BC guys evaluate Bates's tenure positively.
Well that was rather uninspiring. All I can say is that it was a much needed win and not much else. It was also a welcome change in terms of stomach acid production over last week. That may also have something to do with my staying dead sober for the entire game. Our level of play did produce some new thoughts on the team though.
Looking Back - Some thoughts looking back on the game after sleeping on it:
Did our offense turn a corner? Bullets:
- Sam McGuffie sure did. Getting him outside during the last scoring drive really showed the extra gear he has to gain the corner. I am really getting excited about this kid. He was tough after contact and protected the ball as if Mike Hart was coaching him how.
- Sheridan seemed to "get it" on that last scoring drive as well. He was decisive and getting the ball to the target much quicker, which gave the defense less time to react. He needs to try falling forward on scrambles/keepers and use his 6' frame to gain that extra yard or two instead of trying to juke linebackers.
- Threet is still a big step up above Sheridan at QB. His running was more productive IMO because he took what was available without trying fancy moves to get more. Much better arm than Sheridan (Mr. Noodle) as well.
- We need Mathews back badly. Odoms was good, but seems to be little more than a checkdown option/screen guy. That is important in its own right but a sure handed receiver with some savvy in getting open downfield would really help Threet shine I think.
- This was a better game plan I think. RR obviously is a great coach, but this gameplan demonstrated to me that he is up to the challenges this young team will present. Great first drive with plays designed to score first and take that edge. Much more conservative to help ensure the win (needed so badly as it was). That last scoring drive was genius I thought, sweeping McGuffie outside after pounding inside most of the game really worked.
- I think it was a good idea to switch in Sheridan as much as possible. RR might reap the rewards from this if Threet goes down to injury (or meltdown).
I wasn't very impressed by the defense this week. Giving up only 6 points was great, but they seemed always on the edge of breaking. Bullets:
- Our coverage is not nearly as good as advertised. I seemed obvious to me that a Brian Johnson level QB would have caused a lot of damage in this game as he did in the last. Stevie Brown...
- ...is bad. He seems to just make poor decisions in coverage. I have no specific examples but his name came up on a lot of plays that made our defense look bad I thought.
- Trent and Warren are not the lockdown corners I was really expecting to carry this defense. This may change and honestly really needs to.
- Gut runs are killing us. With all the emphasis Shafer seems to put on sacks and pass rush, I wonder if it is affecting our ability to effectively stuff the run.
- Mouton looked really good to me. He really stuck a few guys and seemed generally in good position. Dunno if he was in for Evans or Panter?
- D-line was solid again IMO.
Hats Off Awards:
- McGuffie! - Dude finally got to show off his jets and looked strong as well. Really bulled through some would-be tacklers for extra yardage several times. Can't say enough about how impressed I was both in his progression from the first game and RR's ability to create plays getting the McGuffinator in the open. Hats Off!!!
- RR - I can't really say what exactly felt different, but this team was more sure of itself. I think he has big things up his sleeve for ND. Hats Off!!! on your first win Coach.
- MiaOH QB - Can't remember his name, but then he might not either. Still, he tried to get up which is more than we can say for Morelli. Hats Off!!! brother, cause the doctor needs to take a look.
- MiaOH coach - I really respect how well this guy prepared his team to play this game. I thought their offense made our D look silly and just bad at times. MiaOH will win several MAC games to be sure. Hats Off!!! for staying with us.
- UMTailgate - I made these: http://umtailgate.com/2008/09/04/make-your-own-damn-ribs, and they were delicioius. Hats Off!!!
With everyone seemingly calling a ND win next Saturday I have to say NSFMF. ND looked certainly less than intimidating in their narrow win over SDSU. I would say that their offense is better than ours at this point, but their defense is much worse. This should lead to a fairly even contest I think as far as players are concerned. I really expect RR to coach circles around Fatty Weis though. I think Threet will play much more of the game unless we jump out to a huge lead. I further predict that huge leads won't happen for either team as the offenses struggle to score points.
I was pleased with how close the MiaOH game turned out to what I was predicting http://mgoblog.com/content/preview-miami-not-miami#comments (comment #7) and would like to make another stab at it for this week. I am seeing a win where Michigan special teams will make the difference and KC Lopata provides the winning margin. Very close score... I'd say Michigan 20, ND and the Fat Man - 17.
Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan offense showed us Michigan fans a new offensive wrinkle against Miami (OH) this week. The use of the "I" formation comes as a surprise from a coach who runs a vast majority of his plays out of the shotgun spread. But in the transition from Lloyd Carr's run-oriented offense to the spread, Michigan's personnel suggests that some more tradition offensive sets might be advantageous.
The advantage of the "I" formation comes in several ways.
1. The "I" formation is an unbalanced set that forces the defense to choose strength. The quarterback lines up under center, the fullback lines up directly behind the QB, and the tailback lines up behind the fullback. Most defenses will call strength toward the tight end; if there is no tight end, they will call strength to the two-receiver side. If your standard 4-3 defense shifts to the strong side, an offense can gain a numbers advantage to the weak side by sending the fullback and tailback to that side.
2. The "I" formation provides a lead blocker in the running game. Unlike most plays in the spread offense, an I-back can follow his lead blocker on wham plays. On a wham (aka "iso") the offensive linemen turn their men away from the hole and the fullback leads through the hole on a linebacker. If the linebacker attacks the block head on, the I-back can cut in either direction. If the linebacker attacks with one shoulder, which he should, the running back should be able to read the block and cut in the other direction.
3. The "I" formation gets a running back closer to the line. This can be helpful on quick-hitting running plays, like traps or dives. Since there's no lead blocker for the fullback and since he's usually not a nifty runner, it's best to use these quick hitters when you know the defense isn't paying attention to the fullback.
4. The "I" formation allows the running back to run downhill and use cutback lanes. Running "downhill" means that the back is running toward the defenders and not away from them. Sweep plays allow the defense to chase the ball carrier, which can work against slow defense, but not often against fast ones. Whams, traps, counters, dives, etc. get the running back headed upfield and put pressure on the defensive players to stay disciplined, fill cutback lanes, and break down to tackle the ballcarrier.
5. The "I" formation also gives the offense a chance to run play action passes and keep one or two backs in the backfield to help with pass protection.
Michigan's offense used the "I" formation well in the game against Miami. With Mark Moundros lined up at fullback and Sam McGuffie behind him, the team ran an iso (which McGuffie broke outside for a big gain) and a couple toss sweeps to the outside (which McGuffie also broke outside for decent gains). On top of that, Threet handed off to Mark Moundros on a fullback dive that gained seven yards.
Without the ideal quarterback for the spread option, Rodriguez will need to adjust the offense to his personnel. The use of the "I" formation is a step in that direction. Michigan has a plethora of tight ends, a good blocking fullback, and starting linemen that were recruited to play in a pro-style run offense. As the linemen become more athletic and the quarterbacks get better at running the read option, the use of the I formation may be used less and less in future years. In the meantime, it will be beneficial to use this set. But as far as I recall, Michigan ran exclusively in the "I" formation. In future weeks Michigan will need to run plays other than whams and toss sweeps out of the "I." Otherwise, upcoming opponents will be able to key on the run.
Amidst all the hype for Mike Barwis in the 2007-08 offseason, one of the most interesting Barwis qualities I heard was this: By doing "prehab" (workouts normally used by physical therapy patients) Barwis and his staff didn't have a serious long-term injury in 2007 at West Virginia. Having spent considerable time in physical therapy for various injuries, I thought this was interesting because I still do exercises I learned in therapy, and I feel much healthier because of them.
I was hoping for a relatively injury-free season, but that has not been the case. Saturday's game against Miami (OH) saw starting left tackle Mark Ortmann go down with a possible dislocated elbow (he was in a cast and a sling after the game) and starting running back Michael Shaw miss most of the game with a pulled groin. These injuries come on the heels of Brandon Minor (hamstring), Carlos Brown (finger, hip, shouler), Greg Mathews (ankle), Junior Hemingway (shoulder, hamstring), and Mark Huyge (ankle) suffering bumps and bruises that have limited their playing time as well.
So far none of these injuries has been crippling. Michigan's stars have stayed healthy, and nobody other than Ortmann seems to be out for an extended period of time. Still, on a team seriously lacking depth, an injury or two to starters could be devastating. Bryant Nowicki, a walk-on, ended the game protecting the blind side of quarterback Nick Sheridan, formerly a walk-on himself. That didn't cause any problems against Miami, but it may if Nowicki plays against more talented teams. I would not be surprised to see right tackle Steve Schilling slide to left tackle for the Notre Dame game next week. And while Sam McGuffie ran the ball fairly well against Miami, it's pretty clear that Michael Shaw is the most dangerous running back Michigan has seen since Tyrone Wheatley.
This is not to say that Mike Barwis is at fault. No matter how strong players get, there will always be injuries. (Just ask that Lithuanian power lifter who became famous for dislocating his elbow during the Olympics.) The team does look faster, stronger, and better conditioned in 2008. But if Michigan continues to suffer even minor injuries for the rest of the season, it's going to be an even longer year than we all thought.
Just some general thoughts and questions from another great football Saturday:
- How shitty was it that Ortmann got injured?? I was totally bummed when I saw that. Just what we DIDN'T need. I hope he will be ok. Does anyone have any info on that?
- Loved that first TD. The read option actually worked with Threet as the QB! That DE totally bought the fake, so, that was the key, otherwise, sack. FYI - I'm watching "College Football Final" and Mark May just called Threet "Street". Dumbass.
- MCGUFF! I thought he was kick-ass today. I love his very Barry Sanders-like personality. He never gets up or down.
- The running game in general looked a lot better, but playing a meh MAC school probably has a lot to do with that.
- ODOMS/MINOR/BROWN/SHAW - why don't they use these guys more? As before, I thought McGuffie was great, but why not spread it around a little. Get it, spread? Yeah, lame. Anyway, I suppose, as I've heard, Minor and Brown are still a little banged up, but maybe McGuffie has seperated himself from the others i.e. Mike Hart as a freshman?
- Side note: I sported my "Worst State Ever" shirt for the first time, and I must say it's quite a big hit with those are aren't aware of the beauty of the MGoBlog. I must have told 10 people where I got the shirt from.
- Didn't get to see much of their game, but from the looks of it they were as lucky as balls to have won. SDSU was going in for a TD in the 4th to go up by 2 TDs! But, alas, they fumbled on the goal line and blew it. Then that damn Emu scampered up and down the field for 2 scores to win. SDSU forgot to bring their tazers. Bummer.
- Charlie Weiss is fat.
- So, eh, somebody was looking ahead to USC next week! Their performance was totally embarrassing. They were making dumb ass mistakes all over that field. Plus! Pryor looked human. As in, if looking human is looking like Nick Sheridan. Yeah, that's how he looked.
- Jim Tre$$eLL
- That loss was totally Rich Rod's fault. He always chokes in big games.
- I'm glad to see that Brian put an AOL post up on this one, looking forward to it.
- Yowzaa. Totally layin the "SPREAD HD" down on those dirty Beavers. I'm impressed. It's nice to see a PAC-10 team come to BIG-10 country and get waxed. Bravo Penn State. Bravo.
- What's up with Penn State's players getting arrested all the time. Jesus H, get it together Joe Pa.
So- I see all these comments about Threet as the guy for the rest of the season. I am far from sold on his ability to direct this offense. To be fair, Sheridan isn't going to be a great QB either. Threet's lack of accuracy is incredibly frustrating, and his mechanics seem very very sketchy.
What I do prefer about Sheridan is the accuracy I've seen on the short routes. If he can refrain from spazzing out and heaving ducks downfield (and that is a major if), he should be our guy. Granted, if we get down and have to play from behind, I think we're screwed anyway(and in those cases, Threet's "armstrength" might be advantageous). If Sheridan can channel his inner Brian Griese and be a "caretaker" kind of QB, and we can establish some consistency in the ground game, there might be something to work with. Quite honestly, there is not a receiver on the squad I trust to make big plays down the field with any kind of consistency. If Mathews can get back healthy, Magee should work on a gameplan that incorporates lots of slants and short, quick throws that took Sheridan to the point of being 11-14 at one point against Utah. The pessimist in me thinks the only way yardage is going to acrue in the passing game is via WR's and RB's making people miss (ala McGuffie, Odoms, Shaw).
This is not an attempt to ballwash Nick Sheridan! I do not think he's a great QB by any stretch or the long-term answer to anything. But if constrained to a gameplan that minimizes his chances of fucking up, I think he can guide the team to a few wins.
I also definitely agree with some others when they suggest that a decision needs to be made either way so one of the QB's has a chance to get more reps in practice. If it's Threet - great, get him more snaps so he work on timing and accuracy (eeesh, ugly). If it's sheridan, fine, get him going!
If the "D" can continue to be physical and well-conditioned, we should at least be able to prevent situations where the offense has to play from behind - of course, several games are unlikely to be winnable regardless.
- So today I went and watched you play at a football game in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have to say that after the first drive I thought,"wow this could be a blow out." All week long from various people I heard about this quarterback battle thing. Being a fan, reading the blogs, and listening to the radio shows I was interested to see who may emerge. I was basically told that you and this other guy were of the same but yet different skill sets. It was as if, to me the fan, the decision to play you both was even symbolic of the choice to run a pro set versus a spread. And that you were basically a pro set quarterback. Some very knowledgeable football types said this and that but yet the coach basically said nothing. We all have our little,"CSI detective," that lives inside of us all. If we did not, that tv show would not do commercial advertising business on par with the budget that governs your football program. And since every detective show since Hill Street Blues has had the same script format and same modus operandi. So it goes with QB battles and football in general.
- I figured I would come and see who is in line to maintain and operate the spread offense this year for Michigan. I might add it is a tough year to do that from a Quarterback position. With the loss of starters and new staff one begins to wonder,"Why play Quarterback at Michigan anyways Steve?" If it was me I would have transfered. In the business world I know when a new hire happens that your days are numbered. And I would've left. But I am not you. I mean even the spread type QB recruits are committing and decommiting. So why are you staying? I mean I am sure other schools call you or write to you. Probably to further the agenda of their schools interests. I am sure today THE OHIO STATE BUCKEYES would give you a full ride just to say,"Hey he transferred to us as well. Wow. Who would've thought that? Thanks Again Michigan, Jim Tressel." But yet you stay. I guess I as a fan am beginning to wonder why? Actually if I hated Michigan Football, and I know you know a lot of people do. I would beg you to leave Steve. Just for the ripple effect. Just up and quit because it is obvious your coach wants to play the other guy more. It took a fumble and an interception for him to be pulled. It took you some incompletions. Your coach said he had hoped someone played really good so the choice would be obvious. My question to him is does playing really bad also a distinguisher? See your own teams fans say you run,"Like so slow and it's so ugly." But yet there isn't a column in the Box Score for,"Style Points." As if running a certain way garnished more love. However you do have a running TD and a throwing one.
- The other thing is that you are up against the perennial walk on. Oh wait I mean coaches son. I get them confused. So he's a walk on but yet his dad used to coach for Michigan correct? So he's one of THOSE walk ons. Yeah, get used to those types of walk ons in life for they are everywhere. Anyone who plays sports has met THOSE types of walkons since we played little league. Those coaches kids have some savvy dont they buddy. I would imagine it helps that his dad coaches in the NFL as well. I mean if you are going to network, network it out right. It's too bad your roommate is not on the offensive line as well Steve. You could run over to him every time you feel insecure for,"back up." See Steve let me break it to you, the guy your in competition against, has no real backing. So far to date from a statistical standpoint you are the winner. I mean your competition does have a throwing touchdown of 8 yards. Although it was more or less yards after catch and Michael Shaw also happens to be super fast. Also at the Illinois game last year even Adrian Arrington threw a pass of 11 yards for a td. And that was all 11 on the pass. I think your competition td pass was for 8 yards. So you even have him beat there. So see Steve no matter what you do, whether it be a running td or a throwing td, your very physical presence represents something that people subconsciously want to see go away. I'm no trial lawyer and many who read this rant will try to break it down and use this very sentence I am sure. But I would love to argue your case. It becomes more fun to ask the question every week of,"Jeez guys where can see what Steve screwed up again this week? Another incomplete without an interception and only one rushing touchdown??? Put Nick in! Where's Nick."
- But let me tell you something Steve for this year. Nick Sheridan knows in his heart he cannot do it. Sorry. It's easy to see people who don't really believe in themselves. So you will be called on when the games get ugly and yet you won't even be wanted! As the season progress's onward and your stats rise no one will be able to argue against you. When the chips are down, you are the only QB who seems to make plays. And let me also say this, I want Nick Sheridan to succeed. I do. But I don't see it in him. You see it's about the games and real life. It's not about who your dad is, or what your backstory is in real life. Or if you are the bomb in practice! It's about the game. So here it is man. Over the next few weeks, wow, things are going to get ugly. UGLY. You looked at your schedule? I'll be honest, the team needs you, except I don't think they think they need you. I know you really love Michigan, otherwise you'd of done what all the rest of the QB's did and transfer. So I know you love your school. But my question to you is do you love it even though it does not want to love you back?