Thursday, March 9, 2023

Ranking Michigan's Quarterbacks

This was originally posted on March 17, 2017. It has been updated following the 2022 season.

Sports fans love to debate the greatness of players and rank them in order from most revered to most despised. And while despised probably doesn't fit any of these players, since they played for the University of Michigan, we all have our favorites. I have endeavored to achieve the un-possible: Rank all of Michigan's starting quarterbacks.

Okay, that's too tall of a task for me right now. I'm working up to it. So I'm only going back to 1995, which was the beginning of the Lloyd Carr era. That's the earliest full coaching tenure where I can count on my recollections of Michigan football. I was a big fan of Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller, and the Michigan Wolverines before then, but I'll be damned if I say I was aware enough to understand what was happening on the field.

This ranking only takes into account what the quarterbacks achieved wearing the winged helmet. High school highlight tapes and NFL performance aren't taken into account. (After all, we can agree that Tom Brady is far and away the best quarterback who ever played the game of football, and that includes Uncle Rico.)

So if you were starting a season with your pick of any Michigan QB since 1995, which one would you take?

On with the show:

Record as starter: 20-5 from 1995-1999
Career statistics: 443/711 (62.3%), 5351 yards, 35 TDs, 19 INTs
Biggest win: In the Orange Bowl against Alabama in 1999, Brady led a second-half comeback win and finished 34/46 for 369 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs.
Why the ranking? People might say that Michigan fans are only huge Brady fans in retrospect, but his senior year saw him throw 20 TDs and just 6 INTs while completing 62.8% of his throws. Sure, there were some growing pains along the way, but he ultimately went 20-5 and made Michigan fans proud. Michigan fans like me were anxious to see Drew Henson, but we also were confused when Henson was taking time away from a stellar Tom Brady in 1999.

Record as starter: 6-2 from 1998-2000
Career statistics: 214/374 (57.2%), 2946 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs; 67 carries for 46 yards, 4 TDs
Biggest win: Henson led the Wolverines to a 38-26 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in November of 2000. He didn't complete a high percentage of his passes (14/25 or 56%), but he did throw for 303 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT, along with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Why the ranking? Henson's numbers and winning percentage aren't exemplary, but the trajectory of his career was headed in a positive direction when he decided to quit football in favor of a baseball career. His completion percentage improved from 45% as a freshman to 52% as a sophomore to 62% as a junior. He also threw for 18 TDs and just 4 INTs in his final season. During his junior year, he was outstanding.

Record as starter: 12-1 from 2021-2022
Career statistics: 242/381 (63.5%), 3235 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs; 97 carries for 430 yards, 7 TDs
Biggest win: Though his completion percentage was nothing special, McCarthy had some signature plays in the 2022 game against Ohio State, completing 12/24 throws for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also running 6 times for 27 yards and 1 score. Michigan beat the Buckeyes by a score of 45-23.
Why the ranking? McCarthy played second fiddle to Cade McNamara as a freshman, but he won the starting job outright in 2022. Despite leading the country in yards per attempt and passing efficiency for a good chunk of the early part of the season, he then went on a cold streak toward the end of the regular season, completing just 51% of his passes (51/102) against the likes of Rutgers, Nebraska, Illinois, and Ohio State. He also threw two critical pick-sixes in the playoff game against TCU. With another solid showing in 2023, he could potentially leap to #2 or even #1 on this list.

Record as starter: 10-3 in 2015
Career statistics: 249/389 (64.0%), 3017 yards, 20 TDs, 9 INTs; 58 carries for 166 yards, 4 TDs
Biggest win: Michigan had a ballyhooed matchup with the Florida Gators in the Gator Bowl, and that resulted in a 41-7 victory for the Wolverines. Rudock completed 20/31 passes for 278 yards and 3 TDs, and he ran 4 times for 29 yards.
Why the ranking? Rudock only spent one season in Ann Arbor after transferring from Iowa. He started off with mediocre performances since he didn't arrive on campus until August, but as his chemistry built with his receivers, he turned in one of the best passing seasons in Michigan history.

Record as starter: 12-3 from 2019-2022
Career statistics: 267/423 (63.1%), 3181 yards, 21 TDs, 7 INTs; 46 carries for 3 yards, 2 TDs
Biggest win: Michigan's 42-27 win over Ohio State - the first victory over OSU in a decade - was the most important Michigan win in years, it not decades. Not only did it propel Michigan to its first Big Ten Championship game appearance, but it also set the stage for the Wolverines to make the College Football Playoff for the first time. McNamara completed 13/19 passes for 159 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception, and he ran 1 time for 9 yards. Those aren't stellar numbers, but he mostly kept the ball out of harm's way and managed the team to victory.
Why the ranking? McNamara and Rudock are neck-and-neck and their stats are extremely close, but I give the edge to Rudock for having to adjust on the fly in his one season at Michigan and for having less offensive talent around him. McNamara benefited from a superior run game and more receiving talent overall, but he was an accurate thrower who generally made good decisions.

Record as starter: 17-5 from 1993-1997
Career statistics: 355/606 (58.6%), 4383 yards, 33 TDs, 18 INTs
Biggest win: It's tough not to pick an Ohio State victory, but Griese wasn't the savior on that day in 1997. He did, however, play an excellent game in the "national championship game," the Rose Bowl victory over Washington State that sealed a share of the title. He threw a touchdown pass in each of the final quarters to lead Michigan to a 21-16 win, ending up 18/30 for 251 yards, the 3 TDs, and 1 INT.
Why the ranking? Griese deserves a lot of credit for managing the 1997 team to 13 victories and 0 losses. He didn't make backbreaking mistakes, and he got the ball to the right people. He also didn't have a great backfield or a truly elite wide receiver. What he did have was a great offensive line and a great defense. Michigan's 2016 defense was often compared to the 1997 version, but one huge difference between 13-0 and 10-3 is the offensive line. Regardless, Griese wasn't a great quarterback, but he was the right guy for the job at the time.

Record as starter: 34-13 from 2004-2007
Career statistics: 828/1387 (59.7%), 9715 yards, 87 TDs, 37 INTs
Biggest win: Michigan State finished 5-7 in 2004, but there's never any love lost between MSU and Michigan. In Henne's freshman year, he helped Braylon Edwards put on an epic performance in a 45-37, triple-overtime win over the Spartans. Henne was 24/35 for 273 yards and 4 TDs, including the game-winning 24-yarder to Edwards.
Why the ranking? Much like John Navarre, Henne put up some very good numbers, but those were buoyed by the fact that he was a four-year starter. He was 0-4 against Ohio State, and he consistently struggled with his accuracy. Moreso than any other QB on this list except for Shane Morris (see below), Henne seemed unable to take any velocity off his throws, and those bullets often glanced off someone's hands or didn't give receivers enough time to adjust. He had some gutsy performances when dealing with injury, but ultimately, his performance was good but not great.

Record as starter:
19-7 from 2018-2019
Career statistics: 424/706 (60.1%), 5661 yards, 45 TDs, 15 INTs; 163 carries for 323 yards (2.0 YPC), 7 TDs
Biggest win: The 45-14 win over Notre Dame in 2019 probably ranks as his biggest victory, even if the running game paved the way to victory. Patterson was just 6/12 for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, and his 11 carries for 2 yards didn't move the needle much. But it was a huge win over a team that finished #12 in the country. Oh, and it was Notre Dame.
Why the ranking? Patterson was ranked #5 going into the 2019 season, but his performance as a senior was somewhat lackluster. A more wide open offense should have helped, but he got flustered under pressure, something that shouldn't happen so much to a seasoned veteran. He also did not run the ball as well as he should have, and while some of that falls on the coaches, Patterson also carries some of the blame. Still, he was a talented QB who could throw and run.

Record as starter: 15-13 from 2010-2014
Career statistics: 475/787 (60.4%), 6336 yards, 44 TDs, 32 INTs; 342 carries for 916 yards, 24 TDs
Biggest win: The 2013 win over Indiana had eye-popping numbers (503 passing yards, for example), but Notre Dame was coming off of a national championship game appearance and got beaten down by Gardner and company in 2013. In the 41-30 victory, Gardner was 21/33 for 4 TDs and 1 INT while also running 13 times for 82 yards and 1 TD.
Why the ranking? I love Devin Gardner's physical abilities and leadership qualities, and I'm in agreement with many Michigan fans: What would Gardner have achieved under the coaching of Jim Harbaugh? We'll never know, and that makes it difficult to place Gardner on this list. I want to rank him higher, but ultimately, he made some really ugly turnovers and didn't win enough games. He was doomed by a coach whose career was going into a tailspin and the worst offensive line performance in decades. I know people will get upset with me for placing him above Robinson, and Gardner didn't have the same abilities to run; but Gardner was a superior passer and very effective with his legs.


Record as starter: 23-11 from 2009-2012
Career statistics: 427/747 (57.2%), 6250 yards, 49 TDs, 39 INTs; 723 carries for 4495 yards, 42 TDs
Biggest win: Robinson's performances went up and down as a passer, even though he was always a dangerous runner. He didn't have a great night against Notre Dame in 2011, but the team ultimately came out with a win in the initial Under the Lights matchup. Robinson (and Jeremy Gallon) had some late-game heroics that led to a 35-31 win. Robinson was 11/24 for 338 yards, 4 TDs, and 3 INTs, and he also ran 16 times for 108 yards and 1 TD.
Why the ranking? Okay, I'm on the record as saying that Denard Robinson wasn't a great quarterback, though he was an excellent runner. With all the talk about how a running quarterback changes the game, Robinson's win-loss record wasn't great - despite Brady Hoke's inaugural 11-2 season. He also turned over the ball too much (39 INTs, plus too many fumbles) and had a career completion percentage of just over 57%. He did some great things while at Michigan, but his throwing abilities were lacking.

Record as starter: 31-11 from 1999-2003
Career statistics: 765/1366 (56.0%), 9254 yards, 72 TDs, 31 INTs
Biggest win: Navarre's 2003 win against Ohio State was significant. It propelled Michigan to a Rose Bowl appearance, and it gave the Wolverines a victory over the previously 10-1 Buckeyes. But that's not the game I think of when it comes to Navarre. He led Michigan's all-time best comeback on the road at Minnesota. This is one of those games where I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when watching that game on TV. Michigan was down 28-7 against the Gophers before Navarre turned on the jets - (almost) literally. In addition to completing 33/47 passes for 353 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, he also caught a 36-yard TD pass from Steve Breaston on a "Transcontinental" throwback to the QB. The Wolverines won, 38-35.
Why the ranking? Despite setting a bunch of records at Michigan - largely because he started for three full seasons and part of a fourth - Navarre had an uncanny knack for getting his passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, an impressive feat for a 6'6" quarterback. He was slow and rather inaccurate, and he even had a good supporting cast around him that included the likes of Chris Perry, Anthony Thomas, Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, and Marquise Walker.

Record as starter: 13-3 from 2014-2017
Career statistics: 257/437 (58.8%), 3192 yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs
Biggest win: Michigan State was terrible (3-9) in 2016, but that doesn't change the fact that they had dominated the series against Michigan in recent years. Speight was 16/25 for 244 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT, so it wasn't a great game, but he did well enough to end the losing streak against the Spartans.
Why the ranking? Speight had a chance to move up (or down) in 2017, but he struggled early in the year against mediocre teams (54.3% completions, 3 TD, 2 INT) before getting injured. That leaves him right where he was previously, though I strongly considered placing him below Dreisbach.

Record as starter: 12-3 from 1994-1998
Career statistics: 208/380 (54.7%), 2920 yards, 15 TDs, 12 INTs; 81 carries, 51 yards, 2 TDs
Biggest win: In Lloyd Carr's first game as head coach, Dreisbach brought the Wolverines back from a 17-0 deficit against the Virginia Cavaliers, culminating in a late, game-winning touchdown pass to Mercury Hayes. In that game he was 27/52 for 372 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs; those passing attempts and passing yardage were records for Michigan at the time.
Why the ranking? Dreisbach didn't put up great numbers and played for a run-heavy team that didn't count on him a ton, but he had a solid record and made some big plays - including a memorable 72-yard run against Illinois. Injuries and other talented quarterbacks shortened his career, and he came off the bench for the final two years of his career. But some people forget that when he went 4-0 in 1995, he was just a redshirt freshman.

Record as starter: 5-7 from 2009-2010
Career statistics: 219/365 (60.0%), 2647 yards, 17 TDs, 14 INTs; 140 carries for 291 yards, 4 TDs
Biggest win: The Notre Dame game was the biggest game in 2009. Michigan pulled off a 38-34 upset that included a 31-yard TD run by Forcier and then the game-winning touchdown pass to wideout Greg Mathews with just 11 seconds remaining in the game. On that day Forcier was 23/33 for 240 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT, and he ran the ball 13 times for 70 yards and the 1 TD. He looked like Rich Rodriguez's next big thing at the time, though his star faded after that point.
Why the ranking? There's no doubt that Forcier was a talented player, but he was a risk-taker and gunslinger without the necessary arm strength, judgment, and supporting cast to make that work. Attitude and off-the-field issues seemed to contribute to his demise, since he was academically ineligible after 2010.

Record as starter: 2-2 in 2017
Career statistics: 57/108 (52.8%), 672 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs
Biggest win: Choices are limited so far, but Peters took his team on the road at Maryland, averaged 8.1 yards per attempt, and threw 2 touchdowns with 0 turnovers. That's more impressive than the Minnesota win when Chris Evans and Karan Higdon ran roughshod over the Gophers on a rainy night.
Why the ranking? Peters showed flashes of great play, combined with some silly mistakes. If Michigan's offensive line play were on par with the 2007 group for Mallett below, then I think Peters would have played pretty well. Peters can put more touch on the ball, and he's more athletic than Mallett. Peters transferred to Illinois after the 2018 season.

Record as starter: 3-0 in 2007
Career statistics: 61/141 (43.3%), 892 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs
Biggest win: In his second career start, Mallett was 16/29 for 170 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT against Penn State. But he helped the Wolverines to a 14-9 win over the Nittany Lions, who finished the year with a 9-4 record, and that game included a seemingly unlikely touchdown scramble from the 6'7", 252-pounder. It wasn't as dominant of a win as the 38-0 victory over Notre Dame the previous week, but the Fighting Irish finished 3-9 that year.
Why the ranking? Mallett's numbers weren't great, and he had the advantage of handing off to Mike Hart and throwing to the likes of Mario Manningham. So he had a better supporting cast than many of the quarterbacks on this list, but quarterbacks are measured by wins, and he found a way to help the Wolverines to that 3-0 record during his time.

Record as starter: 2-6 from 2007-2008
Career statistics: 102/200 (51%), 1105 yards, 9 TDs, 7 INTs; 76 carries for 201 yards, 2 TDs
Biggest win: Michigan stunned Wisconsin with a 27-25 victory over the Badgers in 2008. Threet struggled throwing the ball (12/31 for 96 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs), but the 6'6" Threet stunned everyone with a 58-yard run and ended the game with 9 carries for 89 yards.
Why the ranking? Threet had some potential, but he was unlucky throughout his career. He enrolled early at Georgia Tech just before they moved to a triple-option offense, so he dodged a bullet in order fall into the arms of pro-style QB haven Michigan . . . and then Lloyd Carr retired to be replaced by a spread option coach in Rich Rodriguez. After one season of not working out, he transferred to Arizona State and then retired from football due to concussions. Maybe he could have carved out a more lasting legacy if he had graduated from high school 5-10 years earlier, but that's the way things go sometimes.

Record as starter: 2-3 from 2018-2020
Career statistics: 86/152 (56.6%), 1194 yards, 5 TDs, 6 INTs; 50 carries for 156 yards, 3 TDs
Biggest win: Michigan began Milton's first season as a starter with a good looking win over the Minnesota Gophers, a 49-24 victory that saw Milton get a lot of hype. He completed 15/22 passes for 225 yards and 1 touchdown; he also ran 8 times for 52 yards and 1 touchdown.
Why the ranking? Though technically 2-3 as a starter, that Minnesota victory was really the only one for Milton. He was yanked in Michigan's only other 2020 victory - the Rutgers game - after completing 5/12 passes and recording 2 rushing attempts for -16 yards. Backup Cade McNamara brought the Wolverines back in what turned out to be a shootout to win the game. Milton was inaccurate and frequently made poor decisions, which negated his size, considerable arm strength, and above average speed.

Record as starter: 3-3 from 2015-2017
Career statistics: 104/191 (54.4%), 1146 yards, 4 TDs, 6 INTs
Biggest win: In his only start for an injured Wilton Speight in 2016, O'Korn didn't play well but sparked a late surge with a 30-yard scramble. While he won two more games in 2017, neither was a significant performance. In a non-starting experience, O'Korn played very well against Purdue in 2017 coming in for Speight; O'Korn finished 18/26 for 270 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
Why the ranking? O'Korn played fairly well when he was inserted as a backup late in games, but he didn't play so well in his  starts. He struggled mightily against Michigan State and Penn State, and he made some very frustrating plays against Ohio State in 2017. Unlike the guys below him, you saw his potential.

Record as starter: 1-3 from 2007-2010
Career statistics: 70/148 (47.3%), 701 yards, 2 TDs, 6 INTs; 45 carries for 103 yards, 1 TD
Biggest win: Naturally, it's his only win, but he also played a good game. He was 18/30 for 203 yards, 1 TD, and 0 INTs. He also ran 8 times or 33 yards in the 29-6 win over the Minnesota Gophers at the Metrodome.
Why the ranking? Sheridan did not have a good career, but as a walk-on from Saline, he wasn't expected to do much in college. He fell into a situation where Michigan was lacking quarterbacks and he happened to be somewhat mobile for Rich Rodriguez's offense, so Sheridan made the best of it.

Record as starter: 0-2 from 2013-2016
Career statistics: 47/92 (51.1%), 434 yards, 0 TD, 5 INT; 18 carries for 87 yards (4.8 YPC)
Biggest win: N/A
Why the ranking? Morris arrived at Michigan when Brady Hoke's regime was on a downward slide, but Morris did nothing to stem the tide. Even with two years of Jim Harbaugh's coaching, he rose no higher than third on the depth chart and never accounted for a touchdown during his four years on campus.

Let the arguments begin.


  1. File under "What Might Have Been" ...
    (a) Devin Gardner -- if the coaches understood better his strengths and his weaknesses, rather than trying to shoe-horn him into an under-center offense.
    (b) Tate Forcier -- if he had his head on straight. The kid had moxie.
    (c) Wilton Speight -- if he'd not been injured as badly as he had. He seemed to be growing at an increasing rate, but after the injuries against Iowa, and then Purdue the following year, he just never seemed the same.

    1. Al Borges = Saruman

    2. Agree on all these but Tate Forcier had Tom Brady's maturity is a bit like saying if Nick Sheridan had Denard Robinson's body.

    3. I wrote the exact opposite. Forcier was a messed up kid.

    4. Yeah I got it and agree. I'm saying the Forcier (but with brain) hypothetical is a lot different than the contextual ones for Gardner/Speight. The latter 2 were unlucky to have things out of their control happen to them, but Forcier (mentally) and Sheridan (physically) are who they are.

    5. My biggest "what might have been" is Henson. We'll never know what could have happened if he had chosen football over baseball.

      Another is Denard as a junior/senior if Rodriguez had been retained or even if a spread offense guy was hired instead of Borges. Denard wasn't bad as a junior in 2011 but given how raw the kid was in 2009, the numbers he put up in 2010 still feel like they could have been kicked up another notch in another world.

  2. 2000 Full Season Henson. IF i have to take the missed games because of injury, 1999 Brady.
    Probably the best statistical year goes to Navarre in 2003 but he lost some some games with average play.
    Brady was clutch and probably would have gone undefeated except Carr benched him so he could play favorites. A disgrace which I will never forget nor forgive.

  3. How can Griese be 6th? He is the only one on this list with a Nat Champ Ring. In college, he was touted as a game manager. He was a very good one. But it turns out he could play some in NFL too.

    Definitely Griese over JJ/Cade. He was a better game manager than these two. Griese would not have thrown the pick-6 against TCU. Griese over Ruddock. The only one on this list who might have an argument to be ahead of Griese is Brady. But then again, I do not know how much of this is influenced by what he did in the NFL. For that 1997 season, I would not have replaced Griese with Brady. But if we are starting afresh, I might pick Brady simply for his competitiveness and his ability to elevate his teamates.

    1. Griese had an outstanding offensive line and a stellar defense with some all-time greats on it. I don't think he was all that talented of a quarterback, and if you go back and watch highlights from 1997...he really was not a special athlete (which no one claims) or thrower of the football.

    2. I don't agree with FTs take but he does have a point about Griese. I know this is just looking at what he did at Michigan, but with hindsight being 20/20 I think we have to give Griese more credit for 1997 given his long successful NFL career. He didn't look all that talented in 97 but it turned out -- he was pretty dang talented to have an 11 year NFL career.

      We can make whatever excuses we want for Henson and entertain hypotheticals but in the end Griese was a far better QB than Henson and he was more successful at the pro and at the college level. And Henson had a lot more talent around him on offense in college too.

    3. Griese #3 ... I think that's a fairly easy call

    4. TBF it's a very subjective exercise. There are some easy calls but crediting a QB for winning a lot of games is dubious when defense influences so much of that.

      The thing with Griese is we now in hindsight that he had a lot of talent, so we can probably let go of how we might have felt in 1997.

  4. I'm going to be a nerd here and point out that the ranking tries to encapsulate 2 very different things.

    1. "what the quarterbacks achieved wearing the winged helmet."
    2. "if you were starting a season with your pick of any Michigan QB since 1995, which one would you take?"

    In the first criteria you have to give credit for longevity so guys like Navarre, Henne and Denard who started multiple years have to go towards the top. While guys like McCarthy with only 1 year of starting, have to drop back even if they did very well. If you go by the second criteria you instead have to focus on that guy's best performance - so maybe somebody like Speight (pre-injury) can be given an edge relative to his body of work (including post-injury) and somebody like Henson (brief window) could be considered to be elite.

    My other nerd-quibble is that you have to make some assumptions about context. Do you have a killer OL and a run game -- maybe a safe pocket passer like McNamara is your guy. Do you need somebody to make the offense go -- maybe Denard is the playmaker your offense needs to avoid losing to OSU 13-42.

    1. And your defense. Brian Griese was absolutely blessed to have maybe as stud a defense as the program has ever had. and that is saying something. I liked Brian Griese as a QB, but he was gonna get the ball back. Very seldom did he have to make it happen for us to win the game.

    2. Agree Anon. There is a lot of focus on winning in the discussion above but a QB can only control less than 50% of the equation. Some of these losses that are counted against QBs are almost entirely on terrible defenses. The focus should be on what the offense did, or at least consider the context. For example, some of the turnovers coming at times when teams are desperate and trying to come from behind are not bad risks. If you're losing by 20 after running for 1.1 YPC all game long, you might have chuck some balls downfield and pray. Taking a risk isn't always a bad thing.

      I'll give a specific example with the 2015 OSU game. Michigan played very safe in the first half and the defense held up fairly well. Michigan punted from the OSU 36 and Kicked a FG near the goal line. 10-14 at the half made that look reasonable. But quickly it was clear this was fool's gold as OSU scored TDs on the next 4 possessions and suddenly it was 13-42. Jake Rudock had a decent day on paper (263 yards solid completion percentage) but not single pass on the day was over 40 yards. They were too safe and even with that they ended up with a Rudock fumble. Folks are rightfully critical of Speight for his TOs against OSU the following year but at the same time -- at least the offense scored more than 1 TD!

    3. @ Lank 2:19 p.m.

      That's a weird juxtaposition of Rudock and Speight. Speight's longest pass against OSU went for 22 yards, and he averaged 6.1 yards per attempt. Rudock's longest pass went for 39 yards (just 1 yard shorter than your arbitrary 40-yard cutoff) and he averaged 8.2 yards per attempt.

      If we're going to haphazardly assign blame, the starting running back in both those years was De'Veon Smith, who averaged 2.3 yards/carry in 2015 and 2.9 yards/carry in 2016. Jim Harbaugh's M.O. is to run the ball, and the running game was ineffective.

      But getting back to the QB somewhat randomly are still taking shots at Rudock even though it makes no sense, especially in this case.

    4. That's because he relishes being a contrarian.

    5. The offense with Rudock was less effective than the offense with Speight yet I ranked Rudock above Speight below.

      Michigan wasn't too conservative with Speight -- he made a lot of mistakes.
      Michigan WAS too conservative with Rudock - he didn't make many.

      If Rudock was as good as you say they should/could have scored more points against OSU. There are plenty of other examples of games where Michigan was too conservative, this was just a notable one where a guy put up impressive passing stats (at least in the specific conservative perspective) that mask the fact that the offense wasn't getting it done. You've made the same observation wrt Denard -- sometimes passing stats get inflated by safe easy stuff.

    6. It's not contrarian to say that Rudock is overrated on this list. There's no statistical backing for having him this high and the results were unexceptional. The offense got better after he left.

      The only reason he is this high is that he was on a team that made us all happy (for exceeding expectations and winning their bowl game). Thunder makes excuses for the guy like was up against it when in fact he was a proven big ten starter in his 5th season surrounded by NFL talent and elite coaching. He single-handedly cost Michigan the Utah game and was (I'll repeat because it's true) flaccid against OSU. Rudock was fortunate to play easy defenses to close the year (except OSU) and then he was fortunate to see an uninterested Florida team in the Bowl game. That made us all feel nice but it didn't make him a good QB.

      The idea that he is better than Henne, Griese is overtly off - not only based on their college careers but their long NFL careers. And then the numbers put up by Denard, Patterson, Navarre, and many others are just vastly superior. Like - not in the same ballpark. It's very contrarian to say Rudock is a better QB than guys who produced so much more than him and got so many more accolades for their performances.

      I like Rudock -- he made me happy too - it was a fun season to be a fan. But he never did anything remotely impressive outside of this one year (where he wasn't particularly impressive unless you compare to the alternative). He lost his job...AT IOWA. He wasn't very good when he had it.

      More so than Griese or McNamara - Rudock was at the right place at the right time and did the best he possibly could. He was very fortunate. He just wasn't all that good - which puts him in the same class as a guy like Speight. Who, again, led Michigan to a better offense with very similar personnel and put up very similar passing numbers.

      One big play from the defense or special teams in 2016 games against Iowa, FSU, or OSU and Speight moves up 10 spots on this list. One mistake from the defense or special teams in 2015 against Minnesota, or Indiana and Rudock moves way down. It's always this way, but there's no rationale explanation for 2 guys like Speight and Rudock to be so far apart on the list when they performed so similarly in back to back seasons with more or less the same people around them. Speight did that while being younger, less experienced, dealing with a major injury, and playing a substantially tougher schedule (OSU and MSU on the road, a bowl game against a team that cared).

    7. "Rudock's results were unexceptional."

      He's #2 in completions and #3 in yardage for a single season at Michigan, and he went 10-3 in his only year as a starter. He also holds the single game record for passing touchdowns with 6.

      That's like the definition of exceptional.

    8. Response below. There's nothing exceptional about his season.

  5. My rankings below are for the "if you were starting a season with this guy" line of thinking. I'm choosing to assume the context is right now – starting QB for the 2023 team coach by Harbaugh. A loaded veteran supporting cast with an elite OL, solid WRs and TEs, and a couple dangerous RBs. The QB here is a Harbaugh offense guy (multiple TEs) and the final piece to lead an offense. Composure, leadership, and mistake avoidance are valued over improvisation and play-making. But being able to dial it up when called upon and running ability are still valuable, because the defense isn't always going to shut everyone down and the run game isn't going to be able to plow over elite defenses.

    My rankings for career differ substantially from Thunder's list. This is my attempt to frame this more in line with Thunder’s list. I'll add a little flavor with Tiers. I’ll also emphasize PER and YPA over completion percentage because some guys have inflated numbers by easy throws but failed to score, even when it was very much needed.



    1. TOM BRADY 1999. PER 138 and YPA 7.5
    Despite modest efficiency numbers in Michigan it's impossible to ignore Brady's future NFL success AND his thrilling Orange Bowl performance against Alabama. He couldn't run though - even in college.

    2. J.J. MCCARTHY 2022. PER 155 YPA 8.4
    3. DREW HENSON 2000. PER 153 YPA 8.5
    Henson competed with Brady as a younger player and then produced better numbers after Brady left. He was the top recruit in the country and 2-sport star. The chips don't get any bluer. There's a case to be made here for #1.

    BUT McCarthy ran more, threw more, and won more in 2022. People forget that one Henson's 8 starts was a 3 pick game against PSU in 2000. Like McCarthy lost a shootout to highpowered offense. But don't let recency bias sway you - Henson did the same thing twice (Purdue, Northwestern). Plus he got hurt. Henson was way more hyped but edge to the guy who showed up every day and produced. JJ's career (in just 2 years) is already statistically superior in every way to Henson's 3 years.

    1. ------------------------------------------------

      These are guys that are not sure things in the 2023 offense because their context was very different. But they had great talent and did great things at times and probably would have fit very well with Harbaugh and done better with a strong supporting cast (especially on OL) that the 3 guys above were all blessed with.

      4. DEVIN GARDNER 2013 PER 146 YPA 8.6
      The elephant in the room was that Gardner was the starter on some very mediocre teams. But few of us who saw him play put that on him. The offensive coaching and OL were atrocious. You have to squint here but Gardners stats were eye-popping at times and his running ability was special as well (we probably took it for granted because of the guy that came before him). Extra leadership points for playing on a broken foot vs OSU. This is a kid who is not going to let you down and I have very little doubt he could have gotten fit into the Harbaugh offense with great success.

      5. DENARD ROBINSON 2010 PER 150 YPA 8.8
      Nobody put up better stats than Denard and I can make a case to put him #1. He's also an A+ leader that everyone loves. He stuck through a transition, he played hurt, and remains on staff under the Harbaugh regime. Character and leadership are there. On career at Michigan. he's in the top 2 right alongside Henne IMO but the fit with Harbaugh requires healthy squinting because he was less accurate than everyone listed above him and many below him. Mistake avoidance is what drops him this far down the list. In the Rodriguez offense that was easily offset by his ability as a rusher. It's tempting to say Harbaugh would have done AT LEAST as well in fitting around Denard's historic skillset, and coached him up to be more careful with the rock too. But in the end there's just too much speculation needed to put him above the others.

      6. CHAD HENNE 2006 PER 143 YPA 7.6
      I love Henne for his career as a whole but his efficiency numbers were never anything special. He couldn’t run but he could make big plays through the air. When "the scoring offense" was unleashed he could do work. Like Denard, he did have some turnover issues and some stinker games – perhaps the 7 point turd against Oregon in 2007 was the biggest. Plus the loss against App State though the defense can take most of the blame for that. Regardless, Henne was criticized as a robot at times but I think that would have fit reasonably well in the Harbaugh offense. The ceiling he demonstrated at times is what separates him from the next tier.

      More later on those guys: the Regional Managers

    2. Devin Gardner with the 2023 team, under competent coaching ... holy smokes, it would have been something.

    3. ------------------------------------------------

      These guys can get the job done without messing things up, but don't ask them to do too much.

      7. BRIAN GRIESE 1997 PER 138 YPA 7.4
      8. SHEA PATTERSON 2018 PER 150 YPA 8.0
      On stats alone Patterson has a case to be substantially higher but he was never known for his leadership and there have been persistent rumbling about culture improvement since the 2018 and 2019 years. Doubt it’s all on him but still. For the 2023 team you want not just talent but leadership so Patterson drops below Griese who excelled at avoiding mistakes.

      9. JOHN NAVARRE 2003 PER 134 YPA 7.3
      10. JAKE RUDOCK 2015 PER 142 YPA 7.8
      Again the stats here say Rudock gets an edge but the eggs he laid in losses against Utah (3 INTs) and OSU (13 points) are hard to get over. Both finished their college careers on a strong note but Navarre really closed his quite impressively. Despite a modest 9-3 record in 2008 the brutal schedule had 8 ranked teams (5 away games) and Michigan came out with a winning record against them anyway. Navarre was resilient against a lot of fan hostility and turned into a really strong passer his last year.

      11. WILTON SPEIGHT 2016 PER 140 YPA 7.3
      All about how you perceive his injury. Until he got hurt the team was 9-0 and took care of the ball and after he got hurt they were 0-3 and he threw 4 picks. Some brutal mistakes in those game cast a long shadow that would otherwise put his name higher on the list.

      12. CADE MCNAMARA 2021 PER 142 YPA 7.9
      Statistically his 2021 season is very similar to Rudock and Speights but he had more offensive talent around him. Michigan won some games despite McNamara – at times they were scared to throw at all and things looked entirely hopeless against Georgia to close the year. He did step up enough times against weaker defenses to deserve credit, and he was consistently praised for his leadership by teammates. He deserves to be on the list. However, unlike Griese’s run to the top 5, it came with a lot of doubt and concern about his play during the season.

    4. ------------------------------------------------

      13. SCOTT DREISBACH 1996 PER 127 YPA 7.5
      14. JOE MILTON 2020 PER 125 YPA 7.6
      15. RYAN MALLET incomplete
      Underrated talents who had their moments. They went on to relative success elsewhere but really struggled as starters at Michigan and threw too many INTs to be higher on the list. It was not meant to be for them in maize and blue, but if we’re waving magic wands and putting them on the 2023 team they probably have the talent to be pretty dang good.

    5. -------------------------------------------------

      16. STEVE THREET
      Never really played for a decent team. So...maybe?

      17. TATE FORCIER
      Had his moments but who could trust him to not implode?

      18. JOHN O'KORN
      Stand up kid. He’ll always have the Purdue game but he was in too deep for his abilities.

      Peters was never a good QB and Michigan was terrified to throw the ball when he was in. Like other backups thrown into meaningful snaps unexpectedly it didn't go well.


      21. SHANE MORRIS

  6. False statement: Rudock "turned in one of the best passing seasons in Michigan history."

    He is ranked 4th on this list yet the 2015 season wasn't even in the top 10.

    1. I don't even know what this means. He's #3 in passing yardage in Michigan history.

    2. Did you believe that John Navarre turn in the best passing season in Michigan history in 2003?

      Even in just the Harbaugh era (7 full seasons plus COVID year) the 2015 season was:

      6th out of 7 in passer rating
      6th out of 7 in INTs
      4th out of 7 in TDs (tied for 4th)
      6th out 7th in YPA
      4th out of 7th in completion percentage (tied for 4th)
      3rd out of 7th in yards

      Rudock stayed health almost the whole year and attempted a lot of passes but that was not a particularly good passing offense.

    3. Rudock's numbers were boosted late in the year against bad opponents (Indiana #91 defense, Rutgers #116 defense) or teams that didn't come to compete (Florida).

      Even in the second half of the year, Rudock struggled to score against MSU (#20 defense), OSU (#7 defense), and Minnesota (#47).

      Truth be told I don't think you can say he ever led the team to victory with a complete game. Most games were losses (MSU, OSU, Utah), blowouts where Don Brown's D dominated all game (Ore State, BYU, NW, MD), or a goofy OT games where neither defense could stop anyone (Indiana).

      I was trying to remember back to the PSU game (a legit win, on the road, competitive in the 4th quarter, with Rudock posting decent numbers.) Here's what the second half drives looked like:

      Drive 1 Punt: Rudock goes 5/8 with Michigan running just once
      Drive 2 Punt: Rudock goes 2/2
      Drive 3 TD: 3 runs, 0 passes
      Drive 4 TO: Rudock goes 3/3 but fumbles at midfield
      Drive 5 Punt: Rudock goes 1/3
      Drive 6 TD: 4 runs, 1 pass for 5 yards
      Drive 7 run out the clock: Deveon Smith runs 5 times in a row and gets 2 first downs to capture the win

      Rudock wasn't bad but he also wasn't particularly good.

      There's one of our more lauded QBs who faces criticism because he inflated his numbers against weak defenses and then struggled (relatively) against better ones. It's interesting that that doesn't come up with Rudock.

      But yes he beat Florida and ended his college career on a positive note and that convinced Bob Quinn he was worth a draft pick. Ignoring the fact that Florida didn't care....let's say it didn't work out well for that guy.

      "he was a fringe draft prospect at best. Many thought he would be a priority free agent. He wasn't even invited to the NFL scouting combine. Eighteen other quarterbacks were. Yet the Detroit Lions wouldn't even let him get to the seventh round."

    4. Numbers vs. ranked opponents:
      2021 McNamara: 64.2% completions, 7.7 yards/attempt, 3 TD, 6 INT
      2015 Rudock: 63.6% completions, 7.6 yards/attempt, 6 TD, 3 INT
      2022 McCarthy: 59.8% completions, 9.2 yards/attempt, 5 TD, 3 INT
      2016 Speight: 57.1% completions, 5.7 yards/attempt, 6 TD, 5 INT

      You're bringing up the NFL stuff. This post does not care about the NFL. But the good vs. non-good opponent stuff is at worst inconclusive for you, if not conclusive that Rudock is better than you think.

    5. Also, you're being purposefully misleading and using whole team stats.

      Rudock is #4 in passing TDs during the Harbaugh era, behind only Patterson, Patterson, and McCarthy. He's #2 in yards behind Patterson.

      I'm not even going to dive into the rest of the stats you shared, because they're irrelevant since you're trying to be misleading.

    6. Rudock in 2015 had the most attempts of any QB season the Harbaugh era (389). I think it was the second most in UM history. If you want to give Rudock a bunch of credit for being healthy for (almost) all season and attempting a lot of throws that's you're right.

      It should be noted that you have Henson near the top of the list and his best season was 1,852 yards. And Navarre - who I think has 2 of the top 5 yardage seasons is 11th on the list. So it doesn't seem like staying healthy or putting up a lot of attempts/total yards are primary criteria.

      2015 wasn't a great passing season for the team. It wasn't a great individual season either. Both of Patterson's season, McCarthy's, McNamara's where better in most measures and Speights - even affected by injury - was right there.

    7. The vs ranked opponent stat is cherry picking. For one thing it includes BYU (unranked at 9-4) and doesn't include Utah (#17 at 10-3). It also includes Florida (#25 ranked) who did not come to play in the bowl game (somewhat understandable given they were 10-1 before getting destroyed by FSU and Alabama and closing the year 10-4).

      Speight meanwhile faced #6 OSU, #7 PSU, #8 FSU and #9 Wisconsin. PSU doesn't count for Speight because they were unranked at the time.

    8. Here are our starting QBs vs Big Ten opponents for each of the 6 full seasons: 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022.

      Which of these stands out as one of the best passing seasons in Michigan history?

      62%, 1,903 yards, 17TD/3INT 151 Passer Rating
      65%, 2,099 yards, 12TD/4INT 141 Passer Rating
      57%, 2,318 yards, 17TD/6INT 144 Passer Rating
      63%, 1,775 yards, 15TD/3INT 150 Passer Rating
      62%, 1,689 yards, 9TD/5INT, 138 Passer Rating
      65%, 1,963 yards, 13TD/4INT, 147 Passer Rating

    9. These seasons were listed without names to protect the maligned, but if you're curious to know they are in reverse chronological order (McCarthy’s is first and Rudocks is last).

      Rudock was fine – but he wasn’t better than Patterson, McCarthy, or McNamara.

      He was a useful fill in, a capable vet, but even with an entire preseason under his belt, 4 years at Iowa to work off of, and almost never having to play in any pressure situations (doing nothing when he did) - he does not stack up favorably compared to the other guys in conference play.

      His season numbers, like his conference numbers, are OK too! He was solid!

      The only place Rudock stood out is the bowl game. McNamara, Patterson, and Speight mostly stunk, but they played top 10 teams. McCarthy put up huge numbers but also had multiple costly TOs. Meanwhile Rudock got an easy ride against a team that barely finished ranked and barely showed up. Bob Quinn was impressed though!

    10. LOL. "I don't like these stats so we won't use them" is a classic Lanknows tactic.

    11. Pot meet kettle. You didn't like the stats I provided, called them "purposely misleading" and gave your own.

      1. I "used" your stats. Acknowledged and commented on them. They don't make Rudock look like he had one of the best seasons in Michigan history or even in the Harbaugh era.

      2. I explained why they weren't very instructive. Namely - They don't reflect the quality of opponent. I didn't even mention that they don't reflect the quality of the defense, which is more relevant, or that the sample sizes are small.

      3. I expanded on them. I gave a bigger sample that focused on a subset of generally tougher opponents (stripping out non conference noise). Closer to apples to apples not your cherries.

      You're dodging because you know what I'm saying is true. Rudock was unexceptional even with a highly advantageous situation. Even when you make the rules on your terms (emphasize completion percentage, ignore rushing ability, put 1 season on equal footing with 2, 3, or 4, wave off early season stuff as transition) Rudock still doesn't come close to a top passing season. If you take off the customized filter, then you can do stuff like put the guy who won OPOY in the Big Ten above a guy who didn't come anywhere close.

      But I get it. The offseason between 2015 and the start of 2016 was very enjoyable, in large part because we won the bowl game and exceeded the expectations for the season. Rudock made us all feel good.

      But that doesn't mean he WAS good. It's a different thing.

    12. Again, the numbers speak for themselves. Rudock's season is top-3 or top-10 in almost every major category (attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, etc.). It's one of the best seasons, statistically, in Michigan history. Your refusal to acknowledge statistics does not make them irrelevant.

      Yes, I know you're stripping out certain opponents - ones you don't like, ones who had bad defenses, a team who didn't care, etc. You love to selectively whittle down stats until you get to a place where you feel like you can justify your opinion.

      You also made a silly argument that "he had a whole pre-season," as if that's not an advantage that virtually every quarterback has - if not more of one. You're trying too hard.

    13. You're ignoring stats like yards per attempt and passer rating. Not to mention team/offensive success or QB rushing. These are easy to find numbers, simple to understand, and highly relevant. Rudock had an unexceptional PER and low YPA. The offense finished outside of the top 20.

      The counting stats boil down to attempts. All the counting stats are high because Rudock made it through the full season. Rudock also threw a lot of INTs because of this and took a lot of sacks because of this. If your primary criteria is "stayed healthy all year" then Rudock deserves this ranking, perhaps. If you want to look at performance, even on a per game basis, Rudock does not. If you use the magic of division you can account for context (number of attempts) and reach very different conclusions.

      That's why I compared the seasons (rather than the individuals). That's why I compared the Big Ten performances. It's a better way to get apples to apples.

      I know you don't really believe it's just about counting stats. But that's what you're focusing on exclusively and selectively, to make your case for Rudock. You haven't answered why Navarre ranks so much lower than Rudock when he has multiple seasons that are highly ranked in terms of attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns. Or Patterson for that matter.

      Just comparing counting stats for a single season:

      270/456 for 3331 yards and 24 TDs in 2003 - Navarre
      249/389 for 3017 yards and 20 TDs in 2015 - Rudock
      214/381 for 3061 yards and 23 TDs in 2019 - Patterson

      If that's the logic you are using then use that. If it is then go ahead and say Drew Henson had one of the worst passing seasons (for a primary starter) because his counting stats sucked because he couldn't stay healthy.

      If you're saying Rudock was a great passer because he had one of the greatest passing seasons on the basis of counting stats then why does Navarre rank so low and Henson so high?

    14. "You also made a silly argument that "he had a whole pre-season," as if that's not an advantage that virtually every quarterback has - if not more of one. You're trying too hard."

      Two examples where this is not true.

      1) McCarthy in 2022 split the first 3 games with McNamara.
      2) Henson in 2000 missed the first 3 games due to an injury.

      But that wasn't the point of bringing it up. It was that you consistently act like Rudock was burdened by being a transfer and that he erupted into an elite passer in the second half of the year once he settled in and got over the hump. That bias is tainting the evaluation and it's not true if you recognize that the second half of the season was inflated by a handful of easy opponents (in 3 of the last 5 games) and that against legit defenses (4 of the last 7 games) Rudock didn't do much and the offense fell flat.

      Again - Rudock is fine he just doesn't belong in the conversation of great QBs for a program of Michigan's caliber. We have a mountain of stats and accolades that tell us this. He filled in for one year and did a solid job, but nothing about his season was indicative of exceptional performance. By Michigan QB standards, he was JAG. His college career before that, his lack of NFL production, his contributions to the program overall -- he just doesn't deserve to be put up so high. It's an insult to all the guys below him (pick Henne, Navarre, Robinson, hell Patterson did more for the program.)

      And if Florida had been the first game of the year and Utah the last there is no way he would be ranked this high. The order of events is contributing to a narrative that simply doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

    15. "You love to selectively whittle down stats until you get to a place where you feel like you can justify your opinion."

      Remind me -- who responded to total season results with stats for "against ranked opponents"?

    16. I will acknowledge that I am guilty of overthinking it at times. But this isn't one of those times.

      Henne, Navarre, and Denard had 9 or 10 thousand yard careers at Michigan and all did more at the NFL level than Rudock also. Rudock is the only one who had the benefit of a 5th year under a coach like Harbaugh. They also had better seasons than Rudock if looking at per play passing stats, per game yardage production, overall offensive ranking, honors/accolades.

      Navarre - first team all conference QB in 2003 (Unanimous)
      Henne - first team all conference QB in 2007 (1st Coaches/2nd Media)
      Robinson - unanimous OPOY and first team all conference QB in 2010 (1st team Media)
      Rudock - honorable mention (to both media and coaches)

      Hot takes are fun - but this one: "actually, Rudock is better than all these legends" doesn't hold up. Even if you try to use very narrow framing of what it means to be a great QB. Even if you focus on 1 year only. Even if you squint.

      Rudock is not one of the best 5 Michigan QBs of the last 30 years, 25 years, 20 years. If we want to narrow it down to the last 10 years, things get worth discussing.

    17. @ Lank 2:24 p.m.

      The stats vs. ranked opponents was a response to this:

      "Rudock's numbers were boosted late in the year against bad opponents (Indiana #91 defense, Rutgers #116 defense) or teams that didn't come to compete (Florida)."

      You selected a few random teams. I selected the teams that were ranked by (somewhat) unbiased observers - or in other words, not teams randomly selected by you or me to have been competent or not.

    18. It was not random at all. Indiana and Rutgers were TERRIBLE defenses. That's notable, as is playing lorida - I took out the F because they didn't give one.

      The quality of your opponents matters. I was pointing out that the narrative of mid-season improvement (compared to early season transition costs) didn't take into account level of difficulty.

      The ranked teams stat is always flawed because it reflects rankings at the time, which are wrong, rather than the end of the year ranks. It's also a team stat and not a defensive stat. Indiana wasn't a bad team but they were a horrendous defense and good offense led by an NFL QB who is, was, and always will be better than Rudock. Those stats of "ranked teams' are more random than anything I posted. They don't reflect level of difficulty for Rudock at all.

      I don't think you're being honest here. You know that Utah was a much tougher opponent than BYU for Rudock. Utah was the #14 defense in the country and BYU was #40. Yet you're happy to use the 'ranked opponent' stat that includes BYU and not Utah as if it's telling.

    19. That's an interesting take that mid-season rankings are "wrong." So if a team starts 6-0 and then loses a couple star players to injury, finishes at 7-5, and drops out of the rankings...they weren't good when they were 4-0 or 5-0 or 6-0 and ranked highly?

    20. You mean like how the 2020 Wolverines ranked in #15 in the preseason?

    21. @ Lank 12:15 p.m.

      You keep moving the bar. You went from talking about mid-season rankings to now talking about pre-season rankings. It's really difficult to hit a moving target.

    22. Only if you're inaccurate.

  7. "Rudock's season is top-3 or top-10 in almost every major category (attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, etc.)."

    It's top 3 in passing yardage and completions. That's it. Those are inflated relative to the guys before him because he played an extra game on the schedule, didn't miss any due to health, and wasn't in battle for playing time.

    He was top 10 in attempts.

    Those are very far from the only major categories.

    He was not top 10 in touch downs or passing touch downs.

    In one year, with 4 years experience behind him, surrounded by NFL talent and elite coaching, Rudock had a year that does not rank statistically as top 10 in most major categories.

    1. Completions: #2
      Completion percentage: #2 (in career completion percentage, since I can't find long-term single season stats)
      Yards: #3
      Attempts: #4
      TDs: #12 (tied)

      I love that we're dredging up the "he played an extra game" argument. Michigan has played 13+ games for 16 seasons, and that doesn't include years when Michigan could have played a 13th game, but the QB play - among other things - was so bad that Michigan failed to make a bowl game (2008, 2009, 2014).

      But since you decided to go that route, I think the only player who might have passed Rudock if they maintained their season passing yardage average would have been Devin Gardner in 2013. So Rudock would drop from #3 to #4 in yards if we gave Gardner an extra game. Does that change much?

    2. The counting stats are contextual. I think you know this. Rudock started all 13 games and few of the other guys you're comparing him to did that.

      Look up per game yardage, include rushing stats, look at the efficiency stats (not just inflated numbers with safe dump off throws), look at the yards per attempt. Rudock doesn't rank. You know that too.

      Answer the question about Navarre. Every argument you are giving for Rudock applies to him but more so.

    3. @ Lank 12:30 p.m.

      Got it. So Jake Rudock was worse than his stats show because he stayed healthy. And here I thought a QB who could avoid taking big hits and getting injured was a good thing.

      A fellow coach likes to say, "Your best ability is your availability." I guess he's wrong.

    4. I didn't say he was worse than his stats showed. His stats showed he stayed healthy. To the extent you can control that, he did well. I would credit him with some toughness for hanging through all year and not missing a game.

      Interesting that you think this is really important yet the #2 guy on your list played 8 games while his backup (#11 on the list played 9 that same year, then 11, then 13, then 13 more after that).

      I guess your guess is right.

    5. You'd have a leg to stand on in this argument if you consistently rewarded counting stats. That would mean flipping Navarre for Henson, Henne for McNamara, Patterson for Griese. Things along those lines.

      But it's clear that's not what it's about. It's just a hodge podge of favorites not based on anything consistent. "Guys who made me feel nice and I like"

      Anyway, why if you're focused on counting stats why limit to one year? This is a CAREER metric right? Not just who had the best year. Henne, Navarre, Gardner, Brady, Robinson are the top 5 on your list in completions. Plug in Patterson over Brady if you want to look at total yards. These guys all outproduced Rudock.

      Navarre is instructive here. He had a bigger 5th year than Rudock's 5th year in terms of yards, TDs, attempts, and completions. If that's what counted you'd put him higher than Rudock. But it's not, you're counting the fact that Navarre contributed to the program for 4 years AGAINST him, and crediting Rudock for spending 4 years at Iowa and showing up at Michigan as a finished product. Thats exactly backwards. Navarre developed, contributed, struggled, and persevered. He didn't get to pick the most favorable situation for him, he went to a place with a stacked QB room even though people thought he should have been playing another position, and came out a record setter and NFL QB.

      Navarre had a better final season (by your terms) and he certainly had a better career (by anyones terms) and then he went on to a better NFL career as well. Navarre was better than Rudock. Period.

    6. No, I'm taking into account both what I saw and the production. Navarre was surrounded by elite talent in 2002-2003. He was throwing to Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, Jason Avant, all of whom had significant NFL careers. He had a good offensive line, and he had a running back who was drafted in the 1st round of the NFL Draft.

      Rudock was throwing to a good tight end and a couple receivers who never did anything in the NFL, and his running back has been bouncing around the NFL, AAF, XFL, USFL, or whatever after going undrafted. If you gave Edwards, Breaston, Avant, Perry, etc. to Rudock, he would have done just as well as Navarre, if not better, because he was more mobile and more accurate.

    7. At this point I'm wondering if you're being ignorant or obstinate but the facts are very different. Rudock had more offensive support and had more NFL players around him than Navarre did.

      Rudocks OL was stacked and Navarre's was not. Rudock had the advantage of multi-year NFL starters in Cole and Glasgow, multi-year NFL backups in Braden and Magnuson, and a guy who had a couple cups of tea in the NFL in Kalis. It was an NFL line, from left to right.

      Navarre's OL had one single NFL starter - David Bass. Dave Pearson was a good college player and managed to played 2 games in the NFL (same as the number Kalis STARTED). Three other starters; LT Tony Pape, RT Adam Stenavich and RG Matt Lentz never played in the NFL. Pape was a solid college player but the NFL didn't work out. Regardless, there's a difference between guys who are solid in college (QB equivalent of Wilton Speight/Shea Patterson) and guys who are that, plus have long NFL careers ( QB equivalent of Chad Henne/Brian Griese). Navarre had the former and Rudock had the latter on the OL.

      I will give you that Navarre had better WRs. That's indisputable, but Chesson and Darboh were NFL players too. And the advantage is partially neutralized by having Jake Butt - the best receiving TE or our lifetimes.

      RB doesn't matter but if it did you'd note that Chris Perry is a notorious NFL bust. Rudock had plenty of options ranging from Smith (who had a more productive college and NFL career than Rudock) to your favorite guy Ty Isaac.

      The fact is that the weak link on the 2015 offense was... Jake Rudock. He was a stop gap while everyone else around him was an NFL player that would go on to outproduce Rudock in the pros. That wasn't true with Navarre - he was blessed with elite WRs, yes, and like Rudock had a lot of NFL guys around him, but he also had multiple holes on the OL and a relative weak spot at TE by Michigan standards.

      You also have to consider the superior offensive coaching that Rudock had. The 2015 offensive brain trust was Harbaugh, Fisch, Drevno, Wheatley, and Jaybaugh. Pretty impressive group. The 2003 version was Mike DeBord, Terry Malone, Scott Loefler, and Fred Jackson. All of whom have been mocked by Michigan fans since. Jackson was better than Wheatley but otherwise the 2015 offensive coaching was better across the board.

    8. If you put 5th year Navarre on the 2015 roster he would have produced vastly superior numbers than Rudock. Considering Navarre had more than 10 times as many yards in the NFL as Rudock I think saying anything else counts as a hot take.

      If you put Rudock on the 2003 team he would have been the 3rd string option and probably transferred away.

      Rudock had NFL talent around him at Michigan and he had NFL targets to throw to at Iowa too (Smith, Willies, Kittle, Krieger-Coble) and of course he was given a chance by the Lions. His one season at Michigan was the only place where he came close to anything approximating success and that was due primarily to EXTREMELY favorable circumstances.

      Navarre gritted his way through multiple years of adversity (including fans complaining) but stuck through and became an excellent player his senior year. He was 1st team all conference (after honors the previous year as well) and won a big ten championship. By year 5, Navarre was a stud. Rudock was a guy who filled a gap.

      Objectively - Navarre had a more productive college career, a more productive NFL career, and he also had a better 5th year. He did not have the good fortune to pick a situation tailor-made for him to step into, he grinded it out and earned his job. He even fended off competition from future NFL QB (and 5 star recruit) Matt Guttierez. Rudock lost his job AT IOWA and transferred to chase playing time.

      You are really twisting in the wind here trying to make a case through counting stats (he had more attempts!) and context (he had more NFL receivers!) to elevate Rudock when everything is blowing in the other direction.

      Jake Rudock was not a good QB at Iowa. Jake Rudock was not a good QB in Detroit. You insist that Jake Rudock was a good QB in his one year in Ann Arbor and had one of the best passing seasons ever yet he was not on the 1st team, the 2nd team, or even the 3rd team in all conference honors, he did not post impressive passing stats (by PER, YPA, or TDs), he couldn't run, he didn't avoid mistakes, and he kept an all around mediocre (by Michigan standards) offense outside of the top 20 despite being surrounded by NFL players at every position. The next year it would be in the top 15.

      You want it to be one way - But it's the other way.

    9. It's pretty funny to go to counting stats when you argue for Rudock over guys like Gardner and Robinson and then argue about superior mobility and supporting cast when arguing for Rudock over Navarre. Some flimsy logic.

      You do recall what Devin Gardner had to put up with in 2013 right? Even so he put up better passing numbers and comparable passing counting stats (2,960 yards and 21 TDs in 12 games vs 3,017 yards and 20 TDs in 13) to Rudock's 2015 season. Not even counting the 480 rushing yards and 11 TDs, it was a better passing season (146 PER, 8.6 YPA for Gardner vs 142 PER, 7.8 YPA) than Rudock had, with a lesser supporting cast and vastly inferior offensive coaching.

      I'm sure in this case you'll flip the argument to Rudock winning more games, ignoring that Rudock had a better defense, special teams, and coaching while also playing an easier schedule to get to 10-3 instead of 7-6.

      Rudocks best game in Michigan uniform came against Indiana and Gardner was better in that context.

      Gardner's best game was against OSU and even though it was a loss Rudock cannot touch it, or even come close.

    10. Wait, I'm confused ... is Chris Perry's Doak Walker award behind an inferior OL evidence that running back DOES matter?

    11. No JE. Deveon Smith could have done the same thing. YPC in College - Perry 4.6, Smith 4.5.

      Perry was in the right place at the right time and stayed healthy under a heavy workload. NFL showed he was not a special and didn't deserve to win the Doak Walker that year (Sproles, Williams, Bush, among others)

      He was better than Smith, not by all that much, but better. I would say the gap is somewhat similar to Navarre's superiority over Rudock.

      But if I'm doing a ranking like above, regardless of my opinion, there's no question Perry deserves a higher rank. College and pro production is what it is. Anyone saying Smith was better than Perry because of X, Y, Z faces a similar uphill battle to anyone saying Rudock is better than Navarre. You have to make excuses and cherry pick truth and basically speculate on hypotheticals. Which is all fine but then you have to admit that it's counter to the facts.

      SO let's pretend I think Deveon Smith is the #4 back in history. I might say make arguments about how critical of a role he played on 2016's top 15 offense (despite a mediocre QB), or how he single-handedly carried us to victory over Indiana, or how he was forced to play on a team in turmoil with terrible OLs in 2013 and 2014, how he avoided mistakes and got better as his career got further along.

      Smith was just a guy by Michigan standards. A solid starter but nothing exceptional. Like Rudock. Perry was a very good player who put up huge stats. Like Navarre.

    12. I just can't even continue this convoluted conversation. It goes way, way, way too far down the rabbit hole and in way too many directions. I have more content to write.

      I like Rudock more than you do. Oh well.

    13. There I will agree with you. We are way down in the rabbit hole. We don't have to be. The basics are simple:

      Rudock's career contributions are not notable. A fraction of multi-year starters like Henne, Navarre, Robinson, and Gardner.

      His season performance was unexceptional statistically. Even IF you filter down to "best passing season" while ignoring rushing ability and career production, most of Rudocks stats are not great (PER, YPA, TD/INT). He did attempt a lot of passes, primarily because he was healthy (almost) the entire year,

      He did not earn any all conference honors let alone national honors and this was not remotely controversial. It wasn't even a good year for Big Ten QBs as the OSU guys got hurt.

      Pro career says Rudock was an unremarkable QB. It's circumstantial evidence but compared to others on this list (Griese, Henne, Brady, even Navarre) he did nothing. The difference in pro careers indicates the difference in college careers can't be waved off by context.

      Rudock's signature performances were subpar. They came against weak or indifferent opponents and don't hold a candle to some of the heroic games on the list from other.

      Rudocks duds where just as bad as some of the others. His 3 INTs in a narrow loss to Utah is up there with Speight, Navarre, Denard's worst games and he never made up for it with a performance against a rival like OSU, MSU, or PSU.

      Rudock was an experienced vet surrounded by NFL talent and elite coaching. He was healthy, made a lot of low risk throws, and played most of this season in low leverage situations. He had an easy job and did...fine.

      When the opportunity to do more was in front of him, he either failed (Utah, OSU) was not used in winning-time (Minnesota, PSU) with one exception. He shined in the Indiana game, but that was one of the worst defenses in the country.

      Rudock fit a need in 2015 and it was a very fun season but ultimately he was not even close to an exceptional player by Michigan standards.

    14. LOL...and you just keep on going.