Michigan in the pistol

Submitted by BJ0017 on September 28th, 2010 at 2:02 PM

After watching Nevada against Cal a few weeks ago and then UCLA torching the longhorns this past weekend, i think the pistol could be a good alternative to our usual 3 and 4 wide shotgun sets. We have had trouble at times running the ball with our running backs consistently. The pistol provides the downhill running of lloyd carr era, but also would allow Denard the space he needs only being 5'11 to see over the line a bit better on passing plays. I think it would be interesting to see our personnel use it as a package from time to time.



September 28th, 2010 at 2:28 PM ^

Second place is just the first loser.  And the only way to move up to #1 is to radically change the offense.  Maybe a Navy-style triple option crossed with some Spurrier Fun and Gun, and just a dash of the Phil Jackson triangle attack.


September 28th, 2010 at 2:07 PM ^

We have had trouble at times running the ball with our running backs consistently.

Have you seen the NCAA rankings wrt Michigan football? How can you possibly make this statement? I think messing with anything this offense has done the first four weeks of the season would be patently stupid (or, Brewster-esque).

Michigan's offense is top-5 in college football. Evidently, not goodt enough for the OP. 

Fuzzy Dunlop

September 28th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

I agree that, given our offense's performance, suggesting a major change like this is profoundly stupid.

I disagree that there is no reason to be concerned about the performance of our RBs.  They looked great the last two games against FCS and MAC competition, but they struggled mightily against BCS teams.  Hopefully the last two games weren't just the product of poor competition and we've fixed some things, and this will show in the coming weeks.  But let's not act like our RBs have set the world afire thus far.


September 28th, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

He's not concerned about the running GAME.

He's concerned about the running BACKS.

The running BACKS have been subpar this year against UConn and Notre Dame.  They've only been good (and that's a relative term) against perhaps the worst two teams on this year's schedule, UMass and BGSU.

Being concerned about the running BACKS is a legitimate concern.


September 28th, 2010 at 3:15 PM ^

Or its just being a overzealous worry wort. Look, these kids have talent, but are also seeing their first taste of legit first team in action. I've seen these guys play live three times. They will be fine. Whats the point of being a nattering naboob of negativism? We'll be alright with our stable of backs. It's the LAST thing I am worried about with this squad.

Try to enjoy this ride a bit more, my friend


September 28th, 2010 at 3:41 PM ^

Just because we have an awesome QB doesn't mean we should just forget about the running backs. 

Just because someone points to weaknesses on the team does not mean the person is not "enjoying the ride" or is "being negative."    It is worthwhile to discuss flaws that an opponent may try to exploit, or deficiencies we may need to address through recruiting. 

In other words, just because we have Denard doesn't mean we are not allowed to talk about unpleasant facts.


September 28th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

Except it is NOT a flippin' flaw of the team

Smith made plays running, catching and blocking vs UConn. He knows how to score when he gets touches in the red zone.

Shaw has ran harder in four games this year than during his first two season combined. How do we beat ND without his 20 yards or so receiving on that final drive?

These guys are playing their roles, doing it well and we have other options that are slowly getting warmed up. You have to let these guys get their feet wet and used to being the go-to guys before dismissing it as a weak link on a team.

Just because Magnus thinks it is a flaw does not make it so. I wonder if he thinks Denard should still play WR and that he would never become a legit college QB?

So, yeah, I do question if he is enjoying the ride.


September 28th, 2010 at 4:31 PM ^

Look, I am not not trying to critcize our running backs.  My point is that someone should be able to post something other than "every player on our offense is  OMG awesome" without the response being , basically, "pipe down and enjoy the ride."  The see-no-evil, speak-no-evil crowd is getting extremely old.  It's the same thing every week:

"Our free safeties need to get better.  We can't be giving up 95-yard TD passes to opposing tight ends."  Response: "Stop criticizing our freshman, you hater.  We won the game so shut up."

"Our defense has got to improve.  Surrendering 37 points to an FCS team is a bad sign."  Response: "Whatvever.  FCS teams are awesome.  Plus we have Denard so who cares about defense."

"Our running backs are doing okay, but we still don't have a real star at that position."  Response: "The running backs are fine.  It's okay to get 2 yards on first down because Denard will get 20 yards on second down.  Now why don't you and your punk ass take that negative attitude down to Columbus where it belongs."

Fuzzy Dunlop

September 28th, 2010 at 3:45 PM ^

How am I being a nattering nabob of negativism?  I didn't say "our RBs suck!"  I said that they didn't perform well in the first two games (which Brian said as well -- is he an overzealous "worry wort" [sic] too)?  I also said that they looked great in the last two games, and I'm hopeful that this was because we fixed whatever problems existed and not just the result of poor competition, but that we'd find out for sure in the next few weeks.

It's ironic that someone who's written an untold number of diaries and message board posts analyzing this team to death is suggesting that someone who merely mentions an issue should sit back and enjoy the ride.

Fuzzy Dunlop

September 28th, 2010 at 4:00 PM ^

Uh, I am responding to Magnus.

Magnus said "he's [referring to me] not concerned about the running GAME.  He's concerned about the running BACKS."

You responded "or its just being an overzealous worry wort."

My apologies, but you can see why I thought you were referring to me.


September 28th, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^

I totally understand, it's not a big deal.

It's just I have not argued with Magnus for a while, I'm properly caffeinated and ready to go

Bottomline: I like our stable of backs. They're doing fine and everything that's being asked of them right now. The biggest issue I have with them is Fitz taking over Brandon Minor's role as perpetually dinged up tailback becasue I want to see that kid play.


September 28th, 2010 at 9:35 PM ^

By the way, I'm not the leader of the "Our RBs Suck Club."

I'm the leader of the "Vincent Smith Should Not Be a Starting Running Back Club."  There are other guys who are better.

The last time I beat this drum, Brandon Minor was sitting on the sideline and watching Sam McGuffie average 4.0 yards a carry.  McGuffie's currently averaging about 3.3 yards a carry for Rice...so...you know...maybe I should be cut some slack.


September 28th, 2010 at 10:47 PM ^

Yes you are. Or at least you sound like you're running for the position half the time.

It's one thing to question how little they've been used and a better distribution of offensive production and all that stuff, but you constantly rag on the tailbacks quality and talent. You have basically ignored all of Smith's and Shaw's positive play to prove in order to be critical. And that's lame. And the polar opposite of how I enjoy football season, so we're bound to bitch at each other.

Our tailback depth chart is not a weakness. Perhaps how we're using them is. But these kids have game. I've seen it on the field. Sorry you cant see it.


September 29th, 2010 at 10:08 AM ^

Ok, that I could buy.....but our tailbacks themselves are not a weakness on this team.  And that seemed to be yours and others tenor here. Couldnt disagree more if that were the case.

The guy you want to kick to the curb, though, on this depth chart has shown a nose for the end zone and has been a really good blocker. Lot more to Smith's game than meets the eye.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:31 AM ^

The guy I want to kick to the curb (and by "curb" I mean third or fourth on the depth chart) also has only averaged 3.75 yards a carry against FBS opponents in his two-year career.

He did have a nice TD run on Saturday where he broke one tackle, but for the most part, he doesn't make people miss and doesn't break many tackles.  I'm sorry if I want our starting running back to average more than 3.75 yards a carry and be able to create on his own.  I know those are really high expectations...


September 29th, 2010 at 11:44 AM ^

Magnus -

You admit on your blog that you don't watch the games, and that you glean your expert analysis from box scores.

As a result, you do not have the backing of context, play-call, or down and distance, from which to make a reasoned analysis as to Smith's effectiveness.

Neither do I.

But your repeated pining for Michael Cox and Fitzgerald Toussaint is just irrelevant. Smith, despite tearing his ACL 10 months ago, is deemed a superior option by the coaches currently in charge of the #2 rushing offense in the country, who spend hundreds of hours with these kids all year.

Smith gets tough inside yards (perhaps his average is under four because he gets short yardage carries where the D knows what is coming? again, I can't confirm it, but you can't deny it), doesn't fumble, runs through tackles, and gets first downs and touchdowns. You're right - he should sit.

I now await your over-elaborate self-serving response that will change no one's minds here but will placate your soul.


September 29th, 2010 at 12:41 PM ^

When did I admit that?

I said I didn't see the first 1.5 quarters of the UConn game.  And in my analysis of that game, I said, "Here are my thoughts on what I saw..."

Then I said at another time that I can't always watch the games on time (because I have a job), but I watch a torrent or tape later.

I've watched every minute of every game this year, except for the first 1.5 quarters against UConn. 

So your statements are factually incorrect and completely devoid of any meaning whatsoever, since the entire basis of your post has been debunked.


September 29th, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

Vinnie Smith's TD run vs UConn was the best run by a MICH tailback not named Brandon Minor in more than 2 years. The play should have been a no gain, instead it was an 11-yard TD run. He also was a boss all day blocking, at various times nuetralizing Greg Lloyd, one the country's most physical LBers, and other would be UConn tacklers. Not sure Denard scores on his own TD run without Smith blocking. I dont care about his ypc because that only tells a small part of the story.

Like I said you dismiss everything good this kid does to chirp about a ypc average and use your acerbic tone to demand better.

There is more to the game than a box score. I would have expected a football coach to grasp that. Again, I agree others should get carries, but I dont think Smith deserves at all to lose his spot or place in the rotation. He is a very valuable player to this team.

Not to mention: he's not really the starting RB either.


September 29th, 2010 at 1:15 PM ^

Vinnie Smith's TD run vs UConn was the best run by a MICH tailback not named Brandon Minor in more than 2 years.

...except for a couple runs by Michael Cox last season.  And if you like long runs, then guys like Carlos Brown and Michael Shaw have him beat.

I've also seen some of our other running backs block well, and I've seen Smith miss some blocks.  Not that he's a horrible blocker, but I don't think he's the superb blocker many make him out to be.

you dismiss everything good this kid does

Did I or did I not say above that he had a nice TD run on Saturday?  I've said the same on my blog, too.  I give credit where credit is due.  I just think he gets too many carries.

Not to mention: he's not really the starting RB either.

Smith has started at least one game, and he's tied for the lead in number of carries (44) with Michael Shaw.  If he's not a "starter" then he's as close as one can possibly be to having that title.


October 2nd, 2010 at 1:16 AM ^

Absolutely.  A couple years of Barwis with his talent and he'd be tearing it up with this o-line.  The '08 offense was just bad all around.  Anyway McGuffie left for personal reasons and that's fine by me, hope he's doing well at Rice.   Would have loved to see him stay as a Wolverine. 


September 29th, 2010 at 9:43 AM ^

The last time I beat this drum, Brandon Minor was sitting on the sideline and watching Sam McGuffie average 4.0 yards a carry.

To be fair, Magnus, the last time you beat a drum about playing time decisions is when you wanted Denard shifted to WR.

You've been right, you've been wrong.


September 29th, 2010 at 9:52 AM ^

That's not true.  I never said Denard should have been moved to wide receiver.  I said that he had to play QB through at least 2010 because of the lack of quarterback depth.

I did, however, say that he should throw the ball less and the numbers (14-for-31, 2 touchdowns against DSU, 4 interceptions against real teams) backed me up.

Right now Denard is better than I (or anyone else) expected him to be as a quarterback, but his position is right in line with what I wanted/expected.


September 29th, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

Barring injury or some unforeseen discipline issue, Forcier will be Michigan's starting QB in 2010. I'm putting the chances at 1% that Denard is our starting QB this year

I fully believe that Robinson will play some quarterback in 2010, but his 2009 performance followed by running track makes me think that the coaches and Denard have realized that quarterback will probably not be his permanent position.

Denard is not a good quarterback

I guess I'm just saying that maybe you want to wait before you wrap your player evaluations in a shawl of infallibility.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:19 AM ^

Right . . . which, like I said, just about everybody believed.  I was wrong about Denard.  I've stated that before.

But I never said that he should have switched positions by now.  You even verified that with your block quotes above.

That being said, the running back position is a whole different animal.  As I said above, running backs are either good enough to contribute fairly early (freshman or sophomore year) or they simply aren't going to be that good.  Quarterbacks show a natural progression with more experience; I just thought that Denard was beyond help, but just about everyone agrees that going from Denard 2009 (45%, 4 interceptions, etc.) to Denard 2010 (70%, Heisman candidate, 1 interception) is just short of miraculous.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:31 AM ^

Eh. I'm pretty sure you said Denard would never be a successful NCAA QB and that he should play something else after this year. I can't prove it, because wading through your 30,000 posts is rather unwieldy.

I guess I just felt compelled to point out, while you (again) patted yourself on the back about being "right" about Minor, that you've also be wrong.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:37 AM ^

Did I say he wouldn't be a good QB?  Yes.  I was wrong.  Like I said in the above post.

Did I say he should have switched positions?  No.

I have been wrong before.  There's no denying that.  I also wasn't a big fan of Ryan Van Bergen when he came out of high school.  He has outperformed my expectations, although he's been pretty invisible so far this year.

But when it comes to running backs, some things are glaringly obvious that many refuse to acknowledge.


September 29th, 2010 at 11:46 AM ^

So glaringly obvious that Rich Rodriguez, Calvin Magee, and Fred Jackson can't see it.

I know they can be wrong - they have been wrong (Marell Evans and Austin Panter over Mouton and Thompson, Roundtree's lack of PT until late last year). But I'm guessing that the question of "Cox, Smith, or Shaw" is not "glaringly obvious" in the way you feel it is, or three coaches with long histories of competence at high levels would see it.


September 28th, 2010 at 9:29 PM ^

Running back is not a position that requires a great deal of adjustment.  Plenty of running backs are capable of contributing - and being stars - when they're freshmen or sophomores, because the position relies mostly on physical talent, not mental development.  It's the same reason that young running backs in the NFL are able to contribute as rookies or second-year players.

If Smith and Shaw aren't lighting the world on fire right now, they probably never will.  They're serviceable, but they're not stars.

And personally, I'd like Michigan to have an elite back because I don't want Denard running the ball 30 times a game.  And if teams start scheming to take the ball out of Denard's hands, it sure would be nice to have a running back who can consistently gash the defense.

I'm not being a worry wort.  I'm just pointing out a weakness on the team.


September 28th, 2010 at 10:31 PM ^

I dont know where to begin here, so I'll just fous on the players in question.

You're crazy if you think Shaw and Smith--Shaw in particular--are just serviceable and that either has reached a ceiling of sort, which you're clearly implying since they're not tatooed with all conference accolades as underclassmen or whatever your own personal hope/expectation you have set for them. Shaw has been a pleasant surprise this season, especially the added physical tone to his style. I suggest you go watch the first half of the UConn game where he had 60 total yards. Or the game winning drive against Notre Dame. This kid can play.

Some freshmen and sophomore backs emerge as stars. Some. They are the minority. There are more cases where it takes until their upperclassmen years to really have a legit impact on the field. We have five talented options, all of whom I trust at this level, so I would agree with you that I'd like to see more involvement from them. But, you're already thrown two productive players under the bus and deciding they're not worthy of play just so you can play Internet critic bullet point style.....thats why I keep getting on your case regarding the TB critique. Outside of being in agreement on the concept of more touches for the tailbacks in general and more appearance by the other guys, I just cant agree with you that Shaw and Smith cant get it done, espcially Shaw.


September 29th, 2010 at 4:48 AM ^

You're right.  Freshman star running backs are the minority...but that's often because they have upperclassmen blocking their way to the playing field.  It's not necessarily because they improve a great deal from their freshman to their junior/senior years.

And I think you're mislabeling my feelings about Shaw.  I don't have a big problem with Shaw.  My big problem is with the way we're using Smith, in that we're using him too much.  Smith and Shaw have the same number of carries, but Shaw is a big-play threat, he has better receiving stats, he breaks more tackles, and he has better rushing stats.  Shaw should be getting the ball more than Smith, and Cox should be getting a handful of carries, too.


September 29th, 2010 at 10:02 AM ^

Like I said, I wish more guys would get touches, too. I grew up on Bo Ball when like 3-4 tailbacks would get carries a game, i.e. Morris, White, Perryman, Wilcher in the mid-1980s and Hoard, Boles, Bunch, Jefferson in the late 1980s. Not to mention QB carries as well during those times.

While I dont think either tailback has been 'meh' and I still think you're overlooking Smith's good plays, which we can agree to disagree on that aspect, we're on the same page yearning for involement from the others. I've been eager and excited about Fitz for some time and I know how high you are on the Cox kid, as I am too.

I still think your judgements on Shaw after the opener were incorrect. Wrote so in a Diary (with a link to TTB!!). If you've come off of that, then I'm sorry for not noticing and crushing you for something you wrote almost a month ago. Uh, lol?

Thread is getting long winded, but I have to say I have been very impressed with how physical Shaw has run. And I didnt think he had that game in him.