Rudock, O'Korn, & QB Roster Management

Submitted by Sten Carlson on October 18th, 2015 at 9:07 PM

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.




October 18th, 2015 at 10:07 PM ^

I think O'Korn wins the job next year.  I really won't be surprised if Brandon Peters ends up being the second best QB on the team, even if he ends up with a redshirt.  AFAIC, the QB position is going to be in great hands next year.  Safeties won't be able to play the run and the short pass by default because Michigan will have someone who is naturally predisposed to hit deep passes.

This is not an indictment of Rudock.  He and Harbaugh have teamed to get a lot out of his talent base.  He just doesn't have the accuracy on the deep ball to keep defenses honest.  It's to both Rudock's and Harbaugh's credit that the offense has done as well as it has, considering they are allowing the other man to cover Michgan's best receivers man to man without consequences for getting beaten deep.

Different QB's have different talents.  Rudock is great at managing a game and hitting short passes without a lot of risk.  He has every talent a QB needs except one.  Sometimes, that's just the way it goes.  He is better than everyone else on the roster, so he must be doing something right.


October 18th, 2015 at 10:23 PM ^

Easy to say but this is a roster bursting at the seams esp if we land about 50% of the guys we are "favorite or top 2" for.  Even assuming some of the 5th year seniors "try out" and fail, and a QB (or 2) transfers.  We have a ton of guys on scholarship and committed and want to get another 6 more (to 28) it sounds like.  Not everyone can be here.  And then people want 5th year grad transfer LBs on top of it all.

After the 2016 season we lose a ton of players and we'll have room all over the place for this but not after this season.  Every scholarship is going to matter and this guy can't last 2-3 games.


October 19th, 2015 at 3:18 AM ^

Yes, but you can't treat QB like just any other position on the field.  The first and foremost question is, do you have a QB that you can win with right now? 

If that answer is yes, then fine. But if the answer is 'no' then holding a scholarship open for a freshman not your top priority. 

With the right QB, this team is easily a playoff contender in 2016. Most people assume that O'Korn is the best QB on the roster, but by your own analysis, the variance of likely outcomes for O'Korn could very well turn out to be a reprise of what we got out of Jake Rudock this year. 

With Jake Rudock 2.0, we will probably look an awful lot like this year - able to dominate poor teams, but coming up just short against Top 10 teams.

Obviously you can't take him if you don't believe he can stay healthy.  But if you think he can play, then I dont see how you turn down a high upside QB and make due with Rudock 2.0, just so you can make room for a true freshman who may or may not work out somewhere down the line. 

I mean, I would love to land Rashan Gary, but if I had to chose between Gary and 1-year QB with enough talent to get us into the playoff next year, than I take that QB and hope for the best.




October 19th, 2015 at 12:45 AM ^


Everyone will buy it when you first come in to a depleted roster, but not if this becomes your mode of operation.

At some point you have to get your own guys and develop them, not somebody else's.

I would not assume that the Rudock situation was something Harbaugh wanted to do as opposed to something he felt he had to do.

Given Harbaugh's history and background, I would expect that he wants to develop his own guys over multiple years, and not keep renting somebody else's.


October 19th, 2015 at 1:46 PM ^

If you knew that you only had one year of football left, would you quit or try to make the most of the short time you had left? 

If I had one last year to play football and I had a choice between playing for a playoff contender or quiting early so that I could hang out with my wife, I'm pretty sure I know which one I would choose (with apologies to the wife).