UM vs. MSU pink slips

Submitted by Magnus on October 26th, 2008 at 8:43 AM
OFFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
Darryl Stonum, WR.  Stonum has done virtually nothing as a freshman.  He dropped a TD pass in this game.  His lack of involvement in the passing game is probably at least partially due to the fact that Threet throws inaccurate deep balls.  However, Laterryal Savoy is a better blocker.  Despite Savoy's poor receiving abilities, if neither Stonum or Savoy is going to make a play in the passing game, the better blocker might as well be in the game.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
Brandon Minor, RB.  This is my chance to say "told ya so" to all the Minor doubters.  Since before the season, I was clamoring for Brandon Minor to get carries.  He should have been the starter from the first game.  Eight games into the season, he's averaging 5.1 yards per carry (compared to McGuffie's 4.1) and has the year's longest run (36 yards) outside of Threet's 58-yarder against Wisconsin.  He has 5 rushing touchdowns on 51 carries, which means he scores a TD on approximately 10% of his carries (McGuffie has 3 TD's on 115 carries, approximately a 2.8% clip if my quick mental math serves me correctly).  On top of that, Minor is the team leader in receiving TD's with two, despite catching only five passes; McGuffie, Koger, Hemingway, Moundros, Mathews, and Shaw each have one TD.  Minor's averaging 11.8 yards per reception.  He's also an excellent blocker, as evidenced by his pancake block against MSU's defensive end on Threet's TD run.  Some of you will point to his injuries and fumbles as reasons why he hasn't received more playing time.  Regarding injuries, if he's healthy enough to play, he's got to play.  It's true that reduced practice reps might be detrimental, but it's probably not any more hurtful than playing a less able player.  And in regards to the fumbles, I agree that fumbles are a serious concern.  Teams that lack talent can hardly afford to turn the ball over.  On the other hand, teams with poor offensive lines can't afford to play a running back who can't break tackles, either.  Neither McGuffie or Minor is a "perfect" player, but who is?  You have to let players make mistakes.  Just like you don't yank a QB after one interception, a fumble or two shouldn't spell disaster for a running back, either.  I realize a 17 carry, 55 yard day isn't the best game to brag about, but a) I was too busy last weekend to post and b) Minor still scored two of our three TD's yesterday.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB

Steve Brown, FS.  For God's sake, Steve Brown.  For God's sake.  For.  God's.  Sake.  I had high hopes for Steve Brown.  I really did.  I watch him run and he's fast.  I see him body slam people to the ground on special teams and I cringe.  The kid has some sort of mental block or confidence loss when he's at free safety.  I don't know what it is, and I don't know how to fix it.  I feel bad for him, because I always hear good things about him and I honestly think he tries hard and feels bad when he screws up.  But the screw-ups are mounting too quickly for the coaching staff to ignore anymore.  I was watching the game at the bar yesterday, so I was distracted a little more than I wanted to be.  But he missed an easy tackle on former walk-on Blair White that led to a 61-yard TD pass.  He was also the one targeted on the long pass down the left sideline (to Mark Dell, if I remember correctly) where he was in position but just failed to find the ball and make a play.  Brown isn't completely useless, since he did make a sack and force a fumble.  However, his shortcomings are too significant.  I don't care who they put in there.  Normally, I'd say Michael Williams, but Williams got a concussion in yesterday's game.  Charles Stewart.  Move Morgan Trent to free safety and plug in Cissoko at corner (Trent was benched for stretches, anyway).  Artis Chambers.  Insert Mouton at SS and move Harrison to FS.  Hell, burn JT Floyd's redshirt and plug him in there.  Something.  Anything.  But if Brown isn't going to improve (and at this point in his career, I have a hard time picturing significant improvement), the coaches need to start grooming someone to take over the position.  The offense will improve in 2009 with every significant player returning.  But the defense will have a maximum of two seniors in 2009, and both of those guys are defensive ends (Brandon Graham, if he doesn't declare for the NFL, and Adam Patterson).  On such an inexperienced defense, we can't afford to have such horrible safety play.  Get a youngster some experience now.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
Brandon Graham, DE.  He played like a man.  He had three sacks yesterday and now has eight for the year.  He shouldn't have guaranteed a victory against MSU, but at least he backed up his words with his own play.  When I saw Ringer break free for what turned out to be a 64-yard TD run and I saw Graham gaining on Ringer from behind, my heart started to palpitate.  I had visions of Shawn Crable from the 2007 game against MSU.  Alas, Graham came up a little short, but it was an excellent effort on his part and it showed what kind of a physical specimen he is.  If he's not there already, he might become Michigan's best defensive lineman of the last twenty years.

Comments

tbliggins

October 26th, 2008 at 9:44 AM ^

While I agree that Minor should keep his job, the reasons stated for his lack of PT early are still extremely valid. On injuries - do you really think that Minor at 80% is more effective than a healthy McGuffie? On lack of practice time - do you really think that w/ an offense as green as this one that it is a good idea to throw someone out there on Saturdays who has not gotten the reps in practice? It is not like he was a world beater last year. There was nothing suggesting that he would be head and shoulders the best RB in this offense this year. And don't even get me started on the fumbles. Hopefully the fumbles were related to the injuries/lack of practice reps and now that he is healthy they will no longer be an issue.

Brown, while extremely flawed, is the best option back there. I do not blame him for the completion to Dell - that is on the coaches. A good WR will always be a mismatch when covered by a safety. He should have never been in that situation. Stewart is worse in coverage and tackling than Brown. Williams may be an option if he is healthy. Everyone else either has no experience at that position or is being redshirted. I hate to do this, but, YOU DO NOT EVER BURN A REDSHIRT WHEN YOUR TEAM IS 2-6. I know everyone is frustrated, but use some common sense.

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 10:12 AM ^

I was being somewhat facetious when I said we should burn Floyd's redshirt.  My point is, a true freshman probably won't be able to step right in and help, so we need to find someone on this team who can play free safety.  Because Brown is most likely not the correct answer.

In regards to Minor, there was plenty of evidence that he could be the featured back this year.  Not only has he had some excellent plays in past years (long runs, running over ND's safety/linebacker/whatever), but he looked excellent in spring practice.

I do think that an 80% Minor is better than a 100% McGuffie at this point in McGuffie's career (I do think McGuffie will be a star, but not yet).  And if mathematical proof* is necessary 80% of 5.1 yards per carry equals about 4.1 yards per carry (McGuffie's average), and 80% of 5 touchdowns gives us 4 touchdowns (still one more than McGuffie has produced). 

*This is kind of a joke, but it's still interesting to consider.

JT4104

October 26th, 2008 at 10:09 AM ^

What games are you watching that lead you to believe Savoy who has been a bench warmer for years has improved so much to play over Stonum.

Stonum has been fine as a freshman considering our QB looks for Odoms on every single play.

PattyMax64

October 26th, 2008 at 5:17 PM ^

No, is just that your reasoning is not sensible.  Take the player who has the ability to stretch the field and draw coverages, and replace him with the player who has a hard time catching and has no stretching ability just because he can block better.  Savoy has no upside, while Stonum has TUP (Tremendous Upside Potential).  If there is no Stonum, we will see defenses able to key upon Matthews and Odoms, and almost ignore Stonum.  I think if you are going to hate on one player on Offense, don't make it our best deep threat who is a True Freshman, make it an O-Lineman

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 5:45 PM ^

As I've said before, I'm not going to suggest taking a guy's job away if there's no viable backup.  On the offensive line, there are no viable backups.  They're all injured or true freshmen or a converted DT.

My reasoning does make sense.  Stonum isn't a deep threat because we can't complete deep passes.  So on run plays, Savoy would be a better blocker; and on pass plays, Savoy could sprint 40 yards downfield and not get the ball just as well as Stonum can.

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 10:25 AM ^

"Some of you will point to his injuries and fumbles as reasons why he hasn't received more playing time. Regarding injuries, if he's healthy enough to play, he's got to play. It's true that reduced practice reps might be detrimental, but it's probably not any more hurtful than playing a less able player."

Minor hasn't missed any games. Therefore, he must have been healthy enough to play each game. He may not have been 100%, but lots of players play with nagging injuries. And it's not like he was an "emergency" guy who would only play if the other guys got hurt. He was in the game, blocking, faking, etc., but not getting the ball. If he's healthy enough to block (and he blocks hard), he's healthy enough to carry the ball.

PattyMax64

October 26th, 2008 at 5:21 PM ^

His injury clearly impeded him.  It made him less able to hold onto the ball and it caused a number of fumbles.  If you were basing your judgement on performance alone, he should have been in the games, until he started to fumble.  And Sam had an outstanding game against ND, leading him to be the starting man.  Once Minor was fully healthy, he played more minutes.

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 5:50 PM ^

That's just the point - you shouldn't make decisions based on a fumble or two.  If that were the case, Mike Hart would have been benched against Florida in the Capital One Bowl.  You don't bench a QB after one interception.  You don't bench your cleanup hitter after one strikeout.  Etc.  Etc.  Minor didn't play much against Utah or Miami, and he only had one fumble in those two games.  But he was still healthy enough to block, which is even tougher than running the ball because he's actually looking for contact, not avoiding it.

McGuffie did have an excellent game against Notre Dame, but that wasn't until the third game of the season.  Minor didn't get significant touches until Week 7.

lhglrkwg

October 26th, 2008 at 12:28 PM ^

this has all been covered like 1000 times now. RR is not a moron, there is probably no one better at FS than stevie brown. also, believe it or not, you are not the only one who wanted brandon minor to play more. good for you that you were 'clamoring' for him but since the first kickoff of the season people have been wanting minor to play more. lastly, brandon graham is insane. he stepped up yesterday

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 12:58 PM ^

I never insinuated that Rodriguez is a moron.  However, it's pretty clear that Brown isn't the answer.  Therefore, adjustments need to be made, especially if we want to get someone ready to challenge Brown for the starting job in 2009.

Also, when I suggested that Minor should get more carries earlier in the year, I took A LOT of shit for it.  I know I'm not the only one who wanted Minor to play, but this isn't about those people - this is about the doubters who think they know everything.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 26th, 2008 at 4:13 PM ^

Fine, I'll play. I gave you shit for clamoring for Minor. I didn't think he was very good last year. The fact that he persistently fumbled this year made me wary of him.

But this isn't a game of "I was right you were wrong, HAHAHA," because your comment smacks of the same those "who think they know everything" you're complaining about.

I'm happy Minor had a good game against PSU. I never wished him ill, and I never rooted against him. I didn't want him carrying the ball as long as he kept dropping it. Am I convinced that he's "the answer" at RB? Not yet - he had one good game, and one that was roughly as good as anything McGuffie did (I don't put THAT much stock in TD's, as it's largely a context driven stat (ie he's getting the touches close to the endzone)). I hope he is the answer - it would be good to have one somewhere on this team.

I also think it's reductive to look just at Stevie Brown, or the safeties in general. The safeties are looking bad a result of a defensive wide malaise. The linebackers are poor tackler, are not instinctive getting to the ball, and slow making reads. As a result, the Safeties get pulled up closer and closer to the line. Add in that the safeties aren't very good, they have a hard time maintaining their own responsibilites while trying to make up for the deficiencies of the LB's.

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 4:23 PM ^

I don't claim to know everything.  The thing is, I'm open to other people's opinions.  When I brought up all the good points about Minor, there were several people (not just you) who called me stupid and suggested I know nothing about football.  I'm fine with having football discussions, but attacks on my football knowledge are unnecessary.

I agree that TD's don't tell the whole story, but when you look at Minor's touchdowns, several of them have been long runs (see Miami and Wisconsin) or long passes (see Toledo and MSU).  Yes, he's had a couple short TD runs, but he's not a near-retirement Jerome Bettis.

Brown's suckitude in pass coverage has nothing to do with the linebackers.  The poor linebacker play didn't make him whiff on Blair Myles.  The poor linebacker play didn't make him screw up the pass to Dell.  I agree that the whole defense has been disappointing, but Steve Brown is a big play (for the opposition) waiting to happen.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 26th, 2008 at 4:29 PM ^

I thought he actually had pretty decent coverage on Dell.

Agreed, the linebackers didn't make him miss the tackle on White. I'm not attempting to say he's blameless, but he's also, by no means, the only defender missing tackles.

Mediocre safeties are, by definition, big-plays waiting to happen. If a lineman or a LB misses a tackle, it generally doesn't turn into a touchdown. If a safety does - it's 6 points.

STW P. Brabbs

October 27th, 2008 at 12:27 PM ^

What does being close to a receiver matter if you can't make a play on the ball?  You know who always provided "good coverage" by that standard?  Markus Curry.  Dude was always right on top of the receiver who usually caught the ball, shrugged off a weak tackle, and took it to the house.  

 If we are supposed to operate on the assumption that the coaches are never wrong in personnel selection, I suppose it's obvious that Stevie Brown is the best we have.  This could very well be true, but Stevie is the kind of freakish athlete that coaches tend to hope will turn the corner and unleash all that talent.  It's never going to happen.  He misses tackles the same way, every time, no matter the speed, size, or quickness of the wide receiver.  He has yet to show any acumen in pass coverage.  Either make him the Calvin Bell of designated blitzing - Stevie can run fast, and can better get away with his two-handed touch style of tacking behind the line of scrimmage - or keep him on special teams.  Unless he's blitzing, he doesn't make plays - period.  I'm not sure why anyone thinks he ever will.  

 And yes, the LBs all try to tackle without actually holding on to things.  Stevie Brown is not the reason the defense is bad, but that doesn't mean that he is adequate out there. 

Magnus

October 29th, 2008 at 10:16 AM ^

If it's Randy Moss, I agree.  If it's Mark Dell, I disagree.  You can't cover a receiver with a corner on every single play, especially if it's zone.  I don't remember if it was a two-deep zone or what, but the fact is that Brown was right there and failed to make a play on the ball.  It wasn't that he got juked or outrun by the receiver.  It's that he had the ball right in front of him and downright failed to make a play on it.

mth822

October 26th, 2008 at 5:52 PM ^

I think the last paragraph here of what you said Chitownblue really sums the defense up. Or what you just summed up is the progression of what leads to the failures of Michigan's defense. It starts with a lack of mental involvement. And then the overload upon the safeties leads to yardage or a quick 6.

Michigans defense is in real trouble for the next years. They will more than likely loose B. Graham now. I don't think he needs to stick around for another 4-7 season. Speculatively speaking of course. But he's a pro talent today. I would imagine a few(if not many agents are in his ear as we speak here on mgoblog). He is playing really inspired and I think that is by and large to the pro attention he is getting. T. Taylor is another top 50 pick. Then you factor in Johnson and Jamison. And you're left with M. Martin, Verbergen, Warren, Ezeh, Smith(has not played) and Mouton. A few more as well. All in all, I hope this develops a resolve in Michigan's future players not to,"stand on the shoulders of giants," and go make your own legacy.

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 1:01 PM ^

If the pass was tipped, that's obviously not Stonum's fault.  I know it was close, but I don't think the MSU guy touched it.  And while it was not a "routine catch" (which I guess means a catch that a guy should make in his sleep), it wasn't a particularly difficult one, either.  He had to slow up for it a little bit, but it didn't take any crazy body contortions or leaping ability to get his hands on the ball, either.

Glen Masons Hot Wife

October 26th, 2008 at 4:47 PM ^

Was thinking the same thing about moving Trent over to FS. Couldn't help but wonder though, how effective would it be? Trent has 0 experience at that position. When we switched Marlin Jackson, IIRC, he had an entire training camp to learn the position.

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 5:55 PM ^

I don't know that it would be that effective, but it honestly - and I'm not being sarcastic here - couldn't be much worse.  Trent is a fifth-year senior with excellent speed and is a decent tackler when he's unblocked.  He has a hard time getting off blocks at corner, but safeties often go unblocked.  In my opinion, it would be worth a try.  The difference between free safety and cornerback is not as vast as one might think; many aging cornerbacks move to FS in the NFL.  When Jackson moved to safety, he moved to strong safety (if I remember correctly), which is much different than CB (you play in coverage, often against a TE, and sometimes you play like a LB and have gap responsibilities). 

MC Hammer

October 26th, 2008 at 6:12 PM ^

It's worth noting that since Minor has taken the job from McGuffie, McGuffie has fumbled twice after only fumbling once the first 6 games. Minor fumbled 5 (I think, don't hold me to that) times as a backup, but has yet to fumble as a starter. I think the fumbles from both players are a result of trying to make a big play because they know they might not get another carry for a while.

On a different note, how come the starting RB gets 80+% of the carries? I think McGuffie should get the ball more now, just like I thought Minor should get the ball more in the first 6 games.

Magnus

October 26th, 2008 at 6:28 PM ^

To be fair, I think McGuffie's fumble yesterday was on a play in which he was knocked out or got a stinger or something. 

Also, I disagree about the reason for the fumbles.  I think it's mostly a lack of concentration.  But fumbles are strange things, and it's probably pointless to guess at the reasons because we'll never really know.  Sometimes you see a guy fumble because he stretches out with the ball or doesn't put the ball in the correct hand, but most fumbles come out for seemingly no reason at all, other than mere chance.

mjv

October 27th, 2008 at 12:19 PM ^

MGo poster who should lose his ability to reproduce: Magnus.
You sir, are clearly in need of some psychological assistance. If not that, please get a vasectomy.  Calling out college kids to get a pink slip, including a true freshman is sick. 

Step back from the keyboard and take a deep breath or two and consider your thoughts before posting them for the public.

STW P. Brabbs

October 27th, 2008 at 12:34 PM ^

Listen, if and when Magnus asks for scholarships to be revoked or prays that players will get injured, feel free to go at him with all you got.  I'm not sure why saying that particular college football players should be benched warrants removal from the gene pool.  You must think that coaches are the most diabolical fiends on earth, considering all the true freshman they sit on the bench from time to time. 

 You get the unintentional comedy award for the day by admonishing someone else to take a breath. 

Magnus

October 27th, 2008 at 6:11 PM ^

Dude, step back from the ledge.  I didn't say we should kill them.  I didn't say they should be kicked off the team.  Do you know what a pink slip is?  It's when you lose your job.  I think Stonum and Brown should be benched - not stripped of their scholarships - and replaced by other players.  Millions of other football fans have said/thought the same thing, including all the Michigan fans who were begging for Sheridan to be benched in favor of Threet.

If you want EVERY college athlete to keep his starting position, then you, my friend, are much crazier than I am.