Unverified Voracity Flags Down Shawn Kemp

Submitted by Brian on April 21st, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Facepalm of the last half-hour. Trey Keenan is a Texas offensive lineman with three stars, a Michigan offer, and a slightly shaky grasp of the recent past($):

Keenan admits he likes the direction that the new staff is taking the program. “I like that they’re going back to being the old Michigan and not the team that got beat by Appalachian State,” he said.

It's a good thing I set up a facepalm hotkey. Ctrl+Alt+FFFFUUU:


Dude is hardcore. Hey, look, it's the Little Brown Jug:


Just hanging out… uh… in some guy's basement on what appears to be a pool table. This would be the point at which we round up a posse and hunt down the varmit who stole our danged jug, but that would be pointless violence since some dude made a Brown Jug replica (and apparently that box) because he is hardcore. Auburn fans should try this: get some hardcore guy to make a replica of Toomer's Corner. Problem solved.

Come on, baby. Red apparently doesn't think anyone's jetting in the offseason:

Michigan coach Red Berenson said Monday he finished his postseason individual meetings with players and doesn't expect anyone to leave early for the pro ranks. The Wolverines, who advanced to the national title game, return two outstanding defensemen in junior Brandon Burlon and freshman Jon Merrill.

No quotes and frankly the Detroit News isn't an outlet that spends a lot of time on hockey, but… woo? It wouldn't be too outlandish: Merrill and Burlon are the only serious departure threats and both are Devils draftees. The Devils have a track record of leaving kids in college and have a number of D prospects a bit further along the development path than their guys at Michigan.

While it's kind of a negative that I can't think of a Michigan forward who would even think of an NHL departure at least we won't get blindsided, except of course we will.

Attention Shawn Kemp. You take any random son of an NBA star, have him commit to Michigan, and bam he's awesome:

I did not recognize Glenn “Trey” Robinson when compared to the skinny kid I watched last summer. Robinson was maybe 175 pounds soaking wet then.

Now he has a body that makes you envision a flying combo forward finishing strong on the offensive end with lock down ability defensively. Robinson did just that Friday night against Upstate. He finished at the rim, often violently, through contact.

That's the third or fourth early rave GRIII has picked up in the month or so AAU ball has been going on. In addition NBE lists Robinson at 6'8"(!), 205. Other first-hand reports like those of UMHoops think that's generous, but he's clearly bigger than he was when he committed.

(HT: UMHoops.)

Stats are bad (this time). I hate to disagree with a guy who goes back and checks out actual game film instead of talking about football players playing football, but KC Joyner has an ESPN Insider article that claims Michigan is going to have an "elite passing game"($) this year because of some shiny Denard stats that I think are silly.

Joyner splits Denard's attempts* into buckets by yardage: 11.9 YPA on throws of 11-19 yards, 16.4 YPA on throws from 20-29 yards, and 15.4 YPA on throws of more than 30 yards. These compare favorably to some guy you may have heard of:

A review of 11 of Ryan Mallett's games against SEC and bowl-level competition over the past two seasons found that the possible future first-round draft pick (and one of college football's top passers) posted an 8.2 total YPA, an 11.6 vertical YPA and a 14.6 stretch vertical YPA.

Robinson's 10 games include his three worst contests from last season with regard to passer rating (Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame) and exclude his two of his three best passer rating contests (Massachusetts and Bowling Green), yet he was still able to top Mallett in all three categories.

There are a number of problems with this analysis. One: it does not account for the frequency of throws. Mallett's Hogs passed 53% percent of the time; Michigan threw on 40% of snaps. Two: Denard's throws are heavily slanted towards short stuff. The "stretch vertical" number cited by Joyner consists of just 31 attempts, which is both a sample size problem and another equilibrium issue. Three:

A large number of Denard's long touchdowns were stupidly easy because of the system that ran so much and so effectively, often with Robinson himself. You can't point to 11 completions featuring safeties going "WHAT DO I DO /explodes" and extrapolate anything approximating Mallett's production. The opportunities above simply will not exist in an under-center WCO, leaving Denard to try to do this:

I love Denard like he is a combination of my own son and Olivia Wilde but I don't think he's making throws like that. Maybe "simply will not exist" is a bit much, but the amount of pressure Denard put on opposing safeties last year—and the interceptions he threw even when given reasonable windows—prevents you from divorcing his production from his system.

I'm not saying he won't be a better QB than he was last year. I'm saying the smart bet is on a significant reduction in passer efficiency if he's operating a WCO.

*[Attempts against Michigan's Big Ten schedule, ND, and UConn. Unclear why the bowl was left out. Probably because KC Joyner doesn't like watching snuff films.]

Get this man a cereal commercial. Don't tell that to Denard, though, who says "I really like this offesne and what we're doing" in a brief TSN interview. Also:

Q: Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison says he talks a lot of trash to you. What’s going on there?

Robinson: We have that love/hate relationship. I love competing against him. Every day at practice, he says something to make you want to compete.

Q: What does he say?

Robinson: He says, ‘You can’t throw. Can’t throw.’ I know he’s teasing. I make a throw, and I’ll say something to him. Or I’ll just look over and smile at him.

Thank God for Denard—whenever you're feeling ambivalent about your connection to the program because of the Braylon Edwardses of the world just think about Denard.

Um… thanks? Believe it or not, this is Jack Nicklaus trying to say something nice about Ohio State:

"I don't know what really happened, but I'll promise you that Tressel wasn't the only one that knew what happened," Nicklaus told The Plain Dealer.

If he's right pieces of the Ohio State athletic department will be slowly descending from the troposphere for decades. (Not that he's anything other than a very famous message board poster in this department.)

Etc.: Ace relates the story of his first game at Michigan Stadium. I'd play but I can't remember which game it was because I was small. The Hero Of Tiananmen Square (AKA John Pollack, king of futile Big House preservation attempts) puts out an awful book on puns featuring many awful puns. As per usual, he misses the point entirely. You should have gone to Vermont, but at least you didn't go to Iowa State. TTB outlines the 4-3 under in parts: line, linebackers, and secondary. Forward Thinking surveys the QB landscape in the aftermath of Zeke Pike's Auburn commitment. If you didn't get enough carpet-bombing of former players who have fallen back in love with Michigan football, Mets Maize is over Avignon right now.



April 21st, 2011 at 1:22 PM ^

Let me first grant that Al Borges probably has shoes that know more about coaching offense than I do.  That said, I fear that he'll abandon the I'm-runnnig-no-I'm-passing-for-an-open-touchdown plays that Denard ran so well last year.  Tebow ran the same plays at Florida with great success.  It seems like you would be almost willfully decreasing your offense's effectiveness not to run those plays with Denard. 


April 21st, 2011 at 1:44 PM ^

DId you see the spring game? I was pleasently suprised by the run/pass option(is that even a term?). Borges said he watched tons of film from last year and now I think we get the best of both worlds, Wide open shot formations but power I on obvious running downs. Seriously who liked watching shot gun formations on the 3yrd line or on 3rdand 1?  


April 21st, 2011 at 2:02 PM ^

... do you line up in a jumbo set or do you spread the field?  It's not a matter of effectiveness.  It's a matter of preferrence and playing to your strengths.


I prefer to see the spread on short yardage plays, honestly.  Always have.  Remember that goal-line stand we made against Penn State back in their first season playing in the Big Ten?  That had to be the most painful thing in the world to watch as a PSU fan. 


April 21st, 2011 at 2:11 PM ^

For the win with a two point conversion sure, you let denard do what he does best. I would think that everyone who watched a game last year would have agreed that he ran the ball to much. (came out of the 10 games) Dont get me wrong I love seeing him make db's look silly but I want to know we can gain 2 yards with someone other then our quarter back when we need a first down.


April 21st, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

I think in general you have to just be logical.  To do otherwise will just drive you nuts. 

For Borges to sit down and say boy this play works like butter and gives us easy touchdowns should we use it?   Nah! I'd rather plow V. Smith into the line.   That seems idiotic for a fan to say so for a coach who has coached 30 years to say it seems pretty screwed up.    Teams constantly adjust to things so that play may or not be available like it once was, but you can rest pretty easy that they have 1 man PA with Denard in the play book and if teams stack the line to stop our run I feel pretty confident they will run some version of these plays.


April 21st, 2011 at 1:26 PM ^

...for sure, but hey, if the kid thinks that The Horror should accrue to RichRod, who are we to tell him different?

"Hey, Trey! Everything, I mean everything bad that has happened to Michigan in the near past was due to RichRod. Got it? A new day is dawning in Ann Arbor, and you can help Coach Hoke make it shine, shine, shine." 

Zone Left

April 21st, 2011 at 2:08 PM ^

In fairness to Trey Keenan, maybe he just meant he thinks the staff is going back to when Michigan was actually good at football. I'm okay with that sentiment.

Also, he was probably 13 when The Horror happened and lived in Texas. Did you know who was coaching at UT when you were 13? I didn't.


April 21st, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

I'm actually amazed it's taken less than four months (at least that we can document) for the Horror to be attributed to RR. I figure this will be something I'll have to correct people about (after getting shit for it, of course) for the rest of my life as a Michigan fan. Sad but true.

oc michigan fan

April 21st, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

Maybe Keenan's on to something. Maybe "Old Michigan" isn't ManBall/Pre RichRod/Spread O/No D, but Pre Bo Death. Everything Michigan was better before that day, right? We were undefeated and Ron English was a G.


I'm all in for "Old Michigan."


April 21st, 2011 at 9:41 PM ^

loss was years later.  Even that year after we crushed Florida in the Capital One Bowl here in Orlando the gator honks were still throwing it in my face.  I went score board with the argument.  Man that felt great.  Don't even remember what that is like anymore.   Oh and the you lost to the team that lost to App State was a fun one to throw at them.  

Not sure how many more heart wrenching Saturdays I can take.  My Michigan flag still flies outside my house.  The grief I get from everyone here is relentless.  Even when State was crushed by Alabama I still get pummeled by these Florida crackers. 

As if they have always been relevant.  I tell them I can remember when they were in third place in their own state.  Oh well.  I hope we have finally turned the corner to national relevance again. 


April 21st, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

For a Minnesota fan to make a fake Brown Jug? I mean, they never get to see it...

You can never have too much Godzilla.


Though I am having a problem with what a combo of these three things would look like...


April 21st, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

He called the investigation a nightmare and the 250k will not cover the expenses.  What was UM's 2.5mil? I think Smith is trying to cover his own ass, for someone who was/is on the infraction board he has never seen something like this? Maybe he should ask JT what to do, he was the AD at YSU when they got cought,lies on top of lies.Good thing we can point and laugh all summer at the cloud hanging over C-Bus.


April 21st, 2011 at 2:04 PM ^

The table on ESPN.com actually breaks down the categories as " route depth" which I thought meant that those big YAC plays weren't included in the downfield categories. 

MI Expat NY

April 21st, 2011 at 3:26 PM ^

The play doesn't exist in a vacuum.  It worked because of the frequency and success of Denard's designed runs.  Take away the frequency of the runs out of the same look and you no longer have the opportunity to have a guy wide-open off the run-fake.  

In high school we played a team that ran the veer option.  Before each game, our coaches would pound it into our head that they would throw 4-5 passes a game, aimed at the TE streaking down the field.  But, after a quarter and a half of that same TE block the LB on every play, by the time the QB actually gave an option look before dropping back to pass, he was open by 10 yards down the field.

Blue in Seattle

April 21st, 2011 at 2:22 PM ^

with the ongoing Denard characterization theme of "under center" or specifically from the article above


The opportunities above simply will not exist in an under-center WCO, leaving Denard to try to do this:

And then to see video of Mallett in the shotgun.  That's just priceless.

I guess there is still some perception that the run option read was an effective play last season.  From my observations across the whole season, it was not a success.  Toward the later games of the season it seemed to be dropped altogether.  Primarily this was due to the complete ineffectiveness of whatever running back was the other option than Denard.

Now I do agree with Brian's point that the Mallett pass he highlights was an arching pass into the route and not to the receiver.  Denard has not shown any capability to execute that kind of pass.  But if you look at the formation on the field the opportunity that was created came from 3 receivers being covered by only two defensive backs and the ball was thrown with before the DB with two people to cover made a choice (although I'll admit it's possible there was something for Mallett to key on in the body position of the DB that indicates he is going to cover short rather than long, thus a slow arching pass to the spot where a receiver will be is a pretty safe throw with lots of upside.

as far as passing depth goes, the Mallett throw looks very similar to Denard's choices in both depth and Yards after Catch.

So, why did Mallett get the opportunity to throw to an open receiver?  from the formation, not his running ability, so I agree with Brian's general point.  But I don't agree that Al Borges can't call that same formation with the same effect before I factor in Denard's potential to run.  And after watching the first play of the spring game where Denard didn't even attempt play action, and took off running the second after he set his feet to start his progression, I think Denard will continue to have better opportunities at open receivers than a Mallett type QB.  Because Denard can still run from the pocket and that running is very lethal, especially if Michigan ends up playing tackle football.  Yes eventually the defense will assign a LB or Safety to be the Denard spotter, and that will mean another DB is going to have two receivers to cover.

I don't understand how anyting changes about this, unless Denard suddenly becomes slow.

I just don't get this theme.





April 21st, 2011 at 4:13 PM ^

That was not exactly a "slow arching pass" to a wide open receiver, a la the "oh-noes" Denard created last year. ""  Mallett threw that over 30 yds in the air and it got there in a hurry to a very small piece of green with what looks like a big cover-2 safety reading his eyes and moving over in a hurry.  That was a hell of a throw into a hole getting smaller fast, and most definitely not an oh-noe, defender-is-not-in-the-TV-frame deal.

I do think Brian may be a bit overly pessimistic, though, or simply underestimating how unnerving it is for a secondary to be peeking at No. 16 in the backfield thinking "Please, God, don't let him take off with the ball and make me look ridiculous in the open field in front of my family."  There are going to be open receivers, and it would be malpractice if Borges doesn't put a fake QB-draw variation in there. 

Some of the oh-noe action from last year as I remember it wasn't off QB lead action, it was off the pump fake showing bread-and-butter hitch route to the outside (like the pass to T-Rob in the UConn game) then coming back to the slot.  I don't expect Borges is going to carry over much of that action, so those wide-open looks probably are genuinely endangered.


April 21st, 2011 at 2:53 PM ^

Denard will run often.  Clever and wide open passes will be there.  

There is no chance he does not do this.  0%.

Glad to see the vids though, b/c all I've read recently says Denard can't hit moving targets.  Besides sideline vs. slot patterns, the throws are similar (I realize this adds a fair degree of complexity). 


April 21st, 2011 at 3:02 PM ^

Only one of those three "wow, that guy is all by himself" plays are meant to look like designed QB runs (the one against ND).  The Roundtree bomb against Illinois is just a straight play-fake out of the shotgun.  The Koger play against PSU is a called pass play where Denard only just begins to scramble to his left.

The reason these plays happen is because Denard Robinson is on the field.  Rodriguez/Magee were able to take advantage of it, but the plays are there because the guy playing quarterback is faster than a laser beam and will score every time he has the ball in his hands if you don't have 11 guys watching him.  These kinds of plays will still happen all year long with Borges calling the shots (and if they don't it will be because Denard is averaging 20 yards per carry).

MI Expat NY

April 21st, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

The Indiana play is clearly a fake QB lead draw.  The Illinois play is a run fake off the read-option look (check out the offensive line), that's as much of pass fake off of a QB run as it is off of a straight play-fake.  

I think you're missing the point though.  Every running QB gets some of the plays like the Koger TD, and you're right, we'll still see some of that out of a Borges offense just because Denard is on the field.  But, much of the other plays were a result of Denard running all the time.  Tim Tebow had a similar effect and similar success on his QB run-play actions.  Safeties don't creep up and lose all sense of their responsibility just because there's a running threat at QB.  They fail in their responsibilities becacuse of repeated success of the QB run.  If Denard is running on called running plays only 5-10 times a game instead of 15-20, these wide open 40 yard touchdowns won't be there, and it has nothing to do with how great of an offensive coach Borges is.  We just have to hope he creates offense in other ways.


April 21st, 2011 at 3:16 PM ^

I can't see any reason why a fake QB draw would disappear from the playbook. It's not as if that is a play RichRod invented.

In addition, the pass to Koger in the seam had nothing to do with a run fake. Two LBers picked up Koger briefly, while never taking their eyes off Denard, but both released him as soon as he passed them w/o Denard even making a run fake. Probably one of them was supposed to stay with Koger but again the threat of Denard running made the play w/o Denard having to even fake the run.

As long as Denard runs, the defense will worry about Denard running and things will open up. He will not have to pass the ball like Mallett, as a result.

Tha Quiet Storm

April 21st, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

I don't think the concern is that Borges will abandon the one-step play fake, but that the overall design and execution of the offense will not result in receivers being wide open 20 yards downfield on a consistent basis like last year. I'm sure Borges knows this but we won't really know anything for sure until the full offense is deployed and we're given a few games to see the actual on-field philosophy, level of agressiveness, etc.


April 21st, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

Brian talks about Rodriguez's spread like it's an actual person he was close to. And saying he loves Denard like his own son is not inaccurate.

I know objectivity isn't as valued as it used to be (mainly because most of us got smart to the MSM's objectivity being very fake), but ... maybe just a LITTLE bit more of it would do Mr. Cook some good.



April 21st, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

... don't most of us speak of Michigan football like it's an actual person we're close to?  Objective people don't spend work hours reading blogs dedicated to a college sports team, much less writing one. 

I hated the notion of a spread attack coming to Michigan in 2008.  The 2010 season, though, was more fun than I've ever had watching a Michigan offense, and not because watching the offense simply meant that the defense was not on the field (although that's a valid reason).


April 21st, 2011 at 10:00 PM ^

I didn't have a lot of fun watching our offense. Wasn't their fault. I just knew that every time we punted, turned it over, or didn't convert a fourth down, our chances to win the game dropped precipitously.

It was ... stressful.


April 21st, 2011 at 4:41 PM ^

Maybe he would be willing to do that if others on the board would promise to quit talking about Hoke as some form of return to Nirvana before a single game is played. How objective is THAT habit?
<br>What kind of bloodless fan wants football to be essentially objective, anyway?