So what's the deal with Fitz?
my thoughts exactly
you're both assholes! that makes 3 of us, and 5 or 6 if you count all the people who have induced me to be an asshole to them lately by being assholes themselves.
this is not trolling, people. it's flamebait. i mean, i'm not wrong.
Jon06? I mean, nice rant, but WTF is it about? Gave me a chuckle though.
Considering Fitz's woes have been a season long trend and are not confined to the Purdue game, I think this goes beyond the scope of the snowflake thread.
Do you guys really want everything Michigan football-related to be crammed into one gigantic thread? What is so horrible about having different threads for different topics?
It looked to me like purdues game plan was: fuck it, let denard do his thing, we're keying on the running backs.
While it failed miserably, that was the same gameplan used by ND.
We're gonna see 8 people in the box all year, which is going to be troublesome against better defenses if our downfield passing game doesn't improve
The good news is there aren't really any better defenses... MSU was supposed to be the best and they just got blown up by Indiana. Nebraska and Ohio just tore each other apart with ease, so they don't really strike fear into my heart defensively. If our Oline continues to improve and fitz remembers how to play football we should be a lock for the rise bowl.
Please. Give them a little credit. They've had our number for 4 years, and are probably the gold standard in how to control Denard.
MSU had a hangover in the first half yesterday. They manhandled Indiana thereafter.
They are hands down our toughest defensive test remaining
We should remember that one of the primary factors in our 2010 loss to MSU was Denard throwing two drive-killing INTs in the red zone. We were moving the ball early in that game, but those were real momentum-changers.
Plus we had no defense whatsoever, and Bell and Baker ran at will on us.
This is the best way to contain Denard.
That said, I don't think we'll get a repeat performance when we play them this year. I expect to beat them.
Let's not forget the trash tornado last year.
A hangover from what? Their stirring comeback victory over Eastern? I'm one who doesn't talk any shit to a team that beat us. I'm just saying that the Big Ten sucks this year and MSU is no exception. Neither are we, but we appear to be improving at this point in the season and they most certainly do not. Their D does not look as good as expected, and if our offense plays the way it did in the first half then we should win. That's all I'm saying. And I never said they weren't our toughest test remaining. What I said is that the test they present is not looking close to Bama, and probably not better than ND. The fact that they beat us for the last 4 years affects my ability to talk shit to them, not my ability to recognize among friends that they look like shit this year.
They had OSU last week, not Eastern. I don't expect us to tear their defense up. We should still beat them, because their offense seems to be regressing and their OL is falling apart.
Their running game seems to have stalled but Maxwell and the msu passing game appears to be warming up.
I will agree that MSU has shown an ability to slow down Denard, but since he's only been the starter for 2 games against them I'm not ready to crown them as Denard's Kryptonite. Don't forget, ND was blitzed by him for 2 years, then he had his worst game ever against them and everyone talked about how this ND defense had "figured him out."
MSU has a competent defense, but they get no push on the line and their linebackers have not been able to fill the gaps. And while they had a bit of a hangover from the OSU game, this is Indiana we are talking about. Hell, if Hill's fumble was ruled a such on that punt, Indiana had a chance to go up and maybe win that game. MSU is no longer the juggernaut people expected when the season started, and I'm high on UM beating them this year.
If you asked me who is going to win the UM/MSU game, I'd tell you its UM at this point just judging by which team looks better overall. But MSU has been able to figure out exactly how to beat Denard the last 2 years. There's no reason that they won't draw up the same game plan, because it has clearly worked. Blitz Denard early and often. Force him into making bad throws. Keep him inside the pocket. Make him beat you with his arm.
I'd like to think UM will win this game, but its a bit of a tossup. What I do like is our defense is beginning to really improve, and if Indiana can live in MSU's backfield all day, there's no reason to think Michigan can't. I want Jake Ryan to make Maxwell's life a living hell.
MSU hasn't had a particularly special gameplan or done anything that other teams haven't tried to do against Denard. Other than the miraculously-timed A-Gap blitzes, MSU has simply executed a gameplan that virtually all of our opponents have attempted since it became obvious that Denard is approximately 1,447 times better as a runner than a passer.
I still believe that we need to do a better job as a passing team to feel like MSU doesn't pose a threat, but it seems clear that the Spartans do not have the defense or offense that they had last year.
MSU had a hangover in the first half yesterday.
I swear we've been saying this about MSU every week. Honestly, they've looked like crap most of the season.
MSU has a great defense...UM has issues throwing the ball and getting any production from their RBs. I am a lil scared of this game, esp when our fans show them no respect for the fact they have OWNED us the last 4 years.
Those who think we will beat Msu by 2 touchdowns are going to be disappointed , they are going to put 8 in the box, keep Denard from getting outside, and then blitz the heck out of him on 3rd down.mif we don't complete some passes that game, we will not beat them again. Denard has gone off ever against a good defense, they won't allow it.
Do you deal with Sparties on a daily basis? They deserve ZERO respect for the last four years.
defense ON PAPER at the beginning of the year. Not so much on the field. Their star DBs are kinda stinking it up. YES I think M wins by two TDs. YES I am biased. Too f'n bad.
Book it, M by 13-17. Fuck the green greek boys.
Edit: forgot to mention their O-line is one of the worst in the B1G. Jake Ryan will take up residence in Maxwell's grill.
Well, that "great defense" gave up 27 points to INDIANA... In the first half. No, they do not have a great defese. They have a GOOD one, and just so happens, we do too. I won't even bring up that pathetic offense.
Indiana used a bunch of screens and passing to almost beat MSU
Staee dominated IU's offense in the 2nd half. They may not have a 'great' unit this year, but they may be proficient enough to beat our OL.
played 'not to lose' in the 2nd half. His balls were in a jar on a shelf. OC lost the game for IU, not anything MSU did.
Purdue's strategy was pretty stupid. On both of Denard's big runs off the zone read, half the defense bit and on the second one, two dude actually TACKLED Fitz when Denard was a billion yards downfield.
I think we miss Molk more than we realize. Not placing blame on Mealer, but to this point I don't think our oline has been very good run blocking. Add to that a passing game that should strike fear into no one, I think defenses are able to bring their safeties up with confidence, always seems like we're out manned on running plays.
Denard needs very little blocking to give him a crease, RB's need a little more.
I believe you mean mere mortals need a little more.
I didn't count all the plays but at least a handful of Fitz's carries seemed to be an option from Denard where he makes the hand off decision based on the D.
...but I think more often Denard's trying to decide if he should run or not instead of passing, so the handoffs Fitz gets are ones that Denard doesn't think he has running room...so why would we expect Fitz to do better?
Yeah, I'm sure there's a "C) if there's no running room, handoff to Fitz" in the playbook.
wonder whether some of our more expert onlookers agree. It may be that Denard hands off if he doesn't see the run for himself; that doesn't mean it's there for Fitz.
I think they need to let Rawls have some runs, too, punish Ds a little (I don't always get the reluctance to "feature" more backs). And I also think that things are going to open up for Fitz as the O line gets better, even though he's often not placed in the best position to succeed.
...exactly what the zone read is designed to do.
The theory is that if Denard reads the play correctly and the offensive line blocks correctly, either he or Fitz will have a hole.
He's not handing the ball off when there's no room for anyone, he's handing the ball off when there's not a hole for himself; if the play is executed properly, that means there IS room for Fitz.
It's not like every single running play is either THERE ARE ALL THE HOLES FOR ALL POSSIBLE RUNNERS or THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ANYONE EVER. This would be a pretty boring sport if it was that black and white.
E. He's dancing around too much
I also think the OL took a step back this year even Lewan.
What I don't understand is, the pass protection is pretty damn good. They just can't run block for a RB.
run blocking hasn't been great at Michigan in many, many years. I would argue as far back as Jerry Hanlon's retirement
I think the pass pro is aided by teams being unwilling to blitz too aggressively against Denard, because if you miss you're dead.
has anybody beaten lewan on a regular basis this year? i thought he'd been pretty decent, but i haven't had time to read everything on the front page, and maybe i'm missing stuff in real time.
penalties, for one. And I don't think as donkey-hating as before, more of a dislike.
To me he looks indecisibe, many times insted of settling for a modest gain he would dance around and end up gaining nothing or losing yards. Not to say that the 0-line is doing a great job, or that the opposing teams are not loading the box, but to me he looks like Mike Shaw this year whereas last year he was more like Mike Hart. I agree with those who want to see Rawls with more carries.
Fitz has never, and will never, look like Mike Hart.
well last year he didn't look exactly like Mike Hart, he was like Mike Hart only faster!! Seriously speaking, last year he would make people miss in tight places and make something out of nothing, just like Mike Hart did throughout his entire career. Now he runs horizontally instead of vertically, just like Mike Shaw did his entire career.
A, C, and D.
Magnus - I'd like to ask you about A cause I see that too. Do you have any explanation for why this could happen? He's young - not exactly been over-utiilized and not injured (as far as I know).
But man he sure does look a step or two slower this year from last. And the burst seems to be missing when there are holes.
I'm not entirely sure. It looks to me like he's a little bigger this year than he was last season. Perhaps some added weight has taken away some of his explosiveness. I don't know. Maybe last year's success caused him to slack off a little bit in the off-season.
Was thinking this when they showed fitz running over Purdue last year
Agreed. He looks about 5 - 10 lbs heavier than last year. Not "good" weight either
Agreed. He looks about 5 - 10 lbs heavier than last year. Not "good" weight either
...do the plays called for Rawls have a different blocking scheme, different alignments or personnel, that are not resulting in favorable situations for Fitz? I find it hard to believe Al is trying to call plays that are to his disadvantage
I don't think the play calling this year has been as creative with getting the ball to the running backs. Toussaint's running plays are very predictable.
Needs MOAR pitch option
1) Denard Runs = 1 extra blocker (the running back) v. Fitz Runs = no extra blocker
Based off the result, it really seems like Purdue's goal was to stop the RB on any zone read. Obviously it didn't work out well, but how else can you explain Denard getting pretty clear lanes through it all day while there wasn't much for Fitz? Even if he didn't bounce around so much, it would've been maybe 2-4 yards rather than the 1-2 he was getting.
He's bouncing too many runs east and west, often giving up a couple yard gain in the process of losing a yard near the sideline. Sometimes you gotta take the two yards.
On 40% of his carries it seems, and that causes him to become impatient and bounce it outside. Regardless, the O line has not opened many holes for him and it seems like a lot of his run plays are slow developing that get blown up before they start.
I think the biggest reason is that Fitz isn't seeing/feeling the holes/cuts like he was toward the end of last year. It took him a bunch of games last year to get in a groove, and I think he's still working on it this year. On the year, he hasn't had that many carries. As a secondary issue, I think he looks just a little bit slower than last year.
I like Rawls, but I don't think his style fits as well in the read-option as Fitz. I think you need speed to go along with power to succeed in the read-option. Maybe bring in Rawls here and there as a change of pace.
Speed does nothing when you're dancing in the back field all damn game. Ill take 3-5 yds and a punishing blow, all day.
The OL is weaker, but he is trying to avoid tackles instead of lowering his shoulder and hitting the hole.
This is a common mistake in youth football it's hard to teach players to run into the tackle and bounce off/get more yards.
He sees a linebacker then stops before the hole, behind the line of scrimmage and starts trying to make moves to avoid the tackle. Only a few players elite can really do this - Barry Sanders and Denard for example.
you can hear Rawls run. I don't think dancing is his thing.
He's exactly the kind of RB Hoke and Borges want for their scheme. He doesn't run around you. He runs through you. Unless Green commits, I think Rawls has a solid chance to win the starting job next year.
Don't know what happened with Fitz this year, but its like he's lost a step or two.
I don't know.
Excuse the staggering football ignorance, but here goes:
I don't understand the concept of 1 extra blocker on read options. It makes sense on designed QB runs (10 blockers+1 ballcarrier vs 11 defenders), but not so much on options. When you option off the DE, it takes on person to do it (the QB/RB who doesn't have the ball). I haven't really noticed Fitz blocking for Denard after Denard keeps, or vice versa. So isn't it really [9 blockers+1 ball carrier] vs [10 defenders] with either Fitz or Denard+the DE taken out of the play?
If that's the case, then the only real runs in which there's a structural advantage to Denard running as far as I see it is designed QB runs. But Denard, when he keeps, is way more productive on the option than Fitz is. Hence I'm tempted to minimize Decided Schematic Advantages as an explanation for why Fitz isn't getting it going.
Can anyone shed some light on this?
Compare the read option to a standard hand off. In that case the QB accomplishes nothing post-snap, it's 11 defenders vs 9 blockers and a runner. The read option forces a DE (or LB if the defense makes certain adjustments) to take the RB/QB without the ball so it's 10 defenders vs 9 blockers and a runner. Does that clear things up?
With the prevalance of the scrape, nowadays, not even the DE is really "optioned off" - he still has a role in the play. The difference is in the offensive line play between a zone-read and the power veer that we run. Let's assume 1-1 shotgun (1 QB, 1 HB, 1 H-TE, 5 Line, 3 WR) and the defense lines up in Cover 1 (4 D line, 2 mike backers, 1 shade backer, FS, SS, 2 CBs) The zone read has two directions: the playside and the weakside. The weakside end is left unblocked and then either pursues the running back, or takes the quarterback. Meanwhile, the O-line in front blocks zone. The weakside tackle then eliminates 1 linebacker from the play.
After this transpires, the current numbers matchup (assuming good outside blocking by WRs) is QB+HB+H-TE+5 line vs. 4 D-line, 2 Mike, SS , so 8 vs. 7. Now the scrape exchange occurs and the weakside end takes the QB, which leaves the HB to find a hole in the zone blocking. The H-TE can also act as a lead blocker, and now let's assume that the 5 o-line neutralize the 3 remaining D-line + 1 Mike (who filled a gap, just not the one the HB was going to). This leaves the matchup of: HB + H-TE vs. Mike + SS. The SS has a high probability of being lost in traffic, and the Mike will get smashed by the H-TE, and so you're left with an advantage with the zone-read even WITH the scrape exchange for the HB. Without the scrape exchange, there is even larger number advantage.
With the veer, though, the LG pulls and draws the mikes out of position to the weakside (the right side), and the playside end scrapes on the HB almost all of the time. The LT then seals off the weakside tackles. The HB almost ALWAYS gets picked off by the playside end, which leaves this gigantic cavernous gap for the QB to run through. Denard is always looking straight down the field when running the veer and he's looking for the linebacker reaction, not the end reaction. If the linebackers stay, then somehow he gives the ball to Fitz, though I'm thinking the crashing end would neutralize that every single time.
Anyway, so both have numbers advantages even with the scrape, but the veer is specifically designed to benefit the QB while the read is more leaning to the HB
One-inch Woody, you write:
The weakside tackle then eliminates 1 linebacker from the play. After this transpires, the current numbers matchup (assuming good outside blocking by WRs) is QB+HB+H-TE+5 line vs. 4 D-line, 2 Mike, SS , so 8 vs. 7.
So what just happened to the OLB? You say the tackle eliminates a LB (presumably the OLB), but doesn't that mean that you're down to 4 OLs, which would make it 7 vs 7 again?
And it's unclear exactly how the HB helps in this play if the QB keeps. Isn't he just as lost in the fray as the SS is?
He IS a step slower and the line is a step slower, but he stands around too much and runs east and west far more than north and south. Also they (Denard and Fitz) run together on some read-option runs and at the end of the run they are looking at each other like saying "what are you doing here"?
It's obvious that it is John Navarre's fault.
I still would not have got two points though
Play calls that require an edge to be sealed, just are not working. Fitz is running 15 yards east / west and gaining nothing. Is this a line play issue ?
Then he has started to develop the "Mike Cox jutter step" rather than being an agressive runner. How many times have we seen Denard place a hand on his blocker then dart to the opening. If Fitz sees his own blocker in front of him, he jutters - which stops his north / south inertia and once you stop, the defensive players have the advantage.
It was great to see TR look so strong late in the game. Hopefully he'll get to see some "real game" action against Illinois.
I'm going to say it's scheme.
We had three "bread and butter plays" during the Rich Rod era: zone read, QB zone, and HB sweep.
This year, our "bread and butter plays" are: inverted veer, QB power, and "Down G" to the left.
The reason why Fitz isn't able to break any big runs is because he is automatically at a disadvantage on 2 of those 3 plays given how defenses try to stop Denard, but during the Rich Rod era, those same plays would be favorable to the HB as well.
For the zone read, the weakside end is in *pursuit* of the running back and his gap is the option by the QB (because of zone blocking), but in the inverted veer, the play-side end is free and he crashes down into the lane of the HB. The playside tackle is kicked out and the weaksides are man-blocked to leave a huge gaping hole down the center of the field for Denard to take. As is evident, there IS an option concept in both plays, but the HB is vastly more favored in the zone read than in the inverted veer.
As for the sweep vs. Down G, our line was.. *okay* at sweeping when Rich Rod was here, but it's ludicrous to try it with these guys now. I believe we did try to sweep against Bama maybe thinking their 330 pound defensive tackles would be slow (wrong!). The sweep is a perimeter play, and so the weakside linebackers/safeties are ineffectual, and so the HB does have a numbers advantage IF the O-line can block effectively. However, Down G is a down-the-middle play and since defenses tend to put 7/8 in the box, no amount of man-blocking can win that battle. 5 v 7 will ALWAYS be a lose for the offense.
The way to set up Fitz to his true ability, in my opinion, is by setting up the run by bubble screens or "lazer" screens. When we run 1-1 shotgun there's no reason to have 7 guys in the box and then run Down G! Throw some lazers and get at least one of those 7 outside.
Not sure about the rest. Why would this not have been a problem last year?
Fitz had his best year last year, not in Rich's offense. In fact he had a better year than any running backs the previous 3 years. I think you need to go back to the drawing board with your theory.
We are running the veer much more frequently this year than last. Last year we had plenty of zone reads and isos which are HB favoring plays. This year, not so much.
Of why he's not Doung as good as last year. But has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the scheme during Rich's years, which is what you were talking about in the other post, and really doesn't make any sense because no running back over those three years did as well as Fitz last year, so it had to be something other than scheme.
Now that you've told us your preference to RR's schemes over Borges's, do you care to engage us in the discussion that we are actually having?
Toussaint's only good year was last, and the plays he ran were the same as they are now. RR was not his coach. The question is, why is he less effective this year than last despite playing in the same system for the same coaches? Especially when his only good season has come under these coaches with these schemes.
I think the answer is manifold: the line is appreciably worse, Fitz is running more tentative, and (most importantly) he wasn't that great last year, particularly at this point in the season. He only picked it up towards the middle/end of the season. He has always been a guy who needed big holes, as he doesn't push the pile, and really, rarely breaks tackles. He can make players miss, but when the defender gets his hands on him, he almost never gets away. I think the problem is that he hasn't met our expectations, which were higher than they ought to have been.
Fitz was doing some dancing on a couple plays, but a lot of the running plays kind of went sideways by design. I seen a lot of handoffs/tosses/sweeps to the outside, but hardly any power runs or traps attacking the middle. I know Purdue has a good dline and all but still. Michigan will be Michigan again when we can run the ball up the a and b gap routinely regardless of who a team like Purdue has on their dline.
If you look back at last year, he dominated on field turf surfaces. I know it seems far fetched but that may be the problem.
It seemed yesterday that after they got beat by Toussaint last year, they tried the "make Denard carry it and hope he takes enough hits that we knock him out of the game" strategy that Notre Dame tried in 2010 (it didn't work that time either).
But I'd have still hoped to see Fitz look better than he did yesterday. Something's gotta be up.
I am almost certain it's (mostly) B. Purdue especially was keying on him, which is why Denard kept getting 8 to 45 yards on ZR keepers all day, and Fitz was immediately bottled up every time he got the ball. He did miss 1 or 2 cuts that could have been big gainers, and at least once I saw him jump outside when he could have slammed it up for 4 or 5. That's probably coming from not getting enough carries to get in rhythm and hone that 6th sense of where tackles are coming from you get from lots of attempts.
If teams are going to focus on shutting down Toussaint until Denard is breaking rushing records and gets lots of clean passing lanes, that's more than fine for me, since it means Toussaint won't be in a position to rush off to the NFL after this year, while Denard gets invited to New York.
I guess the idea is that by eliminating the most eliminate-able option, you keep your defense focused and don't get beaten by scheme. But, if this really is the primary factor at play, Purdue showed why it's not a great strategy when your opponent has Denard (or someone like Braxton Miller, for another example) as QB.
I'd imagine they'd be better off just focusing on Denard instead of the RBs.
Also credit to OP for "what's the deal..." when Seinfeld is in town. Subtly played young man.
We seem to be running the ball fine out of traditional sets. With the read option there isn't room for anyone, cept Denard
The line is just not blocking
He seems to be dancing more than before, looking for the home run when it might not be there. He did the same thing last year, but was able to get more positive gains out of it. I also think the playcalling has been suspect - UM has so many formations that scream run that the defense throws 8-9 guys in the box and it is hard for him to get running room. I mean, Purdue didn't even attempt to double UM's receivers when Denard went to pass, so Fitz wasn't get lots of running room.
It's easier for a running QB in that situation because that RB is going t block for him and college players are just not as used to catching running QBs as RBs. It's a different angle where they come from, differnet responsibilities when there is a chance the guy will throw the ball, etc. Borges needs to shake it up and also get Denard to hand off enough times in different formations that defenses are not able to guess on him pulling on every run.
he's dancing too much instead making his cut and turning on the jets like he did last year and the line isn't blocking as well
I was going back through UFRs after I saw this thread initially, and the four calls which most involve Fitz are inside zone plays (17 calls, netting 88 yards), iso plays (7 calls, 14 yards), power off-tackle (4 calls, 3 yards), an gives on the inverted veer (4 calls, 33 yards). It will be interesting to see if this distribution shifts at all with Purdue - I may watch this one again myself to see.
That being said, the playcalling has definitely shifted some from last year - I took a sample of four games from last year, and in those four game, the most common calls for Fitz were the zone read dive, the zone stretch, iso and the power off-tackle. There were also a smattering of counter plays and pitch sweeps, something that I don't remember seeing much of this year.
It does seem to me that defenses are shifting along with Michigan's gradual change in its offensively philosophy, focusing a little less on just Denard and more on the running game at large. The line play has been pretty good for the last couple games, but the holes that Fitz had last year are often not there this year, and as other have noted, he seems tentative in a way that he wasn't last year.
I was at the Clemson game yesterday -- man was Death Valley rocking -- and it occurred to me that Sammy Watkins is making no impact this year, and just like Fitz he started out with a suspension and the whole dark cloud. It makes you wonder if the season was just tainted for Fitz by the DUI and the suspension. It seems that way for Sammy and I would not be surprised for it to be true of Fitz.
Well, I doubt Fitz suddenly forgot how to run. So I'd have to guess the problem is scheme, blocking, or both.
It seems Chris Johnson has forgot how to run in the NFL... It's possible. I actually see some similarities with those two. They are just looking for the home run on every play, so they dance waiting for it. But it never comes, intead they're tackled for a loss damn near every play.
Fitz is down a little over 2 ypc from last year. At the same time, Denard is up a little over 2 ypc from last year. The overall production is identical to last year, it is just coming from a different spot.
That doesn't mean the line is worse or that Fitz suddenly sucks or that Denard got way better in the offseason. AF was able to shut down Fitz, but doing so cost them 11 yards every time Denard kept the ball. Purdue did the same and Denard burned them for 10 ypc. ND held Denard to 3.5 ypc (more if you take out sacks) and Fitz's numbers were a comparable 4.5 ypc.
Some teams are choosing to concentrate on stopping Fitz. When they do so, Denard is killing them on the ground. End of story.
...and I would say that you can't put all the blame on the O-line or the schemes, although both of those are part of it, but in watching several of his run plays again, I noticed a few times that Fitz just missed the read. There were a few seams where there was a small lane that he could have ran through up the middle, for a modest gain, but Fitz instead chose to dance around in the hole and eventually ran it to the outside where the Defense could catch him. Bottom line- Fitz needs to be more decisive, and run it up the middle where the lane is- even if the lane isn't a huge lane like he's expecting, because when he dances around it gives the D a chance to string him outside and push him out of bounds for no gain, or even a loss.
When Fitz got the ball it was usually out of the gun and he never seemed to get the corner on the veer. He most definitely does look bigger this year. Rawls looked as good as I've ever seen him, I don't care that it was garbage time. He stuck his thigh out on the TD play as if to say: If you can take this out, you got me. The defender couldn't and Rawls rumbled home. Fred Jackson FTW.
That's the biggest part of the problem. Too often he slows down or stops to see if either he can break it outside or a hole magically develops in front of him. For anyone other than Barry Sanders or Walter Payton this almost never works for running backs. I've watched Michigan running backs since Rob Lytle and all the great or good ones pick their lane and run toward it without hesitation. Most of the time, this will maximize the chances of getting a good gain. Running backs that stop or hesitate, allow the defense time to react. I don't think our OL is dong the greatest job yet however, in Fitz's defense. But there were plays yesterday where he would have gotten good gains if he had just kept running forward. Hopefully Fred Jackson can get him straightened out soon. If he has another poor outing against Illinois, IMO Michigan must start giving a lot more carries to Rawls.
I have a feeling that we see a lot more of Rawls against Illinois. I'll bet the Purdue game was an, "enough is enough" moment for Hoke & Co. concerning Fitz. I am by no means an OC, but I saw several plays where Fitz had at least 4 yards if he would have just taken on the tackler and fallen forward. Instead, he danced and got little to nothing. Hoke has mentioned in several pressers that Fitz needs to "put his foot in the ground and go upfield" better. It looks as thought Fitz has regressed back to his early 2011 form -- he's not seeing the holes, and he's running east-west.
Although I agree with the "extra blocker" issue when Denard runs, it seems odd that the OL can block well -- even with a stacked front -- for Denard, and Fitz is getting absolutely nothing.
As I said, I think we see more of Rawls versus Illinois, and if he does well, against MSU. He takes on the tacklers, breaks tackles, and at the very least falls forward.
20 year old men don't 'lose a step'. Hesitant, yes. "Lost a step" is a phrase used to describe aging athletes that are naturally slowing down.
I think Fitz is hesitant this year, but I also think the line is not opening the holes as well. Also, the mesh point sometimes delays him to the point the hole is closed (if it was ever there).
While it may be a little bit of "all of the above," I think the biggest issue is that the playcalling has been predictable. Fitz is getting handoffs on a limited number of plays, and almost always on 1st down. Give him some space to run, and I think he's doing fine.
I think you raise a great point. I really think a few more passes on first down to confuse the D would benefit the offense, including Fitz who has to run when the D is expecting it.
But, but, but...if Borges calls more passes on first downs, what will the "Borges isn't using Denard properly" crowd say?!? They're likely to riot in the MGoStreets!
The plays where he's hit in the backfield right as or after he gets the handoff are some combination of poor blocking and poor play calling. But even aside from these, his long run yesterday was only 6 yards. He gained 19 yards on 17 carries. Now granted, two of those were for short touchdowns, and Purdue does have one of the top D-lines in the B1G, but still, he has to be able to get more yardage than that.
Why don't you put any of the onus upon Fitz? I am not saying the Borges and the OL aren't at least part of the fact that he's struggling. But, from what I am seeing and hearing, he's the one dancing and not going north-south. He did the same thing last year until something clicked and he started running better. Did Borges suddenly forget how to call effective running plays? I think it's a combination of Fitz and the OL. I think he's regressed for some reason, and it is likely because the OL isn't getting the same kind of push that they were getting last season. But that doesn't mitigate Fitz's shared responsibility.
The biggest issue is that he'll see a linebacker lingering on the other side of the hole and scoot sideways to the next hole hoping for a free lane. There were definitely a couple times yesterday that if he's just gone for it he would've had 3-5 yards. Maybe more if he juked the guy in the hole, which was something Fitz was pretty adept at doing last year and I hope he can get back to asap.
Some of it is scheme (veer rather than inside zone) and some of it is also the predicability of when we've been running. But against Purdue I think the playcalling was predicable as a reaction to Notre Dame. Borges decided to stop being so damn cute with his playcalling and just run the ball and Purdue keyed in on Fitz after getting burned keying on Denard last year. The coverage on the outside wasn't as fluffy as it was against ND either so getting the ball ouside on screens wasn't going to be the most useful. Borges called an excellent game, as evidenced by the score and time of possession. Was it predicable? Yes. So what? If we have to get cute to keep moving the chains then I certainly hope that we will. No one wants to see us going 100% Lloydball again, but when that's working there's no reason to shift away from it.
We need to figure out the defensive plan by running a little bit of everything at them and seeing what they're up to. If they're keying on taking Denard out set up misdirection that gives the ball to Fitz; if they're shutting down the RB let Robinson run wild. If we're churning out 300 yards on the ground every game you'll never see me complaining.
Simply isn't Running with a purpose. He has no attitude when he runs like he did at the end of last year. I don't think the line is as good as last year, but they aren't that bad. A lot of times he is getting tackled by the first guy and seems to stutterstep too much in the backfield. This is on Fitz...plain and simple. I too was very impressed with Rawls on that last touchdown drive of the game. I also concede it was mop up duty, but he probably broke more tackles on his four carries than Fitz did all game. The offense of line did not suddenly start blocking for Rawls.
Stupid voice recognition
He looks completely unconfident. I'm lost. I'ma dance! Must be a nervous thing, I pace back and forth when I'm nervous too...
This is what I was seeing as well. In the Purdue game, he'd get to the line and if it wasn't a gaping hole, he'd stutter, and get caught. Rawls doesn't hesitate. He runs through guys.
I just re watched that final drive where Rawls got in the endzone, but I couldn't see who Purdue had in. Does anybody know if their starters were still in?
Fitz didn't come on until a few games in to the year last year, when teams started to key on Denard. If Denard can go off for over 200 on the ground we should be in good shape. If teams want to limit Denard and take him out of the game Fitz will probably get more yardage up the middle on the option read plays.
Not sure if any team remaining can stop them both. So far it seems like they want to shut down Fitz...which is fine with me. As long as someone is going off for over 100 I'm good with that.
Playcalling? They're running the same plays that Fitz was successful with last year. It's like Borges decided to just start calling garbage after figuring out exactly what worked for Fitz last year.
To me, it seems obvious that he has lost a step. Watch highlights of him last year. He looks considerably quicker, and a bit thinner. I'm not sure that we can put the weight gain on Fitz; it's entirely possible that they asked him to bulk-up and that he just doesn't carry the weight well. Althought I will agree that it doesn't appear to be all "good" weight. I think this is the biggest factor, along with his stubborn commitment to bouncing outside. Even watching the spring game, he didn't dance nearly as much.
It's a bit of B as well, IMO. Purdue definitely chose to key on him more than they did last year. He didn't play against 'Bama, and there really wasn't any blocking to be had against Air Force. He did better against ND this year than he did last year. We'll see how he does against teams that focus more on Denard, like MSU.
The O-Line, IMO, is still coming together. I think we look younger on the O-Line, but not necessarily worse. Let's not forget that last year's O-Line wasn't exactly beast against our tought opponents: MSU, VaTech, and Iowa all made our rushing game look pretty soft, and I believe that 'Bama and ND's defenses are on their level. We just didn't face strong competition early last year.
We have a long way to go, and some teams will focus on Denard even on the read plays, and we'll have to see what Fitz does in those games.
If you read between the lines in the press conference, Hoke seemed pretty impressed with the pro offense and Rawls. I would not be surprised to see more I-form against Illinois and perhaps we'll get to see Fitz run some plays that don't allow for dancing.
While Hoke is a master of not letting you know exactly what he's thinking about individual players, I believe he's pretty disappointed in Fitz at this point and is losing patience.
I think Thomas Rawls should start instead of Fitz. Fitz looks to tentative