Can someone please explain to me how RR adapted this offense to his players? I'm not being sarcastic here, just an average football fan looking for an honest answer. All spring and summer I heard RR say how he was going to tailor his offense to fit his players, but I didn't see it. IMO, no play should call for Threet or Sheridan to run up field. Am I wrong?
Adapting to your players
There was a lot less downfield running from Sheridan and Threet. I believe Threet ran the Zone Read Keeper once. You have to do this on occasion just to keep the defense honest. I was fine with the one keeper despite it going nowhere. The rest of Threet's roll outs and "runs" appeared to be pressure in the pocket. His first run for 6 yards was him seeing no one open, so he properly tucked it and ran. Most others he at least attempted to roll out and dump off the pass. It was very "freshman henne-esque."
As far as Sheridan, he was supposed to be the slightly more mobile guy. He tried to keep it a bit more often, but our outside run blocking != good early in the game. Rodriguez was quoted as trying to keep the offense very basic for the first game so the players could grasp it in gametime mode. Once we establish a starting QB/RB/WRs, I think we'll see more specific tailoring to players skill sets. Right now they are trying to put together a package that can be played by any of the pieces.
One thing I have not seen mentioned is the downfield/flat blocking by the WR/slot guys. This needs to be better to spring these little electron guys. Martevious spent some time on his ass and McGuff had more than his share of whiffs (that televised HS game does not look like an anomaly in terms of his blocking skills). If run blocking is going to remain poor, and the long ball option (with one exception) is not there, this will have to be a bread and butter play. Someone needs to be able to tie up a defender on the bubble screen.
I have not watched the game a second time, but this seemed to stand out to me.
I saw 1-2 good blocks put down by McGuffie, but I want to say you were right that there were a fair share of whiffs. One that stuck out in my head was him having to take on 2 guys at once. The RT on that play went in allowing two guys to rush. I thought McGuffie did a fairly decent job blocking the inside guy (at least showing he's smarter than Shawn Crable). The downfield blocks were horrendous. That's what we get with Carson Butler as our only guy with a size advantage downfield though. His blocking hasn't appeared to improve too much.
Exactly how do you adjust your scheme to your players when your offensive line is all new and mostly mediocre and your Qbs can't throw? Exactly what are you expecting? The 1969 Bo offense? Should RR just punt every play?
If the QBs throw more accurately, they win. If the line can open any holes, they probably win. Neither happened, so they lost. It's going to be tough sledding until either or both happens. I think too many people have too lofty expectations on what RR can do with what he has. We've never seen a Michigan team with so many new starters on one side of the ball.
Less zone read keepers. I don't think it keeps the defense honest when you have a QB who can't run. I mean even if Sheridan or Threet keep it they're not gonna get very far. From what I saw Saturday and at the spring game it seems to me that Threet has a significantly better arm than Sheridan (at least on game day). Sheridan is supposedly more mobile, but he still isn't a mobile QB, yet he gets the start. But Callahan is right in that it doesn't really matter what you do if your line is struggling.
Well, here's a simple answer: Pat White never threw more than 25 passes in a game last year, despite being a veteran QB. We took two totally new QBs and attempted 38 passes yesterday (over 40, if you count the pass interferences) despite possessing the ball for way less time than Utah did. I'd say that's quite a big adaptation.
The zone read can be a pass and not just an option run. You can run a waggle out of it, and use it like a play action pass. Depends on how the QB reads the playside DE and defense pre-snap. The problems seemed to be execution which is entirely expected due to the nature of the offense's inexperience and youth. The sky is not falling, the players will get better. I seem to remember Coach Rod giving words of caution all spring and fall.
Good point. Sounds like that play can still work with the type of players (QBs) UM has if the line holds up and the QB can find a receiver, whereas a Pat White type might look for a gap or try to turn the corner, or at least have the ability to do so.