Michigan Monday vs. Miami is up over at The Ozone. As always, there's a lot of material there, but the opening statement sums things up well:
The Michigan Wolverines did exactly what they were supposed to do in their 34-10 win over the Miami RedHawks on Saturday, it just took them a little while to actually do it.
When the offense had the ball:
The one aspect of this game that jumped out at me more than any other was how much better Derrick Green looked compared to a week ago.
I'm not saying his problems are over, I'm saying it's good to know that he actually has the ability to see a hole and his brain can tell his legs to head towards it. Usually, the message from his brain to his legs ends in, “This seems like a good place to rest.”
Thoughts on Gardner:
Every week Gardner throws about four passes that should be intercepted, and whether Michigan wins or loses generally depends on how those throws end up.
I don't know if he is lacking confidence, but I imagine that his coaches lack some confidence in him, even though they would never admit it.
For me, whether or not this can become a high-powered offense depends more on Gardner than it does the offensive line right now.
On the stout run defense:
There's no need to show much defensively against Miami, but somebody in the front seven should be able to bring a running back down in the backfield. Obviously the front seven is doing something right because nobody is running on them, but it's almost like they just put up a wall at the line of scrimmage and don't try to cross into the offense's territory.
I don't understand how they are so good against the run, but I can certainly acknowledge that it's happening. Is it because they haven't yet played a team who lives on the run? At least in some part, definitely. I'm just wondering where the penetration is.
On the secondary:
The pass defense had some issues in terms of personnel.
It was good to see Peppers get some extensive time at cornerback instead of nickel. He responded well and I wonder how long it will be until he's starting.
It was also good to see Dymonte Thomas out there at safety for some snaps. He's a big hitter who is still looking to become the player that so many saw when he was a five-star prospect out of Ohio.
On special teams (blistering comments on clock mismanagement)
Lastly, I suppose this would be the best place to talk about an instance in this game that pretty much characterized everything wrong with Brady Hoke as a head coach.
The crowd was booing from the first time Hagerup was sent out onto the field. They've grown tired of this mentality at a time when it shouldn't even be in effect. This is Freaking Miami Freaking Of Freaking Ohio. They didn't win a game last year. Are you that unsure of your team or your own ability to coach them that you think not getting six yards with under a minute to play is going to allow them to go the 40-odd yards necessary just to get a crack at a long field goal attempt? How does this instill confidence in anybody?
The execution was horrific, but the mentality was even worse. Brady Hoke went full Ferentz, and you never go full Ferentz.
There's much, much more, but I've already quoted too much as it is. Read it all if you're starving for content prior to the UFR's coming up mid-week.
EDIT: So, going forward, I'll probably continue to link to Michigan Monday if no one else does. (Brian linked there after ND, and someone else did the week before against ASU. I don't own MM or have a particular claim on it . . . just think that Gerdeman is one of the better reads out there.) However, I think my use of block quotes was egregious, and so I will shorten that down a bit. On a different yet related note, I'd love for someone on the staff to watch the OSU game weekly, and provide a similar synopsis of the Buckeyes for MGoBlog as we head toward the end of November.
This was just posted. Excellent write up. Surprises me how balanced his perspective is time and again.
What are your thoughts?
Both "The Ozone" and "Eleven Warriors" have their take on the Akron game up respectively attheir websites. Here are the links:
Sun & Bluesday (Eleven Warriors)
Here are a few choice quotes.
Re: Devin Gardner
When he's dialed in, he's very good. When he's not, you don't know know he's not until he makes a mistake that should never have been made.
Gardner almost single-handedly lost the game for Michigan . . . his decision making under duress remains terrible.
Gardner threw three interceptions to an Akron defense that gave up 310 yards passing and three touchdowns to James Madison. One of those interceptions was a terrible pick six on a screen pass where Gardner never saw the defender in relation to his receiver. He has now thrown six interceptions on the season. That's as many interceptions as Braxton Miller threw all season last year.
Toussaint struggled again, as 15 of his 19 carries went for four yards or less. It gets worse from there, however, as 12 of his 19 carries went for two yards or less and eight of his 19 carries went for no gain or less. In other words, his eighth-longest carry of the day went for no gain.
Fitz Toussaint will never create for himself, ever. If the hole is there, he'll hit it and do okay. If it isn't, automatic two yard loss.
Center Jack Miller was pushed around like a shopping cart by Akron's defensive line, and he wasn't the only one. At one point, the BTN sideline reporter was talking to former Wolverine offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson about left tackle Taylor Lewan, and at that same moment, Lewan was being pushed into the backfield right to where the ball was for a loss of a couple of yards.
Akron's defensive line was just good enough to wreck havoc on a generally really bad Michigan offensive line, and that led to problems all over the field on the offensive side.
Last week I talked a bit about how open the middle of the field was against Notre Dame, and it was exploited again this past week by the Zips.
Defensively the secondary is a mess. Akron should not be throwing for 300 plus yards on anyone (they didn't even get that against James Madison), but the middle of the field is almost always open in Michigan's defense when teams feel like exploiting it. Countess has been opportunistic, but aside from him there's really no one to fear too much in the backfield at this point.
Speaking of Mattison, he didn't seem all that happy on Saturday. His defense was getting pushed around. There was very little pass rush and there was no penetration. Michigan's starting defensive tackles Quinton Washington and Jibreel Black failed to record any tackles. They were too easily blocked in this game.
The lack of a pass rush is a concern. James Madison sacked Akron four times, which is four more times than Michigan sacked the Zips. Defensive end Mario Ojemudia continues to be the only Michigan defensive lineman with a sack. Frank Clark came in with big expectations, but to this point has just one tackle for loss.
Michigan has a ton of gigantic, glaring holes in their team that need to be addressed ASAP or Big Ten season will be very difficult for them.
I'm waiting for the UFR's from Brian, but I'm feeling a bit glum about what this season portends. There are a few reasons I still have some hope.
- The schedule. We have six weeks (four games plus two byes, one before Big 10 and one before MSU.) This will allow our extremely young team time to learn, and in the case of the lines, to gel. Hopefully Chesson gets more of a rhythm.
- Jake Ryan. Whether he plays on the line as an end, or as a LB, he has to improve what the defensive line is doing, and the soft middle.
- Courtney Avery. Now we know why he was moved. We need Avery in the secondary, to allow Countess to always play corner.
- Williams. While having Williams in the game telegraphs "run," that's ok. Butt has promise, but we need a TE who can help block, and Williams appears to be option A, B, & C.
There actually is coverage on Michigan's game last Saturday at two different Ohio State fan websites.
The Ozone has had a feature called "Michigan Monday" for years, and it continues.
In addition, "Eleven Warriors" has apparently now added a weekly piece called "Sun & Bluesday."
Those of you who are addicts can go to the links. There just isn't a whole lot to add. A few observations from the Ozone.
- The Ozone liked Heitzmann & Ojemudia (in addition to the observations many have made about the O Line, Gardner, etc.)
- The Ozone also noted that the "Red Zone" defense for Michigan only gave up two field goals, which is a good thing.
Eleven Warriors isn't as heavy on analysis, but actually uses mgoblog's own Ace Anbender as as source of info. Johnny Ginter, their writer, is heavy on the snark, but can be entertaining. He writes,
I have recruited Ace Anbender from the admittedly *deep sigh* excellent MGoBlog to help me parse through what happened this past weekend. Our conversations are real, but have been edited slightly for brevity/spelling/to make me look cool.
- Ginter is pretty crabby because Michigan beat CMU the way Ohio fans think they should have beat Buffalo.
- He was struck that the defense was as good as it was, and the loss of Jake Ryan didn't cripple us.
- Ginter also thought Gardner wasn't bad. However, he believes that Gardner's decision making will come back to bite Michigan when playing against a real opponent (read: Ohio.) I have to agree I'd like to see Gardner improve there a bit.
- Ginter wasn't that impressed by Toussaint or Smith, but thinks Green is the real deal.
As always, go to the links if you want more detail. Given the nature of a first game against CMU, there just really isn't that much to analyze. (Well, unless you're doing things like UFR's.)
Ohio blog "The Ozone" has their weekly "Michigan Monday" up early this week, due to the Ohio bye week. LINK: http://theozone.net/football/2012/Wisconsin/michiganmonday.html
Here are some quotes, and then a few bullet points. As always, this is a long column, and you can't cut and paste the whole thing. Go and read it yourself if you're dying for more analysis.
The point of Michigan Monday is to keep an eye on the Wolverines and then later extrapolate how their season of performances relates to how they will do against Ohio State.
After seeing the way the Wildcats ran the ball, and the way they had open receivers running around, it's hard to think the same shouldn't also happen for the Buckeyes when the Wolverines come to town.
The Wildcats' mostly moved the ball through hard work and patience. Ohio State has that same type of patience, and they have a much better power running game.
Last week, I asked how Michigan would defend Ohio State. . . . the budding brilliance of the Buckeye offense is that they can allow a defense to dictate what they do and be perfectly happy with that.
If a defense is intent on stopping the running game, then the offense attacks the edges and seams, forcing the defense to open up the middle. When the defense then spreads out, they leave their belly exposed for Carlos Hyde, who is quite happy to gash it.
I expect the Wolverine defense to play at their absolute best against the Buckeyes, but I'm not sure how well they will be able to contain the Ohio State running game. However, as we have already seen, just because a team can run on Michigan doesn't mean they can beat them.
Basically, I believe that if Michigan is going to win in Columbus, they will need to make sure that quarterback Braxton Miller has a poor day throwing the ball, which is something that he doesn't always need help to do.
- Gardner looks comfortable, and "his scrambling was fantastic."
- After seeing two seasons of jump balls favoring the Wolverines, it isn't just luck, but is something Borges must be coaching.
- Apart from one big run a game, Toussaint still isn't doing much.
- Michigan doesn't defend the option pitch well.
- Making Michigan play defense in space is a great way to attack them, if you have the talent. NW did. So does Ohio.
- Kovacs can be beaten with above average throws.
- Jake Ryan looks mortal when he has to react instead of attack.
- Michigan needed the speed of Ross more than the experience of Morgan.
- There were quite a few cutback lanes for QB Colter, as there should be for Braxton Miller.
Closing thoughts: there are a number of ways for Ohio to attack Michigan's defense. However, this fact won't help Ohio if Miller has a subpar game. Miller has to be able to pass in order to keep the running game going. Michigan has shown repeated ability to win games they probably shouldn't have won. Ohio has the same skill. Oh, and Michigan doesn't have anything to fear against Iowa.
Ohio fan blog "The Ozone" has Michigan Monday vs. Nebraska up this evening.
It is depressing to read, but interestingly, Gerdeman isn't too harsh. In fact, his opinion is that Michigan probably would have won if Denard had been healthy the whole game. A few quotes:
Despite his struggles, we shouldn't put all of Michigan's offensive failures on Bellomy. While he was healthy, Denard Robinson led five drives and Michigan averaged 29 yards of total offense on those drives, which lead to six total points.
Those numbers with Robinson throughout an entire game probably would have been enough to get the win for the Wolverines, because they likely wouldn't have included three interceptions.
I tend to agree. We live and die with Denard this year. Gerdeman closes with that thought:
Which is the real Michigan offense? The one against Illinois and Purdue, or the one against Michigan State? The answer is neither. The real Michigan offense is Denard Robinson, and how well he performs depends solely upon how good the defense is that he is facing that given week.
There is no "Michigan offense". It's just "Denard". For better or for worse.
What can you say? If Denard is healthy, we could win the rest of our games. If he is out, we'll probably struggle in the rest of our games.
Here are some other bullets:
- Michigan has a severe lack of QB depth. (duh, but yeah.)
- Michigan has a severe lack of QB preparedness.
- People who think Devin is the answer are in la la land. The coaches would have had Devin in the rotation if he was a good option at QB.
- Having said that, Devin will return to QB in the Spring (see depth above.)
- Gerdeman is a broken record re: Fitz and the rushing.
- The OL didn't get much of a push to help Fitz (not that it would have mattered.)
- The defense once again was stellar, and did enough for Michigan to win.
You can read Gerdeman or not. The lack of offensive playmakers, both RB & WR, leave Denard terribly exposed. It has been this way for a long time, but there's nothing to be done for it this year. If Denard stays healthy, I suppose we could win the rest of our games. I wish I was happier about this, but Michigan sure seems awfully vulnerable right now.