Denard v Offensive Line ?

Submitted by sandiego on September 23rd, 2010 at 12:09 PM

We all realize what a physical speciman and talent Denard is and how much he has improved from '09 - '10.  I wonder how much better Tate would be in '10 vs 09' with our clearly improved O-line play.  If I recall last year, it seemed like 1/2 the time, Tate was scrambling for his life and using his 'moxie' (or was it 'mojo') to make plays instead of operating the offense.

My question for you stat geeks and smart people, is there anyway to compare except to actually see Tate on the field this year?  My thinking is that even if Tate has minor improvement from '09, he'd seem much improved due to O-line play.

Is this an example of posts getting dumber and dumber as the week progresses or a valid question?  Inquiring minds want to know.



September 23rd, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

Was it his moxie? or his mojo? it seemed he wasn't a high character guy in winter conditioning although his determination was evident in rehabbing his torn labrum. This summer Tate was an exceptionally hard worker in getting his wings back. I'm sure if he gets in this fall he'll demonstrate some heady and scrappy play with gritty overachievement.


September 23rd, 2010 at 12:16 PM ^

I vote for impossible to answer even if Tate sees the field this year.  There's no way to separate out how much improvement our QBs have undergone due to improved OL play. 


September 23rd, 2010 at 12:18 PM ^

to scramble, so I'm inclined to think that regardless of the O-line play, he would be about the same. Denard has more poise in the pocket and that has been part of the difference between the two (aside from the fact that Denard is made of dilithium)


September 23rd, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

Denard looked like a chicken with his head cut off last year, so of course it makes sense to assume Tate would not improve now that he has experience, he's healthy and has improved OL and WR's from last year.   Denards 1st instinct is to be Peyton Manning and Tate's is to it.   You got Tate's "instincts" figured out we're all set.  Use some common sense please that take is moronic.


September 23rd, 2010 at 3:20 PM ^

Easy, easy there big fella.    For all practical purposes last year is irrelevant with respect to anyone but the players we have not seen this year.   And we have seen Denard this year.   And this year, he stands fearlessly in the pocket - that can't be denied.    For the most part (because we have not seen him) we have to look at last year for Tate - and Tate's first instinct last year was to scramble - that also can't be denied. 

That said, who really knows how Tate would do today?   Again, we haven't seen him.   Maybe he would be different and change from his instincts of last year?    Thats possible.    But from what I recall of the Spring Game, he seemed to change very little.   And we must remember, that although we haven't seen him, the coaches are seeing him every day.   And they have likely made certain decisions based upon those observations.   



September 23rd, 2010 at 5:48 PM ^

First, last year Denard was brought in to run the ball, so yes he was a chicken with his head cut off at times.

Second, Tate has had how many years of tutelage under Marinovich and other coaches? You would think in that time he would have learned to step up in the pocket and deliver strikes. That rarely showed last year.

It's my opinion and the opinion of others here that Tate is closer to his potential than Denard. With that reasoning, Tate's improvement would be minor in comparison to Denard who has not had the prior coaching like Tate.


September 23rd, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

It's a valid and interesting question. Love to see one of the heavy hitters on here take a shot at quantifying it some how.

Molk going down against Penn State was crippling by moving guys out of position.  Then Patrick emerged as a force at guard. 

Had Tate had both of those playing at a high level along with the stability of this year's group, he would be a better version of the early season Tate from last year.  My guess.


September 23rd, 2010 at 12:23 PM ^

It will be interesting to see Tate this year simply because we'd get the chance to find out how he functions running the offense as it's meant to be run. He did a heck of a lot of improvising last year, but I don't think he'd have to do that as much behind the line we have this year. I don't think he's quite as good a fit as Denard for Rodriguez's spread, but I think he'd do just fine. 


September 23rd, 2010 at 1:16 PM ^

Are you sure that we'll see Tate this year?  What's the Over / Under on the number of snaps he gets?  Barring (and heaven forbid) an injury to DR, I'd set the O/U at about 10 snaps.  After the much discussed burned red-shirt, Tate is the third string QB.  If he didn't get into the U-Mass game, it's quite possible that we won't see him at all.

Personally, I'm hoping see a three QB set with Tate in the shotgun and DR and DG in the slot positions.  That will confuse some people.



September 23rd, 2010 at 1:39 PM ^

I guess there's a chance we don't see him at all, but I don't know. Injuries happen, and even if Denard is only out for a couple series, I think whether Devin or Tate go in will depend on the situation and the opponent. In a high pressure situation against a team like Iowa or Wisconsin, I'd probably be a little more comfortable with Tate out there, but I'm not a coach, so who knows.

MI Expat NY

September 23rd, 2010 at 12:25 PM ^

Also to be considered... Denard's speed makes defenses hesitate while rushing.  You go all out and miss him, you might be looking at a touchdown.  I'm sure this contributes to the improved pass protection.


September 23rd, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

There is simply no way that Tate would be doing as well as Denard.  Not a knock against Tate - given the offense that we run, I don't think that Chad Henne would be doing as well as Denard.  He is leading the entire nation in QB offensive yards.  Denard has an amazing mix of speed and QB ability (not that unlike the college version of Michael Vick).  His arm is adequate (certainly still needs to develop some of his mechanics and work on his touch), but his amazing athleticism makes him a dynamic and seriously effective QB.


September 23rd, 2010 at 12:57 PM ^

I don't think we'll know how much the O-Line has improved because having Denard in makes their job easier.  With Tate you don't have to worry about his running ability as much in the pass game so you can pass rush like normal (unless you're Notre Dame).  With Denard, you have to pass rush with containment in mind.  This makes the O-Line's job much easier, not to mention Denard keeps the whole defense on it's toes.  Tate is a very good QB, but specimens like Denard only come along once in awhile.  It's still early, but he passes better than Pat White by a wide margin and he is faster IMO.


September 23rd, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

At first I thought this was a thread about who would win in a fight, Denard against the entire offensive line.  Of course, that is ridiculous because everyone knows Denard would win.  Woo Denard Heisman.


September 23rd, 2010 at 1:28 PM ^

The best way to describe the poise denard has is to look at his last throw in the ND game. A blitzing LB was in his face and in the general direction of where he wanted to throw. Instead of getting nervous and scramble he stood strong in the pocket and rocketed it to the 2 yard line. That is true poise. 


September 23rd, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

To my untrained eye, what I see as Tate's strength is the ability to throw on the run.  It was uncanny and very few QBs could throw as accurately on the run as him.


However, Denard now has him beat in nearly every other facet of QBing.  Unfortunately for Tate, throwing on the run is not a high priority in RR's ground based option game.  Denard's ability to pull the ball down and turn on the jets is much more valuable than Tate's ability to throw on the run.

So in short, if you wanted to compare, I bet Tate 10 would look about the same as Tate 09 (probably better decision making, maybe a little more strength).  But overall, we don't fully take advantage of Tate's abilities unless we start moving the pocket around a lot. 


September 23rd, 2010 at 1:41 PM ^

I thought this post was going to be a discussion about whether the combined power of the offensive line could defeat Denard's speed.  Kind of like The Flash vs. Godzilla or something like that.  But alas, I was wrong.


September 23rd, 2010 at 8:15 PM ^

The fundamental issue with Tate is that he's not really a rushing threat.  He rushed for 240 yards on 118 carries last year.  He does not bring that extra dimension that Denard does.  That makes him easier to defend.  I can't imagine us racking up 500-yard games with him at QB, especially now that Minor is gone.  This is fundamentally a run-first offense.