Much has been made of the 2020 quarterback battle between Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton. I did a post analyzing McCaffrey (LINK) and plan to do more, but in an effort to handicap the race, I wondered how many Michigan quarterbacks have taken over the starting job after being the #3 (or lower) in the previous season, or ever.
Hit the jump for the rest of the post.
The chart below shows Michigan’s starters from 1995-2019 and how they ascended the depth chart. The depth chart was determined primarily by passing attempts through that season, and sometimes by educated guesses (such as 2002, 2003, and 2007) GREEN means they made it to starter, and RED means they fell short of that goal.
You can see above that since Lloyd Carr took over in 1995, the only two quarterbacks to go from 3rd to 1st were Tom Brady and Devin Gardner. Both made a pit stop at #2 on the depth charter (in 1997 and 2011-2012, respectively). It’s also noteworthy that they didn’t overtake anybody in front of them on the depth chart. Gardner took over after Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier left, and Tom Brady got the job after Scott Dreisbach and Brian Griese graduated.
Meanwhile, eight players have ascended from #2 to #1
I also should point out that Nick Sheridan went from fourth string or worse in 2007 to being the #1 guy in 2008. Of course, that was in Rich Rodriguez’s anomalous inaugural season, when he went 3-9 while Sheridan and Steve Threet (who redshirted in 2007) shared time in the starting role.
It remains to be seen whether Milton can pull off the rare feat of going from #3 to #1 in a single off-season, and unfortunately, we haven’t had spring football to see McCaffrey and Milton battle it out.
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