As I watched my recording of the game yesterday I was a little surprised how much Bob Griese stated, flat out, that Steven Threet cannot run the spread option offense. I generally like Griese, and he and Nessler are the best pair on ESPN (I just pretend Maguire isn’t there), but he is flat out wrong in this instance.
No one will confuse Threet with Pat White; all one needs to see is them each throw a 10 yd out (zing!). Pat White was really successful in the zone-read option offense because of how much the defense respected his ability to run. It would open up holes for Slaton if the defense played disciplined and White could punish them when they didn’t maintain their assignments.
The play that, in my mind, really cemented the fact that Threet could in fact run this offense wasn’t the absolutely ridiculous 58-yd keeper, but rather the Minor touchdown run. Take a look:
Deandre Levy, a senior linebacker, is rocked back on his heels by the threat of a QB keeper. This, combined with the inside linebacker blitz, opened up a huge seam for Minor. If Levy didn’t respect Threet’s running ability he could have a crashed in and stopped the play for little or no gain.
Threet is not Pat White, and he won’t be successful in this offense in the same way that White was, but that doesn’t mean he cannot run it. He can run the zone-read and pick up yards when he keeps it, as we’ve all seen. This forces the defenses to at least respect the threat, which can open up holes for Michigan’s talented backs. He may not break the big runs as often as Pat White did, but if he can consistently get 3-5 ydson his keepers, Threet can keep the defense honest. Beyond that he’s getting better touch on his passes. Once he gets those hitch-and-go routes down, we could see yet another dimension added to Michigan’s big play potential.
I’m not convinced that either of the freshman quarterbacks will be able to come in and unseat Threet. If they do (and judging by Rodriguez’s personnel choices this year, they’ll get a shot), we can feel confident that they beat out someone who can, at least competently and at best efficiently, run the zone-read based spread option.
Posted under Analysis