...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
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.
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.