Will Cameron Gordon bring balance to the force? Will Vlad the Impaler ever transition from psych to sang? Is Marvin the Marvelous Marvel just an empty OMG shirtless? Do 40-times matter at all? Will Misopogon exhaust his annual allotment of rhetorical questions before this deck is even finished? I dunno, but I was seriously freaking about about free safety, man, so I dipped into UFRs of yore and found….hope?
Question for you Cam: What has two thumbs, and is responsible for stopping the big play?
Tthere are things that concern me very much about 2010. Chief among these, and that which I would like to now give the full Misopogonal logorrhea treatment in an attempt to allay those fears in my own head (and SLEEP dammit), is the position of Free Safety.
Or Deep Safety.
Or Deathbacking D-Back of Defensive Doom.
You know what I'm talking about: the middle safety who is supposed to play Cover 1, or center Cover 3, or clean up anything that runs by Obi Ezeh and whichever lineman Obi has affixed himself to for the duration of that play.
The position which, at least in our current defensive terminology, I believe is officially called the…
* Good news is none of those links are RickRolls. Bad news is they are all much, much worse.
To really grasp what kind of play to expect this season from the quarterback of the defense, and what kind of player tends to succeed in that position I felt it necessary to go over the kind of deep safety play that Michigan has had since, oh, 2005.
…[Misopogon spends two full evenings in old UFRs]
Omigod guys, there's some seriously bad safety play in there. But I learned some things today… Fortify your stomach, then click to continue.
- Everyone already knew Molk was out. That's nothing new
- Rodriguez has already said that Moosman will start at center in Molk's place. His sill being included on the injury report probably just means he'll play despite not being quite 100%
- Tim McAvoy is unlikely to figure into the offensive line rotation any time soon, unless there are more injuries. His ability to (almost) play is not a big factor one way or the other.
- Rodriguez had previously thought Williams was fine, and the fact that he probably won't play isn't encouraging. Still, that hopefully won't be a factor against Indiana, and it will also give the younger guys some playing time. Maybe we'll even see Emilien on defense to spell Kovacs!
University of Michigan Football Injury Report
For the Indiana Game (Sept. 26)
David Molk (foot)
Doubtful (25% chance of playing)
Mike Williams (ankle)
Probable (75% chance of playing)
Tim McAvoy (knee)
David Moosman (shoulder)
In addition, Coach Rich Rodriguez announced the captains for the homecoming game against Indiana: linebacker Stevie Brown, quarterback David Cone, wide receiver Greg Mathews and punter Zoltan Mesko.
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.