Looking ahead to Iowa

Submitted by El Jeffe on October 9th, 2010 at 7:35 PM

I'm guessing this will get deleted because obvs. But on the off chance it doesn't, here's what I took away from today's game:

The game hinged on five high-variance plays--the two long MSU runs, the long MSU pass, and the first two Denard interceptions.

Now, on the defensive side, it is simply a case of pick your poison. I liked how aggressive we were at stopping the run, but when you have an underachieveing MLB and a first-year free safety, those things happen. I don't know what GERG can do about it at this point.

On the offensive side, State had a good game plan: (1) take away Denard the runner, (2) make him a thrower, and (3) importantly, take away his first option as much as possible. This forced all three interceptions, though the last one was kind of a dopey throw under any circumstances.

The reason I bring this up is to look forward to Iowa. I'm not sure they'll have the inclinatino to do what State did, in which case I expect more Denard on the ground, a la the last two drives of the last game. If they do follow the Sparty Plan for Success, then what I hope to see is more throwaways by Denard. Essentially, I hope the coaches tell him: "make your first read. If it's covered, go to run rabbit run or ballthrowaway.exe."

In other words, I hope I see Denard's completion percentage plummet next week (unless his first read is always open; then I expect the usual accuracy he has shown this year), or a bunch of 5-20 yard scrambles when his first read is covered.

Go Blue!



October 9th, 2010 at 7:40 PM ^

I don't think IA offense is a good as MSU's but their defense is better. This will be another tough game. But if our offense plays better we will have a chance to win. May be after the first lost the team will not be under pressure to win?


October 9th, 2010 at 8:38 PM ^

I don't think anyone has the right to hang this game on Denard. That young man is personally responsible for our last two wins (and perhaps that last 5 wins). Denard needs a supporting cast. Receivers dropping passes, lack of protection all make a big difference. Remember he has only started 6 games and give him a break. Maybe with this performance some of the hype will die down and he can quietly get back to being spectacular again.


October 9th, 2010 at 7:49 PM ^

IMHO, there's no point in analyzing the defense. I've stopped looking for rays of hope there. There's just not much there.  

the 2 plays that made this a different game than the last five were the 2 redzone interceptions. That's the game. I picked UM 35-34 all week, and largely, this was exactly what I expected (minus a made FG-???!!!!): If we continue to put points on the board, it comes down to the wire in a close game; we start turning the ball over (especially in the red zone), our D is simply not good enough to keep us in the game.

Iowa will likely put up 31-35 points next week. Can our O regain the mojo that put up 40~ points a game? If yes, we'll have a nice chance to win. If not, the skid continues.


October 9th, 2010 at 7:50 PM ^

Our defense played well but we are not dominant up front so were forced to play bend but don't break (which was an effective strategy).  Iowa will hammer Denard at times. 

I do agree that their offense is not as good as hours, but is still competent.

I expect an Iowa win by 10-14.

No shame in that.

I was very impressed with your offense.  I think you will get to 7-8 wins.


October 9th, 2010 at 7:51 PM ^

Those two Red Zone INTs really hurt (obviously).  I thought the first one was the most damaging as it would have been a great statement drive to start the game.  Anyway, if those two drives go differently then we are sitting here with a very different conversation.  This was just a game where Denard was not as sharp as he has been, and that is bound to happen when you have a guy starting his 6th game ever as a true Soph. 

A win next week will make us 1-1 against the top teir B10 teams (and, yes MSU is top tier now), and can set the tone for the rest of the season. 

Time to be pissed about it for tonight, then move on and get a big bounce back win next week.


October 9th, 2010 at 7:51 PM ^

...is going to have a tough time against any experienced quarterback.  Our lack of experience in the secondary it seems that we are having to gamble on virtually every down... we are going to be burned by any QB or RB that can make the read or look outside the hole.


October 9th, 2010 at 7:52 PM ^

MSU executed and we didn't. We had mistakes in all phases. All the mistakes are correctable. We knew early in the season that there is little room for error from our offense b/c our defense is young. We lost the turnover battle and that's the first time this season we have done that, hence the loss. A win against Iowa(a quality big 10 team) will go a long way.


October 9th, 2010 at 8:14 PM ^

Yep, it all came down to turnovers. UM needed to be at least even in TO margin to win this game, instead they were -3 with two of the turnovers coming deep in MSU territory.

The team needs to move on and put this bad loss out of their minds or they will let MSU beat them twice. I don't expect a win over Iowa next week, but the guys need to keep their "heads' on straight" so we don't see a repeat of the 2009 collapse. PSU, Purdue and Illinois should still present good opportunities for wins.


October 9th, 2010 at 7:52 PM ^

For the first time this season, Denard looked like a kid who had started only 5 games...I'm not jumping off the ledge yet--I'll wait to see how next weekend goes.  Also, PSU got KILLED by Illinois, so one of those two has to be beatable, right?


October 9th, 2010 at 7:55 PM ^

It was a loss, but if you compare it to the MSU game last year, this was a lot better all around.  We couldn't run 5 feet last year and Tate was running for his life every time he dropped back to pass. The offense is very capable of scoring on anyone.  Big plays and winning/even in the turnover battle has been our ticket this year.  Today we lost on both.

If we can get similar production and at least break even in the turnover battle next week, we have a very good chance.

Our quarterback has 6 career starts, we're young all over the field, and were 5-1. Not too shabby.

UM Indy

October 9th, 2010 at 8:19 PM ^

is what we're looking at next week.  What I really don't like is the rest of the league (at least those teams with the personnel to pull it off) has a blueprint on how to contain Denard, at least running the ball.  No picks and catch the damn ball will be important.


October 9th, 2010 at 8:38 PM ^

the thing is, while "the blueprints" may be there to stop denard, this is where coaching and strategy come into play. We have to trust that the staff will bounce back with a game plan against Iowa that plays back to our strengths, while bringing some new stuff to the table.

Denard was far from awful today. There were plays available. He was unable to execute on a few key plays. We were able to move the ball, in spite of the dropsies and mental errors. If we score on those 2 redzone-pick posessions, this is business as usual, as we're looking at another game with both teams eclipsing 30 points. That didn't happen. Denard was bound to have an off game. He still racked up 86 yards rushing (he was over a hundred before sacks happened) and over 200 passing.

Let's not pretend that Denard has been  "figured out". on ANY given play, he has homerun potential. he'll hit those again sooner or later. It's all about the mistakes. Eliminate them, and this was a totally winnable, albeit, hard-fought game. Iowa will be the same way.

One observation: anyone notice how reluctant denard seems to be when it comes to scrambling? I saw that stat where 97 of the 98 runs he had previously were designed (or something close to that). You automatically take for granted that a guy like Denard easily finds a way to scramble and make plays, but that may not be a strong suit of his. It's fantastic that he keeps his eyes downfield looking for receivers, but hopefully he'll learn to let his athletic instinct kick in and scramble towards the first down marker. This isn't necessarily a knock... just an observation.


October 9th, 2010 at 10:39 PM ^

as well. I wasn't sure if this was a coaching decision or Denard just wanted to be more of a quarterback running the offense than a running back who happens to throw, or what it was. In any event it seemed to me the offense wasn't as centered around him as it was before when he was going to account for most of the yards in the game whether running or passing.


October 9th, 2010 at 8:24 PM ^

Possible, but who the f-ck knows? At the beginning of the season, I expected 7 wins. That's still my expectation. The offense is going to have the occasional off-day, and our defense can't hang with anyone. We have six more chances at 2 more wins. Anything above that is gravy.


October 9th, 2010 at 8:30 PM ^

this team will not win if denard has bad games, they just are not good enough to overcome that. its unfortinate too, because expecting denard to be perfect each game is not fair to him. the offense has to support the defense. the defense blows and we all know that...but when they manage to stop the other team, our offense has to go down and put points on the board.


October 9th, 2010 at 8:41 PM ^

You Know yes it was a hard lost today,yes monday's going to be hard.But who is going to step up on this team and say we have a game saturday and there just as good at that Michigan State football team we just played,to me Michigan diden't  seem like they had a team leader today.And Rich Rod and The Wolverines will see this game and say Let's work on thing's and beat Iowa Go Blue..... HEART

McFarlin 2.0

October 9th, 2010 at 8:49 PM ^

Too much Vincent Smith running and too much Denard Robinson passing. I honestly don't know where this team is heading but getting spanked by Little Brother at home is not going to cut it. Another year of the Dantonio domination talk....Sad thing is that Sparty has a very good chance of going 12-0 this year. I honestly see nobody of their schedule that can beat them besides maybe Iowa. FML


October 9th, 2010 at 10:49 PM ^

12-0? I mean if they are 12-0 material and they execute like a 12-0 team, why hold it against them? We didn't have our 'A' game today, perhaps all we could of hoped for was a 'B' game anyways, but in the end the better team won and we move on and the Spartans move on. WE play Iowa next Saturday, let's focus on them, not on if Iowa is going to beat the Spartans; if you are truly worried about that, your at the wrong blog.


October 9th, 2010 at 10:45 PM ^

I dont think it matters who (in the big ten) we play, we are going to give up some big plays.  I think the best we can hope for is that the defense plays aggressively like they did today, and they force enough punts / turnovers to give our offense a chance to win.  As long as the O gets back to its ways of shredding defenses i like our chances for the rest of the season.

Wolverine In Exile

October 9th, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

This was "Recalibration Saturday". Today we learned (or were re-educated that):

- Alabama is good, but probably not the BEST TEAM EVER ESSS EEEE CCCEEEE

- Michigan State is as advertised, a  typical Big Ten title contender with a stout defense, solid running game, and 5yr senior QB who doesn't make huge mistakes, Not a national title contender, but definately a 9-11 win team, and with a upset of tOSU before the end of the season, a possible Big Ten title team.

- Michigan is young and talented, but YOUNG! When our coaches did have "Spock" called during RPS, our players didn't execute. We have our potential superstar (but starting his 6th game) true soph QB to thank  for the non-execution primarily (not a knock, just a statement of facts). And we also learned the margin for error on our team. If we don't get 21 points out of three trips inside the 15 yd line, we're going to lose b/c our undermanned D is going to give up points. Look at it this way, we get 2 TD's out of three on our three failed possessions (and I'm counting thee FG in the first half as a fail), we're able to keep our base offense strategy into the fourth quarter instead of having to essentially abandon our base offense when we went down by three TD's. Even though we gave up 34 points, our D played good enough to win-- not good enough to steal a game by any means, but if our offense played to their at-this-point average to above average levels, we're a 1 TD game on the last drive.

- Penn St is BAAADDDDD, but no one in the Big Ten outside of tOSU looks like a real top 5 team. I still peg us at 7-9 wins. I still think we beat Illinois, Purdue, and we take 1 other against Penn St, Iowa, and Wisconsin. tOSU is anyone's guess with the rivalry and a nealry full year experienced Denard.


October 9th, 2010 at 10:49 PM ^

I am looking forward to the Indiana game, we will regroup and will be more determined to make a statement next week.  It is only one loss and we weren't projected to go 12-0.  I am looking forward to the men stepping up the play next week.


October 9th, 2010 at 10:57 PM ^

I'm sorry, but if you think we're beating Iowa next week, you're fucking high. Maybe the game just looked worse to me in person than on TV, but this game didn't feel close at all, even when we were ahead for a brief time.  The defense continues to get worse, and even when it manages to make a key stop, the offense does nothing (this trend also happened against ND and Indiana).  Pray for bowl eligibility this year and be happy if we get it, because just like last year this ship is going down fast.  Put whatever optimistic spin (the defense is young for the 3rd year in a row, Gerg has super bowl rings) that you want, but we are fast headed straight for an oncoming train once again.


October 10th, 2010 at 8:28 PM ^

....Iowa is *Better* defensively than MSU, so all they need to do is plug their personel into the Sparty game plan and the results will be even better for them.  The Iowa offense is almost as good.  I'm predicting Iowa 45 Michigan 21 Tomorrow (remember, everyone was picking Iowa as a B10 title contender and no one was picking MSU, take away Iowa's one off game and MSU and Iowa are equal).


Wolverine In Iowa

October 10th, 2010 at 9:23 AM ^

Since I live in Iowa, I will be hearing a lot of the smack-talk about how the Hawkeyes are going to kick our ass.  I can only keep my yap shut, because I'm very nervous that U-M will possibly head into the toilet instead of rebounding and improving from the MSU game.

Just like last year, Iowa can exploit the middle of our defense with their tight ends.  I firmly believe that their running game this year is worse than it was last year, and I also think that they can't compare to MSU's running game.  This leaves Stanzi.  If we can get to Stanzi, and I think we can with an effort like yesterday's, we have a chance.

On offense, we are playing against the best defense we've faced.  The secondary make little to no mistakes, and they make big plays, while the linebackers once again are very good.  The Hawkeye d-line is probably a tad better than ours is, but not much.  Of course, Clayborn is awesome.

In sum, if we play mistake-free offense, control the ball, and get to Stanzi, we can win this huge game.  Wish me luck as I toil here in Hawkeye country this week.


October 10th, 2010 at 11:13 AM ^

How an Offensive Line line that was whipped by MSU, is going to beat a much more talented Iowa front 7?  The best position group on the team was out hit, and out played. So now in one week, everything is going to get fixed? Out of all the things that happened yesterday, that was the most disturbing. The excuse that, "well they are young"... that's starting to get old.


October 10th, 2010 at 8:18 PM ^

What team are you talking about?  It must not be Michigan, because our OL played pretty well yesterday.  We averaged just under five yards per rush, and that was without the benefit of any really long runs.  What were you expecting?


October 10th, 2010 at 8:40 PM ^

Yeah, they got pressure here and there, but given that we were in pass-first mode basically the whole second half, I didn't think their pressure was that great.  I think the UFR will show that Denard mostly had time to make his throws.  I don't think the MSU DL had that great of a day.  The back seven made them look better than they were.


October 10th, 2010 at 8:24 PM ^

This game is hard to predict.  On paper, they're not a great matchup, but our OL played probably its best game of the season against them last year.  We used a lot of I-formations in that game.  Would we try to bring it out again this time? 

One thing I really want to see is us commit to more RB carries.  We only had 13 against MSU and nine against IU.  I think we're getting a little too zone read-heavy in the ground game.  I really liked the play we used against BGSU where the playside guard pulled.  Shaw and especially Smith might benefit from a few more outside run plays.


October 12th, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

This is the TD drive led by Denard last year against Iowa.



Few points I see in this.

* Denard was able to run against Iowa even with little threat of the pass.

*Denard looked tired toward the end of the drive. He is in much better shape this year.

*The offense was slow in getting to the line and snapping it last year.

*The O Line looks a lot better this year. Many of the gains Denard got in this were the result of his speed.

Wolverine In Iowa

October 12th, 2010 at 6:33 PM ^

Thanks for that video.  I was at the game last year, and it was COLD.  It's funny because now, a year later, it's been in the 80's consistently for the past week here in Iowa.

The difference between U-M offense this year versus last year is obvious:  we are much, much faster, not only on the field but in terms of tempo.  I believe that this speed will be an advantage for us, and I believe that we will beat the Hawkeyes in Ann Arbor.

PS -- still haven't gotten my ass kicked because of my Blue gear during my business appointments throughout the state of Iowa.  Probably will happen tonight in Cedar Falls.

Wolverine In Iowa

October 13th, 2010 at 8:01 PM ^

One of my brothers-in-law just said he'd give me 10 points for the spread!  He's insane, and I hope to make him eat his words Saturday.  He's a rabid Hawkeye fan, and he is one of the biggest smack-talkers I know.


October 13th, 2010 at 8:31 PM ^

I think UM matches up better vs. Iowa than vs. MSU.

Sure, Iowa's defense is better than MSU's, but UM's offense can score if it takes care of the ball. You guys left anywhere between 6 and 14 points off the board.

The reason I think UM has a better chance against Iowa than against MSU, however, is that Iowa doesn't have the firepower MSU has. MSU has more talent at the skill positions than Iowa, and several of MSU's offensive players (Baker and Martin come to mind) are more explosive than anyone on Iowa's offense. Some of those big plays by MSU really took the wind out of UM.

If Michigan's offense can take care of the ball, it should be a close one... Iowa isn't a team that's just going to go off on you.