Pacific Rim 2 is going to be about giant robots built to fight Adam Jacobi
This is just going to be fairly brief, but I really feel optimistic about the outlook for this season. First, a few brief thoughts about last season. Michigan was about 6 inches away from 6-6 (Illinois), and a few "bad bounces" away from 8-4 (MSU and Iowa). With this view, we should all be thinking that 8-4 is certainly reachable.
Let's start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start!) Back at Center, we will see David Molk, who should be fully healed from his injury. Molk is potentially an all-conference center who can anchor the line. As far as the rest of the O-line goes, I'll let people smarter than me about these things tell you more, but from what I understand, it seems like signs are good that the team will be as good or better than last season on the offensive line.
I'm not going to weigh in on Denard vs. Tate at this time. (So what if that makes me chicken!) But at the very least, we should have a QB that is better than last season's QB. Tate is healthy, and with one more year of experience and work should be better than he was last year. Denard is beginning to look like a real QB, and not just a TB who occasionally throws the ball. By all accounts the sophomore version of Shoelace should be better than the freshman version of Forcier. So barring the double gut-punch injury to BOTH QBs, we should have a better QB than last year. Also, the competition this season between the two seems more active, which should make the current starter (whomever that may be) have to work harder to stay in that role. This means that the starting QB should be improving even more than last season. In the doomsday scenario, both of the best options get injured and we have (OMG) yet another true freshman playing QB in Devin Gardner, which--let's face it--is still better than a walk-on. In all liklihood, the starting QB at Michigan should be better than last season (and doesn't that make you feel better too?)\
Ok, so Minor and Brown (and Grady) graduated...and this is maybe a little sad. But Minor or Brown was hurt almost every week and Grady rarely saw the field. It seems like the important thing to have here is depth. And this Michigan has, perhaps even in abundance. There is some experience in this system for guys like Shaw and Smith (who should be healthy again). And this gives me hope that the status quo will be maintained and this group is at least as good as last season.
This year, Michigan has lost Matthews and Savoy (who I fondly remember for those catches against Notre Dame...happy thoughts!) But Hemmingway and Stonum are back on the outside. And Odoms and Roundtree will be awesome in the slot. Maybe Koger gives us a decent middle of the field threat, you know, the one we hoped he would be last season. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic with this skill group as well.
So to summarize, the offense should be better, in just about every phase of play this season. This might even make up for not having a space emperor (of space) winning the field position battle so often. We can always hope, right?
There can be hope with this group too. Briefly, can it really be worse than last season?
You don't lose Brandon Graham and get better. But Martin, VanBergen, Roh, Campbell, and Segasse make a good nucleus for DL depth. Who will step up? It is possible that the DL is still the strength of the defense this season.
Ok seriously. It can't get worse. Right? Please? If I close my eyes and wish really hard, does that make it so? Maybe this change in scheme we heard about is really about simplifying life for the LBs...and this can be a group that doesn't kill us on Defense. It's still the off-season, so I can be optimistic. Just ask any Lions fan you know (for whom the off-season, and sometimes, the preseason, are the best times to be a Lions fan).
Again, it can't get worse, can it? The big questions to answer. Will we have a reliable deep safety that doesn't get burned at least once per game? Will we have the athletes at corner to play adequate coverage? I think that there are enough hands on deck in that position group to be effective.
So in summary, the defense might even be adequate this season. Nobody will mistake them for one of the stellar defenses of the past (see 1997) but they should make do.
I think we can all crawl back from the ledge. I can't wait for September 4th to come!...And not just because it will be my 6th anniversary! ;)
Obviously needs more Christopher Walken.
Answer: Antwaan Randle-El, Pat White, Kordell Stewart.
Question: Name three athletic college QB's who excelled at the position in college but were moved to other positions in the NFL.
Would these players have been drafted higher, and been better prepared to contribute in the NFL, if they had made those position switches in college?
Would Denard Robinson be better off (e.g. drafted higher, bigger contract) if he were to switch to WR or CB now rather than insist on playing QB in college when he has virtually no chance of playing the position in the NFL?
NOTE: This is NOT intended to start a Denard vs. Tate QB discussion. I am genuinely curious about the opinions of the board as to the advisability of Denard's remaining at QB in college vis-a-vis his NFL future.
So I just finished watching the Spring Game for a 5th time, and I will admit that watching it that many times has changed the opinion that I had after the first time that I watched the game. First of all, thanks to MgoVideo for posting the 720p torrent so that I could watch the game as often as possible!
So, I only concentrated on Tate's and Denard's drives. This was because I don't see Devin making huge strides this year to supplant both of these QB's. His plays reminded me of Denard's last year, except Devin can run the Zone Read a bit better than Denard at this point of his career (# of practices, that is, since Denard didn't enroll early). That may seem like something that shouldn't just be glossed over, but Devin's inability to read the defenses in the passing game, along with his penchant to revert to his shotput throw under durress causes me to be a bit dismissive. He IS the future, and the future looks bright, but why rush it?
So, after watching the two QB's, I have to say that I do not see Tate and the inevitable #2 nor do I see Denard as the inevitable #1. I'll share what I have, and see if maybe it gives some people a different perspective. I guess I should say that I don't personally care who starts for this team. I don't think a single person is ever bigger than the team.
So, I counted the number of pass plays called, run plays called, and put a check mark next to pass plays that I would consider those that forced the QB to "read the defense". So, WR Screens, HB Screens, etc. wouldn't get a check mark.
Tate: 35 plays, 19 pass plays, 16 run plays
Out of the 19 pass plays, Tate suffered 2 "sacks" due to the pressure from the #1 defense. So, unlike the official box score I actually have 17 passes that Tate threw (completing 10), not 16. Out of the 19 pass plays that have Tate as the QB, 5 required looking downfield and disecting the defense. 1 of these resulted in an Incomplete and 1 resulted in a "Sack". So, 14 pass plays were screens or rollouts to one side of the field where Tate looked for a WR or TE on the play side sideline.
Denard: 30 plays, 16 pass plays, 14 run plays
Here I also have Denard going 9 for 12. Even though there were 16 pass plays, 4 of those had Denard tucking the ball and running for positive yards. Out of the 16 pass plays, though, only 2 required a reading of the defense, and both went to Roundtree. I did not include the 97-yard pass or the pass to T-Rob because both pass plays were a 4 Verticals route with the inside receiver slanting towards the opposite hash (thanks Mark Campbell!). The 2 I gave him included the PA Rollout left to Roundtree (he wasn't primary receiver, FB was, and Roy looked like he played a hitch or dig route) and the 2nd TD pass to Roundtree (was an all curls pattern, but Denard had to direct traffic and wait for a hole in the defense to thread it in there).
My conclusion was that we can win with either of these QBs and that we need to stop using the old-school mentality that you HAVE to have a #1 guy. The playcalling will be totally different based on who is in, but even if the same plays are called, they will have totally different packages depending on who is QB. With Tate, the Zone Read and Belly plays could be successful if they keep a TE in as a pulling H-Back type. That way the line could be used for the RB and the TE could pull in a trap-style block in case Tate wants to keep it (since he is Dilithium-deficient). With Denard, I think the passing game becomes more simplified with more 4- or 5-WR sets so that he has the gaps to take off or be powerful in the Zone Read scheme.
I just think that if you only saw the game in attendance or once or twice, take another look. I was much more excited for both QBs after the last time I watched.
As a sidenote, I bombarded everyone with a lot on the QBs, but I did have other observations:
1. Will Campbell was destroying Centers and Guards all day, but the Michael Cox TD was due in large part because Will pushed himself right out of the play. If he kept his head up he would've eaten....no wait, that would be inappropriate...
2. Love the nuances of the new defense, and can't wait to see who ends up at Spur, since Kovacs seems to have that Bandit positon locked up.
3. I think Brian was the one that pointed out that the weakness of having guys like Mike Williams and Kovacs as the SS's was that the 4 Verticals route would expose their lack of speed, yet RichRod ran that play several times. Maybe film or GERG?
"Even stoic Wolverine fans crave a basis for some kind of optimism. As of Saturday, whether or not he actually pulled ahead of Forcier for the full-time role in any meaningful way, Robinson is it. You may now get carried away."