Mailbag question: Denard and Tate


Posted at 8:00am — 5/21/2010

Mailbag question: Denard and Tate


I haven’t seen this asked yet and wanted to get a different take on this question than I normally see.

After the Spring Game, you guys gave us your thoughts on Denard and Tate, etc. However, the question still gets kicked around, who starts? Who is leading in the QB competition? Now I know you guys don’t like to speculate, but I have to ask you to do it anyway!

In my opinion, Denard looked amazing in the Spring Game. Now I know people have been arguing, “I’ll wait to see in the fall, he was playing against the second string D”, yada, yada, yada. I understand all of this, but you still have to make the throw to the receiver. You still have to feel the pressure and elude it to get out of trouble and head up field. You still can’t question the amazing amount of speed and burst the kid has when he takes off, regardless if he was against the first string or second string D. Also, I think Denard tucks the ball well when he is trying to scramble and for me that is a big key.

Tate looked a little better than last year. However I felt that he was at a slight disadvantage. He did play against the First String D with a Second String O-line (not sure I can use this as an argument. I thought Tate made some nice drives and that he passed the ball well (except a few) and that he ran out of the pocket well (sometimes a little too quick). The issue I see with Tate (which isn’t a secret) is that he handles the ball like a loaf of bread and gets “Crazy Legs” sometimes.

So, given what you have seen, do you think Denard is in the lead to start? Do you think it makes a difference that he was against the second string D, especially after I said it makes a difference that Tate was against the first string D? Do you think Tate is behind and if so, do you think he can make up enough ground on Denard at this point? Do you think that Tate being a stronger leader (vocally) puts him in a better position to see the field more than Denard? How do you guys see things at this time, what is your take?

I would really appreciate your evaluation of this and break down of how you guys see things playing out. Maybe even break it down into “If this, then this happens”, but “if this happens, then this happens”. As you can see, I am really trying to pick your brains right now to get an in-depth look at what you guys think, as you can see your opinion matters to some of us!

Thanks for the hard work, keep it up!!


Thanks for the question.

Coach Rod has made the present public assessment of the quarterback competition very clear: the real competition for the quarterback position will not happen until summer ends and fall begins.

Coach has stated that the eventual starter will not be determined until weekly preparations for the first game. He is adamant that the best player plays, period, and rarely at this time makes the starters public, even if he and the staff know. Coach Rod has stated that even if he and the staff know, and the players know, he most likely will not tell the media.

This keeps competition going and a time-tested strategy to maximize improvement through rough competition. We are in 100% agreement with this philosophy. In our opinion it is the only way to treat quarterbacks, and players in general, that are remotely close in competition.

That said, we all strongly agree that overall Denard Robinson had the best spring, and if the season started tomorrow he would be the starter.

Last year, Denard Robinson, without any doubt, was the most dangerous offensive weapon Michigan had at times. He still has to get on the good side of the learning curve and will need to have a great summer to keep alive his chance of starting right out of the gate against UConn.

It is really not a jolt to observers to say that Denard Robinson is leading in the clubhouse. So going into summer workouts and fall practices, Denard is likely to be the number one quarterback, followed by Tate and then Devin.

Our practice reports from this spring indicated that Denard was clearly the better quarterback in six of the seven practices we attended.

Others were stating that Tate Forcier was just being held out to give Denard Robinson more snaps with the first group to learn the offense (reportedly also due to shoulder injury). That is not what we observed. Tate’s arm did look a little weak early on, but it seemed to improve in a short time. Denard played because he played very well and was difficult to defend. Michigan’s defenders have a clear verdict of who they hate to try to defend as during spring practices when Denard was in the game the defense could not stop him and admitted so when coming off the field. Relating content of an earlier article, several of us were standing on the sideline by the defense when players were coming off the field stating “all they have is Denard” and we need to contain him. The defense clearly didn’t feel as threatened or worried when Tate was in there.

Please keep in mind that in all of our spring reports it was the first group vs. the first group most of the time, and only for the spring game was it first group vs. second group. So, we got a good look at both quarterbacks going up against the first group defense and the observations also included Devin Gardner who impressed as well. But, again, Devin has a lot to learn, especially when the playbook gets expanded and the defensive coverages get tougher to read as well.

Time is always a factor and things happen, both expected and unexpected. It is still a long time until the first snap against UConn.

We believe the quarterback position is a lot better off today compared to two years ago, or even last year at this time. UM now actually has three quarterbacks capable of running this offense. All three are fine athletes.

People need to not go to sleep on Devin Gardner either. He might not be the “guy” this year, but for sure he will be a clear threat to the other quarterbacks come next year. We could see Devin being worked into this offense similar to how Ohio State did with Pryor as a freshman.

Written by GBMW Staff

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