somehow we're only 124th
denard robinson is made of dilithium
I THINK I MIGHT BE EXCITED THIS IS 9000 WORDS
NEW! So I've finally decided I'm going to try to hand out +/- for run blocking, which has been a sore spot when it comes to numbers since UFR started. With Michigan running 75% of the time against UConn, I can't just go by gut feel anymore. I've got enough of a handle on it to at least give it a try. I'm adopting the same sort of +/- format Genuinely Sarcastic uses, because that seems like a good idea, and hope he continues doing his version since different eyes will see different things.
Also, Denard Robinson demands some changes to the way UFR does passing. I'm adding a new SCR indicator for a scramble that is clearly a good idea given Robinson's speed and the down and distance situation. A four yard run on third and fifteen is still a TA.
Formation note: UConn didn't seem to do much, if any substitution. By the end of the game it was clear that they essentially had two defenses, a one-high formation…
…and a two high formation…
…and that the only thing that changed other than that was the alignment of the linebackers based on the position of the WRs—when Michigan went to trips a linebacker lined up over the #2 WR. There was a slight variant of the one-high defense deployed when Michigan went to two TE sets that saw one of the linebackers drop down to the line and the others slide over; I called that "Base 5-3," FWIW. As always, nomenclature is an attempt to be clear about what I'm talking about, not a guarantee of fidelity.
Michigan didn't do anything too exciting except debut this formation I called "Shotgun H-back":
Here Martell Webb is lined up as a quasi fullback; usually he would pull to the backside and block the crashing DE, who always crashed on a… wait for it… scrape exchange.
Substitution note: Nothing you don't already know. No substitution on the OL except for Molk's momentary cramp. Robinson and Grady were rotating in at slot frequently even before Roundtree went out, with Robinson seemingly ahead of Grady when it came to PT. Koger and Webb rotated, with Webb more of a blocker and Koger a receiver. Jeremy Jackson got in some spot duty; Je'Ron Stokes did not see the field.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M4||1||10||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||6|
|Basically an iso designed to go just outside the TE; Koger and Dorrestein double and drive back the playside DE, with Koger popping off on the linebacker scraping over the top. McColgan has the short side corner; all these blocks are very well done. Unfortunately Omameh(-1) is overpowered by the DT and lets him into the backfield, forcing Shaw to bounce it outside. This robs Koger of the angle on the MLB and he has a free shot at Shaw for about one; Shaw(+1) spins through the tackle and gets six.|
|RUN+||Koger, Dorrestein, Shaw||RUN-||Omameh(2)|
|M10||2||4||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Stonum||7|
|UConn walks down the strong safety, so the corner on Stonum gives him an eight yard cushion. The quick hitch is open and Robinson hits him in the numbers. Pass was late and from the stands this looked a little dodgy--there will be a couple additional plays like this--but you can't ask for more when it comes to accuracy and velocity. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run?||Scramble||Robinson||9 - 13 Pen|
|Michigan fakes a belly handoff to Shaw, doubling both DTs and hypothetically leaving Shaw one on one with the unblocked MLB. Not a convincing fake. it's supposed to go to a short bubble, but Robinson pulls it down and takes off, zipping by the MLB and scurrying around a safety, finally getting hacked down near the first down marker. Was the bubble open? Eh, probably, but not for 9 yards. Should Forcier have thrown this? Yes. Robinson? Run, jackrabbit, run. (SCR, --, protection NA) Omameh gets a personal foul for a hit well after the whistle.|
|M13||2||14||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||22|
|UConn's nickel 4-3 is a 4-3 with one of the LBs lined up over the #2 WR outside. There are also two safeties about ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) and Schilling(+1) execute a classic scoop block, springing Schilling out on the the MLB, who he blocks out of hte play. Shaw(+1) takes out the other LB. Roundtree(+1) cuts a safety. Dorrestein(+1) gets a free release and has no one to block so he just runs downfield walling off the short side corner. A charging safety forces Robinson outside, where the corner manages to make a desperate lunging tackle, preventing an 85-yard touchdown. BWS picture-paged this play.|
|RUN+||Schilling, Molk, Roundtree, Shaw, Robinson||RUN-|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly keeper||Robinson||10|
|This is a variant on the zone read but I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to be yet or who Robinson reads. I think it's the WLB, actually, as Koger kicks out the DE and all the linemen get blocked. Here Huyge(-1) and Schilling(-1) get split by an active DT and Shaw would be dead but Denard(ZR +1) pulls it out. He's now past the slanting DT and Schilling has released downfield along with Molk. Molk(+1) clocks Lloyd. Omameh(+1) controls the other DT and drives him two yards downfield, allowing Robinson to cut back behind when the LB avoid Schilling and Shaw. Dorrestein is again walling off a guy downfield; Robinson cuts behind; Stonum(+1) nails a corner, giving Robinson room to the sideline.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Molk, Stonum, Robinson(2)||RUN-||Schilling, Dorrestein|
|M45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||5|
|Michigan blocking the backside DE; they are going to be reading LBs all game. With the WLB crashing down on the stretch, this is a missed read by Denard(ZR-1). Still hypothetically has a shot at succeeding but Omameh's guy has gotten a bit of push and is set up in the B gap; he absorbs Smith's block. Shaw(+1) has nowhere to go and cuts behind blocks into the wide open gap Denard should have taken, managing to fall forward after barely avoiding the guy Schilling was blocking.|
|RUN+||Shaw, Schilling||RUN-||Omameh, Robinson|
|50||2||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Double the playside DT and contain him, run right at the MLB, with Shaw getting a decent block; Robinson runs decisively, taking a hit from said MLB as he bounces off Shaw's block.|
|O46||3||1||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Bear 5-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||2|
|Do isos just go in a gap or can that change based on the D? Because UConn slants into this gap, leaving a big hole between Schilling and Omameh that has two linebackers, Molk, and could have McColgan if they went there. Instead it's just straight ahead at because Omameh(-1) and Dorrstein(-1) have lost out on blocks there are two tacklers and nowhere for Shaw to go; Shaw(+1) manages to fall forward for the first.|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|Not sure if this is the right read or not; DE is sliding down the line but maintaining some contain; definitely a handoff if Forcier, but Robinson? Benefit of the doubt since the DE did hesitate on Robinson. ZR+1. Omameh(-1) blocks down on the DT from an advantageous position and sees his block spun off of, forcing a cut outside where the backside DE is; the delay allows him to tackle. Crashing safety also there, but one-on-one that could have been a play.|
|O40||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA TE cross||Koger||16|
|Zone stretch fake with Schilling pulling around to provide pass protection on the unblocked backside DE. Linebackers suck up like whoah (RPS+2), leaving Koger wide open as the guy who should be covering the zone he's entering is actually trying to tackle Robinson. Dart hits him between the numbers 15 yards downfield, caught, first down. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Shaw||-1|
|Frustrating, as UConn has six in the box and literally not enough guys to tackle if they run another draw. This is a stretch, and Robison makes the correct handoff decision (ZR+1) since the WLB is charging right at him. Omameh's(-1) DT does get a little penetration and closes off the frontside B gap, forcing Shaw to cut back; Molk(-1) and Schilling double team the NT and eventually pancake him but don't block anyone else. Blitzing WLB makes the play. (RPS-1) Run minus: Omameh, Schilling.|
|O25||2||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|This is just too easy, as UConn does the exact same thing. With two deep safeties and six in the box they literally have no one to tackle the QB. WLB runs into a frontside crease, leaving no one for Shaw to even block until he's ten yards downfield. Molk(+1) controlled and pancaked the playside DT; Robinson and Shaw banged a safety, leaving the slot LB to come from behind and tackle. RPS+2.|
|O15||3||1||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|SIX GUYS IN BOX ON THIRD AND ONE AT THE 15. Edsall derp. A slightly short yardage variation as Molk and Schilling double and crush the playside DT. Weakside LB reacts quickly and defeats Smith's block but has no chance to keep this under three yards, let alone one. RPS+1. Millen's praising Lloyd, and praising him correctly, and this had no chance.|
|O12||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||12|
|Almost all Smith. Schilling(-1) gets driven back and thrown almost into the path of Smith; he ends up with his back to the DT looking at him. On the frontside, Molk and Omameh just manage to wall off the playside DT; Omameh pops off on the charging SLB. Smith manages to slip through this mess into a totally unblocked safety, who misses, at which point he can cut behind Roundtree(+1) and get into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. 108 yard drive with two passes. Bo, man. Bo.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||4|
|This is on Denard because the unblocked DE was hauling ass after the RB and he needs to pull it out (ZR -1). If he does he has Webb as a lead blocker, Huyge on Lloyd, and the slot LB between him and the safeties--first down probably, touchdown maybe. As it is Shaw(+1) does well to hop around the DE and pick up a few yards.|
|Watching Rice-Texas instead of this play, come back just as Stonum's catching a zinger from Denard. (CA, 3, ?)|
|M32||3||1||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|Corner rolled down into the box as a WLB, allowing the LBs to slide over. This lets them send two guys into the hole the draw has gone into already, forcing Robinson behind the ineffective Molk/Schilling double and into the path of the backside DT, who has shucked Omameh; SLB comes up unblocked to fill but not before Robinson's quickness picks up the first. (RPS -1)|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly lead keeper||Robinson||12|
|Same play as the first snap on this drive and Denard has learned (or just been told to pull the damn ball, getting a ZR+1). He yoinks the ball out as the DE against crashes down and finds himself in plenty of space with Webb as a lead blocker. Huyge(+2) gets a great pancake block on MLB Lloyd and Robinson jets past the first down; would like to see him try to set up the safety inside and hop outside in an effort to get a touchdown. Also Odoms does a great, if ultimately irrelevant, job on the outside.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Huyge(2), Odoms||RUN-|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Shaw||16|
|Seven guys in the box now and UConn sends a safety-type player on a blitz. Four men are in a deep umbrella, leaving just two guys underneath, and they don't know where to go because Michigan is sending two OL each way. Michigan hits the flare. Odoms and Dorrestein get cuts downfield; Grady gets a decent block that springs Shaw through, leaving him one on one with a safety for six. Off balance, he can't put a move on and gets tackled. (CA,3, screen, RPS +1)|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||5|
|Essentially an identical play to the first one on the drive, where DE hauls ass after Shaw, Denard makes a bad read (ZR-1), Shaw(+1) evades the DE and hits the backside of the play. This time Denard actually gets out to block, Webb totally walls off the slot LB, Huyge gets another good block on Lloyd, and it's still six yards.|
|RUN+||Shaw, Webb, Huyge||RUN-||Robinson|
|O32||2||5||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||32|
|You cannot draw up a scoop block better than this. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) drive the playside DT back and then Omameh pops out on the MLB. A pulling Webb(+1) wipes Lloyd out, Shaw(+1) takes out the weakside safety type thing and Millen drops "that's six" as Robinson crosses the LOS. He really is a fantastic broadcaster. Replay.|
|RUN+||Molk, Omameh(2), Smith, Robinson, Webb||RUN-|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||15|
|Variant on the belly series from the last drive. On this one Webb pulls to clock the backside DE and Omameh(+1) blocks down on the playside DT; both linebackers have sucked to the backside because they're worried about Denard and not expecting this to go so far off tackle the other way since Shaw is lined up in the belly spot behind his QB. Ton of space; Shaw just runs by the SLB until he's forced inside by the corner. SLB tackles. RPS+1. Don't think this is a read, think this a called play, so no ZR.|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||-3|
|UConn adjusting to this by slanting the DE into the gap instead of letting the OT kick him out. This creates a mess. Denard slows up and tries to cut back, but Omameh(-1) has been driven back and he still tries to go around, eventually getting tackled for a loss. Should have just cut it outside. The evolution of dance here is for Tebow-style play-action fakes that consist of a single step forward. RPS-1. Run Minus: Omameh, Robinson|
|O32||2||13||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Jailbreak screen||Grady||3|
|Fake the flare screen to Shawn and come back with the jailbreak on the other side of the field. This has sucked a lot of people out of position, leaving three blockers and three defenders before Grady is jetting for the endzone. Koger(+1) picks off the slot LB. Molk(+1) blocks MLB Lloyd. Schilling(-1) totally overruns the safety, who tackles unmolested. (CA, 3, protection NA)|
|O29||3||10||Shotgun empty||1||1||3||Nickel||Pass||TE cross||Koger||4|
|Not sure how restricted Robinson's read is here, but M is hoping for man and gets zone so Koger gets nailed as soon as he catches it. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 14-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Shankapotamus punt sets M up with good field position on the next drive.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||Reverse||Grady||-3|
|PEDANTRY NOTE: Since the action of the play goes one way with what looks like a QB sweep and then has a pitch to the WR, I'm calling this a reverse instead of an end around. The play: Michigan runs QB sweep action and pitches it to Grady as Koger takes out the backside DE. Problem: this 4-4 has a weakside alley defender like a Kovacs and no one is doing the thing where they run with Stonum on a fly route for 20 yards. This guy bites but is so far to the backside that he can easily recover in time to hit Grady. Grady, for his part, just runs right into the guy when he could have cut it inside and gotten some yards, possibly lots, and then he fumbles. Not a great play for Grady.|
|O41||2||13||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Best block of the day for Omameh, who gets under the DT and pushes him back a couple yards. LB is flowing downhill at this very fast so Robinson decides to cut back rather than chance a pileup with that guy and Webb at the LOS. Omameh's guy pops off to try to tackle but falls over backwards thanks to Omameh and Denard runs through it; MLB ate Molk(+1) and Denard can fall forward, stiffarming as he falls.|
|Smith runs the flare screen route, Roundtree heads straight downfield, and Odoms slants inside. Denard throws what looks like a dangerous pass, but the safety coming down isn't even looking at Odoms, he's trying to get out for the screen, only realizing his error as the ball arrives. Odoms catches and quicks his way past the safety, picking up the first down and considerably more. With Odoms coming to a stop and a guy in Denard's face he can't wait any longer to make this throw; it is on rhythm. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Omameh -1)|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Smith||4|
|Backside blitzer makes this a correct read (ZR+1) Omameh and Schilling(+1 each) successfully crease the DTs, leaving Molk one on one with SLB, who beats him(-1). Smith is tackled by that guy.|
|O15||2||6||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4-||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||-2|
|This one also appears designed to go right up the middle, but Omameh(-1) is beaten by the slanting DT and there's nothing. Robinson has a chance to hop outside and maybe beat the backside DE but slips and is tackled for a loss. RPS -1; this slant killed the play. Run minus: Omameh, Dorrestein|
|O17||3||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||10|
|UConn stunting, which takes the playside DE inside. He's walled off by Huyge(+1); Schilling(+1) absolutely blasts the playside DT, erasing him; Smith shifts outside the DE when he sees the way the play is developing; Smith and Roundtree get blocks downfield and it's first and goal.|
|RUN+||Schilling(2), Huyge, Smith, Roundtree||RUN-|
|O7||1||G||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||3|
|Correct read with a backside blitz. Schilling kicks out his DT; Molk plows the MLB; Omameh cannot handle his DT, who comes off him to make a play a few yards downfield. Not minus-worthy but I was thinking about it.|
|O4||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Goal line||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||4|
|Basically the same play; Schilling(+1) again does a great job of kicking out the DT; Molk(+1) gets out on the MLB, and Omameh does enough on the other guy, falling to the ground but getting in the way of him.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 9 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O8||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|Robinson correctly reads the crash (ZR+1) and pulls it out, finding himself in open space. Huyge can't maintain his block on the outside but he's blocking the handoff so not his fault. Robinson jets for eight.|
|O16||2||2||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|They do get the intended crease this time (no slant from the DE) but the MLB fills immediately, bashing Smith close to the LOS. Robinson(+1) darts around Molk and has the acceleration to dart up into the crease behind him before Omameh's guy can come off and grab him. He does manage to reach out an arm and spin him down.|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||0|
|The read here should be keep but this might not actually be a read since he just ran twice. I have to assume it is, though, so: ZR-1. Smith has no hole because Omameh(-1) did not seal his man; that delay is enough for the backside DE to tackle for nothing. Run minus: Omameh, Robinson|
|O22||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Pass||PA throwaway||Roundtree(?)||Inc|
|UConn blitzes right into this, getting an unblocked guy in Robinson's face before he even has a chance; a slanting player has slashed past the fake run blocks and is also in the backfield. Robinson avoids one guy, then the other guy, in a remarkable Houdini act. With another couple guys coming in to crush him he just chucks the ball hard, deep, and on a line well past Roundtree. Was he trying to complete this? Does he just throw everything like this and has no deep ball? I don't know, but the benefit of the doubt goes to the guy who just escaped two defenders and is chucking the ball away. (TA, 0, protection 0/2, team, RPS-1)|
|O22||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Stonum||4|
|UConn prepared for this, with the SLB in a position where there's no way anyone is going to be able to block him. Stonum(+1) does well to run through his tackle but he can't make the second guy miss. (CA, 3, screen)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||ZR Bubble||Roundtree||-1|
|Denard pulls it out with the DE crashing (ZR+1) but Huyge(-1) and Webb(-1) both have ineffectual blocks so DR goes to his safety valve; Odoms(-1) can handle his guy and it's a loss. (CA, 3, screen) Run minus: Huyge, Webb, Odoms|
|M18||2||11||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Quick out||Roundtree||Inc|
|This is a quick rollout with the two guys running an out and a fly to test the cornerback in a presumed zone; Denard throws the quick out before the play develops, allowing the corner to come up and crush Roundtree, separating him from the ball and knocking him out for the game. Another beat and he would have probably had Stonum, or the corner would have backed off Roundtree. (BR, 1, protection 1/1)|
|M18||3||11||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Deep hitch||Grady||16|
|Great protection leaves Robinson all kinds of time, and there's a fifth guy spying. Robinson waits for Grady to clear the linebacker level and sit down in the hole in the zone, then zips one in a decent window right on the numbers for a first down. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|Same as previous plays; Webb(-1) just runs by the backside DE; Omameh(-1) cannot contain his man, and both of these guys get arms on Smith at the LOS. He does a good job of running through those tackles and getting a decent gain anyway. Schilling got his guy sealed again.|
|RUN+||Schilling, Smith||RUN-||Omameh, Webb|
|M38||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||3|
|Molk(+1) gets a seal on the stretch block against that DT Omameh's been struggling with as Omameh heads to the second level, where the LB heads outside of him; Dorrestein(+1) pancakes the DE. Robinson should cut it up in between the C and T but heads outside, where Smith manages to wall off the SLB Omameh had no angle on. This leaves an unblocked safety to fill.|
|M41||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Odoms||9|
|Smith runs the flare again, drawing up the WLB and opening a window in which Robinson zings a first down completion. Slightly high, but ok. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||1|
|Correct handoff with a S waiting for him and Webb going to block the crashing DE. Story is again the same: Omameh(-1), even with help from Dorrestein, cannot contain DT99, who forces himself over into the hole, leaving nothing for Smith to do except run up the back of his OL. If I was grading the UConn D he'd be en route to +10 or better. ZR+1. Run minus: Omameh|
|50||2||9||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|No crash; correct handoff(ZR+1). Omameh(+1) does seal and kick the DT this time; they're running it to the opposite side. Unfortunately, Schilling(-1) can't get any drive or seal and Smith has to cut it back; Huyge(-1) whiffed on the SLB. Smith meets two guys two yards downfield and burrows for two more.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Robinson||RUN-||Schilling, Huyge|
|O46||3||5||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Slant||Stonum||11|
|The flare again sucks a linebacker up to it, leaving Stonum in a big hole in the zone. Zing, bobble, catch, first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Grady||4|
|Safety walks down. This bubble is the short bubble where the receiver does not run the full route in the hopes of finding space between the freakin' out LB over the slot and the interior defense. This not so much. Odoms does manage to cut his guy but a safety charges up as soon as it looks like a bubble and snuffs it out. Michigan will use this later. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O31||2||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Dorrestein(+1) cuts the backside DT to the ground, removing him totally. Molk(-1) gets pushed back and Robinson has to cut behind; this open because of the Dorrestein chop. Omameh releases into the second level but ends up blocking no one, which is unfortunate because Denard squeezes through arm tackles only to take his first real shot of the day from a safety a yard short of the sticks.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Dorrestein||RUN-||Omameh, Molk|
|O26||3||1||?||?||?||?||?||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||3|
|TV misses this play.|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||4|
|This again. Omameh(+1) does get enough of the DT for the RB to skip by; Schilling seals his guy out. Unfortunately Molk(-1) has a really weird whiff where he just runs away from the MLB, the only person he can reasonably expect to block, and that guy tackles.|
|O19||2||6||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare||Smith||-1|
|Incorrect read by Robinson as the LB is flying out of the zone and Michigan again has the slant they've worked for a bunch of first downs. He instead throws the flare, getting Smith whacked by the corner. (BR, 3, protection NA)|
|O20||3||7||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Scramble||Robinson||11|
|UConn in zone and does a great job of covering a slant/wheel to the top of the screen Denard is looking at. Same thing on the bottom, same coverage. No one open, he takes off, darting past outstretched hands for the first down. Bonus: Smith's wicked blitz pickup. (SCR, --, protection 2/2)|
|O9||1||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||5|
|Playside DT just surges forward and falls, almost cut-blocking Molk. A charging LB darts past Webb, leaving two guys for Smith to block on the outside; the DT's fall has provided a cutback lane. Dorrestein(-1) could not cut the backside DT at all so he's there, but Robinson's hesitation move gets him to delay in case he cuts back around him, opening up a hole to dart into.|
|O4||2||G||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Belly Keeper||Robinson||-3|
|DR seems en route to endzone when he bobbles and drops the ball. Never really had it after the exchange.|
|O7||3||G||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB stretch||Robinson||0|
|Blitz into the play cuts off the outside and gives UConn another guy on the inside to snuff this play out. RPS -1. Michigan will use this later, too.|
|Drive Notes: FG(24), 24-10, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M11||1||10||Ace 4-wide||1||1||4||Base 4-3||Run||Dive||Shaw||5|
|End around fake from Odoms; this is just a straight handoff up the middle. Omameh(+1) and Schilling(+1) crease the DTs and Molk(+1) nails the MLB; OLBs converge to tackle.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Schilling, Molk||RUN-|
|M16||2||5||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Off tackle||Shaw||-10|
|Omameh(-2) completely pwned by the DT, who I will name for you at this point: Kendall Reyes. Shaw(-2) compounds matters by dancing backwards instead of just trying to cut behind the mess and get back to the LOS, getting shoved and tackled for a huge loss. Run minus: Omameh(2), Shaw(2)|
|M6||3||15||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Run||QB draw||Robinson||15|
|A give up and punt play, which is reasonable given the game situation and your sophomore QB. Except, uh? first down. UConn rushes four and has three LBs in the middle of the field. Smith(+1) gets enough of the MLB; Grady and Robinson get in the way, and the other Robinson(+1) gives a tiny hip fake that causes one of the LBs to hop outside the blocker; he continues upfield, getting submarined, flying for the first down, and giving his hip an owie.|
|RUN+||Robinson, Smith, T. Robinson, Grady||RUN-|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Gardner||-4|
|Correct read (ZR+1) as the DE crashes but a terrible decision by Gardner(-2) to attempt to go outside of Koger and his man when the interior line was crushing that side of the line downfield. Koger(-1) also should have done better.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-||Gardner(2), Koger|
|M17||2||14||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Zone read belly||Smith||13|
|Another good read (ZR+1) with an outside blitzer and the fake is good enough to suck two guys outside and give Smith a big cutback lane he takes. Omameh(+1) crushed Reyes on this play; Dorrestein(+1) sealed off the SLB.|
|RUN+||Gardner, Omameh, Dorrestein||RUN-|
|M30||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||4|
|Surprise. LBs flying downhill at this, filling the hole, but Koger(+1) and Dorrestein(+1) have doubled the playside DE, driving him well back and giving Robinson a lane outside he takes for the first down. Robinson is too quick for the alley guy. (RPS-1)|
|RUN+||Koger, Dorrestein, Robinson||RUN-|
|M34||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare||Smith||8|
|Fourth or fifth time they've run this; this time the LB sticks in the middle of the zone and Robinson nails Smith with a perfectly placed touch pass that he can ramble up the sidelines with. (CA+, 3, screen)|
|M42||2||2||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Bubble Post||T. Robinson||43|
|Dorrestein(-1) completely whiffs his cut block as Michigan goes for a fake handoff, then a fake bubble that sucks the UConn linebacker corps to the LOS in a fashion I've never seen before. Robinson has two guys running wide open and picks Robinson's post because it's probably the primary read; he does this with a guy in his face so it's kind of a tough throw. It's on the money 20 yards downfield, providing Robinson the ability to run after the catch, so it gets a DO. (DO, 3, protection 0/1, Dorrestein, RPS+3)|
|O15||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||5|
|Eighth guy in the box is coming down hard in the G-T gap so Smith has to squeeze between the two guards; both have maintained good blocks. At this point the backside DE is crashing in and the eighth guy has adjusted, so the tackle. Smith does a good job of getting some YAC. RPS-1.|
|RUN+||Omameh, Schilling, Smith||RUN-|
|O10||2||5||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Sack||--||-1|
|PA rollout finds no one open for Robinson so he tries to run it; this is well defensed. Good D by Uconn, correct decision by Denard. (TA, --, protection NA)|
|O11||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 4-3||Pass||Flare screen||Smith||11|
|UConn blitzes right into this, and gets DOOM'D for their trouble; you can hear Michigan Stadium go "yeeeeeah" as soon as they see what the playcalls are. RPS+2. There are only two guys to the same side of the field as Smith and four blockers; Huyge(+1) and Odoms(+1) do excellent jobs and Smith can walk it in. (CA, 3, screen)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed XP), 30-10, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Shaw||3|
|UConn is pouring downhill at these so I won't judge too harshly on a drive when Michigan's just trying to put a game that's already put away fully underground. Omameh(+1) gets a good block; Molk's angle out of the line does not take him through defenders, and the crashing DE is crashing so hard Shaw again has to go behind a guy and get what he can, which is three since there are linebackers everywhere. I'm not going to ZR this either because the game's done and Robinson doesn't need more carries.|
|M26||2||7||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||9|
|Okay, I will. UConn pulls an LB down to the line to combat the second TE, Webb(+1) kicks him out. DE crashes, Robinson pulls (ZR+1), Huyge wipes out Lloyd (easy), and Robinson shoots up in the gap provided by Schilling and Webb, cutting behind the SLB after five yards to pick up nine.|
|RUN+||Webb, Huyge, Schilling, Robinson||RUN-|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Zone read keeper||Robinson||8|
|Basically same thing as M finally starts testing a UConn D intent on shooting the DE down the line. Here MLB Lloyd is the scrape guy and starts hauling ass after Denard immediately, but Denard just outruns him to the corner easy. Koger got a block on the playside DE. (ZR+1)|
|M43||2||2||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Shaw||3|
|Reyes submarines Omameh and falls; Schilling(+1) seals his DT; Molk(-1) whiffs on Lloyd, who meets Shaw a yard past the LOS thanks to the excellent Schilling block; Shaw just blows him and gets the pile to fall the right direction.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||1||2||Base 4-4-||Run||Broken play||Shaw||-1|
|Shaw and Smith bump into each other, almost certainly because Smith gets the wrong playcall. Not going to bother with the blocking because who knows?|
|M45||2||11||Ace||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Pass||Waggle TE flat||Koger||10|
|This sucks the WLB to the fake and gets Koger open in the flat. Robinson gives him a soft toss and he turns it up to get near the first down marker. (CA, 3, protection NA)|
|O45||3||1||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||6|
|Dorrestein(+1) and Koger(+1) totally obliterate the playside DE, catching the linebackers up in the wash and letting Robinson just run up their backs for five. This is a variant of the regular draw where they're doubling one particular member of the DL on short yardage.|
|O39||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 5-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||0|
|At this point I'm not really interested. WOOOOO. Omameh gets the main demerit, but I'm not sure what Molk is doing either? at this point whatever.|
|O39||2||10||Shotgun H-back||1||1||3||Base 4-4||Run||Belly handoff||Smith||3|
|I understand this blocking so I'll chart it: again with the inside zone; Omameh(+1) gets a goot block; Schilling a bleah but acceptable one; Molk(-1) gets the ole job by Lloyd. Kind of disappointed in Molk's downfield blocking this game.|
|O36||3||7||Shotgun 3-Wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stonum||7|
|Simple pitch and catch, well timed if a tiny bit upfield. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||4||1||Ace||1||1||3||Base 5-3||Run||QB sneak||Robinson||2|
|They get it.|
|This is Omameh(-2) getting smoked. Run minus: Omameh(2)|
|Playside DT submarines Molk, taking himself and Molk out and opening a frontside crease. McColgan(-1) makes a really weird decision by hitting one of the contain guys instead of going right upfield and putting his facemask on the MLB's chest. Dorrestein can't cut said MLB and he tackles Smith near the LOS.|
|O26||3||9||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 5-3||Run||Iso||Smith||0|
|Seriously, at this point whatever.|
|O26||4||9||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 5-3||Pass||Waggle hitch||Grady||Inc|
|Can't see this from the tape but I had a good line on this in the stadium and it was open but Denard did not get the ball out fast enough. You can see that Stonum was open on the outside, too. I usually go with IN for balls that aren't bad ideas but are thrown too early/late but with Stonum sitting out there it's BR time. (BR, 0, protection NA)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-10, 2 min 4th Q. EOG.|
I'm dizzy because I keep running around in circles screaming "wheeeeeeeeeeee!" I know it's Thursday, I don't care.
Yeah, let's just get right to the—
Chart. I've included our Denard Robinson All of 2009 chart for comparison:
[Hennechart legend, or hover over the table headers]
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?|
Downfield success rate: 68%.
I know. There has never been a UFR passing chart devoid of MAs and INs. The full dossier of things Robinson was dinged for:
- Chucking the ball away deep after escaping two unblocked rushers.
- Running out of bounds for a one-yard sack on a waggle play.
- Throwing a flare instead of a slant and getting Vincent Smith hit for a one yard loss.
- Getting Roundtree killed on an out that he caught until it was violently separated from him.
- Throwing a waggle hitch late on the last offensive play Michigan had.
That's it. The first is a good play. The second was a good decision since he had nowhere else to go and is Denard Robinson approaching the line of scrimmage. The other three were passes as deadly accurate as his other 18 but weren't the best options; only on the last was their any chance of a turnover. Everyone's worried about Tate Forcier transferring because of a lack of playing time… but what about Tacopants? He got zero balls.
UConn's secondary has to be terrible.
Yeah… UConn's secondary is probably terrible. They were starting a bunch of freshmen and failed to take advantage of a couple moments where it looked like Robinson was late on hitches. Also all that other stuff happened. Here is the avalanche of caveats and stern looks designed to keep your pants on—
—or put them back on—
TMI—and put Robinson's performance in perspective. Many of his downfield throws were either simple hitches or the slant/flare combo they ran about eight times where Smith would run a flare route, the linebacker to that side would start charging it down, and Robinson would zing a wide-open slant in the vacated space. Once the linebacker charged it down and Robinson threw the flare for no yardage; once he stayed home and Robinson threw the flare for good yardage. Michigan didn't show a whole lot, and for the most part avoided plays that could be risky.
The only play I gave the hallowed DO other than the wide open TRob (apologies for the use of that annoying shorthand but I'm not going to distinguish between the two Robinsons with full names for the next three years) post was this:
And while that's wicked sweet it's the only time he really fit it in a window. Not that I'm worried about his accuracy anymore*. It's more about what happens when his receivers are covered. Can he come off a primary read? Can he consistently recognize when guys are covered? Can he process information fast enough to get the passes out on time? Answers:
- Don't know, as both times UConn covered the primary read they covered everyone and Robinson ran.
- Don't know. He made three bad reads, but didn't throw anywhere truly dangerous.
- Not consistently yet. Some of the CAs above were late but he got away with them, and the last incompletion was very late.
Notre Dame and their veteran secondary will be another test.
On the other hand, how many times did you see Pat White zinging balls to hopelessly, almost unbelievably wide open receivers? Part of the magic of the offense is that when you can run 70% of the time and still put up first downs and string together long plays, things like that Robinson-to-Robinson pass where there isn't a defender in the same time zone as the receiver happen. The burden on Robinson to read defenses is going to be so much lower than it would be for a Henne or Tate because it's impossible to leave two high safeties against him (or at least a terrible idea) and taking a step forward is the best play-fake in the world.
Also, on third and 11 up 11 with this guy who wasn't even a quarterback last year, Rodriguez let 'er rip. They have some level of confidence there.
More charts! Receiverchart:
An exceptionally unchallenging day, but one on which they made no mistakes. Having Koger go 3/3 is encouraging. The only hypothetically catchable pass that wasn't was the one on which Roundtree got blown up. Hard to blame a guy for that.
PROTECTION METRIC: 12/16, Dorrestein –1, Omameh –1, Team –2.
Low sample size makes it tough to get a read but since the Dorrestein –1 was a failed chop block on the TRob post and the team minus was getting overwhelmed by a blitz into play action the initial returns are pretty good. No minuses from the tackles when they're actually setting up to pass block is win.
Rock-paper-scissors: +13, –7, TOTAL +6.
This may even be pessimistic since I started dinging Michigan points for running the same stuff over and over again when they probably put away the tricks because they didn't need them and I think I even RPS-1ed a successful QB lead draw on third and one because UConn was all over it. Is it really a bad decision if they leap all over it and still can't stop it?
It'll be interesting to watch this over the course of the season—Robinson's promise is that he can drop more RPS+3 plays this year than Michigan has in the last two seasons combined.
All right, now… the run game, which was the bulk of the offense?
Right, so this is the first time I'd ever systematically done this and it could end up being totally whack but here it is anyway:
|Huyge||7||2||5||No pass rush minuses, too. Excellent day.|
|Schilling||13||6||7||Clearly the best interior OL on the day.|
|Molk||10||5||5||Had some downfield whiffs.|
|Omameh||15||16||-1||Major issues with Kendall Reyes.|
|Dorrestein||9||4||5||Couple of pancakes.|
|Gardner||1||2||-1||Should have cut his loss upfield for a big gain.|
|Shaw||7||2||5||Lot of hopping on bad ZR decisions.|
|Grady||1||3||-2||Negs on the bad reverse.|
|Zone Read||10||3||7||Just Robinson. Gardner also had a 2-0-2.|
I have no idea what the context is here and think I should separated out carrying and blocking +/- for the RBs, since the former seems more important than the latter but it essentially bears out what I thought when watching the game. The tackles were surprisingly good but not that involved on a day when Michigan did almost all of its damage up the middle. Schilling took a major step forward, something that's echoed by NFL draft types:
Steve Schilling/G/Michigan: Schilling, who looked liked a star in the making as a freshman, has struggled the past few seasons adjusting to Michigan's motion offense. On Saturday, he showed signs of major improvement in his ability to block on the move and annihilate opponents at the point.
Molk was good but did not execute many of his patented reach blocks because of the interior focus and whiffed on MLBs a bit too often for my tastes.
And Patrick Omameh struggled. He didn't exactly lose out, but as the only guy on the line anywhere near even he stood out as a sophomore. UConn's Kendall Reyes was a problem all day, bursting into the backfield on the Shaw ten-yard loss and causing most of the bounce-outs. Sometimes this just happens. I remember Eastern Michigan's Jason Jones doing a lot of damage, pointing out how good he was, and hoping this was true both for credibility and what it said about Michigan's offensive line. Jones eventually went in the second round of the NFL draft. I both think and hope Reyes is really good, headed for All Big East recognition. If not, Omameh has a lot of work to do.
What if Robinson explodes or something?
Well, we're in trouble. This might happen. Quarterbacks get injured frequently. But it doesn't appear that they get injured any more frequently when they run a lot, as MCalibur's diaries have shown. There is a slight increase in injury rate that does not rise to the level of statistical significance, which is to say that the numbers suggest there might be a slight uptick, but the rate at which this happens is low enough that we can't be sure. In any case, an extra 2-3% chance your QB goes down is so worth the added explosiveness a guy like Robinson brings.
Almost everyone to some extent but special mention goes to Robinson (obviously) and Schilling.
The only person who even remotely qualifies is Omameh and even he did all right.
What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?
Next week's game is going to be interesting on the interior of the line since ND is running a 3-4. Omameh won't have a DT lined up directly over him; that will fall to Molk, who will endeavor to put Ian Williams on rollerskates for the third straight year. Williams has supposedly bulked up and didn't spend most of the last year rehabbing a knee so that matchup should be more even. If Molk can win it consistently, Schilling and Omameh will spend most of their time trying to stay in front of Carlo Calebrese and Manti Te'o, ND's MLBs. Those three matchups will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game. I expect considerably more variation in the run game, with a lot more stretch plays to test the historically immobile Williams.
In the passing game… well, if Notre Dame leaves primary reads open Robinson will hit them. They will probably have an answer to the slant/flare combo that worked so well for Michigan against UConn, but with so few tricks pulled out of the bag in the first game they'll have to deal with a larger than usual set of plays they have not seen before. That combined with Robinson's legs demanding attention should set him up with a large number of makeable throws as long as he's not stuck with long-yardage situations. That goes back to the interior line, then.
We don't know much, but we'll know a lot more after Saturday.
9/4/2010 – Michigan 30, UConn 10 – 1-0
First there were those two years of almost unrelenting misery. Then there was this offseason, the third consecutive in which seemingly every week saw another stomach-churning burst of negative publicity for things that don't matter very much individually but aggregate like nanorobots gone awry. Then there was all that sitting in the stadium as described on Saturday, envisioning different ways the future could play out, giving each a letter grade and having no grasp of which were likelier than others. Then there was Keith Jackson and a ribbon-cutting and a flyover and fireworks (Amurrica!). Then there was this:
There was a brief moment where I discreetly wiped my eyes and hoped no one was looking, and then there was another flyover.
By the coin toss I was bobbing up and down on an imaginary pogo stick, trying to do anything with the energy that threatened to shut my brain off. I was hyped up, yo. The only thing I can remember like it was Football Armageddon. It's probably for the best that I didn't have anything handy to headbutt.
I had no idea what was going to happen, but there were grades for all of it.
A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++. Would watch again.
What was it like for Auburn fans the first time they saw Bo Jackson? For Georgia fans when they saw Herschel Walker? Was it like that?
I can't recall anything similar in the Michigan canon. Braylon had 80 yards against Washington, Hart 124 against San Diego State. Breaston touched the ball eight times. Manningham did once. I'm too young to remember Wheatley's debut. Defensive players are too infrequently involved, and their jobs too arcane, to have the same obvious impact. Receivers, too—even a stellar debut will see the guy touch the ball maybe ten times. It's an accomplishment for quarterbacks when their first starts don't end in flaming disaster.
It's only at running back that you can unearth some guy three standard deviations above the norm at various forms of moving, put him on the field, and give everyone the epiphany of awesome.
But even the debut of one of those Godzilla running backs doesn't compare because Denard Robinson had a Godzilla tailback debut and was one late fourth down conversion away from setting a Michigan Stadium record for completion percentage. Last year he was so clueless he couldn't run the offense, so transparently not a quarterback he went 14 of 31 with four interceptions on the season and played wide receiver against Ohio State.
So I think this might be literally true: Denard Robinson's performance against UConn was the greatest leap from one game to the next in Michigan history. Possibly college football history. He went from a guy who could not run the offense or throw the ball to one of the greatest statistical achievements* in the history of the program.
Nothing, not even the ludicrous fever dreams on message boards that rivals fans point at and laugh, could keep pace. Expectation was left in the dust by the end of the first quarter. The reasonable best case scenario fell away on the first drive of the second half when Robinson whipped a ball over the middle for sixteen yards on third and eleven. The possibility this was all a dream gave it up on Michigan's final drive when Robinson rolled out and lofted a touch pass to Kevin Koger. Not even fever dreams have that kind of audacity.
By the end, all that was left was reality, as unrecognizable as it is. Rival fans are reduced to stammering "buh-buh-but he'll get injured" in the hopes that will happen before Robinson gets a crack at their defense; 7-5 seems… eh… doable. After last year everyone's fighting to keep their hopes in check; this is proving very difficult indeed.
I kept biting myself in the second quarter, just to check about the fever dream bit. You build all this up in your mind before the season, think about the way things can go, say "Anything can happen, and the wait is over," and then find out you didn't really believe it. This was not part of the anything after all the months leading up to the pogo stick moment a minute before kickoff.
Because at some point around five minutes left, the energy drained out of the stadium. When Edsall called a timeout to get the ball back it was irritating and people booed. With a minute and a half left, I thought about the cold and what I should eat. I was bored, and thanks to that now I can't stand how far away next Saturday is.
*(313 against Ohio State still wins, I think, but it's hard to come up with anything else.)
PREBULLET SECTION OF REASSURANCE! Repeat after me: this was not last year's Notre Dame game.
- UConn is likely better than that Notre Dame team; they beat them last year and returned sixteen starters from that 8-5 team that was so close to a major breakthrough, which is why everyone was calling them a sleeper until the point they were no longer that.
- Michigan won that game with ten seconds left after Charlie Weis called a first-down bomb needing just one first down to kill the clock.
- They got a free, highly irreproducible touchdown from Darryl Stonum.
- They were outgained by 60 yards in that ND game; total yardage Saturday was 473-343, with 42 of UConn's yards on their pointless final drive.
A quick list of downers:
- The Gibbons/Dileo pairing had serious issues. The missed XP was definitely on Dileo and the missed FG seemed like a bad snap, too. Van Slyke's return may actually be more important than you might otherwise expect.
- Burned redshirts have driven me crazy forever and a couple the tossed ones this year boggle the mind: Ray Vinopal played on special teams and Dileo held, though that one may have been forced. I'm not going to throw a hissy about Gardner since when Mike Forcier is saying they "knew there would be disciplinary action" it sounds like Rodriguez was faced with an unpleasant choice between doing the logical thing for your program and enforcing squad discipline, but if Michigan goes into 2014 without a redshirt senior Gardner that will be a major missed opportunity.
- I was irritated they played Will Campbell on special teams because he could redshirt if he's not even second team at NT. This is bad for multiple reasons.
- UConn's quick snap on fourth and goal was a little grrr aarrgh.
- Zero sacks (though Roh should have been given one on a Frazer rollout). Michigan didn't get much pressure from the front three. They did manage to get there with some blitzes but I don't recall anyone beating a UConn lineman straight up. (Roh avoided a cut block from an RB.)
And now that we're done with that:
- One penalty! Three fumbles is more of a downer, but add it up and that was a clean performance.
- Offensive production was considerably understated (and defensive production overstated) by how short the game was in terms of possession. Michigan had eight real drives. I'm not sure what the overall NCAA number is but it must be pretty close to the 11.3 the Big 12 put up last year. If Michigan had 11.3 drives they'd be expected to put up 42 points, which is a lot of points. Yes.
- I hate time of possession. It is a unicorn stat. But people might talk about it a lot this year since Michigan had two drives in this game that ate up more than half a quarter. And given their situation that ability might prove useful: how awesome was it that Michigan got the ball back with nine minutes left and essentially ended the game? How much more awesome would it have been if they were up just seven points?
- Running back concern is overstated. Their YPC was hurt considerably by the final drive, during which they plowed into the line to run clock time and again. Also, Shaw in particular seemed like he had to cut behind a defensive lineman slanting right into the play every time he got a handoff. I thought managing to avoid this guy and get positive yardage consistently was an accomplishment. That say something in UConn's scheme or the play of the line has to be addressed, though.
- It was odd that Hopkins never got in but as the game wore on it became clear that UConn couldn't hold a QB lead draw under five yards, let alone one. I do hope he gets unearthed in the future since those carries are usually low upside and if we're going to spare Robinson some hits it shouldn't be on first and ten. Or, you know, third and fifteen.
- Speaking of, it was a really weird experience for Michigan to run a QB draw in that down and distance and not have that moment of hate during it. My immediate reaction was "yeah, that seems like a decent idea." This was early, though, and it had not yet been established that Denard was capable of going 9 of 22, let alone 19 of 22.
- I have never seen two guys running wide open in as much space as Stonum and Robinson did on the late Robinson-to-Robinson connection. There was one safety trying to figure out which guy to cover and literally no one else for twenty yards. RPS +3, baby. That's the kind of thing that happens in these offenses when the quarterback is such a threat on the ground. When Pat White threw deep, most of the time he was doing so to wide open guys. It's like when Debord ran a waggle for big yardage, except the base offense's run game picks up like six yards a play.
- Speaking of: welcome to Michigan, Terrance Robinson. May you dream shake someone in the near future. (Conversely: surprising lack of Grady, no?)
- After Roundtree went out, there were a few plays on which the skill position guys were Terrance Robinson, Odoms, Grady, Smith, and Stonum. It looked like the Lollipop Guild had run out there, featuring Stonum as Dorothy.
- Mouton's getting good reviews and certainly seemed to be playing well. He brought the lumber on a couple tackles. I wonder if UConn's burst of run competence was Carvin Johnson-injury related?
- The reports on band amplification have varied so wildly that the effectiveness of it must vary significantly based on your location. From section 44 it sounded pretty bad, with a clear delay between the actual band and the speakers; I couldn't hear anything except the drums on the amplification. At least Special K was prevented from doing anything except playing "Don't Stop Believin'" after the first quarter.
Unfortunately, I think that might be an artifact of the jam-packed dedication festivities. There's no time for that old time rock 'n' roll when you're running down the top five plays in Michigan Stadium history (which by the way: no Wangler to Carter? WTF, internet?), introducing a bunch of program icons and Greg Mathews, and so forth and so on. Unless they continue to fill those gaps with stuff, Lose Yourself threatens a return. They should just pick a top five list every week: top five catches. Top five runs. Interceptions, fumbles, comebacks, etc.
- Also: Slippery Rock scores return. I credit Brandon.
AnnArbor.com photo gallery. Ring of terror. Denard as QB EAGLES. The HSR takes a look at some stats. MVictors has some extra stadium details and bullet points on the goings-on, plus an outstanding SNL reference:
My Q&A session would have gone something like this:
Me: “Do you remember when…umm, Denard ran up and down the field a bunch of times?”
Rich Rod: “Yes.”
Me: “That was so cool.”
The B-25 Mitchell bomber that flew over Michigan Stadium Saturday as a part of the rededication ceremonies was a similar model to the one flown over Tokyo by the Doolittle Raiders. The Doolittle Raid was an audacious plan by an unconventional man who felt a strong sense that, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, America had to do something to strike at the heart of the Empire of Japan, so what better than to design a crazy, shouldn't work on paper, never been tested plan that would break the Japanese of their long-held belief of invincibility, and boost American morale...
If it worked.
Braves and Birds is thrilled he's not the only one anymore. Denard is apparently a P-38 Lightning.
Every offensive snap? Every offensive snap:
In UConn's only chance to showcase itself against a name-brand non-Big East opponent this year, the Huskies looked more like one of Michigan's typical September MAC cupcake opponents.
The good: UConn will never have to play against Denard Robinson again, and thank God for that. A few weeks ago I drew the ire of Michigan fans by saying I felt the Huskies had more talent than the Wolverines. Clearly, I was wrong. After yesterday, I'd say that on-balance, for every position but quarterback, the teams are pretty equal, maybe with Michigan grabbing a slight edge. But holy hell what a difference that quarterback makes. Video I had seen of Robinson didn't even come close to doing justice to the monster that he was yesterday. I don't care if UConn always struggles against mobile QBs, Robinson is something special.
The good: Michigan fans and Michigan Stadium. I can't say enough good things about the Michigan fans I met in Ann Arbor yesterday. They were a fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable bunch that created an incredibly welcoming and fun atmosphere. Inside the stadium I think the contingent of Husky fans acquitted themselves nicely, but they were completely overwhelmed by the size and passion of the Wolverine crowd. A fantastic experience all around.
Yesss. Ace's burgeoning tradition of releasing exciting Spring Game footage of a hot new quarterback comes in two steps. Step 1: video. Step 2: video with Christopher Walken. This one even has the 97-yard touchdown inexplicably omitted from the first video:
The new Shazor. So… yeah, Donovan Warren did not get picked in the NFL draft this year, causing Maize 'n' Brew to dissect his decision. I'm all like "what the hell?" I don't think anyone thought Warren was going in the first round, but to fall out of the draft entirely is a Shazor-like collapse. It's actually worse. Shazor's fall was obvious in retrospect: the guy imploded over the second half of his junior season, failed drug tests, and got tagged with major character issues. All Warren did was run a couple of crappy 40s on gimpy ankles. I'm not sure if you can blame Warren when he was told he'd be a mid-round pick at worst. The advisory board did both Warren and Michigan a major disservice here.
BONUS: Donovan Warren tweets like… um… like there's a cat on his keyboard.
(Side note: Greg Easterbrook fulminating about the advisory board:
This year, the advisory board told Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren he'd be a first-round choice, and told Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead he'd be no lower than a third.
Warren said in announcing his decision to turn pro Sunday that the committee gave him "a broad range, rounds 1 to 3."
"Rounds one to three" is way different than round one. Don't let those facts prevent you from getting your furrow on, yo. The actual facts are pretty damning in this case… why exaggerate?)
Exeunt Morris. Jamie Morris's departure from the athletic department hit the papers yesterday, drawing terse statements from the athletic department and no comment from the people who knew about this a week ago but decided not to tell you.
I don't want to air dirty laundry without cause, but Morris is being tossed around as THE MOLE or held up as a representation of Dave Brandon cleaning house against the Rodriguez resistance. So: Morris was dismissed as a result of some bad decisions about use of an athletic department car and a subsequent attempt to conceal those bad decisions. It doesn't have anything to do with Rodriguez.
If you think it's possible that someone could have skated for a similar offense under Martin (maybe) or Goss (definitely), this is an improvement. Personally, I'm waiting to hear exactly what happened with Michigan's CARA forms—and what happens to the people who failed to file them—before proclaiming the New Era of Accountability nigh.
Morris still plans to be on WTKA this fall with John U Bacon; his takes promise to get more interesting now that he's not employed by the AD.
Auburntron will be ours. Michigan's scoreboards are increasingly outdated in a world of advertising-plastered Godzilla-trons. I would like one Tron, sans advertising, please. Dave Brandon, what say you?
"The reality is those scoreboards are old. They're old technology and they're old."
This is a man who will bring crazy HD replay boards to Michigan stadium, all the better to see Armando Allen stepping out of bounds. The last thing on the hit list: video replay at Yost.
(Catch from mgouser Rush N Attack.)
Somewhat thunderous. We have a final number on the effect of Michigan's boxes on the noise level. Somewhat oddly, it comes from an article on the noise level at Beaver Stadium:
A similar reflected-sound effect was measured at the University of Michigan stadium by architecture professor Mojtaba Navvab. He found that the recent addition of skyboxes there created a wall that reflected sound from lower seats onto the field. That meant an increase of 4 to 5 decibels in on-field noise.
DBs are logarithmic (and base ten) so a 4-5 decibel increase is actually something close to triple(!) the volume. Sort of. A fruitless journey through wikipedia indicates that loudness is a fuzzy concept and an increase in sound pressure does not have a one to one correspondence with the perceived loudness. Until such point as we can blow out the opposing quarterback's eardrums on a critical third down, perception is where it's at. As best I can figure, the luxury box-spurred increase is significant but not game-changing.
Implosion continues apace. Both Detroit papers got hammered over the past six months, with the News falling 10.1 percent and the Free Press 13.3, both considerably in excess of national averages. The web numbers are even more slanted towards the News:
Web traffic has been strong as well. Unique traffic to detnews.com increased 26.4 percent to 4.3 million readers in March compared with a year earlier. Unique visitors to freep.com increased 2.2 percent to 4.7 million, Harshbarger said.
Losing 13 percent of your circulation and gaining two percent on the web is a nasty blow. Extracting a moral from the story is an exercise left to the reader.
(Side note for Mitch Albom: "Uniques" are a wildly varying metric, but in case you're curious Quantcast's guesstimate as to the number of people who visit the Free Press monthly is about 1.3 million. This blog is currently at 10% of that.)
Etc.: Michigan had 23 players in the NHL this year, more than any other college hockey team. College hockey players comprise a third of the league. (HT: Michigan Hockey Net.) Marques Slocum takes his Sprint/Nextel fandom to the Redskins. Fake John Calipari is very convincing. Space Emperor (of Space) gets some pub in Boston.
Summary. The Rodriguez transition as expressed by Smurfs:
That is all.
Second edition? There's been a disconnect between the recruiting buzz on incoming defensive end Jibreel Black (major talent, say mods at the usual sites) and the recruiting services who placed him on the three/four-star borderline. Michigan's coaches had been after Black from early on in his recruiting cycle and pursued him through two(!) commitments to other schools, so they seem to be on the former side.
Maybe a couple more people are sidling over there after Black's performance in the North-South Ohio All Star game:
The star of the night, however, was Jibreel Black. He was constantly in the backfield and pretty much controlled the entire second half. He’s not the biggest guy (6’2” 255) in the world, but then neither was Brandon Graham. And when pressed for what was going to happen the next time he plays in the Horseshoe as a Wolverine, Black didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’ll be doing the same thing,” he laughed. “Pryor better watch out.”
Insert all the usual caveats about all-star games here—who knows if the kid he was going up against is even going I-A, for one—but anything that causes an observer to mention Brandon Graham in the same sentence as someone with eligibility remaining is all right by me.
Antonio Kinard had a pick six and was reputed to have played well; the other Michigan recruits didn't draw much mention except someone calling the matchup between Courtney Avery and 6'7" OSU WR signee Tyrone Williams "unfair." His quarterbacks were exceptionally good sports about it, though, and he finished with just two catches for 19 yards. Tim has more detail in a mini-Friday Night Lights post coming up later today.
It's the circle of life.
Catching up with defectors past. Penn State's quarterback situation is not so good. Kevin Newsome, who you may remember as one of the defectors in the defection-laden class of 2008, is the only scholarship quarterback on campus right now. His competition is Matt McGloin, a walk-on(!), and neither is burning up the field:
McGloin (10 of 23, 110 yards) threw two interceptions and should have had a third – a drop by new defensive back Chaz Powell – returned 90 yards for a touchdown in the first half.
Newsome, a righty with a near-sidearm throwing motion, finished 5 of 12 for 50 yards and lost 12 yards rushing. Dual threat? Not so much Saturday.
Neither is the offensive line, apparently:
To be fair, the QBs didn't have much time to set their feet. Or duck. …
“We're trying different combinations and we're trying to get the best five guys in there,'' Paterno said during a news conference right before the scrimmage.
“The tackles are a concern for us. … We're not really sure who the tackles are going to be.''
Before you go cackling to your Penn State friends, remember that 1) Penn State's defense is not Michigan's defense and 2) IIRC, the author of this article is one of those dinosaur local columnists whose schtick is relentless negativity.
However, a softened version of the snark above has been related by generally positive outlets like the PSU's Scout and Rivals sites. It's safe to say that a certain level of disquiet exists in Happy Valley. Many people are openly speculating about how JoePa is going to have to grit his teeth and start one of his two true freshmen this fall. One of them, Paul Jones, did enroll early. Whoever starts is going to be protected by a couple of converted guards at tackle.
In other spring games:
- Is it good news or bad news that MSU's game, which was an actual game, ended 17-10? I don't know. Kirk Cousin remains an effective passer. The offensive line gave up eight sacks but the starters were split across teams.
- Notre Dame beat Notre Dame 27-19, spawning a number of thread on the message board about how they were terrible and will die against us in the fall. The ND side of things is less resigned to doom. You could even call them encouraged. I think your walk-on second string QB going 18 for 30 for 223 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT is not so good, but as always to read too much into spring games at your peril.
Other future warrior-poets. Meanwhile on the AAU circuit, Carlton Brundidge may have developed a jumper:
Give credit to Carlton Brundidge, the kid is putting in work. The only knock on him in the past has been the lack of a consistent jump shot from three point range, but that looks to be coming along nicely. With defenders playing a sagging zone designed to stop Amir Williams, Brundidge was hitting from deep with ease. As always he still finished going to the rim off the dribble, but Brundidge really looks improved shooting the deep jumper.
UMHoops has video of Brundidge going off for 44 in last weekend's AAU tournament, in which his team made the final before falling. It's impressive even if #15 on the opposition has a dedication to defense that can be described as "hilariously lacking."
Also, AA.com's Mike Rothstein has an interview with Bacari Alexander:
Q: What was the best Globetrotter experience you had?
BA: “You don’t realize what the significance of the Globetrotter experience is until you travel abroad. When I went to Stockholm, Sweden and there was a capacity crowd in the arena to the tune of 18, 19,000 sold out, I said ‘Wow.’ You don’t realize that you’re a part of something so much bigger than yourself.”
This is all right and good. Sweden loves the quintessentially American Globetrotters. America loves Carl Hagelin. We'll call it even. Full profile coming later today.
Updating crush rates. MCalibur updates his QB fragility study, finding that 1) last year was a bad year for everyone except pocket statues and 2) there's still no statistical significance in the numbers. Note that this doesn't mean people who assert running QBs get injured more are definitely wrong:
At first blush it looks like there’s a difference in the injury rates of level 1, 2, and 0/3 but the fact of the matter is that there is insufficient evidence to support this. I actually ran hypothesis tests this time and that was the outcome (failure to reject the null hypothesis that A=B=C=D). Note that this does not mean that no difference exists, simply that there is no reason to conclude that a difference does exist. The differences observed are statistically insignificant.
This is a lesson David Berri could stand to learn. Still, whatever increase there might be in running quarterbacks is minimal if it exists at all:
After six years of data, the guys who run more than anyone else are 2-3% more likely to get injured than pocket throwers and the least-injured quarterbacks are guys who run a little.
Etc.: Women's tennis brings home a Big Ten title and is in the range where a national title isn't out of the possibility. Ann Arbor voids all those parking tickets from the spring game. Nebraska is now making noises about the Big Ten. So is Paul Tagliabue; his are very silly. You are now bowl eligible if you are bowl eligible.
A Thing About Denard And Tate
The new official picture of "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium." Via MVictors.
Yet more on the quarterback situation because that's all anyone is talking about: it seems to me like the correct stance to take in the aftermath of Denard going 9/11 for 191 yards and three touchdowns in the air is to declare Game On. But only that.
I've seen a ton about how Denard is just a better fit for Michigan's offense and Rodriguez has wanted Pat White 2.0 since he got here and Tate is doomed because of the zone read and basically disintegrated over the course of the season and is probably going to transfer as he is destined to by his genetic heritage. I've also seen a lot of people saying "now wait just a minute" to the Forcier doomsayers, and I'm with them:
- Forcier had a midseason lull but two of his best games of the season came against Purdue and Wisconsin. Against UW he was 20 for 26; against Purdue he was a lot closer to 50% but suffered a ton of drops. His trajectory is not straight down. He even looked good against Ohio State when not offering up one of his hair-pulling, soul-destroying turnovers.
- Forcier's main problem on the zone read was making good decisions or fakes. These were made more difficult by the defense focusing on the run game because Forcier's ability to make decisions in the pocket was limited. He pulled the ball way too much, didn't let the fake "ride" a la Juice Williams, and faced down a defensive end as a result. He then juked this guy 80% of the time and picked up positive yardage. If the defense is sufficiently focused on the tailback and Forcier develops his fakes as much as Denard develops his passing, he can be an effective zone read alternative.
- Last year's offensive line was very shaky on the right side, which led to a lot of justified scrambles.
Tate is not out of it by any means, and since the two quarterbacks are so different it looks like the backup will get a large number of snaps anyway.
What the spring game (and spring in general) did was stand the horse race on its nose. Robinson looked better on Saturday. He looked better in the clinic scrimmage, when he was live and splitting first team reps with Forcier. He looked better over the entirety of spring, which is the reason he was afforded the easy matchup Saturday. One 97-yard touchdown to Roy Roundtree might not mean much, but 15 practices does.
The ones-vs-twos is a big deal, but maybe not as big a deal as the few remaining Denard skeptics—still clinging tight to that Betamax stock—have made it. Last year Robinson was having a Man vs Himself battle. Seeing him develop to the point where you need to see a Man vs Man conflict is immense. Hopefully by this time next year we're sending him off to fight Icelandic volcanoes.
Running Backs Are Indeterminate
Another source of persistent unexpressed disagreement in the last couple days: a steady pessimism about Michigan's tailback situation. I haven't seen anyone say "hey how about that run defense"; the assumption is a lack of big runs from the tailbacks means Michigan is going to be putting out some crappy tailbacks next year. I don't think that's necessarily true. Vincent Smith had a tantalizing cameo last year, and he did nothing of note in the spring game. A few carries here or there isn't a whole lot to draw conclusions about, and even so there were a couple of nice runs from Cox.
Michigan isn't going to have the best back in the conference or anything but they've got enough of a stable to have a good running game. And what would a discussion of the tailbacks be without Fred Jackson proclaiming something the best ever?
“I think I’ve got the best blocking tandem, I didn’t say running back tandem, but best blocking tandem I’ve had,” Jackson said. “I’ve got three or four guys that based on the pictures and movies, how you want to see it done. It’s more than I’ve ever had at one time.”
Never change, Fred.
Hell I if know. I'm planning something resembling a UFR and will be able to tell you more after that, but probably not that much with Martin and Woolfolk out and the first-teamers going up against second-string offensive lineman and not blitzing and etc. etc. etc. It's clear this isn't going to be a vintage unit. Latest hint from Woolfolk:
"We're mostly just focusing on zones, which is easier than playing man," said Woolfolk. "But I would like to go back to doing more man coverage and stuff. It's easier, but pertaining to the players we have on defense, that probably makes it easier for us to play. Keeping it simple allows us to play more instead of thinking too much and slowing down. It allows us to react and get to the ball faster."
My hope for the defense is something relatively stout against the run and functional enough in the secondary to force opponents into long drives if they want to score. Average would be fine.
Video Of All Varieties
Highlights and errata:
Here's an ebullient Denard Robinson in the locker room:
"Ebullient" as defined by answers.com: "zestfully enthusiastic." There's plenty more in a diary from Boyz in the Pahokee. TYT has posted an SD torrent; MGoVideo is planning an HD one tomorrow. There is also a browser-crippling version of the latest Inside Michigan Football.
A zillion photographs
If you want more photographs than are crammed into this post, boy howdy are you in luck. AnnArbor.com has a flickr set, as does the Daily. MVictors and Maize and Blue Nation also file photoposts. MnBN found the letters from the top of the press box:
They're outside sections 2 and 44. It's too bad they couldn't find someplace a little more prominent, but at least they're still around. Also… isn't the S the wrong way?
Quarterback Stuff From Teammates
"He’s really been working on his technique," Roundtree said. "All the quarterbacks have, but Denard has really been working on his technique, his touch on the ball instead of throwing it so hard. And this year it shows so far what he did."
More Roundtreee on Robinson:
Roundtree said Saturday actually was Robinson's "second-best" practice of the spring.
"Last scrimmage (a week ago), he did really well," Roundtree said.
Thus both clinic observers giving the starting QB nod to Denard after that scrimmage. Of note: that was not a strictly ones-vs-twos setup like the spring game. In that scrimmage both Tate and Denard got extensive reps with the first team against various first and second team defenses, and Roundtree thought he did better than he did on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Van Bergen's full LAZERZ quote:
"I think Denard has probably made the most progression. I think he's developed a whole new aspect of his game as far as making great reads and making great throws.
"His throws are on lasers now. He's not throwing balls up for grabs. He's putting them right on receivers, and I think the fact he can scramble while looking downfield is really something that's helped him because last year when he pulled it down, he was going to run. But this year, he's got his eyes downfield, and they're making even bigger plays. He's dangerous. I think he's probably made the most progression, but I think they've all done really good things."
In the future, Denard Robinson will still be made of dilithium; his arm will be made of lasers.
There were plenty of folks who sat out Saturday with injuries of some varieties, including five or six possible starters. The good news is that only walk-on DE Will Heininger will see his injury last into the season. There had been some uncertainty about Vincent Smith but the latest on him is that he should be "fully recovered by preseason camp." If that holds up he's probably your opening-day starter barring a summer renaissance from the rest of the depth chart.
The rest of the injuries range from minor dings to stuff that happened a long time ago horrific bone breaks that just provide an opportunity to work on your standup. Troy Woolfolk's comedic alter-ego:
"I’m going to introduce you all to something," Woolfolk said. "Y’all know me, myself, Troy, but I have a split personality named T-Wolf. When I’m on the field, T-Wolf comes out. T-Wolf doesn’t know how to cry, that’s only a trait that Troy does. Right now, this is Troy. T-Wolf, he’s crazy and I can’t bring him out all the time, I only let him come out on the field. T-Wolf doesn’t have that ability to cry, so that would never happen."
Knock on wood and all that but sounds like everyone should be ready to go for summer conditioning. The most damaged Wolverine may actually be RB coach Fred Jackson, who got stepped on by Kevin Koger. Maybe:
"Supposedly, I'm the one who broke his foot - supposedly, though," Koger said. "It was a 86 on film, but there's no name on the back (of the jersey). So it could have been any 86."
Purdue's spring game saw the Boiler debut of Miami transfer and presumptive starting quarterback Robert Marve. Marve was meh:
Robert Marve talked about "putting on a show" for the fans. Quite simply, he didn't...But how could he with this format? He threw a couple of good balls (for instance, a long pump and go to Cortez Smith for the longest TD of the game), showed the burst of speed that Hope had bragged about...but never got into rhythm for multiple reasons...and just plain missed on quite a few throws. But, he does have an arm.
Iowa's spring game was a Carr special: sparsely attended and no different than a usual practice. Ohio State offensive line is in flux and Pryor didn't have a great day statistically but Buckeye Football Analysis is pretty sanguine about things.
A poster attempted to ferret out what's going on with UConn but didn't come up with much outside of the usual "is this good or bad" stuff.
As always: exploit your kid for youtube fame and I post.
Get used to it, Denard?
I'll try to figure out some more stuff after the replay at 8 but for now, things I noticed. They are mostly about offensive skill position players, because I'm a person.
Denard! Denard! Denard! Disclaimer: It was all ones versus twos and whatnot, so Denard took the starting offense against a motley collection of walk-ons and Tate took a bunch of freshmen up against the first team defense. The playing field was far from level.
That said, holy crap. Robinson looks like a quarterback now. A running quarterback with rudimentary passing abilities, but a quarterback. There were zone reads and screens and rollout passes and a number of zippy seams that hit players between the numbers. When the offense broke down, Robinson made the concept of "pursuit angles" humorous. Putting him on the edge, as suggested by the coaches' clinic tea leaves, puts the defense in a bind. His throws were all on a line but they were accurate aside from a couple mediocre bubble screens. There were multiple times where I was thinking "just run why don't youuuu runnnnn" and he zipped a pass in for a first down or touchdown.
How close to Forcier's passing does Robinson have to get if he's going to start? If Forcier can't set up in the pocket and throw on rhythm, how far apart are they now? It'll be an interesting summer for both guys. Right now it looks like edge Denard.
As for Forcier: Hemingway's absence and the sparing use of Stokes saddled Tate with a couple of true freshmen at wideout, so it's hard to tell whether or not the helter-skelter offense Tate was running was just Tate doing what he does or the receivers screwing up the rhythm of the offense. Wild guess: some of both. Tate also fumbled (again) and chucked a pass that Mike Jones should have picked off. Robinson didn't have anything close to a turnover.
Meanwhile, Devin Gardner looked raw as hell, fumbling snaps, scrambling into trouble, and reverting to that ugly shotput motion whenever he was forced to throw on the run. He looked like a freshman, which is okay because he is a freshman. However, the torrent of spring hype that suggested Gardner would probably not redshirt because he would be Michigan's best quarterback by UConn… eh, not so much. Maybe it was just a bad day. Even if it was an off day, Robinson showed enough to relegate Gardner to the bench for the first couple games and hopefully his whole freshman year.
Gardner did show the his deep touch on a third and long seam to Odoms that was laid in perfectly. Odoms dropped it.
Flipside of all those seams. The concerns about things like four verticals expressed in the Coaches' Clinic Tea Leaves were amply demonstrated. Virtually all of Michigan's big yardage plays that weren't Robinson teleporting from place to place came on seams right up the hashes. Michigan's got to get that fixed.
Vlad… em? Vlad Emilien was wearing a knee brace of some sort so it's likely he's not 100%, but he got dusted by Roy Roundtree (who we last saw getting tracked down on a similar play) on Robinson's 97-yard touchdown. Roundtree tacked on five yards by the time they hit the endzone. Meanwhile, Teric Jones made up most of the ground. Thankfully, not all of it. Roundtree getting tackled at the one on that would have been a dark omen.
Further adventures in Justin Turner worry. It's one thing to be behind JT Floyd, who did look considerably more confident on the short stuff Michigan was trying to his side, but with Woolfolk out with a minor injury it was James Rogers who moved up to the ones. A position move beckons.
Tailback clarity. Nil. There weren't a whole lot of big plays from the tailbacks. Mike Cox had a nice touchdown and Stephen Hopkins lived up to his rep as a thunderous runner who should find himself staring down third and short most of the year. Austin White is headed for a redshirt. Cox, Toussaint, and Shaw are all in a blender.
Defense thoughts. I did what everyone does and watched the ball more than anything, so I don't have a ton of useful stuff on the D yet. I thought Van Bergen looked like he'll be a pretty good defensive end, maybe all conference level. When Floyd came up on the short stuff he tackled solidly. Most of the stuff in the middle happened against the second team defense.
I did notice the bandit playing deep off the LOS frequently when Michigan went to the spread; Kovacs in deep coverage is going to be a scary issue all year.
We have field goal problems? I expected the placekicking to be a circus given the grim reports from spring, but other than a couple of misfires off of poor snaps from the backup longsnapper the two guys at the top of the depth chart looked solid.
Punter, meanwhile… it's Hagerup's job. If Hagerup tears an ACL it might be Tate Forcier's job. Spring started with speculation of a Robinson position move, but now it seems that Forcier moving (or, rather, pulling double duty) is a more realistic possibility. Not that either are particularly realistic.