Floyd causing the fumble and Ezeh's recovery in UConn game.
An interactive midseason recap
Since Brian has been busy providing us with real content rather than trying to emulate the MSM and putting together an obligatory midseason report on (insert team here), I decided to fill that oh-so-important void.
But to make it a little more interesting and gauge the opinion of my fellow readers, I've made this one interactive; I'm looking for responses/votes rather than just throwing out my own opinions, as brilliant (or stupid) as they may be.
So here we go:
No need to waste time here.
Gotta be Mike Martin, right? I don't think there's much dispute about this one -- just look at the UFRs to get a quantifiable estimate of his value. And it's not like our defense is filled with all-Big Ten difference-makers.
(For the rest of these, I want votes. Maybe I can compile after a couple days and put up a new post that presents some imaginary MGoBloggies.)
1. Denard's 87-yard TD run against Notre Dame
2. Roundtree's third-down catch to set up the winning score against ND
3. Denard's game-winning TD run against ND
4. Hemingway's awesome catch to set up the winning TD against Indiana
5. Denard's game-winning TD run against Indiana
6. Denard's 43-yard touchdown run against Bowling Green
Clutch-est play (yes, I'm making "clutchest" a word for lack of an alternative)
1. Jordan Kovacs forcing a UMass fumble that turned what could have been a 10-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead in a game we won by seven.
2. Denard's third-down pass to Roundtree against ND to set up the game-winning TD
3. Hemingway's leaping catch to set up the game-winning score against Indiana
4. The defense forcing three straight stops in the fourth quarter against Indiana (not really a play, per se, but still worth considering)
5. Jonas Mouton's interception on the flea-flicker against Notre Dame, which (IMO) destroyed their offensive confidence and playcalling until Crist re-entered the game.
6. JT Floyd forcing a UConn fumble near the Michigan goal line that was recovered by Obi Ezeh. Instead of UConn being down only a touchdown, we went down and scored to effectively end the game.
Best freshman (redshirt or otherwise)
IMO, this one comes down to two players: Taylor Lewan and Cameron Gordon. Lewan has been pretty dominant since taking over at left tackle, while Gordon has had two games with a handful of epic busts (Notre Dame and you know who) and a bunch of other pretty good games featuring big hits, a crucial interception against Indiana and a lot of good run support. Thomas Gordon and Carvin Johnson also warrant consideration. Right now, I give the edge to Lewan.
What say you?
1. Jordan Kovacs had the aforementioned forced fumble (and the recovery!) against UMass and -- for everything he lacks athletically -- seems to be in the right place a lot more than just about anybody else on defense, even the seniors.
2. How about Junior Hemingway? Had the huge catch against Indiana and has made numerous other big plays -- he's averaging almost 30 yards a catch. But I rarely hear him mentioned along with Roundtree, Stonum and Odoms.
3. Steve Schilling. Molk get a lot of deserved attention and the young guys (Omameh and Lewan) get a lot of deserved hype, but Schilling has quietly turned into an excellent guard. On plays when we don't let someone in clean (like the crappy third-and-1 plays against UMass and MSU), the left side of our line is flat-out dominant.
4. JT Floyd. I was extremely skeptical that he'd be even a competent Big Ten corner after what we saw last year, but he's made huge strides and looks like a legitimate starter going forward.
1. Vincent Smith. I'm with Brian on this one -- there's nothing wrong with Vincent Smith and he does plenty of things well (receiving and blocking, specifically), but defenses aren't respecting him right now because he's clearly lost some burst. He doesn't pose the same threat Shaw does in the running game.
2. Craig Roh. This is at least partially (and probably in large part) due to his lack of pass-rushing opportunities, but me and a lot of other people expected him to take THE LEAP this year, and that obviously hasn't happened. Hopefully he gets more opportunties to put his hand down over the next six games.
3. James Rogers? I'm not sure if it's fair to call him a disappointment or not -- expectations were fairly low to begin with -- but I held out hope that our secondary would be something resembling functional, and he's probably the biggest reason that it has instead been a nuclear crater.
4. Obi Ezeh. No explanation needed.
5. Will Campbell. I wasn't expecting a huge jump this year, especially when we found out Martin would be starting at nose tackle, but man ... so much hype for a guy who's stuck behind Adam Patterson on the depth chart right now.
Brock Mealer touching the banner. I started to list some other stuff, but I don't think anything else compares.
Update: A couple additions based on comments: To "most disappointing" I've added Obi Ezeh (seems obvious in hindsight) and Will Campbell. To "clutch-est play" I've added the JT Floyd forced fumble against UConn. To "unsung hero" I've added JT Floyd.
Also, I considered a "worst moment," but I figured that'd basically just be a list of the most frustrating plays from the MSU game since we won all the others.
Update Part II: In hindsight, praising Lewan and Cam Gordon as best freshmen seemed to be a devastating jinx. I hate it when that happens.
I have to agree. I really like Roh, but he hasn't done anything spectacular this year.
On the "Unsung hero" list, I'd add J.T. Floyd. He's gone from being overmatched last year to a pretty competent CB (and has pitched in at safety here and there, too).
Biggest disappointment has to be Ezeh. The hope was that maybe GERG was a good enough LB coach to get his career turned around, Stevie Brown-style. Instead he's fifth on the team in tackles, which simply should never be the case for a MLB.
Big Will Campbell belongs on that list, too. In the spring we thought he'd be starting.
As for Vincent Smith, no, he isn't a star, but I'm not sure what people were expecting from him. He wasn't blazing fast last year, either. It was really only as a receiver that he made an impact (the DSU game excepted).
Defensive MVP: Kovacs
Best Play: Denard's 43yd run vs Bowling Green (sick, sick moves)
Clutch Play: Denard's 3rd down pass to set up win vs ND
Best Freshman: Thomas Gordon
Unsung Hero: Martell Webb on offense, Kovacs on defense
Biggest Disappointment: Ezeh, always Ezeh...
Edit: For another category, how about player we can least afford to lose besides Denard Robinson? I would vote Molk after seeing the impact his injury had last year and considering he is the only other player that has to handle the ball every play on offense.
Do NOT ask questions like that!!!!!! No need to make Angry Michigan Everything Hating God feel like he has to answer any questions for us.
(for conspiracy theorists: that thread happened pre-season, and Molk and Woolfolk were the hands-down top answers. A week or so later, AMEHG exacted his remorseless fury on TWolf's ankle. Hey, i'm just sayin')
Can you say "jinxed"?
has exceeded preseason expectation thus far and is on pace to outperform preseason expectation by a couple of games. Now that the expectation has adjusted, it's now 8-9 wins instead of 6-8 wins.
Best Play: 1 Denard 87yd TD run against ND - "Coming out party" so to speak
Clutchest Play: 2 Great pass to Roy to setup game winning TD
Freshman: Lewan, with T Gordon being a very close 2nd
Disappointment: This is a tough one for me to answer, and it's got me thinking of all bad things right now, so i choose to skip the question and stop typing
Worst Dong-Punching / Soul-Crushing Moment: 2nd chance 3rd down conversion for Sparty?
Extracurricular: Dee Hart committing
Here's to a great 2nd Half!!!
... I don't think Cam Gordon should come even remotely close to qualifying for BEST freshman. He's made some huge plays, but he has given up substantially bigger ones. I'm attributing those to freshman mistakes, but if we were going to pick the most notable freshman contributor: I'd say Thomas Gordon.
How about a "Most Improved" category: Denard on offense, maybe Mouton on defense?
That's not a bad idea, although I think Denard would run away with the offensive one. Defense would be interesting -- JT Floyd, Jonas Mouton, maybe Kovacs, maybe even Greg Banks ...
Defensive Player: I would go with Kovacs this year so far. If he wasn't tackling who would be in the secondary? I think games could have been a bit more grim without him.
Best play: 87 ND TD run
Clutch performance: Mouton's interception at ND
Unsung hero: Schilling, offensive linemen are always unsung heroes unless their name is Jake Long.
Disappointment: Not on list, but Will Campbell
Kovacs, walk-on, good
Campbell, 5 star scholarship, not playing much
If I can't vote for Campbell then Smith.
How is this for a category: Best Ezeh play.
That category wouldn't have many choices.
Man if that video isn't motivating and inspiring enough for you than I do not know what would be. Brock and the coaches (Barwis) that worked with him for the past year and a half have a heck of a lot to be proud of. Man that is awesome!
Best play 87 yard run
unsung hero - tay odoms (gonna miss ya buddy, we don't talk about his injury enough)
biggest dissapointment - recruits, players and jounalist read this site so I'll refrain, but he's a senior on defense.
frosh - little Jake
If I had the time, I'd weigh in on all of these because you've posed some interesting questions. The one I will adamantly support, however, is for "clutchest play," which in my mind has to be the 3rd down conversion from Robinson to Roundtree against ND.
The idea of a "clutch play" demands a high-pressure situation. Some may disagree, but no single moment this season has been as high pressure as that 3rd down play in South Bend. We fail to convert, and we have to hope/pray/plead that our kicking unit makes a field goal so that we can roll the dice at a chance of maybe winning in overtime (/wrists); if we do convert, we all but win the game. Everybody knew before the ball was snapped that it was a monumental play, and my lungs refused to take in air for at least 25 seconds.
Add to that the incredible difficulty facing both passer and receiver. It was not an easy throw, it was not an easy catch. ND's DB was glued to Roundtree in tight coverage, and it took one of Denard's best throws of the season to give Roy a chance at making a play, which he did in stellar fashion. Big players make big plays.
When taken in context, that play really should come away with the trophy here.
Either Warren leaving early or Woolfolk getting hurt. If just one of those don't happen we've got some playing experience amongst the DBs and (at least in Woolfolk's case for sure) some on the field leadership for the DBs. If both were playing it might have made a huge difference.
Denard. We were all hoping he could live up to the lofty expectations that we all set for him. However, I seriously doubt that many of us expected him to exceed them.
Best Freshmen = Lewan on O and Avery on D
Best Play Offense = Denard's 97 yard TD run vs. ND
Best Play Defense = J.T. Floyd's forced fumble
Worst play offense = Denard's 1st interception against MSU
Worst play Defense = I have no idea where to go on this one
Best Offensive Player = Denard
Best Defensive Player = Martin
Best Special Team Player = Hawthorne
Player's I want to see get more PT = Cox, Dileo, Demens, Vinopal (cam Gordon is a big disappointment to me), a kicker that can make a freakin FG!
Best freshman has to be Lewan. Cam Gordon has too many bad plays to counteract his occasional good ones.
Unsung hero has to be Kovacs. The guy is a true walk-on, and he is probably better than at least half of the starters. (Hemingway is more of a sung hero.)
Biggest disappointment: I have to go with Vincent Smith, because a lot was expected of him. We already knew before the first game that Will Campbell wouldn’t be starting. Obi Ezeh is doing what he always did. Craig Roh is mostly a victim of the scheme.
James Rogers, if anything, is an unsung hero: he is nowhere near as bad as I thought a former WR playing corner would be. He won’t make all-conference, but he is not the weakest link, by any means.
I agree with Mike Martin for defensive MVP. He forces a lot of negative plays that give us a chance to get off the field, even if we don't always take advantage of them.
The 87-yarder is hard to beat for best play, but another candidate would be any of those TD passes Denard has thrown by faking the QB draw and then chucking it to the slot receiver on the fly route.
I like Thomas Gordon for best freshman. No real big plays, but no huge mistakes either.
For clutch play I would have voted for the JT Floyd-caused fumble against UConn, but Captain's impassioned argument has convinced me it's the third-down completion to Roundtree against ND. Both were huge plays though.
Unsung Hero: Kovacs
Biggest disappointment: Brandon Gibbons. Hopefully the kickers turn it around.
...on the Floyd forced fumble vs. UConn. Didn't get the most attention but could well be the biggest single play of the year so far. Lost in the exhilaration of running away with that game after that play was how different it would have been if UConn scored on that drive, and they were about to.
Nothing else really matters - does it?
On of the most touching and impressive moments I have been associated with. I am proud to say, "I was there."
That tunnel screen to Stonum for 60+ yards to start the two touchdown barrage before halftime against UMass. Before that play, the UMass game was looking very dicey.
Looking at how much everybody is freaking out over a loss to MSU, imagine if the first loss had been against UMass.
Defensive MVP....Martin hands down, been stating since the start of the year, he is All-Big Ten
Best Play - 87 yard TD run....it let the world know that we have a weapon
Clutch play.....I do like the UCONN fumble because of how it changed the game, but I am going to go with the Denard to Roundtree 3rd down conversion. It is summarized very well by Captain. Given the moment and everything that was hanging in the balance, that play was pure money......
Best Freshmen - T Gordon has played very well, but Lewan is special and already showing it (now can he keep his temper in check)
Unsung Hero - my personal favorite category becasue I feel it shows more about an individuals character - Kovacs
Biggest Disappointment - As much as I love the Unsung category, I do not really care for this one. I'll avoid any names, but with such a big hole in the MIDDLE of our defense, it is just bringing the rest of the team down. Almost seems like GREG is over coaching that position, just to get something.
Most wanted for the 2nd half - Easy - Hopkins. He has shown to be a very good lead blocker for our MVP, plus he has the power to go up inside and pick up the power yards. This guy needs to be the ball carrier on 3rd and short. Put him and Shaw in the backfield with Denard and the possibilities are many. I will also say Demens (see my comment above)
Ricardo Miller - Monstrously instrumental in landing Dee Miller. This is based on a family to family connection as shown when Dee's mother said their family has close ties to the Millers who relocated from Florida to Michigan recently.
Denard - His breakout record setting play speaks for itself. In addition to HS juniors and seniors taking note of his great play, there are freshmen and sophomores out there who are also watching intently. Those young impressionable minds are watching Denard's performance and building positive feelings about this Michigan program.
Mike Martin - This young man is quietly building a good case for being considered a 1st round pick in the NFL draft someday. Some youngsters somewhere are taking notes and are fantasizing of playing before thousands in the Big House - like Mike, the Beast.
Cam Gordon doesn't deserve to be ahead of Thomas Gordon or Carvin Johnson for best freshman. Given the spring hype he might even be a candidate for most disappointing.
Do you people not know he tore up his knee not too many months ago? If you were expecting him to be the same runner he was before his injury, that's your stupidity. I think it's damned impressive he's playing at all.
As for Roh, it shouldn't be surprising either that he's not setting the world on fire. Apparently people forgot that he had a certain guy named Brandon Graham drawing double teams all season long last year. RVB may be a serviceable player, but he's no difference-maker—just a step above Grant Bowman or Norman Heuer.
Agreed. But I think people came into the season expecting a lot from Smith without really thinking about the facts. As you know, great expectations are fine unless they fail to account for the underlying circumstances. I think that people failed to understand the implications of Smith's injury and the uphill climb he had (and has) to fully heal from that kind of injury.
It's not fair to expect a guy to be awesome just a handful of months after a torn ACL. I guess it just seems like, regardless of what we saw last year, if he's truly healthy enough and good enough right now to get regular carries ahead Shaw (sometimes), Hopkins and Cox, he should be producing a little more. With our offensive line and Denard as a constant threat to the defense, Smith's average of just over 4 yards per carry isn't very good.
If he isn't 100% -- and he's probably not, like you mentioned -- then I think he needs to be used more sparingly and in certain situations. I just expect whoever's getting the majority of the RB carries to be more dangerous/effective.
That said, I agree with your overall point -- I didn't mean to make it sound like I expected him to go for 1,500 yards this year and show no effects whatsoever from the knee injury.
In regards to Roh, I think the loss of BG definitely has something to do with it. He's also not getting the number of pass-rushing opportunities we expected and is learning on the job at a position that's not really suited to his strengths, an unfortunate byproduct of the lack of linebacker options.
I think Marvell Webb and Kevin Koger get my vote. They've been really good blockers in the running game, and haven't really caught too many passes. Big contributors + few opportunities to make "skill player" contributions (catching the ball, etc.) = unsung heros in my book.
I've got to agree. The TE's have been outstanding this year.
Also, Stephen Hopkins (despite fumble) is doing a lot of things right for a young back.
Correctly stated the Mealor story and especially that moment is tops in my book. Chills ran up my spine when he reached The Banner. The roar of 113,000 celebrating a OSU student, never again will an OSU student have that many Michigan fans give that heartfelt response. Thank you coaches RR and Barwis for your part in that moment
Random thought: In the ND flea-flicker interception, I love how the wide receiver tries to stand back up and then gets re-flattened by Kovacs.