run or come in on various trick plays. I do agree that accuracy can be somewhat improved but I still just don't see him throwing the ball all that much this year.

Exodus Prime

August 21st, 2009 at 11:07 AM ^

Nice post In_Rod, but i dont think that Hemlock is the only one stereo typing. I dont know about Denard starting or how many starts he will get, but i do know that he'll see plenty of snaps at QB this year(and not just in a trick play capacity). His speed is an asset to his qb skills.

Exodus Prime

August 21st, 2009 at 11:30 AM ^

Maybe i jumped the gun too. The good news is that we are all passionate Michigan fans. I enjoy these conversations. After reading the last couple of posts, i realized that i might have put my foot in my mouth, so apologies to anyone i might have offended (Hemlock). Whether its Forcier, Robinson, or Gardener(in 2010), Michigan will be an elite team again.


August 21st, 2009 at 11:30 AM ^

FWIW, I don't know how thorough letters from camp is in regard to recording big plays. It also certainly doesn't record mistakes, but Denard Robinson has been cited more for big plays than Forcier and Sheridan combined in it.

Denard Robinson 11
Nic Sheridan 7
Tate Forcier 3