There is a myth that lives on this board that Denard was a better passer in 2010. This post is not meant to excuse Al Borges' playcalling, or bash Rich Rod, or elevate Lloyd Carr's run-run-run-punt strategy. It's just a look at the falsity that Denard was a better passer in 2010.
The unfortunate, painful truth that this diary reveals is that our passing offense is not much better than it was in 2010, when it wasn't very good at all (when it mattered).
Let's throw out the garbage games and focus on Michigan's games against opponents that had respectable defenses in 2010:
- Ohio (3rd in total yds)
- Iowa (16th in total yds)
- Wisconsin (23rd in total yds)
- Michigan State (32nd in total yds)
You might be wondering, "Where is Notre Dame and Penn State on that list?" Well, I'm glad you asked. They were 46th and 48th...behind powerhouses like San Diego State, Hawaii, and ILLINOIS!!! (the team we scored 67 points against). So they sucked. But we still lost to Penn State. Even though they sucked. Because our defense was, well, worser.
I don't need to lay out the stats from the ohio game. They trounced us, and Denard got pulled in favor of Forcier at the end of the game. We couldn't move the ball at all, and scored only 7 points.
Let's move on to Iowa...
Their defense was ranked 16th in 2010, and yet we were able to score 28 points. This is actually the best comparable for this weekend's Notre Dame game, since ND is ranked 17th in total defense right now. Yes, we lost the game by a score of 28-38, and those four TDs sure do look good...but only because you either don't remember what happened or judge a book (or score) by it's cover (or...score). Here are some relevant stats:
- Denard 13/18, 98 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Forcier 17/26, 239, 1 TD, 2 INT
But here's the most important stat: We only scored 7 points when Denard was on the field. Denard get could get yards (108 on 18 carries) but not points. Iowa was stacking the box, and all the offense could muster was a TD on a drive when Denard threw three passes: one was incomplete, one was for a 6 yd. loss, and the last was a screen to Smith for an 8 yd. TD. Denard got hurt in the 3rd quarter and in came Forcier.
It was Forcier that brought the team back in that game, and Forcier that sealed our fate with his INTs. It's worth noting that completing passes underneath when you're behind by 21 points is MUCH easier. In fact, that leads to lots of confusion about the effectiveness of Denard's passing and the 2010 offense in general: we got loads of "soft" yards because we were hopelessly behind and our opponents played softer coverages and lighter fronts.
Wisconsin has a similar storyline, except that Denard played much more that game. We scored exactly ZERO points in the first half (although we did miss a 30 yd. field goal). With a 24 point lead, Wisconsin converted to prevent defense, and allowed us back in the game. Denard stayed in this time, and racked up a nice, meaningless statline: 16/25 for 239 yds, 2 TDs, and, of course, 1 INT. The important part: Denard was 4/9 for 22 yds passing in the first half. When Wisconsin was playing their base defense, Denard couldn't pass. Only the gooey butter cake version of Wiscy's D allowed DR some meaningless passing yardage. Further proof of this came in the fourth quarter, when we had come back to make it a 21-31 game. Denard couldn't move the ball anymore.
The final example is, perhaps, the most damning. Michigan State had a good-but-not-great defense in 2010. Their success was largely a result of their schedule and some good defensive coaching. They lost badly to Iowa (and 'Bama), snuck by a pretty lousy ND team in overtime, and narrowly edged out a VERY average Penn State team. Their only quality win was against Wisconsin, and that game was played in East Lansing. Despite their easy schedule, the Spartan defense was still only ranked 32nd in total yds. Michigan actually had the lead twice in this game, up 3-0 in the first quarter and 10-7 in the second. Denard was 6/8 for 51 yds in the first quarter, but threw an INT in the endzone. In the second quarter, Denard shined again. He was 4/6 for 81 yds and a TD. At the half, Michigan was down 10-17.
The second half was a very, very different story. Denard was 7/15 for 82yds and 2 INTs. The same guy we saw against ND. Only against a defense that wasn't nearly as good. And we were at home. The 4th quarter TD was only scored after MSU had rung-up a 21 point lead.
So here's the bottom line: Denard has never been a good passer, or even an average passer. And against good defenses, we won't win until he's able to throw the ball somewhat effectively. Maybe that's why Borges keeps making him throw, especially before the B1G season starts.
So what's the difference between now and 2010? The defense. Because our Greg defense is not our GERG defense, we are in every game, and teams don't stop stacking the box against Denard. They don't stop blitzing. They don't play soft coverage. So Denard never gets to ring-up his stats, and looks even worse.
I certainly won't excuse Borges' playcalling on Saturday--it needed to be better. But the fact is that our only quality wins have come when Denard has been able to make plays in the passing game (or Hemingway was able to bail out Denard) and I expect it stay that way. If Denard can't pass, we're screwed, and 4 or 5 losses is our best case scenario.
Lloyd Carr allegedly advised 2008 Michigan QB commit John Wienke to flip to Iowa during the Rich Rodriguez transition because it would better fit his style of play as a pro-style QB. And it clearly worked out as Wienke is now a punter at Iowa. I wonder if Carr will finally address the story from Three and Out about his willingness to sign off on any transfers. Doubt it.
Former Michigan coach guided QB to Iowa | TheGazette http://thegazette.com/2012/08/22/former-michigan-coach-guided-qb-to-iowa/ …
Michigan Football 101
Welcome to Michigan Football 101
! We are now counting down the days until Michigan and Alabama throw down in Dallas at the Cowboys Classic! What an experience it is going to be! Until that day, we will take a look at why Michigan Football is so good. In this series, similar to College Football 101, there will be:
- Top 40 current players
- Top 10 coaches
- Top 15 games
- Top 25 players
- Top 10 Miscellaneous
Here we go...
101. Brandon Graham
Brandon Graham went to Crockett Vocational Tech (Detroit) in high school. He started on the defensive line as a sophomore and made honorable mention that year. As a junior, he was a linebacker, offensive guard, kicker and punter. He led his team to the state championship but fell up short. Not only did Brandon have 91 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and made the All-State team, but he had a 3.8 GPA. As a senior, he had a similar year leading his team to the championship but losing once again. Graham was a captain in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and won Player of the Year in the state of Michigan. The next year, he played for the University of Michigan!
Although Brandon Graham was recruited as a linebacker, he switched to defensive end where he backed up a certain someone whom we might read about later in Michigan Football 101-- LaMarr Woodley. Graham played a little defensive tackle as well. Before the 2007 season, he got in a little bit of trouble with the law. Once he cleared all of that out, and sadly after the loss to you know who and Oregon, he became the starter. He recorded 3.5 sacks against Notre Dame in his first game as a starter. By the end of his sophomore year, he finished 7th in the Big Ten in sacks and forced fumbles.
Unfortunately, Brandon had to deal with Rich Rod. Even though Michigan had a terrible record both years, Brandon Graham did everything he could in his junior an senior seasons at Michigan. Even though it was a bad year, there was one bright game-- or bright 2nd half I should say-- in 2008. I will say it was the best game I attended in the Rich Rod era. Michigan was down by 19 at halftime and came back to win thanks to 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles from Graham. By the end of his junior year, Brandon had 10 sacks and 20 TFL, which led the Big Ten. In his senior season, Brandon Graham had 26 tackles for loss and won the Big Ten Player of the Year. To top his career off at Michigan, he was a first team All-American. He also won the MVP in the Senior Bowl with 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forces fumble.
Currently, Graham is playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was drafted 13th overall in the 2010 Draft. He recorded his first NFL sack against the Lions and hurt his knee against the Cowboys late in his rookie season. He underwent surgery and played a bit towards the end of last season. He should be good to go this year.
Brandon Graham was stuck in an unfortunate time at Michigan, but still came out a Michigan Man. He was recruited and coached by Lloyd Carr and learned a lot in his career. He was the leader of the Michigan defense and has carried on his talents to the NFL. Best of luck to him, and GO BLUE Brandon!
Here are a few video links of Brandon Graham to check out:
Check back in tomorrow to see what #100 is. Only 101 days until we BEAT BAMA!
In January, I posted a Diary about the Appreciate + Reciprocate benefit dinner and silent auction featuring Coach Hoke, Coach Carr, Dhani Jones, and Mike Martin. The MGoBlog response was great, and I wanted to make sure that everyone has another chance to attend the event.
As a reminder, the dinner will be on March 28th, and be held in the Jack Roth Stadium Club. The event benefits the LSA Emergency Student Aid Fund which assists students in sudden and extreme financial need. To read more from the previous post, click HERE.
Tickets for the event will be on sale until this Thursday. Some limited tickets may be available after that date, but our group cannot guarantee them. “Regular Tickets” are $100 and Student Tickets are $50, with group rates available.
Visit umichappreciate.org for more information, to purchase tickets, or to make a donation to the cause. And thank you so much to the MGoBlog community for its support.
Thank you to Brian for allowing me to post this. I hope this interests the MGoBlog community.
I am a member of a sponsored student organization at Michigan called Appreciate + Reciprocate. We are a group of University of Michigan students that gives back to Ann Arbor and surrounding communities through service and fundraising. All of our fundraising efforts directly benefit the LSA Emergency Student Aid Fund for students in extreme financial crises.
Each year, Appreciate + Reciprocate holds a benefit dinner and silent auction to raise money for the fund. The benefit dinner is open to the public and tickets for this year's dinner are on sale now. Details are located below:
Date: March 28, 2012
Location: Jack Roth Stadium Club (East Tower of Michigan Stadium)
Speakers: Coach Lloyd Carr, Coach Brady Hoke, Dhani Jones, and Mike Martin
Tentative Program for the Event:
6:00pm Appetizers, Meet & Greet
7:00pm Dinner Begins
7:45pm Keynote Speeches
8:45pm Silent Auction Announcements
9:00pm Event Concludes
Students - $50
Regular Seating - $100
Premium Seating - $200
Silent auction items will include a game of 1 on 1 basketball with former Michigan Basketball team captain CJ Lee, and a tour of the new Player Development Center with Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Bacari Alexander. More items will be added as the event approaches.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit our website at umichappreciate.org.
*Table sponsorships for local businesses are available. Please see our website for contact information to receive pricing and availability.
I have been asked to impart some of the knowledge of the city of New Orleans for the Michigan football team. As the former head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, I try to stay out of matters regarding the current team. An old man wandering the grounds speaking unbidden is an unseemly thing, but Coach Hoke has requested my assistance. When Michigan calls, you answer and do her bidding. She is our universal wife in this respect.
Includes this gem: