Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Tate debate

Before this blog became strictly a Michigan blog, I spent a good deal of time talking about Tim Tebow and his injury. My stance was pretty clear: Under no circumstance was Tebow to be rushed back onto the field, and the longer he sat out, likely the better. My mother often comments about the youth and pressure of these players. Tate Forcier is 19 years old and born in the 1990s. I was still writing in my LiveJournal at 19; Tate is leading the Maize and Blue. The point being, as much as I love Michigan football, the lives of the players are far more important than winning a football game. Concussions are nothing to fool around with. And as was the case with Tebow, the longer Tate sits out, the better I'll feel.

In my Iowa recap, I presumed that Denard would start on Saturday against a hapless 1-AA Delaware State team. That was before I knew about Tate's concussion, and was predicated mostly on the desire to get Denard as many snaps as possible. If Tate doesn't practice tomorrow, he won't play on Saturday anyway, per Rodriguez's team rules. Frankly, however, I hope he practices in a red jersey for the rest of the week and never sees the field against Delaware state.

What is there to gain by having Tate on the field? More playing time, sure, and as a true freshman, he needs as much of that as possible. But that's about it. And for someone whose shown as much polish as Forcier has during the year, getting in snaps against what amounts to Michigan's scout team is not meaningful practice. Tate has proven a good command of the offense and we won't be breaking out anything new against Delaware State. Penn State looms the following Saturday and will get the brunt of Michigan's new tricks and plays.

Denard, on the other hand, is 7/15 with 3 INTs and no TDs. He's a potent rushing threat, but has shown that he either has trouble making good throws or is having trouble with the timing and reads of his receivers. Delaware State is the perfect game for Denard to start to get a grasp of the offense. The competition should be weak enough that he can run for first downs and touchdowns, if necessary, and should allow him to really settle into a passing game that has mostly alluded him. Thiry-plus passing attempts for Denard in this game would be ideal.

The risk and reward behind playing Forcier on Saturday simply doesn't balance out. Play him, he gets a few more series with the same offensive playbook, and puts up some nice numbers, while risking the chance of another concussion. It just doesn't make sense. I would be upset to see Tate start, especially if he plays more than one or two series. Denard should, and in my opinion, likely will, start on Saturday and get the majority of the reps.


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