Mailbag!

Submitted by Brian on April 10th, 2009 at 12:23 PM

The previous mailbag was, uh, abbreviated. And caused great discussion about whether I should call people who send in emails dicks, to which I respond: probably not.

Anyway. This is a good question I don't have an answer to:

Brian,

After Spring practice, exactly what do the players do (supervised or unsupervised) until official fall practice begins?  I know there must be some restrictions on coaching but I'm very interested to know exactly what does go on. 

Thanks,  Marc ' 71

I am pretty sure S&C programs can continue being S&C programs year-round, so players will get a faceful of Barwis this summer. As far as what technically-not-but-actually mandatory, organized-but-not-technically summer sessions are and what, exactly, are the things prohibited… I have no idea. Anyone out there know the details on what college programs do when practice is officially verboten? What is Tate Forcier going to be doing in June related to his football pursuits? What about Will Campbell?

Brian
 
I saw that you thought Forcier will only get about half a dozen carries or so/game.
 
Do you think the QB/Forcier will be less involved in the running game this year?  Sheridan and Threet combined for 118 carries last year - about 10 a game (I didn't include Feagin's runs cause I'm assuming the reason the coaches put him in was for him to run).  A lot of complaints I read about Threet was that he didn't make the correct read on the handoff and should have kept the ball some more (to keep the defensive end honest and stop him from crashing in hard on the play).
 
I honestly don't care how much the QB carries the ball, it just seems that Forcier only getting a half dozen carries a game would a good decrease (assuming Threet should have carried the ball more).
 
Scott

Well, by half a dozen carries I mean voluntary carries. A significant number of those Sheridan/Threet carries from a year ago were sacks or scrambles, which should rightly be considered passing plays.

Also, the effectiveness equation is considerably different with Forcier. Forcier who presumably can throw better than the two guys from last year and Minor—now the undisputed #1 tailback—is way more effective than McGuffie was. So it'll make more sense to throw and run tailbacks than have Forcier keep the ball.

Reading between the lines, I sense some concern that Michigan's reluctance to run their only hope will make the offense less diverse and correspondingly less effective, and I agree. Last year teams ignored the quarterback on zone read handoffs to the point where I was typing "KEEP THE BALL DAMMIT" into the Purdue liveblog after every play. Michigan's fear of the great murky unknown behind Forcier will make their offense less effective. But that's a necessary tradeoff given the cliff Michigan steps off if Forcier is injured.

I do think you'll see Michigan try to make up that decrease with Feagin/Robinson packages. Those may be completely ineffective because of their predictability, but for some reason this wildcat thing seems to work well so maybe it'll do ok.

Speaking of Robinson:

I think we’re generally missing the boat on D Rob when we compare him with TF.  I’ve watched all of the highlight films and I actually think D Rob has some very good skills as a QB.  I think where we’ll see a separation between the two is the run game.  TF is not built to run it 10-15 a game, but he could be enough of a scrambler to constantly keep a defender assigned to him, which opens up some underneath stuff for slot ninjas, TEs, and RBs out of the backfield.  D Rob does have some excellent mechanics for a guy not highly touted as a QB.

I get blasted for this, but his foot work and release remind me of Peyton Manning when he’s pressured in the pocket.  No, I’m not saying he is the second coming of PM, as some said when they read my post in the diaries, but there is some good things happening with D Rob in the pocket.  He sets a good base and delivers the ball with a high and crisp release.  The one thing they both did consistently in their highlight films was throw balls into tight coverage, lock onto one receiver, and hold the ball way too long.  I think you’ll still see that this year no matter how much they get coached up.  It’s just a lot to learn when it comes to reading defenses and then being able to process that information quickly enough to be able to make the correct decision.  Again, I am going to the Spring Game to see how the team looks in person, but I think we’re realistically going to be a .500 team, plus or minus a game.

All in all, by the 4th game, I think D Rob gets some significant snaps because he brings the run dimension that RR so badly needs to make this offense work.

Steve Matheson

Steve's not alone in his assessment of Robinson. ESPN also thought his QB skills were underrated:

Robinson is just a flat out playmaker in every sense of the word and he will surprise you with his production in the passing game. If he were taller, there is no doubt he would be a serious QB prospect, but his overall skills will likely land him somewhere else. Has a quick, live arm and is very effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Can throw the ball vertically with touch and lay the ball in, but does not have the powerful arm to drive the ball 50 yards on a consistent basis.

Add that to his rushing stats—85 carries for 462 yards, which is actually less than Forcier rushed for—and it is possible we've got a completely incorrect idea about what sort of player Robinson is going to be. But then you've got the passing stats:

 Key Statistics... completed 100-of-231 passes for 1,809 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior ...

There's a big, big gap between those numbers and Forcier's. That's a 43% completion rate. I know that high school passing is often a whole lot of bombing downfield (18 yards per completion!), but those numbers say "project" to me.

I'm noticing a disturbing trend with the '07 recruits transferring at a much more alarming rate than the usual fourth-string running back bolting for a D-2 school. How do you think this will impact the team in two years or so, when most of these players like Mallett, Boren, Clemons, Horn and others would have been seniors?

Jon G

For the record, transfers out of the 2007 recruiting class; Mallett, Horn, Clemons, Babb and Chambers. (JUCO Austin Panter has also departed; Boren was part of the 2006 class.) Five guys gone in two years is somewhat alarming, but you can file Horn and Babb under the "fourth string player bolting for D-II." Mallett's departure is obviously a huge negative; Clemons was highly rated but ill-suited for the spread 'n' shred; Chambers was kind of an eh recruit but was getting a significant amount of practice buzz.

But I don't think the problem with the 2007 class is the transfers as much as that it just wasn't very good. Once you got past the two five stars there were a ton of reaches: Horn, Babb, Watson, Huyge, Sagesse, Evans, Herron, Panter, Woolfolk, and Rogers were low-rated players with virtually no offers comparable to the Michigan one. Watson was pursued by Colorado and Minnesota, Herron had a Nebraska offer, Sagesse was initially ticketed for Illinois, and that's it. Picking up the occasional sleeper isn't a bad thing, but this was class with really poor depth masked by the two big stars at the top of it. And now one of those guys is gone.

Combine that with a complete change in offensive philosophy and you're going to be looking at a lot of guys who are noncontributors. Michigan's already moved Watson and Helmuth to the other side of the ball.

So, yeah, I agree with you. Michigan's 2007 class is well on its way to bust status, one of a number of factors that will see Michigan struggle to put together an elite program until probably 2011. Fortunately, it appears both offensive linemen are panning out and most of the other guys who look to be contributors (Hemingway, RVB, Webb) have redshirted, so they've got some time.

Comments

Erik_in_Dayton

April 10th, 2009 at 12:50 PM ^

I also thought he looked pretty good in his highlight videos when he was throwing the ball, but that is a worrying completion percentage. Maybe he didn't have lot of talent around him? Or the *highlight* videos are misleading? I have no idea...If he can even keep a defense a little honest with some slants and screens, though, I think he'll see the field this year b/c of his speed.

Erik_in_Dayton

April 10th, 2009 at 1:02 PM ^

I was able to find some of the game splits for Robinson's team. In the first four games they ran the ball 117 times and passed only 63 times (w/ Robinson completing 30 of them). They played fairly low-scoring games...I wonder if (and hope that) Robinson's stats are partially a product of playing on running team w/ a not-too sophisticated passing attack (though they don't look too rudimentary in the highlights).

http://www.maxpreps.com/florida/football/deerfield-beach/stats.aspx?sch…

mad magician

April 10th, 2009 at 2:10 PM ^

As far as on-field football stuff between April and August, I think there are some 7-on-7 scrimmages (not officially organized by the coaching staff, of course), and the QBs and skill positions getting together for informal throwing sessions. I would also guess that there's a lot of film watching and studying and whatnot.

matty blue

April 10th, 2009 at 2:42 PM ^

"I think we’re generally missing the boat on D Rob when we compare him with TF."

man, i'm sick and fucking tired of reading initials and concatenation instead of names. i'm as rabid a fan as anyone here, so i know who he's referring to, and i'd like to think that i'm a relatively bright guy, but i'm really tired of stopping midsentence to figure out who the fuck these people are talking about.

wildbackdunesman

April 10th, 2009 at 2:53 PM ^

>>

And Robinson is better built to run it more???

Forcier 6'1'' 187 lbs

Robinson 6'0'' 179 lbs

I realize that these measurements might not be perfect off of the websites, but they are virtually the same exact size and have similar elusive skills to avoid direct hits.

With that said, I hope at least one steps up big time.

MVictors

April 10th, 2009 at 3:32 PM ^

Doesn't answer the question about the specificss, but when I asked Sheridan about the leg and he pointed to a May 5th-ish start of "summer work-outs". I didn't ask what that meant:

MVictors: Is there any long term risk to the leg injury?
Sheridan: No, I broke it pretty clean so I should be ready to go. Spring classes start May 5th and I think we start working out that day so I should be good to go for our first day of summer work-outs.

http://mvictors.com/?p=3285

97Alumnus

April 10th, 2009 at 4:30 PM ^

Wow, I didn't know that he left too. Went back and he's definitely not on the spring roster. When did this happen? I googled and found nothing on it.

(not that it was looking like he would contribute, but obviously it is hoped that every guy in the program will at some point)

sun1

April 10th, 2009 at 7:15 PM ^

"Clemons was highly rated but ill-suited for the spread 'n' shred."

I'm not sure I understand what makes Clemons ill suited. He himself may have preferred a pro-style offense, but beyond that, I don't see why someone with his measurables is a non-fit in the U-M offense. Case in point is the taller current crop of Rich Rod offered and verbally committed 2010 WRs.

I'm neither pro or anti Rodriguez-- I think that any conclusions made at this point are of the "not enough data so i make big" variety. But there is no question that for whatever reason, good football players have left U-M since Rich showed up, and many of them would have been contributors had they stayed. Make whatever conclusion you want from that, but what it has ultimately resulted in is a younger and less experienced roster, and that means some serious growing pains. My prediction is two more crappy seasons until 2011, when U-M football is officially "back." As a multiple U-M alum who grew up in A2, I would like to point out that it had never "left" until 2008.

Magnus

April 13th, 2009 at 12:24 AM ^

I don't believe Martell Webb redshirted. He played in a bunch of games as a freshman. I know he played in a few games last year, so unless he was granted a redshirt for injury (a la Hemingway), he should be a junior this year.