SDSU: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Submitted by Eye of the Tiger on September 24th, 2011 at 3:19 PM

The Good:

1. The Run Offense, especially Denard in the first half.  Fitz and Smith both showed some good moves as well.  It wasn't all good though...we stunk in the 3rd quarter and Hopkins, really, shouldn't be considered a serious option at this point.  

2. The Run Defense.  We stuffed a great running attack today, and the D-Line was fantastic...this is a huge improvement over last year.  

3. The Freshmen.  Morgan, Ryan and Countess all impressed me, Countess more than anyone.  These are real players who are going to be major stars for years to come.

The Bad:

1. The Pass Offense.  Tacopants is still the 12th Man.  While blame for that falls largely on Denard--who is consistently overthrowing our receivers--I also have a problem with the playcalling.  If your QB isn't throwing accurately, why not add more high percentage pass plays?  More screens (including bubble screens), hitches, curls, waggles, checkdowns and drags would be good.  Sure, these aren't plays aren't big yard getters, but what we need right now is more completions for positive yardage.  If we rely on our running game to get us out of every mess, we'll end up with the same problems we had last year against Big 10 defenses.  This is what I hoped to get from Borges, and still hope to get.  But I'm starting to lose confidence that it will happen...

2. The Pass Defense.  While still better than last year, we're just not good covering the middle of the field.  About a dozen times, Lindley had guys open, and either threw a bad pass or had his receivers botch an easy catch.  Unnerving.  

The Ugly:

1. Consistency on Offense.  We still can't play 4 consistent quarters on offense.  This is a problem that goes back to 2009, and has not--apparently--been solved by the new coaching staff.  If we don't find a way to move the ball for an entire game, we're going to have problems in conference play.  




September 24th, 2011 at 3:34 PM ^

...killed us in the second quarter. Stalled all momentum and we didn't recover until the 4th. Our D was sharp and you could "hear the football" being played. Denard has a huge mental block throwing, and at times his recievers need to make plays (Im looking at you Koger). Other than that we are 4-0 and I feel good that be are close to putting it all together.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

Maybe. I was wrong about Q2, Smith fumbled with 1:55 left in Q1. Up until that point we had been unstoppable. I thought that fumble slowed us down. We didn't score again until there was 1:15 left in Q2. Not saying Smith lost us the game, but that fumble slowed the train down.


September 24th, 2011 at 3:35 PM ^

Agree passing offense must improve.  I love the option by Denard.  I doubt it will be used often, but we'll get several more big plays from it this year.

Love the DL play (Roh, Martin, Van Bergen plus Ryan rushing the passer).


September 24th, 2011 at 3:35 PM ^

Denard can land the short ones, but he's pretty bad on the longer ones.   Stick with what he's good at for now... Over time extend the pass plays  5-10 yards at a time.   Big Ten play will just stack up on the run and force us to pass.  Keep em short and sweet.

Nosce Te Ipsum

September 24th, 2011 at 3:36 PM ^

If Denard can't get the pass game down then it will be a tough Big Ten schedule. I agree on the higher percentage passes. Lloyd did the bubble screen and we've talked about it on this blog to some length. Get Denard's confidence back with the bubble and then take some shots down field.

Wisconsin Wolverine

September 24th, 2011 at 4:12 PM ^

I've been quietly kicking this idea around in my head over the last week or so ... I always catch myself going "well things will be different in the B1G ... are we ready for the B1G?"  Hm wait ... maybe entering the B1G schedule won't be like jumping up to the highest level of Tetris after all.  Maybe we can continue to improve during that time & actually compete!

los barcos

September 24th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

and as we speak, illinois is losing to wmu at half - this was the same illinois team that many were calling the 3rd best team in the B1G.  we definitly have a giant wart - the passing game - but name one team without a giant deficiency (besides Wisc, who we dont play)?  if our defense plays like they did today we will be in every game...comibne that with denard's legs and you have a dangerous combo. 


but with that all being said...ugh, the passing game. 


September 24th, 2011 at 3:51 PM ^

He missed the TE at least two times within 5 yards of the LOS. And didn't you see Brians hate on the WR bubble screens or the interception on the screen to Smith at Western. Unfortunately, for a QB throwing high, a screen has alot of potential of going horribly wrong. 

I think they should do more of those go straight from the hand off to the throw and take the mental aspect out of it


September 24th, 2011 at 3:38 PM ^

I would like to see more play action, out of the I formation. I would also love to see some roll outs, out of the I. When we are in I formation, we are too predictable. Also, more Toussant please!

Defense looks much better, thank you Greg Mattison...


September 24th, 2011 at 3:38 PM ^

It started out good in the first QTR but after the first half the offense went into hibernation mode. Borges better find some passing plays that DROB can excel at. B1G defenses are going to key on DROB running which may limit his yardage and cuase potential injuries. In future B1G games there are going to be open receivers and DROB going to have to throw to open the running game!

Overall the defense played well.  I was thinking SDSU would score at least 28 on us, so there is hope our D may be improving enough to stop those B1G teams from scoring at will like in previous seasons. May enough improvement for the team to finish above .500 in B1G play. It would be great to finish at 9-3!


September 24th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^

253 yards on 48 attempts with nothing beaten deep against a draftable QB.  That doesn't seem bad to me.  LSU's corners aren't walking through that door.


September 24th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

Agreed with what others said.  I saw one bubble screen today and a nice screen to Vincent.  Both were successful plays.  Even if they get 5 yards, it's enough to make 2nd/3rd downs manageable.  It's these types of plays that make the offense get in rhythm and stay consistent.

To me, it seems Borgess only goes hot/cold with Denard's running vs. deep balls.  We need more in the middle until the offense gets in rhythm.

I do think Denard had at least 3 passes where his WRs should have caught the ball (2 by koger), and the tipped INT wasn't his fault either.  His numbers would have looked much better with better help on those 4-5 passes (and i believe 2-3 of those would have resulted in first downs).

I have no problem taking shots down field, but only after you know the offense is capable of popping 4-5 yards in the event the big play doesn't work. 


September 24th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

Has it occurred to anyone that defenses *know* Denard is reliable only at short range? Is it *maybe* possible that they're overplaying up front (to make shorter passes less available)?


September 24th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

Alright I'm going to say it. Someone needs to teach Denard Robinson how to throw a football or we are doomed. Once we hit the meat of our schedule, we will either lose the game or get him injured by running him too much. This is 2010 all over again as far as offense goes. 

Defense? Looked awesome. I think part of that is improvement on our part and part of that is reminding the nation that SDSU plays in the Mountain West Conference...


September 24th, 2011 at 3:50 PM ^

...downfield passing is Denard's glaring weakness. He's pretty good on the short routes and quick slants. I realize you have to try and keep the defense honest, but from a passing perspective we should play to Denard's strengths. I keep wanting to see that fake run up to the line then hitting Roundtree over the middle for the quick strike. We saw Dileo do that once today, but I think you can call that more than once a game.

Humble observations from an armchair quarterback. : )


September 24th, 2011 at 3:54 PM ^

He's not missing high difficulty passes. He's missing pretty much all passes. He looked awful today. I know there will be those that sugarcoat it on this board. But he had no business playing quarterback today as far as throwing the ball goes. Worst I remember seeing him play (throwing).


September 24th, 2011 at 3:52 PM ^


Run-pass balance is a fundamental tenet of effective offensive football.  Michigan's running game is suffering because Michigan has no passing game.  Of course, the passing game suffers too when the running game is in the gutter.  Catch-22?  Methinks not.  The way out lies in the arm of a man named Devin Gardner.

Denard may be the best, most dynamic player Michigan's had in a generation, and I want him to succeed more than I've ever wanted another player to succeed, but the fact is Denard's not a quarterback.  I've deluded myself for over a year thinking he could be a Pat White-on-speed type player, but this will never be true.  Denard's apparent ability to throw the ball was a sham; indeed, his inability was disguised in a system that asked him to throw a bunch of short outs to players on the line of scrimmage or to hit a stationary receiver five to ten yards downfield.  These are all throws a quarterback needs to make, but they're only part of a quarterback's arsenal.  College quarterbacks need to be able to consistently hit receivers in stride--something Denard's never been able to do; they also need to be consistently accurate at long range--something Denard's also never been able to do.

If Denard's been consistent, he's been consistent at over-throwing receivers, under-throwing receivers, and putting too much juice on his short passes.  This will not yield success in Big Ten play, and the sooner the coaches realize and act on this understanding, the better the football team will be.

Mr Miggle

September 24th, 2011 at 3:54 PM ^

Compared to what? The previous games, your expectations, the 1997 team? That was the best pass defense I can remember seeing from UM in years. There may have been some open receivers, but Lindley wasn't given much time by the the rush or so many easy throws by the coverage.


September 24th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

when you say the pass defense was bad.  There wasn't a receiver all game that was extremely wide open.  Many catches made by SDSU were contested, tough catches.  DBs made deflections and good tackles. THEY HELD AN ABOVE AVERAGE OFFENSE TO 7 POINTS.

All of the other points are on. I don't see any progress yet in the throws that Denard has to make in this offense, and he didn't have to pass much today.

Give the defense major props today....for the first time in 4 years we are actually seeing them make substantial and visible progress on a game-to-game basis.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:05 PM ^

Good: Defense, particularly the passing defense. For the first time in long time I thought the front four got good pressure. The secondary played real well against the best QB M sees this season. Lindley will be on an NFL roster next season. Thought the Special Teams played a lot better today. Wile reached the end zone on kickoffs and had some nice punts.
<br>Bad: Denard's passing. He was throwing more on a line this week but overthrowing the receivers.
<br>Ugly: The 3rd quarter. 3 turn overs and a missed FG. This team can't rely on the defense to bail them out the way it did today in conference play. Ball security. I am sure Brady will be coaching them up on tuckibg the ball away when the hit is coming. As for Gibbons, atleast the kick was close.

Hard Gay

September 24th, 2011 at 4:09 PM ^

How he still gets carries is a complete mystery to me.  He's not very fast or agile, and for a really big back he gets very little yards after contact.  Can anyone remember a time he's trucked anyone?  Vincent Smith gets way more yards after contact than Hopkins.  Oh yeah, and there is that whole fumbling issue.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:12 PM ^

I think the overthrows are more of a confidence issue for Denard and he should improve as the season progresses...still seems to be rushing without being fully set.

This is a game where it would have been nice to have Forcier spell him for a few series and mix up the passing game a little...could have been the difference between 28-7 and 42-7.

Overall I loved it, especially the D.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:18 PM ^

Outside of the 31 points we gave up to Notre Dame, we have held our opponents thus far to a whopping 20 total points. I think that's the biggest plus I take away from the season as it stands presently.


EDIT: Also, we are ranked and OSU is not. That is something we never would have conceived possible 8 months ago.


September 24th, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

The world is returning to its natural order.

What I liked about the D today?  They had one honestly horrible drive in the second half (that's not what I liked, wait for it) and then they came back and just stuffed SDSU for the rest of the game.  Now the horrible drives are the exception instead of the rule.

As they should be.


September 24th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

The holes out of the I-Form are seldom there for the RB's and I think they did well today given that. But I have a major worry for what happens when we face a really good defensive front.