Jon Chait on Denard Robinson as starting QB prospect

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on April 1st, 2010 at 2:29 PM

I think Chait does a nice job of writing about U of M football issues. Here he talks about the prospect of Robinson starting at QB this year. I am personally pessimistic about having Robinson starting, but Chait makes some good points as to why last year really didn't tell us much.



April 1st, 2010 at 2:54 PM ^

I am not sure about his logic. He explains that it is almost impossible to look good as a true freshman QB and he should improve tremendously from last year. Doesn't the same thing hold true for Tate? It would seem presumptuous to say that Forcier has reached his ceiling as a sophmore and Robinson is passing him just becasue he has a year more experience. I would say they will both be better, but Tate is going to be better than the adequate Big Ten QB he was last year and Robinson will be better than a guy who looked like he joined the team that morning and they only had time to teach him one play.

Wes Mantooth

April 1st, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the point he was trying to make is that he thinks Denard has a higher ceiling than Tate. So if Denard was able to do enough this off-season to reach his potential, then passing Tate on the depth chart is very possible and nothing to be down about.


April 1st, 2010 at 6:54 PM ^

I thought you were wanting to see Jon Chait on the field.

The best part him at QB would be that he would probably also write the best and strongest denunciation of his own performance and defenestrate the coaches for such poor decision making that would make them put a fortysomething political writer in the backfield.


April 1st, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

Tate has earned the right to start the season as starting QB. If things go as I expect they will, there really won't ever be a reason to experiment after that point. We all know Tate can play some ball.


April 1st, 2010 at 4:19 PM ^

that practice can reasonably show what the game will be like. It can't.

I don't want to lose to UConn because Robinson looked killer in practice, but throws two interceptions with his first three passes on the field. Tate is a KNOWN commodity in the game now. Always start a sure thing. Try out your chance when the sure thing isn't working/needed.


April 1st, 2010 at 6:13 PM ^

I seem to recall posts last year telling us that Khoury looked so good that Molk probably wouldn't start.

The biggest challenge for QBs moving from HS to major conference college football is the speed of the game. Spring practice doesn't come close to replicating that.


April 1st, 2010 at 2:44 PM ^

Agree with pretty much everything he says. Tate's a solid QB but doesn't have the elite speed that made pat white so successful at WVU. If Denard can complete 60% of his passes I'd take him over Tate 60% of the time every time


April 1st, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

Well, it's within the realm of the physically possible that Robinson completes 60% of his passes, given that this is his first real coaching he's had, ever.

It's not within the realm of the physically possible that Tate becomes a D-I level sprinter.

At the end of the day, we have 2 kids - one who has been trained to be a QB since he was 6, and another who has hardly been trained at all. If you told be that the latter is progressing appreciably faster, I wouldn't be shocked.


April 1st, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

both Tate and Denard would have red shirted (like Devin should this year). I was just surprised that when Denard was in and the whole defense thought run, he still couldn't complete many passes. Hopefully that was just inexperience with reading a college level defense. I think they just both need to be on the field...


April 1st, 2010 at 2:50 PM ^

If he can get his passing game on point and learn to read defenses, I have no doubt that he WILL win a Heisman before it's all said and done...He's that special.


April 1st, 2010 at 2:57 PM ^

See above. There are a lot of if's with the kid. I say we should take what we are more confident in. Put him at RB, slot, and occasional wildcat QB and I know he will put some fear into opposing defenses. Put him exclusively at QB and ask him to play the whole game and I am less confident.


April 1st, 2010 at 6:32 PM ^

I've thought a fair amount about the possibility of Denard taking the starting spot, and this article matches my thinking almost exactly. I think it's a bit of a long shot, but there's definitely a possibility Denard could start.

Raw athleticism isn't nearly as important as mental skills when it comes to QB, though. So either Tate starts and UM has an incredibly smart, calm, accurate QB (awesome), or Denard starts and UM has an insanely athletic QB who would also (hopefully) be smart, calm, and accurate. Cautious optimism has me looking at this as a win-win.


April 1st, 2010 at 3:07 PM ^

of course there are a lot of "IFs" with the kid. There are a lot of "IFs" with every young quarterback. I would argue that Denard completing 60% of his passes (I don't know how you can say this is never going to happen) is much more realistic than Tate suddenly running a 4.4.


April 1st, 2010 at 3:34 PM ^

While I agree with the general sentiment that an accurate Denard would be a better fit at QB, let's not forget that what makes guys like Robinson so good is that they are instinctive runners who can make plays with their feet against even the best defenses. He has been successful following this pattern since he start playing QB, and all of the discipline progression reading and patience in the pocket that is needed for 60% completion percentage will probably not come naturally to him. I'm sure his mechanics have improved somewhat and he is a more accurate passer, but like Tate last year Robinson will probably take off running once his first or second options are not immediately open or if he sees a lane. While I'm all for improving Denard's passing, if you are not careful you might rob him of those instincts that allowed him to succeed thus far.


April 1st, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

Denard, at the end of last season, had a long way to go before being a viable option to start at QB. He also fumbled way too much, so he has to get that under control. The one thing that concerns me about Forcier is his play against good defenses. I know that he was only a freshman last year, but he played poorly against the three best teams we played. But I'm sure DRob would have played even worse against them. I find it hard to believe that DRob would start the opener against UConn.


April 1st, 2010 at 4:38 PM ^

he had one of his better games against wisconsin and played well against ohio st (when he wasn't turning the ball over...5 times) he also played extremely well against MSU. wait what were the three defenses he played badly against?

Chadillac Grillz

April 1st, 2010 at 6:34 PM ^

Penn State was the only game where he looked overmatched for 4 quarters. They were full of upperclassmen and had multiple all-conference guys on their D. Iowa beat him up and he looked confused late, but the concussion might have been why. OSU he was very good for 3 1/2 quarters and then tried to make to much happen. IMO if B. Minor had been healthy we'd have won but he wasn't. MSU we looked good in the second half. I'd say Iowa and PSU were too much for him, and maybe OSU but he was a freshman and has far from reached his potential. The real issue for Tate is just staying healthy and having a nice running back to compliment his game. ALSO, ppl forget that Roundtree didn't play much against MSU or Iowa nor emerge until late in the season. Roundtree's presence could be huge for the two home games in 2010 (Iowa and MSU).


April 1st, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

I think DROB could surprise a lot of people this year. When Pat White went to WVU, he had a year to redshirt, refine his mechanics and learn the system. DROB has now had a year of the same, and I for one am hoping he has made the same progress. I still have a man crush on the Force, but I'm really excited about DROB's improvements. Legit QB competition can only help the team.


April 1st, 2010 at 4:11 PM ^

I think one of the more troubling aspects of the QB battle is that the loser doesn't suffer equally in this battle. WIth Denard, he will see the field no matter what. With Tate, not so much. If Tate doesn't win, he will only see the field as the backup. If Denard doesn't win, he will see the field elsewhere and as the backup. Denard will get his time no matter what, Tate wont. So, even though I would love to see Denard get the start, I would feel too bad for Tate.


April 1st, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

My greatest fear is that we continue to have a QB rotation of any kind. I would much prefer to simply see Tate take complete command of the position and see Denard used in the slot or anywhere else for touches.


April 1st, 2010 at 4:52 PM ^

The huge plus is going to be that if one has to come out the other is ready, with a different set of skills for the defense to contend with. Regardless of who starts the quarterback depth chart will be hugely upgraded compared to the last two years. I think Tate will start but from what I have seen of Denard - brief appearances last year and a few clips from this Spring - I think he is a good enough passer and should only get better.


April 1st, 2010 at 5:35 PM ^

As much as I'm interested in seeing how much he has improved as a passer, I'm also interested in seeing how Robinson does with the read option play (not sure if that is the correct terminology) to the running back. When Robinson was in the game last year, it was almost like a the wildcat - Robinson took the snap and immediately started running to where the play was designed with the running back being an additional blocker.

One of things that made Pat White great was his instinct's on the read option - when to keep it and when to give to Steve Slaton. Slaton and White were a killer combo cause both had the ability to go all the way every time they touched the ball. I'd love to see a running back develope this year for UM who strikes that fear in the oppositions defense.


April 1st, 2010 at 9:02 PM ^

Hello, Vincent Smith. With permission from Angry Michigan RB Hating God, of course.

That being said, Tate is our starter - I'm in agreement with the poster above who is surprised nobody recalls all that justified accolade early in the year (and all those Tate for Heisman mostly psuedo-jokes). Although it does make me so, so happy we are talking favorably at all about our back-up QB, let alone starting QB, and that there just might be some competition at the position. Yay for returning QBs.