April 10, 2010

UCLA, Tennessee, Michigan face QB issues

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. This week, we'll have two roundtables, one today and one Sunday.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Which big-time program trying to regain its footing will have the best quarterback play this fall - Michigan, Tennessee or UCLA?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Although Kevin Prince had a respectable showing for UCLA last season, the guess here is that it will be Michigan. Tate Forcier was predictably inconsistent as a true freshman in '09, but he did show big-play ability. If he continues to improve, he could develop into a special quarterback. But he also has to hold off fellow sophomore Denard Robinson, who wasn't prepared to play college football last season but was thrown into service out of necessity. Robinson is athletic and eventually could fit well into Rich Rodriguez's scheme. Either way, Michigan seems to be making headway at quarterback. Now, if the Wolverines could do something about the secondary ...

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think it's Michigan. First off, there's Tate Forcier, who showed great promise last year as a true freshman. He is a nice mix of moxie and talent. Plus, sophomore Denard Robinson and true freshman Devin Gardner will push him for the job. The competition will make everyone better. Robinson reportedly has made great progress this spring as a passer. Gardner arrived in time for spring drills and is turning heads with his athletic ability. Add it all up, and the Wolverines will be dangerous at quarterback in 2010. Good thing, because Rich Rodriguez likely needs a big season to save his job.

David Fox's answer:
Norm Chow is one of the best offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches in the country, but UCLA has had such a bad run at quarterback (partly because of the line, partly because of injures) that I'm not going to make any lofty predictions until I see UCLA have some measure of success. Lane Kiffin recruited well at Tennessee, but he didn't leave the Volunteers with a quarterback. That's why Michigan is the easy pick here. I know they end spring with a competition between Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. This duo struggled at the end of last season and could again if their roles remain in question. But both fit Rich Rodriguez's system, and both should mature going into their second seasons.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I'm picking UCLA. It's hard for me to imagine a program that has Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow guiding the offense will have mediocre-or-worse quarterback play for the third season in a row. If Kevin Prince can stay healthy, I think the Bruins will be solid at quarterback. Michigan certainly has talent at quarterback with sophomores Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson and true freshman Devin Gardner, but I wonder whether they all can co-exist. I think there is a potential for a quarterback controversy, and that is not what the Wolverines need. As for Tennessee, senior Nick Stephens quit the team Thursday, leaving junior college transfer Matt Simms and true freshman Tyler Bray. The winner of that quarterback derby will be playing behind a line with five new starters and in front of a new tailback. That's not a good situation for new coach Derek Dooley.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm going to have to go with Michigan by default. Tate Forcier certainly tailed off late last season, but he showed plenty of potential in the first half of the season while rallying the Wolverines past Notre Dame and leading Michigan to a 4-0 start. Denard Robinson isn't as polished a passer as Forcier, but he's an outstanding runner who gives Michigan another option if Forcier continues to struggle. Forcier showed more star potential last year than UCLA's Kevin Prince, who threw eight interceptions to go along with eight touchdown passes. And I haven't seen enough of Richard Brehaut to know whether he could be the answer for the Bruins. Tennessee is relying so heavily on unproven quarterbacks that I'd merely be guessing if I said the Vols would have the best quarterback situation of the three teams. Matt Simms has enjoyed a nice spring for Tennessee, but it's way too early to tell whether the success he had at El Camino (Calif.) Community College can translate to the SEC.


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