at least it's not just us?
Editor's note: Last year I sort of shoehorned Alan Weymouth's useful analytical posts into my game previews; this year I've been encouraging him to make them into diary posts. He hasn't gotten around to it, but I think they're good pieces of analysis so I'm posting it here. This one is from the Miami game, so it's old, but better old than moldering in my inbox.
I've watched the Miami game several times from the offensive POV. I thought the OLine made huge strides, though it still has a ways to go. Molk and McAvoy both did a much better job this week..Molk especially. I saw fewer instances where Molk turned his shoulders to the LOS rather than keeping them square. He got into his man much better and was better able to wall off and hold his ground. That little dude is pretty quick, and if he can play with the proper technique, can make M a good center. McAvoy let one blitzer inside of him, but on the whole had a much better day.
The loss of Ortmann has me a little concerned. Nowicki is slower and does not "stick" to his guy like he should. He just doesn't have the agility IMHO to play against some of the better DEs. According to RR, Dorrestein will move over, and Omameh will also get a look. I'm not real worried about the OLs against NDs defense as I'm not sure it's a whole lot better than Miami's at this point.
I thought the blocking of our SEs and TEs was really up and down this week. At times, they were good..at other times horrid. Having Butler against 190 lb DBs should be a huge mismatch, but it doesn't always come off that way. Getting good blocking from those guys can often mean the difference in this offense. Case in point, Butler and Odoms missing on a Miami DB when Threet ran option left. Threet was fine, and made the right read, but Odoms didn't block the DB from the inside, and Butler whiffed from the outside leaving the DB to come up in force and make the tackle..to me, Butler often looks lost when asked to block in space....or any other place for that matter.
I'm pulling my hair out over Threet, so I know RR must be too. The guy is making the right reads..even in the running game with the zone stuff, but his inability to hit open receivers is maddening. It's been said that he has mechanical flaws that lead to this, and I think Andre Ware touched on it during the game Saturday..siting Threets "all arm" throwing motion..which leads to an improper release point for the ball and the "sailing" of the pass. If Threet doesn't throw off his front(left) foot as he should, the tip of the ball is up, and therefore tends to sail.
The QB play will decide who wins the ND game. If Threet or Sheridan can just get it going a little (I'm thinking Threet starts) with the passing game, we can move the ball enough to score. I watched some of the ND game, and thought that Jimmah looked a good bit better than last year. He made some nice throws. Our defense can keep us in this one, but SheriThreet has to be able to:
1. Eleminate turnovers.
2. Lead us to at least 17 points..I.E 3 good solid drives. Maybe pick up a cheap TD off a turnover.
3. Execute the short passing game...ND is vulnerable here.
It's the third point that might lead me to think Sheridan might get the nod this week. He's looked better in this phase than Threet.
Will not be at all surprised to see Brown or Minor at QB a good bit this week. IMHO, it gets alot of your best offensive talent on the field and could really give ND fits. I'm not entirely sure its coincidence they are both getting healthy just in time for ND.
I'm curious as to what other people think about Ohio State plummeting about 10 spots in the polls this week - and completely out of some of the blogpoll ballots.
Frankly, I think a large majority of people expected USC to win pretty handily - especially considering that OSU was playing without Beanie Wells. That said, I still feel like Ohio State is easily the best all-around team in the Big 10 (although Penn State might give them a run). And the way the Trojans' offense looked in that game, I think they would have beaten almost anyone in the country pretty badly, especially at the Coliseum.
Personally, I would still have OSU ranked in the 5-10 range. I would have to drop them behind Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, etc., but I just can't justify having Wisconsin, East Carolina and others ahead of the Buckeyes.
The only argument that could be made at this point is that if Chris Wells is unable to play - or far less than 100% - for a majority of the season, their offense could definitely have some issues.
This might be more of an argument about the polls in general - basically, if you lose to a team you're expected to lose to that everyone now agrees is the CLEAR No. 1, I don't see how that suddenly makes you a much worse team.
Another weekend of pulling my hair out watching coaches or players making the most amazingly stupid decisions. Ryan Mundy is my hall of famer for biting onthe 2nd and 1 in The Game in 06. This weekend was great.
Fat Bastard Genius Weis-Up 14-0 they stop Mich near midfield. Mich faces a 4th and 2 a place to be wary of the fake. We line up and ND calls time out, Mich still goes thru half their play before they hear the whistle so you see the roll out punt. The ND brain trust sees all this talks about it and they overload the formation to the other side Zoltan rolls out no one is there and 1st down. Simply amazing.
Not sure of the coverage I think cover 3 on ND's bomb. What in the name of Mundy is Harrison thinkin?? ND hasn't ran the ball in 2 years we have a great front 4 they don't need safeties in run support. How he can take a false step on 1 and 10 is beyond me just terrible. If it's the Lions and your front 7 is getting blown up yeah maybe, but the ND rush game in the 1st qtr come on.
Romeo Crennel last night is too much down 10-3 with 5 minutes at the Pit 30 he hands off to J. Lewis then huddles on 2nd down hand to J. Lewis then huddle. 3rd down incomplete pass. It's 4th and 6.....then he brings the FG team out??? Are you kidding?? Let's see what are the better odds make a 4th and 6 or make a 40yd fg in a slopped up field with wind and rain, kick off into the wind and don't allow Pitt 1 1st down then march 70yds with no timeouts and get a td which you haven't acomplished in the 1st 58 minutes of the game. Fire him now.
The decision which actually has some merit to debate was Shannahan going for 2 and the win. For the situation I love it. His D had stopped no one in the 2nd half so instead of letting your game rest on a coin flip he took matters into his own hands. Most times I 'm not sure I would agree, but given his d's perfoprmance I liked it. Then with 24 seconds and no time outs they allow SD to complete a pass and get out of bounds adn was an inch from getting into fg position. No idea how that happens...
So far from Rich Rod I did not like allowing Sheridan to throw against Utah at the end of the half and swinging a pass to Minor seemed kinda senseless on the 1st drive but so far not a lot of data in yet.
Rod did fall into the same thing I see a lot of coaches fall into when games are getting out of control. We should have went for it in the 4th qtr when we were way down. I think a lot of times coaches are worried about giving away points and getting blown out. Chances were very slim for a comeback, 3 scores with 7 minutes to go, but there is nothing to lose other than some meaningless scores just keep going for it.
Thanks for your time, let me know your thoughts or other boneheaded play you saw this week.
Just like every Michigan fan, I sat dumbfounded for the first four minutes of the game against Notre Dame on Saturday. Throughout the offseason, Michigan fans were so adamant that Notre Dame is a horrible team. And they were right, to an extent. But none of us thought Michigan would be horrible-er. Michigan dominated every single statistical category on Saturday, except for the two most important ones: turnovers and the scoreboard. Based on this game, a few position battles are finally becoming clear:
QB: Steven Threet vs. Nick Sheridan
Threet started the game this week, and Rodriguez had said that Sheridan would probably get some snaps, too. It turns out that Threet played so well that Sheridan didn't get any snaps until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was already decided and Threet was hobble by a leg injury. In fact, not only did Threet outplay anything Sheridan has done so far this year - he outplayed Notre Dame's 5-star, all-everything golden boy, sophomore quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Threet was 16-for-23 for 179 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions. Several of those incompletions weren't his fault, either. A couple were straight-out drops by Martavious Odoms and Greg Mathews in the rain; one incompletion should have been a long TD pass to Mathews, but the referee erroneously said Mathews didn't control the ball before it touched the ground. Nick Sheridan entered the game in the fourth quarter and threw two interceptions. One wasn't his fault - it was almost directly at tight end Carson Butler's head, but Butler didn't turn around fast enough - but the other was a floater thrown into double or triple coverage.
Verdict: Threet will be the starter unless his injury causes him to miss significant time.
RB: Sam McGuffie vs. Brandon Minor/Carlos Brown/Kevin Grady/Michael Shaw
If any questions remained after last week's game against Miami (OH), McGuffie answered them this week. McGuffie broke tackles repeatedly on the way to his first career 100 yard game. He had a couple electrifying plays, including a quick screen pass on which he weaved through traffic and bounced off a downfield Perry Dorrestein block to score a 40-yard TD. He also didn't fumble, which was key on a day when Michigan's other players fumbled a ridiculous seven times. Brandon Minor continues to run the ball well - he had a tough 9-yard run - but he also continues to turn the ball over, even though his turnovers might not be his fault. In the Utah game, his "fumble" happened because his forearm hit the ground, which should have ruled him down. In the Notre Dame game, "his" fumble was a quick swing pass that Threet might have thrown too soon; as soon as Minor turned his head around, the ball was almost in his facemask. Minor probably should have caught it, but I think that was a combo effort. Carlos Brown continues to be nagged by small injuries and he's done zilch with his two carries this season. Kevin Grady produces more fumbles than a 16-year-old trying to unclasp a bra for the first time; even though he carried a Notre Dame linebacker on his back for five yards to score a TD, his ball security has been a career-long issue. Shaw has the best pure speed of any of the running backs, but he's currently fighting a groin pull.
Verdict: It's McGuffie's job to lose, but I expect everyone to continue getting an occasional carry.
FS: Steve Brown vs. ANYBODY
I'm not the world's biggest Steve Brown hater. I won't jump on the pile, because he seems like a decent kid and he obviously doesn't mean to make these mistakes (unlike Carson Butler, who ought to be kicked off the team for throwing a punch in the Notre Dame game). But I have a hard time believing that he is far and away the best option at free safety for this Wolverines team. He is probably the best physical specimen that Michigan has had at the position. He's 6' and around 205 lbs. and he has pretty darn good speed. However, anyone can see that he's uncomfortable playing in space. He misses way too many tackles in the open field, and that's exactly what you don't need in a free safety. He should probably move to strong safety and let Brandon Harrison have the free safety spot, because Brown is more effective as a tackler when he's playing downhill and attacking the line of scrimmage. If that can't happen, then the coaches should give fifth year senior Charles Stewart or redshirt freshman Michael Williams or sophomore Artis Chambers a shot. Brown has been neither a ballhawk or a solid tackler, so I see no significant reason to keep him on the field full-time week after week.
Verdict: I would not be surprised to see a switch or a schematic change for the Wisconsin game in two weeks. The coaching staff should know by now that Brown's slip-ups are habits, not flukes.
My first reaction to this game was "Holy Jumpin' Jehosefat! We suck donkey balls!" By the end of the game though, I couldn't shake the feeling that we had just dominated the Irish and yet had our asses handed to us. Sure enough, a quick look at the box score revealed 388 yards of offense for us, 260 for ND. The numbers further showed us owning them in passing and rushing yardage. Our offense had indeed clicked finally though it was hard to see it through the smokescreen of killer turnovers. Even our defense didn't play half-bad statistically but trying to overcome the mistakes this young team was making, and the places on the field that they were made, was nothing less than impossible.
Looking Back - Some thoughts looking back on the game after sleeping on it:
Evidence of our offense clicking:
- McGuffie runs for 131 yards and becomes our solid first string back. Dude was on fire and proved a great receiving target as well. He also managed to not get hurt on a tackle that would have snapped the hamstrings off a mere mortal.
- Threet completed 16/23 passes for 175 yards and a TD. His passes were on target and well timed. This guy is our starter.
- Then again, Sheridan did complete all five of the balls he threw. Just sayin'. ;~)
- We had 5 drives of 7 plays or more, 4 of them for 58 yards or longer.
- Our receivers looked very good and the throws were spread amongst them very well.
Evidence that our offense is young:
- We had 7 fumbles and lost 4 of them.
- We had 6 turnovers total. (Someone tell Sheridan we have the Winged Helmets!)
- Threet fumbled all over. Of course I put the blame for the backwards pass mostly on Minor.
Evidence that our defense wasn't as bad as they seemed:
- We held ND to 260 yards of offense.
- Jimmah(!) was only 10/21 for 147 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs.
- We held ND to 113 yards rushing on 34 attempts. 3.3 yards per.
- If you told me the three statistics bullets above and that we would lose, I would have called you a big fat (Weisian even) liar.
Of course there were bad plays...
- Trent was burned crispy despite providing pretty good coverage on the second and third touchdowns. His PI on the first ND posession was killer as well.
- Stevie Brown looked lost in coverage a lot once again.
- Pick a play. See any real pass rush? No? Explain this to me.
And oh so many goats in this one. Not going to pick on the freshmen:
- Brandon Minor, catch the damn ball! The first turnover of the game was the killer kind we can't afford.
- Kevin Grady, hold on to the damn ball! The turnovers in the red zone were extra killer and no me gusta.
- Two turnovers in the redzone. Two inside our own 15. Another returned directly for a touchdown. C'mon, seriously?
- Cue up the Yakety Sax.
Hats Off Awards:
- McGuffie!!! - 178 total yards and brilliant moves displayed throughout. Welcome to Michigan Fans' hearts.
- Rich Rod - I have to hand it to him. This offense is making great strides. At this point I don't think we can blame him for the turnovers.
- Zoltan!!! - Looked much more like the heir to the Space Throne with a wizard performance befitting his name: 4 punts with 52+ yard average (the fake-fake punt was very nice) and of course picking up the first on the real fake punt was awesome.
- Our Receivers - These guys looked great all game. I was praticularly impressed with Stonum and of course Mathews was solid. We were robbed on that TD catch, his wrist clearly hit the ground under the ball.
- Camera man who kept his camera trained on Fat Charlie during his "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" moment. Knees weren't made for that kind of strain, that's for sure. The rest of the game he looked like Golum meets Jabba the Hut on those crutches. Gotta give the big guy props for seeing it from the sideline though.
Michigan is coming around folks. I figured a lopsided loss like this one would make me despair as to us getting 6+ wins. But honestly the Big 11 looks rather shoddy across the board (except for Penn State, but until they prove otherwise, we pwn Penn State) and there are plenty of wins left to be had if we can play like yesterday minus the turnovers. Congratulations to Wisky for going out west and winning a tough game that I didn't think they would. They will probably beat us next week, but it is far from a sure thing IMO.
Dear Diary (Sunday 9/14/08),
I write you after a long sad day in which we lost to the lamest school in the country, Notre Dame. It was one of the most frustrating games to watch as a Michigan. Count me as one of the few michigan fans that thought before the season that this was going to be rough, I mean extremely rough year. I never bought into the '8 or even 7 win season' as a possibility. Not even remotely. I thought we'd be lucky to be .500 after it is all over. I just had a few of my own observations:
---But still. 6 turnovers? 6? Really? This game was so frustrating because (as a biased michigan fan) we should've won. The scoreliine should've been 31-21 Michigan. Matthews catch in the end zone should've been a TD and Grady should've never fumbled that ball. That's 14 right there for us. And well, we can call agree that we spotted ND with 14 in those first two TD's. Now all the idiots on ESPN will glorify ND and feel compelled to admire their return to greatness. Whatever, we killed our chances. We literally beat ourselves yesterday.
----I feel bad for Rodriguez and I don't know why. He's only been with us for 3 games but still, for whatever reason I feel bad for him.
----What get's lost in the shuffle of all the bitching is people forget about how inexperienced and young our OL is. I mean geeeez, don't think if we didn't have a halfway expereienced OL that we wouldn't be putting more points on the board. I mean, we have an f'n freshmen at center and everyone is bitching about our QB play.
---Our defense is good, but not great. I hate (HATE) to say this but I believe our defense is overrated. We basically have been counting on our D to be the savior of our squad this year but that just isn't justified. I understand they were put in a terrible position on those opening 2 drives, but c'mon, why not 6, or even 10 points instead of the initial 14. We HAD to stop them but didn't.
---I'm going to keep on going with the defense, particularly the secondary. WHAT THE HELL. It's easy to bash Stevie Brown and I want to defend him but geez, how many chances does the guy need? Missed tackles and poor communication with the CB's is just not acceptable. But the horror doesn't end there. Morgan Trent and Donovan Warren IMO played their worst combined game as Wolverines. The amount of calls and big plays they let up was just inexcusable.
---McGuffie. I believe he is the real deal. This kid can run and knows how to make plays. Basically, our gameplan should be, when all else fails and we're not quite sure what the hell to do... just give the damn ball to Sam and let him come up with something.
---Threet/Sheridan. Threet now is the obvious starter. He looked good. Sheridan, well..he.. looked like an all-conference walk-on today. But has that really changed from last week? Or the week before? Threet is a gamer. It literally pains me to see Sheridan in the game. I lose all confidence in us having any opportunity to win the game once his ass is behind center.
---Next year; Don't count on Beaver or Tate to come in and turn the program around. The whole 'rebuilding process' isn't a 1 year thing. At his rate Threet will still be the QB next year and one of those two freshmen (most likely Tate IMO) will probably get a cameo role. But don't think either one of those 2 will come in and be the man. That's just laughable.
----Last but not least Recruting; I hope our abysmal season doesn't affect our recruiting. I've seen ND suck it up the last few years and they've still managed ridiculously good classes. I have faith in RichRod that he will still get the talent but i'd be lying if I said to myself that we're safe with all of our recruits we got now and will go out and get even better talent. Attention recruits, this season is not and never will be typical of michigan football.
----And finally, I still believe RichRod will take us to glory. Not this year, and maybe not next, but... well... I guess patience is a virtue. GO BLUE.