Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
Annoying reminder. Acquire your cancer kicker bracelets by donating on the right sidebar and help out Phil Brabbs. You will feel like much less of a heel after you do this. Brabbs and his wife also have a video blog up about their first week with Brabbs on chemotherapy.
Oops. You know, I saw this Daily article detailing this new pitch play Michigan was working on, and I thought "that's really cool, I wonder why more practice articles aren't this specific":
In a rotation that was repeated about four times, a quarterback and running back lined up to practice a simple outside pitch play. Though the play was basic, the pairings were different than usual.
FTR: Rodriguez apparently mentioned "blogs" a couple times when announcing that practice is closed. I'm not sure why, since this place hasn't detailed any specific plays Michigan was running during the open section of practice. Any mentions I've made of plays I'd like Michigan to run (tight end shovel! Denard as Percy Harvin!) are total speculation. Total speculation that should be immediately inserted into the playbook, but total speculation nonetheless.
Hanging by a thread, but possibly a thick one. Boubacar Cissoko missed the Iowa game, of course, and has been indefinitely suspended by Rodriguez for matters on the practice field and in the classroom. Weird little fib here:
Cissoko told a reporter earlier in the day he didn't travel with the team because he was "banged up," but would return in the next game.
I guess that's good? Like Cissoko wants to be on the team and might pull out of his tailspin? Or it's bad because he's a nasty fibber. I don't know. Cissoko Transfer DEFCON should be set at 3. He is still practicing with the team:
"Playing football is important to him," Rodriguez said. “And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level."
I should clarify something I said on the radio yesterday that caused a message board thread; if I said a Cissoko transfer is "likely" that was in error. I meant to say it seemed possible without putting any sort of spin on how likely, or unlikely, that was to occur. Sometimes in the talking you say things less precise than you want to.
(Side note: every time someone shows up on MGoBoard with inside information they're roundly laughed at and negged, and then their info turns out to be accurate. This has happened with Craig Roh starting, Forcier's shoulder injury being more than a bruise, about which more later, and Cissoko not making the trip to Iowa City. MGoBlog is way more locked down that MLive; yes lol Chris Perry's broken leg but let's take context into account. Even someone with 50 points has put in 100x times more cred than an anonymous poster somewhere else. Information on the internet is usually good.)
The Salters thing. There's been quite a bit made of the Lisa Salters quote about Forcier's interaction with Rodriguez on the sideline just before he got pulled. The exact words, according to AA.com:
When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”
That sounds like speculation to me, not a direct quote.
The shoulder thing. Jason Forcier is pinged by the Daily and spills a bit more on Tate's shoulder injury:
His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes," Jason said. "It's the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it's hurt for the rest of the year." …
"(Tate)'s being tough," Jason said. "But he's playing against guys that are over three times his size."
Um… that would make Tate approximately 110 pounds. Which seems less improbable when you're talking about Forcier than any other quarterback hanging around, but still pretty improbable.
Meanwhile, this Rodriguez quote on Forcier's practice time from the same article confirms one of this site's theories about the super-lame offense against Michigan State this year:
"His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn't bother him too much in the game," Rodriguez said. "
This no doubt slowed Michigan's piecemeal installation of the vast and multivariate spread 'n' shred, allowing Michigan State to tee off on the plays they'd already seen with impunity and preventing Michigan from providing the sort of counter-punch they'd like to. A game against a 1-3 I-AA team should allow Michigan a couple weeks to put in new stuff for Penn State, and Forcier's shoulder should continue to get more cooperative as the year goes along.
Brunnnndidge. Our 2011 PG/SG commit is on the youtubes, pretending to get interviewed by ESPN:
HE LIKES MATH! This actually took place after Carlton's freshman year, FWIW, and two months ago someone called him a lawya in the comments. Law on, lawya.
I'll fight the bear. Iowa's evident effort at targeting Donovan Warren was weird to me, and weird to Troy Woolfolk:
Woolfolk, who made four tackles Saturday, said he was surprised Iowa didn’t challenge him more.
“I was like really shocked,” he said. “I asked myself, 'Why aren't they attacking me, the fresh, young blood in the water.' They just kept going to Donovan.”
Iowa got some completions on Warren but it cost them, and the stuff they did get was often of the miracle-throw or safety-bust variety. It seemed foolhardy. Iowa did chuck a couple fades at Woolfolk but neither was completed.
Flowers for Algernon. Michigan Monday is getting pretty stupid of late:
For the game, the Wolverines carried the ball 45 times for 195 yards, a decent 4.3-yard average. Last week Michigan State held Michigan to 28 yards on 28 carries, so obviously things were better than the last time out, but I’m far from convinced that the Wolverines’ running game is “back”.
Of those 195 yards, 53 of them came on a drive in the third quarter where the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively from under the center. The drive ended in a touchdown, but the fact that Michigan had to go away from their true running style should be cause for concern. To further badmouth the running game, we need to also mention Michigan’s final two drives of the game, which saw Denard Robinson inserted for a benched Tate Forcier. Michigan started the first drive with 7:42 remaining, down by nine points. Iowa was more than happy to let the Wolverines run the ball the rest of the game, and that’s essentially what they did, rushing for 50 yards on their last two drives.
Basically, over half of Michigan’s rushing yards came when Iowa was happy to see the run or when Tate Forcier was under center, meaning the zone read was pretty well shut down again.
Blather about "true running style": inane.
Rodriguez's true running style is "whatever works," and I kind of doubt Iowa was happy to have Michigan run the ball down the field for a touchdown on a drive that started with eight minutes left, especially once the ball got inside the 20. Michigan didn't turn in a dominating day but consistently creased the Iowa OL and got good yardage all night; they did not break big runs because part of the reason for the consistent success was Iowa laying back with two deep safeties and waiting for Michigan to screw up, which they did. There's plenty to criticize about a Michigan team likely headed for a December bowl game of no note, so why twist yourself into knots in an attempt to knock down the one consistently good aspect of the team?
Outside perspective. Okay, we're off the high of the Notre Dame game and discontent and arguing with people who are yet more discontent still. At this point, though, it's clear that the true disaster projections—which seemed a possibility as Michigan nervously prepared for the Western Michigan game—have gone by the wayside. We're left with those preseason projections, which built in the information that Rich Rodriguez is a very good football coach. Doctor Saturday provides some perspective:
The fact that the Wolverines were banged up, outgained, and reckless with the ball and still only fell by two with a realistic to chance to knock off a conference frontrunner on the road would have been regarded as a very optimistic step five weeks ago, when we were unsure of Rodriguez's grasp on the team. Premature Heisman sites were launched and visions of New Year's Day had begun to dance in September, but this was supposed to be a 7-5 team struggling through growing pains en route to the Champs Sports, and it's beginning to shape up as exactly that.
Whee bowls. The Big Ten has picked up the Gator Bowl, which will be a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup but at least it's a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup that's slanted in the Big Ten's favor. And then they're adding some new thing in the Cotton Bowl:
A new bowl game to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas will have the No. 7 pick from the Big Ten, which likely will face a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Cotton Bowl Classic will move to Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in January, and the new bowl is expected to be played around Jan. 1.
This bumps the Motor City down to #8 and essentially cancels any relationship between the Big Ten and it unless there's just a glut of 6-6 teams one year. Hopefully this is never relevant.
Concussion pants. Notes on Michigan's concussions: both Tate and Brown are good to go for Delaware State.
Etc.: Bowl projections have Michigan in the Champs, Insight, or Alamo against Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma State, or UNC. Bowl projections aren't very useful right now. MSU folk have put up their UFR-O equivalent; this one's way less depressing than the one that handles the other side of the ball.
If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
MI QB Devin Gardner
Last week: Inkster defeats Muskegon Catholic Central 34-19.
Gardner led the Vikings with 99 yards rushing and 110 yards on 4-of-9 passing.
He also had a single rushing touchdown.
This week: Inkster (4-2) @ Cleveland St. Ignatius.
|Devin Gardner 2009|
|East Kentwood||L 33-52||19||30||389||3||1||63.33||12.97||10||102||2||10.20|
|St. Edward||W 14-7|
|Highland Park||W 27-22||9||16||127||2||2||56.25||7.94||11||74||2||6.73|
|Bay City Central||W 27-20||7||13||132||1||0||53.85||10.15||15||95||1||6.33|
|Muskegon CC||W 34-19||4||9||110||0||0||44.44||12.22||99||1|
SC QB Conelius Jones
This week: Spartanburg (2-5) @ Mauldin.
|Conelius Jones 2009|
MI RB Austin White
Last week: Stevenson rocks South Lyon East 47-20.
Senior Austin White rushed for 234 yards and five touchdowns Friday...
The KLAA Central Division champion Spartans... led 19-0 after one quarter as the 6-foot-1, 180-pound White scored on runs of 15, 11 and 71 yards.
Stevenson went ahead 33-0 with two early second-quarter scores – a 1-yard run by Mike Beyer and White’s fourth TD of the night, a 31-yard run.
White, committed to Michigan, added a 3-yard scoring run in the third period.
This week: Stevenson (5-2) has a crossover game against an opponent to be determined.
|Austin White 2009|
|South Lyon||W 37-0||8||173||3||21.63||0||0||0||-|
|South Lyon East||W 47-20||234||5||4.75||0||0||0||-|
TX RB Tony Drake
Last week: Skyline beats Richardson 36-7. Drake ran the ball 13 times for 102 yards, and added a 15-yard pass reception. He didn't find the endzone in the game.
This week: Skyline (6-0) @ Richardson Berkner.
|Tony Drake 2009|
|Plano East||W 45-19||15||167||1||11.13||0||0||0||-|
|Lake Highlands||W 42-27||19||226||2||11.89||1||6||0||6.00|
TX RB Stephen Hopkins
This week: Marcus (4-1) @ Southlake Carroll.
|Stephen Hopkins 2009|
|Plano West||W 35-25||28||128||3||4.57|
|Tyler Lee||W 17-7||22||118||1||5.36|
LA Slot WR Drew Dileo
Last week: Parkview Baptist beats Northeast 41-27.
Parkview’s second score came when Drew Dileo ran it in from five yards away. Dileo had 44 yards on seven carries. He also scored on an 18-yard pass from Wilson.
This week: Parkview Baptist (5-1) has a bye.
|Drew Dileo 2009|
|Christian Life||W 60-14||1||50||1||50.00|
|Church Point||W 54-0||2||40||1||20.00|
|Port Allen||W 32-7||11||65||0||5.91||3||92||2||30.67|
MI WR Ricardo Miller
Last week: Pioneer scrapes by Huron 23-19.
Sorise began moving the Pioneers down the field. And after connecting with Miller once once previously in the night, Sorise found a wide-open Miller for a 39-yard reception down to the Huron 5-yard line.
"That was the changing moment in the game," Sorise said. "(Miller) told me if he beat the (defensive back), just to throw it up, throw it deep."
Miller, playing in his first Pioneer-Huron clash, did the rest.
"I told Miles I would go out and get it," Miller said. "I went out and made a play."
Miller's catch left Pioneer only 5 yards from the go-ahead touchdown.
Miller photo by Melanie Maxwell of AnnArbor.com.
This week: Pioneer (6-1) @ Chelsea.
|Ricardo Miller 2009|
|Arthur Hill||W 58-20||1||20||0||20.00|
OH WR Jerald Robinson
Last week: Canton South loses to West Branch, 12-28.
Jerald Robinson had 107 yards receiving for the Wildcats on five catches.
This week: Canton South (1-6) v. Marlington.
MI WR Jeremy Jackson
Last week: Huron falls to Pioneer 19-23.
The River Rats (3-4, 1-3 SEC) erased a 10-point halftime deficit, using a Jeremy Jackson 5-yard touchdown pass and a successful 2-point conversion in the third quarter to cut into the deficit
Jackson photo by Melanie Maxwell of AnnArbor.com.
This week: Huron (2-4) @ Ypsilanti.
OH WR DJ Williamson
Last week: Harding falls to St. Ignatius 7-10.
This week: Harding (4-2-1) @ Massillon.
OH OL Christian Pace
Last week: Avon Lake beats Berea 42-7.
This week: Avon Lake (4-3) @ Westlake.
OH DT Terry Talbott
This week: Wayne (4-3) @ Beaver Creek.
PA DE Ken Wilkins
Last week: Trinity is beaten by Belle Vernon 6-21.
This week: Trinity (1-5) @ West Mifflin.
PA DE Jordan Paskorz
Last week: Hampton loses to Knoch 7-10.
This week: Hampton (3-3) v. Mars.
OH LB Antonio Kinard
Last week: Liberty falls to Lakeview 14-21.
This week: Liberty (4-3) @ Hubbard.
FL S Marvin Robinson
Last week: Lake Region falls to Ridge Community 6-14.
This week: Lake Region (0-5) @ Frostproof.
OH CB Courtney Avery
Last week: Lexington beats Wooster 34-32.
This week: Lexington (4-2) @ West Holmes.
OH CB Terrence Talbott
This week: Wayne (4-3) @ Beaver Creek.
WI P Will Hagerup
Last week: Whitefish Bay loses to Homestead 0-7.
This week: Whitefish Bay (5-2) @ Cedarburg.
2011 OH CB Greg Brown
Last week: Ross falls to Marion Harding 0-21.
Running several times with wide receiver Greg Brown taking the snap in a Wildcat formation, the Little Giants went from their own 10 to the Harding 38.
Brown, who by a coaching decision was held out of the first half, bolted 13 yards to put the ball on the Presidents 38.
This week: Ross (4-3) v. Napoleon.
|Greg Brown 2009|
|Benedictine||W 28-21 (OT)||6||99||1||16.50|
|Findlay||L 40-43 (3OT)||8||122||1||15.13||0||0||0||-|
|Marion Harding||L 0-21|
This one's pretty simple because the blocking scheme is "hey, receivers, block that guy": it's the edge pitch Michigan debuted over the weekend.
A standard formation with Koger as the near-side slot receiver. Note Forcier's position: he's a yard in front of the tailback—in this case Michael Shaw. This usually means Michigan is running something intended to go up the middle. On pure stretch plays Forcier will be even with the tailback.
Iowa, for its part, is in the base 4-3 cover two they ran the whole game. More about this in UFR later, but if Iowa persists in running this scheme in the future I think Michigan is going to smoke them when their quarterbacks are freshmen who are freakin' out, man.
Here's the snap:
Forcier's got the ball already and you can see Shaw bugging out to the sideline to get a in a pitch relationship with Forcier. There's no counter action on this play, it's just get to the edge as quickly as possible.
A moment later:
Forcier's still got the ball and has hardly moved; you can see by the clock on the field that this is less than a second later. The only things to note here are Iowa's MLB, who's taken a step to the side of the field a stretch would go to, and the defensive end, who has also stepped inside in anticipation of one of Michigan's plays that attacks the backside DE's usual tendency to either crash or head out on the quarterback. His caution, usually rewarded, pulls him out of this play.
A second or two later, Forcier has ditched the ball and is a spectator:
Odoms has whiffed his cut block, unfortunately, leaving a linebacker in space. Iowa safety Tyler Sash is also filling, and the backside DE has reacted to provide some contain.
Shaw gets upfield quickly before the three Iowa defenders can converge…
…and picks up five yards despite Odoms whiffing on one of the two relevant blocks.
- It's hard for this play to not pick up five yards unless the defense is specifically gameplanning for it (which they probably will at some point). Michigan ran this a bunch and the worst it ever did was two yards on second and two, and that was because a receiver ran right by a safety and that safety bounced Minor—who's not the best guy to run this thing—out. At all other times it picked up four to six yards. Opponents will now start preparing for that, which will open up some other stuff, as the defensive end's tendency to slide down the line in an effort to defend the zone counter dive opened up the edge for this play. Cat and mouse goes on forever.
- It's probably never going to break big against a defense like Iowa's. Linebacker versus slot receiver usually doesn't go well and it doesn't develop fast enough to make a cut block, even a really successful one, more than an annoyance when those linebackers are five yards downfield. Then you've got that safety coming downhill unblocked, the backside defensive end peeling back, and linebacker help from the inside. It's weirdly like MSU's power off tackle game, which is likely to pick up 3-5 yards and unlikely to do anything more.
- It's something I bet they wanted to run against MSU, and might work better against an aggressive defense that's using a corner guy as a scrape exchange defender. Iowa plays two deep on every play, which always gives them a safety who can run to the POA and fill. If the corner guy is charging off the slot and sucks in on Forcier, then Odoms can go block the safety and Shaw ends up with a lot of room to run downfield. Or he ends up with that scrape defender in his face. About that…
- This is step one in the evolution of a speed option game. The solution to that is to turn this into a true option play where Forcier threatens to get upfield and takes that scrape defender before pitching, or turns it up himself for yardage. Right now this is just a safe little pitch play that has no read and is easy to run.
|Last week's ballot|
Alabama maintains their top spot, while Florida vaults back up into the poll by virtue of getting its first really big win, couple with Tennessee showing that it was no pushover against Georgia. Considering the Gators have dominated every overmatched opponent they've played, the strength of schedule no longer hurts them that much.
Most of the other moves near the top of the poll were Gator-related. I still like Cincy above Boise State, because the Bearcats have the stronger overall resume, despite not dominating the common opponents quite as much as the Broncos did.
LSU drops down for spoiling their chance for a big win, coupled with Georgia proving that it was basically a nothing victory for them.
Oregon moves up a bit, though that makes me feel guilty for dinging Ohio State despite a pretty good win against Wisconsin.
Nebraska jumps into the poll after finally beating a worthwhile team, instead of just living off their close defeat to Virginia Tech. I get really wary of basically everyone towards the end of the poll, so if there's somebody that I should have included but didn't let me know.
Resume chart after the jump.
- Tate suffered a minor concussion on his last play against Iowa. It was not the reason he sat out the last two drives, however. That was a coaching decision. He is still expected to start against Delaware State, but that's up to the team's medical staff. Both Tate and Denard are still pretty small guys, so the coaching staff is trying to limit the contact that they have to take. People need to remember that they are just freshmen, so a mental mistake here and there is inevitable. Most freshmen, especially QBs, have the luxury of redshirting. Part of what makes Tate and Denard so good is their ability to improvise. Like Pat White, Rasheed Marshall, and Shaun King, they need to be able to improvise within the system.
- The outside receivers are doing a good job blocking, but the team needs to do a better job of getting them the ball as well. Inside receivers are also doing well. Martavious Odoms is very physical despite his size, and Kevin Koger is probably on pace to get a record number of receptions for a tight end under Rich Rod.
- The offensive line played solidly, but they didn't have their best game. That's understandable, because Iowa is one of the best defensive fronts they'll see all year. There are some technical and fundamental things that need to be improved still. The trainers will let Molk run a little this week to evaluate his discomfort.
- Moving Woolfolk down to corner enabled Jordan Kovacs to move to strong safety. Rish first thought about the move after the MSU game, though the defensive coaches may have already been giving it some thought.
- Boubacar Cissoko's suspension is to due academics and other things. He's only practicing with the scout team at this point. He knows what he has to do in order to get back on the field.
- There's still no guarantee of a redshirt for freshmen who haven't seen the field yet. There are 6 more weeks to go, and you never know what can happen. The Cissoko suspension will leave the door open for Justin Turner, in particular.
- It's hard to keep the team emotionally prepared for the Delaware state game, especially coming of a the primetime showdown with Iowa. They need to remember that they'll get DSU's best shot. The reason for games like Delaware State is to get the 8th home game. Hopefully in the future, Michigan will be able to get a bit better competition for that game - though they'll probably stay within the 1-AA ranks. Rodriguez would probably rather have a bye week.
- Moosman and the entire offensive line were "great, but not perfect" against Iowa. The snaps have improved, and Moosman feels like he's finally in a groove at the center position. Moosman is a less intense player at center, and that intensity is what makes Molk great.
- Young QBs are going to make mistakes. They just need to remember that they aren't the only ones: "everyone makes mistakes, they're just in the spotlight."
- Halfway through the season, you'd prefer not to have the two losses, but they've come out and played hard in all 6 games. They've already done better than ;ast year, but there's still a lot more work to do. "We're ready to go."
- Zoltan's mom called to make sure he knew he was selected Big 10 special teams player of the week. It's an honor, but he's not too happy about it because he wanted the team to win.
- Zoltan needs to manage his emotions, and not get too high after a good performance (i.e. against Iowa), nor too low after a bad one (against Michigan State). On the fake against Michigan State, Zoltan said he thought he should punt it, but by the time he had made a decision, he was past the point of no return.
- Zoltan doesn't feel good about the team being 4-2, mostly because of the way it happened. Starting 4-0 then dropping a couple games is a damper. everyone would prefer to be 6-0.
- Troy is happy at either corner or safety, whichever will help him get on the field. He's not sure which is his more natural position, but moving from safety to corner is easier, because he needs to only worry about his guy, and not the entire defensive scheme. When Coach Gibson texted him during class that they needed to have a meeting, Troy thought he did something wrong. He was relieved that it was just about a position switch.
- Soup Campbell always gave Troy a hard time when he was coaching at Michigan. He wanted to talk some trash to soup before the game, but couldn't find him. He thought that Iowa would pick on him all game, but was surprised to see they mostly attacked Donovan.
- Cissoko has responded well to his suspension. He's headed on the right track, and he knows what he did. "Boubacar: He's a fighter, he'll be back."
- Minor's health is improving each week. The only thing that's still bothering him is that he's unable to explode out of his cuts. Still, he's getting pretty close to 100%.
- The offense keeps improving from week-to-week. They need to continue fixing the little things to achieve what they want.
- Though he's a skill-position player, Minor savors contact. He likes to deliver the hit rather than receive it.
- Regardless of the situation, Minor talks to the QBs and keeps their heads on straight. Minor has faith in anybody the coaches throw in there. Denard's pick was a common freshman mistake.
- The team needs to be able to play all 60 minutes of a game in order to win. It's tough to think about being just a couple plays from a 6-0 record. They've lost, however, so 10-2 is the new goal.
- Graham has accepted a more vocal leadership position this year. He still sometimes gets nervous about what exactly he's going to say. Gotta go out there and keep leading, keep practicing hard. Leaders can't be down because the team loses. They have to be the ones to keep the guys up.
- RVB and Mike Martin said sorry to Graham: Don't want him to lose another game in his senior year.
- 3rd down defense is kinda bad, but they're trying to get it together. Sometimes, it's just good plays by the opposing offense. "I don't wanna say lucky, but 3rd and 24? Man, luck has gotta be on your side."