I thought he was going to enrol early?
Erik Magnuson had also mentioned it as well.
9/17/2011 – Michigan 31, Eastern Michigan 3 – 3-0
The first quarter is a stupid quarter. It eats American cheese still in the wrapper and sits down for reality TV marathons. I suggest that in the future all first quarters will be abolished in favor of other, better quarters, like the second, third, and fourth.
That is the future, though, when Michigan's depth on both lines isn't horrifying and the quarterbacks have returned to their baseline state—enormous, ponderous, NFLerous. Right now we have to endure first quarters and run Denard Robinson 26 times for 198 yards against Eastern Michigan because first quarters are stupid.
They leave us so spooked that Borges sends Denard out to add three carries to his total in a 28-3 game with ten minutes left, and in doing so explodes the idea that this offense is not Denard, Denard, Denard. Next Saturday the real lyrics to Varsity* will be
"Robinson… Robinson. Robinson, oh Robinson /
Robinson Robinson oh Robinson!"
The Saturday after that he will take all 110,000 tickets. By October he will have evolved an organic superstructure that slowly replaces the metal and concrete of Michigan Stadium with rainbow rows and gently whinnying unicorn hand-warmers.
Is this sustainable? Almost certainly not. Will an exhausted Denard evaporate mid-season as the demands on his existence become too much to even contemplate, let alone bear? Almost definitely.
Does Michigan have a choice? No.
We may be reading way too much into these two drives:
One of those started at the Michigan one and the other was a victim of Denard's early-season inability to throw. But they did not move the ball against Eastern. This blog's prediction that Michigan would manage to exceed Eastern's terrible YPC yielded from under center was nowhere close to true. Combined with a bunch of two-yard runs against Notre Dame the overall effect is to look at a run out of the I-form as a wasted down.
Michigan ditched any semblance of a pro-style offense at that point, whereupon the drives ended like so: TD, three and out, TD, TD, TD, 21-yard field goal. That is what life is supposed to look like against Eastern Michigan, and if we have to wear Denard Robinson into a beaming nub by God that's what we'll do.
Maybe those two drives are flukes. That would be odd since it seems pretty hard to go from five years of primarily zone blocking to primarily power, from an offense that is based on being faster and smarter than an opponent to one based on being bigger and stronger. Remember the theory that stated Michigan's linemen not adding any weight over the offseason was clever gamesmanship? Yeah, not so much: that's just how big they are. That's big for humans, but not beef machines.
Once you add the above into the two-yards-and-cloud-of-despair ND under center runs you've found a dataset nearing significance. It says Shotgun Forever, for the next two years.
Borges flipped his script immediately after, and that's great. Long term projections that these coordinators are the best in a long time remain on track. Getting Denard on a similar track is a lot more pressing, unfortunately.
I keep bringing this up in the UFRs but it's worth repeating: this is a regression. Why it's a regression is unknown, but the legions of people declaring Denard a "terrible" passer are reacting to the most recent data only. Before that he was not Chad Henne but he was not awful, either. I mean, sweet hotpants in a pickle bun, I have him for 15 good throws downfield, 2 meh ones, and 2 poor ones against Wisconsin(!) last year. These are throws past the LOS, not screens. Wisconsin! I take these numbers specifically to reduce the noise you get from drops and completion percentage and the numbers say he's not Chad Henne but when you put him in last year's offense he's not that far off.
So… last year's offense. Borges's next step is trying out the snag, all-hitch, and curl/flat routes that Denard had gotten comfortable with last year to see if his persistent inaccuracy is purely mechanical or an artifact of nerves that come with unfamiliarity with the offense. (Also, can we get bubble screen action up in here?)
If he's not the relentlessly accurate guy it seemed in the first half of last year, neither is he the guy who can't seem to complete anything this year. There is a ridiculously good offense lurking somewhere in Michigan's personnel. It's up to Borges to find it. Declaring the offensive line average and blaming Denard Robinson is faintly ridiculous. They managed to muddle through with those anchors last year.
Michigan wins games down the road by making Denard the focus and exploiting how opponents react to that.
If it doesn't work, okay. It's all you've got, for a given, incredibly sexy version of "all you've got."
*[Do not be fooled by the words on the video board. The only words in "Varsity" are "oh" and "Varsity." Try it.]
Edge issues. I'm not enormously concerned about the defense because most of the issues seemed to have one very obvious cause: freshman DE/SLB types losing the edge on jet sweeps. Jake Ryan in particular was exploited to the point where they threw Brennen Beyer on the field, who we've seen have major edge issues. I'd rather have one obvious coaching point to work on than a wholesale breakdown. Michigan seemed to adjust in-game and showed better edge contain before the day was over.
BONUS: Frank Clark had one of the day's most impressive plays on a late jet sweep where he set up in a good spot, baited the WR inside, popped outside his blocker, and forced the guy back into pursuit. Mental +2 there.
Changes. Thomas Gordon got an entire game as a deep safety and made a spectacular interception; in his stead the nickelback was Raymon Taylor. Taylor's main contribution was picking up a personal foul on EMU's long drive that got stuffed at the one; after that Michigan realized EMU was about as likely to throw as they were and took him off the field. The non Black/Roh DE spot was a jumble of Clark, Beyer, and Ryan.
Q: was the Gordon move a permanent thing or a reflection of EMU's non-spread offense? I'm hoping it's the former. I've been high on him since early last year and the coverage on his INT was another tick in a positive direction.
Annual exposure to Vincent Smith zealots. Man, I'm all like… yeah. No offense to Vincent Smith's quality day against the Eagles, but it's still Toussaint. There is a common theme in the long Smith runs against Eastern: the ability for grandma shotgunning a beer to run about that far.
He's a great guy to have on your team and he's going to be a major part of the offense because he's a B+ in many aspects and an A+ at blitz pickups, but Toussaint is faster, more agile, and has at least equal vision.
Meanwhile, Rawls looked exactly like Kevin Grady on two short runs. First impressions there are meh. This is surprising to people named Fred Jackson but not many others.
Redshirt status. A game against Eastern that manages to get a couple of garbage time drives in gives us some hints as to who's getting a redshirt and who isn't:
Pick a random day three weeks into any football season and you'll probably find me railing against inexplicably burned redshirts, but I don't have an issues with the guys above getting in the game. All the guys on defense save Countess could develop into starters as early as this year, and Rawls is another option at a tailback spot that needs them.
Recruiting numbers. It's three weeks into the season and we haven't seen Mike Cox even get his ceremonial long run against crappy competition. Terrance Robinson made a brief cameo at the end of the EMU game. Neither should be expecting fifth years at this point; if they don't receive them Michigan will be at the 26 number they've been projecting for a while. That's if they don't lose anyone between now and Signing Day, which is possible but unlikely. With four stars knocking down the door I can see this class getting to 28.
The main issue getting there won't be the scholarship limit but the cap on enrolled signees. That's 25, but you can dodge it by enrolling kids early. Michigan has just one EE committed right now. That's not something they can change since early enrollees acquire the status by taking a lot of summer school. I haven't heard that anyone Michigan is pursuing is planning on an early enrollment, so they might end up with a couple empty slots on Signing Day.
The early enrollee exception is OSU commit-type substance Bri'onte Dunn. The rumblings on him have oscillated between 100% OSU and 100% undecided, and of late it's pushed more towards the latter. He took a visit to Penn State last weekend and declared himself "confused," and after that Miami game it looks like he'll have a very brief window to get acquainted with whoever OSU's new coach is before he's on campus somewhere. Dunn is a touted player at a major position of need who Michigan would yank away from OSU; he would also allow them to take a 27th player. He's kind of important.
StephenRKass asks if defense and special teams are "becoming a positive." D is wait until later. Special teams do seem better but they aren't championship level yet. Kickoffs both ways are terrible, punt coverage has been weak, and I'd like to see the kickers hit an actual field goal instead of a glorified extra point before I stop panicking about them. Once Hagerup gets back the punting and Jeremy Gallon's sudden ability to field and return punts probably make it average.
Media: I should have been linking these all along, but Mike DeSimone's database is always key. Mikoyan shot from the sidelines. He's got pregame, in-game and postgame posts plus a bonus shot of an MGoBlue barn.
There is also a torrent of saner size up.
The Wolverines' special teams, at times, looked ugly in the 31-3 rout. Michigan's squib kick with 39 seconds left in the first half is a perfect example. The stratagem can work sometimes, but this was not one of them.
The call was especially egregious against a team such as the Eagles, who passed just six times the whole game. Could they have traversed a long field in such a short time?
But the squib gave the Eagles the ball at their own 47-yard line, and they needed just four plays — all runs — to get into position for a 50-yard field goal. That's just too easy.
Squibs are way over-used. Unless there are fewer than 20 seconds left in a half they're a bad idea, but coaches tend to prioritize risk aversion over expected value.
Meinke also suggests Vincent Smith is not the right guy for kick returns due to his lack of speed. I agree with that, too. If Shaw is third-string-ish on the tailback depth chart wouldn't this be a spot for him?
Blog stuff: BWS has his frown on:
After a 7/18, 95 yard (5.3 YPA) day against a MAC bottom dweller, it's difficult to see Denard Robinson as a sustainable option at quarterback in Borges' offense. It may sound reactionary, but after another game riddled with poor decisions (chucking the ball into double coverage) and spotty accuracy, and against competition that shouldn't be able to compete with Michigan's athletes, it's clear that Denard's struggles in the passing game last year, his uninspiring spring game, and his poor passing performances against Notre Dame and Western Michigan are no flukes. He locks onto receivers, struggles with his accuracy, and frequently makes near backbreaking decisions.
This is true so far and made up for by Denard's other talents. We are almost an old-school option offense that needs to stay in front of the chains. He's real mad about burning Rawls's redshirt, though. I'm all like whatever: Rawls may be needed this year since Hopkins is full of doghouse and the starters are fragile. And I'm betting that by the time Rawls would have been a fifth year senior there's someone better on the roster anyway.
Is it just me or does our offense look like the one that that one friend--the friend that everybody has--always runs against you in Madden/NCAA...you know the friend. He's usually the guy who says things like "watch these 4 verts bro" before throwing a bomb on first, second, and third down (he also goes for it on fourth down regardless of field position). Another hallmark of this friend's offensive strategy is a running game that involves picking a team with a fast quarterback and running outside every time that he doesn't throw deep (which is every pass).
UPDATE: So I wondered which 80s-era estrogen rock band was responsible for the title reference and googled it. The result: REO Speedwagon. REO Speedwagon's mindblowing video for the thing, which has almost as many ridiculous haircuts as profiles of me do and obviates the need to actually do LSD:
Good Lord. I'm just going to float off into the sky now.
I thought he was going to enrol early?
Erik Magnuson had also mentioned it as well.
Wilson is the only confirmed guy right now.
I read Magnuson wanted to EE, but than said he won't, considering the odds of him red-shirting, but with how our OL looks, with very little depth, it might do him good to EE.
Do you agree that if we had played the first half in the "spread" offense, that it would have been a 28 point much quicker? We would have all had a different feeling about this game if this were the case. Remember that this coaching staff is still learning what they have here, and that they have shown the flexibility to adapt to it. If they figure out the correct balance of "spread" and "pro" (which I believe that the pro set is an important part of our attack-especially in the red zone), this offense can indeed become ridiculously dangerous.
"this offense can indeed become ridiculously dangerous".
I believe for that to happen, the correct balance would need to be 100% Spread and 0% Pro Set.
You must not have been paying attention during our highest scoring game of the year, against Notre Dame. I believe 4 out of the 5 touchdowns were scored from the I-formation.
It did work with great success against ND.
Considering the quality of most CFB defensive backs, the jump-ball based offense is actually a surprisingly good option.
I advocate for offenses that work.
the offense that worked was not the I-formation. Based on your metric, 3 of 4 TDs were scored from the spread formation (and the fourth was a jump-the-pile on 3rd and goal from the one).
All I'm saying is that the whole "100% spread, 0% pro set" suggestion is silly. I'm not advocating for us to go to the I-formation permanently. The mix of the two has been working well. In the last two games, Michigan has scored 9 touchdowns - 5 from under center, and 4 from the shotgun. So...why go to 100% spread?
I find your points interesting at minimum even if I disagree, but your statement is both factually incorrect and snarky. You are well aware that plays under center in that game averaged far fewer yards than spread plays. The jump balls that worked were mostly heaves with no plan, not clever throw behinds the receiver so only he can get it.
Especially since Magnus has been telling us all how inaccurate Denard is, I'd think he would know best those jump balls weren't back shoulder throws or anything resembling a touch pass. It was a chucked ball with hopes our receiver caught it.
you think it has proven completely ineffective early in games? It seems to me that Borges is in an argument with himself. The commentators made a lot of Borges saying that Denard is intoxicating as an offensive coordinator. While much was made of the transition to Man Ball, it does not seem that Borges is going all in with at any point for any duration. Brian's commentary on the EMU game raises the issue of bubble screens. Why are we not bubbling these fools to death. We are having difficulty running the ball from the I, Denard is struggling with accuracy and confidence with his throws. The bubble is like an extended hand-off where there will be room to run and is also a confidence building completion. It is like three birds with one stone. How about some sweeps, an end around, a diamond formation here and there. Those are not complicated plays, those are getting your feet wet plays, and Borges is employing none of them. He is then quick to go shotgun spread Denard Run Fast for the rest of the game after really making a concerted effort to make the offense functional in any other way.
I am not complaining, a win is a win, but I want to see functional progress and I don't really think I am seeing it on offense.
Because maybe Michigan was playing against Eastern? A team that has won four games in Ron English's tenure? Let's maybe not throw in some wrinkles that Borges is saving for the conference slate right now.
Also, Borges never said he was going to go all in to "Manball." That was an invention of this blog.
a real wrinkle, twin brother to the double reverse pass, It is like the most common first and ten play from a pro-set that you can run.
And if the coach's primary concern is to limit Denard's exposure, why would he be running him 26 times vs. Eastern Michigan. If Eastern Michigan was so lowly, why were using our best and most fragile asset on every play. That is the wrinkle we want to save, not a bubble screen.
So why run it when we eventually got other things going? Remember what Hoke said about Eastern coming out and running Jet Sweeps throwing the defense off? Because Eastern hadn't run that play before, throwing the defense off what they had prepared for. I imagine we'll do the same thing in one of these games that looks to be a bigger fight than Eastern.
You must not have been paying attention during our highest scoring game of the year, against Notre Dame.
Ridiculously small sample sizes ftw!
We've played 2.75 games. At this point the whole sample is pretty tiny.
is that you can play 500 from any formation. We're just lucky that Gary Gray's mom didn't let him out of the house much as a kid.
Hopefully the coaches were simply giving the under center stuff one last shot to see if it wasmaking any progress. Since they hopefully realized that it won't work even against EMU, maybe they'll read the writing on the wall and entirely abandon it for the rest of the year.
I believe that Magnuson has previously stated that he was definitely not going to enroll early due in part that he knows that he's going to redshirt.
Just posted this above, sorry.
With the numbers and depth, he might not red-shirt if he does enrol early. I am searching for the info now, cause I thought Allen Gant's name was mentioned as possible EE too.
I'll take the W, but it was hard to watch early. Offense was stale and I'm not sure what's going on with Denard.
Granted, he calmed down and played well in the second half but the concern about his slow starts and accuracy looms.
We need to jump out to an early lead this week.
You'd think they'd let the kids get a few snaps and finish out the game at that point. I mean it seems reasonable that you would want your backup to have some sort of game experience in the likely event that we actually need him for an important snap or longer during the big ten campaign. Its not like we have an experienced Tate who can hop into a tight game and negotiate the situation with experience. Am I totally missing something about Devin? Is he not coming along or are the coaches just that concerned with getting 16 going?
I found that somewhat disappointing as well. We are going to need him this year at some point, and I thought the coaches would have put him in the game earlier.
I think the BTN announcer brought up a good point that this offense has not had that many snaps (the shortenend WMU game and the lack of long drives against ND). So maybe they wanted to get Denard some additional reps but I still think Devin should have gotten at least one real drive.
sooner or later you are going to need your back up QB. It would be nice if he had a little game experience under his belt when that occures. Am I the only one not buying Hoke's explanation about not being comfortable with the lead? If that is true, what kind of a message does that send to your back up QB? (Sorry, Devin, but I don't think that you are good enough to hold a 25 point lead against EMU for the final 10 minutes.
This is exactly my concern, as soon as they got 28 I kept waiting for them to put Dev in, and I believe we had two more offensive drives before Devin came in and what...handed off twice and ran once? I was really hoping to see his arm out there/watch him manage a drive. Im not buying this whole blowing a 25 point lead to Eastern thing.
Hoke was asked about that in a press conference and he stated that he wasn't comfortable with the score at 28-3 to put his backups in yet. This sounds odd if not a flat out lie. I'm not sure what his hesitancy was in putting in Gardner. What made the decision even more grievous is that Denard ran the ball inside several times on that drive.
The only two possible answers to no Gardner is the offense started deep in their own territory or Denard needs more repetitions. Because we called a game in the third quarter two weeks ago where we were only up 24. Since we were up 25 on a weaker opponent in the 4th quarter, the whole not comfortable line is total BS.
I'm pretty sure that I saw #35 Greg Brown on a late kickoff.
According to the participation reports Gregg Brown has been playing on ST.
This was discussed in the play-calling thread but deserves mention here based upon Brian's discussion here of Denard and his regression. A parade of posters state that Denard is always inaccurate and always has been inaccurate and always will be inaccurate-- and that is why we must trust in I-Form and make this happen so that we have other options. Buried within that grain of truth is a far larger truth that should in fact have the coaches reach the opposite conclusion--that the I-form is a waste of time with Denard Robinson as our quarterback. Denard is not hopelessly inaccurate-- IF given a passing design that maximizes his limited passing strengths and minimizes his weaknesses. Bubbles, slants, snags, one read-throw, out of shotgun work with him, backing up while focusing on footwork, going through progressions and throwing precise outs from under center do not.
I think that parade of posters worry about his accuracy because, as we have seen, we need some deeper routes to back big 10 defenses off of the line of scrimmage. If we aren't able to do this than we will struggle against the better defenses we face because there will be 8-9 in the box all the time.
As bad as his accuracy has been at times, he has also put a few perfect passes in to receivers over the last two years. I am in the camp that thinks Denard will never live off his accuracy but that he can really improve. If he gets better with his footwork, I think he can become an above average QB from an accuracy standpoint.
I think the much much bigger problem and the one that takes longer to fix is his reading of coverages and timing. He is not finding open receivers. If he just could survey the field better, he wouldn't need to be super accurate because he would find wide open people to throw to. He is throwing too many interceptions because he chooses to lock in on a guy and throw it when he should check down. That is his biggest problem imhe.
why not help him by running plays that allow him to have only 1 or two easy reads? This is what RR did and Denard put up decent numbers passing. To me, all you need to look at is the Dileo (whats the dillio?) touchdown. Denard takes one step forward, makes a quick read, and either fires the ball to a wide open receiver or runs. IMO this is where he is best - quick reads with the option to run. How many big gains did UM have last year on these plays? I seem to remember quite a few (passes to Roy v. ND & Ill.; bomb to Stonum agaisnt Miami; pass to Jr. against IU to name a few) - i realize these are option plays....BUT THEY WORK. Obviously you can't do this on every pass play and I understand that you want to implement parts of Borges offense but these seem like the pass plays that Denard is most effective at - simple reads, short throws, and lots and lots of YAC. Denard will never be Drew Brees throwing the deep ball so to ask him to do it over and over again isn't productive (no matter how many jump balls Jr. snags). Take ur shots downfield to keep the defense honest but use what has worked in the past with basically the same personnel - make Denard's life easier. Seems like you could even do this out of the I - run a QB Power but then step back make a quick read and fire...or run. Either way the passing game needs to be more effecient. Why not use something Denard has proven he can do well?
There are several observations I have come to from watching Denard throw the ball. First there are throws that he is comfortable with and throws that he just struggles with. Denard is what he is, and thats someone who is more comfortable with his feet moving that trying to set them in a pocket. He seems more accurate on the run than in the pocket and is better throwing to the sidelines than to the middle of the field. If Borgess is the genius some think he is, it seems like he has to play to those strengths.Rolling him out whether from under center or shotgun would be a plus. Also more throws toward the sidelines would be a plus and could eliminate some turnovers as bad throws probably just land out of bounds or in the hands of tacopants. We can have an even mix of runs and passes from Denard with success, its just that those passes have to be the ones he is comfortable with.
Also, why did Borgess wait until the EMU game to break out the QB draw/step back and hit the wide open guy running down the middle of the field throw. I sat watching the ND game thinking how that pass would have been wide open to help a struggling Denard in the first half. Was it a play that wasn't ready yet? I would think not, since the offense was alread familiar with it. If that is the case and you don't run it against ND why not wait until you get into the Big Ten schedule to run that play, so that the teams think you have forgotten about it?
Terrence Robinson has also played as a gunner on punts and he was the one who grabbed the fumbled kickoff last week against Notre Dame. Not that he's a major contributor, but it looks like he's playing a fair amount on specials.
That's not enough of a reason to keep him on scholarship though. Raymon Taylor or Greg Brown or Tamani Carter could play that role next year in his place.
pretty disappointed Terrance robinson never developed into much. I know rankings coming out of hs don't mean much, but he was ranked higher than lamichael james. Yet he has caught 1 or 2 passes since he has been at michigan.
I'm not saying he should remain on scholarship. I'm just saying that he's made more than the cameo appearance Brian mentioned.
How has Smith NOT earned the right to start? He was the only RB to show any sign of life vs ND, and was more impressive in the EMU game (13.1 YPC) than Fitz was (4.2 YPC).
He's also shown that he's not an elite runner. The data sample size on Smith is a lot bigger than EMU. Toussaint actually did look pretty good given what he got against EMU. It's those two and then everyone else, IMO. Which is fine.
Shaw and Hopkins look like backups.
Agree that Shaw should return kicks. I've been arguing this for what feels like years.
What sample? The rich rod offense? That doesn't matter now. Jeremy Gallon was a nothing in the Rich Rod offense and look at him now. Thru 3 games, Smith looks like the better back to me. But I'll give Fitz a chance to show more too.
All of the plays are similar, as is much of the production. Even Rodriguez ran I-form on occassion (see the Iowa game).
Both coaching staffs have come to pretty similar conclusions RE: personnel.
Implying the past doesn't matter is silly. Borges clearly is looking at what RR did and repeating a lot of it.
Gallon (like Toussaint) was a RS freshman, but he always had talent. The top 2 WR are the same guys, Gallon just beat out Odoms. Not exactly a revolution.
Jeremy Gallon was a true freshman and a redshirt freshman in RichRod's offense. I highly doubt it was RichRod's offense vs Hoke's offense that gave Gallon a chance to break out. But yeah, I guess it is a good idea to judge a player on his performance in a year he doesn't play and then his redshirt freshman year. Sometimes I wonder if people understand football.
He also had some huge gains through gaping holes, something that Shaw and Toussaint didn't have the opportunity to do.