Monday Presser: Notre Dame

Submitted by Tim on September 7th, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Coach Rodriguez

  • About 28 players played their first game in a Michigan uniform. A lot of them had meaningful (early-game) action on special teams. The QBs and Craig Roh (in a year, he'll be up around 250 pounds, and faster than he is now) were singled out as some of the young guys who played very well.
  • The offense wasn't that bad in the second half. In the third quarter, they only had two drives, one of which had a touchdown called back for a penalty. In the fourth quarter, the offense went to chew-clock mode for much of the time.
  • There were a few missed assignments both on offense and defense, but a lot of that can be attributed to first-game jitters. Rodriguez didn't want to call out his players on the long Western touchdown. It was typical first-game nerves.
  • All three quarterbacks will continue to play for the next several weeks, but Tate will get the start again next week. It's not fair to compare the freshman QBs, both because they're a little different in terms of skill set, but also because Tate has had 9 extra months in the system - and has about 70% of the playbook at his disposal. Denard is not just a runner, but "He ran really fast."
  • Hemingway should be good to go Saturday, Same with Moundros and Boubacar. Minor looked pretty good in pregame, but they still held him out and hope he'll be able to go Saturday. All of those injured players will be a little limited in contact drills this week. Rodriguez is going to implement a weekly injury report for the team, released on Thursdays. He would like to make this a league-wide policy.
  • Carlos Brown will start Saturday unless he has a bad week of practice. "We thought he ran well, he caught the ball well, and he really protected well."
  • Offensive player of the game: Junior Hemingway. Defensive player of the game: Obi Ezeh and Stevie Brown. Special Teams player of the game: Zoltan Mesko.
  • The QBs carried more times (21) than Rodriguez would like in an average game. Some of that was getting Denard in there and getting him comfortable. However, Rodriguez doesn't mind his QB running if nothing's open downfield. The quarterback's 4th read on passing plays should usually be to run.
  • Nevada was a top offense last year, so for Notre Dame to shut them out was impressive.
  • Both teams being good increases the national tone of this week's contest: "I would hope. Michigan-Notre Dame is always going to have a national tone. It's one of the greatest rivalries there are."
  • To beat Notre Dame, Michigan will have to pressure Clausen. He's too good to give him a lot of time, and has some really good targets in Tate and Floyd. Brandon Graham will be double-teamed a lot, because Notre Dame likes to max-protect.
  • Adrian Witty will not attend Michigan this semester. The coaches will continue to re-recruit him for the winter or next fall.

Steve Schilling

  • Schilling watched film yesterday on his day off from practice. The offensive line played a lot more physical than last year (which is something Frey emphasizes). There were many more knockdowns than in any game last year. It was nice to move the ball for first downs and touchdowns, which was hard last year.
  • Craig Roh is one of the quickest D-Ends Steve has ever seen. When he gets bigger and stronger, he'll be a really good player.
  • All 3 QBs are different, which forces opposing defenses to prepare for more things. Tate's a leader, and acts like he's not a freshman although he's been here only 0 months. Denard's a little quieter, but he's still just learning.
  • The team has to be grounded after the win. Notre Dame is ranked, and although Western will contend for the Mac title, the Irish present a bigger opportunity to make a statement.

Carlos Brown

  • Tate is young, but he's going to be a great leader. Even if the seniors disagree with him in the huddle, they'll get something worked out.
  • It's good to start the year injury free, and he hopes to stay that way.
  • If the offense is clicking, Carlos doesn't care whether he gets 1 carry or 20 carries. One of the great things about the college game is that there are multiple capable backs that can step in for each other.
  • "We're going to be prepared for Notre Dame."

Donovan Warren

  • The defense made a statement against Western by playing hard, fast, and aggressive. In the first game, it's nice to be able to be aggressive with open field tackles.
  • The Notre Dame game will set the tone for the whole season. The team owes the Irish after what happened last year.
  • Notre Dame likes to use play action to go deep. Donovan's looking forward to the challenge, and like the opportunity to prove himself against the best. The defense needs top be aggressive on every snap to make Notre Dame's day harder. They'll disguise coverages, but that depends on everybody knowing where the help is coming from and where the defense's weaknesses are.
  • He'll get in guy's faces on the other team and play tough coverage on every snap. He didn't think the pass interference calls against him on Saturday were legit - but every defensive back usually feels the same.

Junior Hemingway

  • Tate's enrolling early helped get him the experience he needed to start fast. "He knows that we have his back, and we know that he has ours."
  • The ankle that's injured is the same one that he hurt last year. He's glad he ended up getting a medical redshirt, because otherwise it would have been a lost year. It was tough not being on the travel squad, and having to text his teammates before the game, and watch on TV.
  • "I'll be ready to go on Saturday."
  • The receivers have the mindset that they can win every battle on the perimeter. The offense has to make sure they know their assignments on every play.
  • "Got to be out there ready to play when we play Notre Dame."



September 7th, 2009 at 1:15 PM ^

I hope Schilling's comment about watching film yesterday on his day off from practice was said with a hint of sarcasm, laced with a bit of "fuck you" to Rosenberg, et. al.


September 7th, 2009 at 1:30 PM ^

I have the utmost confidence in Rich Rodriguez, but why are we still even thinking about trotting Sheridan out there for anything other than kneel down plays? Am I missing something?


September 7th, 2009 at 1:34 PM ^

Because I cannot imagine why he would ever see the field again barring injuries to Forcier and Robinson. The only good thing about Sheridan playing against Western was the fact that it reminded us of how bad things were last year so we could feel even better about how good we were on Saturday (when Sheridan was not playing, that is).


September 7th, 2009 at 1:38 PM ^

I like that Schilling pointed out that he watched film yesterday. I can imagine him going "I want everyone to know that I watched film yesterday. On my own. Without coaches. Nobody told me to. Because I wanted to. I like film. It makes me a better football player so I voluntarily decided to voluntarily watch some voluntary film on my own voluntary time, voluntarily," all while glaring at Rosenberg. It probably didn't go down like that but the possibility amuses me.


September 7th, 2009 at 2:35 PM ^

I'm fine with Rich Rod putting Sheridan in. As long as we are up by 31 points and it is for mop up duty. No use risking Tate or Denard if the game is out of hand.


September 7th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

Not sure if this has been discussed elsewhere, but why are the quotes from the presser always paraphrased (rather than reproduced word-for-word)? Not a big deal, just weirds me out a little.


September 7th, 2009 at 3:25 PM ^

Why is Sheridan on the field?

Whatever happened to "every snap is sacred?"*

At this point, I am at a loss for reasons why Sheridan is still playing beyond some sort of team-wide guarantee that whichever player works hard enough is guaranteed playing time.

For all we've been saying about RR's differing philosophy on playing time w/r/t entrenched starters (e.g. the Boren situation), I think there's a lot more loyalty to the old guy than we've given RR credit for, or, for that matter, really desire.

Another example is how long it took to get McAvoy out of there, but that was a "no other options" kind of decision.

This one, though...clearly there are better options, and Saturday made its obviousness go from speculatively obvious to obvious obvious.

* This was lifted from a New York Times Magazine article on the spread offense at Texas Tech -- in the article, IIRC, Leach said it applies to the entire spread philosophy.


September 7th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

I respectfully disagree with everything you just said. Sheridan is the most experienced QB we have on the team, and despite his interception, I thought he played exceptionally well. His handoff mesh point was the best of any of the three QB's, and his mechanics have improved as well. He is noticeably bigger, faster and stronger and knows the offense inside and out. He is a very valuable player to have on our team as the third QB, and we need to get him experience. He may not be as physically talented as Tate or Denard, but in the situation where Tate gets hurt (which many think is inevitable) you're going to be seeing a lot more of Sheridan, so it behooves us to get him on the field especially against an opponent such as WMU when we're up by 4 touchdowns.

Also, David Cone was on the field and I don't see you complaining about that. Give Sheridan a break, he's very valuable to this team.


September 7th, 2009 at 3:50 PM ^

Despite the interception, I also noticed that Sheridan looked sharper and threw the ball better than at any time in 2008. No more wobbling ducks being randomly flung around the field. And he almost had a TD run. Ran to the 1, but was unfortunately called back.

I really wanted him to come out and erase people's memory of him last year. Alas, was not to be.


September 7th, 2009 at 5:10 PM ^

did i miss some random drive or did he have the ball for a total of four downs? he was 0/2... where were all these crisp passes? i mean, i appreciate him sticking it out and putting his time in at UM but he was 0/2 with an INT... it's not like he drove the field and then mucked up.


September 8th, 2009 at 8:15 AM ^

In the world of adjective romance, the on-again, off-again fling between "painful" and "obvious" owes many of is on-again swings to Nick Sheridan's inability to throw a pass.

In the course of editing my post I deleted an extra link that might have made it more clear that my problem was not with Sheridan playing against WVU but with Sheridan being guaranteed playing time versus Notre Dame.

Mop-up duty is mop-up duty, and right now, I agree Sheridan is important for depth, since I don't trust that Denard is truly ready to take over this offense.

But that's all I want from him now: depth.

RR is talking more. He sees Sheridan as still in a competition. This could be a ruse, or it could be a love affair. This scares me, because it was obvious from the first offensive series that Forcier is loads better.

We're not talking about mop-up duty. We're talking about wasting snaps during a close game with a major rival in order to find out what we already know, that Tate Forcier is better at quarterbacking than Nick Sheridan.

Other disagreements, with bullets:

  • I didn't notice a difference in handoff mesh points. Same with mechanics. There was nothing glaringly different about Sheridan this year as opposed to last, if by "glaringly" we mean somebody like me who hasn't ever coached or scouted football couldn't notice it.
  • Despite his interception? This is Sheridan's passing line for the day: 2 passes, 0 completions, 1 interception. Of his two passes, one was uncatchable, and the other was a no-zip, underthrown duck that got intercepted in the end zone. That is Pass-Fail. He read it fine (he knows the offense) -- Savoy was indeed open in the end zone. But Sheridan did not have the arm strength to make that throw, and he never will.
  • Of all the QB options, as you pointed out, Sheridan has by far the most experience. So of all the guys to play during mop-up time, Sheridan needs it the least. If you want to run the clock out and get a backup some game experience, Denard Robinson is the guy. We are least behooved by more time for Nick -- he has seen Ohio State, so what could he learn from Western?
  • In the situation (wood knocking, God-forbidding, ANGRY MICHIGAN QUARTERBACK HATING GOD sacrificing-of-bull) that Forcier is hurt this year, I want Denard ready to pass the ball. He showed against WMU that his speed and elusiveness already make him a viable Big Ten QB, and his upside is that of a great one. Sheridan's upside at this point is pretty much nil. It would behoove us, then, to give Denard as much time as possible against FBS competition.

At this moment, if we were playing Ohio State on Saturday and our choices were Sheridan or Robinson, I would go with Sheridan. Denard doesn't have the whole playbook down yet, and is so freshmanny at this point that I wouldn't trust him. By the time we get to Ohio State week, however, I want this to have changed. Denard needs time to learn the offense; Nick doesn't. Denard has the talent to be at least a serviceable Big Ten QB this year; Nick doesn't. That Sheridan is the top option under Forcier at this moment is a reflection of how empty the stable is, not how good Sheridan is.


September 7th, 2009 at 4:26 PM ^

When we're up by 3 or 4 touchdowns why not put Sheridan in? He has the experience, got better in the off season, and it gives Tate and Denard a rest. Why risk playing the best QBs when you have a huge lead?


September 7th, 2009 at 4:26 PM ^

It makes sense to have and use Sheridan during mop up time because you lower the risk of injury to you main QB's. Plus, he can still be developed into a useful QB in case of injury. If Denard gets a sore ankle or knee it reduces his effectiveness because no one is afraid of his arm...yet!

It is helpful to have him there "now" because your other option for the two deep is what, Cone? I'm sure Cone is a great guy but we saw what happened when he closed out the game yesterday. Keep in mind with this offense your run first QBs have a higher risk of getting banged up a bit. So who would you rather rotate in there as you back up? The walk-ons maybe have done well in practice somewhere but Sheridan has played in actual games. He's not our first choice but he's all we have to throw into the two deep.


September 7th, 2009 at 5:11 PM ^

"Schilling watched film yesterday on his day off from practice."

Why have the coaches not halted this mandatory MADNESS? THESE POOR CHILDREN. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!


September 7th, 2009 at 9:09 PM ^

People need to talk about that O-line of Michigan. If all goes well Saturday I think they will some more.

One thing Michigan had on Saturday was tempo. Tempo, overall game tempo is tough to get or control when you are playing an evenly matched team. I believe these two teams are now evenly matched given Michigan's home field and last game played. But fret not young Michigan and just hang with them punch for punch until the last ticks of the clock.


September 7th, 2009 at 11:05 PM ^

Love the aggressiveness, but Warren seemed to get into it with Nunez too much, especially in the second half, and it cost us some big penalties. He needs to check his emotions a bit more and make sure he is at least not the one caught.