...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
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.
Michigan Monday vs. MSU is up at the Ozone. LINK: http://theozone.net/football/2012/PennState/michiganmonday.html
Tis a very good column. Really, go read the whole thing, especially commentary on Michigan vs. MSU (quoted from below.) Give Gerdeman credit: I haven't read a better description anywhere of the nature of this rivalry.
Big Brother finally rose from the ashes and bested Little Brother with a field goal with five seconds left in the game. Michigan's 12-10 win over the Spartans was ugly from the get go, and to me that's why it was just about perfect.
Michigan State and Michigan are supposed to brawl. Everything has to be next to impossible, or else it's just not right. Of my four favorite college football rivalries, Michigan is involved in three of them. [EDIT: what??? Michigan is 3 of your 4 fave rivalries, and you're an Ohio fan? what's up with that??] I love this rivalry because there is such a level of hate that respect can't permeate.
There is something to be said for the kind of hate that eats out your gut and invades your sleep. Mark Dantonio has it for Michigan. Dantonio lost, and there is no team that he would less want to lose to. It's that Little Brother Syndrome which has spiked this rivalry since Dantonio's arrival. He hates Michigan, and has done so long before he was ever the Spartans' head coach.
When it came down to it in this game, he had Michigan State playing as well as they could have expected to, and the Wolverines still came away with the win in a game where they never even reached the endzone. There's beating your rival, and then there's trolling them. On Saturday, Sparty got trolled.
Some bullets from the offense:
- Spartie did a great job vs. Robinson forcing him downfield . . . with the exception of Dileo.
- Speaking of Dileo, he was an excellent security blanket, and should be looked at more the rest of the season.
- Again, why isn't Gallon targeted more? The throwback screen is so effective, but was only called once.
- Dileo & Gallon, 2 little RR holdovers, are the best playmakers in passing game.
- Funchess reminds Gerdeman of Kellen Winslow. [EDIT: we should be so fortunate! May it be so.]
- Denard has issues with passes being batted down at the line, and also with linebackers (like Bullough) in the passing game.
- Other than his 38 yard run, Toussaint had 14 yds in 9 carries, along with 3 yds in 2 receptions. Not good.
Michigan on defense:
- Bell is one of the most tackleable players in the country. Elusive, Bell is not.
- MSU did a very good job of attacking downfield, but Maxwell just couldn't quite hit open receivers.
- Floyd is vulnerable, beaten deep twice, with 2 TD's if Maxwell was more accurate.
- Raymon is doing a very good job & getting better.
- Eventually, Michigan's secondary will get burned with the lack of a good pass rush.
- The DL only has 4 sacks this season, which won't cut it. Ryan can't do everything.
- If Nebraska, NW, & Ohio complete half their deep passes, Michigan's in trouble. If not, Michigan wins out.
- When your best offensive play is a fake, you're probably going to lose.
- Kicking game was stellar from field goals to punting.
- With Gallon returning the ball 26 yards, why doesn't he touch the ball more?
- Michigan found a way to win against a team with a pulse when things didn't look good.
- The point of Michigan's lack of TD's is this: the key to stopping Denard is to make him one-dimensional. No one remaining will attack defensively like MSU, but if Denard's big plays can be minimized, Michigan's scoring will go way down.
- Defensively, the game against Nebraska is key, because Michigan hasn't faced this good of an offense. If Michigan can rough up Nebraska, "then it's time to declare Greg Mattison a witch and have him tried."
- If Michigan beats Nebraska, put them in the Big 10 Championship game.
This was Gerdeman's best "Michigan Monday" of the season, imhe. Again, go to the link and read the whole thing if you want more analysis. My props to the Ozone for some of the best Michigan coverage out there.
Michigan Monday is up at The OZone. LINK: http://theozone.net/football/2012/Purdue/michiganmonday.html
I was able to watch the whole game in Chicago, but apparently they cut away in Columbus. I was really hoping that Gerdeman would have some comments and analysis on what this portends for Michigan - Ohio. Alas, with the Ohio debacle against Indiana, he was in no mood. A few quotes and synopsis:
Michigan's 45-0 win over Illinois on Saturday carried a couple of statements with it. The first is that the Illini (2-5, 0-3) are completely terrible right now. They have no direction and no plan.
The other statement is that this Michigan team does not suffer fools even a little.
In other words, the teams left on Michigan's schedule need to play some of their best football of the year in order to win. I think the days of the Wolverine offense giving games away is over for the year, and the defense is really beginning to play as a single entity right now.
A long section on Toussaint, which I will cut down:
Once again, however, Fitzgerald Toussaint struggled. Other than a pair of twelve-yard runs, the rest of his 16 carries went for just 38 yards (2.4 ypc).
Toussaint's numbers become more concerning with the numbers put up by backups Thomas Rawls (9-90) and Justice Hayes (10-66).
Too many times a Toussaint carry feels like a wasted down.
I don't know how much longer they can continue to give him carries in order to work out of whatever funk he is in. Maybe this is just who he is now.
The fact that he can't capitalize on the threat that Robinson provides on his reads – which were fantastic this week – is damning.
Comments on the passing game:
An interesting thing happened after Robinson threw eight interceptions in his first four games – Borges stopped calling so many passing plays.
Will Michigan play in any games this season where Robinson needs to throw the ball 25 times again? Even with just eleven passes thrown on Saturday, there were a couple that shouldn't have been thrown.
Props to Jake Ryan:
There is nothing that he is asked to do that he doesn't excel at. If he is in a position to make a play, he makes it. He's a guy with great range who is quick enough to play in the slot, and yet had a fourth-down stop playing defensive end.
When Buckeye fans lament the loss of in-state linebackers Trey DePriest and Jordan Hicks to Alabama and Texas, they need to put Jake Ryan at the top of the list because the Buckeyes actually have to face him on the field.
And lastly, he has awesome hair.
Ridiculous Ohio Hubris, indirectly damning Ohio defensive coaching:
Looking at the depth charts of the Ohio State and Michigan defenses, I think there are only three Wolverines that would be starters on Ohio State's defense – Ryan, Demens and Jordan Kovacs. That's it.
Yet somehow Ohio State's defense is giving up a touchdown more per game, and nearly 120 yards more per game as well. Michigan's defense is just so completely fundamentally sound that they are able to neutralize their weaknesses in ways that most teams cannot.
A few bullets:
- Michigan is getting ready to dominate MSU Saturday.
- Nebraska and NW are the only remaining challenges.
- Funchess' grab should have counted for two passes.
- Gallon needs to get more touches, as has been noted all season.
- OL had its way with an IL DL having some talent.
- Washington was very active.
- Ryan is the only significant pass rusher.
- Demens & Morgan are doing well and holding off the freshmen.
- Mattison wrings every ounce of ability out of his players and schemes the rest.
- Not sure anyone can run on Michigan between the tackles.
A good read, as always, although as I said, I would like more thoughts from Gerdeman on implications for Michigan - Ohio.
This week's iteration of "Michigan Monday" went up yesterday at Ohio website "The Ozone." LINK: http://theozone.net/football/2012/Indiana/MichiganMonday.html
A few quotes and highlights:
Any time you can rush for over 300 yards like the Wolverines did (304), and you're not an undermanned triple-option team, it means that you are in complete control of a game.
Regarding Denard and the rest of the running game:
They were even in position to stop Robinson on his big plays, but he was just too good. What wasn't "just too good", however, was the rest of the running game. Fitzgerald Toussaint carried the ball 17 times for 19 yards, and Vincent Smith carried it three times for eight yards.
Thomas Rawls came in when the game was well over and looked very impressive, running for 33 yards on four carries, and leaving a wake of brutalized Boilermakers in his path. Whether his play would translate while the game is still in doubt is hard to say, but it's probably time to at least let him try.
Regarding Jake Ryan's play:
I know I say this every week, but strongside linebacker Jake Ryan is so good at his job. He does a few things in every game that stands out, and they are all in different spots on the field.
For instance, there's no reason that a guy who is strong and bullish enough to rush the passer with his hand on the ground should also be able to defend slot receivers, but he does it. Granted, it's for a short period of time, but he doesn't look out of place in the open field.
A few bullets summarizing content:
- The first drive was a microcosm of the game, ruthlessly driving down the field.
- Michigan completely controlled the game on both sides of the ball.
- It is incredible that 235 yards for Denard isn't remarkable, and not a career high.
- While the OL isn't opening huge holes, the lack of running yardage is partly on the running backs.
- Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon are doing a good job receiving, and both could get more looks and do well.
- The entire defense was impressive, and tackled well in space.
- Mattison has the defense well prepared to overachieve again this year.
- The front seven controlled the line of scrimmage, important because:
- The secondary is still suspect, with Taylor beaten badly on his interception.
Opponents will actually have to work hard to move the ball on this defense. The cute stuff that Purdue likes was useless . . . I want to see how this defense does against a team that is devoted to seeing how soft Michigan's middle is by running a power game. . . .To say that I'm excited to see how the Wolverines perform against Michigan State and Nebraska this month would be an understatement.
There isn't a whole lot of analysis. But then again, that's where Brian is too after UMass. "I Got Jingos." or, from Brian's piece this morning, "I don't have anything incisive to say about Saturday's events. . . I started poking around previous events like this to figure out what you're supposed to say when the predictable thing that doesn't mean anything happens."
Nonetheless, a few bullets:
- The UMass game means nothing, and is worthless for predicting the rest of the season.
- ND is the first real game (Bama too good, AFA too unorthdox, and UMass too weak.)
- Michigan is good enough to win the Legends Division. Which isn't saying much.
- The passing game isn't as bad as previously thought, with Gallon and the Devin's play really standing out and making this a legit part of the offense.
- Deep passing game and goal line play are areas of concern for Michigan.
- Defense doesn't show much promise yet.
- Only one sack is not good, esp. against UMass.
- Frank Clark is pretty good, but not great.
- Secondary is pretty scary (at least Ramon and Avery,) and will likely be exposed by the lack of a decent pass rush.
- Can the DL rush the passer, stop inside runs, and contain the passing game? This determines how Michigan's season will go.
There was one thing Gerdeman noted which was new to me: the QUADRUPLE option. This is the kind of play design I'm salivating about with Borges. When he has all the pieces he wants, the team will be awesome. (NOTE: if someone can embed clips of this play in the thread, that would be great.) I quote:
The most interesting development for me was seeing the invention of the quasi-quadruple option. Basically, the play starts like a jet sweep, Dennis Norfleet comes through the backfield as the ball is being snapped, and as he is running to the quarterback, the tailback in the shotgun then follows right behind Norfleet like a pair of runners crossing home plate at the same time.
Robinson can give the ball to either player, but the defense has to respect both of them. I don't think this is a read play yet, and I don't know that it ever will be, but the defense still has to assume either player is live.
Michigan ran this play three times. Norfleet and the tailback carried the ball the first two times. The third time it was treated as a play-action pass and Robinson threw out of it. The quadruple part comes in when you consider the fact that Robinson could also take off with the ball if he wanted to.