I'm still not too worried. So far we've faced the best OL in the country who just manhandled us, and then an OL that attacked your ankles. The rest of the year we won't face anything like these two teams and I think our performance will pick way up. It won't be pretty, but I like our DL against the OL in the Big 10, which look strikingly mediocre.
Air Force Recap: Remnants Of RichRod
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In a game that felt like something out of the Rodriguez era, Michigan showed that while there's great promise for the future, the flaws exposed by Alabama are very real.
The Wolverines edged Air Force, 31-25, and the outcome wasn't decided until Jake Ryan batted down Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz's fourth-down throw with 1:28 remaining. Denard Robinson accounted for all but seven yards of the team's total offense. The defense ceded 417 total yards—290 on the ground—and failed to keep contain all afternoon.
It wasn't all bad, however. Robinson was masterful, completing 14-of-25 passes for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception—one that deflected off the hands of Vincent Smith—while rushing for 218 yards and another pair of touchdowns on 20 carries. True freshman Devin Funchess emerged as a viable threat at tight end, becoming the first Michigan TE to eclipse 100 receiving yards in a game since Jerame Tuman. Devin Gardner looked like a wide receiver, hauling in five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown while running crisper routes.
The offense lived and died with Denard, as Fitzgerald Toussaint found little room to run—seven yards on eight carries, to be exact. The offensive line failed to get a push against Air Force's undersized D-line, doing little to ease concerns from last week's debacle. By the second half, Al Borges had essentially given up on generating yards the traditional way, and he was justified in doing so.
Defensively, Michigan looked ill-equipped to stop the Falcon triple-option attack. The defensive line spent much of the day on their stomachs, unable to evade chop blocks or get any sort of push. Kenny Demens looked positively Ezeh-esque, letting blockers get into him again and again before being pulled in favor of true freshman Joe Bolden. Jake Ryan was all over the field, recording a career-high 12 tackles, but sometimes "all over" can be a bad thing—keeping contain was an issue. The final Air Force touchdown came when Desmond Morgan overpursued. The defensive backs struggled against the run as well, failing to shed blocks and come up to take the pitch.
When the defense needed a big play, odds are it came from an underclassman. Ryan continually redeemed his poorer efforts with critical stops, including two pass breakups on the final Air Force drive. Bolden replaced Demens and displayed the aggressive, instinctual play that made him a high school All-American. Fellow freshman linebacker James Ross spelled Morgan late and acquitted himself well after struggling in his debut against Alabama. Several other freshmen made appearances during the game's biggest moments, including Ondre Pipkins and Mario Ojemudia.
Last season's 11-2 record belied the myriad issues Brady Hoke faced upon taking over in Ann Arbor. After two games in 2012, those issues are at the forefront for the Wolverines. The lack of depth on the offensive line means Michigan must move ahead with the current unit—despite its ineffectiveness in the run game—unless they want to insert a true freshman. The defensive tackles will be a sore spot all year; the players expected to relieve that problem are freshmen or not even on campus yet. The offense still leans heavily on Denard, whose style doesn't always mesh well with the offensive philosophy of Borges.
The Wolverines came away with a victory, a fact that cannot be overlooked, especially against a team with a difficult style to prepare for in a week's time. Denard will still make magic with his feet—his touchdown runs were both exhilarating—and perhaps his arm as well—he looks much-improved from last year even if the numbers don't necessarily bear that out. The future looks bright, too, thanks to the major contributions from a number of young players already gaining crucial experience.
The overwhelming feeling in the aftermath, however, is that this team is still two years away from competing on a national level, the only level of success that matters at Michigan. Today's game had Rich Rodriguez's fingerprints all over it; as we know, that's a smudge that isn't easily wiped away.
I've got a positive. A pass rush. Didn't we record 3 sacks against Bama? And whenever AF went to straight up pass blocking, we owned them.
I've got a positive - the Big Ten BLOWS.
Iowa ... Derp!
Wispy ... Derp!
PSU ... Derp!
I know two of those teams are not on our schedule, but our conference is looking underwhelming.
And we only play one of those teams! Hooray!
a weak UCLA so overall the Big Ten sux. Purdue and ND played hot potato and neither team is any good. We will run the table until ohio. That will be close.
They were definitely weak under Neuheisal (sp?) but at least 2 games into this year they look like a much better team under Mora.
Will not be sen as weak, once we look back on this year. They aren't USC, but they have decent talent, and now they have a coach.
Nebraska ... Derp!
But hey, NW beats Vandy, so there's that.
The most important games. Great. I had visions of Bell today. I am banking on these guys getting really, really coached up before that.
Alabama gashes everybody and air force does too. I'm not saying our d line is going to be stellar but we still have to wait and see. The D line isn't even fully to blame today as a lot of the yardage on runs came on the edge today, a common problem throughout last season.
I don't think it's the D-line's fault, our whole defense (including the secondary) looks soft against the run. Use this hypothetical: what would Alabama's defense look like against Air Force's option run attack?
Georgia Southern's triple option gashed them for 300 yards on the ground last year.
It is One-Denardinal, but Denard was showing at least two dimensions to his game. Yes his feet out paced his arm, but both were substancial.
What worries me more than the DL is the OL. The reason people say, "you must be disciplined against the triple option" is because only one mistake out of 11 can look really bad. 10-20 yards bad. One the failed option runs, it was not the DL, but the LB's and Safeties getting blocked far too often. I think UFR and Coaches comments are needed to fully explore the defensive deficiencies.
But that offensive line performance was pathetic. Michigan had the size advantage, but barely held on with pass blocking, and run blocking was pathetic. Running the slow start Denard Iso was the only successful play, and my first viewing seemed to show the use of two additional blockers just to get that success, some combination of H-Back and Runnign Back just to punch Denard into the second level. And still he only broke two runs! My once view memory remembers at least two times Denard was stuffed for less than three, and then there was the lump of adequate 5-10 yard reliable gains. Gains that no other running back demonstrated. Offensive Line was horrible against an inferior opponent!
I of course have no quantifications, mostly because I haven't watched anything but two games, but considering Alabama didn't have to sell out to the run to the same degree as Air Force, I think I understand why Borges called pass first on Alabama instead of just pound Denard into the Alabama DL.
I mean, cripes!
Denard: 426 total yards (218 rushing, 208 passing)
Michigan (team): 422 total yards
That is insane
because the kneels in the victory formation count as "team rushes", so they count against the total yardage figure but not Denard's rushing stats. Denard/the team took three knees for -11 yards. And then Toussaint had 8 rushes for 7 yards. So that accounts for the bizarre 101% figure. Still, it shows how much we rely on him for offensive production.
So now I feel better?
Not just if he goes out for a period of time ... having a One-Denardinal offense makes planning a defense a whole lot easier. Ask some of our late-season 2010 opponents.
They'd probably tell you they were much bigger fans of our 110th ranked defense that had 1 senior and 8-9 freshmen and sophomores in the secondary two deep.
That is very troubling. It is also troubling that Al was not willing to give anyone else any trys....
The problems with the d-line has lasted for two weeks against to vastly different fronts. Alabama is some what understandable but AirForce??? The simple fact is that we get absolutly no push. That is a a very destressing problem.
The one positive factor is that our freshman tightend stepped up and played some ball! It is also exciting to see Garder get some touches!
We will only get better or worse... Cannot stay the same.
Wasn't this blog trying to elect Greg Mattison as Jesus2 like seven days ago?
I doubt Alabama planned for WKU as much as they did Michigan and I'm willing to bet that they called the dogs off much sooner as well. They weren't playing WKU in prime time and trying to make as big of a statement as possible to the voters.
The biggest problem with the defense is up front. And seeing as 3 of 4 starters were replaced since last year, I would consider them to be lacking in experience, not talent. Also, you must not know much about our coaching staff to even suggest that the the defensive linemen are being poorly coached.
MSU is a big fan of chop blocking...I'm sure their coaches are going to come up with an entire game plan specifically tailored around chop blocks now.
You mean cut blocks. Chop blocks are illegal.
These guys' lines look mediocre? Bell is becoming a heisman candidate, Martinez had time to throw for a million Tds last week and Ohio is Ohio. Not sure we should be measuring ourselves against the second tier of the league.
I'm just glad that game is over. The defense had no idea how to handle that option attack. The plays that they did stop seemed to be more about poor offensive execution than defense playmaking.
Two of the early drives, maybe even the first two (?) were only stopped because they had penalties they couldn't get past in three downs (1st and 15's), otherwise they probably would've been touchdowns. It's possible to say they very well may have won if it weren't for those penalties.
because will did nothing.
You mean beside garner two defensive holding calls?
"becoming the first Michigan TE to eclipse 100 receiving yards in a game since Jerame Tuman."
This stat blew my mind.
That sentence made me really happy. We can has pass catching tight end threat! Funchess looked great and the freshman LB's show promise and since they've already burned their redshirts what the hell lets get them more game reps. Will only help us down the line and next year.
With the struggles on the offensive line I wonder if we will see Kalis sooner than later, Hoke has said the best players are going to play and the current starters need to step up. It was an ugly win but it's a win and two or three years ago we lose this game.
Funchess reminded me of Calvin Johnson. I'm really excited to see him develop for four years.
Woooooo now, pump the brakes a bit. Funchess looked great, but any Calvin analogy is far over the top.
Fred Jackson had the same assessment. Except Funchess is faster and has better hands than Johnson.
Bennie Joppru, Tyler Ecker and Kevin Koger weren't chopped liver. TEs don't normally record 100-yard games. That's not the benchmark of excellence for the position.
Koger and Ecker (and Shawn Thompson and Massaquoi) were indeed "not chopped liver." Joppru was more like sirloin steak, though. 2nd round pick/2nd TE selected overall in '03 draft. Unfortunately, injuries prevented him from ever making an impact for the Texans.
He's only a freshman!! That is great news for the offense this year! Its also nice to see that he can catch passes that are not on target!
You're such an alcoholic. Go get help.
So... postgame drinks, then?
This team can compete for the big ten championship, this is the only goal for the year. We are building for the future and I'm encouraged that we can do so and stay in the B1G race while getting the future of the program invaluable experience.
The cut blocking was very effective. On the TD where Ryan had to choose between QB and RB, Kovacs was his outside contain and got cut down in the middle of the endzone. Thus forcing Ryan into a 1 on 1 situation that he had a 50/50 chance to win.
Kovacs also got cut by a guy that was illegally in motion a half second before the snap, allowing him a real jump on an angle to block Kovacs. I couldn't believe the refs missed that call. It looked like the CFL.
If this was still Rich Rod we would've lost by something like 55-28