Minnesota game wrap (with pics!)

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on October 3rd, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Blah, blah, punching bag, blah...

I thought it was going to be easy, I didn't think it was going to be that easy.  And while it might be fun for a little while, by the 2nd half it was kind of embarrassing and pointless; unless you're a second stringer.  We got a glimpse of some of the younger players, so I guess that's good from a program standpoint, if not from a viewer's POV.  

You had me at hello...

Ok, so maybe I hadn't ever heard of you before you got hired, Mr. Borges.  But what you did on Saturday, well, I haven't smiled like that since 1947, and I wasn't even alive in 1947.

You found a way to effectively use two of our best (highest rated) players on the same play.  You sowed confusion and hesitation into opposing players and DC's.  You called a halfback pass that was freaking WIDE OPEN.  

To be true, I was a little worried about some of the playcalling in the first halves of the previous games.  But after demonstrating so much flexibility and creativity in that game, you've won me over.  

My hat is off to you, sir.

It's the simple things ...

At its core, football is really just about blocking and tackling.  Almost anyone can draw up a play (or copy it from someone else). But it really is about how well the players execute that makes the difference between good teams and bad teams.  Of course, it is easier to execute when your guys are bigger, faster, and more talented.  

Denard's first TD was a good playcall, but the blitzing OLB didn't take himself out of the play like he was supposed to.

denardbreaktackle

He almost brings down Denard from behind.

denardbreaktackle2

But I'm really impressed with the increase in Denard's leg strength this year.  He's broken through a lot more arm tackles than last season.   Other than the blitzer, we've got a hat on a hat.  It's up to the QB to make one man miss, and he does, because he's awesome.

denardbreaktackle3

And the highest praise I can give a WR is to note when they sustain blocks downfield.  Here we've got three guys making me think good things about them.

This next play is a type of sprint draw to Shaw

wall

The blocking is setup perfectly by the fake and there's a wall to the outside.

gallonblockshawoops

Unfortunately Shaw misreads this great crackback block by Gallon and dances too much. He loses momentum and gets tackled for a modest gain.  (more on this later)

When your players are too small, or slow, or confused to execute properly, you end up looking like Gophers.  

minnyblocking

The Minny O-line has actually gotten their assignments correct and have a small crease opened up. The pulling linemen has to choose which of the run-blitzers he needs to pick up.

minnyblocking2

He chose ... poorly.  And the rest of our front seven collapse the hole.  

And when you've got guys like Mike Martin and Will Campbell that can just run over people, that's nice.

bwcfree

If you're wondering who was supposed to block BWC, it's that lump of white that RVB is trampling over while he drives his own blocker into the backfield.  

bwcfree2

That looks painful.

So underneath all the fancy chalk talk, it really helps to have guys that can win one on one battles, and go to the correct places. It's all just blocking, tackling, and misdirection. 

Blocking,

vincentchoices

Tackling,

rvbfree

And throwing to guys who are wide open.

dileowideopen

Blocking,

damnref

Tackling,

brinkfumble

And throwing to guys who are wide open.

vincewideopen

Blocking,

shawsweep

Tackling,

countess

And throwing to guys who are wide open.

kogerwideopen

 

The RB Committee. 

At this point in the season, Fitz and Vince have clearly established themselves as options #1 and #2 on the depth chart.  I think Fitz can be that everydown back we need, but we'll have to see how well he holds up against non-laughable bigten defenses.  With his TD trifecta, Vince just proved he's not a runningback.  Vincent Smith is just a football player.  And a damn good one.  

Shaw... step into my office son. As a senior, you should be a team leader.  You have track star speed.  Your ball security has dramatically improved from the RR era.  And we can really tell that you run with great effort and determination.  But dude, STOP DANCING.  You're not a dancer.  

You're wasting all that great speed because during the time that you should be accelerating, you're two footing around in the backfield.  You're not setting up and reading your blockers well enough.  And you're still lacking that certain leg strength to run through arm tackles.  

When someone grabs Denard's jersey, he runs so hard that the jersey rips away.  You looked like someone hooked a towing cable to your bumper.  

You've got a lot of potential.  But just cut down on the moves.  Make one cut and get upfield.  Or better yet, make one cut and race fools to the sideline.  Chris Perry made a career of that.  And learn to fall forward fergodsakes.  Instead of trying to dance around the tackler, deliver a blow and fall forward. If we really are going to play man ball, the difference between a 3.3 ypc average and 4.0 ypc average caused by simply falling forward is going to be a big deal.  

And that goes for all the youngsters too. 

Hopkins looks like he might have a bright future as a B.J. Askew-esque FB.  It's just Minnesota, but he got one of those fabled 'double blocks' that all FB's dream about.  And he seems to catch the ball pretty well.  

And we learned a little bit about Rawls, albeit in garbage time.  Early returns show good balance, decent speed, but not terribly explosive or shifty.  He kinda reminds me of Kevin Grady, but not quite as chiseled.  Let's just say he's got a low aspect ratio for a tailback.  Looks pretty strong around the thighs and midsection.  I'm thinking he could eat himself into a starring FB role in a year or two.  

Etc.

  • If Denard is called "Shoelace", maybe Devin can be called "Shoeless"

shoeless

  • The FG kicking is quietly becoming a non-ulcer-inducing facet of our team. 
  • However, the kickoff coverage still sucks, I'm so glad we got to practice 11 of them this game.
  • I really like it when crowd's continue to sing a song after the band/PA system has to cut off.  But there's a time and place for it.  Livin' on a Prayer should be reserved for something like near the end of a close Redwings game where the line "We're halfway there" makes sense. Leading by 40+ in the third quarter calls for something more like "Sweet Caroline" because "Good time never felt so good." (Even if it is cliche') 

Comments

RobSk

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:55 PM ^

I saw that one while watching, and went back and counted helmets to make sure. He wiped those dudes out, and opened some serious gappage. I'd been thinking Hopkins was gone to Doghouse-ville, but he broke out in fine fashion.

       Rob

RobSk

October 3rd, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

One of the things I  loved was how happy and geeked Gardner was (especially after that sprint to the edge), and how happy for him Denard was. Even more proof what a total class act Denard is. It makes it even more of a pleasure to watch him be awesome.

     Rob

BobMass

October 3rd, 2011 at 4:09 PM ^

From what I see so far removed from AA, this is the biggest difference between this team and the last few years. Much better fundamentals; which was always the hallmark of Michigan football. The defense especially.

Players actually seem to know where they're supposed to be, get there, and do their job when they do get there.

Spread schmed. 335, 411, 911, 666. I-form this, T-form that. None of that matters if the players don't understand their assignments or execute them.

Blocking and tackling, and hitting open receivers. Oh, my.

 

Belisarius

October 3rd, 2011 at 8:02 PM ^

I agree. Livin' on a Prayer doesn't really seem as defiant when you're sweeping without even really trying to. It's like singing an underdog song as you blitzkrieg over a defensless village. Let's save that mojo for Nebraska and Ohio.