"Cheer for Tate a lot, so he comes back, and we can redshirt Devin." Works for me.
if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
9/25/2010 – Michigan 65, Bowling Green 21 – 4-0
It's been a long time since this has happened, but in the aftermath of a 721-yard outburst against a I-A opponent there's no grand emotional narrative arc to relate. Last year there was a sense of relief after the Western game; the Eastern game was a reminder that sometimes Michigan plays teams obviously worse than they are and beats the pants off them and isn't that nice but sometimes the quarterback goes down and that's not nice at all. The Bowling Green game was that minus a loss to a 3-9 MAC team the year prior—i.e., a pleasant nothing in which crappy special teams play was just an opportunity to rack up more yards on offense.
There was a bout of slight indigestion when it was 21-14, but in the aftermath of an offensive performance in which Michigan scored 9 touchdowns on 11 drives (and kind of scored two more on the drives that technically came up empty) complaining about that would miss the forest for the trees. I mean, Michigan took the admonition to "STOP KICKING THE DAMN BALL" from the preview literally. I can't even make yet another impassioned plea against I-AA games since Bowling Green is part of the MAC, as I did after last year's silly offensive yardage number. So let's just get to the bullets.
Well, one thing first: Tate Forcier seems pretty level-headed for a guy the internet spent most of eight months deriding as an immature quitter bound to transfer ten seconds after Denard stepped on to the field against UConn and he declared himself "out" in the aftermath.
Somehow he's still here. He could have gone. He could have put in his papers like LaLota or Turner and spent a redshirt year somewhere else and preserved a year of eligibility and had three years to compete on a two-deep that doesn't feature Denard Robinson. But he's here, picking up small children in #16 jerseys after going 12 of 12 and running around on broken plays despite being obviously gimpy.
TATE: "Hey, kid. The offense scored a touchdown on every drive I had a part in."
SMALL CHILD: "Hold me up higher so I can see Denard."
My fiancée starts rooting for the other team whenever they are obviously overmatched, something that happened seven minutes into Saturday's game. She made an exception when Forcier rolled on the field. After the game he said he loved Michigan and would never go anywhere. You can't blame him if that turns out to be untrue, but I hope he stays around. I've got a feeling Michigan is going to need him.
Denard. Fine. Jumping higher than mortals for no reason late in a blowout:
Would have liked to see him get a couple more drives and finish his day with 200 yards rushing on ten carries just on the off chance he leads Michigan to enough stunning shootout wins to hit up the Heisman ceremony with a serious chance to win, but the important thing is that he's healthy. If he doesn't stop doing this, however, I am going to die with worry.
Number two. IME, Forcier. Gardner was certainly impressive downfield but on first glance seemed to make a ton of mistakes running the zone read and even when he did get some room displayed a nasty tendency to cut everything outside like he's still in high school, turning 6-8 yard gains into 2-3 yard gains. Forcier was crisper despite his status as Michigan's nominal #3.
Devin Gardner redshirt conspiracy. Yes, I am a one man Rubicon when it comes to this: Forcier was warmly welcomed by the crowd and got another big cheer when he came off the field late, then spent the postgame press conference saying things about how he will never, ever transfer. If that is true, that could be huge for the 2014 Wolverines because it might provide an opportunity for Gardner to redshirt next year. I want my fifth year senior Gardner, dammit.
Have I been advocating for this publicly? Someone gave me a shout out on the twitters when Michigan debuted a punt formation featuring three returners, so I must have been crabbing for it at some point.
I've been grumbling vaguely about the necessity for a second returner in this space for a while, but when Michigan came out in their new punt return formation on Saturday I was livid at myself for describing exactly what Michigan should do against spread punt formations during my Thursday WTKA appearance… during the commercials. Doh.
Anyway, the situation:
The response I suggested (in the commercials) and Michigan implemented exactly:
A friend of mine also pointed out that since punt coverage guys are focused on the returners, not the ball, having multiple guys back there has the potential to confuse them. If the ball's coming down to Dileo and Gallon's moving upfield like he's going to field a short one, the coverage team has an unpleasant choice between splitting their duties between all three guys and teaching their guys to look up and find the ball, forcing them to take their eyes off their destination and possibly exposing them to killshot blocks.
The results in game one of the experiment were encouraging. Michigan fielded all but one punt and got some of those return things—what are they called—oh yeah—yards. Dileo looked as smooth as promised, fielding punts and making one or two guys miss before getting tackled.
I don't think Michigan can pull off the triple return threat against a conventional formation since it would be vulnerable to fakes, but against spread punt teams they should use it all the time.
The other thing I was advocating for was the deployment of a Wolverine Heavy package and we sort of saw one near the goal line. Koger and Webb lined up as H-backs, there was a tailback, and Michigan ground forward as you might expect. That's not quite Heavy, in which there are two tight ends, two H-backs, and no one in the backfield except a tank, but the flexibility provided by the H-backs should make short yardage hard to stop; I'd like it if M put one of the TEs on the line and brought in McColgan.
Corner what. The third and final thing Michigan debuted was a dime package in which the MLB and one of the DEs come off the field in favor of two additional cornerbacks on passing downs. JT Floyd dropped back to deep safety with Gordon; Kovacs stayed underneath. This also gets a thumbs up assuming the freshmen corners can cover people. This is not certain, but it's hard to imagine them being worse at it than Roh or Ezeh, no offense to either.
Here's a confusing thing: Cullen Christian has practiced with the ones in warmups two of the last three weeks. I thought he was going to start against Notre Dame because of it. But when Michigan brought in its dime it was Talbott and Avery getting the PT; Christian alternated some with Rogers. The first bit implies that Christian is the #3 corner; the second implies he's the #5. Maybe the freshmen have different responsibilities in the dime package and they're working the players in at different positions until they learn both.
Running back mess, verdict, no verdict. Shaw continues to look like the best tailback available. As long as he's running hard and finding the lanes, something he's done a much better job of lately, he's the #1 guy. Smith was okay but as the games pass it seems more and more indisputable that he's lost some burst after the ACL surgery and probably won't be full strength until 2011.
Of the four backups, Cox seemed the most impressive in limited time since Toussaint's runs came on vast, gaping holes in the line. Also, he got run down by a MAC linebacker. What's up with that, Fred Jackson? (A: he's still wearing a knee brace and is not 100%. People of twitter: I was joking.)
Preview: 2011. Late in the game we got answers to obscure personnel questions:
Michigan also got a preview of its 2011 offensive line when Perry Dorrestein "got a hangnail or something." Taylor Lewan was entrenched at left tackle so Huyge came in to play on the right, and Michigan lifted Steve Schilling for Ricky Barnum. That is 99% likely to be your '11 starting OL down to the positions: Lewan-Barnum-Molk-Omameh-Huyge. They got lifted for backups on the next drive.
"Cheer for Tate a lot, so he comes back, and we can redshirt Devin." Works for me.
Maybe he came to Michigan believing that he could be in competition to start at QB and that redshirting wouldn't settle well with him??? It's hard to speculate what goes into the decision to resdshirt a player and I would have liked to see Devin get a redshirt, but who knows. At this point in time, I see the chance at redshirting next year Devin very minimal.
Agreed that Devin came to Michigan expecting to compete for the starting job if not this year than certainly next year, but Devin can see like the rest of us that the guy in front of him may be the best player in college football and has three years left. Might mean that Devin wants to redhsirt and have his shot at being the main guy in what is a pretty tremendous offensive for showcasing the talents of a QB for two years instead of one.
Soo, Devin shouldn't be redshirted if he doesn't want to?
The internets have been up in arms about how Tate needs to shut up, learn to be a teammate, and do whatever Rodriguez wants him to do in order to be team player.
But we shouldn't redshirt a freshman (or sophomore) qb just because he doesn't want to?
It seems like a double standard to me.
(I know you didn't say anything about Tate. I was just using this as a point of comparison.)
any recent player that simultaneously puts me in moods of "WOOOOO" and "omgomgomg please don't die" more than Denard. The pic above does make me feel much, MUCH better.
that ESPN's crawl kept insisting "ROBINSON OUT WITH KNEE INJURY, WILL NOT RETURN" when clearly a) his knee wasn't the problem and b) he was about five seconds away from sneaking into the offensive huddle and sending Forcier back to the sidelines before someone's OMG alarm went off and he was busted.
It seemed to me at the time more like he caught a helmet on the back of his calf ... anyway, yes, that play was very much WOOOO getupgetupgetup OMG.
I like the way Hopkins runs but after putting the ball on the ground, I'm hesitant about him. Why can't Cox be our 'power' back for goal line or short yardage situations if we are going to use somebody?
Also, at what point does Rich Rod stop giving Vincent Smith 50% of the non-Denard carries? I like the guy but he just doesn't bring a whole lot to the table right now.
Yes, this is perplexing. At this point I'm willing to grant that the coaches are seeing something we're not, but what? Is it possible RR is keeping some screens or flares to VS under his hat, and wants to have him on the field enough so it won't be tipped off to scouting?
Or, perhaps Fitz is poised to take Vincent's reps? In other words, given what we've heard about (1) Cox's difficulty hitting the right hole (hee hee!), (2) Fitz's gimpy leg, and (3) Stephen's general freshmanness, maybe Shaw and Smith simply were the best two options. Though in that case you would expect Shaw to get maybe 2/3 of the non-Denard carries and Vincent 1/3, instead of 50/50, as you say.
I guess what I'm saying is, a healthy Fitz should answer this question soon.
So don't be holding your breath for that "soon" thing.
Looks as though Fitz is definitely gunning for the Brandon Minor Memorial "Would Be An Impact Running Back If He Could Only Stay Healthy" Award.
Is Fitz made of balsa wood or something?
McGuffie was getting the majority of the carries early on, even though myself and a few others thought Minor was the best back on the team. That was proven later on when Minor was healthy enough to go. Rodriguez is going to use the guys he gets to work out in practice and Smith has been durable and dependable since starting fall camp. If you are missing practice time, you will not get much game time. I still think if and when Toussaint is healthy he is the best rb on the team, but I have been pretty happy with Shaw and think Smith is doing enough to keep the defense honest.
Seriously? Vincent Smith doesn't bring a lot to the table right now? He doesn't fumble and he scored 2 touchdowns on Saturday, which means he has at least 4 this year. On his first TD, a LB just melted off of him.
Furthermore, the idea that he stinks based on yards per carry might be a little misleading since he seems to be the running back that gets the short yardage carries the most at this point. If Smith got as many 1st and 10 runs, where there is a greater likelihood of open space, than rushes on 2nd and 3 and 3rd and 2, where the D keys to the run, perhaps Smith would have more than a 3.9 ypc.
Let's also not forget that Smith's rushes, in addition to probably being skewed towards "up into the gut" rushes rather than sweeps (while I actually watch the games and not base my opinions solely on the box score, I need to look into this in more detail), are also normally into the guts of a first-team defense in the early parts of games. That should also put a discount on what Cox did in the 4th quarter against a Bowling Green defense that had already been gashed for 500-600 yards. Smith gets the best of the opposition - Toussaint and Cox get nothing more than the battered remains so far.
For those people who wish to discount Smith's contributions to the team, let's not forget a couple of points:
(1) Smith is 10 months removed from ACL surgery;
(2) despite (1), Smith is still deemed better than Cox, Toussaint and Hopkins by the coaches, who have infinite more hours of evaluation, preparation and practice time with these guys than us, the random Internet posters who are never satisfied with guys, even those who already have at least 4 TDs on the season.
Smith also seems to be a reliable blocker and blitz-picker-upper, something we haven't yet seen from Cox, Fitz, or Hopkins. In an offense where many plays have both run and pass options, having a running back who can end up being the ballcarrier or a blocker from the same pre-snap formation is a big asset, because it doesn't let the defense key in on a play based on personnel.
Combined 2009-2010 vs BCS teams:
Smith 3.3 ypc vs Shaw 2.3 (44 carries vs. 37)
2010 rushing against BCS teams:
Smith 3.2 ypc vs Shaw 3.0 (21 carries to 20)
Shaw has the UMass game to argue in his favor...besides that?
Hey, don't get me wrong, I loves me some Vincent. It's more qualitative for me at this point, in that there were a few runs on Saturday that just called for some oomph hitting the hole that VS doesn't have (back yet from ACL injury and surgery).
BTW, I'm not totally sure Shaw is the answer, either, which is why I mused about Fitz. I mean, Fred Jackson thinks he is Tyrone Wheatley crossed with Mike Hart, except fast, so...
I thought his passing, particularly the long ball, was the most impressive of the three. (CATCH IT IF IT HITS YOUR HANDS, DAMMIT!)
But, his running was clearly behind Forcier- he appeared to still be used to being better than everyone on the field, and he wasn't making the good decisions on the read. It is impressive how much faster Robinson is than the other two, though.
Gardner runs exactly like Tate did last year, the trying to cut outside thing must be a hard habit to break.
I thought DG looked more like last year's Denard- trying to use innate athletic gifts, instead of following the play as it developed. But, essentially, yes.
See picture page "Cut it up, Tate" as evidence of such outside-running.
It has been a good decade since Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn officially rolled his ankle on a buckeye nut while moving a refrigerator at his house, so maybe next season, if Tate's still around, Devin Gardner could "roll his ankle in a gopher hole" at the Glick* and have to take a medical redshirt.
*-Yes, that's the point.
of Hopkins in non BEEF action? I suppose that'll come in the UFR.
Also, it is pure joy that Little Miss Buckeye State is a Michigan fan.
She has a bright future in front of her. Just as long as she can get out of the cesspool that is Ohio.
I disagree that Cox looked impressive. I think he showed the things that have been said about him which are:
Also, Toussaint was run down by BGSU DB #39 which is Aaron Foster 6'0" 190lbs. A bit of googling finds that he ran track for West Bloomfield, so don't feel too bad about Fitz.
Agreed. I've been advocating playing time for Cox, but there are two plays that I saw that really show why he hasn't received any. The first one was when he cut back into two defenders. The play probably wasn't going anywhere either way, but I think if he pushes through the line, he has a better chance of breaking an arm tackle and getting more yards. The second was a 2-back formation near the goalline. The play was a handoff to him and he went out to block (he thought the play was for the other RB) and Forcier was forced to keep the ball. I think he got 15 yards out of it, but it was a mental mistake that could have cost us a down against real competition.
According to Sam Webb on WTKA, Fitz was wearing a big knee brace and Webb thinks once Toussaint is truly 100% healthy he'll be a bit faster. (just watched his 2 carries again, yes- big knee brace on the left knee).
Also - Fitz did well but the o-line did just as well, Fitz wasn't touched by the front 7 on either of his carries.
I thought it was an LB too when I was in the stadium. However, it was the Safety who pinched up and found himself way out of position before turning around and running him down.
Smith has better YPC than Shaw in 3 of the 4 games this year (UConn, ND (barely), and BG). Besides the FCS game outlier, Smith has better YPC in nearly every game going back through last year. I'm not sure about the Shaw love. He's getting better at breaking tackles but he's still prone to falling down easily. Smith gets tough extra yards that Shaw does not, even though he's less likely to break an 80 yard run (or even a 30 yard run). With size reversed, this is the Emmit Smith/Barry Sanders debate, homeless man's edition.
If Smith is the better blocker and receiver he deserves to play, even if Shaw is the bigger big-play threat.
Also, while I don't have the stats in front of me, it seems like Shaw has a better ability to find the endzone in red zone situations.
That said, in all other situations, I am not as impressed with Smith this year. He looks to have lost a step or four from his injury.
but really, outside of the big plays against UMass, what is this based on?
Smith was better against UConn. Both sucked against ND, both were OK against BGSU.
Better ability to find endzone = more carries at the redzone. A function of opportunity. Anyway, Smith has 3 redzone TDs to Shaw's 4.
late into the game. I know everyone is fixated on Denard's theoretical fragility, but I think it is critical to our success that Molk make it through the year without injury. His injury history is also not theoretical.
I am sure the issue of playing Molk late into the BGSU game has been raised in other threads, but it seems appropriate to discuss here where we are talking about our future OL. Is this an issue of lack of depth at the position?
I honestly don't know, but I remember hearing Koury's name being mentioned so I thought Molk got pulled at some point.
So when Denard went down, I died a little bit on the inside. I can't remember ever watching an injury that I though would so crushingly impact our season. Then Devin came in and looked ok, but still looked like a freshman. Yes, he was doing fine, but it was against BGSU and if he were our leader in B10 play and we did not have Denard, we would be in for some trouble.
Then Tate came in. And did something crazy like complete all 12 of his passes - several of which were downfield with great touch and several others of which were made on the run. He also scrambled nicely for some rushing yardage and looked to make all of his reads.
About 3 plays into his outing, I remembers all of the things that I loved about Tate last year. His ability to improvise (hopefully he has learned to do so smarter this year), his ability to throw on the run, his ability to throw a deap ball with almost as much touch and accuracy as Henne and his love of the game (he was playing in obvious physical pain, and never even looked to the sideline). I very quickly got over all of the off the field summer crap.
No, Tate is not Denard. He does not represent the same homerun on every play potential that has opposing defenses running out of toilet papers, but he is a damn good quarterback. I think having Tate and Denard as our QB tandem - even if Denard is the starter and takes 65% of the snaps - has the potential to make our already dynamic offense even better. I also envision plays where both are on the field together: "Snap to forcier, hand off to Denard, lateral back to Forcier who throws a bomb down the field to Stonum - TOUCHDOWN MICHIGAN!" Or something like that.
I understand where you are coming from. And without question it is good to know that we have Tate ready to go who has polish and experience. And Devin (who really had 2 deep touchdown throws - one Hemingway dropped; the other called back by penalty) capable of filling in too and throwing lazers although he is still obviously learning on the job. But there is only one #16.
I wrote this earlier:
Although our backups are good players, there is only one #16. A guy with a 70% passing percentage who leads the entire nation in rushing.... a video game character. Those type of players come around only ONCE IN A LIFETIME and what they do for the image of the University..... what they do for recruiting and building a program.... lasts beyond a game or even a season.
It is imperative that we keep Denard healthy. And any notion of "oh well, run him into ground because if he gets injured we have great backups waiting in the wings" is hubris devoid of perspective. Perspective of Denard means towards this season but more importantly, what Denard means to this program for the years (possibly even decade) that follows.
I would expect the battle for two starting spots for '11 season. It'll be Barnum vs. Q-Washington at Schilling's spot. For Dorrstein's spot, it'll be Hugye vs. Schofield (Hugye will be a swing OT backing up for both LT and RT next season should he fail to win the starting job). Either way, Michigan has depth at OL(Finally!) this season and next season. OL should and always will be the strength of the team which is exciting because we know that the QB will be in a good shape behind this OL.
Call me old fashioned or whatever you want, but I hate the "Jump-n-Bump." There's a lot that can go wrong in a celebration. Nuff said.
especially since pretty much any contact on Denard freaks me right the hell out, regardless of circumstance.
That said, the unbridled delight in that photo is a thing of beauty. My wish is for our entire team to look and feel like that every game.
UM moved from 20th rank to 19th after AP Poll was revised
Saw these kid-cradling politician pics earlier this morning, and I must say, when holding a toddler Tate just looks much bigger. If we just put a 3 year old on his shoulder for every snap nobody's going to be commenting any more about how small he looks or how much more work he needs in the weight room. That's freakin' brilliant strategy right there.
is another Vince Young... maybe that notion has died an honorable death. DG is going to be a great QB for us, he's obviously got a monster arm, and will surpass Young's talents in the passing game before too long. In terms of running with the ball, however, VY he's not, never was, and never will be. Gardner may have very good speed once he gets into the open field, but he does not have quick feet or that sudden acceleration that VY did even in HS.
DG makes a few different choices to cut it up instead of outside and it will make all the difference in the world. It also looked like he made some bad decisions on the zone read option. It's hard to look fast when you pull the ball out and keep it only to be greeted by three defenders. That last touchdown where he glided to the corner, shedding diving leg tackles like they were made by Jeff Van Gundy was enough to keep my VY hopes alive. Remember, Vince Young didn't become VY until the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl his third year in the program. Gardner is still a teenager getting bigger, stronger, faster, smarter.
Right Don. We can make a definitive statement about Gardner's quick feet or sudden acceleration given that he's played about 30 snaps in college football.
And on the subject of quick feet, you must have missed his hurdle of a BG defender, and then his ability to re-configure his running and get his "slow feet" into the end zone on his TD run.
But hey, we're 30 snaps into his career.
One issue is the fact that any poor fool following Denard is gonna look like a tortoise
I was at the game, and my wife and I hung around and watched the scene on the field until the players went into the locker room. We watched Tate pick up this kid, high five him, then give him knucks. Pretty cool. I'm assuming he was Mike Barwis's kid, because he took him off Tate's hands on the way in. It was great to see Tate out there working his magic and sure makes me feel better about our prospects surviving the Big Ten. It's good to know #5 is ready to go if we need him.
because he's weak, not explosive, and needs Barwisizing before he becomes just another statistic in the nation's childhood obesity epidemic. He needs immediate plyometrics and "olympic movement" weightlifting like the power clean. And then, only then, does he get his chocolate milk.
It shows Michigan has 3 QBs capable of moving the ball down the field. But Gardner does need work on the read. He could have racked up a lot more yards.
Pleased that there were no Muppets. We need to ration them as we enter Big Ten play - and hopefully we have reason to trot them out repeatedly....
This week's theme: HOLD THE GUM.
should replace the RPS metric with the MGF (Making Gum Fly) metric.
I want my fifth year senior Gardner, dammit.
If he's smart, he will redshirt next year. Then DG will be all but guaranteed the starting job for 2 seasons. If he doesn't, he's only got one because he'll have to compete with seniors Denard and Tate in 2012.