OFFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
Darryl Stonum, WR. Stonum has done virtually nothing as a freshman. He dropped a TD pass in this game. His lack of involvement in the passing game is probably at least partially due to the fact that Threet throws inaccurate deep balls. However, Laterryal Savoy is a better blocker. Despite Savoy's poor receiving abilities, if neither Stonum or Savoy is going to make a play in the passing game, the better blocker might as well be in the game.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
Brandon Minor, RB. This is my chance to say "told ya so" to all the Minor doubters. Since before the season, I was clamoring for Brandon Minor to get carries. He should have been the starter from the first game. Eight games into the season, he's averaging 5.1 yards per carry (compared to McGuffie's 4.1) and has the year's longest run (36 yards) outside of Threet's 58-yarder against Wisconsin. He has 5 rushing touchdowns on 51 carries, which means he scores a TD on approximately 10% of his carries (McGuffie has 3 TD's on 115 carries, approximately a 2.8% clip if my quick mental math serves me correctly). On top of that, Minor is the team leader in receiving TD's with two, despite catching only five passes; McGuffie, Koger, Hemingway, Moundros, Mathews, and Shaw each have one TD. Minor's averaging 11.8 yards per reception. He's also an excellent blocker, as evidenced by his pancake block against MSU's defensive end on Threet's TD run. Some of you will point to his injuries and fumbles as reasons why he hasn't received more playing time. Regarding injuries, if he's healthy enough to play, he's got to play. It's true that reduced practice reps might be detrimental, but it's probably not any more hurtful than playing a less able player. And in regards to the fumbles, I agree that fumbles are a serious concern. Teams that lack talent can hardly afford to turn the ball over. On the other hand, teams with poor offensive lines can't afford to play a running back who can't break tackles, either. Neither McGuffie or Minor is a "perfect" player, but who is? You have to let players make mistakes. Just like you don't yank a QB after one interception, a fumble or two shouldn't spell disaster for a running back, either. I realize a 17 carry, 55 yard day isn't the best game to brag about, but a) I was too busy last weekend to post and b) Minor still scored two of our three TD's yesterday.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
Steve Brown, FS. For God's sake, Steve Brown. For God's sake. For. God's. Sake. I had high hopes for Steve Brown. I really did. I watch him run and he's fast. I see him body slam people to the ground on special teams and I cringe. The kid has some sort of mental block or confidence loss when he's at free safety. I don't know what it is, and I don't know how to fix it. I feel bad for him, because I always hear good things about him and I honestly think he tries hard and feels bad when he screws up. But the screw-ups are mounting too quickly for the coaching staff to ignore anymore. I was watching the game at the bar yesterday, so I was distracted a little more than I wanted to be. But he missed an easy tackle on former walk-on Blair White that led to a 61-yard TD pass. He was also the one targeted on the long pass down the left sideline (to Mark Dell, if I remember correctly) where he was in position but just failed to find the ball and make a play. Brown isn't completely useless, since he did make a sack and force a fumble. However, his shortcomings are too significant. I don't care who they put in there. Normally, I'd say Michael Williams, but Williams got a concussion in yesterday's game. Charles Stewart. Move Morgan Trent to free safety and plug in Cissoko at corner (Trent was benched for stretches, anyway). Artis Chambers. Insert Mouton at SS and move Harrison to FS. Hell, burn JT Floyd's redshirt and plug him in there. Something. Anything. But if Brown isn't going to improve (and at this point in his career, I have a hard time picturing significant improvement), the coaches need to start grooming someone to take over the position. The offense will improve in 2009 with every significant player returning. But the defense will have a maximum of two seniors in 2009, and both of those guys are defensive ends (Brandon Graham, if he doesn't declare for the NFL, and Adam Patterson). On such an inexperienced defense, we can't afford to have such horrible safety play. Get a youngster some experience now.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
Brandon Graham, DE. He played like a man. He had three sacks yesterday and now has eight for the year. He shouldn't have guaranteed a victory against MSU, but at least he backed up his words with his own play. When I saw Ringer break free for what turned out to be a 64-yard TD run and I saw Graham gaining on Ringer from behind, my heart started to palpitate. I had visions of Shawn Crable from the 2007 game against MSU. Alas, Graham came up a little short, but it was an excellent effort on his part and it showed what kind of a physical specimen he is. If he's not there already, he might become Michigan's best defensive lineman of the last twenty years.