Ridiculously Early 2009 Preview: Quarterback

Welcome to the first installment of the Ridiculously Early 2009 Preview. This will be a series of posts over the course of the next few days/weeks in which we will attempt to address and preview each position going into the spring, one by one. Today we will begin our preview...where else...with the quarterback position.

Coming off of a miserable 2008, there was no question that Michigan needed to do something with the QB role. When Rodriguez came to Ann Arbor a year ago, it was obvious that he didn't have a warm body that could run the spread style of offense that he was used to running with Pat White at West Virginia. His only true hope was freshman Justin Feagin. But he didn't arrive in campus until summer, and by then it was too late to try and catch up and outgun Steven Threet for the starting nod. Many had high hopes, but Feagin just wasn't cut out for QB yet. Instead he shifted over to slot WR where he ended up getting minimal playing time.

So that left Threet and backups Nick Sheridan and David Cone. Sheridan, a walk-on and son of former Michigan assistant coach Bill Sheridan, who is the currently the linebackers coach with the New York Giants, ran the spread in high school...and therefore somehow thought he could run it in college. His one good game, against Minnesota last year, but that didn't make up for his complete meltdown in Columbus.

As we've addressed before, Threet has since decided that his services would be better utilized elsewhere.

So, knowing that Threet and Sheridan are not exactly what the doctor ordered, Michigan needed to recruit a couple QBs to take their place. Oh don't worry, Sheridan will still be on the roster for 2009.

Welcome Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson.

Now, much has and will be made of Forcier's ability to run the spread. And even more has been made of his confidence so far at Michigan. If I was the projected starter as a freshman and I hadn't yet even seen the practice field, sure...I'd be confident, too. But he is a highly touted QB coming out of San Diego. But he will by no means be the savior of Michigan football. He has a great football pedigree, with his brothers Jason and Chris both playing at PAC-10 schools. And my personal opinion is that he will be better than Threet in terms of overall ability to manage the game and make less bonehead mistakes.

Two things really going for him right now are that he enrolled early and has had the chance to learn the playbook and workout with S&C coach Mike Barwis, and also that Threet's departure has basically left the door wide open for him to step in a be a leader right away...a role it seems he's more than comfortable with.

Denard Robinson was a late addition to the 09 class. He signed on with his fellow HS teammate Adrian Witty who will likely red shirt and find a role as a DB down the line. But Robinson was a standout from the speedy state of Florida. According to a recruiting publication, SuperPrep, he was the #9 overall recruit coming out of Florida this year. However, unlike Forcier, he will not arrive on campus until summer after he graduates. Likely a drawback in terms of preparation.

But as we know, how you perform in high school has really very little bearing on how well you'll perform in college. How else can you explain how Notre Dame consistently recruits top 5 classes and hasn't played in a meaningful game since the first Bush administration?

In a previous post, I listed my projected depth-chart for Michigan's QBs going into this season.

1) Tate Forcier
2) Denard Robinson
3) Justin Feagin
4) Nick Sheridan

I received a comment regarding the placement of Feagin, a slot-WR, as the #3 QB. I'll stand by that placement if for no other reason that I think if Forcier and Robinson go down, the last thing Michigan would want to do is snap the ball to a guy who's been wearing the headset for the whole game.

Feagin's ability to run the spread (effectively) will of course be limited, but any more limited than Sheridan's?

As we go into the spring and of course the summer, no question things will develop more. The QB is a vital role in any offense, but especially one like Michigan's which puts so much emphasis on not only the QBs physical ability, but his ability to mentally manage a complex offensive scheme. Especially in front of a large television audience and the largest crowd to watch a football game anywhere in the world.

I think there is little doubt that even with 2 true-freshman at 1& 2 on the depth-chart, we're still in better and more capable hands than we were at this point last year. I may be proven wrong when the stadium explodes in a devastating loss to Western Michigan on September 5th...in which case I will be more than willing to link back to this post and say I was dead wrong. But that will likely be the result of poor coaching rather than the QB's fault.

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