IU has a pulse offensively and we've been dominating. The forecasted rain for Saturday is the only thing that could dampen my prediction. I'll take M (3-0 ATS) and the Over (2-1). Michigan 45-21.
I did not make this headline up
I cant help but be a little disappointed that THE KNOWLEDGE has not checked in to give us his thoughts on last weekend's college football results. It's funny how fast things can change in the sports world. One day you're wallowing on a 15-game losing streak. A week later, you're upending the Mighty Trojans.
Around these parts, you could say the exact same thing about our Meeechigan Wolverines. Pick the subject matter, and the storyline has done a 180 from the tales spun last season. Can't move the football across the street in 2008 has given way to one of the nation's top rushing offenses. Cant score, period, in 2008 has given away to 38 points per game. A charitable turnover strategy in 2008 has given way to more takeaways than giveaways on this young season. Stevie Brown, goat of the D in 2008, has given way to Stevie Brown, our best linebacker. A 3-win season with only 2 covers in 20008 has given way to a 3-0 SUATS start. I think you all get the picture.
Here is one of my favorite numbers so far on the season: Michigan has scored 114 points through three games. In 2008, it took Michigan six games to ring up 113 points. Like, whoa. To keep up the pace this week--that being scoring as many points that took twice as many games last season to score--the Wolverines need to lay at least 38 points on the board against the Hoosiers this Saturday. That would give Michigan 152 points through four games, a number exceeded last year only after the first touchdown against Purdue, in the ninth game of the year.
Now, I know everyone here would take a 10-7 game over IU as long as it s a 'W' for Michigan. But, let's play some fun e-speculation my fellow MGoBloggers. Will Michigan hit the 38-point mark Saturday? Who you got, the Over or the Under on that one? I'll say this: It sure will be intriguing to see how the offense matches up in its first Big 10 test of the season.
How about Carlos Brown? Say what you will about his frailities and difficulties staying on the field fulltime, but he sure does know how to get the bang for his buck, doesn't he? He is the only person in the last decade years to crack the list of longest runs in Michigan history. And, he's done it twice. His 90-yarder against the Eagles was the third longest run from scrimmage in school history. Dont forget in the 2007, he scored on an 85-yard run against Minnesota, a run that stands tied for seventh-place on the all-time list.
Ah, I remember that run well. A gloomy, soggy Ann Arbor afternoon had given way to early evening darkness. Late in the fourth quarter, Michigan held a 27-10 lead, and Brown ripped off the right side of the line, cut into the middle and outraced several LOLphers as he weaved his way down the rest of the field. How important was that touchdown? It helped Michigan cover the -23 number that day. And I was there, pumping my rolled up program in the air, the way a jockey whips his horse, urging Carlos to take it to the House. It was a magical moment at the Big House.
I am also old enough to remember the two runs on that list that were longer than Brown's this past Saturday. Admittedly, my seven-year-old memory is a bit hazy on how Butch Woolfolk's run in 1979 went down. I do, however, have strong memories of the game in 1989 when Tony Boles went for 91 yards and a touchdown. The game was against the Hoosiers, and, believe it or not, during the late 1980s Indiana fancied themselves as a darkhorse contender in the Big 10. The teams' games in 1987 and 1988 both served as October elimination games, of sorts, atop the Big 10 standings, and the '89 contest shook out the same way.
Michigan's defense dominated most of the game. After a scoreless first quarter, Michigan kicked it in gear with three second quarter touchdowns to break the game wide open. Boles sprint highlighted the action en route to an easy 38-10 Michigan win.
Indiana's lone touchdown on the day came in garbage time in the fourth quarter. Despite the timing, the score did prove rather historic. They had a stud back by the name of Anthony Thompson, who was one of the leaders in the Heisman Trophy race that season. He was a touchdown machine. Coming to Ann Arbor that day, he stood one score away from breaking the NCAA all time record for career touchdowns. Down 35 points, A.T. notched the record with a 1-yard score in the fourth quarter with one of those patened, old-school leaps over the pile, landing in paydirt.
At Assembly Hall on the IU campus hangs an amazing photo of the play. The way its prominently displayed shows that the folks at IU feel this is an extremely important point in the history of IU football. In a 28-point loss. I think that tells you all you need to know about football in Ann Arbor compared to football in Blookington. It's right up there with home games in Maryland, I suppose.
There has been a lot of discussion this week about the fate of our current second string quarterback Denard Robinson and what his ideal palce in the program is. My take? He has to stay at QB. It's pretty obvious, isn't? If Forcier goes down, I feel this team still has more than a puncher's chance at succeeding with Shoelace behind center due to his speed and playmaking ability. Hopefully, Rodriguez keeps giving him possessions as I dont think too many teams in the Big 10 have the speed to contain him. Regardless, we all should be excited at the prospects of this offensive weapon, and I am stoked to see what kinds of tricks the coaching staff has up their sleeve to get Robinson invloved in the game plan.
My thoughts on the issue aren't dramatic or too revealing. I bring it up because more than anything I want to discuss the stat line that Shoelace produced against EMU: 0/4, 0 yards, 0 tds, 2 INT, 3 rushes for 60 yards and 2 scores.
What a goofy boxscore line. I thought it might be interesting to throw a couple other stat lines out there that are comparable with other UM quarterbacks:
2/10, 32 yards, , 1 TD 3 IN , 8 rushes for 30 yards
0/3, 0. yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 1 carry for 11 yards
2/15, 33 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 13 carries for 84 yards
Do any of these look familiar? You might have to be older than I am (37) to recognize these amazing games by the above quarterback. The answer? Rick Leach. All three of these are from his freshmen season in 1975. The first was the season opener, a 23-6 win at Wisconsin. The second game, which includes the 0-3 passing line and is eerily similar to Robinson's game from Saturday, took place in a 14-14 tie against Baylor. The final stat line, which saw Leach throw as many picks as completions, not to mention more than six times as many incomplete passes as complete, was from the Orange Bowl, a 14-6 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners. Leach became one of the best signal callers in school history, yet in his freshmen season, he had at least three games with as many interceptions as completions.
1/5 3 yards 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 14 carries for 144 yards and 2 TDs
Anyone? I am going to guess nobody remembers this game, but these were the numbers that Michael Taylor put up in his first ever start at quarterback with the Wolverines. Against Northwestern in Octoebr, 1987, Taylor subbed for an injured Demetrious Brown and paced Michigan to a 29-6 win. I was at this game. I had taken the SATs that morning, and I still remember my father picking me up from the testing center and racing us up to Ann Arbor in time to make kickoff. We were treated to one of the most boring games I have ever attended. But, Taylor emerged as a killer option QB. He eventually became an effecient passer as well. He never lost a Big 10 game he started and led the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl in 1888 and 1989.
12/26, 158 yards, 1 TD. 7 INTs, 9 rushes for 13 yards.
Seven picks! That's a dead giveaway for folks who are around my age. This was the aforementioned Demetrious Brown and his effort in East Lansing during the 1987 Michigan-Michigan State game. MSU won 17-11. If Brown only has six picks, Michigan likely wins this one. Lorenzo White was a beast, IIRC. Anyway, this game took place a few weeks before Taylor's debut as a starter. And, it took place on the same day the Tigers beat the Twins in Game 3 of the ALCS at Tiger Stadium. Pat Sheridan hit a 2-run bomb late in the game to notch the win. Otherwise, lets not talk of Brown's game, that ALCS or the freaking Twins again.
3/8, 62 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 5 carries for 27 yards
The rare Rich Hewlett start, this one from the 1980 opener against Northwestern. No offense to Mr Hewlett, but when Anthony Carter is split out wide, you have to have better numbers than this. At least, he connected to AC on a pair of scores. They were needed as UM escaped with a 17-10 win. Folks, this was back in the days when NW ripped off 20-game losing streaks like it was their job, so being involved in a fourth quarter game with the Mildcats could be deemed, uh, unacceptable. Anyway, Hewlett was only starting because incumbent QB John Wangler ended to season before getting his knee torn to bits by UNC's Lawrence Taylor in the Gator Bowl. Bo was too nervous to play him, but seeing Hewlett's performance eased those fears out of necessity. Eventually Wangler regained his starting role and his passing mojo helped led Michigan to their first ever Rose Bowl win under Bo to cap the season.
3/18, 39 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 11 carries for 40 yards and 1 TD
Is it good if you're the preseason #1 team in the country and your QB throws up the above numbers in the opener? Not if you're Michigan. Steve Smith's career as UM QB could not have started any rockier. Again, if you have Anthony Carter as your wideout, you have to complete more than three passes. Smith bounced back the following week and led UM to a win over Notre Dame, the newly installed top ranked team, and hit AC on a bomb in the process. Smith started for three full seasons at Michigan, but he was constantly booed during every inconsistent stretch of play he had as Michigan fans never really forgave him for the embarrassing 1981 loss to the Badgers.
Do any of those stats matter? Probably not, but I thought it might make a fun trip down memory lane. Michigan had a .500 record in the above games that involve head scratching QB lines. At least Michigan won the game in which Robinson's bizarre stat line took place. As long as he is not relied upon as the Man this season, Robinson might still produce some funny box scores, but probably wont drown the Wolverine's chances either.
Before signing off, how about a word on the defense? Would you have believed me if I told you a month ago that Jordan Kovacs would play the second half against Notre Dame and that Kevin Leach would lead the team in tackles for a game? What would you have said? You probably wouldnt think the team would be 3-0.
Otherwise, I dont want to talk defense. At the risk of incurring GSimms wraith, defense is a boring to talk about. I mean, you're with me, right? OK, its not really boring to talk about, but it sure is scary as hell. I still feel the starting 11 is fine, but the line between fine and disaster seems pretty small.
Instead of obsessing about the defense, I will instead quietly point out the possibly profitable strategy of taking the Overs the rest of the way in Michigan games. In the Rodriguez era, 10 of fifteen games have gone Over the total. Those that didn't included both MAC snooze fests last season, the Jug winner against the LOLphers, the Northwestern Slush Bowl and this year's opener against Western. Nick Sheridan started three of those games, went the distance in two and figured prominently in the four Under games from last season.
Given the new found offensive potency and the shaky defense, I expect this trend to continue. For that matter, I think all Wisconsin, Michigan State and Notre Dame games should lean strongly to the Overs as well. The total for the Michigan-Indiana game is 53, by the way. I just have a feeling Michigan is going to lose a game during which they score at least 35 points. Hopefully, the loss will be muted a bit with an Over ticket in my pocket.
IU has a pulse offensively and we've been dominating. The forecasted rain for Saturday is the only thing that could dampen my prediction. I'll take M (3-0 ATS) and the Over (2-1). Michigan 45-21.
Not to be a complete jerk as I thought your diary was an interesting read, but Denard was 0/4 against EMU because Odoms apparently couldn't handle that throw before running out of bounds (debatable). As for Denard, there's no way he won't be a quarterback at least for the rest of the year and probably next year as well.
but Denard Robinson was still 0/4 last week.
Game 1 = 31
Game 2 = 38
Game 3 = 45
We keep scoring 7 more than the previous game. I'll take 52 against IU. And if we keep this up, we'll hang 108 on the F***eyes.
I really like the way you think.
I had to clean my bathtub after D. Brown's fiasco against MSU. That was my last MSU game as a student. Even after throwing six picks, M was still in it and driving for the winning score, and then comes number seven.
A roommate of mine once puked his guts out in our downstairs bathtub, which required it being plunged and Drano'd in order to drain water again.
Fortunately, we had an upstairs shower. Unfortunately, the floor of the shower was crooked and eventually cracked and began leaking into our kitchen.
Well, tonight at my football pasta party, one of my teammates puked from laughing so hard
It was very gross, but funny at the same time
Thanks for posting those lines. I've been getting tired of people saying Robinson will never be a good qb and shouldn't take anymore snaps. Fans have been spoiled by great freshman performances by Henne and Forcier and forget that most true freshman struggle mightily.
Not sure why 1 QB has to be good, which by default makes the other QB bad. It is possible to have more than 1 good QB on the roster at once.
Denard will be a decent to very good QB, he just needs to get more familiar with the offense.
If he progresses as expected, and so does Tate, and we get Gardner, then we'll have the greatest QB problem possible in a couple years.
a knowledgeable alum and friend of mine texted me after last week's game to say that he liked Robinson over Forcier and wanted to see more snaps for Denard. I love the potential too, but if we want to win now Tate is the guy.
i don't see what the point is about worrying about Denard's position right now. Obviously it would not take him too much training to just have him out there in only wildcat formations/get him some carries. If, after 2 years of QB, he's sitll not shown progress throwing the ball, I think they could consider taking him to wide receiver. But for now, let him keep getting QB reps and getting more comfortable. If he becomes a true passing threat at any point in the next couple years, the defense will be so clueless as to how to defend him, he's going to get some easy looks for big plays.
My question for Denard is, can we even afford to put him in the game for a pass with conference season coming up? Against EMU, we were up 24-10 and finally taking the game over a little bit and then boom, he throws a pick and we have a 7 point halftime lead. I want at least a 3 score lead before Denard throws any passes, at this stage.
“...can we even afford to put [Denard] in the game for a pass with the conference season coming up?”
We must. As the OP convincingly showed, some pretty damned good QBs have had some atrocious games early in their careers. You have to make the investment. And if you're not willing to make it when you've got a 14-point lead against a weak MAC team, when would you do it?
I am quite sure that 2/8 with 2 INTs is not indicative of what Robinson ultimately will do. If it were, Rodriguez would move him to another position. With experience, he will improve. He doesn't need to be another Tom Brady. He just needs to make the pass a credible enough threat to force the defense to respect it. That, in turn, will open up space for him to run.
I'm not saying we shouldn't have put him in versus EMU, I'm just saying, let's say we're up 14 on the road vs Iowa (which i somehow hope happens) in the 3rd quarter... are you going to be comfortable with Denard throwing the ball?
The only point I'm trying to make is that, even though I agree, we have to make the investment to develop him, it could potentially come at the cost of wins. I think that between Indiana and Delaware State we should be able to get him some more passing reps, i just don't know if i want to see him being stuck making coverage reads in a tight game against a good Big 10 team.
The coaches should not have Robinson in for any third and long plays, those should belong to Forcier. And they should instruct him not to chuck anything long unless he is absolutely sure. But other than that, I want to see Robinson throw more. He has the arm strength. He just needs to learn to read college defenses.
I was at the 17-10 Northwestern game mentioned in the original post. A truly miserable game against an AWFUL Wildcat squad. At that time, they were the laughing stock of the NCAA. I'm not sure they had such things as power rankings, etc. but if so, that team would surely have been dead last.
The worst part about it was that UM made an interception in the end zone to "seal" the victory with just a minute left (or so).
What a crappy game.
I don't know how credible this is or not, but Accuscore puts MICH in a 39-18 Win this weekend. No ideah how you would get that kind of score but I'm good with it.
Michigan gets 15 safeties, 3 2-point attempt returns, and a field goal. Indiana scores three TDs, but fails on every conversion attempt.
I'd pay good money to see that game.
I just hope we get leads big enough during the Big 10 season to be able to put D-Rob in for throwing practice. I'm sure that RR was planning on doing that in the first three games, but he accidentally ran to the end zone (or threw a pick) before anyone knew what happened.
As the the Accuscore prediction: forget the score, I'm trying to figure out how Forcier will throw 1.8 TDs and 0.3 INTs!
I enjoyed the read.
Great observations, particularly liked the one about Leach. Excellent post.
Great stuff. Love the trip down memory lane.
I take the under here, if for no other reason than RR will be looking toward MSU next week and will probably not play Forcier much if the game gets out of hand. While I really like Robinson as a second option, IU has a better defense than either WMU or EMU, and should be better prepared to slow down his running. I still think UM wins comfortably, but 38 seems like too high a pace for this team to continue heading into the Big 10 schedule.
Thanks for that trip down memory lane Jamiemac. We're about the same age and I remember all those performances (except the 1975 Leach games).
He looked more comfortable in the EMU game as a QB, looking to make a pass versus taking a peek and running with it in the WMU game. The pass to Odums should of been complete at the very least; he's gotten better with each game. He might break out with a great game against IU, you just watch
If nothing else, the terrifying moment when Tate was on the ground is enough reason to keep Robinson at QB. Michigan needs to continue giving him as many snaps as possible in games, and definitely throwing more often.
So far his speed has made a difference against Eastern and Western, but even Notre Dame was able to bottle him up because he rarely handed off and basically never threw. In the Big 10, his athletic ability may not be enough to produce results.
And most importantly, he needs to stay at QB because I never want to see Nick Sheridan on the field again, unless he is used like Darko was for the Pistons - the human victory cigar.
Denard has to get some chances to throw the ball to keep defenses honest and make him a viable #2 QB. It seems to me that he just doesn't quite understand that he can't get away with some of the stuff he did in high school yet. Even a mediocre college defense is faster than a great HS defense. Once he understands how fast the other DB's are, even on crappy teams, and figures out what he can get away with, he'll be fine.
I want to say, "Imagine how some of his runs will be once he can pass well enough to keep the defenses honest," but he is already breaking off runs that UM fans could only dream about in the past, even against defenses stacked for the run.
AFAIC, if the unthinkable did happen and Denard had to play #1, he would probably have one bad game and then be a bona fide major college QB by the next game.
In other words, I am not worried about Denard Robinson's ability to "crack the code" at QB.
The .500 stat about the games with the "scratch head quarterbacks" is good, but notice that the games we won, the opponent scored less than 14. I don't know if our defense is equipped well enough to handle that kind of torture with the turnovers against a team that isn't Eastern Michigan University. Denard is too big of a threat for us not utilize, but maybe he should not throw the ball further than 7 yards or so. OR, he could throw it for 30+ as long as it is 3rd down and works the same way as a punt would have worked (not likely with Meskos boot).
In Denard's defense, he did make a great throw on the one that Odoms bobbled and ended up being overturned...
at this point, he is better at throwing on the run than he is in the pocket
We also found out that he can throw far and really far. Although they were picked, they were accurately thrown but the safeties just made a better play and jumped the route. I think teams learned a lot about when Denard is on the field, he can scorch you on the ground with his blazing speed, or he can just sling it 50 yards in the air and burn you deep. Eventually teams will bring safeties or corners up to "spy" Robinson which will leave guys open and we can exploit that easily with a great coach like RR. I like the kid and I am pretty sure that we will see something special out of him for the Ohio State game.
In a time where we demand instant gratification, gaze off two, three or four years into the future, and sometimes can't see further back than a year ago, it's good to be reminded of what this program has already gone through. History is a valuable teacher. It grounds us. Hopefully we can learn from this, ease up on our mangled, overly-wrung hands for a moment, and trust that Denard will be fine. The future looks bright. Time for a beer (in a few hours).
A really enjoyable read.
Hell, if we get D-Rob as a faster Michael Taylor, I think that's pretty much what you'd ask for. Then again, I still think D-Rob is actually 5th generation "The Flash", following Jay Garrick (1940— ), Barry Allen (1956–1985, 2008— ), Wally West (1986–2006, 2007— ), and Bart Allen (2006–2007).
To quote the esteemed, Dr Sheldon Cooper, "ZOOM ZOOM!"
...especially since I remember all those other guys from years ago.
Having Tate available and at his best makes it a lot easier to bear with D-Rob's more freshman-like flubs, but we have to also keep in mind Tate's 6-8 months of additional time in the program due to early enrollment. Both will keep getting better, and I'm with the others around here who look forward to more offensive sets that put both of them on the field together. You half-expect a big play every time #16 trots out there.
Relative to 2008, the improved QB play is obviously a huge factor in this year's success. The other two key problems on offense last year were turnovers and tempo (i.e. failure to achieve it), and those have been measurably better as well.
Nice perspective. I'm 38 and recall most of the above. I also recall that a lot of Michigan's tradition was based on predominately running quaterbacks operating in an option system where they did not throw the ball much and often struggled as younger players. We are going back to the future here. IMHO, Tate and D-Rob are Bo quarterbacks.
I really don't get all the worrying about how to use Denard. Yes, he threw a bad pick. 1. he is a freshman and 2. he scored two freaking touchdowns! I am fine with it if we use him as a wildcat and get one or two touchs a game. What is the problem with having four years of Tate and D-Rob passing, scrambling and/or blazing past slack-jawed defenders? I am also not gonig to worry about what happens if Tate becomes so much better that D-Rob turns into Percy Harvin because that would mean we are kicking ass.
I also don't buy that Big Ten teams will be able to shut Denard down. Yes, they have faster linebakcers and DB's but not that much faster. If D-Rob gets a seem he can simply out run everyone else. Speed kills.
Speaking of speed, let us not forget that the OP also discussed Carlos Brown. It was awesome to see a Michigan RB get a huge hole, juke a safety and then just flat out leave the rest of the field behind. For that matter, Tate did the same thing to those ND clowns. Speed kills, team speed wins football games.
We wanted faster players and more innovative play calling. I think we got it, folks.
but only after looking at the weather report.
And thanks for all those memories. We do tend to forget that some of the best got off to a rocky start. Here's one more from 1996:
1/2, 13 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 0 rushes for 0 yards
in garbage time of a 38-9 win over UCLA in Michigan Stadium, Tom Brady.
It's worth remembering: the first collegiate pass of Tom Brady's career was a pick-six.
The Demetrius Brown line should be used as the call signal for Michigan fans to identify one another.
What a great post. I remember most of those moments, but not nearly as clearly as you. That was a terrific read and the reason I enjoy MGoBlog as much as I do.
Regarding Denard, I felt before the EMU game that we needed to get him as many touches as possible, especially passing. The funny thing is that they did try to do just that. The problem was that before he had a chance, he ran the ball for a touchdown (twice), thus ending his opportunities. I get excited when he comes out for a series. Our opponents have got to be scared shitless when they see him trot out there.
Howard Griffith says IU has the best D-Line in the Big Ten, so that might be a reason to take the under. However, I think IU's supposedly great line will spend the game getting pancaked and sealed off by the likes of Schilling and Moosman, so I'll take the over as well. Hopefully the D improves a bit more this week.
this is the beginning of the domination to come. The real season starts Saturday and this team has one goal this season. Win the Big 10.
They will get to the BCS in time, but they have to win the conference title first.
They have accomplished the first hurdle - beating a hated rival.
They have accomplished the second hurdle - coming back to steal a victory.
Next is a Big 10 victory, then the first road victory, then the first night game victory.
It all starts Saturday.
I do remember most of these games.
The game at Wisconsin to open the season, Michigan was, IIRC, on the cover of SI, and promptly lost 21-14. Smith still ended up being a damn good QB for the team.
The loss at MSU where Brown threw 7 INTs. I think John Miller was the leading receiver with 4 catches. Unfortunately, he played safety for the Spartans.
Regarding the broader issue at large, the comparison of D. Robinson versus some of the running QB's (Leach, Smith, and Taylor particularly; Brown wasn't really a running QB, and Hewlett, well he really wasn't a QB at all) that Michigan has had in the past, there is no question in my mind that Robinson is a better runner than all of them. Easily.
I think with a little time (he's been on campus for all of 8 weeks or so), Robinson will make better reads/decisions and start regularly completing his passes. I think his running will help him some with that; teams will be so focused on stopping him running that it can't help but open things up for his passing.
And regarding defense - I always loved the intimidating D's Michigan has had in the past. There were times when I thought the opposing offense really didn't want to come back on the field. But that was a long time ago.
I loved reading this post, was at many of those games (I'm old). One nitpick, as I recall, it wasn't LT that messed up Johnny Wangs' knee at the Gator Bowl, it was the opposite NC DE or OLB (name I don't recall) that twisted it (appeared intentional) under the pile. But, a fun post to read, JamieMac.
I am thinking of taking South Carolina tonight +3. Home dogs on Thursday night have a very good track record. One thing that will prevent this: USC(e) having a "blackout". Blackouts = FAIL. Does anyone know if a blackout is planned?
PS - Always stay with the Maize-out, never go with the blue out.
EDIT: Nevermind. Ole Miss has covered seven straight games and the road team has covered every spread in this series dating back to 1998. I'll stay away from the Cocks.
And I was there, pumping my rolled up program in the air, the way a jockey whips his horse, urging Carlos to take it to the House
Fucking awesome post!