Michigan Monday is up at the Ozone.

Submitted by StephenRKass on October 16th, 2012 at 7:42 AM

Michigan Monday is up at The OZone. LINK:  http://theozone.net/football/2012/Purdue/michiganmonday.html

I was able to watch the whole game in Chicago, but apparently they cut away in Columbus. I was really hoping that Gerdeman would have some comments and analysis on what this portends for Michigan - Ohio. Alas, with the Ohio debacle against Indiana, he was in no mood. A few quotes and synopsis:

Michigan's 45-0 win over Illinois on Saturday carried a couple of statements with it. The first is that the Illini (2-5, 0-3) are completely terrible right now. They have no direction and no plan.

The other statement is that this Michigan team does not suffer fools even a little.

In other words, the teams left on Michigan's schedule need to play some of their best football of the year in order to win. I think the days of the Wolverine offense giving games away is over for the year, and the defense is really beginning to play as a single entity right now.

A long section on Toussaint, which I will cut down:

Once again, however, Fitzgerald Toussaint struggled. Other than a pair of twelve-yard runs, the rest of his 16 carries went for just 38 yards (2.4 ypc). 

Toussaint's numbers become more concerning with the numbers put up by backups Thomas Rawls (9-90) and Justice Hayes (10-66). 

Too many times a Toussaint carry feels like a wasted down.

I don't know how much longer they can continue to give him carries in order to work out of whatever funk he is in. Maybe this is just who he is now.

The fact that he can't capitalize on the threat that Robinson provides on his reads – which were fantastic this week – is damning.

Comments on the passing game:

An interesting thing happened after Robinson threw eight interceptions in his first four games – Borges stopped calling so many passing plays.

Will Michigan play in any games this season where Robinson needs to throw the ball 25 times again? Even with just eleven passes thrown on Saturday, there were a couple that shouldn't have been thrown.

Props to Jake Ryan:

There is nothing that he is asked to do that he doesn't excel at. If he is in a position to make a play, he makes it.  He's a guy with great range who is quick enough to play in the slot, and yet had a fourth-down stop playing defensive end.

When Buckeye fans lament the loss of in-state linebackers Trey DePriest and Jordan Hicks to Alabama and Texas, they need to put Jake Ryan at the top of the list because the Buckeyes actually have to face him on the field.

And lastly, he has awesome hair.

Ridiculous Ohio Hubris, indirectly damning Ohio defensive coaching:

Looking at the depth charts of the Ohio State and Michigan defenses, I think there are only three Wolverines that would be starters on Ohio State's defense – Ryan, Demens and Jordan Kovacs. That's it.

Yet somehow Ohio State's defense is giving up a touchdown more per game, and nearly 120 yards more per game as well. Michigan's defense is just so completely fundamentally sound that they are able to neutralize their weaknesses in ways that most teams cannot.

A few bullets:

  • Michigan is getting ready to dominate MSU Saturday.
  • Nebraska and NW are the only remaining challenges.
  • Funchess' grab should have counted for two passes.
  • Gallon needs to get more touches, as has been noted all season.
  • OL had its way with an IL DL having some talent.
  • Washington was very active.
  • Ryan is the only significant pass rusher.
  • Demens & Morgan are doing well and holding off the freshmen.
  • Mattison wrings every ounce of ability out of his players and schemes the rest.
  • Not sure anyone can run on Michigan between the tackles.

A good read, as always, although as I said, I would like more thoughts from Gerdeman on implications for Michigan - Ohio.


Brown Bear

October 16th, 2012 at 10:15 AM ^

A few thoughts on that. There is not another o-line that is close to the level of Bama's, that was our new d-line playing their first game against that line and lastly no other team has a stable of backs as good as Bama. Our front is really starting to gel and is turning into quite the force.

the unsilent m…

October 16th, 2012 at 10:22 AM ^

As Hoke pointed out, Illinois was good for 4-5 yards a carry up the middle, especially in the first half.  Second half it stopped, but I'm not sure if it was an adjustment as the game went on or Illini was forced to play catch-up.  Nevertheless, if there is a soft spot on the D, it may be right up the middle.

That said, Hoke et al. have the entire team on an upwards trajectory, so by the time The Game rolls around, they'll all be ready. 


October 16th, 2012 at 8:10 AM ^

He does have some decent insight in some areas, then he says something stupid like

Once again, however, Fitzgerald Toussaint struggled. Other than a pair of twelve-yard runs, the rest of his 16 carries went for just 38 yards (2.4 ypc). 

I'll bet if we took away his two shortest runs, his ypc would look really good.  And what would happen to the numbers for Rawls and Hayes when their two longest runs are subtracted?

As for the Ohio defensive personnel being so far superior to Michigan's, well that's just pure homerism.


October 16th, 2012 at 10:32 AM ^

But he says "Rawls 9-90 needs to see more carries" (paraphrase), while not netting out his long run.  If you take away the 63-yarder, Rawls was 8-27 on the day.  A pedestrian 3.3 YPC

The correct way to view this is to leave all the runs in.  Why take away Fitz's best two runs, and leave Rawls' best run?  Why take away any?  The YPC they got is the YPC they earned, inclusive of their big plays.  You should really only net out downs where the QB takes a knee, or perhaps carries against second stringers, or QB sacks if you just want to look at RB production. 

Taking away outliers is (good and bad) is getting out of hand.  They are a part of football.  And where the author here takes away from one and leaves in for the other, it's particularly egregious.


October 16th, 2012 at 8:47 AM ^

You raise an interesting question really...

Among Toussaint's 18 carries are three for no gain and one for a loss of 4 yards, so if these attempts came out of his net total, it would actually become 14 carries for 66 yards, which is good for an average of 4.7 yards per carry. Rawls had one rush for 63 yards for a TD, so if that is removed, he has 8 carries for 27 yards, or 3.4 yards per carry. For Hayes, his longest rush was 24 yards, so subtracting that turns his total into 9 carries for 42 yards, or 4.7 yards per carry.


October 16th, 2012 at 10:27 AM ^

I would also add that about 4 of Fitz's carries were in goalline situations where there was probably a total of 6 yards available on those carries. Even if he gets TDs on all of those carries, he still has an average of 1.5 YPC. Furthermore, I'd add that our goalline plays are a bit predictable. We get in the Big or Jumbo formation and we try to run it right at the defense. A lot of the times, that's on the blocking to help Fitz get a hole or the push to get into the end zone and get the yards. The predictability part is that we really haven't seen any wrinkle on that. We haven't seen a bootleg off of it or anything. In this particular game, the first time was when Bellomy was in the game, so it was even easier for Illinois to zone in on the running game. I'd add that I think Rawls is our best runner in short yardage situations, so I would say that I'd like to see more of Rawls in short yardage. I think there was a lot of improvement in the running game overall as far as some adjustments (Denard selling his fake on the ZR/IV, for one).


October 16th, 2012 at 10:37 AM ^

I generally go through this math too, but I always keep that asterisk next to the numbers in my head. By removing 4 of the 18 carries, you are removing >20% of his carries. Generally, if you do something like that, you remove the same number from the top and the bottom. So, take away two 12-yard carries, a 4-yard loss, and a 0-yard run and you still have a pretty bad average.


October 16th, 2012 at 8:23 AM ^

Talk about Ohio defensive Hubris...when you're LBs are bad enough you're FB is your nominal stater at Mike and the leading tackler, I think you could use some more of UM's players.  Demens for one, and probably Roh.  Hell, probably Washington as well.  Imagine the line of Roh, Hankins, Washington, and Simon...

Also, can we take a moment to reflect on the fact that an Ohio fan wants our student body walk-on safety for the OSU defense?  Granted, it's not a vintage Ohio defense, but still...just add it to the pile of amazing Kovacs has accomplished in his career.


October 16th, 2012 at 8:50 AM ^

Demens was in list of three he listed as Ohio starters. However, I agree that Roh is doing very well, as is Washington, and that both could probably start.

While he might not start over their current CB's, Raymon Taylor is really catching on fast and is at least at the same level with their backfield. I'm thankful for Floyd, but with Taylor and Countess back next year, along with Richardson and the incoming class, our cornerbacks are only getting better. Watching what Mattison is doing with the DL, the LB, and the secondary, there will soon be no areas other teams can easily exploit. How soon people forget that the 97 team was built around a killer defense. Those days are returning, and how.


October 16th, 2012 at 8:54 AM ^

Yeah I brain-farted when I was typing it (and was in the process of editing when you commented).  I actually was thinking of Morgan until Sabino comes back from injury.  Their front 7 production has not been good in my opinion.  Although the pass D numbers are worse, I think a lot has to do with the defensive front.  I'm hesitant to put any more of our secondary up there just because I don't think they've been tested enough yet (although the lack of opportunites to see them make plays may be a sign of good things i.e. no one is open to even try and throw the ball to a receiver).  But I could see Gordon in there as well.  Ohio is having trouble giving up big plays, and another good safety would help with that.


October 16th, 2012 at 8:23 AM ^

Thank you for posting these.  Very good read and I agree with basically everything he said.  With the excetion of only 3 UM players starting on the OSU defense, that is.  I think there are at least 5 UM players that would start on this OSU defense.  For sure the 3 he mentioned in the article, but I also think Thomas Gordon is a better player than Christian Bryant, and I would take one of JT Floyd/Raymon Taylor over Travis Howard.  But then again, maybe that is just the homer in me.  Anyways, thanks again for posting these every week.

Darth Wolverine

October 16th, 2012 at 9:15 AM ^

There are few things that bother me more when Ohio fans say shit like this:

"Only <insert player name(s)> on Michigan would start for the buckeyes."

My GOD that annoys the shit out of me.


October 16th, 2012 at 9:32 AM ^

Yards rushing/2008: UM - 84;  MSU - 167 (MSU season avg/game: 130)

Yards rushing/2009: UM - 28;  MSU - 197 (MSU season avg/game: 137)

Yards rushing/2010: UM - 162;  MSU - 249 (MSU season avg/game: 152)

Yards rushing/2011: UM - 82;  MSU - 213 (MSU season avg/game: 138)


Obviously the defensive numbers for three of these years are not relevant because of the coaching change, but they nonetheless are consistent with the maxim about whoever rushes for more yards will win the UM-MSU game.

What I find more interesting is how mediocre MSU's rushing attack has been overall, and how much they've exceeded their season average when playing Michigan, even last year. I think this last trend is not going to continue.


October 16th, 2012 at 9:40 AM ^

I think Michigan's defense will do fine. They are geeked up to stone MSU.

However, I'm curious your thoughts on MIchigan's offense, and their rushing in particular. Do you think Michigan will be able to run on MSU? I really wonder whether Denard can do it alone. I personally don't think so. If he can't, does Toussaint step up? Returns so far aren't encouraging. If not Fitz, Rawls?

Will Michigan be forced to pass to open up the run? And if they have to pass more, will Denard make good decisions and not force passes into well covered routes?

I think Michigan can blow this game open, but we'll see. A lot is riding on Denard's decision making, and better route running, especially from Gardner. We also need to see the OL opening holes for Michigan to run. It will be interesting to see what Borges has planned in the play-calling.


October 16th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

The 3 Spartan losses this year share something in common - all of the opponents have rushed for more than 100 yards.  The 4 Spartan wins also share something in common.  Those opponents all rushed for less than 100 yards.  Also, we ran the ball effective enough on Notre Dame, who is similar to Sparty, that we should be able to get 150+ yards on the ground.


October 16th, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

I've just taken a quick look at Total yards Rushing  and divided that by the number of carries for Iowa, Indiana, OSU and ND. Not perfect, but I am at work. (against MSU)


Teams against MSU Carries Yards Yards/Carry
Iowa 34 123 3.62
Indiana 14 35 2.50
OSU 33 204 6.18
Notre Dame 15 122 8.13
TOTAL 96 484 5.04

Ohio State is quite telling, given some similarities in such a dynamic/mobile QB.  Braxton Miller finished with 23 carries for 136 yards on the ground.  Last year, Denard had 18 carries for 42 yards.  in 2010, Denard had 21 carries for 86 yards.


October 16th, 2012 at 9:58 AM ^

It's not mediocre so much as it is one dimensional, and of course, that one dimension is LeVeon Bell, who is fantastic. State has rushed for 1,008 yards on the season. Bell has 916 of those yards, meaning he accounts for 90.87% of their rushing offense. This is while he is accounting for 75.47% of their attempts. He's obviously the guy we need to key in on.


October 16th, 2012 at 9:38 AM ^

Not neccessarily defending Toussaint, but part of the reason Rawls/Hayes' numbers are better per carry is because they had more scrub time than Toussaint.  Not all was scrub time-- but a significant amount was, I think. 


October 16th, 2012 at 10:46 AM ^

Yeah, I agree. Most of their stats came when there were 2nd and 3rd string players on the field. Not as impressive when you look at it that way. Still dont know what happend to Fits though.


October 16th, 2012 at 9:53 AM ^

I'm skeptical, if only because MSU has a decent front 7, and we've struggled so far to run the ball with anybody not named Denard except in garbage time. I have to think that MSU will try to do the same thing that Alabama did, which is to contain Denard, prevent him from getting to the edge, and force him to throw in order to move the ball. Of course, MSU's secondary is not Alabama's, so we might have some good success. If we can hit some early passes, it ought to make them less inclined to load the box.

IMHO the huge difference now is that we have a defense that's had a year under Mattison & Hoke, and I don't think that MSU is going to rush for 200+ yds. I could see this game being relatively low-scoring.


October 16th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

But am skeptical of State's ability to do this -

which is to contain Denard, prevent him from getting to the edge,

Golson and Miller were able to roll out against State, and Miller ran for over 100+ yards. But I do strongly agree that we need someone not named Denard to step up. Notre Dame used delayed hand-offs to burn Sparty when they got aggressive.


October 16th, 2012 at 10:30 AM ^

I think we'll have to take a few shots early, I'd particularly like to see them test MSU's defense on that wheel route that Funchess ran against Air Force.

At the same time, the big difference compared to Alabama is not the quality of the defense (I think MSU's defense, while not nearly on Alabama's level, is at least in the conversation for one the top 10 defenses in the country), it's the quality of the opposing offense. The offense was under tremendous pressure against Alabama because it was clear from the second drive that the defense was going to have a tremendously difficult time stopping Alabama.

I don't expect that to be true this week. We should have the ability to be patient in the running game. Punting is not the end of the world. There's a good chance we'll be getting the ball back in four plays. Borges needs to channel his inner Tressel.

the unsilent m…

October 16th, 2012 at 10:55 AM ^

This is the prototypical game in which Denard MUST complete passes early and often because this is a "pass to set up the run" game.  State D has the ability to neutralize the middle of the field, and so Denard's running, and they will focus on doing so.  They will dare him (and Borges) to become a drop-back passer.  If Denard can make them pay a couple of times, their D will back off and the running lanes will open up.  If he can't, we will see the same story from the past 4 years, Notre Dame, and Alabama.  I realize that its obvious that every defense focuses on stopping Denard from running; HOWEVER, some teams have the ability to actually do so.  Those are the teams we struggle with, and those are the teams we must pass on.



October 16th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

I agree with the early part, but not the often. I think occasional throws, particularly on first down are important to establish the threat of the pass. But if we throw too often, our running game seems to get out of sync or becomes an afterthought. The danger of "taking what the defense gives you" is that we're not so good at that thing that they're giving us, and we seem to be good enough at the thing they're trying to take away to at least sustain a few drives doing it.

ND is a prime example. Had we thrown less in the first half, it's likely we would have still had some of the success we had running the ball in the second half without the turnovers that put us behind the 8 ball (their first half points came after a 1 yard drive and a 48 yard drive, that aided by a huge PI penalty, both after INTs).

Alabama was a different creature, because it was highly doubtful the defense was going to stop that offense. That was a game to try stuff with high risk/high reward, because it was about the only chance we had. But if you make the calculation, like most people are, that the matchup of our offense vs. their defense is better than their offense vs. our defense, then that's the time to go to play calling with lower levels of variability. 


the unsilent m…

October 16th, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

I agree; but, when the D is pushing upfield early and taking away the run, the burden necessarily lands on Denard's arm.  That's when I think his nerves/confidence go.  So, while I agree they need to move the ball on the ground early, issues arise when they can't.  Then you have the frustrating three and outs, our D is stuck on the feild, etc.  A couple big gainers early takes a lot of that away.


October 16th, 2012 at 5:17 PM ^

I think if we can move the ball with any consistency, the MSU game won't be close. I'm not particularly worried about MSU moving the ball. In fact, I'd be mildly surprised if they topped 20 points.

I say Brian's preview for this week should be:

Cackle with knowing glee if...

  • Denard finds room on the inverted veer
  • ...and that's it

The first time I see Denard break through the line for a 10 yard gain on the veer, I will breath a huge sigh of relief