I don't know about you guys, but I am tired of talking and thinking about the game this weekend.
So, I wanted to get a discussion going about the "ideal situation" that the Michigan program has brewing in its QB roster, and in doing so, discuss the pivotal roles that Rudock is playing this season -- despite his limitatons -- and that O'Korn (likely) will play in 2016 and 2017.
While discussing freshmen playing Coach Harbaugh commented on QB's and OLinemen benefitting from a first year redshirt. Discussions concerning the starting of freshmen QB's primarily focus upon their propensity to make "freshmen mistakes," i.e., inexperience. While true, the "roster management" ramifications of starting a freshmen QB are not as readily apparent, but can be far more damaging long term.
Early playing time for a QB, more so than any other position, has a tendency to scare off other potential QB recruits -- they don't want to potentially sit behind the guy for three years and only get one year at the helm. The results are multi-class talents gaps, with the results being not only a shallow depth chart, but also a higher likelihood that the next top QB will also be a freshmen starter, thus perpetuating the issue.
Much of the discussion concering Rudock is about his liabilities versus is assets. While I think those are important, I think far more important is what his, and O'Korn next year, presence on the team does for Michigan's QB developmental cycle going forward. Basically, Michigan's QB roster is shaping up to have a nice consistent flow from redshirt, developmental 3rd string, back up, and starter for two seasons.
Below is the current Michigan QB roster. Obviously, Rudock is gone, and guys like Cleary, Moores, and Thompson are not likely to factor into the equation, but you never know.
- Jake Rudock 5th
- Brian Cleary Sr
- Garrett Moores Jr
- Shane Morris Jr
- John O'Korn Jr
- Wilton Speight So
- Matt Thompson So
- Zach Gentry Fr
- Alex Malzone Fr
Harbaugh has spoken about the desire to get Morris a RS (hopefully he gets it), and O'Korn effectively redshirted this season. Assuming Shane's redshirt works out, both Gentry and Malzone redshirt this season, and incoming QB's redshirt, next year the QB roster will be as follows (years of eligibility):
- Shane Morris ('16, '17*)
- John O'Korn ('16, '17)
- Wilton Speight ('16, '17, '18*)
- Zach Gentry ('16, '17, '18, '19*)
- Alex Malzone ('16, '17, '18, '19*)
- Brandon Peters ('17, '18, '19, '20*)
Vic Viramontes ('17, '18, '19, '20*)
* assuming 5th year given
From the sounds of things next year's starting QB competition is O'Korn's to lose. At this point, many find it hard to believe Morris is ever going to be a starter at Michigan, so he's either going to stay and be a back up, or decide to transfer. Either way, I'm guessing O'Korn starts '16 and '17, with Morris, Speight, Malzone, and Gentry competing for the back-up spot.
Obviously projecting forward is hard, but I think it's clear that Michigan's QB roster is not going to have huge gaps in it, and the possibilty of having to start a true freshmen -- or even a RS freshmen -- is extremely remote.
As we're seeing this season, a team usually only goes as far as their QB can take them. The prize for winning the QB competition should be two seasons as the starter, and if there is to be three year starter it almost guaranteed that his ascension is one of overwhelming talent, and not necessiry.
To me, this bodes very well for the reestablishment of Michigan as a national power, and is EXTREMELY exciting.