Rantings from a crazy fan

Submitted by michiganfanforlife on April 15th, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Here are some random thoughts after going up to the Big House to see the next team in person. I will preface all this by saying that I have no credentials, no true facts or basis for my opinons, no charts, and no real desire to convince any of you. I just feel like putting all my thoughts down on paper, and it's fun to get torn apart by the mgocommunity once in a while. This will be long, so instead of posting tl;dr just click on something else Mr. Snarkypants.

Jerald Robinson is not ready. He does seem to have the physical skills to become a good reciever in the future, but I doubt he will be a significant contributor this year. During the warm up drills he dropped several balls, which he continued to do in the game also. I could be wrong, but I think his only catch was when he dropped to his knees (rookie mistake) and was down immediatley. I know he's young, but all the coach-speak so far is that he is our solid #3 option at WR, and he will also be a deep threat for us. I don't believe any of that. Jeremy Jackson is far more poised, runs better routes, catches the ball better, and has real in-game experience in high pressure situations. Jeremy is a solid possesion reciever, but not really the gamechanger we need to start at WR.

Devin Gardner is not our second best QB. This is a harsh statement that I'm sure some of you will not like, but it's how I feel. I really don't see any improvement from him compared to last year. He is a "one read and take off downfield" passer. This can be really effective in high school, but it won't work in Div.1 college football. Borges talks about "getting into the fight" when he refers to stepping up into the pocket and keeping your shoulders square with your eyes downfield (ready to pass). The only times Devin moves in the pocket, he is taking off to run down the field. Russ was poised and seemed to lead the team well. I like the way he checks down recievers, and his few mistakes were easilly fixed teachable moments. Russel did not move backwards several times like Devin did, and he was even dealing with a center who consistantly snapped the ball really high. This kid has some promise, yo.

Why not move Devin to WR? We need a true athletic threat at our #3 spot, and to me Dileo and Gallon are slots that don't match up well on the outside. I'm not saying that Devin shouldn't get some reps at QB, but he will help our team this year so much better on the outside. The guy has some amazing skills - he is fast, has great range, good leaping ability and he's 6'4" forgodsakes. He is also a way better option for Dennard's "throw it up for grabs" style of long pases, and could replace Hemmingway in that capacity.

I'm not sure who will win out the LB competition, but this is going to be fun to watch. I saw really good things out of the two freshman, Bolden and Ringer. Bolden has some good instincts and just needs to learn his assignments a bit better. This defense will be scary good in 4 years. Hawthorn has made a statement that he needs PT. Playmakers find their way on the starting roster, and the UM coaches will be watching #7 pop out on film all summer. I can't wait to see the other freshman linebackers compete for a spot on the two-deep.

Blake Countess will make game-changing plays this year and continue to be a solid rock we can depend on in the defensive backfield. I really like how Mattison is emphasizing that he hasn't arrived yet, and it's nice to hear that Blake continues to bust his ass in hopes to get better every day. I am concerned about us getting beat deep still. I think the fact that our offense doesn't throw downfield much gives our back end less reps in live action agianst attacks that take several shots downfield. Jarrod Wilson looks comfortable at safety, and I like his physical presence in support of the run defense. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there, and he made some nice plays.

Our running back situation is nice right now. Fitz is a beast, and I really like how he has the ability to run downhill or cut it to the backside to expoit over-pursuit. Rawls looks like Mike Hart with bigger lower body. I know that's a bit "Fred Jackson" of me, but he gains yardage with every move. He is the kind of back that can wear on you throughout a game and really dominate in the 4th quarter. Hoke mentioned that Hopkins is our short yardage back, but I like Hopkins leading Rawls up the middle more. This kid will be special by the time his Michigan career is over. Justice Hayes is sneaky fast, and he will be a nice third down back after Vincent Smith graduates. I also love the playaction fulback flat pass you see so much in the NFL. Our FB's are capable of making a big first down/touchdown once a game on this play.

As far as the defensive line is concerned, we aren't looking very solid right now. Jabreel Black looks gigantic compared to last year, and the coaches are saying he needs to put on more weight this summer. How much bigger can his body get? I guess we'll see. Washington is our best nose option IMO, and that's not saying a ton. Campbell is OK, but I still don't believe he's a starter. Ash made some good plays getting into the backfield, and Chris Rock looks like he could beef up and be a solid player on the DL in the future. We need to be stout up the middle, or teams that like to smash it could find playcalling a bit too easy against this defense.

All in all, it was a great time at the Big House like it always is. I can't wait to go to the opener at home, and we will now spend too much time over-analyzing all the film we have from the spring. Go Blue!!!



April 15th, 2012 at 10:35 AM ^

You paid a lot more attention than me. After several beers at my tailgate, I didn't really see any point in analyzing an offense that was in no way going to resemble the offense that we will have for game 1 2012, at least after the first series with Denard. Our first team O played one series. After that, i found it really difficult to get anything at all from the 'action.' Then after that, you had what was apparently the first team D playing against a crippled first team O. I say 'crippled,' because that was not the first team O. It was a collection of players that might possibly be on the first team O with what is probably our 3rd best QB playing. Then you had the 2nd team O playing the 2nd team D. This was who Rawls looked decent against. I guess I might agree with your analysis of him if he had went against the 1's, but he did not. He had about 4 good runs against the 2nd team D, which is again, a unit we will hopefully not see on the field come Sept.

I see the spring game as an oppurtunity to get together with some friends in AA, do some tailgating with food and beverages, goof off, get in the big house and watch some drills and scrimmages in the big house. ( I really wish they'd play a real game of 1's v 2's, but it seems we will never get that at MIchigan). Now that they are showing it on btn, I'm heavily considering making it a party at my house to save the $50 in gas and th $40 dollars in parking.

I do appreciate your analysis, though.


April 15th, 2012 at 10:36 AM ^

I don't think you can judge either Devin or Jerald Robinson on a 90 minute excerpt on an extremely windy day. 

Sure, Devin seemed to make 2 reads then take off, but based on the wheels he has that is defiently the best 3rd read we have. I think his struggles were that
1. he got antsy on his throws and didn't step in. 
2. His receivers were blanketed.

And Jerald Robinson, from all accounts, had a decent spring. No reason to make the jump that "he will never be good because he was dropping balls" from such a short insight.


April 15th, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

and Devin did, the analysis would be flipped.  The guy who plays gets picked apart and the guy who doesn't is evaluated based on potential.  It's the backup-QB-popularity phenomenon.  If the guy(s) playing don't produce, people want to see the alternative.  Even if the coaches get to see 20 times the reps that fans do.

I'm not saying we always have to believe the coaches - they make mistakes - but when you're talking about a handful of plays in a scrimmage, you have to consider the context.



April 15th, 2012 at 10:40 AM ^

It's a spring game scrimmage; I don't think it warrants the level of conclusion you are drawing (re: DG apparently NOT the 2nd string QB etc. though I enjoyed your FB touchown prediction). 

I'd post TLDR but you advised against it. 



April 15th, 2012 at 11:02 AM ^

To understand how one could trust and believe in the ability of our coaches and still write something like this. How can you possibly think you know Devin Gardner's ability and ceiling better than an Al Borges or Brady Hoke? And you're basing it on the spring scrimmage to boot? This post inspires more of a STFU attitude than TLDR...


April 15th, 2012 at 12:07 PM ^

I don't really understand this mentality. The guy is just giving his opinion for discussion purposes. I always find it frustrating and stiffling when people pull the "the coaches know better than you, so STFU" card. The whole point is fan discussion, and arguing that we should all have a 100% implicit trust in the coaches to the point that we shouldn't even say things like "Gardner doesn't look good as the backup QB" makes discussing anything kind of pointless.

And for the record, Gardner has been playing for two years, so I'm guessing the OP is basing it on more than just the Spring Game. We've seen him (albeit maybe not a ton, but far from nothing) in actual game settings, and I'd agree that he hasn't inspired much confidence as of yet.


April 15th, 2012 at 1:16 PM ^

but no worthwhile discussion can come from essentially calling the #1 mobile qb recruit of 2010 a bust at the QB position before he's ever truly seen the field in a meaningful way. He did not say, Devin didn't look good. He said that he is not our #2 QB and that he is a "one read and take off downfield QB". I think most would agree that both of these statements lack basis in reality. Devin has attempted more passes than rushes and his little in-game experience left some fringe fans calling for him to start over Denard. Russell has no in-game experience and seems to be unable to push the ball downfield. Also Russell doesn't fit into Michigan's current hybrid offense the way that Devin does. Devin and Denard on the field scares DCs... the same cannot be said about Russell and Denard.


April 15th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

I'm not saying I agree with the OP. While Gardner has yet to show anything impressive in my opinion, Bellomy has shown absolutely nothing. I still expect Gardner to be the #2. 

What I was commenting on was statements like, "How can you possibly think you know Devin Gardner's ability and ceiling better than an Al Borges or Brady Hoke?" That comes across very much sounding like "your opinion differs from the coaches' which makes it inherently wrong."

(Side note: Gardner's a junior, at some point his recruiting rankings from years ago stop being evidence that he's good. He's got to show it on the field some time.  Also, I'm sounding like I'm very down on Gardner. I'm not, like I said, I expect him to be the #2 this season and I expect him to be the starter next season. I've just yet to see him play well enough at QB in his limited time to consider his position 100% solid the way I considered Denard's starting role last season.)


April 15th, 2012 at 5:00 PM ^

What about the Illinois game last year? Gardner made some key plays. Some of those runs he had yesterday were the most exciting plays of the scrimmage. It's not like he had wide open options to choose from out there in the passing game. I wonder how much less skepticism he'd get as a QB if his motion wasn't so ugly. His passing needs work, but I will gladly pin our hopes on that guy after Denard graduates. I'm all for getting him on the field at wide receiver, but I could just as easily see him giving teams fits at QB in two years. The kind of guy who makes 3rd and 3 seem like a good situation to be in.


April 15th, 2012 at 7:15 PM ^

I think my posts above make me sound more skeptical of Gardner than I actually am. He's definitely made some good plays at times (he did look good against Illinois, from what I remember), but he's made some really bad ones, too. I really do think he'll be the #2 this year and the starter then next (two, redshirt permitting) years. I'm just not sold on the amount of hype some people give him, given what I've seen in his limited time. He's got another year to grow and learn, though, so hopefully he makes some strides and looks great down the road.


April 16th, 2012 at 9:58 PM ^

I'm a little nervous myself, especially with so much riding on that redshirt with where he is at developmentally. He certainly didn't have a good day but he seems capable of being a really tough quarterback to play against in the future, if a little bit unconventional. His runs were as good as his passes were bad. He seems capable of scrambling for 6 yards in 3 strides at any moment. Reminds me of the quarterbacks who gave us nightmares for so many years under Carr. He seems to have gained something, physically. We're probably going to be very run heavy over the next couple of seasons, and Gardner could be a killer in short to mid yardage situations. Athletically the hype is deserved, but yeah, you definitely wouldn't want to hand over the keys at this point.


April 15th, 2012 at 2:58 PM ^

and that was the point of my original post. They are not entertaining these thoughts because they see these guys daily... I repeat daily. From those daily evaluations, the coaches have concluded that Devin is #2 and the have stated it ad nauseam. I feel like Captain Obvious stuck on repeat but Devin has superior arm strength, a much quicker release, is a dual threat, and has in-game experience with 1s. Russell has shown that he can look efficient checking down to underneath routes covered mostly by linebackers and d-ends. Enough said?

Hardware Sushi

April 15th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

I really disagree with your opinions of Devin and Russell. Devin's the 2nd best QB, no question. Bellomy's throws are just now getting to the WRs; there's no way he's ready to be the backup. Devin had a rough spring game. I suspect he'll keep having trouble making consistent throws until he's consistently working with the 1s (which might not be until next year).

I also disagree about Jeremy Jackson. When he gets open, he can catch it. The problem is I don't ever see him getting open against a competent secondary.

I agree that our running game can be a major strength this year.


April 15th, 2012 at 12:20 PM ^

I agree with you on a couple points I think fitz is going to be an absolute monster this yr and next yr skys the limit.Second i also cannot wait until they can draft a team and play an actual game.But i will never stop going to the spring game im from columbus and i love to come too ann arbor anytime i can just to bring my kids around people like us were there not continually shoving the suckeyes down your throat.Only thing better about Ohio are the roads the freeways are horrible in michigan but" thats it" thats all" just roads.Ok back on topic sorry.Ithink DG is are better #2 but bellamy isnt far behind so that might mean that he could help the team more at wr he is a freakish athlete and is 6'4".Im sure that are coaches will figure all that stuff out.ok guys thanks and"GO BLUE".


April 15th, 2012 at 12:26 PM ^

How did Denard look? Did he look like he'd QB an 11 win team?

The coaches have raved about how good Devin looks in practice. Yesterday is probably a lot like what we saw from him in games last year: a very young man being far too amped up to perform to his ability. It's unfortunate that last year required Denard learning a new offense and this year doesn't have much in the way of "play the second team offense in the second half" kind of non-conference opponents. Devin needs game snaps.

Barring injury, Devin is next year's QB. There's a lot of time between now and then for him to hone his natural talent in a way that will show up during a game.

Also, that's quite the criticism that he makes one or two reads and then runs. Isn't that what everyone - including Borges - has been wanting Denard to do? Sure, the full progression would be nice, but how do you know that for these practices it wasn't set up for two reads only? Both coordinators said that they didn't do anything interesting for the scrimmage.

True Blue Grit

April 15th, 2012 at 12:56 PM ^

C'mon.  Get real.  Look at the depth chart please before writing things like that.  We only have 3 scholarship QB's right now and we're one play away from having someone other than Denard needing to play QB.  Bellomy is NOT ready yet. 


April 15th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

This has obviously been discussed a lot over the spring, and I don't think anyone's going to change anyone else's mind at this point. But I'd tend to agree with Ace's assessment that keeping Gardner off the field out of fear that Denard will get hurt (and the implied mentality that putting Gardner on the field is just asking for him to get hurt) is an overly cautious way to do it. It's not like WRs drop like flies. If both Denard (at QB) and Gardner (at WR) get hurt at the same time, that's a highly improbable and catastrophic series of events. I guess it's just a matter of how you view the balance of risk v. reward. I'd say the potential reward (assuming Gardner can actually play WR) outweighs the risk.

Plus, there are some recent examples of this working out well for other QB/WRs (the obvious being Tannehill, and I believe Nichol was the backup QB at MSU for a while when he first switched to WR).

Ron Utah

April 15th, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

I'm in favor of Devin playing WR, but not if it stunts his growth at QB too much.  I believe he could be a very good starter for us next year, and I don't want to give that up.  That said, I do think installing a VERY limited number of plays in which he is used at WR and having him in that role 4-6 plays per game is worthwhile.

But moving him to the X or Z as a starter?  No thank you.  Develop him as a QB for next year, please.


April 15th, 2012 at 9:08 PM ^

a terrific all aroung athlete.  We need him at QB but he clearly would make a great receiver too.  Any way to put him on the field is good but we need someone with his talent to back up Denard.  There is no way I would let him play receiver and get hurt with only Bellomy as backup to Denard. He is just too valuable as a QB to this team both now and in the future.  That said, I would cackle with glee if he come on the field as a wide out once in a while but would be anxious as hell also about his getting hurt going up for a high pass or over the middle. 


April 16th, 2012 at 9:29 AM ^

The most important fact about the QB competition, is that Al Borges thinks Devin Gardner is #2.

I agree that if the spring game were the only data point available, you might think Gardner was #3.

But Borges has much more data to work with: 15 practices, rather than just one. If he says Gardner is the clear #2, then you have to believe he knows what he is talking about.

NOLA Wolverine

April 16th, 2012 at 8:37 PM ^

Why is it that when Denard was a freshman, this blog was all in favor of moving him to wide receiver when the QB position was hardly set. But now that we have Denard and another backup QB who looks like he can come in and get us out of a game without causing too much damage it's a crime to think that Devin benefits the team more at wide receiver. There's a huge benefit to having him out at wide receiver. Denard needs someone he can just cut the ball loose to down the field. When times got tough that was the go to last year.


April 16th, 2012 at 11:03 PM ^

is a physical beast with a powerful arm and great but not "amazing wr" speed.  He has a lot of potential to be a superstar qb but you want to move him to wr where he'll prbly be average of slightly above average!

M go Bru

April 19th, 2012 at 4:06 PM ^

You have to keep in mind that the 1s were playing the 1s and the 2s are playing the 2s when trying to compare the performance of the two quarterbacks, Gardner and Bellomy. Our first team secondary (Countess & Floyd) and defense is far superior than our second team, in making plays, except for Hawthorne. As a result Devin was under far more pressure and with better coverage than Russell throughout the scrimmage. 

As far as Devin playing wide receiver, think of the number of plays that Woodson played on offense. It probably wasn't as many as you may have thought. I think it was about 10-12  plays a game. If nothing else, the fact that Devin may now be a receiver when he comes into the game further masks the play possibilities. I hope they use a pump fake to Devin, and throw it elsewhere. It all depends on who gets the double coverage.  I always thought running Denard in some sort of sweep (end around) limits his effectiveness to run in different directions from the quarterback position.

I  was most disappointed that we never did try to stretch the field in the spring game. Maybe we don't want to disclose too much before the Alabama game.