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Mailbag: No More QBU?

Reader RJ asks an interesting question about Michigan's quarterback situation into the future:
My uncle seems to think Michigan's days of getting good qbs and sending them off to the nfl are done with the new Rich Rod Offense. Kevin Newsome said he wants a Pro Style offense. Do you think our offense will be at least balanced unlike the run heavy w virginia offense? Will there still be some pro sets in the offense to provide a legitimate shot at getting recruits that are looking to find a place that they can make a jump to the pros from like Newsome?
Since this contains a bunch of different questions, I'll answer them all, in order of importance.

Will the offense be more balanced than it was at West Virginia?
Yes, almost definitely. The main reason that West Virginia ran the ball so often was the talent they had was not conducive to passing. Between Chris Henry and Darius Reynaud, there was never a really good wide receiver threat. Michigan will have more talent at the wideout position in year 1 than Rodriguez had in his entire tenure at West Virginia (though probably not at the slot position). Then, of course, there is the issue that Pat White is a far-from-elite thrower. However, he is a very good runner, and Rod used the strengths of his personnel, rather than trying to force them to do something they couldn't.

Of course, people will always ask why, if Rod is going to conform to his players' strength, a four-star Elite-11 QB is battling a walk-on for the starting position. First, recruiting rankings are imperfect. Threet may not have been the talent that evaluators thought he was coming out of high school, and maybe Sheridan was overlooked by recruiters in his time at Saline. Also, while Rodriguez will conform to his talent somewhat, the system is dependent on ability to run (this includes rollouts and bootlegs, which are still passes but require mobility). "Adapting to his talent" does not mean completely changing the system, but rather adjusting run/pass ratio from something like 70/30 to more like 50/50 (though Rod has stated his target is 60/40).

Will there still be some pro-sets in the offense?
Yes, there will still be some pro sets, but not that many. Rodriguez teams are typically under center as a change of pace, rather than a regular part of the offense. However, this doesn't mean that they won't use pro-sets at all. One famous example is Noel Devine's touchdown run in the Fiesta Bowl, which was out of an I-formation. You will see the I-formation mainly in goal line sets, and the QB will be under center occasionally, but it will be more of a rare occurrence than the norm.

Will Michigan be able to send QBs to the pros anymore?
If a player has the talent to make it to the NFL, as long as he doesn't lay a complete egg in college, and have next-to-zero production, he will be able to make the NFL. Even Pat White will probably make it to The League, albeit as a safety. Running a pro-style offense isn't necessary to making it to the pros. The best example is, of course, Vince Young. He had all the measurables of an NFL quarterback, but didn't run anything remotely resembling an NFL offense in his time with the Longhorns.

Vince Young, despite taking almost no snaps from under center in college, and despite running an offensive system based on the one that Rich Rodriguez developed and will run at Michigan, was the third pick in the NFL draft, rookie of the year, and is known as Tennessee's franchise player. While not all Michigan quarterbacks will go to the league as QBs, there is still a very good chance that they will make it if they have the skills.

As a side note that may be relevant, how often did the New England Patriots' record-shattering offense operate from under center? Probably more than 5-7 times a game, but certainly far less than what would have been considered a "pro-style offense" a few years ago. The Indianapolis Colts are another example of this.

Kevin Newsome wants to run a pro-style offense. Does this mean we won't get him?
Newsome hasn't seemed adamant about running a pro-style offense, which leads me to believe that Kevin Newsome could care less what system he runs, as long as he makes it to the league. If Rich Rodriguez and staff do a good job selling Michigan to the kid, they will pull up examples of Vince Young (same system, different school), Woody Dantzler (ran Rod's offense, made it to the league at a different position), and Shaun King (Rod's offense, played in the NFL), all of whom show that Michigan's offense will not keep you out of the NFL.

Newsome has to realize that his skill set and physical abilities are perfect for this offense, and a quarterback who produces in college will at least get looks from NFL scouts, even if he doesn't run the prototypical offensive style. Worrying about future recruits who just want to make it to the NFL is a little premature, until we see what Rodriguez can do with the advantages of coaching at Michigan instead of WVU.

So what does it all mean?
For now, RJ, tell your uncle not to worry about it. If the results are poor after a couple of years, it can become a concern. In the end, I think Michigan ends up with either Kevin Newsome or Tate Forcier (who is actually more suited to a pro-style offense) in this class.

Thanks also to commenter Justin for asking a similar question about Newsome, regarding a recent Rivals article.

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“Mailbag: No More QBU?”

  1. Blogger kowisja Says:

    So was the history of Yost condensed to just that one entry?

  2. Blogger Tim Says:

    I condensed it down to 5 entries, and with a fair amount of content today, I chose to hold part 2 until tomorrow, since I want the series to culminate on Thursday.

  3. Blogger Dex Says:

    I like this entry. People need to remember that NFL success is based on your talent level, and not the college you went to. Alex Smith ran the Meyer offense at tiny little Utah and became the #1 pick in the draft, while Water Buffalo Navarre ran the M-pro here and is out of the league now.

    If a QB has the skills to succeed at the next level, the NFL is going to find him.

    Additionally, Rich Rodriguez does not strike me as an idiot. While he definitely needs a QB that can move, there is a big difference between moves like Pat White and moves like Shaun King. In other words, he at least needs a guy that can throw on a roll out/bootleg consistently - but if he can do more, Rich will have him do more. Throwing on the run and being at least somewhat mobile has also become a pre-req for success in the NFL anyway- I think worrying about losing the NFL pedigree is short sighted. The NFL isn't going to be a spread-option haven by any means, but any good QB has to be more than a statue in the pocket these days. Even Brady is capable of taking off for 10 yards in the right situation and I'm pretty sure I can out run him.

  4. Blogger Tim Says:

    Good call on Alex Smith, Dex.