"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
Original Picture Pages is at http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-more-throwing-rock. As always, text and analysis courtesy of Brian.
This is actually an instance of 'N+2 in the box' (where N is the number of available Michigan blockers) executed by Purdue, holding Vincent Smith to a six-yard gain despite all the linemen getting good blocks. By walking down both safeties, Purdue creates an 8-to-6 overmatch in the box.
Wha'hoppon: Michigan has the ball on their own 43 to start their final drive of the first half. They run a zone stretch left. Kerrigan at left DE rushes straight upfield and is blocked by Huyge. It looks like Denard may have a keeper option to the right, but he reads the safety staying down low and hands off to Smith. Omameh blows the backside DT off the ball, Molk gets a good reach block on the playside DT, Schilling helps Molk get that reach block and then releases to go after an LB. Lewan kicks the playside DE out, and Koger takes out the other playside LB. HOWEVA, because Huyge stayed in to block Kerrigan, LB Will Lucas is free to flow down the line and tackle Smith after a gain of six yards.
(original PP is at http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-throwing-rock-against-slant. As always, text and analysis courtesy of Brian)
In this edition, Purdue recognizes that 8-in-the-box is like 9-in-the-box when the opposing offense is in 3-wide. But they're an enjuneerin' skool, so dey're smart like dat.
Wha'hoppon: Michigan has first and 10 on the 20 to open their third drive of the second half. They run a zone stretch left to Smith. Purdue slants the line against the stretch instead of flowing with it, which doesn't initially seem to do much except give Molk an easier reach block on the DT (one of several he had on the day, exactly as Brian predicted on MGoPodcast before the game). However, by slanting inside instead of maintaining outside contain, the playside DE forces Smith farther outside, where the MLB - the extra body Michigan can't quite block on this play - is headed at full speed. Purdue's paper, our rock, and Smith is stopped for no gain.
'Glass half-full' types will note that it required Purdue guessing right three different ways to stop this: 1) committing against the run with the 'extra' man, 2) slanting the DE inside instead of using him in contain, and 3) committing the MLB to the outside from the snap (although it could be argued that 2 and 3 are a combo meal). And the play was still just one ankle tackle away from being a big gain.
So here is my attempt to be more analytical about the 2009 season. I am, like everyone else here, very excited to see what this year will bring for the Wolverines. I am fully behind Rich Rod and his staff and believe that they will turn the ship around. Looking at the roster gives me hope as well. It seems to me that most positions will see an upgrade through better players, more experience, and fewer nagging injuries. To really have a breakthrough season though, we will need to see several players step their game up.
Here are the top five players I expect to have a season shaping impact:
- Brandon Graham - An obvious choice when considering impact players, Graham has already reached this level of play. He is probably the only bonafied star on the team (not counting Space Emperors) and will be the player opposing offenses must account for. He plays a position that can cover for our biggest apparent weakness (safeties) by putting consistent pressure on the quarterback, allowing less time for pass plays to develop. The team will feed off of his drive-killing sacks and forced turnovers. His impact alone possibly accounts for an extra win or two.
- Tate Forcier - Again, this is an obvious choice. (Really, I'm not trying to bore you.) Watching the quarterback play last year was mostly depressing, but I really enjoyed the moments where Threet managed to get free for a surprising run. With Tate we can reasonably expect this to occur much more often which will have a huge positive impact on our offensive efficiency. I am not really expecting much more than natural talent shining through here, at least at first, but that should be enough to keep defenses guessing a whole lot more then last year. The fact that he understands the offense from High School and the spring will certainly help speed his development. So even taking into account freshman jitters, Tate should make a huge impact and account for another one or two game improvement in the win column.
- Jonas Mouton - I have been stoked about this guy's potential since his recruitment, and especially since he move to linebacker. These days, with spread offenses of all sorts getting fast little buggers the ball with enough space to run around fools, every defense needs quick linebackers that can cover someone. My memories of the last decade of Michigan Football are littered with big plays for opponents that stem from the short passing game. As a superior athlete and a converted safety, Mouton may be just the defensive answer we have been missing.
- Brandon Minor - So the fumbles and injuries are in the past right? After the way Minor finished the 2008 season, I believe so and that he may have more of an impact than any other single player on the roster. Minor should punish defenders with his hard hitting running style, while grinding out the tough first downs. He might be most effective with carries focused towards the middle of the line, maybe even lining up at fullback. Opposing defenses would be forced to pick their poison, either bringing extra defenders into the box or allowing Minor to gut them up the middle. With all of the hype about "Spread n' Shred," Minor could be the perfect counter. Not to mention this is his last go-round to impress pro scouts.
- Zoltan Mesko - Really? A Punter? Arguably no other player has the chance to impact each and every game as much as Our Venerable Space Emperor (of Space). Without his ability to put footballs into orbit, last year could have been much uglier for the Maize and Blue. Heck, if half of the turnovers on our end were instead booming Zoltan bombs, our defense would have appeared light years better and we probably would have won at least another game or two. I expect that he will average career highs across all punting statistics (except number kicked, hopefully) and suprise many when he fakes several for first downs (and at least one touchdown, you heard it here first!)
Five others I considered:
- Greg Mathews: Probably the most important player for Tate's development, Mathews has already established his ability to run crisp routes and catch tough passes. Will he be the steady target a freshman QB needs?
- Donovan Warren: I still believe that Warren has the tools to be a shutdown corner at this level. Maybe not a Woodson, but possibly a Ty Law sort.
- Martavious Odoms: We all saw how rediculously open Odoms got last year. Now he has someone that can actually hit him, even while scrambling.
- Mike Martin: Can be the disruptive force in the middle to take some of the focus away from Graham. Can have a large impact by consistently blowing up the opponents backfield.
- Steve Shilling: After a second year with Barwis and a third starting on the O-line, Shilling is ready to shine. The move to the interior of the line could help Brandon Minor by allowing him to truck some safeties instead of linebackers.
The subject of which Michigan players are true NFL prospects has been posted a few times on this board over the last six months. Wes Bunting at National Football Post has been evaluating every FCS team for potential prospects for the 2010 NFL draft. (For those that aren't familiar with NFP, it's a site created by a group of former and current NFL execs, agents and players.) Today, he finally hit Michigan. [Note: these guys are just draft eligible, so some juniors who are just not coming out early are mentioned.] Some points of interest:
-- He doesn't love Brandon Minor as much as we do, although the review is based on last season, obviously, and not on the fact that his offensive line was young and inexperienced and will not be so much this season.
-- He evaluates Schilling as a potential "solid all-around" left tackle in the NFL, which is interesting considering I don't think he's ever played left tackle here.
-- The last line is the understatement of the millennium.
In the abyss that is the offseason, I am bored. I'm curious what people's opinions of the top 3 offensive and defensive players are. Smart money says the offensive MVP will be Brandon Minor, and the Defensive MVP will be Brandon Graham, so that's a boring topic. Instead, who are the other people you see making a run at it only to finish 2nd? My picks are as follows (in order):
Greg Mathews - Sure hands, upper classman. Also, I just really like the way he plays the game. The obvious #1 target for a seasoned qb. The fact that we have a frosh instead of a seasoned qb probably means he'll get a few less looks as Forcier will drop it off to slots and RBs more
Martavious Odoms - Was pretty much a stud last year, minus the 250 fumbles punts. For whatever reason, he's not getting much disucssion this offseason and I've even read some people have the opinion that someone else would replace him. That opinion is not mine, as I think he's in for a good season. Also, to Mr. Odoms: Hold onto the ball.
Kevin Koger* (!!) if only because tight ends can be a huge safety net for frosh QBs. To be honest though, we probably won't use a TE set enough for this to be realistic
*Steve Schilling would take his place if not for the fact that offesnive linemen never, ever are considered for this award. Also, I have resisted the urge to put Forcier here because he hasn't played a down yet. God, pls let him be good enough to be in this discussion kthx
Donovan Warren - I love the way he plays the game. I really think he would be a serious threat to challenge Graham for MVP, except for the fact I think opposing QBs will avoid his side fo the field entirely, not allowing him to build the necessary stats.
Obi Ezeh - Will he turn the corner? The athleticism is there, if he can react and read things quicker he could be dominant. What will probably keep him from the win is his ability to disappear in the passing game, often leaving a nice, wide open curl/dig zone in the middle of the field.
Mike Martin - Probably won't really be considered for MVP, but if he plays well he will be the reason Graham does win it, so I included him here. Preventing constant double teams on Graham will be his main duty.
So, what thinks you, MGoNation?
Stephen Schilling, RT. Despite the loss, the offense scored 35 points. It's hard to pick a particular player - with a viable backup - who performed poorly. Threet's performance was frustrating for many reasons, but largely because he refused to keep the ball on the read option. The backside defensive end was crashing every time and Threet seemed not to care. But since Sheridan is clearly a worse option, my vote goes for Schilling. I don't know if I'm frustrated more by Schilling's play or his seeming underperformance as a former five-star lineman. Either way, with 20 seconds remaining in the game, he made Purdue's defensive end, Ryan Kerrigan, look like Vernon Gholston. Schilling got bull rushed straight back into Threet for a sack at a crucial time - when Purdue was only rushing three defensive linemen. Perhaps Perry Dorrestein and Mark Ortmann should be the starting tackles. I don't know that it would be better, but it would be less frustrating because I expect three-star linemen to get owned.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
Scott Shafer, Defensive Coordinator and/or Tony Gibson, Secondary Coach. Shafer has weakened Michigan's best position group by taking one defensive lineman off the field to run the 3-3-5. Gibson has taken several promising defensive backs and turned them into sieves and/or umbrellas. With a very athletic and fast secondary, Michigan isn't making interceptions. Cissoko came out of high school with coaches and recruiting gurus raving about his technique and his backpedal. A cornerback with a great backpedal is a very dangerous weapon, because he has the ability to break quickly on passes thrown in front of him. It also lengthens the time he can keep his eyes in the backfield before a receiver breaks his cushion and forces the cornerback to open up his hips to turn and run with a deep route. But every time I see Cissoko in anything but press coverage, he immediately opens his hips (as do the other corners). This is a big reason that so many passes are completed in front of Michigan's corners, because as soon as they open their hips and turn to run, opposing wide receivers break off their routes to run outs or hitches. There's no reason a lousy Purdue team should rack up 48 points - more than undefeated Penn State and explosive Illinois did - on Michigan's defense. None. Shawn Crable, Jamar Adams, and Brandent Englemon were solid players, but the defense should not have fallen off this much with seven returning starters. In 2007 Michigan only allowed 35 points to Heisman winner/national champion Florida, 39 to then-Heisman front-runner Dennix Dixon and Oregon, and 14 to national championship game participant Ohio State.