Okay, so I’ve watched the Michigan/Notre Dame game 4 times now (3 times too many on offense). I will admit that the first two were for enjoyment…obviously; the last two were to really get a feel for what exactly happen. Also, I wanted to try to figure out where we go from here. So here it goes…
QB: C-/B+ (obviously it was a tale of two games for Denard, so he's got to have two grades. Now, before you rip them apart, I'll just say that I don't think he was so "hot/cold" or opposite ends of the spectrum as many think...OR like the stats show (those 4th quarter numbers are silly). Denard didn't fail the first 3 quarters, the playcalling failed him. Even with that said, he didn't always make the best reads, he forced some throws...and he missed on a few more. He should've completed his first two passes of the 2nd quarter.
His 4th quarter wasn't Tom Brady MNF amazing either; it was a lot of soft defense or blown coverage. The best thing he did was use his legs more to buy time, but he wasn't reading coverage and slicing and dicing the defense by any means (his best read/react/throw may have been one that got called back deep in Michigan territory in the 4th quarter). He was just chucking the ball up half the time. It was more freshman Henne/Braylon vs. MSU than anything else. Denard's passes could've easily been knocked away, dropped or picked...luckily most of the time, they weren't.
With that said, wasn't as bad or as good as people thought. We have to get him out of the pocket more and we have to throw quick passes more.
As for running the ball, I thought he ran the ball very well.)
RB: D+ (Shaw is soft, but fast, but has no balance and gets knocked over easily. Hopkins is tough, but slow and has no vision or ball security. Smith is tougher, has amazing vision, but isn't fast.
We NEED Fitz to stay healthy, he has the power to run the ball with force and enough vision and balance to stay on his feet and hit the right hole. Speed is good enough.
Smith might be my short yardage back, no joke. He's runs so hard and he has awesome vision and ball security. He's like Mike Hart at 70%, which isn't bad, but isn't going to take over or win a ton of games by himself.
Shaw needs to be a spread back only. I watched every play, Shaw can't run in the I-formation, he can't run power type plays unless it’s out of the shotgun. He's fast though; I'd use him like Reggie Bush and split him out wide more or throw him some screen plays.
Hopkins is just Hopkins. What you see is what you get. For better, or sometimes for worse.
All in all, after watching every snap over again, Fitz is the starter, Shaw should get playing time in the spread (assuming he's not supposed to have a key block, because he can't block for shit), Smith in short yardage situations or when you need a blocking RB...such a smart football player.)
FB: B+ (McColgan's catch and run was very impressive. He looks like a FB for sure. Blocking was average to above average.)
WR: A- (Denard has to get more accurate, even some of the drops we had weren't the WRs fault. However as a whole they had one hell of a game! Great catches all over. They get a minus because of the blocking. It was "meh" at times.
Hemingway's body control is ridiculous...why did we throw a fade to Gallon and not him? He's got tremendous strength too. If he was fast he'd be a definite NFL player. As of now, he's 75-80% Marquise Walker/Jason Avant. If that second fade to Gallon that got picked off was at Hemingway, I think he comes down with it.
Gallon CAN catch?! Wow, he used to drop everything, good to see him hold onto the ball. He's not as fast as I thought though, however he's tougher AND has better hops and body control than I thought (and that's not just referring to one play).
Grady is faster than I thought, but he can't block.
Roundtree, like Hemingway is just "slow." (I put quotes because both of them would dust 99.9% of this board if not all of us). But Roundtree didn't get much faster after his Illinois mishap a couple years ago. In fact Te'o outran him to force Gallon out of bounds and he didn't really have the angle over Roundtree. I said Shaw should be used like Reggie Bush...well, Roundtree to me should be used like Wes Welker/Steve Breaston, but that's just me. Put him in the slot, get him the ball, let him pick up the first down for you. Send him on slants on 3rd and medium.
Where are Jackson and J-Rob? We need outside WRs with some height! We also need better blocking!)
TE: A- (Koger is, wow. You can tell he just wants it. He had an edge to him when he blocks. He focuses and makes the hard catch. IMO he'll have the 2nd longest NFL career of anyone on offense. #1? Taylor Lewan (notes on him in a few). Koger is a very modest type player that every team needs. Above average pass blocker and receiver. He can also lead block very well. Koger had a very solid game; he and Kovacs may be the two smartest guys on the team when it comes to “football smarts.”
The other TE's are just "meh." Moore did have a couple good blocks.)
OL: B- (This could've been a B, but I'm a tough grader and nitpicky when it comes to the lines because a lot of what they're graded on has to do with the opposing OL/DL...for example, if you pancake a LB, so what? He's a LB...otherwise Omameh is all world in 2010 after what he did to Te'o, or if an OT misses a block and you get a sack, that doesn't tell me much other than the other guy f’d up.
Anyway, I mentioned Lewan. The kid is a beast. He completely screwed up (twice) on the V. Smith screen for a TD, but other than that, he pretty much had a lights out game. I'll take him 1v1 against anyone in the country. ANYONE. Now when you send two, or blitz on his side, or stunt/twist...then he can improve. But man on man? Lewan is going to own you. It was boring watching him, he seriously wouldn't let DEs by him in pass pro and he just ran them over a lot of the time when he was run blocking. He’s gotten better because he’s gotten consistent.
Interior line struggles in the power situations. They're definitely a spread interior line, they need space to operate, they can't line up and knock DTs off the ball and back 3 yards to save their lives. (And THIS is why I see the problem with our run game...we have no interior OL push, it's just a stalemate and LBs fill any holes and we rush for 1-2 yards. It happened over and over…and over).
Huyge is Huyge --- a typical Lloyd Carr 5th year senior type OL. Not going to really help or hurt you. Won't get drafted. The kinda guy that you'll see on the Lions roster as a practice squad player for like 5 years or something. After that, he’ll be playing in the flag football game as a TE before the spring game. I’m calling it now, watch.)
Offense: B- (you can't be mad at 35 points...however you can be at 90 yards and 7 points in the first half. You can be mad at your WRs having to make crazy catches to move the ball. You can be mad that the other team's DBs tried to play the entire game with their backs to the ball. So despite the 28 points and gaudy 4th quarter numbers, I wasn't that impressed. We had no flow.
Also we couldn't re-establish the line of scrimmage. Our QB had to buy time by running around (which he's actually good at --- no sarcasm, his pocket presence is better than people give him credit for).
The run game was horrible from the RBs and the interior line couldn't open up a hole all game. The black line for the line of scrimmage was like a magnet, the lines would smash into each other and then the RBs would slam into the lines, it was stupid to watch.
Lastly, we HAVE to get Denard out of the pocket. Yes, sprint outs shrink the field in half, but he can actually see. We need to do it more, sprint him out and throw a quick out or hitch. Or stop and throw it back for the screen like we did. Maybe send a WR on a reverse? The first TD play ND scored with, why can't we run that with Denard?
Also, where was the quick pass? The snap the ball and fire it out to the WR and let him run? Borges did a TERRIBLE job of getting Denard in rhythm. We need to nickel and dime and dink and dunk more. MUCH more. Then again our WRs have to be bigger than 5'2 and they gotta block better. This is why we need more Jackson and J-Rob, or split Koger and/or Moore out. So they can block for a quick snap'n'fire play to Roundtree or Shaw outside. This takes away the inability of the interior line, but brings up the safeties as if you were running the ball.)