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Michigan is 2-0, ranked in both polls, and off to a much needed great start to the season. However, as Michigan fans, we are all proceeding with caution due to the events of last year. Everyone knows the story, 4-0 start and then a 1-7 finish. Why should we think this year is any different? There are a lot of similarities between this year and last. Why not take a look at some:
Michigan is off to a 2-0 start, including a heart pounding, come from behind win on the last drive of the game against Notre Dame.
Michigan has a chance to get to 4-0(like last year) and then 5-0. They would go into the Michigan State game unbeaten and ranked, similar to last year.
Like last year Michigan has a Quarterback emerging as a star in the college football world after 2 weeks. Last year was Tate Forcier, this year it is Denard Robinson.
So why should we think this year is any different? It looks like we are following almost the same story line as last year. I will tell you why 2010 is nothing like 2009.
The book is still out on whether or not UConn is a good team. However, they are from a BCS conference, and coming off a bowl win. There is no way you can compare a win against Western Michigan or Eastern Michigan (which Michigan had in 2009) to a win against UConn. The win against UConn is just a better win, and Michigan smacked them around pretty good.
This year the Notre Dame game was on the road. Everyone knows home field advantage is big in college football. Michigan did not win one road game last year, not one. That includes teams like Illinois. So to get a road win against Notre Dame is a huge step in the right direction.
Tate Forcier had a good start to last season, and had a lot of great reviews and hype. However, he never did anything like Denard Robinson has done this year. Not any record breaking performances, he was good, but what Denard has done in week 1 and week 2 is absolutely special, and something I have never seen before.
The offense is just better than last year. The offensive line is stronger, more experienced and everyone is more experienced in the system now. When you watch this offense, you see a team that is clicking, and running the offense the way you want it to be run.
Denard is exactly the kind of QB Rich Rodriguez needs to run this system. As good as Tate Forcier was at the start of last season, he does not have the same skill sets as Denard does to run this offense.
Both quarterbacks (Tate and Denard) are now sophomores. They have a year of experience in the system now and will obviously be improved from last year. This should mean less of the turnovers(none in the first two games) that plauged Michigan last year. Where that also helps is if Denard were to get injured, we are stronger at back up than last year. When Tate got hurt last year we had an inexperienced Denard to back him up. Obviously as we watched, it was not a very good situation. Now if Denard gets injured, you have a sophomore QB who started 12 games last year, and a Freshmen who enrolled early ready to go behind him. The QB situation is WAY better than last year, even if Denard were to get injured.
Looking at the upcoming schedule. Last year after the 4-0 start Michigan played MSU and Iowa on the road. Lost one in overtime, and the other by 2 points. This year both teams travel to Ann Arbor. That is not to say this means Michigan will win for sure, but I like Michigans chances at home against these teams better than on the road. After that, Michigan plays Penn State, who last year was an 11-2 team, with a lot of depth and experience. This year they are a young team trying to find their way and the book is still out on them. I like Michigans chances against the 2010 Penn State team better than the 2009 Penn State team. Also this year, Michigan will get Wisconsin at home instead of on the road. The only thing I do not like is seeing OSU in the shoe, instead of the Big House.
Nobody will deny that so far, 2010 looks similar to 2009. However, it is a new year, and a new set of circumstances. We should all take a breath and realize that similar does not mean the same.
All the talk about Denard Robinson getting injured in the near future got me wondering how other mobile QB's have been handled, and how frequent injuries occur. These are my findings:
Michael Vick - Virginia Tech(1999,2000)
Carries: 262 Yards: 1,318 TD: 18
Michael Vick averaged about 12 carries per game and missed 2 games out of 22 possible career games due to injury. He carried the ball over 20 times on 1 occasion(23)
Vince Young - Texas(2004,2005)
Carries: 322 Yards: 2,129 TD: 26
Vince Young Averaged 13 Carries per game and did not miss any games due to injury. He also carried the ball over 20 times on 4 occasions (20,21,21,25)
Troy Smith - Ohio State(2003,2004,2005,2006)
Carries: 293 Yards: 1,168 TD: 14
Troy Smith averaged about 8 carries per game and did not miss any games due to injury. He never carried the ball over 20 times.
Josh Nesbitt - Georgia Tech(2007,2008,2009)
Carries: 504 Yards: 2,069 TD: 25
Josh Nesbitt averaged about 14 carries per game and missed 3 games out of a possible 38 due to injury. He carried the ball over 20 times on 10 occasions (32,28,27,26,23,23,22,21,21,20). He played all 14 games of the 2009 season despite carrying the ball an average of 20 times per game.
Tim Tebow - Florida(2006,2007,2008,2009)
Carries: 692 Yards: 2,947 TD: 57
Tim Tebow Averaged about 12 carries per game and never missed a game due to injury. He carried the ball over 20 times on 7 different occasions (27,27,26,24,22,22,20)
The most significant QB's to this study are QB's that played under Rich Rodriguez in his spread option system:
Rasheed Marshall - West Virginia(2001,2002,2003,2004)
Carries: 491 Yards: 2,040 TD: 24
Rasheed Marshall averaged about 11 carries per game and missed 1 game due to injury. He carried the ball over 20 times on 2 occasions (21,20).
Pat White - West Virginia(2005,2006,2007,2008)
Carries: 684 Yards: 4,480 TD: 47
Pat White averaged about 14 carries per game and missed 2 games as a 4 year starter. He also carried the ball over 20 times on 13 different occasions (27,24,24,23,23,22,22,22,21,21,21,20). I think it is also of note that Pat White is around the same height and weight as Denard Robinson.
You can be a mobile Quarterback and get a lot of carries without being sidelined with injuries. It does not matter what conference you play in. Mobile QB's will get dinged up in a similar fashion to running backs but there is no reason to believe because a mobile QB carries the ball a lot he will fall victim to massive injuries and die.
It is also of note that a QB who is mobile is less likely to be injured as seriously as a pocket passer. Pocket passers are prone to injuries, especially on blitzes where they do not see the hit coming, get taken out at the legs, or are not mobile enough to elude a blitz. Mobile QB's get out in space, and are able to elude blitzes, they take more head on hits, but are less prone to devastating blind side hits that plauge pocket passers.
How this applies to Denard Robinson:
Obviously Denard should not carry the ball 29 times a game. Rich Rodriguez has already stated that this will usually be lower. However, having a couple games where he carries the ball a lot does not guarentee doom. If anything a game like this early in the season will be good for the entire offense. Teams will prepare for Denard with his feet, and play action should open up, as well as running lanes for the running backs. The beauty of the spread offense is, one day your QB can carry the ball 29 times for 200 yards, and the next week, burn you in the air with play action and read option hand-offs.
It has been awhile since I have had a chance to sit down and write something here. Life has a way of getting in the way when you least expect it.
We are getting close to the college football season now, and everyone is starting to get in the spirit. Sometimes spirit means watching or making your favorite youtube hype video, or maybe you are more like me and just like to get into the blogs and forums and talk some football. I can't help but notice one overwhelming trend though. Michigan and Michigan State fans cannot seem to get along. It's natural, because it is a rivalry, however I enjoy talking to a well informed Michigan State fan about their team, their expectations for the season, and maybe throw in a little competitive banter favoring my Wolverines.
There is one thing that bugs me though, and it doesn't really happen in this board too much, but happens a lot elsewhere. That is when a Michigan State fan calls a Michigan fan a Wal-Mart Wolvie. The basic premise of this attack is that, you never went to the school, you just picked up a Michigan jacket in Wal-Mart and became a fan, or your just a front runner who picked Michigan. They try to use this to diminish the arguments of Michigan fans.
I have a problem with this because it is just too silly. I know there are tons of Michigan fans who do not have any connection what so ever to the University but who cares? We all pick who we like for our own reasons. For me it is simple.
When I was a little kid I came down with a rare case of arthritis in children. It rendered me barley able to walk, and do things normal children did. My mom took me to all the local doctors and some local hospitals and nothing seemed to help. Finally, she ended making the long drive from our home in Harbor Beach, MI to the University of Michigan hospital. There, I was treated once a month and finally started to get better. Thanks to the University of Michigan and their continued help I was able to grow up a normal child, playing sports, running around with my friends and enjoying life. If I ever have knee problems again all I have to do is drop in to U of M and they will help me. This made me feel a connection to U of M at a young age that I carried on into my adult years. I never went to school at Michigan, instead I chose to join the Army after high school and serve my country. I gained a lot out of my experience in the Army and would never have been able to enlist had it not been for the University of Michigan. That Bond I feel to the school, just when I can easily take a stroll down the road still holds true today. I love Michigan for not only what it did for me, but what it does for others like me.
I know everyone is not like me. Not everyone went to U of M hospital as a child, or went to school there. However, why is it that Spartan fans decide to use this attack? If we polled every single person that considers themselves an MSU fan how many to you think would have a personal connection the the University? I grew up with, and know many MSU fans who don't have any connection. So why is this "supposed to be insult" directed at Michigan fans?
Do Michigan State fans know that the University of Michigan boast one of the worlds largest populations of living alumni at over 460,000 people? Would it not stand to reason that with that large of an alumni population, consistently in the top two in the Nation that Michigan would have a lot of fans? I am in no way trying to bash Michigan State fans or alumni, but it seems more likely to me that more Michigan fans have a connection the the University of Michigan than do to MSU.
The truth is, every school in the nation has fans with no connection to the University, and just choose to be fans and that is fine. Why keep trying to throw this half thought out insult in the face of Michigan fans?