that is nice bonus change
A few notes: Ohio State and Alabama are still the top two, and without too much useful information to separate them, I left them in their previous order, although there's a legit argument for Alabama being #1 now. On that note, Oregon is far and away #3, and if they can continue their hot streak when they run into legit competition, they could make a run for the top of the table.
Nebraska is also rocketing toward the top behind Taylor Martinez. However, they don't play any truly legit competition (depending on how you classify Washington) for y a month, when they'll take on Texas.
Arkansas moves up for beating Georgia on the road. I may be a little irrationally exuberant on them, since their other two wins are bottom-feeders, and Georgia currently sits at 1-2. Please advice.
LSU moves up for no real reason, as the only legit team they've played all year (North Carolina) sits 0-2 on the year, and the Tigers should be expected to take care of Mississippi State on the road. They'll probably move down in the final ballot.
West Virginia moves down despite a convincing win because they Marshall team that took them to overtime just got pasted by... Bowling Green. Maybe the Maryland win should be considered impressive enough to keep them were they were.
Michigan moves down for Saturday's debacle, although I'm still holding out hope that the poor defensive play was something of an anomaly. Michigan State sticks where they were for an overtime win against a decent opponent.
Uh, well… hmmmm. You probably won't want to watch a ton of them, but yeah. Here's Denard's Gameday feature:
And the Big Ten Icons item on Charles Woodson, featuring Keith Jackson:
Somehow Woodson finished 20th, which like lol ok.
Press conferences and some other bits after the jump.
Not pleased with the way they played, but happy with the win. All three phases of the game had letdowns. "As quiet a winning locker room as you'll ever see."
"I can promise our guys will look at the film, coaches will look at the film, I'll watch everything on all three phases." "Defensively we thought they would pressure us a little bit" so Denard couldn't run. Has to talk to D coaches to see if UMass did surprising stuff. "They're pretty good up front."
Nobody was injured outside of Banks, and his injury isn't serious.
Take what they give us. Stonum made plays, Shaw stepped up. Not worried about starters being tired because they only played 56 snaps.
3-4, 4-3 shift "We saw the same thing last week." Switch just about every other snap. "That's kinda part for the course. Our guys have seen that." UMass adjusted at the second half. UMass played a lot of cover-0, gave up lots of 1-on-1 opportunities. Maybe Michigan should have taken even more deep shots. Wanted to run to give the D a break.
"[Denard] was pretty sharp with his eyes and his decisions." Ball-handling was the problem. Denard not as sharp as he was first couple weeks. "Amost like a first-game feel." Execution wasn't clean. Denard made some great throws, a few good runs. "We didn't run him as much. We didn't want to." Shaw stepped up.
Offense is QB-centered, he has to run sometimes. More designed RB runs today to give him some relief. Shaw - "runs hard, got great speed, used his vision well today." Team's biggest homerun threat.
Lewan - "we should have played Ricky Barnum too some." They'll decide if a few more guys should have gotten onto the field. "If we'd have payed better, we could have played more guys. Didn't happen, so we've gotta play we've we've got to to win the game."
"We have some warts, that's still out there. Let's not pretend that we're the 1985 Chicago Bears." Have to play with passion, intensity, and intelligence in all 3 phases, but especially on D. Didn't get better today, but the guys know without being told that they need to work hard this week.
Some of D struggles lack of execution - missed tackles, losing contain, "there's a lot of things that we've gotta clean up, and everybody knows that." Going against a different scheme this week, made some mistakes. Has to watch film to compare where the breakdowns were. Losing contain to our left was bad, because they knew it would happen coming in. Lost contain 5-6 times at least.
Kovacs strip - scored quickly, then got the turnover for 2 quick scores. Momentum with the ball in third quarter. Didn't happen to shut them down and put the game out of reach. "They played well." Went into the UMass locker room to tell them that.
Special teams - The return game was OK, a couple times Darryl almost broke one. Missed only field goal, kick coverage needs to improve. Kickers make them in practice. Will just dropped the snap on the block.
Thought Seth Broekhuizen kicked better for kickoffs. Placekicking - "We had a student body tryout. Any student out there... we'll have another tryout for you.
"You never know" how many points you'll need to win. UMass is a good team. "They gave us a run for our money." The D carried the offense last week, so in the team concept, it's time to pay it back a bit. "They'll make some corrections, and so will we."
Came out slow, but for the most part did a good job executing. Offense knew they were shooting themselves in the foot early, just started executing better.
"On that play, I'm usually a backside outlet" on the long TD reception. Omameh and Grady did a good job blocking to open the hole.
Last time he scored 2 TDs back-to-back like in the second quarter was in high school. Personal breakthrough game? "With all the talent we have at receiver, you never know who's gonna be the hot hand for the week." Just his job to show the coaches he's capable of making plays. He and Roy joking about who would be the guy this week.
On his long (non-TD) reception "Denard fakes the sprintout, and we knew that the whole defense is gona key to his running." Just had to run past the cornerback.
Denard throwing: "His accuracy and his... total quartebrack, just being a pocket passer." His accuracy has improved. Puts the ball where the receivers can run away from the defender after the catch.
"[Denard] told me on the sideline, mid second quarter, that he was gonna start giving up the ball a lot more." Denard's been getting yards because Ds are keying Shaw instead of Denard. Today was different. Other guys need to step up so the offense can click without Denard having to do it all. "We have playmakers, but now we're coming into our own as an offense."
There's no way to tell from film who the end is keying on. Had an idea they'd try to contain Denard (like ND, which didn't work out for them).
He was trying to hit the hole fast early in the game, but the DL was 2-gapping the OL, so he tried to hesitate on his long TD run to make sure he had the right read.
Offensive pressure opposite that D? "We added pressure to ourselves." Held each other up each of the past two weeks. Denard kept the team poised when they were down 17-7.
Special team struggles? "I don't really expect our kicking game to miss kicks. We all have faith in all of our teammates." Offense's job is to score TDs and not have to rely on those guys as much. "Those 40-yard kicks can turn into 2-yard extra points."
UMass held onto the ball well. Defense didn't do their job to get them off the field. "You've gotta give them a lot of credit they're a very good team. Maybe they caught us off guard." "They've got some big offensive linemen, I know it's nothing like we'll see in the Big Ten."
"We're happy that we didn't lose, but we're not satisfied with the way that we played defensively." Defensive play overall: "Clearly it's disappointing." Better to have that happen in a game that they still win, instead of have them cause a loss.
On his strip and recovery: "At that point in the game, they had a lot of momentum." Knew his team needed a big play, noticed the guy was carrying the ball low.
Losing contain - "Tough to see defensively. I'll admit that it happened to me a couple times." Need to get back to fundamentals and responsibilities. Would have been a different story if everyone executed well.
"We never underestimate a team. We're not good enough to just walk in and get a victory." The team just has to play hard. "I think a focus that we needed" was lacking. Had a good week of practice. Need to get back to fundamentals this week in practice. "Michigan came out with a victory, and that's all we can ask for."
UMass offensive line - "They had a good line. They were smart and they did a good job with positioning their bodies a certain way." Called some plays to keep UMass unbalanced, disguise some things. They did a god job reacting.
Fighting through doubles. "It feels good as a nose guard because you don't get a lot of chances to be free." If you hit a rock over and over and it breaks after 100th hit, it's not the 100th hit that breaks the rock, it was the 99 before that.
Fewer sacks - "We've just gotta keep playing hard." Last year, it took BG 4 games to get a sack, there's still a lot of football to play.
Cam Gordon int/fumble "That's tough. I think it's just one of those freak things." The way it happened, they didn't complain and just went to go play the next play.
The team has done a good job not getting worried, pointing finger. "That's what we did in the past and we've done a better job this year in that aspect." Just do your job to win.
Coach went over a few things on the drawing board, and the halftime message was to go out and play as hard as they can for the final 30 minutes.
Make sure guys buckle down and get ready for Bowling Green.
UMass is a good team on both sides of the ball. "We watched film and knew they was pretty good." The team just came out sluggish. Can't come out sluggish and expect to win. That was the lesson they learned today. Have to re-focus to make sure this doesn't happen next week.
"We just had to focus and everybody had to play as one, play as a team, play smart" when they were down 10. Team started slow, and everyone needed to whole team to play.
"They really didn't contain me, I guess. That's why Shaw had a great game." UMass made that decision, not Denard. "It was great to have [Shaw] running the ball like that." All the running backs are threats, they just needed a D to give them a chance to break out.
"I'm all in for Michigan. Whatever it takes to win. We winning for Michigam, we're not just winning for me." Doesn't care about his stats if they win. "If we get a W, that's good." Nobody's perfect. He knew he wasn't going to go a whole season without throwing a pick. "We're gonna face adversity the whole season."
He thought he would play the whole game, until the coaches tell him otherwise.
On the long Stonum touchdown, "It was designed, he read the blocks perfectly, he made one guy miss, and got going." It was a big shift in momentum before the half. The offense just had to make the plays happen. Everybody knew they had to step it up.
"We've moved from that Notre Dame game, that was last week. And will move on from UMass after we watch film tomorrow to Bowling Green."
Didn't get any awesome emails this week but there are a few bits from the comments and other blogs. Anyway:
GS's run chart comes to a lot of reassuringly similar conclusions as the UFR did: the left side of Michigan's line struggled against Kapron Lewis-Moore but the right side and Molk got their pwn on; he was way more impressed with the tight ends (8-0=8 combined!) than I was and similarly down on Shaw. More Omameh hype:
Much better from Omameh. The 2* who was a 250 pound DE in high school crushed the 5* all-world linebacker multiple times, with brutal efficiency.
I meant to mention this in the UFR, but BWS also picture-paged some running back inefficiency. This is a key point:
As you can see here, the defensive end is staying high, forcing Denard to hand the ball off. But the Notre Dame linebackers have engaged with the offensive line before they were able to get upfield. If Michigan's linemen were given a free release to the second level, they're fast and smart enough to make the block. But instead, Notre Dame's linebackers were told to plug the holes at the point of attack and make Shaw slow down at the line and pick a hole. In doing so, it gives the weakside defensive end enough time to crash down for the tackle.
Last week against UConn we saw a lot of holes open up; this week ND linebackers were clogging the LOS. I made my position on this clear: Michigan really needed to exploit this tendency more. The other play he cites is the frustrating Shaw dance where this…
…turned into no yards because Shaw cut behind Schilling and then tried to spin to the backside of the play.
Magnus also criticizes the play design of the Te'o sideline to sideline play. Might and Main points out that Stonum got chewed out after the Vincent Smith swing pass that Calabrese killed for a minimal gain on third and seven. This is what I said:
Last week this was paired with a slant and I'm confused why it's not this week. ND is in man-to-man for once and the deeper hitch is covered by the CB, leaving the flare open; accurate, but Calabrese is all over it for minimal gain. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
Given the reaction of RR, it's likely this was supposed to be a slant after all.
Didn't get much feedback this week, but here's Magnus making a valid criticism of the 53-yard touchdown breakdown:
Rogers shouldn't get a -1 for the 53-yard TD pass to TJ Jones. Here's why:
In a Cover 2 defense, the flat defender (Rogers) is supposed to play any receiver in his zone. If no receiver enters his area, he's supposed to gain depth. On that play, an underneath receiver entered the flat zone; furthermore, the QB was rolling to his side. When a QB rolls to the flat defender's side, there will always be a receiver in the flat - that's just how plays are drawn up. So when that receiver enters his zone, Rogers had to suck up closer to the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, Cam Gordon's job is to play the deepest man on his half of the field. Whether one, two, or three receivers enter his zone, he has to play the one who runs farthest down the field. It was a well designed play to pick on an inexperienced safety. Gordon got caught looking in the backfield and didn't see TJ Jones streaking up the sideline. By the time Jones came open, he was no longer the responsibility of James Rogers - that was all Cam Gordon.
This is the exact reason that Michigan wants to run a lot of Cover 3. Gordon doesn't have the speed/experience to cover a deep half, and Kovacs doesn't have the athleticism to make a play on the ball, either.
On the other hand, this seems reasonable to me too:
Magnus, I think you should look at the video again......Rogers doesn't even react to the fact that both receivers are going vertical. He almost immediately looks up #3 and starts to jump the route (completely disregarding his coverage duties).
Rogers was the one caught looking in the backfield. He should be reading 2 to 1. When 2 gets vertical, he should immediately get into phase on #1. He jumped the flat route and disregarded the fact that 2 receivers had gone vert, putting Cam on an island.
Who is right? Video:
I can see it either way. It's tough to zone up when you've only got six guys in the coverage, and Rogers was faced with a choice of sinking back on the vertical routes, leaving Rudolph wide open, or leaving Gordon one-on-one with two guys. From his play it looks like he's not even considering dropping back into coverage, which is either a major bust on his part or just the way the D is drawn up. Either way I should have RPS –2ed the play.
Magnus also disagrees with my minusing the linebackers on Armando Allen's nine-yard run off tackle late (the play before the epic Mouton hold:
By alignment, it looks like Kovacs has outside contain to the bottom of the screen. He steps down to get a jam on the TE and replace his feet, but he then gets caught inside. If Kovacs can keep contain here (like he did earlier in the game when he fought off a block from the pulling OT), he's funneling the running back to the inside.
If Kovacs holds the edge, Mouton is stepping up to take on the pulling OL. Ideally, Mouton would stuff up the OL, cut his legs, or take him on with the inside shoulder and force the RB further inside. But Mouton gets caught up in the wash of Kovacs getting blown down the line.
Meanwhile, Ezeh is scraping unblocked and would presumably make the tackle after a minimal gain.
This is plausible, but it's hard to see how Kovacs can possibly maintain contain when he's one guy lined up opposite two ND tight ends and the fullback. This is bad defense design and should have been RPS-1ed.
He wasn't on the roster yesterday and now it's official:
Sources close to the U-M football program have confirmed that true freshman Davion Rogers, a linebacker out of Warren, Ohio, is no longer with the program. Rogers, a 6-6, 205-pounder, came to U-M out of Warren G. Harding High School.
No idea why. Rogers reportedly had a Clearinghouse issue earlier this fall so it may be related to that. He wasn't going to play this year since he's skinnier than Roy Roundtree but seemed to have a lot of long-term potential; his departure is another hit to the APR, which seems like it will inevitably drop below 925 now at some point, and another hit to the depth of the defense. Michigan's most recent class has now lost Austin White, Demar Dorsey, Conelius Jones, Antonio Kinard, and Davion Rogers just a month into their freshman years. At some point this has to stop happening, right?
UPDATE: The News confirms and gets someone saying that it was a clearinghouse issue, which means it shouldn't impact Michigan's APR. Tim pointed out that if he was out before the drop/add deadline he wouldn't have counted against the APR anyway. Still, Michigan and Rodriguez have to do a better job of identifying players who will get on campus.
Shirtpocalypse. So if you've gone to the MGoStore you've noticed that there isn't much of it left. This is why:
We have been ordered to remove many MGoStore designs by the University of Michigan. They feel that these designs violate NCAA compliance rules as well as certain University trademarks. As a thank you for your support of Brian, MGoBlog, and the MGoBlog Store, receive 10% off any purchase at www.moesportshops.com by using the code: mgoblog10
Thank you for your understanding and support and we appreciate your patience as we figure all of this out and continue to provide you with unique apparel. Go Blue!
This is extremely frustrating, but Underground sells licensed apparel and has no choice but to comply. It's not quite as bad as it looks since they threatened but did not actually C&D a number of designs that were pulled yesterday, including stuff like "Worst State Ever"; these will return shortly. Anything player-specific, no matter how oblique, is out unless it's an officially-licensed #16 jersey. We can't do anything but stew about it, unfortunately. Sorry for the lack of warning.
The one thing you can do is take pictures of those stupid t-shirt stands (you know, the ones with "MICHIGAN DRINKING" shirts) that ripped off several MGoDesigns when they have player-specific merch and send it to the U. They deserve pain, too.
Big Ten Hockey less a possibility, more a certainty. Barry Alvarez, always the first guy to tell the world about potentially seismic changes in conference realignment, on Wisconsin's position:
“I don’t know the logistics — how long it takes to get out of a league, all of that — but I sense that we will move in that direction,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said Thursday.
Madison.com also cites a source close to the process saying the same thing:
“There’s going to be Big Ten hockey,” assured a source with intimate knowledge of the process, adding that 2014-15 is the target point for introducing the new league although he said “it could happen sooner than that.”
A six-team league would presumably play 20 conference games, leaving 14-16 nonconference games for the defectors to spread out amongst former league-mates. A ten-team WCHA featuring Denver, Colorado College, and North Dakota would still be a power conference, and a nine- or ten-team CCHA (depending on whether they reconsider Alabama-Huntsville) would still have new arenas and elite coaches at ND and Miami to guarantee themselves respectability. Hopefully any move to Big Ten hockey will make an effort to preserve existing programs with scheduling agreements and guaranteed home games for the Ferris States and Northern Michigans of the world; the last thing college hockey needs is more programs folding.
One thing that's being kicked around that you probably won't see: Notre Dame in the BTHC. The Big Ten is not going to throw Notre Dame a bone if they don't have to, and making that move would further damage the leftover CCHA schools I assume everyone wants to protect. I bet Michigan still has a home-and-home with them most years, but they aren't going to be in the conference.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Steve Breaston in two questions. Via the Arizona Republic:
Question: Do you have any hidden talents none of your teammates knows about? You know, like can you play jazz flute?
Breaston: I can write. I'm a writer. I post a lot of stuff on my fan page on Facebook. Oh, and I can bend my thumb behind my knuckles like this. Look.
Q: Pretty cool, but that's a little creepy. Did you have some sort of freak accident as a kid or what?
A: No, no. My thumbs are just like that.
Also, Breaston's favorite baseball team is Pittsburgh. Jeez.
Optimism from Massachusetts. Except not really:
Q: What's the best case/worst case scenario for UMass? In other words, what needs to happen for the Minutemen to win? How does a blowout happen?…
A blowout seems more plausible. UMass hasn't faced a good dual-threat quarterback in a while, and if Robinson gets going early, things could unravel fast. The Minutemen can't afford to turn the ball over. Naturally, if they can avoid falling behind early, their confidence goes up. An early hole could drain their belief in their ability to win pretty fast.
It's so nice to have people saying things like this, even if they're a I-AA beat writer.
Etc.: The MZone's Know Your Foe returns! This is just like when we used to go to bowl games! FSD talks to Denard's mom, who says he runs like Grandpa, which is a terrifying thing to think. Tom reports that 2011 OL Chris Bryant and his 2012 teammate Jordan Diamond will be unofficial visitors tomorrow. I will remind you about this again but Phil Brabbs is having a fundraising event in Chicago for the Indiana game.
[Ed: Bumped for the line change info on Michigan's major step forward in Vegas. Since Vegas lines are year-in, year-out the most accurate prediction mechanisms available, this is heartening. Perhaps too heartening. BTW: Jamie and his merry band of degenerate gamblers cover all manner of things at Just Cover.]
Before getting into the meat of what will be a quick hitting MGoDiary, let's clean some things up from last week.
I might make a decent oddsmaker after all. Those four prop bets I came up with for the ND/Michigan game sure did confound people. Only one person did better than 2-2 and that was MGoTim, who checked in a 3-1. I guess it pays to be an insider. Not sure what his prize should be. Maybe a day off from cat chasing duties? Or a day where his posts get to breathe for two hours without a post on top of it? He certainly doesnt need the MGoPoints. In that same diary, I listed all the actual props that sports books had up for the Notre Dame game. A few brave souls put their necks out on the line and picked each one. And, you know what? They did pretty well, considering the number of props out there. Special kudos goes to Clarence Beeks who went 10-2-1 on his prop selections. Somebody get that man to Vegas, STAT. But, it's really no surprise. He's a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, so you know he is sharp as a tack. Nice work, Mr Beeks. Now, how are those Orange futures looking? Please advice.
Also, over at the JCB, the Pick-4 game for the week is up. Check it out. If you havent played yet, no worries. Jump on in. Once Ocotber rolls around there will be more points available to allow you to catch up, so dont worry if you're behind and just starting the contest this week. We'vre having a fun time with this and the more, the merrier.
On to the UMASS game. A lot of folks dont realize that the oddsmakers do release lines for FCS vs FBS teams. Some places will even have full betting boards for the FCS vs FCS games throughout the year. Just about everyone of them will have lines for all the levels of college football playoffs, too. That comes in handy every year when I wake up shaking that second Saturday of December with no bigtime college football to bet on anymore. Dont think for a second that that's the deepest we can go into depravity. I've noticed that 5dimes is also offering high school football lines for the bigger games across the country. No way, will I ever bet those. That's just being a degenerate. No way. Well, maybe if its the only game on TV. Or if there's some value in the line, maybe. But, you have to be a pretty dark soul to go this route. Completely unrelated, does anyone know who is starting for Hoover, Alabama at quarterback?
As of now, Michigan is favored tomorrow by 28.5 points. It's been a weird week tracking this line. At the start of the week, 5dimes listed it as just Michigan -21. That must have been a misprint, or they got hammered with so much Michigan money, because they took the line off the board for several hours and by Tuesday afternoon the line had ballooned up to 29.5 points. It crept to 30.5 by that evening. The line has been steadily coming down ever since. It was lodged at Michigan -27.5 for a couple of days before settling in at the 28.5 number this morning, with an Over/Under total of 51.5. THAT looks enticing. Two out of every three games in the Rodriguez Era have gone over the total, but none have this year. Should we play the percentages and expect an Over? With that out of the way, let me quickly rattle of the mock props for tomorrow.
Tate Forcier/Devin Gardner, total combined yards: O/U 250.5
Ray Vinopal, total combined tackles, INTs, PBUs: O/U 5.5
Fiztgerald Toussiant, total rushing yards: O/U 80.5
Will A Michigan Freshman Intercept A Pass: Yes/No
Jeremy Gallon, total yards, including returns: O/U 120.5
Try your hand at those.
I intended on waxing philosophical all the Denard Show, but what more can I really add at this point? For the second straight week, he produced a game and some plays I've never really seen from a Michigan QB before in the 30+ years I've been watching. Damn impressive so far. I say we sit back and enjoy the show. And work on our own dreads.
His emergence has also had a major impact on the odds for Michigan. The most notable being the fact that Denard is now one of the betting favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Terrelle Pryor is technically the chalk at 3.5 to 1, but Denard is the second favorite bet at 4.5 to 1. Not bad for somebody who wasnt even on the board ten days ago. Kellen Moore is 8/1 and a series of players including Cam Newton, Mark Ingram and Ryan Mallett are at 10/1. Tate Forcier, by the way, remains on the board as a 30/1 shot to win the trophy. FACT: THAT MIGHT BE A SUCKER BET.
Michigan has also shifted from a 100/1 shot to win the BCS National Title all the way down to 30/1. That's a pretty big swing. We've also seen the pointspreads for Michigan's Big 10 showdowns start moving in the Wolverine's favor, some rather significantly. Here are where the Big 10 lines stand right now.
- Michigan -5.5 vs MSU (Line was UM -3 over the summer)
- Michigan pick 'em vs Iowa (Line was UM +3 over the summer)
- Michigan +3 at Penn State (Line was +10 over the summer.......oh, to have a +10 ticket in our pockets right now)
- Michigan -1 vs Wisconsin (Line was Michigan +3 over the summer)
- Michigan +13.5 at OSU (Line was Michigan +15.5 over the summer)
Denard is having an impact. The public wants to bet Michigan again. The average line movement since the season started is 3.7 points in Michigan's favor. I fully expect the MSU line to be -7 come game day. The others will continue to move towards Michigan. If you want to play the Homer card and bet Michigan, get these lines now before more value gets sucked out of it. For the the first time in the Rodirguez Era in Ann Arbor, bookies are adjusting lines to stem the amount of money rolling in on the Wolverines. That's progress, babby! And, it's a great thing to see.
[Ed: I cannot believe Michigan is actually a favorite against Wisconsin. The betting public now has Michigan at 8-2-1 on the season, which will be a neat trick.]
Editor's note: not that you should ever boo anything to do with a body-bag team—seriously save that stuff for actual rivals—but UMass's band director just died. So don't boo them.
|WHAT||Michigan vs UMass|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, September 18th 2010|
|THE LINE||Michigan by 27.5 (thx: jamiemac)|
|WEATHER||low 70s, scattered showers,
wind 10 MPH
Run Offense vs. UMass
After two games against solid BCS AQ teams, Michigan is averaging 287 yards per game at 5.6 yards a pop, good for seventh nationally. Everyone ahead of them has clubbed at least one total patsy, most of them two. Michigan's ground game is sort of good. You can read that as "Denard Robinson is sort of good" if you want.
Meanwhile, UMass is 10th in rushing defense in their division after playing two good I-AA foes. Meaningful? Eh… probably not. Holy Cross's first game was a 38-7 win against Howard in which they racked up 91 yards on 21 carries; William and Mary went for 157 on 47 carries against UMass. While they did well against those opponents there's a big difference between 4 YPC I-AA running games and the mystery that is Denard Robinson.
Michigan's had limited production from the tailbacks, though they haven't been given many opportunities. UMass will be an opportunity for Mike Cox, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Stephen Hopkins to get some carries and hopefully get some production that might see Michigan's non-Robinson run game pose more of a threat in the Big Ten season.
Key Matchup: Robinson running away from people. Yeah, it'll happen.
Pass Offense vs. UMass
UMass has decent numbers here, too, 33rd in efficiency and 48th in yardage after two games. They've only got one sack, though, and don't figure to get any against Robinson unless they've got a death wish and blitz a lot.
Michigan will probably use the passing game as a sidelight. While they were almost 50-50 run/pass against Notre Dame much of that was the necessity of the last drive and Notre Dame's extreme overcommitment to the run. Against UConn Michigan was happy to grind the ball into the line time and again; they'll probably do the same here. Look for the same kind of stuff we've seen so far: hitches, seams, flare routes, some screens. New packages are not going to be deployed against a I-AA team.
Key Matchup: Denard versus air under the ball.
Run Defense vs. UMass
So here are some highlights and stuff:
Most of Notre Dame's yards were a result of Armando Allen turning the nothing Michigan's defensive line gave him into something by being way better this year than he was last year. That or Ryan Van Bergen crashing down when Notre Dame ran the midline zone read. The linebackers look better, Mike Martin is headed for beast status if he's not already there, and the spur and bandit have played well. Cam Gordon's weakness in the air has not been coupled with weakness on the ground: there have been no incidents where a filling safety took a bad angle and gave up a touchdown.
UMass, meanwhile, has a considerable amount of beef on their line for a I-AA team. Each starter is over 300 pounds, which has helped them grind out 223 yards per game in their first two. UMass's offensive stats against Holy Cross are eerily similar to Michigan's against Notre Dame: the QB threw 38 times (instead of 40), completed 25(24) for 293 yards(244); the team ran 53 times for 232 yards (41 for 288). And despite putting well over 500 yards up they only came away with 37 points.
UMass does not have a feature back but split the carries between Jonathan Hernandez, a senior who had 577 yards last year, and John Griffin, a senior seeing his first action this year. (He probably transferred from somewhere.)
Key Matchup: Mike Martin vs UMass interior line. Kill crush destroy!
Pass Defense vs. UMass
Richie Havens was pick-happy a year ago, throwing 15 to only 9 touchdowns, but has been much more efficient in 2010, completing 65% of his passes for 8.3 YPA, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The competition will step up (at least slightly) this weekend. Anthony Nelson, presumably another transfer, has been the favorite target so far with 13 catches. Six more targets have at least three catches: UMass spreads it around.
Michigan, meanwhile, did very well against Notre Dame when the free safety wasn't making a painful rookie error. It's not hard to see another one or two (hopefully one) of those happening, and since Michigan seems hell-bent on a bend-don't-break style an array of three-man rushes and outside dinking could see UMass put together a drive or three. With Brandon Herron out with an ankle injury, Michigan won't be able to put Craig Roh on the line. This will provide UMass more time; Greg Banks is not in Roh's class as a pass rusher.
Key Matchup: Cam Gordon versus himself.
Guh. Guh guh guh. Guuuuuuuuuuh. Eye of the tiger!
Anyway: Michigan missed field goals from 39 and 40 yards, replacing Brendan Gibbons with Seth Broekhuizen for the final extra point and forcing me to look up Broekhuizen's last name for the fifth time. Maybe if I write it enough (Broekhuizen!) I'll remember it. Rodriguez declared the kicking job "wide open" during the week.
Meanwhile, uber-punter Will Hagerup got in his first extended action, shanking all manner of punts but still coming out of the ND game with a 34 yard net thanks to some kind rolls and no returns. Hopefully that was just a matter of nerves. The ones that went straight were pretty decent.
Returns were dull. Jeremy Gallon fair caught almost all of them; Darryl Stonum didn't do anything inspiring with the kickoffs.
Despite all this, Michigan might have an advantage. UMass is averaging a breathtakingly low 24 yard net on their punts and their punter's gross is just 34. That guy doubles as their kicker and is 1/1 on the year.
Key Matchup: HOLD ONTO THE DAMN BALL.
Kittens are not warranted for double digit spreads or games in which there isn't even a spread. But here's this:
Also here is a pika:
- Anyone gets hurt.
- Denard's passing regresses somehow.
- The secondary gives up more long bombs.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Cox or Fitzgerald looks sweet at tailback.
- Some backup linebackers get in and look okay.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 (Baseline 5; –1 for Denard!, –1 for Against A Team Who's Best Player Transferred From Syracuse!, –1 for And Is Basically An Adolescent Seal, –1 for Also All The Rest Of Our Players Would Start For This Team Without Exception, –1 for And You Can't Put This Offense In A Shell, +1 for Never Forget.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for Never Forget, +1 for Hey Let's Just Blow It All To Hell Why Don't We, +1 for Rodriguez Repercussions: Devastating, +1 for This Would Be Worse Than The Sex And The City Movie, Which I Did End Up Half Watching When It Was On HBO And Could Not Turn Off Because I Was Trying To Figure Out If It Was The Worst (Technically, Morally, Ethically) Piece Of Purported Entertainment To Ever Be Produced, Eventually Settling On "Yes," But It Would Be Second If Michigan Somehow Lost To UMass After Everything We've Been Through And The Hope We Were Just Handed, +1 for That Last One Probably Deserves A +2)
Loss will cause me to... Cave. Beard. Rolling around on floor in own feces. No electricity ever. Look like Saddam eventually. Wish for a similarly merciful end.
Win will cause me to... shrug.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Denard goes for a half, breaking one long touchdown run. Everyone is slightly, secretly disappointed he doesn't do more.
- Yes, Devin off the bench first.
- Cam Gordon does one more thing that is very concerning.
- Michigan, 42-17.
I'm sure that you have been over this a million times as well, but what exactly is the redshirt rule? I mean is it "time played" related or is it snap related? Or is it something completely different? Sorry this may be a very stupid question, but I figured id go to the man to find out the correct answer.
This confusion is largely my fault for repeated suggestions that I'd still like to see Gardner redshirt despite his presence on three Michigan snaps thus far. The rule is: if you play at all, no redshirt. There is an exception for players who get hurt. If you are hurt in the first 30% of the season (rounded up, so the first four games) and are then injured, you can get an redshirt. Junior Hemingway got one, Mike Jones will get one, Brandin Hawthorne got one… etc.
So if Devin Gardner was to come down with tendinitis or something after the BG game, he could get an injury redshirt. I'm not sure about this but I think it's not uncommon for a player to get "injured" after a few games. I don't think that's going to happen with Rodriguez going all out to win games this season and apparently believes Devin Gardner is his second-best quarterback. Maybe next year? I'm still crushing on the idea of fifth year senior Devin Gardner being the starting QB in 2014.
Meanwhile in Devin Gardner's potential relevance
I I’ve been having a heated debate between some friends about Denard’s durability. I’m worried that opponents are going to take away the running backs in the run game, cover all the receivers and then let Denard run, therefore giving the defense an opportunity to pound and pound him again to see how durable he is. While I’ve been given all the “well, you can’t hit what you can’t catch” retorts, I am worried that against a very disciplined and physical defense, let’s say Iowa, that they’re going to let Denard run in the first half on purpose just so they can keep hitting him so he wears down in the second half. I feel like ND tried to do this and it didn’t work out too well for them, but they did manage to get some hits on him. I appreciate that Denard is taking what the defense is giving but at some point, I feel that a defense will let him run so much because they just want to hit him over and over again.
Am I being paranoid and there’s already a response in place (i.e. the plays where he runs and then throws to wide open receivers like Roundtree and T. Robinson) or is this a legit concern?
Keep up the great work.
This probably stems from Fred Jackson's comments after the ND game asserting that Notre Dame was responsible for Robinson running so much by their formations and alignment and defenses and whatnot. That sounds implausible on its face and didn't seem like it was happening when I UFRed the game. Michigan's zone read metric was 5-2=3, and about half of those were handoffs. Notre Dame may have encouraged Robinson runs by hauling ass after those flare screens and giving an occasional keep read on the ZR, but that was the difference between 28 carries and maybe 22.
- Robinson's going to run a lot on plays without even a read anyway.
- Any defense that tries to get Robinson to keep the ball when he does have a read is insane, and…
- Will probably only give themselves a few extra chances to hit Robinson at the expense of first downs.
I guess you could try it but since the chances of actually hitting the guy hard enough to impact his performance on any individual carry are very low, that's a gameplan that only the truly stupid would adopt.
Meanwhile in dilithium studies
intrigued by the raw speed we witnessed on Denard's scamper in South Bend (not to mention the unbelievable blocks --Omameh sledding Teo 7 yards through a safety AND throwing him down five-star-pancake-style! Roundtree blasting his dude! etc.) I felt compelled to apply some simple math to break down how quickly Robinson covered the 93 yards.
logic: Denard starts the play in the shotgun standing on the left hash of the 7 yard line
he receives the snap and darts off the right tackle with a jab step in/out of the hole, proceeds to the edge of the numbers at the 20 yard line, then sets his sights for the tuba on the other end of the field.
my simple math approximates a 27.295 yard hypotenuse from the snap to the twenty yard line (using sportsknowhow's ncaa field dimensions). add the remaining 80 yards and it's 107.295 yards or 98.11 meters.
I've run a stopwatch on this a few times and average 12.11 seconds which calculates to a 12.34 100 meter with pads, pigskin, jukes, and dreads. that's dilithium.
enjoying the ride,
so there you go.
Meanwhile in other paranoias
Hey Brian –
I am wondering what your thoughts are on the recent comments from incoming NCAA President Mark Emmert about him being in favor of handing out more harsh penalties for NCAA rule offenders. And if this in any way, shape or form could impact how the NCAA punishes Michigan?
I am slightly concerned about this. While our offenses are IMO, are much less egregious than what transpired at USC or what's currently going on at UNC, and do not involve allegations of receiving improper benefits or dealings with agents, how would you gauge the likelihood that they [the NCAA] might be looking to make a "punishment statement" with Michigan and really hit us with more harsh penalties than we might be anticipating?
Thanks in advance for your input / insights on this.
I think the level of concern expressed—slight—is about right. The NCAA has obviously stepped up its investigations, but nothing they've done so far is out of line with historical precedent. Marcus Ray missed half the '98 season because of contact with an agent, so holding out AJ Green or Marcell Dareus or everyone on UNC's defense doesn't represent a move to Xtreme Nforcement. It just seems like more of it. USC's penalty didn't seem harsh to me, it seemed just right. Meanwhile USC's basketball should have been obliterated and was not.
Michigan, meanwhile, has had some minor overages in a well-established category of offense and has proposed the same punishment everyone does: 2-for-1 giveback, restrictions on the number or abilities of coaches who did bad things. The NCAA might add a year of probation or something else comparatively minor, but that should be it, and then we can all move on.
Meanwhile in road games
FYI, U-M partnered with Zimride to provide an easy and convenient way to share a ride to away games. It's a private site or U-M and requires a university email address to post. Filling our cars = filling the rival's stadium with blue and maize!
It's free to use, check it out.
That is all.
Meanwhile in crazy hybrids
Ideally speaking, What kind of a quarterback do you think Rich Rodriguez wants for his offense? Denard Robinson, Terrelle Pryor, Pat White, Vince Young, Michael Vick, etc. Thanks!
Aren't those all kind of the same guy? I mean, Pryor and Young are taller, Robinson shorter, but all of them are kinda sorta the same guy. I think ideally Rodriguez would like a 6'4" or 6'5" guy who can stand in the pocket if he has to, but he'd also ideally like a guy with the explosive ability of Vick or Robinson. Problem is those guys essentially never come in the same package. The offense works either way, as Young, Vick, White, and Robinson have shown. And now I do something stupid and pick:
- Michael Vick
- Vince Young
- Denard Robinson
- Pat White
- Terrelle Pryor
Robinson's already a far more accurate passer than White ever was and seems about Pryor's equal (Pryor is more erratic but has more throws in his toolbox); he's more dynamic on the ground than both. Young was eventually an all-around passer while still maintaining that terrifying glide speed; Vick was probably the most dynamic quarterback in the history of the spread 'n' shred. Disclaimer: we have way more info on the four non-Robinson QBs here and he's liable to move down (or up!) based on future performance.
Michigan seems to be moving more in the Pryor/Young direction with Gardner and Kevin Sousa, both strapping lads in the 6'4"-6'5" range, but if Robinson 2.0 comes along Rodriguez will recruit that guy, too.