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The Quarterbacks

August 24, 2010

As you may recall, after last year’s Notre Dame game, after Matt Millen dubbed Tate Forcier “Studbolt” and we were all convinced that 2008 was just an aberration, I wrote something to the effect of “Tate is going to start for the next 4 years”. 

Shows how much I know about football.  Despite the fact that Tate started every game last year, the starting job is still up for grabs with just over a week left in Fall camp, and at this point, Tate doesn’t even have the inside track on the job.  That position belongs to Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, as he has managed to improve his passing drastically enough to not only make him a threat to be the #1 QB, but to be the odds on favorite right now. 

If Denard had improved so much that he had leapt passed Tate, this would be reason for celebration.  Unfortunately, this new pecking order comes with an asterisk.  The injuries that Tate suffered last year coupled with his apparent no-shows at optional summer workouts have put him behind Denard.  This isn’t just about who has more skills, as Tate is still the all-around better QB.  This is about attitude.  By all accounts, both publicly and privately, Tate’s attitude has been suspect this summer.  So much so, that senior Troy Woolfolk was willing to publicly call Tate out on his lack of effort at Big Ten Media Day a few weeks ago. 

The good news is that Tate has responded very well to the criticism.  He’s come back with a vengeance the last couple of weeks, and some inside Schembechler Hall are saying that he’s pushing Denard pretty strongly to retake the starting job, something that would have been ridiculous even two weeks ago.

The final wildcard in the QB race is true freshman Devin Gardner who graduated early from high school and has been on campus since January.  While Devin is still making freshman mistakes and needs some more work on his throwing mechanics, he is also pushing Tate and Shoelace for the starting job.  As far as running the read option goes, the hallmark of Rich Rodriguez’s offense goes, Devin may be the best of the three.  He likely won’t get the starting nod, and he may still redshirt, but he is going to be very tough to keep off the field in a year.

The upshot of all of this is that we are a long way from the days of the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde antics of Steve Threet and his alter ego Evil Steve Threet.  We’re also well past the days of starting former walk-on Nick Sheridan.  We have 2 QBs with a year of experience under their belt, and the guy who started 12 games last year isn’t even the favorite to start this fall!  I truly believe we have 2 QBs, and possibly even a 3rd, who we can win with.   I’m not sure who will technically start against UConn, but I think both Tate and Denard will play, and it may be almost 50/50.  In a perfect world, they’d both stay healthy the whole year, split time, and Devin could redshirt.  But considering how the football gods have treated us the last couple of years, I’m sure one will get injured at some point, and we will waste a redshirt on Gardner for something like 5 snaps. 

Either way be prepared to cheer for Studbolt, Shoelace, and whatever nickname we come up with for Devin.  Right now, I’m going to dub him The Future – I hope I’m right.

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