I'm a bit wary of ND, MSU (they seem to play with extra hate for UM), Purdue, and OSU, but I am still optimistic that Michigan will continue to improve and could win all of the upcoming games. If the Wolverines can score twice on Alabama, I just don't see any of these teams being able to stop Denard and crew from scoring despite the current problems with the O- and D-lines. And there is likely no way that ND holds Michigan to a mere three points. A loss in South Bend wouldn't be as disappointing as losing to MSU, though.
After Tonight: More Wary of ND or Less Wary of MSU?
Nice avatar! Denard Xavier Robinson
The things ND did to dominate Sparty (they really did) on defense weren't enough to make me fear them shutting us down next week. They got great pressure on Maxwell, but Spartys Oline sucks. ND would line up 4 and a guy got in unblocked at least 6 times that I counted, all from the blindside. Our Oline needs to improve, but our pass protection is good, and Denard knows what to do under pressure, run. To shut down their rush ND only had to key on 1 guy, too. They stacked the box and it took away both Bell, and their TE in passing downs. Denard can burn ND with his arm, and a double dose of Devin, and we have 3-4 backs we'll use in different looks. Outside runs, delayed handoffs, read option, power, late passes to Smith, and then our best RB is Denard. What ND did to Sparty won't be enough to shut Michigan down. They'll have to do much more.
Why don't teams scheme their defense to jump Sparty's endless series of slant routes? Holy fuck that seems obvious. Maxwell doesn't have time to throw deep outs or corners, and they don't seem to be trusting him with those decisions yet anyway.
Quick slant and seem routes seem to be in his wheelhouse, and the opportunity to jump those routes seems worth the risk. The WR's don't have the skill or burst to hurt you that badly.
I would say that I am more wary of ND, but significantly less wary of MSU.
The problem with making that assessment is, however, that MSU wasn't really able to make the obvious adjustment to ND's defensive scheme because Maxwell and the WR's aren't really getting it done through the air. So, it was hard to tell whether the beat down was a function of ND's defense being very good, or MSU's offense being a "one-trick-pony." I think it's more the latter than the former.
I've thought since the BSU v. MSU game that MSU was going to have a very hard time getting offensive production against even a decent defense with really no threat of the pass. Yes, Bell is very good, no doubt, but it's never very easy to run into a stacked box. In typical arrogant Sparty style, they listened to the hype saying, "MSU can run on you even when you KNOW they're going to try to run on you..." FAIL! ND's defense basically did what I expect them to do next week, i.e., load up the box and try to make Denard beat them through the air. Problem for the Domer's defense is that Denard is vastly superior to Maxwell throwing. IMO, MSU should have anticipated the ND scheme, and I believe Borges will. The blue print was established versus Bama -- despite the fact that the execution wasn't there.
This offensive scheme, IMO, is perfect for the situation for several reasons. 1) It plays to ND's defensive weakness, i.e., their secondary; 2) It plays into the Michigan OL's strength, i.e., pass blocking; and 3) Michigan will have an opportunity to get its new-found dynamic play-makers, the Two Devins, into the game play early, and they both pose serious mismatch issues.
Unlike many in here, I am not worried in the least about Denard's passing. I think he's shown that his mechanics are under control, that he's able to survey the field, and if there is nothing there, he's shown -- quite dynamically -- that he's now willing to tuck-and-run. I expect to see early success through the air, with a couple of nice scrambles, then some well-times delays, draws, and maybe a jet sweep to Norfleet or two that get good production.
My only concern for the game is the ND offense's ability to keep the defense unbalanced by mixing it up. Mattison is going to have to keep the defense very disciplined and up beat. I have a feeling Michigan's defense is going to give up yards, and some points. As long as we make them earn everything, and don't give up big plays, I think we'll be ok. I predict a bit of a shoot out, with Denard's dual threat ability being the difference.
This, and i noted that Kelly seems a little wary of really letting the offense go. I assume that he doesn't have 100% confidence in a freshman QB, because once they had the lead and were keeping MSU from scoring, they really didn't attack.
Maybe Gholson looked good because he didn't have to look very good to win the game. We'll need to be able to move the ball and score in order to force Kelly to keep pushing ... of course, we'll need to be able to stop them and/or capitalize on mistakes.
I think Kelly is going to want to come out and try to run the ball, given that he's going to aware of Michigan's DL issues. Add to that the fact, as you pointed out, that Kelly probably isn't going to want to expose his inexperiened QB to Michigan's relatively experienced defensive secondary, and I'll be we see a lot of the ND rushing attack early. Personally, I think Mattison is going to have to take some chances to have a successful defensive game plan. I think he's going to have to give the DL some help stopping the run, and put a lot of pressue on the DB's. Unfortunately, we just haven't seen enough from the front 4 yet to think that they're going to stop a team from running without help. Maybe I am wrong, we'll have to see, but I think they're going to need help.
My hope is that Mattison can dial up some good blitzes and we can get some turnovers to give Denard & Co. a few more offensive possessions than we've been getting recently. That will get Kelly trying to push a bit, as you said, and then the freshman might make some mistakes.
What stood out to me was MSU's abject failure to protect Maxwell. I think the loss of Fanouti hurt them pretty badly. I am more confident in UM's chances against MSU this season as a result of it.
I think the UM-ND game will be a high-scoring affair--probably into the 30s again. I think ND will exploit our problems on the D-Line and I think UM will exploit ND's secondary. Since it's on the road and since we probably owe a karmic debt in this series, I'd give ND a slight edge. But I think UM and ND are pretty evenly-matched overall.
Blitz Denard...I dare ya. The gigantic holes I saw on blitzes last night were Denard touchdowns. Alabama showed that teams have to contain Denard not sack and chase him. I don't think ND or MSU has the patience or players to do that.
I think MSU got away from the run too much and with an inexperienced Qb they could never stretch the defense.
ND's Qb looked solid against a meh secondary that reminded me of ours the last few years. The worst thing for that kind of defense to face is 3-and-long because for some reason the offense will convert and unusually large amouny.
Yep, I agree. The thing that Michigan has going for it in both of these games is that the ND are going to frothing at the mouth to get after #16 as he's hurt them in the past, and they don't have the defensive personnel that Bama has. ND isn't going to be able to isolate their DB's and get away with it like Bama did. They're going to have to take chances. I see Borges really coming into his own in this game schematically. I think he's going to show one thing, yet do another with great success.
Less wary of MSU. I've always thought ND would be a challenging game, so my opinion hasn't really changed. Although Gholson clearly has great potential, I'm kind of relieved he's won the starting job, because as a freshman he might make more poor decisions than an upperclassman like Rees. We'll have some trouble running on them, but that was true last season as well, and now they'll have a much younger secondary than the one we victimized last year (but which did manage to pick Denard off three times). I think it will be another classic game.
MSU doesn't scare me. Stack the box, blitz Maxwell on obvious passing downs, and jump the short routes to the TE. There's the defensive gameplan in a nutshell. I believe we can throw on them as long as we don't have 50 mph winds and Denard is settled down and not too amped up for the game. One fear I do have is that he'll be so anxious to beat those guys that he'll try to do too much.
I agree that the, "Denard is 94% of the offense" meme is quite annoying. ANY running QB is going to be a higher percentage of the offense than the prototypical drop-back passer because he's both running and passing -- duh! It would be a totally differeny story if the player responsible for such a high percentage of a teams offense was a RB *cough* Sparty *cough* as that player isn't also throwing passes.
Plus, our starting RB was suspended for one of our three games, which skews the dataset.
State's defense has been playing way over their heads for the past two years. The only players on that unit with any pedigree are Bullough and Tom. Everyone else is overachieving. The defense has been emboldened through its successes, but as with most overachieving types, all that can be undone if they suffer a few losses and start to question their ability. As much as hate to wish good on Ohio, I'd really like to see State get manhandled by the Bucks in a couple weeks just to knock all of States' two- and three-star players' confidence down a few notches. Make them remember they're inferior athletes compared with top programs.
lines that can dominate ours
Neither. They are both where I thought they were before the season.
MSU struggled to put up,points on a bad Boise State Defense. ND shutting down State doesn't say much about ND. Maxwell got sacked when the pocket collapsed on the blitz, Denard would've taken that over pursuit to the house. Transitive law inapplicability and all that, but ND struggled against Purdue, and while the laid it on Navy, so did the pathetic Penn State offense. This game makes me a LOT more confident against Sparty. Their D is still good, but we should still be able to put up 21 or 24 against them, and I now doubt they'll score more than 17.
I agree ND is due... due to have their hopes crushed yet again. Their secondary is going to get Funchised. I think our O Line will finally start to play to their potential, even though Teo will have a few nice plays. Our D has some issues, but our offense looks like it has all the pieces to be potent once everyone just settles into a rhythm.
It will take a tremnendous effort to beat both. ND is sitting on three straight losses and we are always MSU's superbowl.
With Funchess looking to be a future star and Gardner getting more confidence and experience, I believe we can fully take advantage of ND's secondary. Throw in Gallon, Dileo and Roundtree we should feel pretty good. All comes down to Denard making smart decisions and executing. That being said were going to have our hands full with there running game.. This will be another close one
I feel better about both.
Next week against Notre Dame, we need to come out passing and passing strong. Borges, here's your chance. Denard needs to be accurate and the receivers need to put together one of their better games against a depleted ND secondary. If we can establish a good passing presence, the running lanes will open. Notre Dame has a good front seven, but we can beat them with Denard's arm.
As for State, turns out they aren't as good as everyone makes them out to be. They've got a good defense and nothing for offense.
Both teams have weaknesses and can be beaten, however if we can't play defense and get Denard going we can certainly loose. Have a feeling that we won't loose against sparty this year though.
Wait, wait, wait. Are you actually saying if Michigan cannot stop ND from scoring, and ND stops Michigan from scoring, Michigan might lose, or loose? -- although I am not sure what Sparty girls have to do with the ND v. Michigan game.
I think that the team with the most points at the end of the game is likely to come out the winner. But then, maybe not.
Our defensive alignments so we can get a better pass rush?
MSU's O-line against our defensive line is a toss-up. I think our linebackers are better. MSU's D-line is perhaps stronger than Michigan's, but I wasn't impressed with their defense's open field tackling last night.
ND looked impressive, but they also did last year against MSU. And if memory serves, they beat State by around 20-ish last year as well?
Maybe ND's strengths match up well against MSU's weaknesses? Perhaps last night's game tells us very little about how our game with ND will go?
I see M scoring more points against MSU than last year, with fewer turnovers, because Denard's receiver corps is becoming productive, especially with the Devins in the mix. It's a winnable game. So I'm less worried about MSU now.
As for ND's offense against our defense, I think our linebackers really need to have a great game, because the D-line is still a work in progress. They will score points.
Our offense will also score points against ND, because Denard and our offensive players are not as one-dimensional as State's, and our O-line, though not as good as last year's, is capable.
I think it'll be another classic M-ND shootout. We have a good chance to win. I beleive we match up with them better than State does. Last night's game didn't change my thinking.
Start with: more wary of ND. Gotta take of first things first. MSU comes later.
I'm more weary of both since I think it's clear that they are both better than us right now, especially on the line.
Michigan is Moo U.'s bowl game. They'll be ready for us no matter how much they sucked (or will suck the rest of the season) Saturday night.