Containment Field Down! Run For Your Lives! Comment Count

Brian October 29th, 2012 at 12:27 PM

10/27/2012 – Michigan 9, Nebraska 23 – 5-3, 3-1 Big Ten


Eric Upchurch

Well, it finally happened.

Pundits and opponent fans have been predicting the demise of Denard Robinson ever since he picked up that snap against Western Michigan, but the series of bumps and bruises that frightened Michigan fans every third game had never really cost Michigan anything. In 2010, Tate Forcier came off the bench to lead Michigan to a frenetic victory over Illinois and nearly did the same against Iowa. Last year, Devin Gardner shepherded Michigan through the second half of the Illinois game. When Denard's boo-boos knocked him out for halves instead of plays, Michigan got through just fine.

They were always tempting fate, though, and upped their bet that the football gods' vast malevolence was laser-focused on the Iowa running back situation by moving Devin Gardner to wide receiver in the fall. That seemed like a risk worth taking.

Unfortunately, the containment field is down.


yes, it's true. this man has no elbow.

First it leaked from the Iowa running backs to their offensive line, which suffered two season-ending injuries minutes apart last week. This week, the Big Ten set to murdering football in the morning and afternoon, then this happened to Marcus Lattimore's knee:


artist's conception

By the time Friday night rolled around the ambient malevolence levels in college football were so high that Notre Dame won a marquee matchup to enter the national championship shortlist.

So of course Denard would be knocked out of a potentially fun, definitely important game by falling harmlessly to the turf, thus turning the rest of it into a death-march trudge. AIRBHG is no longer contained. The forces of wheeeee that (mostly) preserved Denard through three years of running at top speed into Manti Te'o have been overrun by the forces of grinding doom football. Now we're all boned. Hail Saban.

And so it came to pass that words never before spoken—words so impossible CFL teams who don't even think it's weird they're all named "Roughriders" cock an eyebrow at their assemblage—came to pass.

Tate Forcier isn't walking through that door.


I don't know, man. I felt ill for most of the second half but it's not like anyone is at fault other than everyone. I mean, if RR doesn't implode or Forcier is a normal person who goes to classes or Michigan doesn't hire Hoke three weeks before signing day, maybe the guy backing up Robinson has a prayer of moving the ball forward. Maybe the wide receiving corps is not so awful that it must include Devin Gardner.

In the aftermath you've got the columns declaring Gardner's move to WR a stupid idea, but I haven't seen anyone reference the column questioning it they wrote before last weekend. It's easy to be a backseat driver after whatever that was. Meanwhile, Gardner is this crappy receiving corps' #2 WR, #1 if you discount Jeremy Gallon's 150-some yards on screens.

Gardner's not good. The alternative is throwing more than four balls in the first half to Jeremy Jackson. They've needed their crappy, crappy receiver who is also a quarterback even if he is dropping a 50-yard pass in most games. Whether Gardner is worth an extra three scores against Nebraska is… debatable. His performances to date suggest he is not.

Michigan was always rolling the dice on Denard's health, and that was the move to make. Didn't work. That's life as a rickety program that's endured two coaching transitions in three years—when you have to go to the bench you get tumbleweeds.

We're now entering the period of time when most program shortcomings can be blamed on Rich Rodriguez's recruiting, which is only a slight transition from the period of time when most program shortcomings could be blamed on Lloyd Carr's recruiting fade and represents very little improvement when the one completely awesome guy at the most important position is removed from the equation. It turns out that Michigan 2012 minus Denard Robinson is pretty much Michigan 2008, and that the only thing saving us from the abyss was Denard staring down a decision to stay or go and not pulling the Mallett.

He stayed, but in the game that probably decided if he would be a champion or not he watched from the sideline because his elbow hit the turf the wrong way. Malevolence is out of control these days.


Eric just posted the photos. You can enjoy them. You will not enjoy One Frame At A Time.  BTN highlights:

Also SD highlights from Michigan's official site and a Nebraska-oriented highlight reel; actual highlights start 3:20 in.


Injury item. So the thing is this:

Boo Boo[1]

Hoover Street Rag

It's the same thing that knocked him out briefly against Illinois. 

"He's got that nerve (injury), he hits it the wrong way (or) gets hit (and it's hard)," Hoke said. "The difference (today) was he didn't come back in. But, he gets better as the game goes on." …

Asked whether or not he was concerned Robinson wouldn't be available next week, Hoke replied "No." He also said the normal rehabilitation process for this type of injury is mainly rest and time.

He'll probably be fine by Tuesday and start against Gophers. Every time his elbow brushes up against the softest kitten in Minnesota the collective intake of breath will be audible. Sounds fun, and by "fun" I mean "paralyzing."

Frank Clark is also expected to be back next week, which is good because Mario Ojemudia limped off the field Saturday and was spotted in a boot today. He's probably sprained his ankle and won't be available. 

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3_thumbBrady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Craig Roh. Beastmode sack, generally unblockable, got a number of those stat things for himself instead of everyone else, as he usually does.

Honorable mention. Quinton Washington, Desmond Morgan, Kenny Demens.

Epic Double Point standings.

3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Drew Dileo (Michigan State), Craig Roh(Nebraska).

We won time of possession! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Time of possession is a garbage stat.

That said, there is a clear narrative of decline in the defensive performance. Nebraska's first eight drives gained a total of 148 yards. Their last four gained 178. It's not easy going out there after a blizzard of three-and-outs. This would be better measured by plays instead of TOP.




  • Rodriguez's horrible recruiting at the skill positions: 40%. If Michigan has a decent deep threat at WR, Gardner is playing QB and Michigan may salvage that game. Instead, RR recruited receivers are… 2011: nobody. 2010: Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson, DJ Williamson. 2009: Je'Ron Stokes. The only one of those guys to see the field is Jackson, and he's essentially a skinny tight end. That 2011 class may not be RR's fault, because there were…
  • Unavoidable transition costs: 10%. RR's WR recruiting would look slightly better if Sammy Watkins was included in that group, but once he got fired Watkins was gone.
  • Darryl Stonum's inability to just do what the court tells him to: 10%. Relevant to previous two bullets: we're desperate for a guy who has three catches for Baylor. Baylor's offense is pretty good, but he can't even get on the field.
  • The Process: 20%. Maybe Michigan gets a guy more ready to play if they're not scrambling with three weeks left. Maybe Michigan recruits one dang WR in 2011.
  • Hoke not taking a quarterback last year: 10%. Always take one every year. If Michigan has another freshman around maybe he's better than Bellomy.
  • Hoke inexplicably passing on Devin Lucien: 10%. Lucien has 10 catches as a sophomore for 6-2 UCLA and their #12 offense. He still wanted to commit to Michigan after the transition, and Michigan said no by saying they wanted him to play DB.

There. It has been blamed. Seriously, though, the Lucien thing drives me nuts.

Borges take. It's official, we have the first FIRE BORGES blog post, one made through blood-soaked tears in the third quarter of that game by The Big House Blog. The Daily is also getting testy.

I'm not there. As soon as Denard went out and it became clear that Bellomy was light years away from readiness I was pretty much like whatever. There's not much you can do when you already can't run without your QB and the guy you put in is overwhelmed and throwing moonballs.

Before that happened, Michigan was moving the ball decently and poised to score to go up 10-7. That's okay I guess—but we're also talking about a team that is 90th in the country in run defense, so…

I saw this: after Nebraska got torn up by Hundley and Miller it seemed clear they went back to the drawing board and were going to play it safe. When Michigan put 4 WRs on the field, Nebraska responded with two high safeties and 5.5 guys in the box. Michigan ran the ball and got five, six, seven yards virtually every time. That's stealing.

I mean, when I was learning about the spread some years back I watched the videos Rodriguez put out about his offense. When he talked about making a run/pass decision based on the safeties, his general rule was one deep safety was a run, cover zero was pass. The idea that someone would maintain two high safeties against his offense never even crossed his mind. Nebraska was doing it, and Michigan didn't force Nebraska out of it. I don't get it, man.

The truly crappy thing is it's going to be four or five years before we have any real read on whether Borges is any good. At this point, year three is going to be Michigan rolling with a true freshman QB—probably, anyway—and four new OL starters—probably, anyway—with what's likely to be a horrible WR corps. Anything other than an awful offense next year is a point in Borges's favor. Hurrah transition.

But Auburn? No. 2004 Auburn had the following guys on that team: QB Jason Campbell (first round pick), RB Ronnie Brown (first round pick), RB Cadillac Williams (first round pick), OL Ben Grubbs (first round pick), OL Marcus McNeill (second round pick), Ben Obomanu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 37 catches in 2011), Devin Aromashodu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 26 catches in 2011), and Courtney Taylor (sixth round pick, now in CFL after 2008 multiple sclerosis(!) diagnosis). When you can call anything and have future NFL players on both ends of the exchange that doesn't say much either. 

First Nebraska touchdown: where is that? Nebraska's first touchdown was a route that exploited Michigan's man coverage. An inside receiver ran a little hitch designed to pick the outside guy, the outside guy ran a post to eliminate the safety over the top, and the inside-inside guy used the pick to get open by yards. It didn't really matter if the receiver who ended up targeted was able to get separation naturally; the play got it for him.

Where is that from Michigan? I can't recall a wide open downfield guy that got open strictly by the play design. Gardner's been open some when DBs fall over or suck up on a double move or something; not so much the play bits.

This wasn't actually a problem last year, when Michigan quarterbacks made sport of ignoring the the wide open guys Borges was machining downfield. Is it just Junior Hemingway's absence?




I think they watched film. Congratulations, Nebraska: you are apparently the only Big Ten team to ever watch tape of the Michigan offense and leap on the throwback screen. It's not exactly hard to find, since the first time Michigan goes under center in any game is virtually guaranteed to be the throwback. It's pretty bad when everyone in the room I was watching said "throwback screen" as soon as Michigan lined up in ace.

Q: why is that play consistently run from under center? There doesn't seem to be anything about it that would require it to be.

I'M GONNA DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEBellomy. Well… that wasn't very good. The most disturbing thing was probably one of Bellomy's few completions—a ten yard wheel-ish route run by Kerridge that picked up a first down and took just decades to get where it was going. Accuracy issues and a tendency to scream in horror during plays themselves (@ right by Upchurch) can be fixed with time. The arm strength deficiency probably can't.

That particular throw made me wonder why Michigan recruited the guy at all since it seems like the #1 thing on Borges's radar screen is the ability to laser it in just inside the sideline. Hurrah Process/unavoidable transition costs. Boy, is next year's offense going to be a wow experience or what I tell ya.

Offensive line. I'm not entirely sure how they did since once Bellomy came in it was open season and Michigan settled into a routine that exposed them to the same "eight of them, five of us" problems that Michigan experienced against MSU. Hoke was not impressed.

Ryan got edged. When Michigan gave up some yards it was often on the edge when various Nebraska players broke contain. The most spectacular incident was when Abdullah broke Cam Gordon's ankles…



…but it happened to Ryan a few times. When Nebraska was not bouncing it outside they were getting very little; excellent day from the interior DL and the LBs.

Roh beastmode. Also Roh, who took the opportunity presented by Abudullah being assigned to block him to destroy Martinez in a hilarious beastmode sack. If you've ever wondered why tailbacks always cut block guys on pass protection, that's why.



Where is Rawls? I don't know what happened to Toussaint but at this point I'm not even irritated at Vincent Smith carries because it's not like Toussaint is consistently making yards past what the blocking gets him. Meanwhile, Rawls ends up watching, even when Michigan deep into Bellomy panic time and trying to run from under center.

I'm sure there's a reason they don't trust him yet; whatever it is it must be pretty bad. If you're down to running power from the I-form—and Michigan was—you might as well find out if your backup guy can break some tackles.

Defense: stepping towards elite. Nebraska entered the game averaging 512 yards and 42 points a game, leading the league in rushing yardage, pass efficiency, total yardage, and points per game. Michigan held the Cornhuskers to 326 yards and 23 points. Six of those points were field goal drives of two and five yards in length. Without turnovers, that's 17 points.

Relative to the quality of opponent, that's their best performance of the year by far and a major step away from criticisms that Michigan's defense hasn't actually stopped anyone. If the offense doesn't implode with Denard out those numbers are undoubtedly better, probably under 300 yards for the game for the Huskers.

Not relevant but worth it. This happened after Northwestern's win over Iowa:


Bo Cisek, walk-on DT and new internet legend

It speaks for itself except for the fact that guy's wearing #1.



Michigan + Nebraska == refereeing atrocity. The Roundtree catch that was overturned was one of those plays where it's not clear either way because of the goofy fuzzy catch rule and should be left to stand, and then you've got that terrible terrible late hit call and some terrible terrible pass interference calls both ways. This combination of teams is not good for ref sanity.

Cats! So hey like if you follow me on twitter I'm sort of sorry for retweeting like 30 cats into your timeline except not really. People started sending them to me, so clearly there was a need. Here is another cat if you are not satiated.


Inside The Boxscore:

* As bad as we played, the first downs were close, 20-18 in favor of Nebraska. Of course, 6 of our first downs came from Nebraska penalties.
* Nebraska's 20 1st downs translated to 326 total yards, we managed 188 total yards. At least we were efficient with our first downs. Why get 20 or 30 yards when you only need 10?
* We won the TOP, 31:36  to 28:24. Yippee. We did control the clock early, and I was expecting that to pay off in the fourth quarter when we should have been able to grind down their defense, but then, you know, Denard got hurt.


Edit: I forgot the main silver lining, BELLOMY CAN AUDIBLE!

Yeah, what was with that?

Yeoman scans Massey, comes back with Michigan having a 30% shot at winning the division now. Let's go Spartans.


Blog stuff. Sap's decals hand out nothing to the offense. Nebraska fans are far too enthusiastic about snuffing Bellomy out. TTB. Maize and Go Blue. The M Block considers what happens next year at QB.

Hoover Street Rag:

Duct tape.  It's was held together with duct tape, hope, and rolling dice.  And now the questions will come for the coaching staff, although any questions to Greg Mattison will likely consist of "Why can't you guys score too?"  But we caught a glimpse of a future we will need to face all too soon, a future without Denard Robinson.  That future consisted of three field goals total output on offense.


You watched the second half perhaps with some hope that Spring Game Bellomy would emerge but save for a few late first downs it wasn’t really even close.  I swear I caught Jeremy Gallon staring off into space after the RS freshman was calling a pass play early in the second half and remember thinking, “Gallon knows this ain’t happening…”

1 gallon
That play was the horribly underthrown toss (yes, headed for Gallon!) which was easily picked off by Nebraska. 

Also, Denard's jacket was old school split M style now verboten.


Probably got it off Jon Falk's back.


Stupid malevolence. Stupid offense.

Wait they're still saying this?

Three Bellomy interceptions rushed the defense back onto the field and into quick-change situations. Nebraska started drives in Michigan territory, including one on the four-yard line. There’s a good excuse.

“No,” Kovacs said. “We take pride in that. Our motto is: ‘Spot the ball.’ It doesn’t matter where the ball’s at, just put the ball on the field and we’re going to go play defense and not let them get any yards.”

That's a Rodriguez-era phrase that remains as mysterious today as it was when it was introduced and probably should have gone in the bonfire with GERG's playbooks and stuffed beavers and hair. I guess that's appropriate for the reappearance of the 2008 offense. If someone says "hold the rope" any time soon I'm going to hide under the bed.


Michigan-Nebraska: The Sick Man of Europe

By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a

The red balloons floated upward, little harbingers of doom dotting the night sky. I didn't know what to make of it, but it could not have been anything else but that. Or, maybe they were just balloons.

By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a



/hides under bed



October 29th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

So yeah I got deleted on the forums for this but it still needs to be said:

Denard gave up after his injury. I'm sorry, I love the guy, but he flat out gave up. He is a senior and a captain. This means he should be a leader on and off the field. The only thing I saw him doing was moping around the sidelines. He didn't put a headset on and try to help, he didn't console Russell. He just stood there in silence and watched his team lose. I'm still upset the most about this.


October 29th, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

Here's what I wrote when deleting this crap from the board:

Posted pictures of Denard has a sad and used this as his sole evidence for denigrating Denard's leadership and character. Penalty box for a month for trying to use this site to give the world a case example for how arrogant and dickish a Michigan fan can be. Penalty would normally be an insta-ban but this was a longtime user with a good record and connections to good people we know who seems to have made just one terrible lapse in judgment. Goes on permanent record--next time it's a ban.

If you were not one of the few users I recognize off-hand as not an asshole, you would be banned right now for being a complete asshole.

There was no headset he was allowed to put on, no encouragement he was allowed to give, nothing he was allowed to do other than stay in that jacket and let someone know if feeling came back to his hand. He couldn't clap it, or move around with it. He had to stand there in the coat and wait and watch because that was the best way to maybe get the swelling in his elbow to go down enough that he might be able to have enough feeling in his hand to help his team again this game. Mere mortals cannot conceive of the kind of pain we're talking about here. Why wasn't he at the hospital if he was hurt that bad? Because there was a chance that he could still help his team, and all it would cost him is excruciating pain.

I'm not saying that to argue with you because I'm telling you to drop this right now. You have exactly one of four peoples' opinions who matter on this thing on your side right now in re: perma-ban, and if you respond with anything but "I'm sorry, I'll drop this" you will have zero.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

1) I'm sorry, I'll drop this. Thank you for the explanation that I did not see before.

2) I have had the same injury. I understand the pain. You physically cannot move your elbow most of the time.

3) The pictures were not meant to flame, merely provide evidence I wasn't making it up.

4) To talk negatively of Denard should not require a ban. Negative criticism should be negated with infiormed sentences, much like you used above. Thanks for the one reasonable reply (even if I disagree! Would ya look at that!)


October 29th, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

A ban is something we use as a nuclear option, not lightly. I'm more reticent to use it than the other guys because I'm a board guy too and don't like losing any passionate fans, and because I'm the money guy so losing readers is counterproductive to my position. I also like the argument--I want stupid things to be said every once in awhile so that they can be had out. Better to say we reached a consensus against a certain idea than to claim consensus and banish it.

That said, personal attacks on players are out of bounds. Criticizing Denard for a football thing--accuracy, ability to read a defense, missing his hole, etc.-- is well within bounds, but when it starts getting into personality traits there's nothing to be gained and everything to lose. Unless you know Denard, you don' t have any frame of reference for his emotional state or how his teammates responded, or what was going through his head. So any judgment you make there, except for the limited evidence available, is going to just be coming from your ass. The pics were not evidence for your assertion, because they could mean anything, including the obvious thing that wasn't the thing you said.

Why even make a distinction? Because this is my livelihood, and Brian's livelihood, and Ace's livelihood, and something Heiko does on the side before becoming spectacularly wealthy and having a house three times the size of any of ours, and something Eric does because he is a huge Michigan fan. And when you post that on the board, somebody somewhere else is going to see "hey look, MGoBlog is saying Denard gave up on his teammates,"  because we have let that stand on the board, and our reputation and credibility is damaged. Meanwhile people here will either get pissed and start a flame war to reply to you, or more likely leave for awhile because that's how most sane people deal with stuff like that. The service we provide with the board is high-quality discussion, not a place to vent. It's worth far more to me that readers know that anyone who violates the quality of that discussion egregiously will be prevented from doing so again than it is to keep getting pageviews from that one poster. All that saved you from being thrown out is I know you had a hand in "Boren Listens to Creed."

You'll note I didn't delete it from here--you got negged to the point where users who have their settings to gray and minimize it will see it gray and minimized.


October 30th, 2012 at 12:15 PM ^

I don't post much here anymore, mainly just come for the articles and subsequent comments. I guess you'd call me a long-time lurker. Just out of curiosity, nothing more, why weren't character attacks on coaches "out of bounds" during the Rich Rod era? Was the website not as well moderated or was it just cool because most people felt that way about RR? 


October 29th, 2012 at 1:01 PM ^

And guess what, it should probably be deleted here as well.  People love to put their own myopic views of "toughness" and "leadership" onto players because they can't imagine a world in which things just happen without villians and "quitters" to blame.  Denard has been the one consistent, competent leader on this team all year.  He was injured and the team lost.  Go back to your bridge if all you are going to do is denigrate him because you hate to see UM lose.


October 29th, 2012 at 2:17 PM ^

Thanks.  I was actually thinking about stories like this.  Grantland had a bit on Cutler as well, about how he's the player we all expected but that because we like to have good guys and bad guys we make narratives out of them.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:02 PM ^

You have to think that anything that causes a grown, groomed athlete to cry out in pain just might be at the forefront of his mind? The only thing you saw on the sidelines is what the damn cameras wanted you to see.

If I lost feeling in my hand and couldn't hold onto the ball, or, ya know, most of my life until this point and a good part of my future I might stand on the sidelines too.

Denard didn't disappear from his teammates. You don't know if he said a word to them or not. You don't know what Bellomy needs from Denard, or any of how their playing relationship works. Maybe Russel doesn't need consolation, maybe he doesn't need advice, maybe he needed his receivers to catch the damn ball.

Again, you know 5% of what Denard did once he came out, and only the 5% the cameras wanted you to know.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

Was he sitting on the bench?  No.  Was he not paying attention to the action on the field?  No.  He stood there, waiting, hoping that feelnig would come back to his hand and if it did, he would've gone back out there, probably knowing full well that another shot to his arm would have been excruciating. 

He didn't have a headset on because he wasn't done for the day, he was waiting to go back into the game.  And you don't know if he was or was not offering encouragement to Bellomy, since the footage from the sideline Denard Cam is a figment of your imagination.  And even if he didn't speak at all to Bellomy, it was probably because Russell's time was probably being monopolized by the coaches trying to get him in the right frame of mind to salvage this game.

Leadership isn't always yelling and histrionics and false shows of sacrifce.  Sometimes leadership is standing on the sideline with your teammates, dying inside because you know you can't help, no matter how much you want to try, no matter how much your ego tells you that you could do it.  Denard could've puffed up with hubris and insisted he was good to go back out there, and hell the coaches might've even let him try, and probably would've made a bad situation worse.  Sometimes being a leader is standing there and taking your lumps like a man and then getting ready to get back on the horse again to fight again another day.

Armchair quarterbacks like you are the worst kind fo fan.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

You've never competed in a sport that puts you directly in the path of people much bigger and stronger than you, whose sole purpose is to hit you as hard as they can.

I don't know you nor can I recall any of your previous posts.  But I do know you a you're talking out of your ass and I don't like you.


October 29th, 2012 at 12:42 PM ^

I'm not so sure about that. Denard is a true Michigan man. He would do anything to help his team win. He was on the sideline trying to shake the trainer's hand to show if he had his grip back after his injury. To say he just stood there and watched his team lose is a little harsh.

The way I see it, Bellomy was a deer in the headlights as it was already. He was getting coached up the whole time he was on the sideline. The last thing he needed was his senior QB teammate putting another voice in his head. He needed to calm down more than anything.


October 29th, 2012 at 12:42 PM ^

Yes. Once Denard went down, and Bellomy was shown to be a cowering kitten, we were cooked, no matter who the OC was.

The only take-away fo me from this game is "we have a good defense". On the offensive side, it's nonsense data.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

But since the OC is also the QB coach, and since the backup QB has been under his tutelage for a year and a half, maybe poor coaching had something to do with the "cowering kitten" we saw on Saturday.  Let's put it this way -- I've seen plenty of backup QBs thrown into the fire and do better, and I have seldom seen worse.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:30 PM ^

Or maybe a guy recruited during a 10 day recruiting window isn't that great?

Or maybe most freshman QB's don't succeed that well?

Or maybe Bellomy doesn't fit well in an offense designed for Denard Robinson?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's one of 4 completely plausible explanations.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^

Then maybe the coaches should bear this in mind before they decide to make Gardner unavailable as a backup QB?  And by the way (not that you've made this argument, but it's related), why can't Michigan's coaches groom Gardner as a receiver while also making sure he's available as a backup QB?  Somehow, Northwestern has been able to get Kain Colter to handle those dual roles, even in the same game.


October 29th, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

I've read several times that Gardner injured his throwing shoulder against ND.

Also, re: NW. Colter clearly is only QB for a portion of the offense - he regularly gets lifted, and isn't responsible for running the entire thing. Also, Colter spent his entire freshman year as a WR, in the same offensive system - he already knows the WR position. Gardner had never played WR - it could very well be that he requires more practice to reach a level of adequacy due to his newness at the position.

I think the only viable criticism I see resulting from this game is "Was making Gardner a WR worth it?". I'm not sure of the answer. I still think a Denard injury kills our year - I don't recall Gardner being any great shakes as a QB.


October 29th, 2012 at 2:11 PM ^

Any possible "throwing shoulder" injury is irrelevant, as far as I'm concerned.  Michigan didn't need him in there to throw the ball (we certainly weren't getting that from Bellomy) -- he was needed to play a role as close to Denard-like (not very close, I realize) as we could get, so Michigan could hopefully put together a semi-functional running game.  If he's healthy enough to be out there as a receiver, he can do that.  And sure, maybe Gardner isn't great -- but he did manage to do OK subbing for Denard for half a game last year.  How many plays did we need to see Saturday night before you'd figure Gardner was worth a try?

I keep coming back to the "coaches know best" argument.  They've seen plenty of Bellomy in the past year and a half, including some things -- e.g., arm strength -- that won't magically get better.  With the superior information they had, I'd expect better decisions about the "Gardner as receiver" experiment than you or I could make.  I saw enough Saturday to strongly suggest they made the wrong decision.

Colt McBaby Jesus

October 29th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

If we were going to put Gardner in as a QB who could only run, we may as well have put Denard in and had him only use his left arm to hold the ball.

Whether or not Gardner can throw is relevant because, well, IT IS THE QB'S JOB TO BE ABLE TO AT LEAST THREATEN TO THROW THE BALL.



October 29th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

Because if Gardner went out there and showed himself unable to throw, Nebraska's DC would be totally confused ... to the point where he wouldn't even think to stack the box and just run blitz Michigan into oblivian. Kind of like the way he barely figured out that with Denard out, he didn't have to play contain and could send overload blitz after overload blitz at Bellomy.

Bellomy had a rough day, but most RS freshmen QBs will have those when the defense is blitzing every down and the offensive line can't pick everyone up ... and it's safe to do that because there is no serious threat of a ballcarrier getting past the blitz and being all alone and in space.


October 29th, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

There is no credible evidence that Gardner had any sort of "throwing shoulder" injury that would have prevented him from being a threat to pass.  People have made stuff up based on Gardner's "boo boo" in the Notre Dame game a month ago, but Hoke didn't claim at today's presser that there was any injury-based reason why Gardner didn't get the call on Saturday.  So, I'll amend my statement:  Any possible claim of a "throwing shoulder" injury has no factual basis, as far as I'm concerned.


October 29th, 2012 at 5:26 PM ^

I think you're minimizing the difficulty in learning how to play WR for the first time AND being completely up to date on that weeks gameplan for a different position.

I assume it's difficult, given that the coaches acknowledge that if Denard were to miss a game, and they knew in advance, they'd prepare Gardner differently than they have been. This suggests that Gardners usage as a WR is precluding him from learning the weekly QB gameplan.


October 29th, 2012 at 5:44 PM ^

What I'm suggesting is that they might have made the wrong call in deciding how to allocate Gardner's practice time.  I'm also suggesting that even if his QB preparation was sub-optimal, he might well have been a better option than Bellomy, particularly after it became clear that Bellomy wasn't going to get the job done (at which point it was still a 7-point game).

Again, the "coaches know best" argument is a double-edged sword.  The coaches also apparently thought that a pass-first game plan was the way to go against Notre Dame, and we saw how that worked out.  Why can't they be wrong in deciding to stick with Bellomy no matter what, or deciding to short-change the amount of QB time for Gardner?


October 30th, 2012 at 9:26 AM ^

I'm not saying "the coaches know best". Could they have been wrong, in retrospect, in how they apportioned Gardner's playing time? Maybe. Would it have mattered? Maybe.

What I don't think is possible, however, is this pivot to a QB that is thoroughly unprepared, had they decided that Bellomy was not cutting it. I just don't think football works that way, and I don't, to use your example, think putting a one-armed QB in who can't throw is anything like a viable option.

As I said below, I suspect that the coaches, over the course of the Spring, Fall practice, and however many reps Gardner has gotten in season, feel Bellomy is a better Quarterback. I think the fact that only one of them still plays the position, one of them always replaced Denard first, and was left in the game despite playing badly shows this fairly starkly. Is this the right decision? I have no idea. I haven't seen Gardner play QB since the spring (when he wasn't very good) or last year (when he wasn't very good). I'm not sure I had ever really paid attention to Bellomy prior to two weeks ago, but I suspect he's somewhat better than "3/15 with 3 interceptions", or at least has practiced at a higher level than that. Again, are the coaches right? I don't know. It's entirely possible they're not.

coastal blue

October 29th, 2012 at 5:54 PM ^

How is this hard to understand:

The question isn't whether Devin Gardner would have been able to perform as well as Denard, or as well as the average college JR quarterback. 

The question is, could Devin Gardner have bettered this stat line: 

0-10, 1 INT. Those are Bellomy's numbers after his first 5 possessions. I have no doubt that Gardner could have performed at a higher level than that. 

If we were down by 21 points, fine, leave Bellomy in and accept the loss. We were down by a single score for most of the game. Unless it is entirely impossible for Devin Gardner to retain any knowledge at all of the QB position, he should have entered the game because it was almost impossible for Bellomy to have played any worse. 

Unless Gardner was hurt, the decision to not try to win the game with him at QB is indefensible. 



October 29th, 2012 at 8:50 PM ^

It's not indefensible. Past performance doesn't guarantee future results. They obviously felt that a prepared Bellomy, even with the nightmare start, was a better option than an unprepared Gardner. Were they correct? Maybe not. Maybe Gardner doesn't even have the whole playbook at his disposal. Maybe Bellomy so roundly beat him for the job he hasn't been taking any reps. There are any array of options.

coastal blue

October 29th, 2012 at 9:55 PM ^

Well, we can sit here and make guesses or we can go with what we know.

What we know:

Devin Gardner is a better athlete than Russell Bellomy.

Devin Gardner has more in-game experience than Russell Bellomy.

Devin Gardner, according to Hoke, has been taking QB reps as late as mid-October. 

Devin Gardner has had two full years as a full-time schoarlship QB at the University of Michigan.

What people have made up:

Russell Bellomy is so superior of a quarterback to Devin Gardner that despite being 0-10 on his first 5 drives, there shouldn't have even been a thought of replacing him.

Devin Gardner's shoulder is too injured to play quarterback.

As for your "let's pretend so we can protect the coaches at all costs" stance...seriously? So what if he doesn't have the whole playbook at his disposal. The guy he's replacing hasn't completed a pass and has an entire yard of offense to his name. Like knowing a few more pages of plays should make any difference at that point.

At that point, sticking with Russell Bellomy was admitting defeat. There's no legitimate argument to not give Devin Gardner -unless he truly is injured -  a chance at QB in a one score game. 


October 29th, 2012 at 10:42 PM ^

It's funny you think I'm guessing. Hasn't every single thing the coaches have done suggest they think Bellomy is a better QB?

- who still plays the position?
- who is the first inserted when Denard goes down?
- who keeps getting reps over the other despite playing badly?

I'm the one making things up? You're making up the idea that this staff sees Gardner as a better option when absolutely no evidence supports the notion. If they thought Gardner was a better option at the most important position on the field, why doesn't he play it over Bellomy?

You can say they're wrong - it's entirely possible (but that would be guessing!). But you seem to want to avoid the blindingly obvious conclusion.

That, or, you know, it's hard to play a guy at QB that hasn't practiced it.

coastal blue

October 29th, 2012 at 11:08 PM ^


We saw the "blindingly obvious conclusion". 

It was Bellomy vs. Nebraska.

There comes a point, especially in such an important game, where you have to make a change. When the guy you have in is 0-10, how can you even try to make the argument that a change isn't necessary? When your offense has acheived 0 first downs? 

You're right, before the Nebraska game they thought Bellomy was the better option (more than likely because Gardner has been playing wide receiver). 

After the 5th drive of futility, it should have been obvious to them that they were wrong. 

And hey, I'm just going by what Hoke has said : Devin has been getting reps. He's played the position his whole life. He played in multiple games last season. But you can continue to be ignorant in your quest to excuse the coaching staff for not doing everything within their power to win a title for the seniors. 

Good stuff. 


October 29th, 2012 at 11:55 PM ^

You don't make any sense. What would their motivation be to "not do everything to win a title"? What conspiracy theory have you cooked up? Why does Brady Hoke, in your view, want to deprive the seniors of a conference title?

You've now essentially accused the staff of throwing a football game. If we can't even agree that the staff wants to succeed, you're at a poimt of insane I can't reach.

Good night.