Give me your AFA snowflakes

Submitted by 1464 on September 9th, 2012 at 8:22 AM

So I'm aware of the new rule, but I also wanted to gauge everyones reactions to the game now that they've come back off the ledge or sobered up.  Hopefully, after sleeping on it, everyone will have more insight on the matter.  I won't give my opinions in the OP, as to not anger the mods for creating an 'I think...' thread.  I do like hearing some of the more informed opinions on the game after we have had time to digest.

Maybe this will help mitigate the risk of 19 million threads today about nuances of the game that probably don't require posts.

Comments

IPFW_Wolverines

September 9th, 2012 at 9:30 AM ^

Brady Hoke agreed that the O-line and D-line were a big part of the problem. For some reason there are people on this board jumping through hoops to try and justify the D and O line play. I'm really not sure why, considering the coach is also saying those units are not playing well. Apparently these people know more than Hoke does about his team.

1464

September 9th, 2012 at 10:03 AM ^

I'm not going to jump through a hoop to defend their play.  It was by no means good.  But we had 200 rushing yards on offense.  On defense, we had to deal with a rotation of fresh AFA OL personnel along with an extremely uptempo scheme, which did not allow defensive subs.  They always had to fight off a guy with fresh legs, even though they had seen 5 snaps in under a minute.  Add to that the chop blocking, and I can understand why the DL didn't show yesterday.

Give them until ND.  If they still struggle, you will have company on your side of the fence.

Lionsfan

September 9th, 2012 at 10:58 AM ^

No, our QB had 200 yards of rushing, with like 2 or 3 runs of 50+ yards. The fact that we couldn't get anything open for our RB's, not even to get past the LOS is very troubling. Rushing Denard all the time didn't work for the Big Ten schedule in 2010, and it's not going to work this year

Bodogblog

September 9th, 2012 at 12:32 PM ^

People make an assumption like "If you take those long runs from Denard away, we were in real trouble."  But putting aside how awesome they were and the fact that they put points on the board, you're making an assumption that something negative would happen if you took them away.

In reality, there are multiple scenarios that could have transpired.  If Denard goes for 5 yards instead of 70, maybe Fitz gets the ball on the next down and breaks it for 10 yards.  Maybe instead of going 70 in one play, Fitz gets rolling and gets the same 70 yards (and points) in 10 plays.  Maybe Gardner and Funchess get big catches, or Gallon rips off a bubble screen to the end zone.

The point: you can't subtract those long runs and assume they're replaced with poor outcomes.

LSAClassOf2000

September 9th, 2012 at 9:05 AM ^

It was fun to watch Denard Robinson become the first player to have 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing in three games throughout his career. Part of that is because Dilithium is always fun to watch, and part of that is because it bests Vince Young, who did this twice. 

Devin Funchess looked great out there - 106 yards of receiving on 4 attempts and 1 TD is an excellent first appearance. It was also great to see Devin Gardner effective out there as well to the tune of 63 receiving yards and 1 TD. Norfleet was averaging about 25 yards per return yesterday, giving Michigan decent field position on a couple drives - he'll be fun to watch as he develops and gets more time. 

As others mentioned, offensive line play  was a little disconcerting and probably contributed some to Fitz's un-Fitz-like performance. Going into this game, I was pretty sure that we could push around AFA's undersized line a little bit, but we didn't really block enough for Fitz to get good holes to pound through. 

I don't know if we know a lot about the defense until we play a more typical opponent for us like ND. The linebackers should probably be getting some more stops than they appear to be - right now, two of our leading tacklers are safeties, and even though Kovacs and Gordon were near the top of this list last year anyway, they are doing an inordinate amount of the stopping right now, it seems. 

Bearing that in mind, as Hoke said after the game: "It's always good to win. Sometimes they're not very pretty, and this would be one."

 

Eastwood

September 9th, 2012 at 9:02 AM ^

for a game that close by an opponent that UM should have handled easily. Felt like I was the only guy yelling when the D was on the field until the last 2 drives for AFA.

The Wolf

September 9th, 2012 at 3:03 PM ^

Unfortunately, I believe now that people have seen what Funchess can do, this will no longer be the case (him being able to get so much space).  I would love to be wrong, so I guess we will see what happens moving forward.

 

Note:  This is not meant to be a knock on Funchess at all.  I think he has an incredible amount of talent that is just waiting to be tapped, and I think he will really be able to leave his "mark" on the program.

jfk

September 9th, 2012 at 9:04 AM ^

Hi all, I think this is my first post despite being an mgoblog follower for years.  Here goes:

2011:

vs. #5 Boise State they put down: 264y rushing, RB w/ most carries (RBMC) avg 6ypc

#25 TCU: 249y rushing, RBMC 6.6ypc

2010:

#7 Oklahoma: 351y rushing(!), RBMC 4.4ypc

#8 Utah: 210y rushing, RBMC 4.2ypc

 

Also, most of those games were within a possesion or two of being wins.

 

I'm with most in that I have concerns with our D-line, but I don't think this last game is a good game to glean information from.  Air Force does one thing but they execute it really well with undersized guys year after year.  I get the feeling we're in for more nervous diarrhea moments and, I'll say it, even losses that are tough to swallow, but I remain optimistic about where our coaching staff is trying to take this team: outstanding O-lines and defenses teams fear.  GO BLUE!

TrppWlbrnID

September 9th, 2012 at 9:09 AM ^

2 defensive holdings on Campbell. What was happening with that?

Was it roh or ryan that had a personal foul? What happened on that?

My thoughts:

We are still seeing how good molk really was, as the first time in 4 years he is not calling blocking schemes at the line.

Freshmen everywhere except the o line tells me coaches want to let this group gel for a while. Only 5 OL played all day.

Only 2 rbs played, only 1 touched the ball also tells me the coaches were looking to get Fitz going specifically, rather than plugging in Rawls or some of the others.

I think that Gardner is good enough at WR for now, but that as chesson and darboh mature and the wear increases on

Denard, I think he gets more time as a qb. I think there is no way UM starts 2013 with Bellomy or Morris starting, so I think they will need devin back at qb then.

I am ok with norfleet only at kr this year. With a year to bulk up and learn pass protection though, he could be a nice 3rd down option.

I really like jeremy Jackson as a possession WR. Had 2 crucial first down catches. Good routes, big target, good hands.

I like the quick seam route they run, seems to be open but Denard to dileo is going to be tough on that, as dileo is a small target and I don't think Denard sees over the line very well to see lurking safeties or lbs. like this better with funchess or even roundtree once he moves in from the outside.

ChuckieWoodson

September 9th, 2012 at 9:22 AM ^

Through my hand wringing and anger at not being able to stop the option - one thing I did think about after the game was over - was the lack of any kind of defensive pressure.  I didn't notice/remember one blitz from our defense.

It seemed like we were content to have the db's and lb's sit back and wait.  I understand we don't want to get burned deep by commiting to early especially with the triple option - but this was a bit surprising.  The D line couldn't penetrate, but I didn't see any safety or LB blitzes all day.

Thoughts?

EGD

September 9th, 2012 at 11:58 AM ^

I'm not sure what kind of blitz we could have run against that offense.  Their QB was a 5th-year senior, and he's going to mercilessly exploit any vulnerabilities he sees in our alignment.  If we are not in position to defend the triple-option, then presumably they are going to run that for a big play.  If we move people up on the LOS to bring pressure, I imagine they would just throw the ball over our heads.  I think you just have to play assignment football and do a better job beating blocks on the edge. 

Ryanonymous

September 9th, 2012 at 9:27 AM ^

Denard ran well obviously but seemed locked in on his primary target many times. We saw several instances where he had a WR deep, wide open, and would throw to someone a bit more covered. I think he just needs to let the game slow back down for himself. Maybe the speed of Bama last week has him a bit impatient when in the pocket still.

I really liked what Funchess did yesterday, as well as Gardner and Jackson. It appears that we have several large targets now, something that ha been missing the last few years.

Defensively it seemed like our Line got some penetration but many of the runs were outside and our ends an LBs bit on the inside and or crashed down on the qb almost every time. Without someone staying home to contain, we left it up to a CB, who had to beat a lead blocker in most cases, to make the tackle. We should have cheated to the pitchman to force it inside where we had more bodies and a better chance of making the play.

The Wolf

September 9th, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^

While Rountree hasn't exactly been tearing it up, this obvservation is quite true.  I believe it was in the 3rd quarter (on of our stalled drives?) where he was VERY open (to the wide side of the field?) on two or three consecutive plays.  I think Denard still get's a bit of "tunnel vision" in some of the more obvious passing situations.

A2MIKE

September 9th, 2012 at 9:31 AM ^

I took in the game from probably the best seats I have ever had (50 yard line behind M's bench 25 rows up).  My observations in no particular order:

Joe Bolden is a star in the making - very good at diagnosing plays and really instinctive.  Struggled with counters and play action.  Several times I watched him solely, much better than Morgan or Demens and taking a block, shedding it and making a tackle for less than 5 yards gained.

Jake Ryan's nickname should be Jekyl and Hyde.  The guy makes great plays but still has those moments where you wonder what he is doing.  Examples of great plays are the last play to the last two drives where he single handedly ended their drives on the option sweep and deflecting the desperation heave at the end.  Most of his downfall is similar to Bolden in that he overruns plays and is easily out of position by play action and counters.

The biggest problem with the OL is they are slow.  Denard had to come to a stop more than 6 times to allow a blocker to get to his spot (most of the time it was a pulling G).  This group would be way more effective zone blocking, but I know, I know.....

Funchess looked good, don't know that he will ever be a WR - probably a hybrid TE type

I am not reading too much into Fitz, no holes and again I think some adjustments will be made to the OL blocking schemes. 

I really want to see how we do with Notre Dame and Purdue before declaring the season one way or the other.  We could be anything from 6-6 to 9-3 at this point.  Starting to become nervous about playing Sparty.

Jimmyisgod

September 9th, 2012 at 9:32 AM ^

You can try to explain it away, but the bottom line is we have to be better on defense, especially the line.  We just got pushed around and beat up by an offensive line that averages 253 lbs and a team that only returned 6 starters total from offense and defense combined.

This type of effort isn't going to get it done the rest of the year.  We just have to hope these guys develop.  One thing that is killing us are the injuries, our depth on the D line iss not what it should be because of it.

TyrannousLex

September 9th, 2012 at 9:34 AM ^

It's the beginning of rebuilding and it shows. The losses on both lines are pretty glaring, and we can only hope that there's enough talent to allow coaching to build them up over the course of the year. It was two difficult games to really analyze the lines, but the subpar run blocking is a huge concern. It means that Denard will have to throw to open up the running game.

At least on that front it looks like he's worked hard and significantly improved his mechanics. He can't get taller, but if he gets calmer, then i think he'll do some really good things as a passer and greatly reduce his mistakes. I expect Gardner and Funchess to improve visibly from game to game, and they'll help Robinson a lot ... as well as potentially opening up room for Roundtree, Dileo, and Gallon.

I don't think we have last year's defense, but again it was two tough, early games to judge it on and i expect to see improvement in technique and positioning throughout the year ... because Mattison.

Mr. Rager

September 9th, 2012 at 9:37 AM ^

I watched the game at a bar, and the sound was on another game.  That being said:

- Denard will pass Henne on the "why the f*ck does our fanbase EVER complain about this guy?" list.  He is everything for us.

- Our OL and DL are.... well.... not as good as last year.  Anyone saying "we don't know yet" is a f*cking liar.  We know.  It's going to be up to freshmen to come in / replace the people that aren't cut out for starting.  Pipkins, this is you.  BWC is a LONG way from putting together a Prescott Burgess-like senior year emergence from previous 5-star flopure.  

- I want to buy a Devin Funchess jersey.  We should call him the "Funchise".  

- Devin Gardner = MUCH improved this week.  Looks like a stud.  I don't blame him too much for that drop on third down - Denard threw a poor ball.

- Kenny Demens = Obi Ezeh 2.0.

- Morgan = too slow to play LB outside of the B1G.

- Good lord do we miss Blake Countess out there as well.

Overall this feels like the 2010 season all over again, to be completely honest.  I do think that Air Force is MUCH better than the average college football fan realizes.  And I do think that once our offensive line "gels", that we will be an unstoppable force on that side of the ball.  No chance in hell the 2012 defense is as highly ranked as the 2011 defense.  Set that expectation now, boys and girls.  

Mr. Rager

September 9th, 2012 at 10:07 AM ^

Big time over reaction?  He was benched for Bolden early in this game.  Were the coaches overreacting too?

Ezeh stats by year:

2007: 67 tackles (33 solo)

2008: 98 tackles (59 solo) - breakout year

2009: 70 tackles (28 solo) - so much for that breakout

2010: 58 tackles (36 solo) - replaced by Demens

Demens stats by year:

2010: 82 tackles (47 solo) - replaces Ezeh, does not play a full season.  Huge numbers.

2011: 94 tackles (49 solo) - another huge year for him

2012: Benched in Game 2 for a Freshman LB

We knew Ezeh needed to be replaced in 2009, but there was no one to replace him.  Both were replaced in their third year of starting, although Demens didn't experience the fall off in his second year that Ezeh did.  I would argue that Demens is more shocking than Ezeh, but an overreaction?  Have you been watching the games?  

ChuckieWoodson

September 9th, 2012 at 11:58 AM ^

admission you say he has two years that were "huge".  I'm not advocating his continual play if it continues to be poor.  What I am saying is that playing against Alabama (best team in the country) and Air Force (funky option play) and having him play poorly in both of those games is not enough for me to totally write him off as you have. 

I appreciate the comparison with Ezeh, and you may not be wrong.  Where we disagree is that in my opinion, after two bad showings I don't think it's time for the bench just yet.

I'm just not ready to let him ride the pine for the rest of the year in favor of Bolden just yet as you would seem to imply/prefer.

coastal blue

September 9th, 2012 at 10:50 AM ^

It may feel like 2010, but as many people have pointed out:

AFA does this year in and year out against good teams.

2010 Oklahoma, 2011 Boise State, 2012 Michigan (I hope). 

Last year on defense, we looked bad through three games. Even against WMU and EMU when we gave up 10 and 3 points, I didn't feel confident, it felt more like dumb luck that we kept them out of the endzone. Then they had a big day against a pretty good SDSU offense and it went pretty well the rest of the year, with only the Ohio game providing any sort of GERG flashbacks. 

So I feel like we need to hold off a bit on proclaiming it 2010 all over again. 

Mr. Rager

September 9th, 2012 at 11:11 AM ^

What is your conclusion, though?  Air Force is underrated (as has been discussed on this blog, myself included), and last year "we looked bad through the first three games, but turned it around".  Do you think that is what will happen again this year?  

I think progression of the defense / offensive lines could turn this into a very good season for us.  That being said, where will that progression come from?  

The OL will only get better as the season goes along, I think, but not having Molk is a concern.  Our DL - I am not so sure.  There is no Martin or RVB waiting to show up.  Roh is still decent-to-good but is not showing signs of a 2011 RVB level of play.  Our depth is worse.  The only real positive is we have another 5-star on the DL, with potential to be a big time contributor.  The problem with that is - how many freshmen DL are studs?  They need a year in the S&C program before they bust out (Clowney exception).  

We also lack the 2010/2011 Demens and Blake Countess, which means I would bet our back 7 isn't as solid as last year's team.  

Overall I think we'll be lucky to get to 9 wins this year, but I don't discount the potential to "turn it around" ala 2011.  

coastal blue

September 9th, 2012 at 11:21 AM ^

I'll put it this way: I might be in total agreement with your opinion after the Notre Dame game. 

I just think its a little too early to tell. 

Maybe Bolden/Ross ends up being Demens/Countess from your example.

Maybe the DL holds up against teams that aren't Alabama or AFA's unique style.

Or maybe Notre Dame beats us 45-28 and its just not gonna happen for the defense this year.

 

Mr. Rager

September 9th, 2012 at 11:38 AM ^

Alabama managed to put up 35 points against THE Western Kentucky University.  That's 6 less than they scored on our team (I HAZ MATH).  

I think a lot of excuses can be made about our Run D yesterday (e.g., "Air Force ran for 484 yards against Idaho State!", "They play a funny option and we didn't have enough time to prepare!", "Their guys are too small and had to resort to cut blocks - we won't see that in the B!G!").  Regardless of that our DL has major holes, our returning LB corp has been 2/3rds replaced by freshmen, and our best defensive player is out for the year with an ACL tear.  I think it's time to start worrying about the defense.  

Kilgore Trout

September 9th, 2012 at 9:38 AM ^

I was concerned with some of the game management. When you are showing no ability to consistently stop the other team, I would like to be more aggressive on offense. Between the punt from the 34, the wimp out when pinned against our goal line and not rushing after the drop, I feel like the coaches gave up three possessions.

TrppWlbrnID

September 9th, 2012 at 9:52 AM ^

It was like 4th and 12 and was very windy for a 51 yd kick.

Also, the wimp out. As I recall they ran the ball twice for nothing and had an incomplete pass. This is pretty standard fare. Remember last week what happened when they were backed up to their own endzone.

1464

September 9th, 2012 at 10:11 AM ^

Go for the 4th and 12.  If you gain 6 yards and turn the ball over, what have you lost?  They'll get it on the 28 instead of the 10-20.  Our offense owned them.  At worst, you lose 15 yards.  There's also a very legit shot to keep the drive alive and score.

That call disappointed me, but IIRC, Denard passed from our endzone, right?  I can't fault the coaching staff for that series.  What I can fault them for is the atrocious clock management. 

Clock management issues bug the shit out of me, strictly because even my (non-sports watching) wife has the common sense of when to call a TO.  Why can't guys making 100's of thousands of dollars have that same sense?

1464

September 9th, 2012 at 11:54 AM ^

I can't remember which punt this was... was it a touchback?

If so, is gaining 10 yards and not converting a truly bad thing?  That would be a net loss of 4 yards.  Consider how many mid range passes we converted, or how many times Denard got to the second level, I'm not sure there is not a third option, even on 4th and 19.

The mentality has to be, let's get at least 8 yards.  The D would likely play a little soft to prevent the big play.  If I were coach for a down, I would treat it like a 4th and 8, and hope for some YAC.  A slant pass or screen would give one of our guys some room to possibly convert.  Worst case scenario is they have the ball on the 34.  This is only a 14 yard loss, given an incompletion or broken play. 

If this was from the 44, I agree wholeheartedly.  But that was a throw away fourth down.  Not converting wouldn't have hurt us much at all, and converting would have been a turning point.

Sounds like an interesting case study for our very own Mathlete...

EGD

September 9th, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

AFA fair-caught the punt around the 10 yard-line.  We gained 24 yards on the punt and pinned them deep (though we failed to take advantage of the field position).  Reasonable people can disagree about what to do there, but I think it was the right call.  We wouldn't have made a FG from that distance and you are not going to convert a 4th & 19 very often.