QB Ceilings

Submitted by Ziff72 on April 8th, 2010 at 1:33 PM

I find it interesting when people mention Tate they say that he has been so well coached that his ceiling isn't quite as high. I have to say that I think that it is a bunch of garbage.

Linebackers and Olineman, I understand ceiling talk, but Qb's no.

Qb is a special position that is more about internal things that can not be measured by a 40yd dash or a bench press. Qb is about efficiency, accuracy, understanding your offense, understanding the defense, leadership, savvy, experience, feel for the pocket etc...

This is a position that is about games and not about practice. I don't know what is happening behind the scenes and if Tate is doing the work necessary in the film room and practice fields to retain his job, but don't take these practice reports too seriously. Passing against a vanilla defense with scripted plays is not telling you much other than they can complete passes against air. Remember we heard similar reports in the fall last year and we saw what happened when the lights went on.

Also remember that a 40yd scramble against a base defense that is not scheming to stop a qb run will look much more impressive than a swing pass that hits the rb perfectly in stride that allows him to gain 20yds instead of 2 because he had to adjust to a slightly off mark pass. Where I think the latter is much more important in the 3rd qtr against Iowa to keep a drive going.

Qb is so hard to project in the NFL because it's so hard to measure. Whenever I hear ceiling and talent associated with the qb position I see R. Leaf and P. Manning going into the 98 draft. P. Manning was over coached and Leaf had the big arm and upside.



April 8th, 2010 at 1:44 PM ^

I find it interesting when people mention Tate they say that he has been so well coached that his ceiling isn't quite as high.

That's not what people are saying at all. They're saying he's closer to whatever his ceiling is, so his improvement won't be as fast or as noticeable.

los barcos

April 8th, 2010 at 1:45 PM ^

the premise here and never really understood this meme that tate has already been coached up to his potential. i know his parents paid for a special QB coach (or at least i seemed to recall that) but frankly, if the combination of rod smith, rr, and calvin mcgee cant bring more to the table than some schmo in san diego, than michigan football has some serious problems.

in other words, its hard for me to believe that tate's potential has plateaued because he received mediocre coaching as a high school student.


April 8th, 2010 at 6:19 PM ^

Yeah, Marv Marinovich is no Schmo. He even has "Marino" in his last name. But for real, he knows his shit. Maybe better than our coaches, but at least well enough to coach a kid up well one on one.

Also, I think another reason people say Denard has a higher ceiling than Tate has to do with technique vs. athleticism. Theoretically, you can teach a QB to have better technique, to read defenses and to learn the playbook. You cannot coach elite speed and athleticism. There are some aspects of the position where Tate is better than Denard, and vice versa. The reason people feel Denard has the higher ceiling is because he will have an easier time improving what currently holds him back than Tate.


April 8th, 2010 at 8:04 PM ^

I think that is harder than you think to learn these fundamentals.....sincerely T. Pryor, V. Young, M. Vick etc...I don't see any of these guys breaking down a defense with anything but their legs anytime soon.

Tate's accuarcy will be better than Denard's their entire lives. Maybe Denard can get it close enough that combined with his legs he can be more effective, but the only place we'll learn that is in the games.

Don't forget us DJ Shockley, Reggie Ball, Tyrod Taylor, Tommie Frazier, Scott Frost, Eric Crouch, Tony Rice, Michael Taylor....


April 8th, 2010 at 8:59 PM ^

Forgive me if I miss your point, but you are comparing Denards ceiling to that of Vick, Young and Pryor? Vick took his team to the national championship, VY won the national championship, and Pryor just won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl. You later mention a number of other QB's, some of whom I know little about, but some who have been very productive and one who WON THE FUCKING HEISMAN. Should we be upset if our QB ends up like those guys?

There's probably a D3 QB somewhere who can hit targets better than VY or TP, but I'd love to have either of those guys leading our team (sans murderer comments).

Next time you back up your argument by citing QB's with poor fundamentals, don't pick ones who have won BCS bowls (or Heisman trophies).


April 8th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

I'm with you that just because a player had been well-coached doesn't mean they've achieved their potential. However it does mean the someone with less coaching could stand to make more initial improvement. But football is a game where even the best QB in the NFL is learning every game, every play, and learning how to improve. It's a mental game where you can never reach your ceiling.

Where I disagree with you is on your take of the O-line, or any position for that matter. While there are physical gifts that set some of the marquee players up for greatness, every really good football player has to constantly learn to make reads, to win the small chess matches against the guy across from him. In short the game is a mental game at every position - it's just more obvious at the QB position.


April 8th, 2010 at 1:55 PM ^

1. Tate still has a ways to go before he hits his ceiling. He needs to stop throwing picks and he needs to learn how to run the option. He can still become an extremely dangerous quarterback, capable of putting up crazy point totals against teams both good and bad.

2. Even if Tate is almost as high as he can go, that's still pretty damn high. Look at what he did in the second half of the Big Ten season without his top two running backs and with poor pass blocking. Look at what he did in the fourth quarter against Michigan State. Forcier is the most accurate passer I have ever seen at Michigan. He just needs to learn better decision making and he needs to learn the option.


April 9th, 2010 at 1:49 PM ^

Let me preface this by saying I realize Tate's shoulder was messed up last year. I didn't kill Henne in '07 when his arm fell off, I'm not going to kill Tate for trying to play through a shoulder injury either. However.............

did I miss something the second half of the Big 10 season?

4 games
71/111 (63.9%, excellent for a freshman)
4 TD
5 INT's
10 sacks
883 yards (220.75 per game)

43 carries
50 yards (1.16 YPC)
1 TD

Even if you take out the sacks and sack yardage you're talking about around 3.9 per carry.

I'm not trying to take a shot at Tate here. I love the kid and hope he takes a major stride forward this year. I just wouldn't be talking up that second half of the Big 10 season is all.


April 9th, 2010 at 10:53 PM ^

His last four games were three great ones and one really bad one. He shredded both Purdue and Illinois and then he had a very good game against Wisconsin without a running game to support him. Against Illinois, Purdue, and Wisky, he averaged 9 yards per pass attempt and over 65% competions. That's amazing, especially when you consider that he had probably the weakest crop of receivers at Michigan since at least 1997. I'm cherry picking games but that's the upside that I'm talking about.

The bad game came against the Rose Bowl winning team without his starting center and down to the fourth string running back. He was forced to essentially win the game singlehandedly. He moved the team well between the 20s but made some mistakes. Convert just two of those picks against OSU to completions (this is not a stretch to me because they were great plays by the OSU DBs. Adjusting to the athleticism of better teams is something Tate can learn). Mistakes are important, but remember, we're talking about upside, not average performance. I think that the crappy ypc is a read option issue. His ypc will go up when he gets that part of the game down better.


April 8th, 2010 at 1:50 PM ^

I think that the idea is really that Tate just is not the same physical specimen and athlete that DG or Robinson are. He won't ever have the zip/arm strength that Robinson puts on the ball or the power that DG can put behind it (because he's 6'4") and he won't ever have the type of moves/foot speed that those two can bring, because his body just isn't built to do it.

However I do agree that he still has a lot of room to improve because he still has to learn the offense. This RichRod offense is not something a QB can come in and learn in one off-season. No QB would reach his full potential in this offense until his 3rd or 4th year. So because of that, yes I think he has plenty of room to improve.


April 8th, 2010 at 1:55 PM ^

Just saying there's less room for improvement. Tate may go from like a 58% comp pct to 63% but Denard can go from his like 41% to 55% which just makes him MORE improved on a year to year basis. Also, of course the coaches can teach more about being a QB in a scheme they developed than a guy that could only teach basics. Denard I believe is getting in that close because of his speed and ability to make that read option a real threat. Don't worry, Tate will still improve.


April 8th, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

It's all about Denard, people!! Where the H have you been?

Anyway, I dont think the meme is that Tate's ceiling isnt high, only that he's closer to it because of all the great coaching he's had coming in and during his early development


April 8th, 2010 at 3:01 PM ^

Jokes first: at Tate's height, pretty much every ceiling is going to be high. But really, IMHO on talent alone, Tate has a very high ceiling. He has, however, an evident height limitation that forces him to be a scrambler. So, in order to reach his ceiling, he needs some support...metaphorically, he needs some platform shoes, stilts and a pogo stick.

The good news: Tate will have a lot of good support on this team. An excellent and deep backfield will take the pressure off. A veteran offensive line will take the pressure off. Tate will improve with each improvement the team as a whole makes, because Tate can then rely on his 'playmaker' ability.

Conclusion: Because he's in a 'playmaker' offense, he has a high ceiling, dependent in many respects on his supporting cast's ability to improve from last year. If Tate was in a pro-style offense, he'd be a lot closer to his ceiling than he is here at Michigan.

Tha Stunna

April 8th, 2010 at 3:10 PM ^

In the strictest terms, Tate will always have a lower ceiling than Denard because he's not as physically gifted. That's a non-arguable point. However, if Tate is below his ceiling, he could still be a very good college quarterback - so it's really a non-issue.

I don't consider Tate to be particularly close to his ceiling, but that's because I kept watching after Notre Dame...

I'm still not sold on the Denard starting meme, but competition is a positive and I would like to have a good backup, even if Denard never starts a game.


April 8th, 2010 at 9:03 PM ^

That is NOT a non-argument. If we were talking about two sprinters, then yes, Denard's physical tools would give him the higher ceiling, but QB is a position built a on a lot more that strict physical tools. We can go through all of the examples again of elite athletes who were junk QB's.


April 9th, 2010 at 1:10 AM ^

Please define "elite athlete" for me because all I've seen is a list of black guys and two white dudes who played in an I-form option offense. That phrase sounds a LOT like code to me. This is not meant as an accusation; it's simply an observation.

Vince Young is such a bad QB that he went 8-2 with the same team Kerry Collins went 0-6 with last season. Dude is 26-14 as a starter, after only four years in the league. Please, 'splian that for me.

How 'bout: Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper (pre-injury), Randall Cunningham, Steve McNair, Doug Williams? Are we counting those guys as elite athletes?

Where are we classifying Steve Young, John Elway, and Fran Tarkenton?

What about Tim Tebow, Jake Locker, and Colt McCoy?

This conversation won't go anywhere if we don't lock down CONCRETE criterion/examples of what it means to successfully execute the QB position. The Tom Brady mold is not the only definition for what a successful QB is. Obviously, Tate is not in that mold so I think you're open to the suggestion. Your point about there being more to it than running and throwing is well taken but you leave the definition of "more to it" up to the imagination. That's a cop out.

Blue boy johnson

April 8th, 2010 at 5:48 PM ^

Forget the 2010 season for a moment. Denard, by the time he is a junior should have a very good grasp of the reads as well as a full understanding of the playbook. With good coaching and development, Denard should be a dynamic college QB during his final 2 campaigns.

Why spend 2 years training Denard to be a QB and then have him switch positions? I see no reason why Denard can't excel at the most vital position on the field. I am all for Tate and Denard being on the field at same time but I am also for Denard being a 4 year QB at Michigan.

If upon entering football practices August, 2011 Denard isn't grasping the nuances of the QB position in this offense, then sure, have Denard switch postions. I fully expect Denard to be up to the challenge of being a QB RR feels he can win with, so let's reap the benefits.


April 8th, 2010 at 7:49 PM ^

that if Tate starts at 90 then 100 is only 10 away whereas if Denard starts at 60 and gets to 90 after a year this looks like--in fact IS--more measurable progess.

This does not tell us whose 100 (full capacity) is higher.

Blue Balls

April 8th, 2010 at 9:01 PM ^

when discussing two QBs entering their sophomore year. With all the freshmen mistakes made by both of these players, I hardly think their "ceiling" is anywhere in sight. I'd love to ask Tom Brady his thoughts on a players ceiling.


April 9th, 2010 at 4:21 AM ^

guys, I'll believe Denard can be a full-time QB when he proves it in a game. I'm not going to buy into all the hype we're hearing. The dude is a flat-out athlete, and has big play threat written all over him, but on a down-to-down basis, I don't know if he can be a game-manager. When all is said and done, I think we're going to see basically the same rotation as last year, except both guys should be improved.

The one thing that was really refreshing about having Tate at QB last year was a general sense that on each play, we had a confident, capable QB directing the offense. Excepting the OSU game's 4 picks, Tate was NOT prone to int's at all. I'm not trying to say the guy is jesus, or the greatest thing ever, but he's capable. With a year of experience and a chance to settle into his role, I have to think he'll continue to be the MAIN guy. I have a hard time imagining that Denard is magically going to become Donovan McNabb and be the total package QB that these practice reports seem to indicate. He'll contribute, and I'm sure there will be some games where he dominates, but what better way to keep a defense off balance than to have 2 guys who excel in different ways splitting time.

Now, when Devin Gardner gets it all online, however... I have no idea how you resolve that... Wonder if Tate 'Matt Saracen' Forcier can play WR! haha.


April 9th, 2010 at 6:25 AM ^

Denard threw picks. Tate threw up floaters when he should have taken the loss (Indiana anyone?) They were both prone to turnovers.

They Were Freshmen.

I love Denard's ability. I love that every time he has the ball in his hands you believe he's one broken tackle away from 6 points.

And I love Tate's (media labeled) moxie. His first TD vs WMU, where he directed his receiver and made the accurate pass on the move, that was something special. We were all in trance at his ability after Threatidan. But he was still a freshman.

IF Tate improves at the rate Denard has, Tate's the starter and Denard is the threat. If Tate goes down, or if Denard show's he is running the read better / throwing more accurately / etc, then Denard takes over.

If Denard starts and his practice doesn't translate to games, he's pulled. He didn't get the chance to showcase his abilities as much as Tate. How many full series did he actually run? He never got into his groove. Offhand, he stepped into Iowa late in the game and down and made a drive Tate hadn't been.

I'm comfortable with either. We won't have any 'answers' until fall anyway. As long as we aren't starting DG this year (please god not another freshman starter) I am at ease.


April 9th, 2010 at 12:42 PM ^

A couple things I take issue with from your post. First, you say you have a hard time believing Denard is going to become a total package QB a la McNabb. It's probably that as a soph DR won't be what McNabb was as a senior, but with all of his tools I don't see why he can't be on that path.

Secondly (and more importantly), we don't need a McNabb total package QB. Every system has different needs at certain positions. Carr needed a great TE, but had no need for a slot receiver. RR is about the opposite.

PAT WHITE WAS NOT A GOOD PASSER. So many people bring up Tate's passing abilities over Denard as the main reason that Tate should start. That WVU offense wasn't a major downfield passing threat, but still no one could stop them. I think right now DR is as good a passer as PW was in college, and he's faster. It seems to me that this is the type of kid RR wants running his show so don't be surprised if he gets his wish.

It would mean we 100 yards a game passing, but it might also mean DRob leads the nation in rushing.


April 9th, 2010 at 2:11 PM ^

Pat White was not a good passer, but he was an adequate one. It seems to me that Denard still need some improvement in the area of passing to be considered "adequate". Not saying he can't get there, but until I see it in a game situation, I will have a very hard time believing he's anywhere close to Tate in this facet of the game.


April 9th, 2010 at 2:07 PM ^

IMO the biggest factor in projecting the "ceiling" of a quarterback is their football intelligence. Yes, they also must have at least decent arm strength and accuracy, but they wouldn't even be at Michigan if that didn't already exist on a certain level. But the ability of a quarterback to read the defense and make quick, accurate, adjustments is something that is difficult to determine about quarterbacks when they are still in high school. Most high schools run very basic schemes compared to those at the upper level of college teams. Over time, this will most likely determine who plays, since physical flaws such as arm strength or accuracy can at least be somewhat covered up by the offensive scheme a team runs. It is a situation still in flux, and it will be fun to watch.


April 9th, 2010 at 2:20 PM ^

The problem with this argument is that we do not run a traditional pro-style offense. The only 3 QB characteristics you mention are football intelligence, arm strength and accuracy. In the pre-RR years, these would likely be the most important attributes for a QB. However, you miss the major x-factor that all RR QB's need, and that's running ability (speed, agility, vision, etc.). This one aspect might be more important than all of the others you listed, or at least close behind.

Tate might be ahead of DR in football IQ, and accuracy (arm strength is a wash), but if DRob can take off on the zone read or the QB keep for 6, it might be enough to get him the starting nod.