The pounding that Denard took was disconcerting. I thought it was foolish of Borges to be calling QB power runs late in the 4th quarter up 28-3. Also wanted to see Devin get a full series and gain some experience.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, Hoke for tomorrow - EMU
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Learn from yesterday...
The final score indicated a beat down as would be expected when Michigan plays Eastern, but I wonder if I am alone in feeling that yesterday's game exposed more flaws with this Michigan team than it addressed. What did we learn, after all?
- Michigan's defense is going to have trouble against the run all year. Seriously, giving up over 200 yards rushing to EMU despite being significantly ahead the entire second half is bad news. This defense would be looking much worse except for some timely turnovers, and while the turnover numbers are encouraging we shouldn't overlook that last year's team was also sitting 3-0 with a significant edge in turnover margin (10/4 this year vs. 6/2 last year).
- Michigan's offense is still mostly Denard, Denard, Denard and a healthy Mr. Robinson is still far more offense than most defenses can handle. Denard does seem to be more solidly built than last year and may hold up better for a while, but he definitely took a beating yesterday, much of which seemed unnecessary. The good news is that Borges seems to understand which side his bread is buttered on, and didn't try to go to mostly under center until the game was in hand. The bad news is summed up by that last drive by Denard, where it seemed like Hoke/Borges are so desperate to see Denard progress as a drop-back QB that they eschewed a great opportunity to get Gardner some meaningful snaps.
- Michigan needs Hagerup back. Wile's kicks aren't a ton shorter in distance, but their hang time is non-existent and every one is a threat to be returned for big yardage. It is leading to Michigan fighting uphill in the field-position battle every game. A kickoff into the endzone would be nice too, but doesn't seem to be in the cards unless the wind big at our backs.
- Michigan is much better in the Red-Zone it would seem. This may be because of the turnover margin not yet flipping like it did last year, but with 10 TDs and 1 FG out of 11 trips into the Red-Zone (1 actually from the 21, close enough), this year's team seems vastly improved in this area. Of course we must consider the strength of competition here.
Live for Today…
Several Michigan players should bask in the glow of their accomplishments:
1. Denard Robinson – Honestly asked to do far too much, Denard answered as only he can carrying the team with nearly 300 yards of total offense including ~200 yards rushing on 26 carries. He took far too many shots from EMU's defense and is going to be feeling some discomfort this week. It was ominous when the commentators noted that Denard was limited by arm-pain in practice last week. If Michigan is going to a decent bowl game this season, they are going to need Denard playing near 100%.
2. Vincent Smith – Really showed off the shiftiness that was missing last year, along with some great speed. 118 yards on 9 carries = awesome. The fact that Smith had no TDs validates the yards even more, as none were of the seeya variety.
3. Michigan Defense – The run defense was awful, see above. But Michigan did limit EMU to only 3 points and won the TOP for the first time in a long time. The most encouraging part of this year's defense is that they seem to get better as the game progresses. This is probably Mattison.
4. Jeremy Gallon – I just love that this guy is finally putting his stamp on the program. So far he seems like Odoms with better speed.
5. Drew Dileo – First TD in a Michigan uniform. Congratulations young man.
Also of note was the play of Jake Ryan, Mike Martin, and Craig Roh. Also Heninger seemed to redeem himself somewhat.
Hope for Tomorrow
Bask in 3-0 for now, because this team is looking to be on much the same course as last season so far. I think that our reliance on Denard Robinson will actually help us next week against SDSU, because our offense will not look like what Rocky Long remembers a Borges offense looking like. Then again, our run defense might get gutted by Ronnie Hillman. SDSU will put a scare into us at least.
Our biggest hope for the whole season may actually be Borges's willingness to adapt to Denard's strengths as well as Mattison's willingness to use naked aggression to mask our defense's glaring flaws. Like last year, this team is going to sink or swim based on their ability to outscore opponents. The opponents seem less daunting however, and we have better coaches. I am reasonably anticipating 8-9 wins still as long as the most key players stay healthy. If we can keep the TO margin on the happy side, perhaps this team can develop into a dark horse division championship contender.
Go Blue and stay safe.
I agree. It's one thing if you put Denard back in at the end to have him hand it off and to test his passing abilities a little more. But to put him back in there to have him pound it (and get pounded) some more made no sense to me.
The mattison touch on the D can not be denied thus far. The first an second half were like deja vu for the past 3 seasons. I love the mid-game adjustments
EMU only attempted 6 passes and the rest were runs. I'll take given up 246 total yards, besides, we have played the most explosive O we're going to see all year in ND so we will get better especially knowing all the kids are still learning
If we are sinking and swimming on the O's output then we are in for a long season. I think we will sink or swim on our ability to get timely defensive stops. We know we wont be dominant (maybe next year), but timing is everything.
And oh yeah, Gallon is not faster than Odom. Odom beat Denard in a race last year remember?
I think it's not so much the defense being bad as the coaches are simply not preparing for the scripted plays that other coaches are putting against us.
Eastern ran a jet-sweep series only once the whole day and it was in the first series and you could tell we were obviously not ready for it at ALL. The first series also saw them using a flea-flicker QB option for a first down and various other wacky formations that they never used again later in the game. They also ran the MAC staple diamond stack left trick pass (I've seen Toledo do it too). Temple also tried something similar if I remember right. But you can really on script so many plays...
When Eastern settled into their normal formations, they got NOTHING. This is from a team that was 3rd in the nation rushing (yes, I know that this was against FCS schools, but at this point in time, most everybody has played just FCS schools/lower FBS schools). Their offensive line is around the same size as many other B1G offensive lines but seriously lacking technique (and were holding our rushers multiple times), as was evidenced by the number of times Gillet would do play action and see 4 D-linemen charging at him unblocked.
As for the offense, it was really frustrating me. Our tailbacks were having a lot of success on the ground, but they continued to run Denard power out of the shotgun. Our tailbacks were doing very well from the I-form carries and the only TFLs that came from running the backs were on shotgun plays where a person coming on a blitz was left unguarded and came around. Why stop doing something even though it's working really well?
You guys would be lamenting about how terrible the Michigan defense is even if we shut them out today.
I listed the Defense as a whole as a group that should take pride in their accomplishments. Giving up 3 points is admirable, but level of competition must be looked at as well. It looks to me like there are going to be problems with defense all season, but I have faith that Mattison will have them improving with each game just as they seem to improve as each game unfolds. Without the talent+experience needed to carry the team to victory though, it will fall on the offense to win some shootouts.
The best news is that Borges realizes what the talents of Denard Robinson are, and seems more than willing to go to the offense's strengths first before trying to go under center. This will keep Michigan competitive in most games and give them a chance to win shootouts when the defense just doesn't have the horses to stop the other team's offense.
we got an interception. Just putting that out there. As for preparing for tricks, I suppose the coaches thought that we could get by with our normal defensive package and continue rotating through DL, learning more of Mattison's schemes, and so forth. That said, I would be suprised if we didn't have something unusual prepared for our "countdown clock" games this year against various schools with the word "State" in the title.
So far I have learned that Denard's shoes are not being stripped off as much as last year. I don't remember him losing a shoe yet.
I'm still in wait and see mode on everything else. Looking at the schedule, I don't see any sure thing one way or the other (although Purdue is awful). I do think there is overall improvement and that is encouraging.
I was at the game with my wife and kids and I kept muttering to myself throughout the entire first half, "This isn't working, Brady."
"This" referred to the pro style offensive scheme he and Al would obviously prefer to run, and tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to varying degrees in the first half. It may be that Denard's feet are simply too "happy" to stand in the pocket, set his feet, and fire. Hoke himself mentioned in the presser the work that will have to go into getting Denard more settled in the pocket as a drop-back passer.
But, as I watched the game, it occurred to me that - just perhaps - the actual plan for this season isn't (and never was) to win by re-making Denard into John Navarre. But, rather to begin mixing pro set and under-center play calling into the scheme in preparation for next year and the year after, with little expectation that it will be wildly successful. However, as this team is built to win when Denard is Denard, Brady and Al always intended to keep most of the Rich Rod playbook, but begin incorporating some of the pro style fundamentals.
What still scares me more than the offense (which, when it's on, is really f-ckin' ON) is the defense. It gave up more than 200 yds rushing yesterday, and most of that was in the first half. Frankly, the EMU play calling seemed to become more conservative as the game wore on, which was self-defeating. We seemed to have few answers for the QB keeper or the jet sweep, and their RBs were pretty effective against our front four.
If EMU had more of a passing game (and we didn't have Thomas Gordon making one-handed interceptions at the goal line) and EMU had someone other than Ron English calling plays, I might have actually been mildly worried about the game's outcome.
I don't think we can read too much into the rushing yards given up. Sure, it looked bad for the first quarter and a half. But they were apparently running some plays that for whatever reason were not expected (the jet sweep). I think they gave up less than 100 total yards in the second half. I actually think by the end of the year EMU will have some very good rushing numbers, if only because that's apparently all they can do. Another source of a lot of their yards was the D losing contain on the QB. That is scheme, and correctable.
No other teams run plays we don't expect.
That's something the coaches have to do a better job of. We can't allow scripted plays to defeat us until we make adjustments.
Was he questionable as a DC? Yes. By that, I mean questionable. I don't know that we really had enough evidence to hang it all on him. Technically the same is true of GERG as he was saddled with Gibson and running defenses he didn't know at RR's request, HOWEVA. RE is working with EMU. When was the last time they had a winning record? When Charie Batch was there?
He's working with nothing and has already doubled his win total from his first year there. He's got Mike Hart, who seems to be doing a decent job with the RB coaching, if their running game is an example (however, according to BRCE, coaching doesn't have anything to do with player performance as all the coaches use all the same techniques and teaching styles).
I think it looks like Ron is doing a pretty good job working down the road. He has a limited team with a limited roster, and he's getting reasonable production out of it. Fewer turnovers and a few receivers who could catch balls thrown at them and they might have put a scare into Michigan yesterday.
the only running plays I saw that ever got more than 2 yards were from the run option, or QB power. On the drive for the FG they tried an I-formation run that got strung out and tackled for maybe 1 yard. They cut to Hoke in time to see him shaking his head at the outcome. I've only watched the game once, but I watched it from DVR pausing and repeating several plays, and I didn't come away with the conclusion that the I-formation was working and Al Borges went away from it to pound on Denard. What I remember was that the offense couldn't sustain any drive until Borges gave up and called a run option that Denard kept and went for 52 yards. Then I watched as that success started to open up for Vincent Smith and he got a couple of run option keeps. And of course Denard's running opened up the QB Oh Noe to the tight end and one to the slot for TD's.
That was what I remembered from the game. I think Fitz Toussaints total yardage bears that out.
I agree with what you say. The read option and shotgun looks in general are what make this offensive unit potent, and Borges seems to have taken this to heart. The QB draw Oh Noes was a sweet throwback to last year, and should give upcoming opponent DCs nightmares.
The coordinators are feeling out things for later in the season. Don't you think it's better to iron out the kinks now than implement a simple but effective scheme now only to have it stuffed when we play in the Big 10?
Obviously we'll see if that bears out when we get to conference play, but the last two years should show that what look like well-oiled offensive juggernauts in the early weeks of play are often paper tigers in conference play. That is exactly what the coaching staff was brought in to change, and maybe--just maybe--trying out a bunch of stuff and giving Denard practice running plays other than zone-read and QB-iso will pay off when we have defenses that can contain him out of the spread-option.
Give it time.
I must sadly report that San Diego State is a better team than Michigan. But for the fact they lost their two best receivers to season ending injuries, they probably would beat us by two touchdowns.
They have a terrific quaterback and a sensational running back. Their defense is good and plays tough. Also, they are well coached.
Based on Michigan's performance against EMU, they are not improving. Of special concern is Denard's ineptness in throwing the ball. Teams now have the scheme to neutralize Denard. Eight man fronts and force him to throw. We lucked out against ND when he threw up those wounded ducks which were caught. But going forward the teams with better personnel and preparation will shut down this aspect of the Michigan offense.
Against SD I fear the worst as does Hoke.
"Based on Michigan's performance against EMU, they are not improving."
This is a bold thing to say based on anything, let alone a game against EMU. Michigan has better talent accross the board than SDSU and while Hillman is scary, Michigan should just be able to wear them down by the 4th quarter at least. Big plays could kill us, but no way is SDSU a better team than Michigan.
What is "the worst"? And how is it you know what it is exactly does Hoke fear?
Is that you?
Everone knows Big Ten defenses want to stop the run first. And this means shutting down Denard. This will definetly pose a problem for Denard if his passing doesn't improve. I really thought he'd be farther along than he at this point with his passing. I didn't ike the play calling yesterday either, unless they were hiding some plays when they got ahead. And I reallly thought Devin should have got more playing time. We knew with the coaching change this would be a work in progress and it is.
What's interesting is that there are no really scary opponents on our schedule until Nebraska (although Illinois looks legit). Still, it is impossible to believe that we won't lose some games playing the way we are at present. Yet, if Hoke & Co can duct tape wins together we might have a record that is better than our actual team. Here's hoping while we are still 3-0.
Part of the problem is way too many long vertical passes. This is not DR's strength. Need more drag routes, screens, bubble screens, and dumps to TE's. These passes open up run routes because they force LB's to look elsewhere than for the run. Also I don't think the WR's are running very good routes. Not coming out of breaks fast enough. DR has not hit a WR in stride since last year. Everything is either a jump ball or a hook pattern where the rec is not moving away from a defender.
The running game MAY have found a every down back in Vincent Smith. Not bruising but shifty and gutsy. Start him and see what happens. Can't get any worse. Fitz and Shaw not showing enough though a little banged up.
"DR has not hit a WR in stride since last year."
This is patently false. Gallon's catch at the end of the ND game should be enough to disprove this, but there are of course many other options. Hemingway with a defender on DR's ankles, etc.
Give me a break. We are through 3 games. The point is there should be more. Oh! We threw a couple screens also. But not enough. The passing game is not playing to DR's strengths.
Blanket statements are either 100% true or idiotic IMHO.
Also Grady perfectly in stride for a 27 yard gain in crunch time. But you keep thinking Butch, that's what you're good at?
Hoke knows how to beat the defense he created, and the offense players he has coached for two years...
*he DID coach is what I meant
I think you got it exactly right with your quote at the end...
"Our biggest hope for the whole season may actually be Borges's willingness to adapt to Denard's strengths as well as Mattison's willingness to use naked aggression to mask our defense's glaring flaws."