Not only can Denard Robinson redefine All-America teams, average nearly 500 yards per game against Notre Dame, and pilot the most insane fourth quarter Michigan Stadium has ever seen, but he can sum up what happened on Saturday in a single word:
If you still need evidence that Denard can do things other people can't, there you go. Because I've got nothing. I can gape, slack-jawed and twitching, if you'd like. Oh, and I can put my finger between my lips and go "brrrrrrrrrbbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrrbb" with crazy googly eyes. Also I can spin in a circle going "yip yip yip yip yip."
These are my capabilities. All other functions are currently offline. Attempt to access higher cognition and you will receive 503 Gateway Not Found.
That's fine. There's nothing to say that "brrrrrrbrbrbrbrbrrbrbrb" doesn't cover anyway. I am so high, you guys. I don't even know what I'm saying.
Seriously. I'm really struggling here to put words in the computer. I guess… okay.
The thing I really really hated about the first three quarters (other than everything) was the way the offense made Denard mortal. This extended beyond the usual reasons 90 yards of offense in a half make you homicidal. Not only were we lost and hopeless in our first serious game after returning nine starters from one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but the guy who didn't transfer when his offense got fired out from under him was busy playing out everyone's worst-case scenarios.
I don't think I can take football games in which I'd rather have Alex Carder than Denard Robinson. A return of freshman Denard looking like a sad panda is too depressing for a multitude of reasons but mostly because just look at him:
Shoehorning him into an offense that doesn't fit him is a crime against man and panda and manpanda. He had to be dying in the first half as he flung balls to Tacopants and ran waggles the entire stadium could predict. People twittered me about moving him to RB so Gardner can get on the field. I couldn't block them from my phone. The tweets sat there, whispering evil things into my ear.
As I projected Denard's state of mind my own got inky black. The road ahead seemed like another two years of painful rebuilding towards a goal Denard will never see, his career relegated to that of Brandon Graham when Desmond Howard seemed in reach. It's going to kill me if Denard ends up a really good player on a mediocre team for the duration of his career and Michigan doesn't end up making anyone who wants 16 in the future wear a patch with dreads on it. It's going to be worse if he's not even a really good player. Someone is at fault for this travesty.
I was running advanced equations of blame assignment amongst Bill Martin, Rich Rodriguez, Al Borges, Dave Brandon, and bloody fate when Denard rolled out. Corralled by a Notre Dame defender, he stood perfectly still but still delivered a game-changing dart to Junior Hemingway before two more ND players could close in.
From there the delirium took over.
That game was delirious because of the many improbable events stacked on each other. Jeremy Gallon jump-ball touchdowns. Tommy Rees's aiming device locked on Michael Floyd. Tommy Rees throwing a ball backwards for no reason. More jump balls to Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon turning invisible with 23 seconds left. All the reasons it left you with your finger between your teeth are reasons to wonder about the smoothness of this transition (not very), the repeatability of such miracles (even less).
This isn't to blame anyone—it seems that coaches are who they are and as much as I want to, you can't hire a guy based on the two years left you've got with Denard. But I hope I'm not the only one who felt a sense of foreboding in the midst of the joy and relief. We've seen this script the last two years, and never has it been as rickety.
Michigan has to fix some stuff—lots of stuff—by the Big Ten season. The stakes are only Denard's career, everyone's faith in the Ethical Les Miles theory of Hoke's success, and the very survival of pandas in the wild. I'll take the escape. I wonder what happens when the drugs wear off and real life reasserts itself.
For now, though:
The game is ova!
Non-Bullets Of WHAT?
Pantheon placement. I think this is below Braylonfest—but only just—in the competition for Best Comeback Ever (that people 32 or under remember). For Michigan to pull Braylonfest out they had to recover an onside kick and survive not just triple overtime by an oft-forgotten 50-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation that was set up by a horrible pass interference call.
A good proxy for the level of kickass in your comeback is how many people left the stadium early. While there were some people who took off when ND made it 24-7, they don't compare to the legions who left early during that MSU game. And winning that eventually got Michigan a Rose Bowl appearance. The season-long significance of this ND game is going to be lower.
It easily beats out the Buffalo Stampede game, since it's not against Minnesota or in the Metrodome, and then it's a long way to fourth place.
As far as best game ever… it depends on what you're rating it on. I like my defining victories to be well-played and not hinge on the opposing quarterback throwing the ball backwards for no reason. In terms of pure drama it's up there but with both teams unranked and not looking likely to defy that I'd say most Ohio State games before we stopped being competitive had more salt to them. We lost all the ones that came down to the last play, though.
The entire Denard interview. If you missed this, you should fix that:
Commence the bitching about the offense. Watching Michigan run a play-action bomb from the I-formation after averaging exactly two yards per carry out of the I on previous attempts was exactly what I was beating into the ground over the offseason. No one is scared of Michigan's crappy backs running power out of the I-form so no one has to cheat to it. Thus instead of Worst Waldo plays featuring Roy Roundtree and twenty yards of grass we got a lot of hopeful downfield jump balls into excellent coverage.
Michigan was lucky as hell to get most of those. That was a Jeff Bowden special right there. I'm not alone in this. There has to be some adaptation now that we know the relative success rates of manball and Denardball. When Denard's averaging 7.5 YPC (sack excluded) and the rest of the backs under are 2, power is a lost cause.
Denard has to be the focal point of the offense, fragile or no. And the new offense seemed to remove Denard's legs as the primary threat without actually reducing his carries: he had 15 carries* in just 50 snaps. Project that to last year's 72 offensive snaps per game and Denard would have carried 22(!) times. What's the point of throwing away snaps on two-yard runs from the I?
Primary thing that may just work. "Chuck it up to Hemingway" may be the world's most primitive passing game but dang if it doesn't work. Hemingway not only has great leaping ability, he's enormous and therefore capable of boxing out opponents. Add in an uncanny knack for being able to high-point the ball and he's a hell of a lot like Marquise Walker before Walker got the dropsies as a senior.
Primary thing that did work from under center. Vincent Smith's throwback screen touchdown was a great call since it used Denard's legs. He rolls, defense freaks, he throws back, Smith should have an easy touchdown if any of the offensive linemen block that one linebacker, Smith makes it happen anyway. Contrast with the earlier screen where a short Denard has to float a ball over a guy leaping in his face and ends up throwing it eight yards too far and getting it picked off.
1) He caught ESPN's camera's capturing his facepalm moment and gave them an oh-no-you-di'in't:
2) After the game he… well, he did this:
Can a brother get a Facepalm Guy touchdown Jesus photoshop?
(HT to MGoUser Haterade.)
Defensive events. Brandon Herron and Mike Jones were supposedly out with injury but if I had to guess they were not so badly hurt they couldn't play and Michigan was trying out their other options at WLB. Desmond Morgan started, played poorly—he got trucked like he was in a BTN practice highlight-type substance—and was yanked. Then Brandin Hawthorne came in and may have been plausible. He knifed into the backfield for one key TFL on third and short. I'm guessing he was at least partially responsible for a number of Cierre Wood runs that went for big yardage, but we'll see. WLB remains a sore spot.
The other sore spot is an alarming, unexpected one: WDE. Craig Roh had zero tackles for the second straight week and while he did get a QB hurry or two he seems less impactful from that spot than he did last year. I mean, last year he split two ND linemen and picked up a huge TFL en route to a +11 day. This year he'll be lucky to break even. Hopefully he's still sick. I wonder if we see more Black in the short term.
How did Jordan Kovacs only have eight tackles?
BONUS: Will Campbell got held! By an offensive lineman!
Special teams. Matt Wile has been at least average spelling Hagerup, and with only one more real-ish game left before the latter returns it looks like Michigan will escape that suspension without much real damage. I still hate the regular punt. If ND's John Goodman hadn't made inexplicable fair catches he had tons of room on two of Wile's five punts despite Wile's excellent hangtime.
Should we un-retire numbers? I could get behind a 98 if it meant someone was going to be sitting in front of a locker that said Tom Harmon. You'd have to ask whoever the nearest relative is.
Further locker room additions. Everyone who's been an All-American should have their name engraved in a fashion more understated than this legends designation…
...but still be there. Having Chappius and Oosterbaan and Friedman and McKenzie and Dierdorf and Long's names up in the locker room would be a nice way to recognize All-Americans past.
Next up. AC and Woodson. If they don't put the retired numbers back in circulation. Jake Long would probably be next up way down the road.
The patch is too big. That's just, like, my opinion, man.
So there's this. Exploit your children for fun and profit:
Profit not applicable.
Pom-poms and RAWK and crowd noise. Is it just me or was the stadium not actually very loud when it would help out the most? The pom-poms encouraged people to use their hands shaking pom-poms instead of making noise and while the piped-in music was indeed loud, when it cut out the people in the stadium making noise were largely going "OH oh oh oh oh, OH oh oh oh oh" instead of "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA." The latter is louder.
Putting aside the insults to the Great Tradition they represent, is the noise level created by the frippery mostly cosmetic? It has seemed much louder in Michigan Stadium—I was frustrated as I was screaming myself hoarse on the last drive while people around me shook their little plastic thingies. Plastic thingy shaking is not that intimidating, people.
And then there's the guy two rows in front of you who's shaking the thing constantly so you can't see the game. In the South they have a protocol about these things: raise that thing above your shoulder during a play and you're not getting that arm back. Here we get them every five years or so and there's always someone who thinks row 14 is the last one.
[Robinson's] total of 446 yards and 5 touchdowns was excellent, but how he got there was strange. Through three quarters of football, he was 4-for-14 passing (if that accuracy rate sounds familiarly horrible, that's because it's the same as Michigan's kickers circa 2010) for 136 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. In the fourth stanza, Robinson went 8-for-11 for 217 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, plus a recovered Stephen Hopkins fumble that he turned into a touchdown.
That graph is intended as a baseline estimator for a team's real-time win probability and is independent of situation, but the site also offers a crude win probability calculator, which, while it's calibrated to an NFL scale, can at least give us a decent estimate of how unlikely Michigan's victory was: four percent, Michigan's win probability after Notre Dame's slot receiver scampered into the endzone without a defender in site. Denard Robinson laughs at your probabilities and says, "Really? Oh man, that's crazy," and throws the ball to Jeremy Gallon standing alone in the Notre Dame secondary.
National takes: Adam Jacobi marvels and notes that Robinson couldn't throw the ball even when he was completing passes; he also points out that uh… the Big Ten is not so much this year. Doctor Saturday:
Here, instead of merely covering poorly, Notre Dame subsequently failed to cover Wolverine receiver Jeremy Gallon at all, incredibly freeing him for a 64-yard sprint to the Irish 16-yard line with eight seconds left for a) A couple shots at the winning touchdown; b) A shot at a field goal to tie; or c) A confused catastrophe that left 110,000 people contemplated mass hara-kiri. With all of every one of those people secretly fearing c), Robinson delivered the dagger.
Robinson was, again, heroic for Michigan. He has brutalized the Irish the past two seasons, rolling up a mind-boggling 948 yards of total offense to go with eight TDs. His performance in the fourth quarter Saturday night was downright epic: 7 of 9, 202 yards, three passing touchdowns to go with six carries for 24 yards and another TD. In all, he accounted for a staggering 226 of his team's 229 yards.
So lets get this straight. You come on Brian's blog and question Brian's fandom and you are mad that he got mad about this?
He has been defending this program through the worst of times the past three years and you don't have to agree about everything he writes but you shouldn't have questioned his loyalties. If you don't like his tone or what he is writing then just read something else.
"I figure if I can get two degrees from Ohio State, it might be close to Elliott’s undergraduate degree" - Brock Mealer
Brian has had a lot of spoiled brat moments since the RR era so pitifully and excruciatingly crawled to a slow November death. His Tweeter tantrums and delusional rants about the new staff are hard to take sometimes. But me, I like Brian despite his humanity, he can drop the F Bomb on me and I will be honored
That's a stretch, dude. The guy questioned Brian's fandom. On Brian's Michigan-themed blog. Which Brian runs for a living. And which happens to be one of the oldest Michigan blogs and the most-trafficed Michigan blog out there. It's one thing to question the devotion of another ordinary poster, but questioning Brian's fandom is like questioning Steve Jobs' creativity.
I'm not putting Brian on some pedestal, and I agree that he seemed to struggle with moving on from the saga of RichRod's firing, "the process", and Hoke's hiring more so than the rest of us (he himself has admitted as much). But I can see how he was offended by having his fandom questioned on his own blog.
When someone says they root for the team (and put "team" in bold lettering) and not for 1 person, it is extremely obvious they are implying that the person they are replying to (aka Brian) does not. That was a direct shot at Brian's fandom, which is fucking ridiculous when he runs a website dedicated to Michigan athletics for a living.
If I buy a blue car, I will drive a car colored blue every day.
Formations matter only in the types of plays that can be called out of it. You can call the same concept of plays out of I form and Ace as you can in the Shotgun, but I think the shotgun plays are more efficient. I'd rather not have Denard turn his back to roll out on a boot.
The one not broken TD play that was probably helped out by the I form was Vincent Smith's touchdown. The other TD passes are easily replicable from the shotgun.
But the opposite of your argument is just as true. Denard's interceptions "are easily replicable from the shotgun" to use your words. If "He had 3 interceptions from under center" is an argument, then so is "He had 5 TDs from under center".
(I don't think any steadfast rule (95% gun OR DIE for example) is good, I'm just pointing out that good and bad things happened from under center)
"Over? Did you say, over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!"
I invited Coach Harbaugh to my wedding. He did not attend.
"The fact Denard has manufactured these great performances in two distinct offensive styles should in fact comfort you that Borges knows what he has, and what he's capable of."
None of us need to be sold on Denard's abilities. We can only hope that Borges 'knows what he has', and if 5-0 was too early to see if an offense works for Borges' predecessor, then 2 games is too. In the first half, that offense looked worse than in 2008, with better talent.
Also, Brian, I love you and the encouragement you give me, I cant thank you enough for.....
But, sometimes I wonder if you and I are sitting in the same stadium sometimes
I left the stadium with a much more positive feel about the atmosphere and crowd particiaption......dancing with hundreds of seat friends for 20 minutes in Michigan Stadium after the game to cheesy songs like 'Oh What A Night'......PRICE-FUCKING-LESS
the ND game gave me foreboding and not elation. Let's be honest. Denard is a misfit for the coaches and going forward success scheme. Reality is Denard's talents are better suited MAC or Big East play. His style of football cannot succeed in the BIg Ten, SEC, or Big 12. It is what it is.
Based on their performance against ND, they will have their hands full with most big ten teams and that includes Purdue and Minnesota. I will root for them with the knowledge that at least for this year and probably next they will again be outclassed and outmanned.
is given in a vaccum. As one game, maybe you have a point, but considering where the team, esp the defense, started and where we want to be, week by week UM is doing what it needs to do. Lots of improvement to make, but each game is a barometer for success installing Manball. Sounds like you're expecting overnight success, which ain't gonna happen. Michigan isn't just learning new systems, they're overhauling the culture that had been badly damaged over the last three years.
“...merely a blunt instrument who only knows football...”
what do you think the difference between Fitz and the other backs in this game? it seems to me that he's a back that would have had some more success just by his style..... you know, he's got a nice combo of quickness, size, speed, & power... which none of the other backs have...
"...when the ole' season is over, you and I know, it's going to be Michigan again; Michigan!"
I was still really happy about our win and now I'm thinking about sad pandas....
I, too, was hoping Devin would get in the game. Maybe hike the ball to Denard, he hands it to Devin. Denard takes off running and Devin throws it to Denard for a touchdown! It would have been awesome! But, it was awesome anyways.
They seemed to see everything else coming. Things were looking pretty bad there for a while. Also, I'm kidding, I know it wouldn't work, but desperate times call for desperate measures and we (the fans) were pretty desperate in Q3.
The bottom line is this: We won. Denard playing in Al Borges' offense will take time to adjust. This is a coaching transition just like what we had in 2008. Switching to new schemes on both sides of the ball is not an easy thing especially when we are undertalented with a couple of huge playmakers.
It's not like anyone picked Michigan to win the national championship this season. Sure, it would be nice to see a seamless transition but that's an impossibility. I'm content with a winning season and staying competitive in all of our games. It's going to take a couple of years unfortunately, but things will get smoother.
While it could be a shame, everyone saw this coming. We all knew it was going to be a rough year, Denard knew what was going to happen. He knew he wouldn't be playing out of an offense meant to utilize his talents, and he knew that despite the focus on power that he would still probably have to carry the offense because of our lack of quality running backs.
But he still stayed, so like one poster said, Denard doesn't seem nearly concerned about his future/legacy as a College Player as some of the posters on here. Let's not forget that we still have another year with him, and there's still a lot of season to be played this year. Doom and Gloom for us and Denard isn't here yet
1. Our start may in fact be more rickety than the last two years, at least in that we didn't look as impressive in the two wins this year as in the past two seasons. But, on the other hand, there's more potential for improvement as well. I'm 100% confident that there is more talent on this team than the past two seasons. I'm 95% sure the defense will improve as the players learn the system and good Greg realizes he's not working with the pro talent he had on the Ravens or the pseudo pro talent he had at Florida. I'm also less sure, but hopeful that Al Borges adjusts to the threat that Denard creates. The last point will determine if this season turns out how we want it or becomes another disappointment after a hot start.
2. On the punt returns, I think one of the weird fair catch calls was a result of our gunner going down with an injury. I'm not sure who it was, but he went down like someone shot him in his hamstring.
but don't go making statements that the "flat Earth society" will take offense to - more talent on this team than the past two seasons? Heresy! Or, it's that RR chased off all the good talent that was left behind, and that's why we've suffered the past 2-3 seasons...
My concern with the whole "Borges adjusts" thingy is that we got into a couple of holes with 2nd or 3rd and long after trying to mash Hopkins into the line, which should have been a given that it probably wouldn't work. (Weren't we all told that the beauty of the new coach hire was he'd utilize the skills of his current roster? And that we wouldn't be seeing a (or any) dramatic scheme change? Of course, I recall reading that Mattison wasn't watching too much 2010 film, don't know if Gorgeous Al did, but, how could they know who's the better game player if they don't watch 2010 film? To me, it just goes to show that coaching changes suck, everyone will lie to pretend that things will suddenly turn on a dime - drink your Kool-Aid, kids - and all is well - even when the results in front of your own lying eyes says 30+ points and 500 yards given up.
2nd and longs happen in every offense, last years team wasn't immune to them. Chalk it up to poor team play, not just Hopkins futility. Had Hopkins had hole's like Fitz and Shaw had against Western he'd of fared better.
I don't know shit about schemes, but I like the fact that we will be able to run plays out of both formations. Denard looks really comfortable under center, I sense his comfort level is equal with both formations. Plus being under center offers different and interesting possibilities Borges can take advantage off.
What we have here is a dynamic situation, things will look vastly different as the season progresses. I fully expect this team to play it's football in November, both offensively and defensively.
But the bible mentions the four corners of the earth!
I don't understand the criticism of handing the ball off to a running back. Is Borges not supposed to call RB plays? He's going to just run Denard 40 times a game?
It looks to me like Borges is still running a bunch of plays from shotgun and spread formations, and calling lots of designed runs for Denard.
Why should Mattison (who probably possesses the ability to evaluate players playing in front of his eyes) worry too much about what players did last year (a) when poorly coached and (b) in a different defensive system? Add to that that last year's film has Mouton and Ezeh (who are no longer here) and (at least partially) lacks Floyd and Woolfolk (who are) and shows lots of guys (Roh, the brothers Gordon) in different roles than they play on this defense.
Denard is struggling to adjust to some elements of the offense. Borges is adjusting to calling plays for his new players.
But we didn't really get great production out of the running backs last year running a zone blocking scheme. Denard was the running game. The coaches have been clear that they don't think relying so much on Denard is a good idea.
I'm not a coach, nor have I ever played football in any organized fashion, so I guess I need to defer to those who know their ass from their elbow on this. But I feel like some of the posters on this board are acting like asking the current offensive line to man block is the equivalent of asking a bear to ride a unicycle while juggling hammers. Is the difference so profound that the O-line can't be expected to learn how to do it functionally? Did the team never block based on man to man assignments in the last three years? Do teams typically only do one or the other, or are there teams that mix up blocking assignments?
I'll hang up and listen. Thanks for taking my call.
Brian's putative love for RichRod is surpassed only by your capacity to read everything anyone writes that is even mildly critical of the new regime as a lamentation for the dearly departed RichRod. Seriously, dude. Between you and Brian, one of you is obsessed.
(HINT: It's not Brian)
Here's my football observation that has nothing to do with my manlove for RichRod: The way that the spread running attack works is by SPREADING the field horizontally to open up both running lanes and vertical seams once the safeties have sucked up (see: QB PA oh noes from last year). Borges's offense relies more on power running and PA to vertical routes. This handcuffs Denard, even if they run him out of the shotgun here and there. I think it's a critical blunder to keep the running part of Denard more or less intact while changing the passing part of the offense away from stretching the field horizontally.
Having said that, I have total faith that Borges will make the proper adjustments. It's just that but for a few zany hail Mary plays last night (which I really doubt were part of the game plan), and Rees's penchant for fucking up at the worst possible moment, we would have lost that game by 30.
but apparently he's injured. What I didn't understand was Mike Shaw 2 carries for zero yards. I mean the depth chart is Fitz or Shaw #1, then Smith, then Hopkins. Unless the game plan was Hopkins because ND has a big D-line, I was expecting to see Shaw get a good amount of carries (after realizing Fitz was hurt.)
Yeah. It's not like Shaw had a bad game against WMU. The only reasonable explanation is that he's actually #3 on the depth chart, behind Fitz and Hopkins. After that game, though I expect that to change. I don't think Hopkins can be the feature back (or even the power back, that fumble, in that situation, is inexcusible).
I didn't "miss" the interview, exactly. I just didn't hear it because I was at a bar. The TV was right in front of me so I just soaked up the smile. I enjoyed every minute of this because I was with my cousin who is a Buckeye fan. It was nice to actually hear it this time, though.
Also, the patches: Yes to the patches. This is better than retiring numbers. Much better. Doesn't come with the problem of running out of numbers and is more permanent than a "jersey retirement." Fantastic way to honor the history of the number.
On the play where the QB threw the ball backwards we have to give credit to old KH. I was watching the game at home and KH gave the irish the commentators jinx by saying just prior to the snap, "but keep in mind that ND turned the ball over multiple times in the redzone last week against USF." He said that between plays and the next play....Viola! QB backwards pass. Thanks KH!
with pro-set offensive football at the college level. Seriously. If I want that kind of entertainment, I'll watch the NFL on Sundays for all of the "exciting" run-run-pass-punt action!
What makes college football far better than the NFL EVERY YEAR NO EXCEPTIONS is that you have QBs who show their cajones, run the football, take hits and don't "sissy slide" for 1st downs because they're under financial contract from some American oligarch.
Mobile quarterbacks make college football exponentially better and more exciting. What's more, it's a Michigan tradition. It just depends on when you started watching the "Michigan Football Movie". I started in the late 70s. Those that grew up with Elvis Grbac at the helm obviously have a different perspective.
Denard somehow looked even faster running the ball on Saturday night, keeping the ball on option reads, faking the shit out of the defense. In my opinion, he has done a far better job this year weaving through traffic making defenders look even more like they're standing still. On one play he actually move the pile of defenders on his back forward for 7 additional yards. It was ridiculous.
Then you posted the John Navarre pic.
Borges can do well with any kind of QB. Just look at all the QBs he has coached since his time with the Oakland Invaders to Denard Robinson - it's been every flavor from howitzer boy to "neurotic aaaaahhhh!" to a crazy legs kid.
But seeing Navarre there reminded me of Michigan's future destination of offensive scheme under Hoke.
Like an exciting European city tour from Paris to Vienna to Prague, it's like the purser just told everyone over the intercom: "Next Stop Staines, UK!".