Two QB system?

Submitted by dmccoy on August 21st, 2009 at 9:49 AM

With Tate and Denard having somewhat different skill-sets, I'm curious if anyone thinks both players will share the job, like Tebow and Leak did in '06.

I would think that it would force defenses to have two different game plans, one for Robinson running and one for Tate passing. Obviously, both QBs can do both, but if Robinson is dangerous with the ball in his hands and competent enough throwing that defenses have to respect it, I'd have a hard time keeping him off the field.

Does Rodriguez have a history of playing two quarterbacks in a rotation? He consistently says he wants "two or three guys" he "can win with" but does that necessarily mean he'll play more than one?

(This all assumes that Denard Robinson will be ready to run the offense.)



August 21st, 2009 at 9:54 AM ^

are spread read option QBs who are fast. Tate throws way better than Denard. But they run the same style. The only way a team would have to scheme for two different kinds of quarterbacks is if Sheridan were in the rotation, since, as opposed to Denard and Tate, he can neither run nor pass beyond a bubble screen.

Rich Rod has said repeatedly that two QBs will likely play. Injuries will likely force that to happen.


August 21st, 2009 at 12:12 PM ^

What makes you think injuries are likely to happen, given the research we've seen that running QBs are only marginally more likely to get injured, if at all? We wouldn't expect QB injuries in an average season, would we?


August 21st, 2009 at 1:23 PM ^

I would expect a 190-pound true freshman QB with zero history of weight training prior to this year, playing in a BCS conference, to miss a few games due to injury. The kid is a stick; his chance of getting hurt is probably a lot higher at this stage of his development than it will be at any other point in his Michigan career.


August 21st, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

It takes a *very* good (and strong) coach to pull this off and not have in-fighting in the team. Luckily for us, RR is exactly that kind of coach.

Pure speculation of course, but I have to imagine both QB's (not name death) will have their share of meaningful snaps in 2009 AND 2010.


August 21st, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

I think that you might see Robinson run a few plays per game that are more designed for a speedy, pure running quarterback, but I doubt we'll see a 2-QB system where they are routinely platooned.


August 21st, 2009 at 9:58 AM ^

The easy answer is probably no, but last year RRod was very quick to pull Sheridan in favor of Threet.
Now was that because of Sheridan's incompetence or was that part of the plan? Who really knows.

I am hoping we can leave Tate in for the vast majority of the snaps, but my theory is that both Denard and Sheridan will see time in order to protect the best player from injury and wearing down over the course of a full game.
Of course this is just a guess/speculation from me, I have no good evidence for backing that up.

As for both being on the field at once, I just don't think we are going to spend that much time installing something new when the freshman qbs are spending so much time just trying to learn the base offense.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:00 AM ^

My only (slight) worry with playing Denard is rooted in the Feagin-effect from last year: whenever Feagin lined up behind center, the opposing team knew exactly what was coming: QB run. And it ended up not being very successful. Now, hopefully Denard has a better arm on him, and indications are that he does, but would it be interesting to have both both QBs on the field at the same time behind center and have the defense have to guess who's going to take the snap? I've obviously never seriously played or coached football, so I'm pretty sure that what I'm suggesting is pure lunacy, but I'd be interested to hear why.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:05 AM ^

I've never coached football either so I could be wrong here, but I've watched a lot of football.

It's hard to ever make a defense unsure of who will actually be receiving the snap. The QB that's taking the snap will always be directly behind the center because that's the only line that the ball can travel on. Thus, you'll always know who will get the snap.

But, that doesn't mean that you can't line up Denard like a running back next to Tate. Then he can go into pass protection or take the handoff and run. If you want to get really sneaky (and realistically this is the only reason why you'd risk Denard getting hurt by using him as a RB rather than one of our RBs that's actually practiced handoffs and whatnot) you'd have Tate take the snap, lateral it to Denard who's lined up further away from Tate than a traditional RB then have Denard either run with it or do a forward pass to someone else. That would be the "standard" type of trick play that having two QBs like Tate and Denard would allow.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:17 AM ^

I didn't think that was possible, I just assumed that if the center tried to snap it to someone not directly behind him that it would most likely hit his leg (since it would have to be angled to go to one side or the other rather than just straight back).

Good to know.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:06 AM ^

It would be exciting, but I think it puts our depth chart at risk. Can you imagine the horror if Tate and Denard both got injured on the same play? Besides trick plays, I think it makes more sense to have Tate and Vincent out there, as he's been impressing as well. Sure, he can't stop and toss the ball downfield, but I don't see that happening all that often anyway.

gpsimms not to…

August 21st, 2009 at 10:28 AM ^

Justin Feagin ran the ball for 4.7 YPC carry last year. This was better than:

Brown (!!!)
Moundros (tied with, actually)

In other words, only Minor and Shaw average more YPC. The team average YPC (sacks removed) was 4.64*. So actually, the running game was better when Feagin was in.

* - Actually, that's not quite right. I removed for loss yardage, without removing for loss attempts. So maybe the rushing game was about the same when Feagin was in. Regardless, the "Feagin effect" is a figment of your imagination. Particularly because I believe Denard will not be 100% run. Recall that the coaches said time and time again that Feagin's arm was not up to it. They've said nothing of the sort about Denard.

gpsimms not to…

August 21st, 2009 at 12:24 PM ^

I was merely pointing out that it is silly to say there is some sort of "Feagin effect," in which our running game becomes less effective because his being in allows teams to key on the run. When he was in, the running game was just fine, and I have no reason to believe (yes, partly because of the limited sample, which strengthens my point does it not?) that it is a serious detriment to the run game.

FURTHER, as to the OP's question, I don't think he was suggesting 30 touches a game for DRob. So perhaps the assertion that the pass-not-very-often formation for a *few* plays a game could be effective holds water.

I was not arguing that Feagin should have been in every play because "ZOMG looks at all the YPA!"

Don't feel bad though, too much time in Cbus makes us all jackasses.


August 21st, 2009 at 4:48 PM ^

It's just as silly to say the opposite and then provide 11 carries as evidence to prove your point.

11 carries may as well be zero. It means nothing in relation to anything having to do with anything.

nada, zip, zilch, etc.

Nobody accused you of wanting Feagin to play more. It seems you're having comprehension issues.


August 22nd, 2009 at 3:05 AM ^

DR is not Feagin! If you have been watching tape or reading anything this kid can throw. Yes his legs are incredible and he is not going to get caught from behind . In the last weeks he has ripped off 5 40 plus yard runs and thrown 3 50 plus yard passes for td's. I am not saying that he can wrap his head around the game like Tate can but if teams stack the box and leave receivers one on one he is going to tear them up. That is the beauty of the Read Option Spread. If the QB sees 8 in the box he calls the appropriate play and has many pass options. Tate will start and DR will get legit snaps not just go in and run please!


August 21st, 2009 at 10:05 AM ^

One thing that Tate can't do (I don't think, anyways) is kill you with his legs. I'm sure he's going to be difficult to scheme against because he's so accurate and is also quick and elusive (according to our players at camp, anyway), but he's not going to outrun corners and safeties for 60,70, and 80 yard scores.

Denard Robinson brings that truly elite speed to the table and combines it with aboverage (I've been wanting to say that) throwing ability for a running QB.

Basically Tate is the type of QB to pick you apart and drive you crazy by converting 3rd downs with his feet when everyone else is covered, whereas DR is someone you have to worry about scoring anytime he has the ball.

If the above is correct, they bring similar but different styles to the game: pass-first vs run-first.


August 21st, 2009 at 1:32 PM ^

If Threet can rip off a 50-yarder against Wisconsin, and the Coner can juke his way to a 30 yard run in the spring game, then I'm forced to believe that Tate can vanish from the field and reappear in the opponent's endzone in under a half-second, a cheerleader in one arm and a case of Natty Light in the other.


August 21st, 2009 at 7:50 PM ^

you realize that tate averaged more yards per carry (11.1), than did denard (5 or so) last season right? And for those of you who question the significance of my data in regards to adequate sample size, Tate did this on 66 attempts. So before we start doubting Tates ability to run and deeming Denard the next Pat White, lets wait and see how they fair in-game.


August 21st, 2009 at 7:08 PM ^

When you talk about a QB running, you don't need him to break for an 80 yard run. If he can, great. If he can get past the first 15 yards, you're in good shape, and Tate can do that. He's slippery, and judging by your assertions, you are seriously underestimating his speed. He's ALMOST as fast as most CB's and likely faster than most safeties and LBs. That said, as long as he gets into the secondary, he might not be gone, but the occasional 15-to-50 yard gain is solid. The raw speed of Denard won't make up too much of that. In fact, Tate's elusiveness may (I'm not sure) make up for the small difference in speed.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:21 AM ^

Two dual-threat QBs = quadruple-threat QB position? Theoretically yes, but in practice I doubt it. Maybe out of necessity, but I find it hard to believe that our offense will run like that by design. Not this year at least. From what I remember watching Tebow's freshman performances, they put him in in short yardage situations where they dared the defenses to stop what looked like a fullback playing QB.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:29 AM ^

Unless Tate is ineffective or hurt.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Denard getting some playing time as QB (in addition to the expected weird formation/trick plays). RR may want to get him some gametime QB experience as a hedge against injury. I suspect this may be limited by how well we do (i.e., he's not going to get a lot of playing time in close games unless the unexpected happens).

You never know what'll happen, after all. Anybody remember Troy Aikman at Oklahoma? Switzer actually switched from the wishbone to a pro offense for Aikman. This lasted until Aikman broke his ankle as a sophomore in a loss to Miami (Yes, That Miami). Jamelle Holieway took over as a wishbone QB, the Sooners won the rest of their games that year in convincing fashion, ended up #1 and Aikman transferred to UCLA.


August 21st, 2009 at 11:55 AM ^

Denard starts against Delaware St. There is no harm in letting him get PT in that game, and giving Tate a week to recover before Penn State. If nothing else, let them alternate series for the first half.

By the second half against Delaware State (or the fourth quarter against Eastern), if we don't see these guys getting a majority of the reps:

Sheridan / Kennedy / Furrha
Vincent Smith / Grady / Shaw / MIKE COX
Savoy / Rogers
Mealer / Omameh / McAvoy / Ferrara / Dorrestein / Barnum / Khoury

Big Will Campbell
JT Floyd
Banks / Patterson
Hawthorne / Jones
Van Slyke

Something will be going terribly wrong in the Big House.


August 21st, 2009 at 10:40 AM ^

I attended an alumni function in May and had the privilege of asking Coach Rod this very question. He responded to me by saying that the only reason he got Denard to come to MICHIGAN over Florida was to offer him a legit shot at QB. If Denard has the skills to play QB this year he will be on the field at that position. Coach Rod went on to talk about Denard's speed, citing his recent HS track times, saying that in order to utilize his athleticism he could find himself on the field at the same time as "Tate or Nick".

Double Nickel BG

August 21st, 2009 at 6:12 PM ^

when are people going to figure out that the chances a running QB gets injured more than a pocket passer are less than .000000000000001 %? If anything, a pocket passer that stands there like a statue is setting himself up for more highlight reel hits from blindside DE/LBs than a dual threat QB.

The Impaler

August 21st, 2009 at 11:19 AM ^

Sheridan will probably start. I don't understand why people are not considering him. He is the most physically mature, most experienced college qb, has actually played in a game against real college defenses, similar arm strength to forcier, and knows the offense the best. Can you say 3 qbs.


August 21st, 2009 at 11:57 AM ^

is why a sarcasm font is needed. You can't possibly be serious in claiming Sheridan's arm is as strong as Tate's. Further, knowing an offense means little if you cannot execute it. I'd rather have Tate out there knowing 50% of this offense as opposed to Sheridan out there knowing 100% of it.


August 21st, 2009 at 11:37 AM ^

i see no reason not to use both. As long as one person is nemed the starter then the other can come in in special situations. Just having Denard on the field is going to change how defenses line up. If they line him up at reciever and run inside zone away that zone play is going to be more effective just because the defense will be looking at denard as well as what is going on.
You can't just bring him in for a trick play then take him out, but if he's on the field regularly then it will open up the trick play.


August 21st, 2009 at 11:49 AM ^

Leak and Tebow did not share the QB job at Florida. I don't think that a true two QB system has ever worked, but more than one QB will definitely see the field this year.


August 21st, 2009 at 11:51 AM ^

I think Forcier will start, and Robinson will come in and play wildcat--a much more dangerous wildcat than Feagin, in that Robinson can wing the ball pretty well too. It's a shame we dont have more depth at qb--it would be great to get Robinson some time with Fred Jackson and maybe Carlos Brown working on his wiggle(his speed is already unmatched). Robinson's head is going to be spinning for the immediate future just trying to learn the offense.


August 21st, 2009 at 12:38 PM ^

Skill sets are important, but knowing and being able to execute the intricacies of this offense are just as important. That is why Sheridan is still getting a lot of reps with the first team. Denard is way behind the other 2 qbs in terms of learning the offense, both because he came in to Ann Arbor later and he has never run a spread before. The biggest problem with Denard playing a lot of minutes isn't his lack of qb skill (though the problems with accuracy need work) but his lack of knowledge of the system. I think Rodriguez will make sure Denard can run a few plays well, and we'll see him in the game for those plays. If early in the season he does very well, his time will increase as more plays are added to his arsenal.


August 21st, 2009 at 5:01 PM ^

Agreed, this is why freshman running backs often see playing time but freshman quarterbacks do not. Denard clearly has the ability, but his knowledge of the offense is not at the level of his competition. It is likely (at least during the first few games) that Denard will be used like a running back to run ISQD, but he will not see time doing actual quarterback things, like downfield passing, until sometime closer to midseason. Just my e-pinion, we'll actually have some answers in just two weeks