i like 'em both
Personnel notes: Everyone gets in. One correction from Monday's game column: the second-string center in this game was Tim McAvoy, not Rocko Khoury.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel||Run||Zone read stretch||Shaw||2|
|Moosman(-1) beaten down the line, partially because Schilling didn't stay to help any; a cutback is not possible with the backside DE crashing down and Shaw ends up plowing into the guy Moosman is escorting down the line, falling forward for a couple.|
|O43||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel||Pass||Rollout hitch||Mathews||14|
|Wide open to the point where this five yard hitch can get turned up for nine more. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||2|
|Huyge(-1) driven back by the DSU DT right into the path of Shaw, who slows up as a result, actually impacting the DT a yard in the backfield. He cant make a one-armed tackle, though, and Shaw squirts outside where an unblocked linebacker grabs him by the feet.|
|O27||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Odoms||25|
|Extremely open with the DSU LB lined up a good two yards inside of Odoms and slow to react to the bubble. He watches the exchange, only getting out on Odoms when Forcier pulls up to throw, by which point it's way too late. Despite the CB forcing the play inside Odoms can zip between him and the LB all the way down to the 1. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Shaw||2|
|Yay we blew a I-AA team off the ball. Good YAC by Shaw, though.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||7|
|This isn't that hard against a shifted line: kick the DE out, double the DT, shoot the RB at the linebacker right over the hole, and use Robinson's speed to pick up good yardage. Both guys blocking the playside DT peel off to attempt a block on a blitzing linebacker who's just running himself out of the play, allowing that guy to come off his block and tackle after 6-7.|
|M35||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone counter dive||Shaw||8|
|Backside DE, who looks like a sixth grader, gets kicked out, one LB runs up for contain and the other gets blocked, and Shaw makes a sharp cut into the hole we all know and love. Linebackers do recover to hold it down a bit.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB zone stretch||Robinson||20|
|This actually gets strung out pretty well by DSU, with the playside DE fighting off Ortmann's block and forcing Robinson wider than he'd like. By the time he cuts up there are three DSU guys in the area and apparently no room, but Robinson manages to squeeze through a hole that doesn't even appear to be there and breaks into the secondary.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Edge pitch||Shaw||16|
|One deep safety and an outside corner playing ten yards off the line with an OLB over Grady-19. That guy makes the mistake of trying to go inside of Grady, giving up the edge, but this was to the wide side of the field and there was no support so even if he tries to fight through the Grady block he's probably not going to have much luck.|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||11|
|DSUs DTs are headed straight upfield. One is easily sealed by Schilling(+1) the other beats Moosman(-1), leaving that guy attempting to charge down Smith. He can't, and there's a bunch of room because a DE's been blown downfield and Grady kicked out the linebacker to that side. Smith can just run outside of the DT.|
|O10||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Robinson||4|
|Michigan doubles and down-blocks the playside DT, pulling Schilling around to act as a lead blocker as Smith heads outside. The double on the DT gets him blown off the ball but he eventually splits it, throwing Schilling to the ground and tackling Robinson after a moderate gain.|
|O6||2||G||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||6|
|This one goes outside the tackle as a textbook scoop block from Dorrestein(+1) and Huyge(+1) seals the playside DE and gets Dorrestein out on the MLB. Both those guys get blocked, the OLB to the playside gets taken out by Grady, and it's a walk-in touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown,14-0, 8 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||11|
|DSU slanting into the play, driving Moosman and Ortmann back, getting playside of them and forcing a cutback. Ortmann does do a good job of sticking with the block and getting enough push to help with the cutback. The threat of Robinson holds one linebacker outside and he can't make a diving tackle from behind. Shaw spins through another tackle attempt and picks up good yardage.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB zone stretch||Robinson||8|
|Excellent block by Moosman(+1) gets the playside DT sealed; Shaw sees the lane and cuts up inside to provide a block, which isn't great; Robinson hops behind it without losing much speed at all. He takes a hit from the DT, who's given up seven yards of field position, and the ball is raked free.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 4 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Deep Seam||Grady||38|
|Play action fake sucks up the safety ridiculously and gives Grady huge room. Robinson finds him for the touchdown. The throw is short and if I hadn't seen Robinson leave a couple other balls like this short to poor effect I might give him credit for just making sure the ball is complete. I have, though, so I think he just underthrew it. It's not too bad, though, and it's a deep throw, so: (CA,3, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M13||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||13|
|Playside DE steps inside, which allows Dorrestein to engage him and double with help from Huyge, blowing him way off the ball and giving Smith an easy lane to dart into. Webb kicks out another linebacker, turning it into first down yardage.|
|M26||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||11|
|Moosman(+1) gets enough of the playside DT to provide a tough reach block; Smith darts up through a smallish crease between Moosman and Dorrestein. Webb and Huyge have second level blocks, leaving Smith one-on-one with a closing safety in a phonebooth; Smith lowers his shoulder and pops him, falling forward. Tough little guy.|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 2TE Twins||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||8|
|This is where I think Smith has some top-end ability. The backside DSU DT has split a double and gotten playside of Dorrestein(-1), which should jam the play up. Smith just hops around the mess, hardly breaking stride or slowing, and manages to zip up through a hole before the unblocked backside DE can close it down. That change of direction is stellar.|
|M45||2||2||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||42|
|Virtual replay of the last play down to the backside DSU DT zipping inside and Smith smoothly cutting past it before the backside DE can react. This time a crushing downfield block by Webb(+1) has opened the corner and Smith is off to the races. He does not win the races. It's possible he's just tired. Look at this drive.|
|O17||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Penalty||False start||Schilling||-5|
|O22||1||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Stonum||19|
|Corner to the side where the play is is headed for the parking lot, just amazingly far off the ball. Robinson's a tad late with the throw but it gets there and accurately; it's got some zip, too, allowing Stonum to turn it upfield in the cavernous space afforded and head for first and goal. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O3||1||G||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||-1|
|Michigan breaks this bad boy out, as discussed yesterday, but to no effect because Smith does not get the playcall. He heads to the wrong side of Robinson, which makes for an awkward handoff, and runs right into the space the pulling guard vacated. Smith instantly pulled for Shaw.|
|O4||2||G||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout cross||Roundtree||Inc|
|Great block by Grady on the edge to stone a blitzer as Michigan goes play action waggle. Robinson uses the time afforded by Grady to find Roundtree breaking open at the back of the endzone; the throw is a little behind and low, forcing Roundtree to go down and dig it out. Catchable, but unnecessarily difficult; Roundtree can't bring it in. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O4||3||G||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB zone stretch||Robinson||4|
|Robinson darts up in a crease between Dorrestein(+1) and lead blocker Shaw for a short touchdown. Rodriguez ticked at Shaw for something.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-0, 12 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Grady||5|
|Schilling(-1) and Moosman(-1) fail to seal the playside DT on an attempted double, so Grady has little choice but to slam it up into him. They meet at the LOS, are joined by another Hornet, and Grady manages to grind forward for five yards.|
|M45||2||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||9|
|Down-block double from Moosman and Huyge does get the playside DT blown out of this hole; Huyge(+1) then disconnects to take out one linebacker; Grady cracks the other. Robinson zips through the hole and ends up grinding a pile forward. Grady, okay, but man. When Robinson's doing that you've got issues.|
|O44||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Grady||9|
|Great cut block by Ortmann gets the backside DT to the ground and opens up a huge cutback lane as Koger blocks the WLB down the line and out of the hole and DSU flows too fast to the edge of the field. Grady cuts it behind, gets grabbed, and does his usual YAC thing.|
|O35||2||1||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Grady||7|
|Ortmann and Schilling down block and obliterate the playside DT; Koger kicks out the DE. Huyge pulls around but has no one to block because both DSU linebackers follow the FB outside. A filling safety brings Grady down.|
|O28||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Waggle TE Post||Webb||28|
|Play action fake again sucks up DSU almost wholly, leaving Webb in a sea of green wondering where everyone else is. He is Moeaki open. Robinson pulls up late and has a guy in his face, so the throw is harried and way way short. Coverage is so bad that it doesn't matter though. Robinson's problem on these is not seeing stuff fast enough, I think. (MA, 3, protection N/A)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-0, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Grady||26|
|Sheridan in. Okay: so. I've been half-assing it so far and now this is like 3/4ths assing it. Michigan runs a simple iso play that should be good for a few but for a corner shooting too far inside and letting Grady outside of the leverage, turning like four into a big play.|
|M43||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Moosman||6|
|Moosman(+1) seals away the playside DT and Schilling(+1) gets a very good second level block, springing Grady into the secondary. Quick fill from the safety and Grady's tendency to run right into filling safeties hold it down.|
|M49||2||4||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Grady||5|
|Plowing ahead; decent filling from DSU holds it down, somewhat,|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stokes||9|
|Open, decent YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O37||2||1||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Grady(19)||9|
|A crappy throw Grady has to dig out; Webb got beat to the outside here but Grady(+1) makes that guy miss and zips outside the interior pursuit for a good gain. (MA, 2, screen)|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||1|
|Huyge(-1) gets pushed into the backfield and basically defeated by the DSU DT, who's playing pretty well here. Smith can't run to the outside of him because the MLB has shot up through the gap developing between the playside guy and the DE, so he has to slow up, spinning through the MLB's arm tackle attempt and getting a yard out of nothing.|
|O27||2||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA deep hitch||Savoy||20|
|Man, when Nick Sheridan surveys, finds nothing, starts rolling out, is pursued by a DE who can't catch him, and finds a wide open WR, you are not good. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O7||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Grady(24)||7|
|McColgan, the backup FB—where is Moundros?--whiffs on a blitzing LB, which gets him on on Grady; Grady makes him miss, then jukes another guy, then scores. See above about not good.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-0, 1 min 2nd Q. Last drive of half not charted. Shaw has a couple of nice runs. Charting stops here since the second team OL plays the entire second half. I'll chart certain plays of interest for the rest of the game.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M49||`1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA TE cross||Moore||16|
|Play action on which Brandon Moore just sort of drifts into a hole in the zone, making his first catch as a Wolverine. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O13||2||3||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||7|
|More top end savior faire from Smith; just grabbing this for the smooth cut again.|
|M8||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Outside zone||Smith||15|
|Check the juke on the LB. Sweet.|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||35|
|McAvoy gets blown back but Smith makes the most of it, bouncing off the problems and zipping upfield thanks to a crushing block from Mealer.|
|CONESTRAVAGANZA I: Stokes runs a hitch route at the sticks that Cone finds, but he leaves it short and forces Stokes to dig it out. (MA, 2, protection 2/2) Called back because Stoke lined up on the LOS.|
|M22||2||16||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Skinny post||Savoy||19|
|CONESTRAVAGANZA II: straight dropback, Cone ZINGS it to a seriously covered Savoy over the outstretched arm of a linebacker. Dude is all over Savoy's back but he reels it in anyway. That's right: (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Cox||57|
|McAvoy gets a seal of sorts and Ferrara manages to get a charging linebacker, so there's a small crease that Cox explodes into, easily outrunning the DSU safety for a touchdown.|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Reyes||4|
|CONE... okay he just throws a bubble. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O45||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Seam||Reyes||39|
|CONESTRAVAGANZA III: Dang, man. Reyes runs a seam route past his LB cover guy, doesn't get much separation, and then Cone just drops it in as perfectly as you can. I'm not fudging this it all: (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
So, um, charts?
(Hennechart legend; MA is "marginal", screen results are in parens.)
|Notre Dame||5||20 (6)||2||4||3||3||-||4|
|Eastern Michigan||1||8 (2)||1||1 (1)||1||4 (1)||-||-|
|Indiana||3||13 (3)||1 (1)||2||5||3||-||2|
|Michigan State||5||19 (3)||2||4||3||3||-||5|
|Delaware State||-||2 (1)||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Eastern Michigan||-||1||1 (1)||2 (1)||-||-||-||-|
I'd love to see some Hennechart visualization of those babies.
Wait, why are you providing charts for this one but not the other one?
Offense has a number of defense-independent things. Did you throw the ball in the right place? To an open guy? Did said guy catch it? Etc. It's slightly useful to have the numbers. The defense numbers are not useful at all.
Also, several readers threatened terrible things if I didn't provide this:
DAVID "FEBREZE" CONE, AKA CONER
Dang, son, do work:
Not exactly a hugely challenging game but they didn't screw up. Roundtree's incompletion was a borderline 1/2.
And a very teeny protection metric:
PROTECTION METRIC: 10/10.
As they say, nothing to see here.
Anything of note on this side of the ball?
Yeah, some stuff. It's a lot easier to pick out interesting plays against overmatched opponents when Michigan is running the ball lots. The good:
- Vincent Smith showed top-end shiftiness and looks like he'll be a solid back. I compared him to Mike Hart on Monday, and think that remains a pretty good comparison. He's also got a little Noel Devine in him; the way he darts through crevices and effortlessly shifts around traffic is reminiscent of the WVU star. He appears to lack Devine's fifth—or eighth—gear, but he's delivered more pop to defenders in one game than Devine has in three years. He'll be something less than a star but he can be very productive.
- Denard Robinson completed some passes yay.
- And, of course: CONER.
- Robinson left both touchdown passes well short. Against other teams those may have been incompletions or worse. He also left a ball to Robinson well short, turning an easy touchdown into a drop. He didn't do much to dispel the idea of him as a one-trick pony. Pretty good trick, though.
- I was a little bothered by how often Delaware State DTs, especially #95 Tyron Hurst, beat Michigan OL on stretch blocking, forcing those smooth backside cuts from Smith. Part of that could be Michigan being very predictable and DSU selling out to contain the stretch, but I didn't think the interior OL had a great day.
Dude. 63 points, why ask that question?
I always ask it.
Yeah, well, maybe you need to re-evaluate your life some.
Don't go all sanctionious on me here. We've had enough of that for one week.
What does it mean for Penn State, and the future?
Not much other than the tailback position should be in good hands for the next few years.
10/17/2009 – Michigan 63, Delaware State 6 – 5-2, 1-2 Big Ten
This what everyone wanted after last year's decision to schedule Utah didn't go as planned and Michigan slumped to a 3-9 record: a tomato can's tomato can. Someone to take lunch money or candy from. A baby seal to club, and then club some more, and then club some more until David Cone's lyrical daggers were targeting only a wet, damp smear. This is what we got, a game in which I was pondering at which point in the second quarter I'd stop charting for UFR.* A bye week in all but execution.
Actually, scratch the first several words of that sentence: an execution. It was kind of depressing. In the aftermath, Dr. Saturday took time out of a busy Saturday to glance at the box score, blanch in horror, and write a post about it:
The final ledger against the Wolverines could not have been more grisly: Michigan outgained DSU by more than 500 total yards despite pulling starting quarterback Tate Forcier after the first series, averaging 10 yards every time it snapped the ball while also blocking a punt for a touchdown for good measure. The Wolverines led 49-0 after two quarters and began emptying the bench at halftime to keep the margin below 100. I hope Michigan's belly is full, the Hornets are enjoying their half-million-dollar payday and the MEAC championship doesn't come down to handing a win to NCA&T, because children had to watch this.
Delaware State's fluke inability to reschedule the NC A&T** was long known. The reason DocSat brings it up is the pure grisly horror of the thing: 49-3 at halftime, 727 yards for Michigan at the end of everything. "Grisly" is the right word, and "bodybag game" seems like only a slight exaggeration. Michigan killed DSU's long snapper on their first punt, blocked the next one, and pointedly refused to approach another one all day despite the replacement offering up Scorched Earth-worthy parabolas. Michigan, for its part, did not punt.
I don't blame Rodriguez or Martin or Michigan for lining the game up. One bad I-AA team is like any other; Martin probably did a quick scan for back-to-back national championships, found none, and said "okay." It was just bad luck to get the opposite of Appalachian State. Given the state of the program, which was precarious after last year and needed an auto-win for its open date, and college football, which GIMME MONEY, some unchallenging I-AA team was a good move in the abstract. Outside of the three hours in which the game actually took place, it was the right decision.
Obviously, I blame the NCAA. They're the ones who approved a twelfth game, allowed I-AA wins to count for bowl eligibility every year, and placed no limits on the number of home games you can force your bored fans to sit through. At that point it's race to the bottom. Michigan punched a baby seal until it was unconscious and then brought in its six-year-old brother to continue punching the baby seal because he's got to execute the playbook and every play in it is "punch baby seal," and the reason this was a good idea is the NCAA's decade-long money grab.
I think this can this be fixed, or at least mitigated, though. Rodriguez's preseason assertion that the NCAA should allow an exhibition game looks brilliant today. Michigan's 5-2 after beating up a terrible I-AA team, and in the process they set a hollow record for total offense. Michigan improved 35 places in total offense and 20 in total defense in one game. They've still gotten outgained in every game they've played against teams not in the MAC or MEAC, but they're currently the #25 offense and #64 defense in the country because they picked a really, really bad tomato can instead of one of those half-decent ones you only beat by 40. Everyone outside of accounting and the walk-ons at the end of the roster would have been better off if this game didn't exist.
Rodriguez's plan is a way to make the accountants and everyone else happy. Allow teams to open the season a week earlier against a team of their choice in an exhibition game. Sell exorbitantly priced tickets to season-ticket holders, have your sleepy quasi-spring game, open up an actual bye week during the season, and make sure the corrupt statistics from games against teams starting 22 guys your walk-ons could play straight up don't infect record books and season statistics.
We're already paying exorbitant amounts of money for bloodsport; they least they can do for us is stop pretending these count.
*(Answer: probably when Sheridan comes in, at least as far as serious charting goes. I'll stick around longer to evaluate backups on defense and offer some opinions on Cox and Smith.)
**(Fun fact: North Carolina A&T is where Larry Harrison briefly landed after his tendency to scare young women by enthusiastically manipulating his dangly bits caught up to him. He was forced to leave by Concerned Folk who were evidently not concerned about Larry Harrison's future. And yet Corey Tropp can skate against Steve Kampfer this year.)
- I don't want to get into another huge band flamewar, but I'm sure it didn't escape anyone's notice that the DSU band was sacrificing pitch control and accuracy for loudness. Personally, as the APPROACHING STORM blatted its way through its pregame and halftime shows, I was appalled. The popular music! How am I supposed to choke down the substandard camembert my idiot brother thought would go with an Australian malbec? (About which, as the children say in their vulgar tongue, LOL.)
Now, the clown who laughs as he cries inside, that's showmanship.
- For serious, though: I literally LOLed when the pregnant pause following "and now, the Michigan Marching Band presents…" was followed by "OPERA!" The earlier complaint about the band's focus on things other than putting on an entertaining show could not have been reinforced better. DSU had a third of the people and vastly less practice time; they were a MEAC band from a school of under 4000. Even I could tell that the notes coming from them weren't quite right. And yet they got a bigger, more sincere cheer than the MMB. They so enraptured Michael Rothstein that he dedicated an article to the band with statements like "That was when the band took over," and… yeah, I'm with him.
And it's not like the MMB hasn't done stuff like this in the past: the Ferris Bueller halftime show, the Holy Grail one, and the Titanic one where the band formed a ship and the broke itself on an iceberg were all entertaining and memorable enough for me to remember them years later.
- The APPROACHING STORM has a a website that is true to the nature of the band, all rickety glory and awesome animated lightning GIF backgrounds. It's on Angelfire!
- Pardon the blasphemy, but you know who Vincent Smith reminds me of? Mike Hart. Same lack of killer deep speed that prevents the guy in question from being an elite prospect—Noel Devine would have housed two or three of Smith's carries. On the other hand, Smith appears to have Hart's ability to juke guys out of their shorts and hit zone creases with authority, and when it comes time to get tackle Smith delivers a blow impressively for a member of the lollipop guild. He's probably even shiftier than Hart, not quite as liable to drag a pile but set to become an excellent player over the next few years. I still think Mike Shaw is the odds-on favorite to start next year because he has the explosion to take it the distance and the moves to break more than his share, but in this offense the #2 back is almost a starter and Smith should be productive.
- To repeat a tweet: the second team offensive line from L to R was Barnum, Mealer, Khoury, Ferrara, and Omameh. Is Barnum's presence at left tackle a statement about his ability or the lack of tackles who aren't redshirting at the moment? Probably the latter.
- Will Campbell fell behind Renaldo Sagesse on the depth chart again after his struggles against Iowa. Was Sagesse dinged for that game? I wouldn't be surprised if he was. It would be pretty weird to elevate a true freshman over a productive backup for a night road game against an undefeated team without extenuating circumstances.
- Mike Williams was the last member of the starting defense to leave the field. Kovacs was second-to-last. You can read many things into that. My things: backup safeties do not exist, Williams was indeed a major culprit in the Iowa loss, and Vlad Emilien is not getting a dodgy medical redshirt.
- Liked opportunity to play in front of 106k, and the fans supported the team, despite lack of an exciting opponent.
- Liked that a bunch of older guys were able to get their first real playing time. Even ST starters didn't play in the second half. Guys are happy because their teammates got to play. So many close games prevents quality reps for the depth. A lot of fun to let the scout team guys get real playing time.
- Carlos should be cleared up by Monday. Molk might be back for the PSU game, and he should be able to practice this week. No new injuries happened today.
- Tate practiced well during the week. They wanted to give him some game reps, but the first couple series went well, and they didn't need him. They knew tuesday that Tate would be able to play. If he was needed all game, he could have (but they planned on playing Denard). Wanted to get Denard some passing reps. Sheridan will be a great coach some day. Cone knows the system, great to get him some reps.
- Planned to give Shaw and Smith the most carries. Wanted to give Kevin a few as well. How importat was it to get the backups some carries? You need at least 3-4 tailbacks, because they often play 2 at once, etc. It's critical to get the lower guys some reps. VS and MS physical for their size. Cox is on the scout team, but he got a chance to prove himself today.
- Beginning of the year, this game would be used for evaluating. Middle of the year, it's a rest week, and time to give reps to depth players.
- James Rogers moved to CB this week. Asked a couple weeks ago if he could help out on defense.
- Wanted to run the offense, but didn't want to show anything new or throw the ball too much.
- The coaches are "very mindful of the guys we plan on redshirting" Justin Turner will redhsirt.
- Guys are ready for PSU. They were talking about the Lions as soon as they started going back up the tunnel.
- RR knows the team is where he wants it when the 2s are almost as good as the 1s.
- JT Floyd was out with what might be the flu. Cissoko still suspended - day-to-day.
Kevin and Kelvin Grady
- Never talked to each other about scoring TDs in the same game. "These are the type of opportunities and moments you work for" - Kelvin.
- Both brothers are competitors, never worried about scoring touchdowns together.
- Kevin loves running the ball, it was god to get the opportunity to do it again. Kelvin's TD - he didn't do much, coaches just made the right call against the coverage.
- Team had no problem with intensity - You shouldn't need the opponent be a big one in order to get up for a game in Michigan Stadium.
- Kelvin still loves his hoops teammates, and they support him in football.
- Wasn't expecting a huge workload, but was prepared to make the most of it.
- Never worried about whether or not he needed to redshirt. He wanted to do whatever the team needed.
- Smith wasn't aware of all the things he was doing, just worried about running the ball.
- Freshman year is for getting the experience down, in the future he can worry about moving up the depth chart.
- Hasn't scored since his junior yr of high school. Brandon Smith scooped the ball to Graham a bit.
- Every game is taken personally. Today was to try to get everybody out there "Get everybody to live their dream of playing in the Big House" Ohene Opong-owusu was a captain today. He was hustling, etc.
- With 2 sacks today, and 3 good weeks, the number is starting to climb up. He's really come on lately.
- Try to keep guys focused in the locker room this week. Trying not to miss assignments this game. About last year's PSU game: "Last year was last year, this year we fight for 60 minutes."
- The Big Ten is up for grabs. The goal is 10-2 "It can happen." You never know what can happen in the big 10. Never lose hope, the goal is a big 10 championship.
- Vincent Smith is tiny and strong. "You ain't seen him with his shirt off. He's cut up."
- "Just going out and having fun with my team. that's all this was."
- Felt great to throw 2 TDs. Safety came down on the Grady TD pass. Knew what was coming. Sometimes the pass to the wide open guy is the hardest one. Don't want to overthtrow or underthrow. Had to throw it to webb because he was so open when denard got his head around.
- Bounce-back from 2 losses is a big deal. The team can re-focus, put past games in the past. It's not hard to do, because your teammates tell you it's ok to make a mistake. You just need to get back on track. Against Iowa, Denard was calm. The interception had nothing to do with his nerves.
- Don't try to do too much. Improving as a passer every day. Coach and teammates helping him out. Reading the defense is what Denard is working on now. Always room for improvement. Better than he was when he first got here.
- More comfortable to get in rhythm, rather than one series at a time? Feels comfortable any time he goes into the game. Both he and Tate want to play, but they don't worry about who's on the field. They just want the team to win. Even Cone and Kennedy got reps today.
- Vincent Smith's running style is fun. He ran loose, and hard to tackle.
- On his fumble, a guy ripped it from behind just as he was going to secure with his second hand.
Note: video from last year is lightboxed; previous years will take you off the page.
Rating: 5 of 5.
|Brandon Minor||Sr.||Mark Moundros||Jr.*|
|Carlos Brown||Sr.||Kevin Grady||Sr.|
|Mike Shaw||So.||Anonymous Walk-on||----|
|Mike Cox||Fr.*||Anonymous Walk-on||----|
|UW veer TD|
|Used as H-back|
|PSU TD #1|
|More PU RAGE|
It's no coincidence that Michigan's running game took a quantum leap forward when Brandon Minor was installed as the starter against Penn State and told to run very hard in one direction until the gore covering everything proved too slippery to get a foothold on. MINOR RAGE was born in a shocking first half against Penn State and all other options were instantly demoted to second-best. Gone was the preseason depth chart that featured a whopping three "OR" denotations. When healthy, Minor was the guy. It was obvious from his first drive against the Nittany Lions. It was obvious from his first thumping run:
After weeks of watching a couple freshmen zip into linebackers or, more often, linemen and then attempt not to get killed, Minor blasted into the secondary and left one of Penn State's safeties in a heap. Debate: over.
So what the hell took so long? Well, Sam McGuffie did flash hints of talent, most impressively against Notre Dame, before opponents figured out that you could just murder his brain. Minor, battling a wrist injury all year, put the ball on the ground with alarming regularity when he got the odd carry early in the season. And there were persistent rumors that Minor found himself amongst the discontented masses on the team that did not fully buy in. (Yes, this which makes Minor's post-season callout of any lingering Zion Babbs a bit odd, but it is what it is.)
Also, Minor hadn't been that impressive in his first two years at Michigan. This preview last year noted the gap in YPC between Minor and Carlos Brown—one that persisted even if you chopped down Brown's 85-yard ramble against Minnesota to something more reasonable—and came down on the skeptical side of things:
Minor runs too upright and stiff for my tastes. He's clearly slower than Brown and the fleet freshmen, has little wiggle, and tends to plow over and through defenders instead of trying to avoid them. Sometimes this ends with Minor spectacularly trucking someone; sometimes it ends with Minor taking a wicked shot from a headhunting linebacker or safety. …
IMO, he gets his fair share of carries throughout the year but is clearly less effective than at least one other tailback and possibly two.
This prediction looked bang on for six games, at which point Minor's projected best case—a poor man's Darren McFadden—sort of came true, didn't it? Minor's not going to go in the top ten of the NFL draft but he had his moments of thunderous downhill stomping, slashing through holes and over and through and past out-of-position defenders. He was one of the few players to seem a physical match for Penn State and Ohio State defenders and should improve further with a year of buy-in and Barwis. Evan Royster may be an obvious selection for All Big Ten tailback this year, but they put two on the team and from this vantage point Minor's as likely as anyone to claim that second spot.
There is a caveat, though: if healthy. I may have been wrong about Minor's overall efficacy but the ominous injury note above was borne out. Minor's early fumbling problems were caused by a wrist issue that lingered through the year and he missed the Northwestern game not with any specific issue but just because he had gotten the hell beaten out of him the past few games. Minor missed sections of camp after an offseason car crash left him with persistent headaches. Asking him to be a Ringer-level workhorse is a bit much.
|Loping vs Purdue|
|Tripping over Leman|
|Nice first down|
Meanwhile, the man this preview thought would claim the starting mantle, albeit nominally, came down with the usual array of nagging ailments from hamstrings to hangnails to exploding penguins. Carlos Brown hardly found the field all year. In fact, he was en route to a medical redshirt before Minor came down with that comprehensive ass-kickage and he was brought out of mothballs to play in the most unpleasant game ever staged. Despite the rust, wholesale lack of a passing game, and driving sleet, Brown impressed, racking up 115 yards on 23 carries—five per—with a long of only 17 against Northwestern's fair-to-good rushing defense.
Carlos Brown, this is your abridged Northwestern UFR:
Brown splits them and is a safety away from six points. … I really wish Brown didn't go down so easily on this one; with Mathews blocking downfield a cut outside might make this a touchdown. … Brown runs through the flailing arms and is away for a good gain. … Brown splits the two linebackers, then jukes a safety(+1), picking up the extra five yards he needs for the first. … should try to bounce it all the way back behind Sheridan—Steve Slaton used to do that to good effect—but instead just runs into a bunch of dudes. … makes a sweet spin move to evade the rolled up corner and safety. Free of those two, he picks up the first down. Major + play from Brown here. … Brown is indecisive with the safety and gets taken down. [Ed. Note: after ten yards.] … Here's the season for you: Michigan runs against what's essentially a five man front, gets a vast gaping hole and will pop Brown into the secondary for somewhere between eight and a zillion yards, and Brown falls harmlessly to the turf three yards in the backfield.
Carlos Brown got out of the grave and turned in an excellent running day, though a series of slips and stumbles prevented him from breaking a long one, and that last zone stretch on which he turned a likely first down into third and thirteen was a killer.
That's consistent move-the-chains production from a guy we know has gamebreaking speed. Combine the two and you might have something resembling the top-50 player Brown was coming out of high school.
That's the trick though, that and not having a series of freak hand, ankle, groin, hamstring, thigh, spleen, and pancreas injuries that limit him to one 85-yard touchdown against Minnesota and a lot of dour, beslinged observation from the sideline. There's no time like the present for Brown to live up to the extensive recruiting hype and occasional 80-yard touchdown—he had another one in the spring game.
If Brown is healthy and if Minor is healthy at the same time, expect to see a heavy dose of two-tailback sets that allow Michigan to zone read in either direction, run plenty of triple option, and prevent opponents from teeing off towards one side or the other. Rivals actually ranked Minor as a fullback coming out of high school and last year Minor's occasional deployment as a lead blocker was effective, as this Michigan State defensive end can attest:
Unless, of course, he's still wondering why his legs are made of eels and the sky smells so prickly.
Backups And Whatnot
|Season's first TD|
|Gets tackled oddly|
With Sam McGuffie wisely choosing his ability to remember where he lives and Conference USA over a sophomore season at Michigan, Michael Shaw is other experienced option on the depth chart. Last year he did his best Brown impression, alternating impressive, zippy runs with groin injuries. He added some bonus freshman stuff, too: the occasional horrible decision that ended in a seven yard loss or fumble, either of which events ended with Rodriguez spittle arcing across the field.
Like Denard Robinson, Shaw is made of dilithium, the winner of the 200, 4x100, and 4x200 at the Penn Relays his senior year of high school and a guy who was shocked when someone, anyone managed to track him down from behind once he broke into the open field:
"I broke a long run and got dragged from behind. It was then that I was like, 'I'm really hurting. I've never not been able to run, not been able to explode.' "
There was good reason for the slowdown, a groin injury that would eventually require offseason surgery for a "sports hernia." If Angry Michigan Running Back Hating God doesn't get involved again, Shaw should see extensive work as a slot-capable tailback on passing downs and all-purpose injury/fatigue backup as he's groomed for the (or, more likely, a) starting job in 2010. Somewhere between 50 and 100 carries at a high YPC and one or two runs where he goes so fast he mutates into a frog-like thing and everyone pretends it didn't happen afterwards would be a tantalizing sophomore year.
Past Shaw there's a cavalcade of freshmen in two groups. Group one—pounding Minor sorts—is Mike Cox. Cox is a redshirt freshman out of a New England prep school better known for producing hockey stars than football players. They only play nine game seasons; Cox was hurt for most of his senior year; no one scouted him before that because right New England prep school; then he redshirted. So, yeah, we don't know much about Cox. There have been erratic positive practice mentions that make the Minor comparison and suggest Michigan made the right choice when they went for Cox over instate star Jonas Gray, now at Notre Dame, after seeing the two side-by-side at camp. Cox should see some time spelling Minor, as Michigan doesn't have anyone other than him to pick up the thundermoose mantle.
Group two—spread ninjas—has two guys in it, both true freshmen. Ohioan Fitzgerald Toussaint was the higher-rated by the recruiting sites. He spent his senior year either shredding defenses for like 250 yards on 10 carries or getting swamped for like 40 on 20. There was little in-between. His highlight video is full of fancy jump-cuts and serious change-of-direction skills; he's slightly undersized but who cares, right? Toussaint's had some injury issues in fall camp and it sounds like Michigan is looking at redshirting him, which they obviously should since he's fifth string at best. Recruiting profile here.
And then there is tiny, zippy Vincent Smith, who arrived for spring and did this during the Michigan drill…
…impressing everyone and reminding us all that Rich Rodriguez might have some idea what he's doing when it comes to tiny who-dat running backs.
Smith's spring game was just okay, but the practice buzz up until that point was very positive. The buzz since has remained equally positive, with teammates dropping his name apropos of nothing. Here's the always-excitable Fred Jackson:
“Small guy, but a big back. He plays big. The way he blocks you and the way he’ll run over you. I’m going to bet that he’s 170 pounds, I don’t know exactly. But I’m going to say he’s 170 pounds and he runs like he’s 200 pounds.”
It's Smith, not Shaw, who's listed as the first backup to the two seniors on the initial roster. That means no redshirt and frequent duty; I'm betting he's the fan favorite in the race for the starting job next year. His recruiting profile beckons for the curious.
I have a hunch that Michigan fans and opposing linebackers are going to become very familiar with redshirt junior fullback Mark Moundros this fall. We know that Rodriguez likes to feed his ogres, and last year Michigan had some success passing to Moundros out of the backfield until opponents caught on to that one play they can actually do and shut him down.
This year Michigan figures to have several plays they can actually do and one spectacularly accurate short-range passer. You can see a glimpse of a Moundros-heavy future in the Forcier
porn highlights from the spring game: Forcier gets pressure from an outside blitzer on a rollout and hits Moundros dead in stride. Moundros turns it up in front of a trailing linebacker and picks up a first down. Shades of Aaron Shea there. Shea was Michigan's last frequently-used H-back, an all-purpose fullback/tight end who hauled in 38 catches in 1999. While that number might be a stretch for Moundros something like 20, most of which turn into first downs, isn't out of the question. The occasional carry might be in order, too.
|Blocks three guys|
|Crushing a corner|
As far as backups: with Vince Helmuth's move to the defensive line and eventually the MAC, there really aren't many options. Kevin Grady is still around but he's not much of a fullback and after four years disappointing on and off the field the chances he picks up a major role are slim indeed. He's listed second on the depth chart at the spot, FWIW. Michigan's best bet for a backup will probably be a to-date anonymous walk-on. Both Owen Schmitt and Moundros started as walk-ons, after all, and Rodriguez has directly stated he won't recruit scholarship fullbacks in the future. He prefers to breed them in Barwis vats in the IM building basement.
Programming note. I've accepted the daunting task of getting up at 7AM to sit in for Sam Webb on WTKA's morning show tomorrow. I'll be on from 7-10. Wooo Mountain Dew!
Charity note. If anyone's got some spare roller hockey equipment lying around, L'Hockey Folie would like to put it to good use.
Luxury box followup! Artist's rendition of the 2025 Big House:
The Shredder explains his masterpiece:
With all the HD Jumbo screen talk(and with my boring 3rd shift) I figured I would draw it using my awesome skills. Now every one can see it. The future of the Big House. Around 2025 I am guessing. I did remove the one press box so you could see the field, so just pretend it's there. I also added seats above the HD screens and on top of the press box. Bringing the total seating to 125,000. In the year 2025 we will have be playing night games and using Maize jersey's. Welcome to the future! Great Scott!
These were not the top secret plans I referenced this morning. But they should be.
Obvious quarterback questioning. Tim's getting frustrated with the nonstop quarterback questioning at the press conferences, but none of you are going so here you go:
The art of saying nothing in 1:14. I don't think there's much chance all three QBs play equally well for anything length of time, and neither does Rodriguez, but he refuses to rule out anything. All things are possible.
Mealer okay? Elliot Mealer's shoulder was severely injured in that Christmas Eve car crash and there were some rumors that the effects of it still lingered and may be a permanent hindrance to his ability to play. Apparently that's not true:
"I've come a long ways," Mealer said. "You know, My arm is actually stronger, I think. My bad arm, so to speak, is stronger than my good arm and it's been a long ways. I still rehab it to this day, and then do a little prehab, as they call it, just to keep it loose and it helps. So it's come a long ways."
Mealer's not likely to play this year but should work himself into the playing mix in 2010.
BONUS Kevin Koger hype (the article is about Toledo-area players for M):
"Kevin Koger's had a great great offseason," said Calvin Magee, Koger's offensive coordinator and position mentor. "He's done well. He's gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster, and it's a natural progression from freshman to sophomore year.
"He's changed his body. You know, his weight's around the same. He's more lean now. So naturally, he's got more muscle on him. That allows him to be faster and he's one of those kids that committed himself to the offseason conditioning and it's going to help him a great deal."
The Revsine return. The Big Ten Network has returned from its tour of Big Ten practices and Dave Revsine has superlatives:
Best Drill: The "M" Drill at Michigan. It's the Oklahoma Drill, but with a twist. There are three layers of blocking going on – linemen going 1 on 1, then a FB or TE engaged with a LB, followed by a WR and a DB. The back with the ball then tries to run through all three levels. Very intense and really well done. …
Impact Freshman: Tate Forcier, Michigan. I think Forcier is perfect for Rodriguez's system. Throws well, particularly on the run, and he runs well. He has everything they need. Seems Rodriguez isn't quite as convinced, given his plans to play three QBs in the opener against Western Michigan, but I still think that, ultimately, Forcier will be the guy. …
Honorable Mention: Vincent Smith, Michigan. Another tiny Smith who packs some serious punch, Smith absolutely bowled over a defender in a tackling drill, then, the next time he had the ball, juked another guy out of his uniform with a great move.
All that's cool, but Michigan didn't show up on any of Revsine's top position groups, or honorable mentions. Not that you expected them to anywhere except tailback, where Revsine bizarrely goes with Michigan State as his third-place team.
You said what? Gary Barnett talked crap about Gary Moeller's substitutions. This did not end well for him.
Isn't it strange that Barnett left Northwestern for Colorado and since that event Northwestern has probably been the better program? What happened to the Buffs?
Required. Hey here's a quote by new offensive line grad assistant Cory Zirbel that contradicts those of the discontent departures and by law I must post it:
"I've had people come up to me and say, 'How can you be a part of that coaching staff?' Those people aren't true Michigan fans. ... People don't understand how I accept my role, but those people don't know.
"It's an honor. It's Michigan, always going to be Michigan. Coach Rodriguez is a great guy, presented me an opportunity, and I took it."
So there you go, family values and so forth and so on.
Coner! It took four years but someone finally mentioned David Cone in a practice recap:
Speaking of Forcier, I'm really started to warm to the way he throws the ball. It looks much better than any of the other quarterbacks. Also, David Cone has an odd throwing motion.
I think I buried the lead there.
Etc.: Herbstreit says the M-ND game is make or break for Weis, which yeah probably. GBMW has a transcript of Rodriguez's appearance on the Dan Patrick show. Michigan's replacing its media guides with online equivalents. Volleyball and women's soccer are test cases.
We're in, and by we I mean Tim. Huzzah.
A few quick notes from today's practice. More coming this afternoon, since Rich will meet with the press at the conclusion of practice.
- If Vincent Smith is actually 5-6ish, there is no way Denard Robinson is anything taller than 5-10. Denard is overstated on the roster, but I also think Smith might be a little taller than previously thought.
- Denard didn't look too shaky during practice. I know other reports have been concerned with his throwing, but it didn't seem too bad. That doesn't mean he's the next Peyton Manning, but he's certainly capable of throwing it.
- A little bit more on this in the coming days, but it seems as though the infamous "Frozen O-line" play from the beginning of last year will be changed for 2009. [Editor's note: this was the play where no one on the offense would move except for the QB and the WRs; it was designed to pull opponents offside and prevent them from jumping the snap and only worked intermittently.] Instead of the QB floating a ball deep, he was taking a knee. This might will encourage the referees to actually make an offsides call.
- Kevin Grady was playing both fullback and tailback during practice. He lined up at fullback in the I-formation (as did Moundros).
- The most impressive player to me was Mike Cox. Especially during the "M" drill, he was running with authority, breaking a couple tackles, and using a combination of power and jukes to run it. He's not quite Brandon Minor (who did not practice), but he's definitely going to be a useful replacement when Minor moves on (or is inevitably injured during the course of the year).
- Speaking of Cox, Troy Woolfolk uncorked a big hit on him during one of the reps in the "M" drill.
- Darryl Stonum tweaked a knee blocking during the drill. He looked to be in pain, but got up and walked off on his own power. Hopefully that means it's nothing serious.
- In other minor injury news, Fitzgerald Toussaint tweaked his left biceps, but again, it didn't appear to be too serious