Things to think about this week+small PSU preview
Preface: I’m bored. I have a lot of time on my hands. If there are ideas for future betterments please post them and I shall learn. The PSU thing is just a small preview to hold you over for the real PSU stuff.
Did you know: Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Montana, born in 1989, is the second member of his family to be backup quarterback at Notre Dame (his father, Joe, played there from 1974-78)
- Denard was injured for the 5th in 7 games. Someone’s gotta say it , say it , and say it some more...I’m not debating on his touches, but this is something to keep an eye on.
- Molk: Nothing new on him. He should be back.
- Martin: Ditto Molk
- Shaw: Should be back this week.
- Fitz is still questionable. However, he is practicing.
Analysis: the team should have 4/5 returning. Beware the false returns though (they occurred to Tate last year, and will hopefully occur to Tacopants). Often players come back to play, but play injured, and are incapable of fulfilling their duties.
- Boldin: questionable
- Bani Gbadyu: questionable
- Gerald Hodges: questionable
- Michael Mauti: Back
- Eric Latimore: doubtful
- Jack Crawford: doubtful
Analysis: They will be playing with lots of injuries. Really, not much to say here besides things like that. I also believe that I missed a few injuries to the OL, but I can’t find links.
Denard’s improvement on passing:
Big thing to watch for as games come. Denard’s passing currently is doing things like this. He’s still on pace for 1879 Rushing Yards and 2276 passing, however teams are starting to key in on his lack of a long range passing game.
They are doing the right thing: in two games he’s got 4 interceptions and only rushing 191 yards on 4.9 YPC. He had topped 191 in the ND (258) and Indiana (217) games so yes, that is slowing him down. Let’s see how well he does this week. It’s important because:
- We will know more about if he can throw it well enough to keep D’s honest.
- This is a big step to make us a BTC contender for next year; we need that deep ball threat.
Denard is already a proven runner. My goal for his passing stats at the end of this year would be:
- One 35-yard completion each game (not including YAC). This would prove the kid can throw the ball downfield.
- Completion percentage of 65-70% When defenses are keying on his running, the receivers are open and Denard puts up ludicrous completion rates. But his INs have gone way up recently. Hopefully a week off has settled him back down.
- Less than 1 sack/game. This will mean that he's not taking all day thinking back there, and understands the routes better. Also, with his speed, this shouldn't be happening anyway.
This week we will likely hear about how Campbell will/won’t be moved. RR said in a presser that it will be decided over the week. I haven’t read anything about it during the bye so I’d assume we’ll hear about it soon. This will again stir up a lot of debate. My take: We need the DL more than OL. Why?
- After Khoury’s showing, we have more depth at OL than at DL.
- We had more even before Khoury’s showing.
- Who would the back-ups at DL be for next year? Ash and Talbott, the planet and the stick. Both would be a huge step down from Martin. This position needs a real blue chip (*waves hand like Obi wan* at Jernigan: "You want to come. Yes.")
- Even if Quinton Washington is moving to the "dark side," our DL needs bodies. This is a position where the 2-deep guys get a lot of playing time, and we're going to lose at least three (Banks, Patterson, Sagesse) at the end of the year, if not a crushing fourth (Martin). I, for one, am not yet ready to give up on having an upperclassman 5-star on the DL depth chart next year.
PSU/time to get happy
(you see what I did there? [Ed-M: Actually, no.])
PSU's Passing Game:
Penn State's offense truly is offensive.
- 18.2 PPG gets them dead last in the Big Ten.
- Boldin (or back-up) can not throw. (209 YPG, 8th best after week 7.)
- 8 INTs is second to ILL’s 9.
- Royster averages 64 YPG.
- Injuries to Boldin spell trouble for an already.
After facing a gauntlet of capable upperclassman (Chappell, Cousins, Stanzi), our secondary gets to take a major breather against Penn State's three-headed fail. Michigan will face one of these guys:
- True freshman returning from injury who has been pretty bad all year
- Sophomore who lost job to above freshman
- Paul and Kathy McGloin run a flower business in Scranton, Pa. They are very proud of their son Matthew, a redshirt sophomore who walked on the Pennsylvania State football team and accomplished what neither high-profile recruit above him could: throw two touchdowns against the only secondary in the Big Ten that might be worse than Michigan's. Unfortunately Paul and Kathy could not make it to Minneapolis to see their son play. Such is the flower business.
Did you know: Former Michigan starting quarterback Nick Sheridan is the son of Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Bill Sheridan.
Martin was not Martin against Iowa, but he was Martin enough that he was cleared to play, which means his injury (thanks MSU cheap shot) could very well be all healed. With less to worry about from the passing game, expect Michigan to use a 4-man rush more often, allowing us to generate some...what's it called again? oh yes, pressure.
Pressure+freshman/backup/walk-on QB=int (see ND game).
PSU's Running Game.
Our run D has DEMENS!!!! I have written ad nauseam about this kid, suffice it so say our run D should be good (against the "TURRIBLE" that is PSU).
Here I'm hoping that the bye week will help Michigan as well, mostly so the freshmen can work on tackling, but also because it gives the coaching staff some time to make/solidify some roster moves (Demens practicing with the ones may convince Mouton he doesn't have to do everything by himself). Add the Bye Week Advantage and you get a better D. Add in Royster and Boldin/back-up and you get a good D. Add in
Vinopal (possible switch to starter) [Edit: Cam is still the starter] as the second white DB and you get a lot of questions, but hopefully more answers.
Prediction: we let up less than 350 against Penn State. I know that sounds high, but I just see them getting yards somehow.
- 1.) We have DENARD
- 2.) They have INJURRRRRED
Not really much to say here. They lost their 2 DEs (who are questionable or doubtful). They have a hodge-podge in their LBs that is about as bad as our secondary stuff. We also have Shaw and Molk coming back.
The only interesting part will be what the new DEs do. I’m assuming you’ll see them just sit down on EVERY zone-read (Mid-line please!!!). Their scoring D is ranked 4th in the Big Ten, but #1 is Iowa and #2 in MSU (#3s and 5 are still on our schedule, of course). We gained 899 against those two teams combined.
The thing to take away is that we can score on them, but we need to convert (like we failed to do against Iowa and MSU.) BUT WAIT. They are LAST in the Big Ten in red-zone D. You remember the Red Zone, where we lost the last two games with turnovers? Hope emerges. Also, hope that Hopkins gets playing time. I'm with Brian in that Smith's "just a guy" [Ed-M: albeit one who can run a killer route from the slot]. Hopefully this is the week that Michael "Don't call me Carlos Brown" Shaw and Stephan "Rhymes with Chiffon" Hopkins are the two for me after Iowa.
Prediction: 500+ yards of offense. 400 to Denard. Smith plays more than Hopkins and I cry inside.