Michigan All-Extracurriculars Team

Michigan All-Extracurriculars Team Comment Count

Seth June 4th, 2018 at 11:22 AM
Hi it's a Norfleet. [Bryan Fuller]

[Site notice: It happened.]

You know those “make your all-time” lists that circulate in the offseason. That inspired me to make some themed versions, sort of like how Ace made his all-Beilein teams last year. Previously: The 5-stars. This week: Extracurricular Entertainment!

----------------------------------

Rule: This team is for those who made their contributions off the field. I don’t mean being a quiet model citizen; I mean doing things that we found entertaining, insane, or otherwise meme-worthy.

Cutoff Point: Had to exist in the Michigan consciousness during the Time of Blog (2005-present)

----------------------------------

Quarterback: David Cone

Please still exist please still exist please still exist DAMMIT.

full

Why you gotta use MySpace, Notorious C.O.N.E.? Since stone age social media no longer hosts, former WR Toney Clemons filmed roommate/former QB David Cone in their apartment laying some sick rhymes (free mgoshirt to whoever can track down a copy of the album for us).

mrdave

Mr. Dave

Fortunately MVictors still has the audio, if the vid is gone for all time. But that video was so good.

Honorable Mention: Denard. How do you separate Brian’s kid’s name, Shoelace, the smile, Whaaaaat?!?, the cover of the last NCAA edition for a decade, and a crumpled up mailbox from the actual dilithium? You can’t, and the purpose of this list is to honor the Coners because these lists otherwise exist just for an excuse to put Denard at QB when you wouldn’t otherwise.

[after THE JUMP: bang bang]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Was Mistaken For Devin Gardner

Unverified Voracity Was Mistaken For Devin Gardner Comment Count

Brian July 24th, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Gameday-Housing[1]

Sponsor note! If you're coming into town with a big group for, say, the Notre Dame game, your options are limited. You can drive a while, you can pay out the nose, or you can rent a whole dang house for about what it would cost for four to six hotel rooms at Gameday Housing. Hotel rooms don't come with yards to tailgate in and aren't within walking distance of the stadium, and they're all booked anyway.

Roy Manning is with it. Vine is the greatest.

Connolly on M. SBN's resident numbers-massager Bill Connolly has dropped ten items about Michigan's upcoming season. A Connolly post is always worth your time; he's very good at explaining what his numbers mean and is happy to deviate from them if he feels they're not capturing something. Michigan's not looking too good right now because of recent program history and that ugly recruiting gap that's coming home to roost right about now, but Connolly's like "eh":

That the Wolverines held steady at 20th overall last year is a positive sign, and I do think that there is some addition-by-subtraction going on in substituting a little explosiveness for a lot of efficiency on offense. They are still a few ifs away from a truly elite season, but I like their chances of getting to 10 wins overall, much more than the numbers do, anyway.

An interesting bit on the receivers:

Roy Roundtree and the receiver Devin Gardner combined for a rather awful 49 percent catch rate. Roundtree was all-or-nothing for his entire career, and Gardner was far too raw to make a significantly positive impact, and while the big-play ability could be missed (the two combined to average 18.0 yards per catch last year), the explosiveness-for-efficiency tradeoff could be welcome. Big plays are still a grave necessity, but Michigan still has Jeremy Gallon (16.9 yards per catch, 62 percent catch rate) and Drew Dileo (16.6, 67 percent) for that. To be sure, there will be bombs. They're built into the system. But Roundtree's and Gardner's catch rates were just too low; that Michigan ranked 21st in overall Success Rate+ despite the low completion rates is an incredibly encouraging sign of what may be to come.

Throw it to Dileo. Whole thing recommended.

(Not our) Kickstarter update. Pahokee and Michigan alums Martavious Odoms and Vincent Smith are featured in the Palm Beach Post:

Odoms met with Roger Horne, the director of food security initiatives at nonprofit Urban GreenWorks, and studied GreenWorks’ five urban gardens in Miami. Urban GreenWorks sells some of its urban-garden products to local vendors, something H.O.P.E. would like to do, too.

They’re hoping to build the garden just off 4th Street in Pahokee, between Barfield Highway and Lake Avenue.

“We want it to be in a place where people can see it,” Smith said.

(The article is a little old but I hadn't seen it yet.)

(Not our) walk-on down. Michigan State loses wide receiver AJ Troup for the season. While Troup didn't play last year, he was getting some hype as a potentially useful piece in State's Burbridge-and-the-handsless receiving corps after a 46-yard touchdown in the spring game.

Nope not getting excited. Nope. Okay a little. Jerry Meyer on WI PF Kevon Looney:

"Some pretty reliable local word in Milwaukee is Duke or Michigan for Kevon Looney,"247sports.com's Jerry Meyer tweeted last week. "Just what I'm hearing."

If Glenn Robinson blows up like he says he will that'll help quite a bit, as the guy wants to be in the NBA and likely will be sooner rather than later.

In other basketball recruiting news that I'll probably repeat in a week or two when there's enough stuff in the slow-moving barge to assemble into a post, California wing Kameron Chatman says he will "probably" return to Ann Arbor for an official visit.

Six more years. John Beilein says he wants to be around for a while longer:

"My plan was to at least coach six more years," he said. "So that the 2015 class, that's the class we're recruiting now -- along with the 2014s -- I wanted to coach all those guys.

"That was sort of the plan we put in mind. Obviously you had to dot some 'I's' and cross some 'T's' and there was no rush, but I was really pleased we were able to work it out."

He'll be 66 when his new contract extension expires, FWIW, and will evaluate his status then. If Alexander and/or Jordan are still around then I'd expect an internal transition.

Saban talks actual football on ESPN. Nick Saban breaks down a few plays from the title game blowout for ESPN, and Smart Football translates. Instructive for Michigan fans since Michigan is moving to an Alabama-style offense.

This in particular reminded me of something Michigan got caught in:

S: “We picked up on the fact that they weren’t real sound in coverage here. Their inside linebacker has to flow over and take the tight-end but he actually has a run/pass conflict when we fake the ball at him.” Translation: Notre Dame has eight defenders lined up with their hand in the ground on the goal line, with only three players at the second level, including Manti Te’o, the “inside linebacker” Saban refers to. At its simplest, the purpose of the play was to pull Te’o up with a run fake and then throw behind him. Saban makes clear that it was the coverage scheme that was an issue as much with Te’o's play here — it’s just a tough assignment — and he says that when they face play-action teams they try not to put their linebackers in positions like this. He then gets a little more specific about specifically how they attacked Te’o.

Michigan put itself in the same situation against Air Force by using Jordan Kovacs as a single high safety who both had to cover one of AF's wing backs out of the backfield and clean up the pitch man on the option.

pa-5_thumb[1]

very ag-re-essive

As soon as Kovacs started getting aggressive enough to beat the wingback to the outside and clean up before the play picked up ten yards, Air Force burned him over the top and would have had a 62-yard touchdown except the receiver fell down after about 30. Option football is mean, and Michigan probably shouldn't sign up to play an option team right after Alabama again, not that they'll play Alabama on purpose any time in the near future.

Paging Tom Rinaldi. Kid who named his tumor "Michigan" 1) needs a snappier name and 2) will be going to the Michigan-OSU game thanks to Brady Hoke, who hopes to make him miserable at it. Uncomfortable thought about that South Park episode in which Stan coaches a youth hockey team happening… now. Okay, now it's over.

Tweaking Ohio. Dropping the "State" from "Ohio State" makes a move to Florida:

Then, after Muschamp referred to Ohio State as “Ohio,” Muschamp deadpanned: “I’ve always been a Brady Hoke fan.”

If "Ohio" becomes, like, a nationwide thing people use to tweak The Ohio State University I think we need a parade for Hoke.

The worst scouting report ever. I don't know who Aaron Schatz is talking about here, but it's not Mike Martin:

Martin, a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, led all Titans defensive tackles last year with 8.5 hurries. That's surprising considering he's more of a classic nose tackle rather than a penetrating three-technique. Scouts considered Martin a blue-collar grinder whose best strength was his solid base. But in his first year in Tennessee, he was faster than advertised and showed a variety of pass-rush moves. Martin was considered a possible first-round pick until he really struggled during his senior year at Michigan. That was partly due to a scheme change, although oddly, the new scheme he struggled in was actually more similar to what he's playing now in Tennessee. He should be in line for a jump in playing time despite the signing of Sammie Lee Hill.

All of those bolded things are the opposite of true. The third bolded thing may be accurate if you only look at stats… for a nose tackle, which… who does that? And wait a minute right here.

Wait a minute.

This is a NOSE TACKLE who finished fourth on his team in tackles with 64. That is an incredible stat. He did this on a defense that had no high draft picks and completed an insane one-year turnaround. Nothing about this makes sense.

no tackles for this

This is the worst paragraph ever written. Not this one. That one. In the block quote. That one that asserts Mike Martin is a blue-collar guy whose main strength is holding up offensive linemen and that he was not an all-crushing force of nature as a senior who was hurt in the NFL draft by the fact that Michigan played him out of position out of necessity. "Really struggled." Okay guy.

Etc.: NCAA is trying to prevent for-profit schools from joining it, which makes my irony meters tingle all over. Wetzel on Buckeye arrest blitz. Bob Stoops encourages Oklahoma fans to tweet recruits. DO NOT TWEET RECRUITS. Shouldn't it be "Division Zero"?

Comments

Dear Diary is Eating Together

Dear Diary is Eating Together Comment Count

Seth November 9th, 2012 at 8:19 AM

8168678396_96bd289a6f_o

By Ace. From.

Sports doesn't exist for charity. It's about competition, tribal mechanisms, and betterment for the sake of itself. Fans follow teams for the identification, the camaraderie, and the thrill of what is essentially fake war by proxy, not to heal the sick, shelter the homeless, or feed the hungry. But on occasion, such things can be an ancillary benefit. From Martavious Odoms:

I want to thank the mgoblog community for allowing me to become part of something so special and helping us reach our goal for the garden project. The rewards took a little longer than we expected but we got them all ordered and as soon as we get the order back you will get your reward. (Side Note) I will be attending my first game in the BIG HOUSE 11-10-2012 I'm tired of watching the games from home and i'm ready to tailgate never got that chance to do it because i was always playing so i'm ready to experience that.

After graduating, Tae took the #EATING meme and made it real. Hope for Pahokee, his organization, had a kickstarter campaign to launch an urban gardening program. Every other day the board was hit up by another unsolicited reader reminding folks to contribute. They hit their mark, and now the Floridian swamp burg that a run-out-of-town coach raided for type players for his run-out-of-town systems will have a little Michigan garden right in the center of town. Sports isn't supposed to be about bringing together such disparate places as Ann Arbor, MI, and Pahokee, FL. But then we can all get behind #EATING.

----------------------------------------------

Don't Miss These:

image_thumb91The 10-Year War by Proxy. I'm pretty sure k.o.k. Law is an older guy. For one he pasted his diary from Word in 16-point font Arial (now fixed). Two, most of the article is written in short, one-sentence paragraphs. And three, he has memories from The Game in 1967:

That was back in the days when you could rake up the leaves, pile them on the driveway, and burn them. Even in the suburbs.

And only one or two UM games were televised each year, so, tend the burning leaves and listen on the radio.

Thus began kokLaw's love affair with Michigan. I put the quote about the radio above because even 20 years later, when my generation were first becoming fans, a lot of those games weren't broadcast. So for most of Michigan history, a lot of people got the details of the game by hearing it recollected in a stream of consciousness just like this diary.

Early Al's Southpaw Slinger. Turned up by markusr2007 is a short diary on the career of an early Borges quarterback at Portland State. There's a highlight video in there from when PSU (NTPSU) played Boise State on the blue turf you should watch. You'll recognize the pre-snap motion right away, but the speed with which the Flutie-armed John Charles got the pass out is utterly jarring for those of us used to the typical two or three seconds Denard typically takes. I'm sure Borges has picked up a lot in the years since—or it could be a preview of what this thing is supposed to look like now…eventually…?

Weeklies:

Inside the Box Score had one of his best this week, helped by some weirdness in the box score and a final score that didn't at all seem to match the feel of the thing we witnessed. Like losing 10 yards per kickoff and 10 yards per punt. And the names of some of the guys on Minnesota's team. Last year they had a guy named Shady Salamon. Just sayin'.

giantsalmonbattlecreek11

I'm told the sticker on the brim is to prevent stains from constant adjustment. Also to increase the douche factor.

If you've been following the FEI ranking along with Enjoy Life by now you're used to the swings. This time the offense improved to 47th from 56th while everything else held steady. It needs to score on somebody who doesn't give up much scoring if it wants to break that. Defense is 20th. DIABEETUS sums up my sentiments:

You know, I'm not sure I understand why FEI is useful when you predict against it (correctly) almost every week.

EJ said he'll ask Fremeau about this…very much looking forward to the answer here.

And yes he did the turnovers too, which are now at –4 for the season. I liked it when he went over each one from the game and what it did to win probability. Or was that someone else who used to do that?

Etc. A guy named Tauro took the time to break down the currently bowl eligible teams and which will be going to the Depend Adult Undergarment Bowl, etc. Program.

Best of the Board?

JMFR GIFFING (NSFW)

Linebacker who shoots inside a blocker when he's got contain: Crazy. Linebacker who maintains outside leverage and forces the play back to help: Awesome. Linebacker who treats blocker as minor irritant while cutting off two gaps of 8 yards to either side of him: Crazy Awesome. Courtesy of Ace. Don't open at work because it says fuck.

That was it at the top. Just lots of etc. here: Metrodome Memories, Lloyd Brady revealed on ESPN, a guy who's following the team Cato June's now coaching in the D.C. metro area, and a discussion on whether legalization of pot in some western states will be a recruiting advantage (it won't be and I'm not linking it). Scooter Vaughn is starting a headphones company.

Your Moment of Zen:

Comments

Unverified Voracity Has A Bus

Unverified Voracity Has A Bus Comment Count

Brian September 18th, 2012 at 3:04 PM

UMCGC-logo[1]Sponsor note. Chicago-based Wolverines headed to South Bend: there is a bus for you. Sports Power Weekends has a couple headed out from The Diag Bar & Grill [located here]. 59 bucks roundtrip gets you a spot, various goodies to and from, a tailgating spot, and the opportunity to collapse in a frazzled heap after something ridiculous happens at the end of the game. Alternative: traffic, not hopping on your MGoBlog mobile app to celebrate/commiserate.

Get on the bus!

Eating: almost eaten.

image

I'll plug this one more time during the last-day frenzy, but thanks to the work of the community around here Martavious Odoms is nearing his all-or-nothing 35k goal for his Pahokee kickstarter venture. The Daily interviews Odoms about his project and its goal:

The goal is to install a garden that can be self-sustaining — a project that values community involvement as much as getting food on tables. The funds raised will be used to buy the empty the plot, pay for tools and seeds and to hire people from the community to work on the garden.

Odoms would also like to see the money help give kids in the community after-school programs or to teach residents how to sow their own garden.

“This could give someone an opportunity to be part of something outside of their family to feel like they’re making a change, making a difference,” Odoms said.

The staple crops? Collared greens, green beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes and okra, just to name a few.

“All the stuff that people eat here down here in the south,” Odoms said.

As of this instant, Odoms is a little over 3k away with eight days left. Get in on it.

TWIS and such. I went a little overboard on this week's This Week In Schadenfreude. Reconstructing the anarchy of a Colorado gamethread in which they're down 48-0 at one point became absorbing. Also, when the RCMB blows up they blow up spectacularly well:

WHAT DID I WATCH

I am completely terrified after witnessing the biggest failure of a game in my whole life.I really cannot even grasp what just happened. Are we really this bad? Is our offense completely non existent? Maxwell has had 3 years and this is what we get? I feel like god hates us. I live for Spartan Football, eat, breathe, sleep Spartan Football. I work overtime in the summer just so I can have enough money for season tickets and I get rewarded with this? What the f--- was that game? 3 points and never crossed their 30? Bell losing all Heisman talk.I felt like a snake bit me in the beginning and slowly but surely the venom ate away at my body. Yeah I know I will get down voted to hell for this but what I saw tonight was not good and the glimpses of all the bad are going to kick us in the ass this year

Applause. Unironic, tear-wiping applause. And there's like twice as much of this guy in the actual post. The RCMB is the John L Smith of message boards, except it can never be fired.

I promise I won't fire off more than a twitter zing or two this weekend if it goes poorly. TWIS next week: ND Nation versus You Guys. Please be ND Nation.

Gardnerceiving. He does not like the blocking:

"I don't feel like I'm ever going to be a person who loves to block," Gardner said with a laugh. "That comes with the position, but I don't think I'll ever love that."

He did pretty well in the UMass game from what I can see, FWIW. He is still a QB in his mind:

"I know I'm a quarterback, but as I've said in previous weeks, I'm helping the team, and I'm doing well."

We won't see where everything is in re: Devin QB until next fall camp. They just about have to move him back for spring since they'll only have Bellomy left. For now, he's got a potential breakout day coming.

They took my brains, but they gave me this extra G. Man, guys named "Gregg." This site has bombed Gregg Easterbrook in the past when… well, whenever he writes about college football, because all he ever writes about college football is about how dastardly it is that anyone would ever take another job. Occasionally he diverts from that topic to express bafflement that the laws of economics apply to it; mostly it's just the horror that anyone would accept having their salary tripled.

Anyway, the other guy named Gregg is paid to write things about sports stepped his game up recently:

Seriously? RT @GreggDoyelCBS: How can Bo Pelini demand toughness of his players? He had a tummy ache AND LEFT A GAME IN AN AMBULANCE

To his credit, he did back off of that after everyone called him an idiot. To his discredit: whoah, mega #SPROTSTAKE. Corn Nation says this is a "concern about news breaking in the twitter world," but the easily made error is easily corrected by a flurry of at replies comparing the offender's intelligence to that of a chipmunk. At least Doyel can recognize when he's craving acorns. Easterbrook has never shown any sort of similar capability.

Etc.: Jerald Robinson gets probation for his minor property crime. Orson on UF-Tennessee. Purdue has verbal commitments from a Dwayne Johnson—unfortunately an OL who will not get many opportunities to ask if you smell what he is cooking—and a Johnny Thompson—yes, a LB. Basketball season tickets on sale now. Derf. Individual three point shooting is pretty jittery. Hardaway should bounce back.

Comments

Recruits In Retrospect: 2008 Offense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2008 Offense Comment Count

Ace May 31st, 2012 at 9:18 AM


David Guralnick/The Detroit News

Continuing my theme of getting super-meta this offseason, I decided to take a look back at the MGoBlog recruiting recaps from the class of 2008—hello, blogspot!—and see how they stand up now that those players have either moved on from the program or are fifth-year seniors. 2008, of course, was the franken-class of Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez recruits, a bizarre blend of pro-style plodders and size-challenged spread speedsters. While it boasted 17 four-stars among 24 commits, finishing a very respectable tenth in the Rivals team rankings, the class would prove to be an unmitigated disaster, ravaged by attrition and marked with disappointment.

So, let's go back to a time when Michigan fans still held out hope for landing Terrelle Pryor—when these were written, still holding out for a better contract mulling his decision a month after signing day—to spearhead this newfangled spread offense. Today, I'll take a look at Brian's offensive evaluations, and the defense will be covered next week. For reference, links to the original posts: Quarterback and Running Back, Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line. If you're anything like me, perusing those is a remarkably fun way to waste time.

Easy Joke Is Easy

With a major change in offensive scheme, Michigan was in desperate need of a dual-threat quarterback. Pryor was the ultimate prize, and Rodriguez was forced to hedge his bets with Justin Feagin, an under-the-radar athlete from Florida whose best offers were to play wide receiver at LSU or defensive back at Miami (YTM).

Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.

Namely, the inside of a courtroom. ZING! (Really, when it comes to the 2008 quarterback situation, dark humor is the only option lest you want to break down in tears.)

Ironically, it was his off-field actions that made Feagin one of the recruits Brian was "baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason," due to late-night workouts and multiple quotes expressing no concern about potentially having to compete with Pryor for the starting job. It was noted that Feagin required "a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback," which was readily apparent during his brief appearances as a freshman. Then came the cocaine stuff and subsequent boot, so we'll never know whether Feagin could've turned into a passable receiver.

NEVER FORGET

I started following recruiting seriously when a friend showed me Noel Devine's highlight tape during my senior year of high school. Since I had little understanding at the time about how recruiting actually worked, I was bitterly disappointed when Devine seemingly had zero interest in Michigan (and vice versa), eventually ending up at West Virginia. I swore never to get my hopes up about highlight tape heroes again.

So the next year, when another atom-sized running back took the YouTubes by storm, I had little hope that this Texan doing heel-clicks on the backs of linebackers would even consider donning the Maize and Blue. Even so, I'd watch his tape on repeat, sharing it with friends whenever the opportunity arose; seeing their eyes bug while asking what in the hell they just watched never got old. This is what they saw [NSFW audio warning]:

Then, of course, the impossible occurred: Sam McGuffie signed with Michigan, though not before nearly shattering our dreams during a signing day flirtation with Cal. Brian, however, was nonplussed, proferring this muted reaction to McGuffie's inclusion in the class:

General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.

Oh. Unfortunately, you all know how this one went. McGuffie showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2008, but also the durability of a paper bag. After finishing the season as the team's second-leading rusher, he decided to transfer closer to home, ending up at Rice, where he'll be a redshirt senior in 2012. Not exactly what we'd all envisioned when the guy who frontflipped over J.B. Shugarts at the Army Game hit campus.

McGuffie wasn't the only back in the class, however, as he was joined by two other intriguing prospects. Rich Rodriguez earned the "snake-oil salesman" moniker for snatching Roy Roundtree from Purdue (more on him later), but his other signing day surprise was pulling Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw away from Penn State. You'll never guess what Brian noticed on his film [emphasis mine]:

I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity.

And thus we find the origins of bouncebouncebouncebounce.

The final back in the class was a relative unknown from the football hotbed of Avon, Connecticut. Mike Cox's name required a disclaimer in the notes section of his profile—"Degree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)"—while his school's sporting pedigree invited a healthy dose of skepticism:

There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football.

Until reading the profile, I had completely forgotten that Michigan took Cox over four-star Detroit Country Day product and eventual Notre Dame commit Jonas Gray. In retrospect, I think it's safe to say that was a mistake, even though Gray wasn't a major contributor until his senior season. At least we got four years of stale dick jokes, though.

NEVER FORGET, Part Deux

Rodriguez's hire brought to Michigan the era of the waterbug slot guy, which promised to be great fun for a fanbase used to watching tiny track-star guys tear it up only for opponents. The recruit expected to come in and make a big splash early was four-star Terrence Robinson out of Klein, Texas, and all it took was one physics-defying play to see why:

Commits pulling Hakeem Olajuwon post moves at warp speed during a football game understandably cause a fair amount of excitement. Brian busted out the obligatory Breaston comparison and projected him to be in the mix at both returner and slot receiver. Robinson finished his Michigan career with one catch, two kickoff returns, and one punt return for a grand total of 94 all-purpose yards.

Michigan's other slot ninja was Pahokee's Martavious Odoms, whose profile contains endless testimonials about his rabbit-chasing speed. Brian's comparison is Devin Hester and also a version of Steve Breaston that actually catches the bombs:

General Excitement Level: Moderate++. He's never going to be Braylon Edwards but if he's as fast as his reputation he could be a dynamite returner and even a deep threat: remember Steve Breaston's ill-fated career as the target of bombs? Well, he was open by yards time and again because opposing players got smoked by his moves and always dropped the ball. Odoms looks like he's pretty good at hauling in deep balls.
Projection: Will press for time as a returner immediately and is 50-50 to be the designated bubble screen guy, with Terrance Robinson the other option. Starts off with an advantage on Robinson because he's spent the last four years as a receiver.

Evaluation severely lacking in mountain goat blocking praise.

Despite the excitement over the tiny slot guys, the biggest expectations were reserved for consensus top-100 receiver Darryl Stonum, who chose Michigan over Florida, Alabama, USC, and Florida State. Breathless hype part one:

Natural change of direction? Fluid hips? Comes down with jump balls? A mix of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham... which, like, dude.

And part two:

General Excitement Level: Maximal. The second most likely kid in the class to have a long, productive career at Michigan, IMO, behind Dann O'Neill.

Stonum's production disappointed, even after it was discovered that he'd been playing half-blind and needed contacts, and his career came to an untimely end after a string of alcohol- and driving-related arrests.

The last of the four receiver recruits was Roy Roundtree, another Trotwood-Madison star whose projection was the closest to the eventual reality:

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Never going to be a gamebreaker, but a likely contributor. Has to add a lot of weight to be an effective player.
Projection: Redshirts, plays sparingly his second year, and is 50-50 to emerge into Michigan's #2 WR.

Roundtree redshirted, then led the team in catches in each of the next two seasons, though this was more the product of the offense—Roundtree was the main beneficiary of QB Oh Noes—than him being a true #1 receiver, though he may be forced into that role this season.

Caveats Apply

The 2008 class also featured two four-star tight end recruits, though both came with significant question marks. For Brandon Moore, the third of the Trotwood trio, the question was whether he was the future star who earned top-100 rankings and big-time offers after a standout junior season or the potential bust whose stock slipped significantly during a disappointing senior year. Scout actually started out with Moore as their #98 overall prospect before dropping him all the way to three stars and the #43(!) tight end. The verdict:

General Excitement Level: High, with caveats. Moore is a boom-or-bust guy with much potential but a long way to go.
Projection: Great success, great failure, or somewhere in between. Specific cat is specific.

Barring an out-of-nowhere breakout season in 2012, bust it is.

Meanwhile, Michigan took a head-to-head battle with Ohio State for Toledo Whitmer's Kevin Koger, but it was unclear whether he'd stick at tight end or eventually make a move to defensive end:

It must be said: Koger is widely regarded a prospect of equal or greater merit at defensive end, and with Nick Perry's escape to Southern Cal Michigan finds themselves with one defensive end recruit across two classes. Though it's possible one of the linebackers -- most likely Marcus Witherspoon -- could end up with his hand down, Michigan is critically short there.

A down-the-line move was projected, but that was largely based on the assumption that Moore would pan out. Instead, it was Koger who'd get the lion's share of the snaps at tight end for the next four years.

Brian's O-line Knowledge Has Come A Long Way

One of the staples of the recruiting recaps is the "YMRMFSPA" section, in which Brian compares the recruit's style of play to a notable former player (usually a Wolverine, but not always, as evidenced by the Hester comparison for Odoms). With Michigan pulling in six offensive linemen in 2008, coming up with the proper approximation got a little difficult:

Dann O'Neill: YMRMFSPA Jake Long. No pressure.
Kurt Wermers: YMRMFSPA Matt Lentz?
Elliott Mealer: YMRMFSPA Matt Stenavich(?)
Rocko Khoury: YMRMFSPA Uh, that other un-touted guard person.
Ricky Barnum: YMRMFSPA Rod Payne?
Patrick Omameh: YMRMFSPA ????

Dave Petruziello and Leo Henige feel very neglected, man.

As you can see above, before Taylor Lewan was the Next Jake Long, that distinction went to Dann O'Neill, a top 100 recruit from Grand Haven. Not only was O'Neill quite a talent, his services were desperately needed along a thin offensive line:

Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.

Brian projected O'Neill to start "at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall)." Instead, he never played a down as a Wolverine, transferring to Western Michigan after his freshman year. He would eventually earn a start at Michigan Stadium in 2011, but as a member of the Broncos.

The other future washout on the line was Indiana guard Kurt Wermers, whose off-field hobbies were not exactly typical of a football player [emphasis Brian's]:

Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:

"Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field."

This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:

"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."

I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.

Wermers left the team before the 2009 season, saying he decided to transfer because Rodriguez was "bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd," and running the team like a business (Wermers signed when Carr was the coach, but obviously never played under him). It was later revealed that Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer, probably because he was playing WoW instead of going to class. Discipline issues: check.

The player who's actually panned out was the lowest-ranked among the six, Patrick Omameh, a two-star DE to Rivals and the #87 OT to Scout. There wasn't much comment on Omameh beyond addressing his sleeper status; speculation about his future position turned out to go 0-for-2:

There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.

As you know, Omameh is entering his third year as the full-time starter at... right guard.

Finally, Ricky Barnum peered into the future and got a serious head start on his future team's biggest rivalry:

Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.

Well done, Ricky.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs OSU

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs OSU Comment Count

Brian December 8th, 2011 at 3:17 PM

THIS.

they don't like it

Formation notes: Almost entirely shotgun this week. As far as OSU's defense goes: they run a nickel package on every down with Tyler Moeller the "star", a sort of hybrid safety/LB. OSU had two main alignments, one with Moeller over the slot and one with him in the box. Moeller slot == Nickel. Moeller box == 4-3. "Plus" means a safety has walked down all the way into the box.

Substitution notes: Status quo on the line and at WR. Toussaint was obviously the main guy at RB; Hopkins got some time as a single blocking back on passing downs and Denard runs. Not sure if Smith is still dinged up or if that's a shift in deployment. Moore seemed to be the second TE in this game.

In lieu of anything interesting on the Michigan side of the ball, here's an oddity from OSU: planetoid DT Jonathan Hankins spent almost the entire game playing DE. No idea why. While he made some plays out there he was useless in pass rush.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over plus Run QB sweep Robinson 5
Barnett rolled down as another LB with the SLB over the slot. Michigan pulls Schofield and Molk; Odoms runs an end around fake. Koger(+1) gets a good downblock on the playside DE, opening the corner. Toussaint has the cornerback; Schofield(+1) has Barnett. Barnett bugs out and is about to go for a ride; Molk(-1) does not see Sabino coming from the inside and runs past him. Sabino was slightly delayed by the end-around fake and he can't cut Denard off until he picks up a nice gain; could have been big time if block is made.
RUN+: Koger, Toussaint RUN-: Molk
M31 2 5 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone read belly Toussaint 0
Odoms motions for the triple option look. Hankins is lined up at DE and is the unblocked zone guy. Weird. He shuffles down. Shazier is in the gray area as far as a handoff goes; playside CB is hard on the edge and will eat up a pitch. This is supposed to be a belly given the blocking but it's not there; MLB is unblocked and Toussaint has to dance around to get back to the LOS. The blocking does not make sense with Toussaint's angle of attack. Not sure who that screwup is on but assume Toussaint since the blocking is coherent. RPS -1; I can't figure out how Michigan is going to get yards here.
RUN-: Toussaint
M31 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Slant Odoms Inc
An accurate dart; Odoms is blatantly interfered with without a call. Refs -2. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1) Odoms got an illegal motion call so this would have offset.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 11 min 1st Q. Three and out plus sack plus crappy punt sets Michigan up with good field position on the next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Pro set 2 1 2 4-3 over plus Pass Flare screen Toussaint 6
Actually a T formation(!) until Hemingway motions out. Michigan runs a delay fake to Hopkins and then hits Toussaint on the flare screen. Hankins is the playside DE again and gets chopped; he's useless out there. Shazier sucks up. Gallon whiffs a block in space, as does Schofield, and Toussaint doesn't realize he's got a lot of room behind Molk, so he ends up running into the corner after a decent gain. RPS +1. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN-: Gallon, Schofield(0.5)
O41 2 4 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 41
Nickelback comes down off the slot to show blitz and then just forms up as LB. Short side corner does blitz. Hopkins ends up kicking him out as Denard pulls. Shazier covers Toussaint; Omameh is pulling and ends up ignoring Sabino, instead choosing to block Shazier. Robinson(+3) jukes Sabino as Omameh(+1) latches onto Shazier and pulls the Te'o special by driving him into a safety; Toussaint also improvises to help get that guy blocked. Gallon(+2) puts Barnett on the ground and that's all she wrote. Lewan(+1) crushed Hankins inside BTW. I thought Omameh screwed this up, which is why Denard had to juke, but it worked out in the end. I'm not sure about the screwup now; more later. RPS +1. Picture paged. Replay w/ Gallon block.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Omameh, Lewan, Gallon(2) RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 9 min 1st Q. Safety gives M 9-7 lead and good field position on next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Denard jet 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Jet sweep Robinson 5
Basically the same play they started with from a new formation. Boise State "just plays" theory. OSU sends a guy off the edge who sets up in good position, making either the bounce or the cut upfield awkward. Michigan now running at Simon, not Hankins, and that's a big difference. Moore(-1) is owned. Denard has to bounce outside. Molk(+1) gets a shove on the contain guy Smith is blocking, giving Denard(+1) a little room before a safety comes up to contain; Smith's guy disengages to tackle.
RUN+: Robinson, Molk RUN-: Moore
O47 2 5 Ace triple stack 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 2
This is dead since the corner is sitting on it and is right on top of it to tackle on the snap. Not actually sure how this gained any yards at all. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)
O45 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 2
Well blocked and should actually be a nice gainer except Hopkins(-1) starts blocking the edge contain guy Odoms is already on, leaving Shazier free to flow to the hole. Koger(+1) got an excellent seal of Simon. Omameh did a meh job on his pull but did get a helmet on Sabino; Sabino gets playside and impacts Robinson, so when Shazier bangs into the pair their momentum stops dead.
RUN+: Koger RUN-: Hopkins
O43 4 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 5-3 eagle Run FB dive Hopkins 3
Easy because Omameh(+1) and Huyge(+1) crush one DT; NT submarines himself and Hankins isn't terribly useful; Molk(+0.5) gets enough of a shove on the MLB to prevent anyone from coming over the top and Hopkins gets it easily.
RUN+: Omameh, Huyge, Molk(0.5) RUN-:
O40 1 10 Denard jet 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Counter pitch Smith 3
No sale. Shazier reads it and gets outside of Lewan, flowing down to tackle when the corner maintains contain. Still an okay gain.
O37 2 7 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Rollout hitch Roundtree 8
With Simon doubled and Toussaint screening the edge is a given here since the slot LB is dropping into coverage. Denard finds Roundtree for a first down; throw is low and has to be dug out. Maybe that's intentional since he's keeping it away from coverage... but probably not. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
O29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 3
Odoms in motion underneath and after the handoff Robinson fakes a bubble screen. Which was CRAZY OPEN. Borges did this to spite Heiko. The run is close to working too; expecting belly the two linebackers end up on the backside as Toussaint hits the gap between Schofield and Omameh; Shazier has bolted up into the backside of the play and is sealed away by Omameh. Schofield(-1) got shoved into the backfield, however, and Hankins has both gaps covered. He reaches out to slow Toussaint, allowing the safety to fill. Toussaint(+0.5) breaks a tackle to get some yards after contact.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5) RUN-: Schofield
O26 2 7 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Post Hemingway 26
Play action. Robinson has all day; great protection from the line and Smith lights up the LB when he comes on a delayed blitz. Live I thought this was late from Robinson but it's not really, Koger just screwed his route up by running a seam instead of what I'm sure must have been an in or something. With no safety over the top and Hemingway inside of his man all he has to do is box out. Denard underthrows it a smidge but nothing too bad; Hemingway's adjustment is simple. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 16-7
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 2
Schofield heads to the second level immediately and Molk(+1) has to block the NT one on one; he goes playside and Molk locks him up; Toussaint(-1) has to cut behind. He reads this late, slowing up in the hole and gingerly picking his way through the traffic. This delay allows Simon, unblocked on the backside, to hug Lewan's hip and then come around. (Koger is headed outside to potentially block contain guy Shazier, but no keep.) There's a hole because of the overplay by the NT and Omameh/Huyge comboing the DT; Omameh(-1) gets out on the MLB but is shed easily, robbing Toussaint of the ability to fall forward for a couple more or run through Simon's ankle tackle attempt.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Toussaint, Omameh
M9 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 2
Okay, this is the second straight time the pulling guard has blocked the guy the read options off instead of heading to the second level. Michigan got away with it the first time; not so much here. Koger is blown up by Simon; Denard reads Klein shooting outside and pulls; Schofield(-1) blocks him anyway. Klein is so confused he runs after Toussaint well after the pull. This leaves Denard in a lot of space against Johnson, the safety. He makes a wrong move and Johnson makes a great open field tackle to prevent a big gain; Robinson fumbles but Michigan gets lucky on the recovery. Omameh(+1) got a good driving block to open up more room. RPS+1; this should have worked even with the screwup. (If it actually was.) BWS picture-paged.
RUN+: Omameh RUN-: Schofield, Robinson(3)
M11 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Sack -- -4
Koger motions out. Michigan rolls out to that side and gets plenty of time; Robinson can't find anyone open and eventually eats a sack. Hopkins could have done a better job cutting Simon, I guess. (TA, N/A, protection ½, Hopkins -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-7, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Zone read dive Toussaint 3
Ten man football. Backside DT slants inside Lewan(-1) and Schofield(-1) and charges down the line; Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) have beaten up the other DT and Simon has to contain; Grady(+0.5) comes down on the safety and there is a developing gap. Toussaint has to run away from the backside DT and this gives Ohio State time to rally.
RUN+: Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5), Gallon(0.5) RUN-: Lewan, Schofield
M23 2 7 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run PA scramble Robinson 5
After an inverted veer fake Robinson pulls and sets up to throw. I think Robinson needs to ride the fake longer here to get the DE to commit to Toussaint; as it is he pulls and has that guy plus a linebacker scraping over with just one blocker. DE comes in on him; Robinson takes off. Without the pressure, I think he's got Hopkins on a wheel route as Shazier is confused as hell. (SCR, N/A, protection 0/2, Robinson(!) -1, Team -1)
RUN+: Robinson RUN-:
M28 3 2 Shotgun 2-back 2TE 2 2 1 5-3 eagle Run QB power Robinson 3
Simon blows up Koger(-2), who loses him outside immediately; Simon takes out the puller and forces a bounce that Robinson can manage because Toussaint(+1) got a good block and he is Denard Robinson. He gets the first down before fumbling; this time Michigan is not so lucky. Shazier gets all limpy on this play. He'll continue but he won't be full strength. (Robinson only loses two on this play because he got a +1 for the run before the -3 for the fumble.)
RUN-: Koger(2), Robinson(2)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 16-10, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even plus Run Zone read keeper Robinson 1
One high with Moeller out on the slot and Johnson walking down. Sabino does a good job of getting outside Koger's block and Grady(-1) totally whiffs on the slot guy, so Denard can't just go outside. Would probably have gotten decent yardage if Grady gets anything on Moeller.
RUN-: Grady
M22 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass PA TE flat Koger 7
Both safeties back, for the most part. OSU blitzes a linebacker and has Simon drop off as a DT heads out on the edge for contain. No linebackers means the short flip to Koger is open; Robinson takes it. Moeller does a good job of filling; you'd still want Koger to maybe shake this guy a little and get more yards here. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M29 3 2 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-4 nickel press Pass Scramble Robinson 9
DL in a 3-4 alignment with Simon in a standup position on the edge. OSU offsides; no call. Refs -1. Their early movement reveals a slant/stunt that gets Simon past Huyge(-1); Huyge does keep shoving the guy and eases Robinson's step past him. With a DL upfield there's a running lane Robinson hits for the first, picking up another five by dodging a tackler. (SCR, N/A, protection ½, Huyge -1)
RUN+: Robinson(2) RUN-:
M38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even plus Run Sprint counter Toussaint 46
Sabino buries himself in the line on the counter action. Schofield(+1) seals one DT; Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) the other. Huyge(-1) gets chucked by the playside DE and falls to the ground; a pulling Lewan(+2) improvises to pick him up. Shazier is in a lot of space and Toussaint can go either side of the Lewan block because it's at the LOS and Lewan is shoving the guy downfield; Shazier tries to maintain leverage, forces the cutback, and slips. I don't think the slip mattered; Toussaint(+2) was one step and gone upfield. Barnett can't close him down because he hesitated, thinking Denard might have it. RPS +3.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5), Lewan(2), Toussaint(2) RUN-: Huyge
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 2
This is all about Simon. Schofield's(+0.5) guy gets upfield and is sealed away; Lewan(+0.5) gets downfield with alacrity to seal Shazier. Molk deals with the backside DT easily enough. There's Simon, unblocked, Koger on Sabino, and Hemingway(-1) on Moeller; Hemingway loses Moeller quickly to the outside and Toussaint has to cut upfield. Koger's block is okay; Simon plays this perfectly to get the handoff and still make the play on Toussaint on the cutback; he reaches out and spins him 360 with an arm tackle on the shoulder, allowing the safety to fill. I think Denard has to ride the mesh longer here to make Simon pick. He's the only guy who can deal with this.
RUN+: Schofield(0.5), Lewan(0.5) RUN-: Hemingway
O14 2 8 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle TE flat Koger 3
Nine guys tight to the line. Michigan runs PA because that's what they always do from this formation. Huyge(-2) inexplicably lets a DT go to block Shazier, DT pressures, Denard sidesteps. More guys come in now (Huyge whiffed on Shazier, too) but the threat of the run pulls Simon up and Koger is open on the sideline for a short catch and some YAC. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)
O11 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch 1 0 4 Okie Pass Drag Odoms 5
Three guys are sent up the middle; Molk and Hopkins pick up two. The last guy is unblocked as Schofield is blocking air with a DT dropping out. A guy is in Denard's face; he calmly hits Odoms on a drag route for the first. Ball is behind him but not too bad; Odoms gets hit by the safety and has to juggle and re-catch the ball as he goes to the ground. Tough, tough catch. (CA, 1, protection 0/2, team -2)
O6 1 G Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-5 umbrella Run Zone read dive Toussaint 0
Backside blitz sends contain DE Simon inside; Lewan(+1) blocks him. Koger, heading backside picks off the blitzer. Toussaint(-1) has a cut backside for six and misses it. Huyge(-1) has gotten shoved into the backfield and lost inside position on his DE; Toussaint bounces into a lot of trouble.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Toussaint, Huyge
O6 2 G Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even plus Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 6
DE upfield; obvious keep. Sabino heads outside for Hopkins, who he must be keying on to maintain leverage. Safety Johnson has no idea who has the ball and takes a step outside well after the mesh point. Huyge(+1) gets a good downfield block on Shazier, pancaking him; Omameh(+0.5) did enough with the playside DT, and Robinson(+1) strolls in. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-17, 3 min 2nd Q. Michigan gets the ball with little over a minute left inside their 20 and runs the clock out to end the half, then gets the opening kickoff in the second.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 8
DE is Hankins and he does not get upfield, so the handoff is made. Koger(+1) blocks Shazier, Omameh(+1) pulls and blocks Hankins, again leaving a rolled up safety one on one with Toussaint. Toussaint(+2) jukes him out of his jock with a jump cut reminiscent of his high school film. He's now on the edge; Sabino just manages to come around traffic to tackle with help from the corner, who chucked Hemingway upfield.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Koger, Omameh RUN-:
M28 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB power Robinson 3
Odoms in motion for an end around fake. Denard keeps and it's power. OSU blitzes. Omameh(+2) crushes blitzing MLB to the ground, removing him and destroying backside pursuit. Playside DT slides outside, creating a big hole in the middle. Unfortunately, Koger(-1) is assigned to him and can't deal with it. He peels off; both Schofield and Toussaint see him as a threat so he ends up taking three blockers. Simon is to the outside of this so it's not that bad but it does leave Johnson unblocked. Robinson has a lot of space and should probably try to jet straight upfield. Instead he goes with the bounce and Moeller tracks him down, but after he picks up the first.
RUN+: Omameh(2) RUN-: Koger
M31 1 10 Ace triple stack 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Throwback screen Gallon 8
Hemingway blocks the near guy this time as eight OSU defenders are dealing with the zone fake. Odoms... heads inside. Argh. One of the two WRs has to go to the safety. Neither does. He's still about eight yards off on the catch and Gallon does juke him to the outside, but the delay allows other members of the secondary to fill, turning a potential big play into a decent one. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1.)
RUN+: Gallon RUN-: Odoms
M39 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 4
DE comes down so the give is made. Shazier heads outside to contain and is kicked by Hopkins(+0.5); Schofield(+0.5) comes around in time to bump the MLB. Zone stuff holds that DE inside long enough. Johnson is overhanging close to the LOS and fills quickly; Toussaint tries to bounce and Shazier closes him down. Johnson gets dinged, paving the way for Dominicoe.
RUN+: Hopkins(0.5), Schofield(0.5) RUN-:
M43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even plus Run Triple option dive Toussaint 4
Or sort of anyway; Hopkins in motion on the speed and Toussaint runs after a handoff I bet a dollar is not a read. Toussaint sees nothing inside and bounces; Huyge(+0.5) did get the corner by not giving ground but this is not a slam dunk. Toussaint(+0.5) ducks under a Shazier tackle to turn a couple into a couple more.
RUN+: Huyge(0.5), Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
M47 2 6 Shotgun twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Triple option keeper Robinson 5
Virtually the same play with Odoms coming in motion to replace Hopkins and a Denard pull. Not sure if this is a real read or not. Moeller blitzes off the edge; Koger pulls across, forcing him to delay but not actually getting a block. Robinson(+1) sees Lewan(+1) has shoved Simon down the line and shoots directly upfield, taking a shot from the MLB as he recovers from the playfake. Rolled up safety finishes it off short of the first, but very close.
RUN+: Lewan, Robinson RUN-:
O48 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB power Robinson 3
Odoms motion, fake jet sweep action. Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+0.5) double the playside DT, busting him back and sealing him; Lewan then pops off to the second level. Molk(+0.5) gets an easy seal on a guy lined up outside of him. Robinson leaps over the prone DT Schofield is sitting on and gets it easily.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield(0.5), Molk(0.5) RUN-:
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA TE seam Koger 26
Blitz off the slot draws Lewan and leaves Schofield(-1) with Simon; Simon gets a dangerous rush. All for naught as Koger drives past Shazier after a not particularly convincing fake and Robinson lofts a perfect touch pass to him for a big gain. (DO, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1, RPS +1.) Shazier is in good position here but the throw is very good; need to make that fake better.
O19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB sweep Robinson 6
End around fake to Odoms as Molk and Schofield pull outside of Lewan and Koger. Lewan(+1) eliminates his DT. Koger almost loses Simon but manages to push him past the play as he threatens to TFL. OSU flows well to the play; Toussaint(+0.5) kicks out one LB and Schofield(+0.5) gets the MLB but those two have made creases difficult to find. Molk is also running at this situation; both he and Denard run up the back of Schofield and lurch the pile forward for a decent gain.
RUN+: Lewan, Schofield(0.5), Robinson(0.5), Toussaint(0.5) RUN-:
O13 2 4 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 4-5 umbrella Pass Triple option pitch Odoms -7
Moeller moves late to the edge and blitzes off the corner, which forces a pitch from Robinson about a half second after the mesh point. The pitch is wildly off. I'm not sure why he kept; having that guy coming off the edge is bad news even if the pitch is completed and the handoff is the move.
RUN-: Robinson(2)
O20 3 11 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Dig Odoms 20
OSU gergs it, dropping Simon into a short zone and attempting to rush with three DTs (Hankins is still playing DE). With Hopkins protecting that's doubles for everyone and a billion years in the pocket. Robinson surveys and finally throws a dart to Odoms in between four defenders, two of whom derp each other, allowing Odoms the last three yards for the touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 3/3) Replay.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 30-24, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Sprint counter Toussaint 1
Molk(+1) buries the NT. This has the unfortunate effect of taking out Schofield's legs from behind and freeing Hankins to flow down the line. Omameh(-1) whiffs on Sabino on the second level. Huyge(-1) is in a stalemate with the playside DE, who successfully forces the play back inside as Huyge kicks Shazier. Hankins whiffs as Toussaint jukes; Sabino makes the play. Somewhat unfortunate.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Huyge, Omameh
M10 2 9 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel over Run QB draw Robinson 10
This screams QB draw but OSU can't do much about it. I assume this is a draw but the receivers mostly go into routes; Odoms is the only guy mountain goating up. Michigan doubles the NT and runs at the gap between that guy and the DE as OSU shifts their line; when neither of those guys fights into the gap it opens up wide. Huge room and Shazier can't close the space down. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-:
M20 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel over Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 22
Omameh(+0.5) kicks the playside DT easily as he slants. DE and Shazier have to go out for the fake; Sabino picks up a hypothetical -2 by not being in the hole; he goes for Toussaint as well and this opens up huge. Huyge(+1) gets a downfield block on the filling safety. Schofield again goes for the DE; not sure I understand this but it seems like that is the way it's coached. Robinson(+2) jets for the secondary, getting a good block from Roundtree(+1) downfield. RPS +1.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Omameh(0.5), Molk(0.5), Roundtree, Huyge RUN-:
M42 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple option dive Toussaint 3
Hopkins motions as the pitch guy. Definitely good decision to hand as a LB is scraping over and they've brought Moeller off the slot. Huyge has a tough job as OSU aligns their playside DE inside of him and scrapes Shazier over the top of that, so the DE gets penetration and the bounce is not there. With Schofield(-1) getting busted back by Hankins there is no room; Toussaint(+0.5) wisely just burrows straight upfield, which gets Michigan a few yards when the pile is shoved forward.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5) RUN-: Schofield
M45 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA rollout out Dileo 4
Robinson's throwing on the move to his left, which is awkward, and leaves this ball short and upfield. It's catchable but Dileo is taken off his feet and denied the chance to turn upfield for a shot at the first down; probably third and one, though. (MA, 2, protection N/A)
M49 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even tight Pass Corner Grady Inc
Pure man from OSU with no one deeper than six yards. OSU sends two blitzers against five blockers, the second delayed, and there is obviously a free guy. Molk blocks both, actually, letting the initial blitzer go as Shazier comes. Not much he could do. No one is open, really—he could try Hemingway on a hitch and rely on him to box out his defender, but he's stopped and covered—and he tosses a corner route to Grady that's OOB. Torn between IN, TA, PR here. I guess it's (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1) but this is about as understandable of an IN as you can have. I also wonder about these routes. You know you're getting man, so a slant or a drag maybe? Hemingway had an opportunity to pick the guy covering Hopkins's flare but did not. RPS –1.
Drive Notes: PUNT DISASTER, 30-24, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun triple stack 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB sweep Robinson 3
Odoms in motion for end around fake. Simon does a good job of stringing out the edge here; Koger(-0.5) cannot get a handle on him. This really slows things up and makes for a lot of people in the area when decision time comes. Simon does end up falling and Schofield is moving out; I think Denard makes a bad cut here as Toussaint(+0.5) got a good kick and the charging safety is coming up inside of Schofield; if he follows his lead guy he will burrow for decent yardage. Instead he cuts behind and gets tackled just past the LOS, almost losing the ball. Tough read in a brief window, but still lost yardage.
RUN+: Toussaint(0.5) RUN-: Koger(0.5), Robinson(0.5)
M28 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Waggle deep out Hemingway 20
No real play action fake, just Denard spinning around to the outside as Schofield pulls to provide some edge protection. Simon dives inside and Schofield has an easy time kicking the contain-concerned LB upfield. Denard pulls up and finds a wide open Hemingway about 20 yards downfield. Better thrown ball picks up a bunch of YAC; at this depth that's the difference between a DO and (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). You can argue Denard is throwing the safe ball here and I get you.
M48 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Zone stretch Toussaint 11
Oh argh argh. Perfect time to call this as OSU sends a blitzer straight up the middle who Molk(+2) seals and disposes of. Backside guys are slanting outside and not useful; Omameh(+1) gets a seal on the other linebacker, who was almost moving away from the playside. Hankins is pushing hard to the the playside and forces it back inside, into the cavern just described. Lewan has a block on Moeller on the edge but Toussaint(+1) can't cut upfield and back outside quick enough to not bang into it; he stumbles a bit. Grady(-0.5) loses his block downfield and Hopkins(-1) doesn't block the safety, instead going to double the player Hemingway already has. Toussaint is stumbling forward when the corner and safety converge on him. RPS +2; Michigan was a block and a half from one BILLION yards.
RUN+: Molk(2), Omameh, Toussaint RUN-: Hopkins, Grady(0.5)
O41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 10
Robinson delayed by a stunt that gets Hankins thrumbling his way into the backfield. OL does a reasonable job with it and the stunt does open up a big running lane once Robinson(+1) gets around it, so RPS push. Omameh(+1) deals with the other DT well, holding his block a long time. Molk's looking around for someone to block and finds no one; Shazier beats Toussaint thanks to the delay but is delayed himself; Denard runs through his arm tackle attempt. Safety fills near the sticks. Hemingway(+1) gets a  great, extended block on his guy. RPS +1 overall.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh, Hemingway RUN-: Toussaint(0.5)
O31 2 In I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5 + 13 Pen
Line slants away from the play; Schofield(+1) buries the playside DT. Hankins has slid inside and blows up Omameh(push, he is not expecting to deal with a cutback and gets on the wrong side) but the Schofield block means Toussaint(+1) can cut behind that easily. He picks up the first, at which point unblocked dudes converge since Toussaint has cut away from his blocking. Shazier rips his head off for 15 more. RPS +1
RUN+: Toussaint, Schofield RUN-:
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read keeper Robinson 3
Cover zero with man. Michigan lets Hankins go and Koger(+1) flares out on Shazier, eventually pancaking him. When Hankins gets too aggressive Denard pulls. Good decision but Lewan moves to the second level and ends up blocking no one because his assumption is he's walling the defender off from the zone. Robinson ends up tackled by both those guys in space.
RUN+: Koger RUN-:
M10 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper   6
Simon comes HARD off the edge, unblocked, and crushes Toussaint in the mesh point. Denard pulls at the last second a la MSU 4th down conversion. Robinson gets bumped, too, and instead of heading straight upfield into open space he has to orbit around this mess. Shazier comes underneath a block; Robinson runs past him, jersey tugged but not enough. He cuts behind Roundtree(+1) blocking a DB and gets chopped down by the last man, Barnett. Dang, Denard(+3). Hemingway did a good job of moving on to another DB after Shazier got upfield, creating some of that space Denard used.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Hemingway, Roundtree RUN-:
M4 3 1 Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Pass Waggle TE corner Koger 4
Hopkins and Toussaint offset, in a semi-pro-style thing. Michigan runs a deeply bizarre play action fake with OL blocking like it's a sweep and Toussaint coming in a counter motion; Koger releases downfield and is wide open for six. Confusion. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 37-27, 8 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Sweep Toussaint 2
Unbalanced. M tries to pull Molk and Schofield; Hankins goes straight upfield and removes Molk from the play while simultaneously forcing Toussaint outside. Koger(-1) is on Simon and Simon swims past him; Toussaint can only run to the corner. He does well to get a couple yards. RPS -1.
RUN-: Koger
M22 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass Rollout corner Dileo 28
M gets the corner, at least enough. Denard pulls up and fires as Sabino starts rushing at him, finding Dileo just breaking open in front of the safety and hitting him in the safest place possible; Dileo has to make a tough catch to bring the ball in. NFL all around. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Zone read dive Toussaint -1
Only six in the box and this should be money. Not so much. With the TE to the same side as the RB, this is a situation in which a cutback is your primary read off the handoff; since it's made the DE is upfield and since Omameh(+1) got a good block on the backside DT it's there. Toussaint(-2) cuts to the wrong side of Schofield, robs Molk of his blocking angle, and gets swarmed. Denard even cuts the backside DE! Cut back, Fitz!
M49 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 16
Shazier blitzes and is picked up by Hopkins(+1). Hankins is sliding into the lane; Molk(+1) blocks him into Schofield(+0.5) and then releases. Denard(+1) into the second level. He sets up Molk's downfield block and glides to an easy first down. RPS +1.
O37 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 20
Moeller over the slot, leaving just two LBs and the overhang corner plus a safety in the area. Omameh(+2) and Huyge(+2) destroy the playside DT. Molk(+1) throws Hankins to the ground. This plus a good read from Toussaint and the OSU LBs flowing hard to the intended hole gives a cutback lane that is hit with authority; Lewan(+1) walled off Simon on the backside with help from Denard's waggle motion. Toussaint into the secondary, where he's barely roped down.
RUN+: Toussaint, Lewan, Omameh(2), Huyge(2) RUN-:
O17 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 2
Well blocked but eighth guy in the box plus power from the I equals bad. Koger(+0.5) flares out on Moeller; Schofield(+1) seals Hankins; Omameh(+1) makes a much better pull, getting to the hole as fast as possible, getting a block on Sabino. Hopkins(+0.5) kicks Simon and this should work except for the unaccounted-for safety. RPS -1.
RUN+: Koger(0.5), Hopkins(0.5), Koger (0.5), Schofield. RUN-:
O15 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB power Robinson 11
Odoms end around fake. OSU has two LBs at the LOS and they blow themselves out of the play. Toussaint(+1) takes on a charging, unblocked Simon at exactly the right spot and shoves him out of the play upfield. Koger(+1) and Lewan(+1) donkey Hankins. Schofield(+1) seals blitzing Shazier. Denard has all of the room. Omameh(+1) gets a good block on the safety; Robinson cuts to the wrong side of that block and turns this from a TD into not quite a TD. I am not that mad since he plows inside the five. Push there. RPS +1.
RUN+: Omameh, Lewan, Koger, Toussaint, Schofield RUN-:
O4 1 G Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 Goal line Run QB power Robinson -1
A massive pile of bodies. Hankins beats Koger(-1) upfield. Schofield gets slanted under. A blitzing LB gets past Molk and takes out the pulling Omameh, removing any cutback lanes. Hopkins(-0.5) should pound the dude Schofield has sort of lost and helped the burrowing, but it's pretty much a lost cause by then. RPS -1.
RUN-: Koger, Hopkins(0.5)
O5 2 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Power off tackle Toussaint 5
NT slants outside and live I thought this was Toussaint making a great play; it's not, its Schofield(+2) reacting to push the slanting NT past the play. Toussaint(+1) does cut past the problem smoothly, but it's Schofield adjusting that makes this. With the NT gone it's Molk(+1) owning a blitzing LB and Huyge(+1) getting a downfield block on Shazier that gets Toussaint into the endzone. Sort of, anyway. There are two angles, one of which is obviously out and one of which is obviously in. SURPRISE: it's based on the angle of the camera. Refs -2.
RUN+: Molk, Schofield(2), Toussaint, Huyge RUN-:
O1 3 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Bootleg Robinson 1 (pen -25!)
This gets the corner; Omameh(-2) does hold the guy on the edge. Watson does plug this guy. I kind of wish they just did the QB sneak. The downside there is nil. RPS -1.
RUN-: Omameh(2)
O25 3 G Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel even Pass Throwaway Roundtree Inc
I'm surprised this is a throw instead of free ten yards given the situation, but they go for it; Robinson has no one except maybe a check down and is being pursued so he just chucks it OOB. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(42), 40-34, 2 min 4th Q

ALL OF THE POINTS

All of the points. Michigan had not scored that many points against Ohio State since a 58-6 whipping by Fritz Crisler and company in 1946. If you give the safety to the defense 2006 beats it and 2000 ties it, but then you've got the whole touchdown fiasco.

And what's more, that was a short game. Michigan had only ten drives. None of them were turnover-spawned and many of them were long. Michigan put up 460 yards of offense. Against Ohio State. In ten drives.

How did this happen?

Remember the 2005 Rose Bowl, when Michigan felt the wrath of Vince Young? While Young did put up 192 rushing yards what lost Michigan the game was the invincible robot going 16 of 28 for 180 yards in the air.

Invincible robot chart?

Invincible robot chart.

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation. Screens are in parens.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%
Northwestern '11 4 12(3) 1 7 2 - - - 1 59%
MSU '11 1 8(1) 4(1) 6 5 - 1 7 1 40%
Purdue '11 1 7(1) - 1 2 1 - 2 - 66%
Iowa '11 2 21 2 7 1 - 3(1) 2 - 69%
Illinois '11 1 4(1) 1 2 - 1(1) - 1 1 66%
Nebraska '11 1 12(3) - 2 2 1 1(1) 1 3 66%
Ohio State '11 3 10(3) 2 1 - 2 - - 1 77%

Lethal, lethal, lethal. His one IN was a corner route thrown to Grady on a third and medium when everyone was covered and he had an unblocked blitzer coming up the middle. His two MAs were completions. His DOs were fantastic. Finding Odoms on third and eleven was the best:

He sees that linebacker vacate his zone to chase Hemingway and lasers it in. Pray this is a consistent thing.

Meanwhile in open versions of Hemingway:

Various Buckeyes on twitter bemoaned the fact that Denard missed Koger so badly that he hit Hemingway, which is laughable, man.

Robinson dealt with a lot of pressure effectively, scooting out for a scramble and calmly hitting Odoms for a critical third down conversion in the redzone. There is nothing to criticize in his passing this game. You know what that performance warrants? The "Denard Robinson killed Tacopants" tag.

So… we have a pattern now. In the beginning of the year Denard had no idea what to do with this passing offense and his lack of comfort screwed up his mechanics. As he progressed and Borges adapted to his strengths the comfort level rose and he hit a plateau of totally acceptable performances before lighting up OSU. The progress is undeniable. He'll regress a bit against VT but if he nudges his DSR above 70% it's time to quietly hope he can have a ridiculous career capping year in 2012.

The best part of going 14/17 for ten YPA? Three QB draws for 10, 10, and 16 yards. Run and tell that, homeboy. If Denard is the QB he became after the trash tornado game, look out: 59% completions, 7-4 TD-INT, 8.4 YPA against Purdue/Iowa/Illinois/Nebraska/OSU translates into… I don't even know what.

Yea, and we looked unto his serene face and praised him.

So the big chart is the big chart and you are going to be skipping to the last bit:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 9.5 1 8 Effective against DTs, mostly, also getting to the second level.
Schofield 9.5 4.5 5 Fortunate to have a sixth OL as competent as this.
Molk 10 1 9 Great day picking up blitzing LBs.
Omameh 15 4 11 Has picked it up late.
Huyge 7 3 4 Had some issues but hardly a weak link.
Barnum - - - DNP
Moore - 1 -1 Heir apparent next year.
Watson - - - DNP
Koger 5.5 5.5 0 Simon was a tough matchup.
TOTAL 56.5 20 65% Slight step back from Nebraska but still a quality day. Very little penetration yielded.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 16.5 8.5 8 A bunch of awesome and then two fumbles and a bad pitch.
Gardner - - -  
Toussaint 12.5 4.5 8 Step back from his 18(!) last week but consistently a playmaker.
Shaw - - - DNP
Smith - - - Did not register; did get a critical Mountain Goat.
Hopkins 2 2.5 -0.5 Bit of an off day.
Rawls - - - DNP
McColgan - - - Did not register.
TOTAL 31 14.5 16.5 Two! Two fantastic runners. AH AH AH
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway 2 1 1  
Odoms - 1 -1  
Gallon 3 1 2 Key block on long Denard TD.
Roundtree 3 - 3  
Grady 0.5 1.5 -1 --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo - - - --
TOTAL 8.5 4.5 4 Solid.
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 21 10 68% Team 4, Huyge 3, Robinson(!) 1, Schofield 1, Hopkins 1
RPS 19 7 12 BAM

The inverted veer tore Ohio State up and Borges got good mileage out of the throwback screen. There were plenty of open receivers and Borges pulled out some old staples that had been put in the barn for a while: the sprint counter and PA TE seam picked up huge chunks on Michigan touchdown drives. He even got an easy flip into the endzone on play action.

I want to focus on what happened in the fourth quarter. After the punt disaster Michigan gets the ball back on their own 20 up three points. Their drive goes like so:

  1. QB sweep for 3
  2. Waggle action rollout to deep, uncovered Hemingway for 20
  3. Zone stretch for 11
  4. QB draw for 10
  5. I-Form power for 5 on second and inches
  6. Zone read keeper for 3
  7. Inverted veer keeper for 6
  8. Waggle TE corner for 4 yards and a TD

These are all different; OSU had not seen plays 2, 3, 5, or 8. On second and medium in the fourth up three, Borges throws the ball downfield. On the next play he RPS+2s OSU by running a stretch against a linebacker blitz up the middle. A few plays later he does it again. Remember how we were talking about the Boise State "just plays" philosophy? The TD was that incarnate.

So you've got this pro-set sweep thing with counter something something and what the hell is going on? Michigan hasn't aligned in that formation all year. It hasn't run anything like that all year. There is nothing for the defense to key on. They have no idea what's happening in front of them and end up so mesmerized Koger can declare his corner of the endzone Kevin Koger's Kogerland and hold elections without anyone noticing. President for life of Kevin Koger's Kogerland: Kevin Koger. First order of business: a motion to put six points on the board. Vote: unanimously in favor. Ratify that baby, Vice Exchequer Gibbons.

And then on the next drive Michigan gets the ball up three with seven minutes left; on second and eight Borges dials up the Dileo corner for 28 yards. Michigan marches down the field and coulda-shoulda-did put the game out of reach.

That continued aggression got Michigan ten points on drives starting from the 25 and 20 in the fourth quarter. Without it Michigan does not win this game.

How about that offensive line?

Hey, remember early in the year when everyone was saying they were overrated and Michigan was doomed? Yeah. No. While they too experienced a frustrating transition period, once they got their feet under them they helped rack up Michigan's massive rushing numbers.

Against OSU they were executing at a very high level; when they were defeated it was because Hankins and Simon are very good players, not because of anything poor they did. Sometimes when runs went backwards it was the tailback's fault, not theirs. They even broke a power big when Omameh and Huyge thumped a DT five yards backwards:

mmmmm grasss

Watch Omameh pull along the line and get to the hole way before Robinson:

That is how it's done, and that's night and day from Omameh's kind-of-sad attempts to pull earlier in the year. Compare and contrast the above with a similar QB power from the MSU game:

Funk has brought him a long way in a short time. I'm not sure if Omameh will ever have the size and strength Michigan wants in their guards but he's a hell of a lot better now.

They're not great all along the line like some of Michigan's units from a decade ago but combined with Robinson and Borges they've put up better numbers than anyone in 15 years. Molk is an all-timer at center, Lewan is still on the Jake Long track (and past the half-way point), and Schofield is going to be a very good three year starter. The right side is a little shakier but I don't think I'd trade for any line in the conference save Wisconsin. OSU's went out the window when Mike Adams got thrashed in pass protection two or three times.

What about that third and goal from the inch call?

That is the one thing I had an issue with. From that spot on the field I would sneak it 100% of the time since the chance of success is very high and the downside is a yard loss, if that*. Putting yourself on the edge exposes you to the possibility of negative events without a commensurate increase in success rates.

There was a second thing: once you're back on the 26 I'm just taking the free chunk of yards OSU will cede and setting up a chip shot field goal. The chances of actually scoring from the 26 are close to zero and the field goal from the 43 is not a gimme. Running for ten yards makes your FGA a lot less harrowing and strips OSU of its last timeout.

*[If you're thinking about Chad Henne's fumble against ND in 2005, you have to make the exchange on any call you make.]

Receivers?

Ah, yes. Those guys. Very strong day.

[Passes are rated like so: 0 = uncatchable, 1 = very difficult, 2 = moderately difficult, 3 = routine.]

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway - - - 2/2 11 0/2 8/9 22/25
Roundtree 1 - 1/1 - 12 2/7 6/8 9/10
Odoms 1 1/1 - 1/1 4 1/1 1/1 5/5
Grady 1 - - - 6 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon -

-

- 2/2 7 - 2/3 25/25
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - 2/2 - - 0/2 4/5 3/3
Jackson - - - - - - 1/1 1/1
                 
Koger - - - 4/4 6 1/3 3/4 14/15
Moore - - - - 2 - 1/1 -
                 
Toussaint - - - 1/1 - - - 5/6
Shaw - - - - - - - 1/1
Smith - - - - 4 0/2 1/1 7/8
Hopkins - - - - 2 - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

100% on catchable balls with a 1 and three 2s. They were money.

Have you ever felt personally taunted by a college coordinator?

Not until last Saturday.

/shakes fist at Borges
/looks at above RPS numbers
/sheepishly ceases fist-shaking
/makes a golden idol or something

So what was with the pulling guards blocking optioned guys on the inverted veer?

I thought this was a mistake due to a lack of reps, but like Troy Woolfolk jumping short routes it happened with such consistency that it eventually became clear it was no mistake. Tyler Sellhorn has a possible explanation:

Dear Brian,

I think Schofield and Omameh were coached to block the DE. Hoke/Borges do not like leaving unblocked defensive linemen out there. A famous unattributed coaching axiom that I am sure that Hoke/Borges believe in is: "First level defenders cause fumbles, second level defenders make tackles." To me, this is the "MANBALL" component of M's "option" game.  True power running game people think like that.  I think that is the reason there have been fewer really long runs (the second level has been blocked less consistently this season). 

This is one philosophical difference: RR's first thought always was, "How can we dick with the safeties to get big yards when we break through the line", Hoke/Borges first thought is "How can we dick with the DL so they are less aggro (in run and pass situations) and we don't ever have a negative play." Both work well as we have seen.

Tyler Sellhorn

To me it's weird that you'd option a guy off and still block him, but we saw Denard keep on the inverted veer five times and these were the results:

  1. WOOPS unblocked Sabino in the hole and gets to the sideline for 42-yard TD.
  2. Does not WOOP unblocked Johnson in the hole, gains two yards.
  3. DE flies way upfield, Hopkins takes Shazier outside without having to block him, Schofield moves to second level to block Johnson, six yard TD.
  4. Sabino blows his assignment and heads out on Toussaint. Pulling G blocks DE.
  5. Simon annihilates mesh point, Robinson pulls and miracles his way into six yards.

We can't glean anything from #5 since it did not go as intended. On three of the other four the pulling guard blocked the optioned DE. On the other, he got to the second level. Why? My theory is because there was no one else on the edge but the DE. On the other runs OSU ran blitzes that forced Hopkins to block guys other than the DE, who was then in a position to make a play on the ball, hypothetically, and received the attention of the pulling G. On the six yard TD the DE flew upfield to contain Toussaint and the puller moved on.

Goats?

Nobody. The only bad things to happen on the day were Denard's fumbles.

Heroes?

Everybody. Denard, Molk, Omameh, Lewan most of all.

What does it mean for Virginia Tech and the future?

It means we're going to be disappointed when Michigan does not execute flawlessly in the Sugar Bowl.

It also hints at fantastic things for next year. If Denard can maintain that level of play in the air the offense goes from dang good but inconsistent to

image

Can he? Well… probably not. We've got a lot more evidence pointing the other way. But you can't rule out something like the last five games, if not a little better, over the whole of 2012. That would be a great offense if they can just keep every single offensive lineman healthy throughout the whole year and find a tight end. And figure out what life without David Molk is like. So… some questions, but so much promise.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers Comment Count

Brian November 22nd, 2011 at 11:30 AM

image

Sponsor thanks. It's The Game week, when tailgates are packed with people you haven't seen all year and space is tight. If you plan with our local sponsor Park n Party you get peace of mind and a total lack of implied eyebrow cocking at your lack of support. Visit their Ohio State reservations page. Or I'll lift that bad boy.

NOM. So this was weird.

Explanation:

"This program's been starving for a while," Robinson said Monday. "It's time for us to make something happen.

"We've been starving. It's time for us to eat."

BONUS THING YOU CAN HEAR IN YOUR HEAD LIKE FARNSWORTH:

Michigan hasn't beaten the Buckeyes since 2003, when Robinson still was in the seventh grade at Deerfield Beach Middle School.

"Oh man, that's crazy!" Robinson said.

Kablam. Memphis: you officially suck worse than Western Illinois. Sorry.

This would likely not be true if Trey Burke wasn't as horrendously underrated as Tim Hardaway was last year. Check the postgame presser transcript at UMHoops for Trey Burke's opinion on that item.

The constant referencing of five-star Joe Jackson makes the lines to read between less than cryptic. Good thing Rivals dumped him lower after his Ohio Mr. Basketball high school season. Credibility: shot. ESPN is currently the worldwide leader in Michigan-basketball-related recuiting cred.

Anyway. Big win against a team whose flaws won't be exposed much against a Conference USA schedule and should end up a nice neutral-site feather in the cap when it comes tourney time. Most impressive aspect of it: defensive rebounding. Even with Morgan out big chunks of the game and Michigan playing with Smotrycz at the 5 a for a not-inconsiderable period of time, Michigan rebounded something like 80% of Memphis misses. That should mitigate your otherwise understandable Smotrycz frustration.

Chad Ford checked the game out and reported back on a couple of players the NBA finds notable. On Burke:

What stood out most was Burke's poise in the face of an athletic and aggressive defense from Memphis. A number of NBA scouts are keeping a close eye on Burke. While he's not an elite draft prospect yet, the potential -- thanks to a great NBA body, quickness and poise -- is there.

    On Hardaway:

Hardaway grew an inch to 6-foot-6 this summer, but where he's really grown is in his shot selection. Last season, Hardaway shot 42 percent from the field. He's now at 49 percent for the season and is playing under control more and more. While scouts saw him as a marginal pro prospect coming into the season, they are warming to him. Several told me after Michigan's practice on Saturday that they were impressed by his maturity and leadership. If he keeps playing like this all week, he could be a potential late first-round pick.

I've heard that the Hardaway plan is three and out, which makes sense in that context. Establishing yourself as maybe a late first rounder is usually not a reason to leave unless you're jumping into the weakest NBA draft in a long time, like Morris.

Ford also pointed out the various massively ranked Memphis players who struggled against Michigan, particularly post Tarik Black, who "should have dominated the Michigan bigs." He made one field goal.

Beilein owned Josh Pastner, which makes sense. Pastner is a glorified agent. Seriously:

"We're not a big zone team," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner, whose team went 19-for-57 from the floor. "(Michigan is) very good at what they do."

That is not about Memphis playing zone. It's about them playing against it. Josh Pastner: agent.

Other Memphis items: UMHoops recap and a David Merritt photo gallery. Michigan plays Duke at 7 tonight.

Seniors. The Daily on Michigan's seniors:

“There were rumors that Denard (Robinson) was going to transfer,” said fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen. “There was going to be people going all over the place. Everybody was going to jump ship.”

“We’ve seen it before — we saw it when coach (Lloyd) Carr left and Rich Rodriguez came in — where everyone who was on that swing fence, where they could either leave or stay, they left,” added fifth-year senior center David Molk. “And we kind of disbanded as a team. And it wasn’t good for our team in a lot of ways.”

In early January, Van Bergen and Molk called a team meeting to make sure everyone bought in — not to a coach, but to themselves.

“We didn’t really have (a coach),” Van Bergen said. “There was speculation it was going to be the coach from Stanford or LSU. And we’re just like, ‘We need to stick together. Whatever happens, we’ve got a good thing going that people don’t necessarily see.’

“We wanted to see this thing through.”

One more win.

We be having the moneys. Random bit of an enormous XKCD chart on money:

image

Injury whine. I try not to use the word whine, but Nebraska complaining about Michigan simulating injuries in Saturday's game is a straight-up no-evidence whine about getting annihilated. Michigan had all of two defensive injuries on Saturday. Jordan Kovacs went out. Kovacs:

  • is one of Michigan's best players
  • did not return for the rest of the drive
  • was clearly getting attended to on the sideline
  • had been on the field for like twenty plays all game because of Nebraska's offensive incompetence

Sure, that's definitely an injury Michigan faked. The other one was Brennen Beyer; I watched that happen from the stands and knew he was hurt as soon as it happened. This is not MSU falling over and winking about it in the postgame.

Why you should not be mad at Borges for Illinois. Is anyone? Probably not. In case you are, this bit from A Lion Eye in a post containing various items on their impending coach search emphasizes the wind conditions in Champaign:

Wind.  It plays a role in 60% of the games played in Memorial Stadium.  There are no hills in east central Illinois, and because of that, the wind rolls in off the plains unabated.  And the design of the stadium doesn’t help – the balconies concentrate the wind towards the center of the field.

As head football coach, I will make that wind my obsession.  The wind is there for nearly every October and November game, so when those games arrive, my team will have an advantage. 

I will have had my quarterbacks work on giving it a little extra and taking a little off.  I will train my punters to read the flags and set their angle accordingly.  And my returners – yes, I will pull my returners out to practice on a windy day, put them on the turf inside the stadium, and have each and every one of them learn how far a ball will drift (or die) because of the wind.  My kickoff returners will be ready at the 20 instead of the 8, my punt returners will never let a ball sail over their heads, and my field goal units will be well-versed in the wind swirl that sometimes happens at the south endzone.

Michigan played Illinois on a particular windy day even for that section of the country; after the MSU game and the way the defense set up against the Illini offense any complaints about play selection are complaining for complaining's sake.

Penn State bowl apocalypse scenario. I wondered why Jerry Palm had Penn State in the Hawaii bowl when they're going to be 9-3 at worst; Ryan Terpstra pointed out an article on CBS sports suggesting bowls will look at the Nittany Lions like poison.

I thought that was silly because this is not 'Nam. There are rules. Rules that I thought would preclude the Big Ten bowls from selecting a 7-5 team over a 9-3 team. There is a rule, but not one strong enough to help Penn State out:

CITRUS BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the BCS except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team.

OUTBACK BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the Capital One Bowl except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team. BUT if a second Big Ten team moves up to the BCS, the two-win/loss differential no longer applies.

There are no rules past those two bowls. Penn State is boned since Nebraska and the title game loser will be more attractive candidates.

Even so, I'll believe someone takes Purdue over Penn State when I see it and if I was Delany I'd be leaning on the Fiesta Jr. or Gator to take the Nittany Lions. Dropping them out of the bowl selection order will hurt the league's bowl slate and probably their record.

Worst cheer ever. You know that thing Akron State does when they sing about how they don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan? Yeah, somewhat dumb. One percent as dumb as this in the aftermath of Tennessee's OT win over Vandy:

The team goes on to sing, "Don't give a damn for the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt. Don't give a damn about the whole school of Vanderbilt, we're from Tennessee." Catchy, right?

Tennessee would like you to know that their pathological hatred for Vanderbilt extends to the entirety of… Vanderbilt.

The game, understood. Ramzy on the weekend:

The reality is that like Notre Dame, Michigan has long been everyone's rival, and that's fine for everyone. But Michigan - not the recent odorous, incompetent Michigan, but the traditional pain-in-the-ass Michigan - cannot reciprocate. It can have big national games, it can even have a state championship, but it can only have one arch-rival.

Hoke understood that, and he's given each opponent the appropriate focus and esteem. This isn't great news for Ohio State, who had made this rivalry one-sided in part because Tressel also understood the philosophy that Hoke has clearly embraced.

He is now at the brink of a ten-win season in what had been scheduled to be a year of cleaning up the wreckage of the last three years. Neutralize Ohio State to end his first run and the tone for the Hoke era is established. It would be the ultimate validation of his stewardship and confirmation of his methods.

Should Michigan lose - as an 8.5-point favorite at home to an Ohio State team that is as listless as it is lacking any cohesion - then not only is Hoke's eventual legend weakened, but the success of the 2011 season will be questioned.

This game is ripe for Michigan to take, and convincingly. Failing to do so would lacerate healing wounds. Schembechler won his first Ohio State game. So did Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Rodriguez did not, annually losing in a disastrous manner so abysmal it practically had style points.

Whole thing recommended.

Tagged. OSU's Mirror Lake, where people will jump in stuff on Friday:

DQWO3[1]

Via a reader. SWAT teams are been deployed to erase this as we speak.

Etc.: Alumni Association interview with Desmond Howard. Dave Brandon talks economics and stuff, but the Daily's four page transcript gives you access denied after page one. WSJ bombs Paterno with an interview with a "former chief disciplinarian" who Paterno got fired for wanting to, like, discipline people and stuff. Rich Rodriguez hired at Arizona.

Comments

Michigan Museday: What We Asked of Them, Part I

Michigan Museday: What We Asked of Them, Part I Comment Count

Seth November 22nd, 2011 at 7:57 AM

Seniors

EDIT: Moved Grady to this group

I've written plenty about the guys from the classes of '07 and '08 who didn't make it to this week. This one's for the guys who did.

Many had to overcome hideous, season-ending injuries to get here. They also stuck around through two paradigm-shifting coaching changes, or watched the guy and the system they committed to run out of town.What they signed up for was multiple Big Ten championships and Rose Bowls, but what they got was the most tumultuous years at Stadium and Main since Yost dug a hole in the ground.michael-shaw

What they leave is a program on the verge of a BCS bowl, on the verge of another reshaping, on the verge of one final chance to beat Ohio State. The leadership they provided helped Michigan avoid another painful transition, and set the tone for more success to come. There have been many great seniors to graduate from Michigan, but it is no derogation of them to say that this class is a bit special. Here are their stories (in reverse order of commitment):

EARLY RICH-RODIGAN JET-SMURFS:

Michael Shaw was the wizard hat to Trotwood teammate Roundtree's snake oil, a Penn State commit (Carr had wanted him as a CB) who switched to Michigan at the last minute. Unlike fellow '08 RB recruits he had neither captured the imagination of the Internet by hurdling fools, nor did he have a name that 13-year-olds use on prank calls. What Shaw had was speed, hands, and a cut-and-bounce move. People thought he might be a slot receiver. The era Shaw played in was replete with RBs of various skillsets, and proximity to Carlos Brown made for exaggerated comparisons. Various injuries made for sporadic appearances. He started the '09 Ohio State game and was nominally the starter at the beginning of this year. Everyone will have to pick their endearing memory of bouncy Shaw; mine will be the block on McNaul against NU (the purple one) and Batman.

Yearbook Quote:

"Normally they're keying in on me. I don't know why, but they're keying in on me, so that's where [Denard] gets his yards from … We had an idea they were going to try to contain Denard, but we also thought Notre Dame was going to try to contain him."

Martavious Odoms was billed as the perfect slot bug, the prototypical Rich Rodriguez Pahokee speedster with skillz who's completely overlooked because he's tiny. He was brought in to return kicks and punts, block like a mountain goat, and catch bubble screens. Whenever someone of the old guard complained about "little Florida guys" who "won't saytaymake it in the Big Ten," they were talking about Odoms.

Tay almost immediately grabbed that slot position and led the team in receptions as a somewhat fumbly true freshman. His sophomore season it was his mountain goat blocking and magnificent TD against Indiana that prevented a Hoosier loss from ever being added to the pile of Rodriguezian indignities. But he sprained a knee against Penn State and missed the rest of the season while redshirted classmate Roy Roundtree exploded. Odoms returned as the world's smallest outside WR in 2010 until a broken foot knocked him out for the second half of the year. This year several broken bits kept Odoms on the sideline as Gallon emerged, until Odoms reprised the Indy TD (@8:51) against Nebraska.

Yearbook quote:

Denard, can you talk about what you saw on the Odoms TD?

Denard: “Me and Martavious had a race, what, two years ago? So I saw that he can run, and he went right past the defenders and I put it in the air.”

What happened in that race?

Odoms, to Denard: “… What happened?”

Denard: “You have to tell them. You have to tell them.”

Odoms: “No, you should tell them.”

Denard: “Ah … he beat me. He got a win there. He got a win.”

Kelvin Grady committed to Michigan before any of these guys, but for basketball. After his sophomore ('08-'09) season Grady left the backcourt to join his brother in Rich Rod's basketball on grass. Grady also left his sure scholarship, and had to compete with the rest of the walk-ons to earn a football one (he did). Grady19 immediately pushed for playing time in the now crowded slot rotation, showing great route running but not so great hands. kelvin_gradywallpaperThen last year the hands improved—as in he caught almost everything thrown his way—and also became the designated reverse guy.

This year he's rotated in every game, despite there being another guy who's "emerged" at his position every year he's been here (Odoms, Roundtree, Gallon). His eligibility will run out after this season, but Kelvin has already received his Bachelor's degree, and is a year into his Master's in Social Work.

Yearbook quote:

"It crossed my mind that I wouldn't have anything," said Grady, who started 25 basketball games as a freshman before seeing his time reduced last year. "I'd be out. I'd be just like the rest of the guys back home who dropped out of college and didn't have anywhere else to go. But I'm too strong. I've got too much will. I've got a family that supports me. I've got a brother [Kevin, a senior running back for Michigan] that's working hard.

Yearbook quote II:

"I just want to say to you Florida boys it's not so bad in Michigan."

Terrence Robinson may not get a 5th year; the Texas 4-star was another slot bug who actually won the job in '08 before Odoms. He caused a Nebraska fumble on special teams this year—I don't know what his plans are if there's a scholarship available.

667015PLAYERS COMMITTED TO MICHIGAN:

J.B. Fitzgerald got the Victor Hobson designation in the four-man YMRMFSPA haul of Foote-Hobson-Crable-C.Graham. This was thanks to um, large hands? Fitz also was considered quite raw, needing considerable coaching on his read and reaction skills. In this, it's hard to argue that Michigan didn't fail him, provided Jay Hopson then GERG as his position coaches. Fitzgerald was never a threat to displace Obi Ezeh or Jonas Mouton, except when the coaches got so fed up with those guys they put Fitz in (after they tried Kevin Leach). He did see some starting time at OLB late last year due to injuries, but has since been passed by the likes of Ryan and the freshmen. An academic All-American, Fitz will graduate with a degree in sport management.

Yearbook quote:

"Physical's how we like it." (half of this guy's quotes can be taken out of context, the other half are about his family).

Until 2011, Kevin Koger (not Kroger) was the last head-to-head recruiting battle with [glances around, whispers] you know who in Ohio that Michigan actually won. Brian said he was Carson Butler minus the attitude and projected a future move to defensive end. Damn right about the attitude – Koger is a 2011 team captain and the Ryan Van Bergen of the offense.

Koger raised the hype meter a bit by scoring that TD versus Wisconsin in his first career catch, and then hauling in a one-handed flying stab in garbage time versus WMU in '09 that was more entertaining than 2lc78nkConer throwing D.O.'s to walk-on receivers with Mets' last names. This year he made another ridiculous catch over the middle versus Western. Koger's production on the field hasn't changed much from sharing time with Webb in 2010 (14 catches for 199 yards and 2 TDs) to being the guy in Borges's offense (17 catches for 195 yards and 3 TDs). Blocking Purdue's DEs (at top of screen, blocking 49) was a lot of fun.

Yearbook quote:

So I headbutted @VanBergen53 without a helmet on and he had his on #BadLifeDecision lol

In parts of the internet where trite metaphors are allowed, the phrase "Mike Martin is a beast!!!" is stated repeatedly, the number of exclamation marks varying from one to however many it takes to break a keyboard depending on how many yards backwards the poor sap charged with blocking him traveled before reestablishing radio contact. In less savage parts of the internet, people made things like this:

martinhulk

all the time. You can even put him in a micro fleece Balaclava and put Greg Robinson behind him (below) and he still looks like he's about to kill a quarterback any second. So of course Michigan put him in a micro fleece Balaclava and put Greg Robinson behind him. He was still the best player on the defense once Brandon Graham left; actually he beat out Graham for Michigan's '09 DL award.

A late-blooming prospect, Martin got his offer in June after Georgia DT Omar Hunter turned Michigan down. He committed immediately, and remained committed when a flood of others, including ND, came in after the coaching change. Martin arrived able to bench press like NFL first rounders, and ESPN said he looks like a crab.*

He immediately entered the DT rotation with Taylor and Johnson, and then spent the rest of his career here as a nose tackle because Michigan didn't have any other guys on the interior who could demand double teams. GERG's great idea to utilize Martin was to make him the centerpiece of 3-man rushes. After his junior year, Martin's personal accomplishments matched those of Alan Branch, with a far worse supporting cast.

----------------------------------

*I think when people say "crab" what they mean is pad level. From now on when I hear "crab" I will declare that prospect someone Michigan must get. I want an entire DL that consists of nothing but crab people who squat 520 and chase QBs like they're Shawn Crable.

----------------------------------3900110853_658e3dc931

Despite having NFL prospects, despite a new coach and staff again again, he stayed. He said:

"‘What are we going to do as a team? Where are we now? We can either not be all in and do what we need to do, or we can work hard together and make sure we’re successful.’ ”

Hoke was also in the room. He remembered Robinson being upset at the media speculating his departure. He remembered fifth-year senior center David Molk getting up in that same meeting and telling everybody the team was going to stick together. …

“When (Robinson) came to us, he was addressing that we as a group — including him — need to make sure that none of the younger guys have doubtful thoughts or might want to stray away,” Martin said. “We didn't want there to be a repeat of last time there was a transfer of a coach.”

Tomorrow: Those Who Stayed (the Class of '07):

Troy_spread03333molkmoforyan-van-bergen

Comments

Nebraska Postgame Presser Transcript: Players

Nebraska Postgame Presser Transcript: Players Comment Count

Heiko November 20th, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Martavious Odoms and Denard Robinson

Denard, did you have any idea that this kind of performance was in you guys today?

Denard: “Oh yeah. We play as a team and came out like we did. Of course, oh yeah.”

Martavious, can you talk about battling back from the slow start due to injury and the feeling of catching that touchdown?

Odoms: “It felt great. I got my chance. Coach called a good play. Denard threw the ball and I caught it.”

Denard, how important was field position for you guys?

Denard: “That’s the thing. We played as a team, and that’s what we needed. We got everybody executing. Those three teams [were] executing.” Were you just more comfortable today? That was probably your best game in a while. “Oh yeah. Everybody felt good today. The offensive line gave us time to do what we had to do and [gave] the running backs holes to run [through].”

Denard, can you talk about what you saw on the Odoms TD?

Denard: “Me and Martavious had a race, what, two years ago? So I saw that he can run, and he went right past the defenders and I put it in the air.”

What happened in that race?

Odoms, to Denard: “… What happened?”

Denard: “You have to tell them. You have to tell them.”

Odoms: “No, you should tell them.”

Denard: “Ah … he beat me. He got a win there. He got a win.”

Martavious, Denard gets a lot of scrutiny about his arm, but can you talk about his perfect throw from the 50 to the back of the endzone?

Odoms: “Yeah a lot of people doubt his throwing because he can run so well, but when he needs to throw and make a play, he gets the job done.”

Your reaction to the “Beat Ohio” chant in the fourth quarter?

Odoms: “I knew it was coming. I was prepared for it.”

Denard: “We have to celebrate this one first. Tomorrow we’ll be on Ohio.”

Denard, you had the chance to talk to Lavonte David. What did you guys have to say?

Denard:“I told him to keep going and have a great rest of the season.”

Fitz had another great game. Can you talk about how he’s grown in the past four weeks?

Denard: “I mean, I knew he was a physical running back, and once he gets into an open field he can make guys miss and run the ball. I think he’s been ready. He just had a couple injuries.”

Was any part of Nebraska’s defensive play a surprise to you?

Denard: “I mean, it’s always a little surprise, but we kind of adjusted -- coach adjusted well and called some great plays, and we executed.”

Denard, today you matched Tom Brady’s 35 career touchdown passes. Thoughts?

Denard: “Oh I didn’t know that. I’m not a big stats guy, so I’m going out there having fun with my team, so that’s the biggest thing.”

Looking at where the season started to where you guys are now, especially given the expectations externally, how does it feel to be 9-2 heading into the Ohio State game?

Denard: “I can’t tell you how it is outside, because inside I know everybody in here knew we could have a great season this year, that we would go and do some special things this year. That’s the biggest thing everybody knew. We worked hard all offseason and that’s it.”

How big was the roughing the kicker penalty in terms of momentum?

Denard: “Oh that was big. The offense we knew we had to take care of the ball and do what we had to do.”

Martavious, did you feel like you were close to breaking a long run?

Odoms: “Yeah, I think I was really close to breaking through. There’s always the guy that I don’t see that so happens to trip my leg or hit me.”

Was this the best special teams performance you’ve had in a long time?

Odoms: “I wouldn’t say that.”

Is there another game that stands out more? 

Odoms: “Um … not really. I mean, I feel like on special teams we really take pride and Coach Hoke takes pride in special teams. People just go hard on special teams and [in] regular play. I think special teams is  a really big part of the game. It’s most of the game, really.”

Denard, did you appreciate the crowd counting down the play clock when the scoreboards weren’t working in the first quarter?

Denard: “Yeah, that was the biggest thing. I was supposed to send someone as soon as I walked in about it (Ed: I think that’s what he said. Denard was speaking Florida here.) I mean, I appreciate the fans helping us out because we really needed it. Shout out to the fans and I hope they’ll be ready next week.”

Denard, you can win 10 games, beat Notre Dame, Nebraska, and maybe Ohio State next week, but you can’t play for the Big Ten title. Can you talk about the good vs. bad of that?

Denard: “We can only control what we can control, so that’s the only thing we worry about. We worry about playing Ohio next week.”

Martavious, have you ever seen Terrence Robinson make a hit like that in practice? Can you talk about the emphasis on special teams?

Odoms: “We have some pretty fast people on our team, and Terrence Robinson is one of them. He does a great job on special teams getting down there. We knew if he gets down there he can make a hit, and that’s what he did.”

Denard, can you talk about cashing in our your opportunities today compared with last week when you were unable a couple times?

Denard: “We still think we had missed opportunities today, too. We have to still grow and start putting the ball in the endzone when we need to.”

Can you talk about the momentum going into the Ohio State game that may not have been there the past couple years?

Odoms: “Like Denard said, everybody knows what next week is. We’re just going to enjoy this one and prepare for next week when the time comes.”

Denard: “I feel the same way. We have to enjoy this win and tomorrow we’ll be preparing for Ohio.”

Do you feel this is the highest level you’ve played at in years?

Denard: “Not that Michigan has played at.”

Since you guys have been here.

Odoms: “I mean, games are up and down so you really can’t tell if you played at your highest level. When you feel like you played at your highest level, you go watch film and you didn’t do so well. Can’t really say.”

Is the team playing as well as it has since you’ve been here?

Denard: “You could say that because all three of the teams are playing well.”

Mark Huyge and Fitzgerald Toussaint

 

You guys held the ball for 40 minutes. How important was that?

Huyge: “Yeah I know for a fact that our defense plays better when they have a limited amount of time on the field. I didn’t know we held the ball for 40 minutes. It’s a good deal. Uh, yeah. It’s great when special teams can contribute like they did. I swear every time we’d come off the field and sure enough we’d be right back on with a quick turnover or a three-and-out. It’s a good deal.”

Both of you guys heard about the “Blackshirts” defense and watched them on film. Were they as advertised?

Toussaint: “I would say it was a very physical game, but we prepared all week for this game and we knew what was coming and we expected everything we were given.”

Huyge: “It was very physical up front. The main thing was that we knew we had to be physical throughout and just try to wear them down. With the time of possession, I think that helped.”

Can you talk about how the running game has evolved from the start of the season?

Toussaint: “I would say a little bit more execution. Up front the guys handled their business. We prepared for these moments, and that’s what happened.”

How much did the turnovers help your psyche today?

Huyge: “It’s great. I mean, we can get turnovers and even though you’re on the bench and you don’t expect it, I’ll take it any day of the week. Just to be able to run out there with great field position as an offense, we know we have to get it done once we get down in there.”

Hoke has said this is the most well-rounded game you’ve played. What’s the cause of that?

Toussaint: “I would have to say it’s more teamwork. Organize the team and focusing mainly on unity.”

Huyge: “Yeah, execution. Just executing on every play and in all three phases.”

Why is that better now than earlier in the year?

Huyge: “Maybe just time. More games, get more experience.”

Thoughts on “Beat Ohio” chant? Also, the fact that fans are calling them Ohio rather than Ohio State?

Huyge: “It’s going to be a big one next week. We’ll enjoy this one for a little bit, but the whole emphasis starting back in January when these guys got here was this game coming up. We’ll be really looking forward to them, and we’ll be ready.”

Re: Denard, there’s a lot of criticism about his quarterbacking. Can you talk about his game today as a runner and a passer?

Huyge: “Well Denard … I love playing for Denard. I really do, because I know in the run game he makes stuff happen all the time. In the pass game, he can pull the ball down and run, too. When he threw that ball to Martavious Odoms in the endzone there, that was a great throw and a great catch. That was something that we need.”

Mark, how much confidence does this win give you going into next week?

Huyge: “Well, it does give us a lot of confidence. In the past -- and I don’t want to bring up the past -- but past seasons we haven’t been playing well in November. It’s very important to be playing well at the end of the year. It’s a definite boost for sure.”

In the last couple weeks, you’ve really gotten the ground game going. How does that change the offensive scheme?

Toussaint: “I wouldn’t think it changes any schemes. It’s just the way we prepare and the guys up front execute.”

After you lost to Michigan State, guys like Mike Martin and Jordan Kovacs said this year was different and there would be no second-half collapse. Why was it different?

Huyge: “I think it’s just an emphasis of getting better every week, where improvement was the key. You had to put the one behind that you lost and the fact that that was our main goal was to get better. We knew if we got better in November we’d be playing better football, and that’s obviously what’s shown.”

Molk said Monday that last year the philosophy on offense was “score score score” because the defense couldn’t stop anyone. How does the success of defense change how this offense operates?

Huyge: “It gives us more confidence, that’s for sure, that we know that if we do mess up or have a three-and-out, we can rely on our defense to make plays. Obviously they’ve been doing that all season, and special teams, too. That was huge.”

Senior legacies and rivalry games -- what does Saturday mean for that legacy?

Huyge: “It’s a big one. It’s a big one for all of us seniors, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Either of you guys catch yourself peeking at that countdown clock?

Toussaint: “Everyday. Everyday.”

Huyge: “You walk in that building it’s right there.”

Toussaint: “It’s right in your face. Can’t miss it.”

Do you guys do anything related to beating Ohio State throughout the year?

Huyge: “Yeah the emphasis is definitely on Ohio. When we bring it up in meetings, we talk about it everyday.”

You might not have been aware, but the power was out in Michigan Stadium. (surprised laughs) Could you hear the crowd chanting the play clock? Did it affect you guys not being able to see the play clock on that side of the field?

Huyge: “Well after the first little mishap, I think Denard didn’t know which ref had the signal that was making the calls, but yeah, you could hear it, 'Five, four, three, two,' and I’m like, 'Snap the ball … snap the ball …' ”

Mike Martin and Jordan Kovacs

 

Mike, can you talk about Ryan Van Bergen’s impact the last few weeks?

Martin: “Yeah, he’s stepping up. The whole line up front is doing a great job of communicating and executing. Ryan does a great job on the vocal side of things. Helps us execute, and we all do a great job echoing the call so we can all play tough.”

How much did you focus on stopping the option?

Martin: “Yeah that was one of the main focuses we had during the week. Preparation was key and talk about that everyday on our team. Beginning Sunday to Monday watching film and getting looks from our scout team -- they did a great job. So I feel like we prepared well and it showed on the field.”

Anything you saw on film that made you think you could do certain things?

Martin: “You know, a few things -- coach does a great job of tweaking things week to week and giving them a different look on our side of it. For us to be able to execute and attack them differently with keeping in mind how dangerous they are on the perimeter with the option and everything, that was big for us.”

You’ve played in the first night game, now first game against Nebraska. In games like this, is it important to make a statement, or is it more like “another game, another win?”

Kovacs: “I mean, coming into the game we knew it was going to be a big game, both [teams] coming into the game 8-2. We want to make a statement every time we take the field. We knew it was going to be a big game, and we played pretty well in all three facets of the game, and we earned this one, so we’re excited about it.”

Hoke says this is first time you’ve played in all three phases. Why are you peaking now this late in the season?

Kovacs: “I just think we’re all starting to click. Defensively, we’re gaining some confidence every game. We’re improving every game. The offense did a nice job of complementing us. They did a good job of holding onto the ball and making some big plays when they had to. They moved the chains on third down, which always helps. And you can’t say enough about the special teams. Any time you cause two turnovers, it’s kind of tough to lose a game like that. I think you have to take your hat off to those guys. Offense, special teams, and defense played well. There’s a few plays we’d like to take back, but we’re always looking to impove, but we’re excited about next week.”

You’re allowing three touchdowns fewer per game this year compared with last year. You’re basically the same players. How does that happen so quickly?

Martin: “It’s always going to be in the back of your mind, but this is a new year. Really our mindset has just completely changed 360. This senior group, and this team, they learned when coach Hoke and the staff came that we were going to have to buy in. It really started from our winter conditioning, summer conditioning, fall camp, all those different phases leading up to the season, and now it’s showing with our focus and our dedication to this team and this coaching staff. We know we’re getting better, but the season is far from being over. We still have a lot of work to put in, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Kovacs: “Just to piggyback off that question, it’s guys like Mike and Van Bergen stepping up and being great leaders for our defense and for our team as a whole. But the same time I think our offense helps us out a lot. Anytime you’re not on the field as a defense, they can’t score too many points on you, so I think they do a great job holding the ball and moving the chains. They aren’t doing that hurry-up tempo anymore, so I think that’s really helped us out.”

After the Michigan State game, you talked about being out-physicaled and out-toughed. Is that what you did to Nebraska’s offense today?

Kovacs: “We knew that they were going to be a physical team, and that the tougher team, the more physical team, was going to win this game. To a certain extent, I think we played pretty physical, but like I said, there’s always some lapses and always some plays that you’d like to have back. I think that’s still an area that we need to improve on everyday.”

Jordan, can you talk about how huge this win is for this program, and where does it rank in your career?

Kovacs: “This was a big win. Huge. I can’t stress that enough. Like I said, we knew it was going to be a big game coming in. I think that this is the best win that we’ve had since I’ve been on the team just because it’s so late in the year. I don’t think that we’ve ever had a game this late in November that really meant as much as this one. I think it was a big for us. We played well in all facets of the game, and it was a fun win. I guess we’re looking forward to next week.”

Mike, how different will this week feel knowing that you’re on par/favored going against Ohio State for the first time since forever?

Martin: “Yeah, well, like I’ve said before, the mindset of this defense and this team is on a whole n'other level this year. We’ve had young guys step up. We’ve had great leadership with the seniors. A lot of juniors and the underclassment have gotten a lot of time. It’s really just putting all those pieces together knowing that we can play Michigan defense and Michigan football for a full 60 minutes. That’s what you need to win football games, because you can’t start a game out strong and not finish it. We’ve done those things before, and it’s never worked out. I feel like we’ve improved as a team each week, and we have to make sure we take a positive step for this week coming up.”

Can you talk about the pride that special teams players take in their job since most of them are backups? Also, their impact on this game?

Kovacs: “I think all special teams players take a lot of pride in that facet of the game because a lot of those guys don’t play on offense or defense so that’s their contribution to the game. I think a handful of them are walk-ons as well, so they’re excited to get out there and play in the Big House and wear that winged helmet. I think they played great today. They made a huge impact and caused some turnovers, and I think they won us the game.”

“Beat Ohio” chant ftw. Thoughts?

Martin: “We all know what next week has in store for us and this program. That’s the end of November, that’s the deal. This stadium, this team, and all of us, we’re just going to enjoy the win tonight, but tomorrow get focusing on Ohio, and that’s something that we’ve done each week for every single team. This is a huge game for our legacy as a team, for this senior group, for team 132. We just have to make sure we finish the season out the way we want to, the way we’ve envisioned the whole season.”

Jordan, you’re an Ohio guy. What does this game mean to you?

Kovacs: “I think that as the game winded down the last minute and a half, and we were kneeing the ball, I think that everyone was thinking that in the back of their heads, like, ‘All right. This was a big win, but it’s on to the next one.’ We’re excited about it. Like Mike said, this was a huge win today. We’re going to enjoy it for the next few hours, and then we’re going to come in tomorrow focused and ready to improve and ready to get after Ohio.”

Is it different going into the Ohio State game this season than in years past?

Martin: “I believe, especially as we progress through this season, this team has taken major positive steps. It’s showed every single week we’ve made an improvement. We know what our capabilities are as a team. We know [that if] we play together, play as a team, that good things are going to happen. We have to complement each other.”

Is there any extra punishment this week if you slip up and say “Ohio State” instead of “Ohio”?

Kovacs: “Not that I know.”

Martin: “I don’t know. This week’s going to be an intense week. I don’t know if any of you media want to come to practice. I don’t think you guys will be able to make it. This will be a good one.”

Mike, can you talk more about shutting Nebraska down on the perimeter?

Martin: “We knew how dangerous they were, the weapons that they had, Martinez and Burkhead. We knew we had to attack them a certain way. We took advantage of the strengths that we have on our side of it. I believe we did a great job with executing. We had a few plays here and there that we wish we could have had back. That’s something that we have to improve on and we will do that, but overall I feel like we did a great job executing.”

Did you feel like you were successful in accomplishing what you set out to do when the first half ended and Burkhead didn’t have very many yards?

Martin: “I have no clue what he had at hafltime, but I knew that we were playing together and we were playing hard. We were having fun playing defense and playing Michigan defense. We knew we had another half at that point to play. You clock in for 60 minutes, you have to make sure you finish them all out.”

What does it mean that this week will be intense? How much more intense than normal?

Martin: “Everyone knows how big this game is. From our side of it, from the other side of it -- that’s what makes it such a great game, because of how much time’s put in, how much it means to each program, and really playing this great game of football in the month of November. Can’t get better than that. This week has to be one of our best weeks of preparation, period. That’s what it needs to be.”

Can you talk about last night’s team meeting? You were tweeting photos.

Martin: “Today we honored the armed services for everything they do. We’ve embodied and embraced some of their principles and things that they believe in on their team. You can never compare it -- what those guys do is something that is just amazing, but accountability and the different essences of teamwork are something that we adopted, so they visited us, talked to our team, really gave us a few words of wisdom, and it meant a lot. They gave us a couple of their tridents that represent the U.S. Navy Seals. That’s something that represents what they embody. That meant a lot to us as a team.”

Just to follow up, from “Beat Ohio State” to “Beat Ohio” -- is that something you immediate adopted because of your head coach? Is “Ohio State” forbidden?

Kovacs: “That’s what he calls them, so that’s what we call them.”

Can you talk about the uniqueness of Greg Mattison’s defensive scheme?

Kovacs: “He brings an unbelievable scheme. Obviously he was coaching with the Ravens before and he’s established an NFL defense here. I think that we do a pretty good job disguising and giving them a bunch of different looks and giving the quarterback something to think about. But at the same time I think our D-line has really been playing great so far. They really help us out on the back end. You can’t tip your hat off enough to those guys up front.”

Mike, has it hit you that this is your last time preparing to play at the Big House?

Martin: “That’s something that I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks here. That’s why you have to take each day for what it is. It means a lot. You always tell those younger guys it’s going to fly by. You never listen, though. I didn’t listen. But this is huge for our program, for our seniors. Really I thought about my last time having clam chowder at the Campus Inn, because that’s the D-line’s favorite thing to eat on Friday. This is going to be huge, and we have to work hard this week.”

Comments

Preview 2011: Receivers Of All Varieties

Preview 2011: Receivers Of All Varieties Comment Count

Brian August 31st, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Previously: The story, the secondary, the linebackers, the defensive line, and the offensive line.

Depth Chart

WR Yr. WR Yr. Slot Yr. TE Yr.
Junior Hemingway Sr.* Martavious Odoms Sr. Roy Roundtree Jr.* Kevin Koger Sr.
Jeremy Jackson So. Jeremy Gallon So.* Kelvin Grady Sr.* Brandon Moore Jr.*
Drew Dileo So. Jerald Robinson Fr.* Terrance Robinson Jr.* Steve Watson Sr.*

Yeah, I know the depth chart lists a fullback and crams the wideouts into two spots, but Al Borges keeps saying shotgun and wideouts and even Lloyd Carr rocked three-wide for much of his later period. The slot lives here, for at least another year or two. The slot lives on like whoah, actually: six of the nine guys on that depth chart can't get on the rides at Cedar Point, and one of the exceptions is the returning starter in the… slot.

So they're going to be short. And you should take the above depth chart with as much of a grain of salt as I did the official one and its lack of a slot and placement of Martavious Odoms on the third string. Any of these guys could pop up anywhere save Hemingway, Jackson, and Robinson, who are outside guys exclusively. It sounds like everyone is an outside guy now:

"The difference in this offense is there aren't really slot receivers as much as outside receivers — they play everywhere on the field and we move them around," Hecklinski said. "The switch is big because of all the little things asked of them - they have to convert routes, pick up checks and route changes and coverages."

That is a lot more complicated than what they did last year when the entire passing game was a constraint play. This is necessary to move the offensive forward. I'll discuss it more in the quarterback section, but when Denard's legs were removed from the equation on passing downs YPC dropped to an ugly 5.7—not much better than the 2008 disaster.

There are downsides to this. For example, in the two minute drill stuff after the punting demo Jeremy Gallon twice broke off option routes only to see the quarterbacks chuck it deep. There's going to be an adjustment period here. Roundtree:

“You have to have the timing down in this offense because if the timing is off, then the quarterback is off,” junior receiver Roy Roundtree said. “Our receivers want the ball, so we got to get open and keep the timing good for Denard.

Where is that timing at now?

“We’re getting there,” he said. “We still have two more weeks to get ready.”

Timing's always important and in the long term this passing offense will be more robust. I just hope we get plenty of last year's stuff in appropriate situations.

Outside Receiver

Rating: 3.

junior-hemingway-back-shoulderjunior-hemingway-illinois-houdnii

JUNIOR HEMINGWAY
like Marquise Walker
we totally planned this
drags a toe
also totally planned this
adjusts well
a back-shoulder leap
little high, no problem
underneath stuff
BGSU slant
cover zero in the alps
inexplicable yac knack
Purdue orbit step
Illinois Houdini act TD
rumblin' stumblin'
tough to tackle
yac knack attack
not a replay of YKA

Over the summer Junior Hemingway ventured into the heart of a South American jungle to perform an arcane rite that would free him of the injury jinx that's plagued him since his arrival Ann Arbor. It worked. It wrought a price on Martavious Odoms, but it worked. Hemingway hasn't been laid up with mono, an ankle sprain, a shoulder problem, or the Black Death in quite a long while.

If he can manage that through the season he's going to end the year with a ton of catches. Even if the Michigan offense doesn't go full MANBALL right away continued development from Denard Robinson will make difficult pro-style throws that frequently target outside wide receivers more feasible; Borges's offense will make them more frequent. Combine that with Hemingway's main skill and there will be jump balls for the taking.

That's convenient. That main skill is being enormous and jumpy. As the table says, he's like Marquise Walker. He's not a guy who's going to blaze past the secondary. There's going to be a corner in the vicinity. If it's going well they're going to watch Hemingway make the catch anyway. What you see at right emphasizes that theme: there's always a guy around, but he's often six inches too short to do anything about it.

A number of the catches are back-shoulder throws that don't necessarily seem intentional. If they aren't they might become so as Borges emphasizes a more sophisticated, they-tried-to-man-up-Crab passing offense.

The canonical example follows.

It might be a mirage conjured by playing next to Darryl Stonum for the last three years, but Hemingway does adjust to the ball in the air pretty well. He doesn't get a ton of separation, but his leaping/box-out ability is top shelf. He does do a good job of finding the ball and bringing it in.

He's also got this strange knack for picking up yards after the catch. He's a 230 pound monster who should get tackled on the catch every time, but this fails to happen with some consistency. There was that ridiculous touchdown against Illinois, for one. The highlights above have a few more examples.

Put the inexplicable YAC knack with his ability to snag downfield jump balls and good enough hands (he had four routine drops on 27 opportunities last year—not good—but snagged 3/5 circus attempts—very good) and you've got a solid Big Ten receiver. He'll see his production increase significantly. If he can maintain his 18.5 YPC he'll challenge Roundtree for the most receiving yards on the team. Expect a bit under 1,000 yards from him.

martavious-odomsmartavious-odoms-nd

MARTAVIOUS ODOMS
kinda slippery
quicks way past safety
jailbreak screen
will headbutt you
extended screen block
opens the corner
reliable option
comes back to ball
wide open downfield
settles down
guy on his back no problem

Martavious Odoms showed up way down the depth chart a few days ago. I'm not buying that. Hoke wants experience, toughness and blocking, and Odoms provides that. He's going to have to put a third wideout on the field, and Odoms is going to be #3 in snaps after Hemingway and Roundtree. So he's a quasi-starter.

He's probably way down the depth chart because his injury thing is becoming a problem. He missed the second half of last year with a broken foot, spent a big chunk of fall camp sporting a cast, showed up with his shoulder in a sling in a CTK episode, and apparently has another cast on now. In context it seems like his depth chart demotion is a health issue and he'll bubble up (HA!) when and if that gets resolved.

When on the field Odoms has been a reliable, unthrilling option. Odoms is from Pahokee, so he's small and would headbutt a goat if he thought it would get him two yards. His elusiveness is just okay—Roundtree and Hemingway probably have better YAC stats. His hands are good. Over the past two years he's 26/27 on routine catches, 7/10 on somewhat difficult ones, and 2/4 on very difficult ones. On the downside, his lack of height makes him a tougher target. Sometimes balls that Hemingway would grab zing way over his head.

The total package is a useful player but not one that's going to show up in the opposing team's gameplan. If healthy he'll at least double his 16 catches from last year; 45 is the guess here.

Backups

jeremy-jackson-osujerald-robinson-camp

Jackson; Robinson (not that Robinson, or that one, or that one)

Since we've shuffled Roundtree off to his old position, there's only two guys bigger than a breadbox left. Jeremy Jackson is the one you've seen. The son of running backs coach and hyperbole enthusiast Fred, Jackson is a lanky, "lumbering" possession receiver who seems like the cream of the four-person WR recruiting class of two years ago. That's not a big hill to climb since DJ Williamson transferred, Ricardo Miller moved to tight end, and Jerald Robinson can't get on the depth chart.

He only managed four catches last year but at least they were all against Wisconsin and Ohio State. He'll see his involvement rise as Michigan spreads Stonum's catches around; 15 catches is as good a guess as any. Hope for reliable hands and an ability to get open thanks to his sizeable frame—a poor man's Avant is the goal.

Jerald Robinson also exists, but not on the depth chart. His recruiting profile makes him out to be a rangy leaper with good hands and some upside on deep balls. His omission from the depth chart was a surprise after the coaches and teammates had spent time talking him up:

“I feel like he’s going to get time,” Roundtree said. “I talked to him the other day, like, ‘Look man, this camp, you got to stay focused, don’t get down because your legs are sore. That’s supposed to happen.’ Jerald’s been having a great camp because he wants to learn and he wants to get better. He can play.” …

“Jerald doesn’t know how good Jerald can be,” wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski said. “There’s a lot of times where he’s really, really come along. It goes back to this is just a process.

“There’s some things he looks really, really good at, and there’s some things that we’re going to continue to work with him on.”

There were reports that Robinson did not Get It and may be in the process of doing so, FWIW. Hecklinski evidently thinks he has not fully acquired It and will wait to put him on the field until he has safely done so. He's a guy to look at for next year. Borges says "he seems like he has a future here," which is not a present here. He's just a redshirt freshman, after all.

Though the short guys are probably going to play outside as much as they do inside I'll cover them in the slot section.

Slot Receiver

Rating: 4.

roy-roundtree-indiana-2010

Roy Roundtree is an eventful dude whether he's hand-wavingly wide open for a touchdown or dooming Michigan to turn the ball over by dropping the ball. Thanks to a massive game in the insane triple-OT Illinois thriller he finished as the Big Ten's second-leading receiver.

A large chunk of that is thanks to Denard's legs. There's a certain theme running through many of Roundtree's long receptions: desolation. When Denard catches the safety the resulting throw looks like post-apocalyptic football. Where is everyone? They're dead. Let's run through this tumbleweed-infested secondary.

That did not take a ton of skill on Roundtree's part.

But there is a reason he leapt off the bench during the 2009 Michigan State game and has been the favorite target of whoever's at QB since. For one, he's more slippery than you'd think. Michigan's recruited a horde of 5'9" YAC guys but it's Roundtree who gets targeted on bubbles. It's easy to see why:

ROY ROUNDTREE
the worst waldo
blindingly wide open
Indiana oh noes
breaks wide open
safety just barely gets him
fourth down TD
toughish catches
gets crushed; hangs on
20 against UW
guy on his back
over the shoulder
YAC snacks
jukes two different guys
smokes him on a juke
shakes CB for TD

Odoms doesn't have much like that on his resume and Gallon is just a rumor. Roundtree's only competition is Hemingway's inexplicable YAC knack.

And his hands are pretty good despite the drops—four in 41 opportunities in the first 11 games last year. He gets targeted a lot. They could be better, sure, but I think everyone remembers them more because instead of converting a first down after Roundtree drops a ball Michigan immediately turned the ball over on three separate occasions. Those tend to burn themselves into your head. Hemingway had the same number of drops in 27 opportunities last year but you only hear about Roundtree's fumblefingers moments. Not that they don't rankle. It's just that I think our subjective memories are not 100% reliable in this matter.

If they move him outside he'll lose his spot as the designated hand-wavingly-open dude jetting past safeties. I think that would be a mistake since he's an easier target to hit than any the other options. When things opened up for the slot last year they often opened so wide that the only things that mattered were 1) how easy is it for Denard to hit him and 2) being faster than a tight end so no one catches him. Roundtree fit on both counts.

Meanwhile, moving outside may make him vulnerable to getting jammed at the line. As a slight guy who hasn't had to deal with that much in his career I can see that going poorly. A corner can get into him—under him—and disrupt his business. He's probably still the second best option out there in those circumstances; he's just not going to be as effective.

Roundtree's production will drop this year as Michigan tries to get Hemingway and Koger more involved. He can't expect set the single-game receiving record every year. He'll still run neck and neck with Hemingway fro the most receiving yards on the team.

Backups

If there's one thing that is a must-recycle from last year's preview it's this stunning Kelvin Grady wallpaper:

kelvin_grady-wallpaper

DOWNLOAD NOW INSTALL NOW KEEP FOREVERRRR

KELVIN GRADY
tough snags
four-verts sit
over the shoulder
gets nailed but hangs on
a bullet he snags
spins to catch it
lit up and hangs on
designated reverse guy
an alley outside
just outruns dudes

I have no memory where that came from, unfortunately. I would like to find this person and see if they have excessively dramatic wallpapers for Nate Brink yet. I bet the text reads "on the BRINK of a REVOLUTION."

Anyway: Grady. He moved over from the basketball team and dropped a lot of balls two years ago, whereupon he was dropped from the lineup when Roy Roundtree burst onto the scene. When Odoms moved outside last year he got another shot and did surprisingly well with it. The hands issues disappeared—while he did have one routine drop on nine attempts he was six of six on more difficult stuff—as he became the designated reverse guy. By the end of the year it was a litte disappointing they hadn't used him more.

Entering his final season Grady's best shot at extensive playing time is based on 1) a lot of three wide and 2) Roundtree playing mostly on the outside. In that situation he's the established veteran. He'd get a crack at screens and seams and whatnot en route to a breakout mini-'Tree year. More likely is a moderately increased role as Roundtree bounces inside and out with around 30 catches.

It could go sour for Grady if Jeremy Gallon translates chatter into playing time. Gallon came to Michigan with a ton of hype and a stunning resemblance to The Wire's Snoop…

jeremy-gallon-mug snoop-the-wire
annual reminder

…and then failed to do much other than not field the punts he should, field the punts he shouldn't, and fumble kickoffs. He had the occasional nice screen last year.

Normally this would spell another year on the bench making people wonder what the big deal was all about. Stonum's suspension and the injury curse migrating to Odoms gives him an opening. If you listen to the coaches he seems to be taking advantage of the opportunity.

As a result he passed Odoms on the official depth chart, though this preview assumes that's because of injury. Perhaps more interesting is surging ahead of Jackson and Robinson, who are closer to the strapping downfield leapers the pro-style offense generally prefers. Gallon had seemingly fallen behind Jackson in particular late last year.

(Gallon's special teams contributions are covered in a separate section.)

Sophomore Drew Dileo is basically Wes Welker, of course. He had one catch for three yards a year ago and will probably have to wait another year for some of the small guy logjam to clear before he gets significant time. I can't understand why he's not returning punts since that's supposedly what he was recruited to do and Gallon has been maddening, but there are now two coaching staffs who have come to the same conclusion about the depth chart there.

Finally, Terrance Robinson's still around. He's been conspicuously absent from both press conference chatter and the depth chart. He's been passed by younger guys in Dileo, Gallon, and Jackson. He's probably not going to see time. Here's this catch he had last year, though.

Tight End

Rating: 4.

kevin-koger-dropkevin-koger-wow

Kevin Koger can't go twenty minutes without someone asking him if he's excited for an increased role in the offense as if he or Martell Webb weren't on the field for 80% of Michigan's snaps last year. The conventional wisdom holds that blocking ain't playin', apparently.

Koger did a lot of that last year and was effective but not stellar. Webb was clearly a superior blocker and was the preferred choice when Michigan got close to the goal line and things got hairy. While Koger was preferred in the passing game, it wasn't by much. His 14 catches were nine more than Webb's five.

Is that going to change this year? If they run the I-form a lot, maybe. That takes the slot off the field and makes the tight end the natural target in the seam areas that are so deliciously open because of Denard's running. I'm not sure how you get opponents to vacate those when you're under center (fake QB draws?), but if anyone can do it it's Denard. When Michigan's in the shotgun he'll have competition from Roundtree, et al., in those zones and it's clear Denard's comfort level is higher with 'Tree.

Koger's lack of participation in the passing game may be his own doing. Two years ago he started the season by making a series of ridiculous catches, then blew all that goodwill and more by catching just 7 of 11 routine opportunities. He was 9/9 last year on those, which helps but still gets him to 16 of 20 all-time— still worse than anyone on the team last year. If he's dropping stuff in practice the lack of attention is not related to the spread. I know there was that one year that Tim Massaqoui broke his hand and Mike DeBord kept throwing to him, but I choose to believe that little wrinkle was unique to The Avalanche. 

Koger's role will be up to him. He'll be somewhere between a B- and B+ blocker and will have opportunities to establish himself a major part of the passing game. Our sample size on his hands is still very small and the bad part is now two years removed and he's quite an athlete—his upside is high. I can't help but think he's been held back by things other than Rich Rodriguez's preferences, though. I'm betting on a good but unmemorable senior year.

Backups

Brandon Moore 2steve-watson

Moore; weird guy with weird hat and Watson

There are a couple scholarship options behind Koger but they're not particularly encouraging. Despite being a big time recruit, redshirt junior Brandon Moore has hardly been seen on the field outside of baby seal clubbings. Even if he did have a couple of quality options ahead of him on the depth chart, the third tight end should see snaps here and there if he's quality.

More ominous yet has been the total lack of buzz surrounding him in fall. Borges's only mention of the guys behind Koger was when he was directly asked about TEs other than the starter. The result:

I think Brandon Moore has done a nice job. He is still climbing if you know what I mean. He is getting better every single day and Steve Watson is a solid player. I think we’re pretty deep there. I think we’re pretty deep. Because Kog got hurt in the spring, those other guys got a lot of reps.

That seems to be something to file under coachspeak. We'll see; given Moore's physical talents he could surprise.

And then there's Steve Watson, who came in as a tight end, got moved to DE, linebacker, TE again, and then started playing FB—he appears on both depth charts. I imagine he'll get some time near the goal line as a threat out of the backfield and out of necessity when Borges feels the need for a big set. At this point it's hard to think he'll do much with it.

Ricardo Miller's the lone other TE on the roster. After moving from WR he's up to 234 pounds, which is far too little to see the field unless the roof caves in.

Comments