Questions for the MGoExperts

Submitted by 3rdGenerationBlue on September 27th, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Couple questions for those in the know and those that provide well reasoned speculation:

  1. What is left in the offensive playbook that we are likely to see in the Big Ten season
  2. What area of the offense is most likely to improve?
  3. Can we expect any of the young defenders to make a significant impact in the Big Ten season? (Avery?, M. Robinson?)



September 27th, 2010 at 11:53 AM ^

1.  No idea but I keep waiting for more misdirection or end arounds with the slot receivers


2.  Most likely to improve?  It's humming along pretty good right now, it's hard to imagine where it can get better.  I'll go with less penalties.


3.  If this team has any hope of competing fully in the BIg Ten one of those two is going to have to make an impact.

El Jeffe

September 27th, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

Agreed with #1. I keep waiting for some sort of jet sweep look or slot triple option. I'm hoping RR is keeping that in the bag until at least MSU. I want to see Dantonio's heart explode (metaphorically, people!!!) when he sees Denard pull the handoff to Shaw, run right, and have either Gallon or Grady trailing the play as pitch targets. Hee hee!!!


September 27th, 2010 at 12:02 PM ^

I think this team is ready to compete fully in the Big Ten right now with who we already know can play. This defense will add Brandon Herron and Carvin Johnson to the mix in the next couple of weeks and hopefully that will give them a little more variety in personnel packages. Wisconsin and Ohio State scare me and the D will have to play up in those games, but everybody else is definitely beatable with the guys we have now.

Tha Quiet Storm

September 27th, 2010 at 11:56 AM ^

but I'm curious as to what part of the offense you think needs improvement.  I suppose the RB's could be a little more consistent, but that is really nitpicking.  It's like telling Salma Hayek to lose 5 lbs.


September 27th, 2010 at 12:21 PM ^

Agreed that the offense has been performing very well yet I wonder if someone who really digs into the schemes could provide commentary about potential improvements in blocking, running backs recognizing cut back opportunities, development of more vertical passing. The thing that really prompted the question was the coach's comment that all three QBs have not hit their ceiling in terms of development and I imagine this holds true for the other positions as well.


September 27th, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

1. I think you will see some more passing routes unveiled, as well as the "Speed Option" as NCAA likes to call it, and possibly some triple option.

2. I would think that Big10 defenses will work to keep Denard from running as much and you will see the RBs get a lot more carries for a lot more yards.

3. I would expect somethings to get shaken up on defense. Players getting moved around, new blitzes and coverage patterns, etc. It's kind of hard to tell who will be a stud until we see what happens with the defense. I do think that both the young guys at Spur have looked good so far.


September 27th, 2010 at 12:05 PM ^

is probably not a good idea because it puts Denard at a big risk of getting a big hit.  Beside, QB Iso is Denard's bread and butter play because Denard can go to the hole hard and make a cut based on the blocking.  It gives the offense an extra blocker(RB) to help offset the numbers from the front 7.  I like QB Iso because Denard usually get a big run out of this play.


September 27th, 2010 at 12:12 PM ^

They showed the pitch last year, which is basically the speed option without the option. I'm sure they'll run it at some point because it gets the RB alone on the outside or it gives Denard room to run. The benefit of having an extra blocker is that there is one less guy that theoretically has a chance to tackle the ball carrier. If you run the option, it always takes one guy out of the equation. If they start to read and bite hard on it, bring a receiver across the field with you as a passing option behind the defenders.

NOLA Wolverine

September 27th, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

1.) No one really knows for sure, because this offense is fundamentally different than anything he's run in the past. It has more similarity to Florida under Urban Meyer than it does to West Virignia under Rich Rodriguez with the running game. He's going to keep thinking of ways to feed Denard the ball, and then how to counter off of those plays (See: Roundtree uncovered for the first TD against Notre Dame). He might start using more run packages for the runningbacks now that Shaw appears to be able to actually gain yardage (remains to be seen against good teams). But it will probably just be counter and trap plays for them, because he doesn't trust their speed enough to run what he did at WVU with Slaton. The passing game will continue to just be an obligation for Rich to call, he usually only has about 10 passing packages. 'Speed/Quick/Veer/Whatever option' would be a good way to get the backs involved, because I'm pretty sure they'd crash on Denard every time. Although that would mean more hits for him.


September 27th, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

1.  A whole lot.  I think we've been pretty bland in the running game so far.  The staff has been good about introducing new wrinkles there as the season goes on, even if they don't look like much to casual observers (think, Minor RAGE in the middle of 2008).  With a QB that looks like he can run, throw, and make run-game reads consistently, the sky is the limit as far as what we could see from this offense in terms of variety.

2.  Scary as it sounds, the offensive line and quarterback play are only going to get better as young players like Robinson, Lewan, and Omameh gain experience.

3.  I think Avery will play a lot in nickle type situations and hopefully he and Christian can begin to push the starters.  Cam Gordon is really the key guy in my view though.  If he can limit mistakes and big plays, the defense has a chance to keep things in front of them and force mistakes/turnovers.  If we give up big plays, we'll have to outscore a couple of folks.


September 27th, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

1. I don't think we've been that fancy. Pretty basic.  And everyone works on some exotic. Truth be told, the offense doesn't really have to be that tricky. It's reading the defenses, and doing the right thing.  That will only get better. And with a sophomore QB, he'll be able to throw in tons of new plays the next two years, so they variety of nuance will be big time, and situational.  Which leads to...

2. As good as it has been, there's a lot of room for growth. Staying healthy, the line will only get better as they work together. Denard will get more comfortable, and make more reads right, in the air and on the ground. I think our receivers can catch a few more dropped balls, and get some outside blocking to solidify so they can break more of those screens.  And RB has a lot of room for growth. And it's been far from bad to begin with.

3. I see a lot of the young DBs like Christian being worked in more slowly. None are Woodson/Law types, but as they get experience, and can be trusted in there, they'll get more time. By the end of the season, Rogers might be replaced. Or pushed to be better. I think the D-line is getting better game by game, and the talent is already there. Demens being in there last week impressed me. Hopefully he'll continue to grow. More turnovers would be nice. Can cut long drives or quick scores by offsetting possessions with a few created turnovers.


September 27th, 2010 at 12:45 PM ^

I've been encouraged by our ability to force turnovers so far this year.  With 8 through 4 games, we're way ahead of last year's pace (only forced 16 all year).  If the D can continue to force about two turnovers per game and the offense can protect the football like it has so far, that dramatically improves our margin of error compared to the last two seasons. 

Now if only we can teach the DB's not to fumble the ball right back when they snag an interception.


September 27th, 2010 at 1:04 PM ^

I didn't mean we were doing a crappy job creating turnovers (though I see how it could be read that way). I meant keep pace/maybe even increase, because that has truly been a strength of this defense. And if you give up yards and points, but stop other teams points after they gain yards, or turn up extra possession for the offense to score, it certainly helps offset any other weaknesses. We were horrible in TO the last two years, and have been pretty good this year. If we can move that up to great, we can maybe go on defense from pretty bad, to adequate.  Which would be a major step forward, and with the offense, allow us to be a pretty good team.

Mercury Hayes

September 27th, 2010 at 2:41 PM ^

Speaking of turnovers, did anyone notice the way Tate was carrying the football Saturday? Most notably on his scramble turned into a 10-15 yard pass?

Look Tate, I like you. I want you to stay here and succceed even if it is Darko Milicic garbage time. But you CANNOT be carrying the football around like it's a god damn loaf of bread. On Saturday we saw the same thing he did against Ohio State -- running around with the football in the hand of a dangling arm.

Meanwhile, what did RR say in his presser about Denard Robinson? He holds the football high and tight. I think this is one of the major reasons we have had fewer turnovers this year. Holding the ball better - party because of Robinson. Also, two of our turnovers came off of interceptions. And a third came in garbage reps for a freshman ball carrier. We could easily be looking at a better turnover margin. (but maybe that's a fan bias. I guess we also could have lost that fumble against ND.)


September 27th, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

1. I can't see a whole lot else, I can see Michigan usuing their screen game to go deep more.

2. Improve is a bit hard when Michigan is #1 in total yards. I would say Denard running out of bounds to avoid clean hits.

3. As poor as the defense is playing, I am more concerned about the special teams. Defense can't really do much more, numbers are too low and youth is being served like crazy.


September 27th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

One thing I'm surprised we haven't seen is the bubble screen off of the zone read.  I'm not sure they'll run it, because they seem to be countering the various scrape exchange schemes with frightening efficiency.  But keep it in the back of your mind. 


September 27th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

1) a rare quadruple reverse. DROB to Shaw to Grady to Roundtree back to DROB for a TD. Seriously though I have to say a little more to the TEs.

2) Penalties and RB blocking for DROBs QB draws

3) Hopefully we get Herron and Carvin back soon. Demens might get an extended look

Zone Left

September 27th, 2010 at 12:46 PM ^

1.  I think the general concept and play distribution is where the staff wants it, but you'll see some subtle changes based on team strengths.  I'm really interested to see what happens when a decent team loads up to stop Denard from running.

2.  70%+ completion percentage with one interception and the number 2 rushing offense?  I think you'll see a regression in the overall rankings as the competition gets tougher.  The offense can move the ball really well and has a ton of big play capability, but it has to make a lot of long touchdown drives.  Real improvement would likely come from defensive improvements that result in a shorter field for the offense to work with.

3.  The freshman DBs will definitely get more time as the season progresses.

Wolverine In Exile

September 27th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

1) More play action passes to the RB's... LB's and S's are going to have to start getting in the box to load up on DRob, so that means that wheel & flat routes for our RB's are going to start opening up unless the S's cheating go man or short zones on the RB's / TE's which means Stonum/Hemingway/Roundtree open deeeeeeep or one on one.

2) Most improved will be middle of field passing game. Right now we're running a lot fo fake sweeps / bootlegs to make DRob's reads easy. As a result we're throwing a lot of out routes, go routes, or hooks, all to the sideline. As he gets more experienced, another option receiver will be added (TE or RB coming on the crossing routes / middle hooks), so that as the S's or LB's start trolling toward the sideline looking for a DRob run or pass to the outside- ZIP- goes the ball to a middle cutting receiver a la Tony Moeaki against us last year. I'm waiting for the MSU game to see Greg Jones get sucked into following DRob on a sweep and seeing Koger or Odoms zip behind him for a huge gain.

3) Continued maturation of JT Floyd and Carvin Johnson (once he gets healthy) into competent B10 defenders.


September 27th, 2010 at 1:36 PM ^

1.  Probably more use of the TEs, plus I expect a couple of wrinkles like multiple RBs in the backfield, end-arounds, multiple QBs on the field, etc.  The bread-and-butter will remain, but I do expect some new formations.

2.  I think the passing will regress a bit and there will be fewer 80+ yard TD drives, but outside of Iowa and OSU I do not see a defense on the schedule that can really slow it down.  Everyone staying healthy, of course, will be key.  I do think with the offensive line becoming more solidifed, you will see an uptick in runs being sprung beyond the first level as the OL gets to the linebackers more.

3.  Avery and Robinson will be key, but Cullen Christian will need to make the necessary step forward for UM to really defend against the pass.  I also think Big Will is going to need to show some sign of improvement otherwise the NTs are going to be ground down by some of the bigger teams on the schedule.