clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Counterpoint: The Case for Denard Robinson as Starting Quarterback

Maizenbrew, while primarily Dave's baby, is actually made up of several different contributors who will occassionally disagree with one another.  This is one of those instances.  I do not expect there to be a "counterpoint" to every starter listed here, but to me, Denard Robinson needs to be the primary quarterback this year, and here's why.

As far as anything approaching a proven commodity goes, Tate Forcierhas had a leg-up in the quarterback race this year.  As Dave points out, quite correctly, Tate's first four games, including a comeback performance against Notre Dame that ranks as the most fun I've had being a Michigan fan in 3 years (it has not been fun to be a Michigan fan), were spectacular.  Soon afterwards, however, his performance, whether due to injury or Molk's treasonous knee or just plain fatigue dipped fairly far south of the Mendoza line, culminating in a 4 INT day against Ohio State.  To be fair, when he wasn't completing passes to Ohio State in that game, he looked pretty good, but yeah...4 INTs are still 4 INTs.

Regardless, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Tate Forcier would be leading the pack when it came time for Spring ball.  His advantage would have made it easy for him to come in for all sorts of praise over the Spring, saying how far he's matured, how his grasp on the offense has increased, and how he doesn't tuck and run at the first sniff of trouble anymore.  Troublingly, none of that happened.  Instead, it was Denard Robinson who came in for praise.  Here's a smattering:

"He's always had the ability to throw...Denard has certainly made some big leaps"

-Rich Rodriguez

"Last year, [Denard Robinson] kind of made some bad decisions with some passes that he knew he couldn’t get...He just tried to force it in there. That’s one thing, he stopped forcing it in and look for something else to throw it to. And I’m really proud with that because he’s looking so much better now."

- Troy Woolfork

"It’s not as hard...Last year, coming in as a freshman, [Denard Robinson] really wasn’t used to throwing the ball. He was throwing it very hard last year. Now. this year it’s like, OK, easy touch so it’s easy for us to catch the ball."

-Roy Roundtree

As I'm sure you've read during this starved existence we call an off season, there were plenty more articles, quotes, and eye-witness accounts.  Witness yourself:

Denard Robinson Every Snap Spring Game 2010 (via mgovideo)

And Ye saw, and saw that it was good.

It is clear then, from coaches to players to casual observers, that Denard Robinson has made the leap, at least in practice, from wildcat QB to real really real QB during the course of the off season.  Chalk it up to more time with the playbook, actually being coached at the QB position, etc.  His speed remains as electrifying as ever (presumably), and by all accounts his arm and - probably more importantly - his brain have caught up.  But have they caught up enough to Forcier's level of "Quarterback from the Cradle" polish?

The answer is "probably not" but I don't think that matters because it boils down to the kind of offense that Rodriguez wants to run.  When West Virginia was at their most devastating, Rodriguez was running the ball 70% of the time, IIRC.  The read-option that Rodriguez wants to run as his primary offensive weapon is much better suited to Denard's skill set.  The level of polish that Forcier has on his throws is moot because if Robinson has made the leap from "oh god don't throw" to "serviceable" then that's all he needs.  If Robinson can throw accurately just enough to keep the defense honest, then his speed on the read-option will put him over the edge as Michigan's primary quarterback.  Rodriguez himself is already gearing for this:

Rodriguez agreed with some comparisons that are being made between Pat White, whom he coached at West Virginia, and Robinson.

"They have a lot of the same abilities," Rodriguez said

If Rodriguez has a quarterback that he feels comfortable in "having a lot of the same abilities" as Pat White, the quarterback that he rode all the way to multiple BCS bowl victories, then I think you've got your starter. 

Caveats abound, of course.  This assumes health on all parties, and even then I believe you're going to see both QB's used throughout the season.  However, given all the data we have to go on at this point, I would not be surprised to see Denard Robinson both starting, and getting the majority of the playing time this season for the Wolverines given his abilities to sometimes turn a fumbled snap into this:

Denard Robinson's Michigan Debut (via davidrizik)