Searching for a silver lining

Submitted by ClearEyesFullHart on September 3rd, 2012 at 8:09 AM

First and foremost, a little birdie told me that Taylor Lewan will be ready for Air Force. 

Also, nodoby has mentioned how valuable this film will be.  Reportedly Saban picked Narduzzi's brain pretty extensively in terms of how they planned to shut down Michigan's offense. 

Is there a better way to prepare for MSU?  Take Alabama, drop the IQ and recruiting profile of everyone involved by 30%, and insert Nick Sheridan(sorry Nick) at quarterback, and you've got MSU.  If Michigan(or any non-Mtn West/MAC team) finds the endzone twice againt MSU, they're going to win that game.  This whipping will pay dividends down the road.

And you've got to figure this takes the "bullseye" off of Michigan's back a bit.  People might underestimate Denard's potency...they certainly are in the media.  Denard is a proven commodity, regardless of how the team performed against a superior opponent.  Michigan might have been the first team to catch a butt-whooping from Alabama, but they certainly wont be the last. 



September 3rd, 2012 at 8:21 AM ^

I wouldn't be making any bold predictions about our game against MSU, or any other game for that matter. If narduzzi did consult Saban, he did a good job. his blue print is a proven success against us. State is bringing the same game plan to Ann Arbor Oct20. Until we prove we can overcome a high pressure defense, I would say State has the upper hand at the point.


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:37 AM ^

How can anyone watch that butt kicking f an opener and say "bring it on" to any team?? I an not saying that our crappy performance means that we are NOT a good team - it could be that bama is just that good - but it certainly gave no indication that we ARE any good. MSU has had our number for a few years running. Until we how the ability to beat a real defense, I will remain scared for this game.

One Inch Woody…

September 3rd, 2012 at 10:28 AM ^

This was the first time in about 3 years that our offense did NOT look flukey. Also this was the first time in 3 years that one of our receivers actually beat one of the best corners in the nation multiple times not with route-running ability, but with speed. This was the first time in 3 years that Denard actually you know, SCRAMBLED when nothing was open instead of unleashing the dragon. Finally, Denard is hitting his intermediate routes with speed and accuracy (I'm not counting the throws where he had to toss it really high or it would have been batted down). If you look at the UFR, you will probably see that Denard was pressured on nearly all of his throws, despite showing pretty good poise in the pocket. 

Our performance was not "crap", we played pretty damn well, but their size and talent just overpowered us. 

Yards and the score can often be deceptive as to our improvement - you have to look at the individual plays and how they develop, especially against what is most likely the best defense we will face this year.


September 3rd, 2012 at 10:36 AM ^

Bama hung 49 up on a better version of the Spartans a couple of years ago.  All this means is that Michigan doesn't have the personnel to take on Alabama, but really, I don't see more than two other teams that do: LSU and USC.  I think Arkansas mignt be able to hang a few points on Bama, but I think they will give up 60 while doing it.

Did you even bother, "michgoblue," to read any of the Bama articles that were put up here last week?  Saban basically won't recruit any cornerback who isn't at least six feet and 180 pounds.  He is in a position where he can dictate who he is and isn't going to recruit, and turn down four stars because they don't fit his prototype.  USC is the only other school in the country in that position.  

I think they cheated to get there, but the bottom line is that Saban is a very good coach who has the benefit of an NFL farm team for his roster.  Bama is going to have to play a terrible game to lose this year, or get serverly outcoached.  

Michigan can still run the table on this season.  I think they will stumble once along the way, but the possibility of a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl are a pretty good "silver lining."  And I think they are fourteen points better than Sparty this year.

Here's another link to the WSJ article on Bama and recruiting.


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:37 AM ^

I think you are undervaluing Maxwell by a wide margin too. He made some nice throws. It was his first career start. The mistakes he made will be corrected by reps and game experience. I wouldn't bet the house on beating MSU quite yet as hard as it is to admit that. Their gameplan obviously works until proven otherwise.


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:43 AM ^

Msu has a good gameplan for us. I highly doubt whether Nick Saban had to "consult" anybody from Msu. The guy knows defense and all he had to do was watch some film. As far as Msu goes, I would imagine we will have a pretty good gameplan ready for them, have to utilize the middle of the field against that defense and remember for some odd reason, fitz had 2 carries last year against Msu, I would guess that will change this year.


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:48 AM ^

From what I saw, Denard didn't take the huge leap forward that was rumored. This means we dont't have to see any of those annoying Heisman hype videos. (yes, sarcasm)


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:29 AM ^

I'm not sure the results against Alabama are the best way to judge Denard's improvement.  Their personnel across the board is superior, in most cases far superior, to any other team we will face this year.  Many of the drives started in poor field position.  Our top WR was starting his first collegiate game at that position.  Touissant did not play.

Robinson was not throwing off his back foot, and wasn't just heaving the ball up for grabs.  He seemed to go through reads and make better decisions than last year.  I do think he showed improvement; it was just hard to see against an Alabama defense that is perhaps the best in college football.


September 3rd, 2012 at 5:30 PM ^

When I was watching, it certainly looked like Denard was throwing off his back foot.  He certainly was not stepping into the throw, even on the long throws.  He did seem to improve a little as the game progressed, but by then the game was over and Alabama didn't seem to be trying as hard as it was earlier in the game.

One Inch Woody…

September 3rd, 2012 at 10:32 AM ^

Denard was doing everything he could to minimize interceptions while getting used to the speed of Alabama.

You know those dump-off passes that Denard threw too high? Or the slants that were batted down? That's because Denard had this 6' 6" guy running at him with his grotesquely long 4 foot long arms stretched in the air. That's like 10 feet that Denard has to throw over, and he's only 6 foot tall. If he makes those balls a little lower, that ball will be tipped, picked off, and ran for the score.

His intermediate passing looked quick and decisive. 

His deep passing (to Gardner, only, really) was really affected by Gardner's routes. Gardner seemed to slow down near the end of the route to locate the ball and you just cannot do that. That and turning around to the wrong shoulder to find the ball.



September 3rd, 2012 at 1:07 PM ^

Cam Newton was 13/20 for 216 yards with 39 yards rushing and was sacked 4 times. Robinson was 11/26 for 200 yards with 27 yards rushing and was sacked 1 time. Both were the only two quarterbacks in the last two years to complete 3 passes for more than 15 yards.

DR is the real deal. Don't think that because he didn't get 350 yards passing and 100 yards rushing against UA he isn't.   


September 3rd, 2012 at 8:48 AM ^

1. We don't play Bama again.
2. We have great (young) players.
3. We have great coaches.
4. Next game is at home.
5. Borges will finally realize we need to run the spread option until Denard graduates.
6. With a couple more games experience, the D line will be better.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:16 AM ^

True but I am not sure Saban's defense is the best indicator of Denard's ability to read a defense.  That 3-4 bama runs is very complex and can confuse even the most experienced QB and cause bad reads.  I am still hopefull that he will some improvement overall this year when faced with a less complex sceme such as Iowa's 4-3 cover 2.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:19 AM ^

A great coach to figure out that the only player in college football history at the quarterback position to throw for 2500 and rush for 1500 in a single season needs to only run the spread option. Borges is clueless and Hoke is responsible because he is in charge. Do you know what the word great means?


September 3rd, 2012 at 10:43 AM ^

the ball. See MSU, Mississippi State, 10' OSU, Vatech, etc. Denard is great versus physically inferior or poorly disciplined teams. Not so much versus athletic, well-disciplined defenses.

UM won't beat such teams until they have a QB who is an above average passer. Denard is not and never will be that.


September 3rd, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

105 yards on 18 carries against  that OSU defense in 2010.  That included sacks as well so the rushing numbers would of been even better without the sacks. The 7 point offensive output wasn't pretty, but that was largely because of three costly turnovers by UM when they were driving, not because Denard wasn't having success on the ground.

Also I remember him tearing up Nebraska and Ohio State's defenses last year on the ground,  and both of those defense had good numbers coming into  those matchups.

Edit: I just looked up the his rushing output against Mississippi State and he had 59 yards on 11 carries. The issue in that game was that the defense put the offense in such hole that they had to go away from the run, it wasn't  a matter of Denard having no success running the football.  So actually in two of those games you listed Denard had close to 6 yards a rush, with sacks included.


September 3rd, 2012 at 11:19 AM ^

I agree.  I wasn't a fan of the Borges hire to begin with and while he started to change my opinion last year, the VT game and now this have made me question him again.  People keep saying that "running Denard wouldn't have made a difference" yet that was our only hope.  Were we playing to not lose badly?  The fact of the matter is, running Vincent Smith numerous times up the middle isn't a good gameplan.  If Denard isn't making the right reads on zone reads then don't run it.  Borges should have planned more.


September 3rd, 2012 at 12:16 PM ^

That people wonder why Al didn't run Denard more puzzles me....makes me wonder if they understand football or if they actually watched the game. First and foremost as discussed a million times, Michigan never at one point controlled the line of scrimmage, how do you think Denard would have done given that? When there are 8 in the box and you cannot control the line, your chances of gaining yards by running qb draws or leads are extremely slim. This reason along with the fact that supposedly Bama's weak point is the secondary. The game plan going in was to beat Bama by passing the ball, this is the formula that every team has tried to do against them the past 3 years. If fricken Cam Newton could not run against Nick Sabans defense, what makes you think Denard could?


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:07 AM ^

Denards #s against Bama were not that bad. Take away the bs pick where roundtree fell down out of bounds / got mauled and his #s are just fine against one of the best Ds in the country. The much bigger problem is that no one else on O did anything and our D got run over by a mack truck. Denard isnot the problem -- he needs some help out there.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:01 AM ^

Him running it pretty well against Ohio. Easier to run when you have an actual threat that you faking it to....not Vince smith or Rawls.....fitz will help him in that category.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:10 AM ^

The silver lining for me is simple: there were a bunch of fresh-faced freshmen who got to see how the gold standard in college football (right now) performs on the national stage in a bowl-like setting.  I'm sure they learned a lot - much, much more than a drubbing of a MAC team would - and this experience should serve them well going forward.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:11 AM ^

We got waxed by the defending national champs and while it was no fun to watch, we learned a lot.  We are simply not physical enough on either line to compete with elite teams, including MSU. Take off your bias goggles, this isn't the 1980's or even the early 2000's, MSU has built an elite program based on power running and stiff D.  They compete with us for elite recruits in-state and beyond.  If they have a serviceable QB (let alone a good one like Cousins) they can compete nationally.  On the other hand, we have the history and tradition on our side and our coaching staff has made quick strides to catch back up and restock post-RR.  Despite going 11-2 last year we are a team in transition with an incredible and athletic QB who cannot throw on the run, who still shows no sign of setting his feet consistently, and an OC who refuses to use said athletic QB as a primary run option out of the shotgun.  Take our medicine, beat up on some cupcakes with that crappy waxy frosting, and flex our muscles in a depleted Big 10.  It's all gonna be good soon.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:23 AM ^

When you said Msu was elite. Currently there are exactly zero teams in the B1G who are elite. Across the country the elite teams are Bama, USC, maybe Oregon, Lsu and I'm probably forgetting someone. Msu is a good program, no question but to call them elite? Not so fast...elite teams play in BCS bowl games consistently. The closest to that in the B1G is Ohio...and not right now. We will be fine this season, the B1G is far from having elite teams. Honestly, I have a feeling Denard will get the last laugh against Msu this year.

Buck Killer

September 3rd, 2012 at 9:41 AM ^

Biased glasses? MSU elite, lmao... And the big ten is a power conference. We have so many rules, and focus on money so much that this conference is going to hell in a hand basket. The good news is that it will shift back to Michigan vs Ohio. Sparty isn't getting crap for recruits and Maxwell is horrible. Boise is a joke and almost won. They are dead with Brady recruiting, and I am a pessimist for sure when it comes to Michigan football. Get your ass back to lawn care 101 class sparty.


September 3rd, 2012 at 11:26 AM ^

against Boise to call them a elite team, on the level of Alabama? Did you happen to see the bowl game they played against Alabama two years ago, where they got plastered 49-7. MSU has had a couple very successful years by their standards, but to claim they are an elite team, on par with the likes of Alabama is laughable. As far as recruiting MSU has been getting crushed the last couple of years by UM, and they are in no way shape or form a team that can recruit nationally.

The fact of the matter is there are no truely elite teams, in the Big Ten, right now.  This team, regardless of how ugly this game was, is fully capable of beating anybody remaining on the schedule, and still accomplishing their goal of the winning the Big Ten.  They will not see a team nearly as good as Alabama the rest of the year. Getting Touissaint back will obviously make a big difference moving forward.

As far as Denard goes I think people are overreacting to one game, and assuming he has made no improvement based on what happened against Bama. He was put in bad spot, plain and simple. No running game to speak of and 3rd and longs all night against an elite defense is not a good spot for any QB. Let's see how he performs with a running game, in more managable 3rd downs, against defenses less talented than Bama, before we make snap judgements about whether his passing has improved

Like most people I was dissapointed with how the  game went. With that said, Michigan needed to play their best against Bama to hang in the game, and they obviously didn't. Given that fact it is not surprising how ugly the game got.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:22 AM ^

I think we have an electric return guy (Norfleet) for kickoffs which is something this program has lacked for a long time.

Borges broke out the bubble screens, which were effective. Hey if they were effective against Bama then they can be effective in conference. 

Gardner didn't have a great game, but I could see the potential of a great wide out there.

We have some highly touted freshmen that will continue to get playing time and really be a help by midseason. 

Hopefully, Borges realizes that running Denard early can be a good thing instead of waiting until we are in a hole.

I watched a lot of the big ten games this past weekend, and I didn't see a team that was dominant.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:26 AM ^

I think the only way we beat MSU is with platoons of Denard and Bellomy. We are gonna have to get a gadget play gimmicky. Fact is, they'll do the same thing to Denard that Alabama did. Our line play will be a little better given that we aren't playing against monsters, probably get some more pressure and be able to run the ball a little better. That game will show us if Al Borges has any stubborness in him and if Mattison can really game plan and take advantage of a young QB.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:36 AM ^

Be fine against Msu. They have a stiff defense, no question, it will be a difficult game. At home and hopefully with fitz and Denard, we will be able to be more successful. Have to work the middle of the field against those blitzing are right, hopefully we have learned from past mistakes against them, think Denard gets last laugh though.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:38 AM ^

I agee, but you did not go far enough.  It is not just line play where Alabama is superior to MSU, it really across the board.  While defense is projected to be MSU's strength this year, how many of their players would start for Alabama? 2-3 tops. Also, don't forget the other side of the ball.  MSU will not be able to move the ball at will like Alabama did, so we should have an opportunity to start with better field position than we did against Alabama.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:34 AM ^

Dennis Norfleet. Devin as WR.

We got our asses kicked, badly. I watched the game again after attending it live. Far was worse live. Seeing Denard handoff either by design or missing the read when he had a clear 4-5 yd gain every time was driving me and everyone else around me nuts by the end of the first half. WR's not stepping up and making catches, DB's falling down, LB's allowing TE's to waltz into the back of the endzone uncovered, LT's making costly penalties to kill any chance of a drive basically everything sucked except Dennis and Devin.


September 3rd, 2012 at 9:57 AM ^

To start, does anyone remember last year's National Championship Game?  LSU pretty much got curb stomped by Alabama and it would have been even worse if LSU somehow didn't hold Alabama to five field goals.  By all accounts, LSU was considered the best or at least second best team in the country last year.  They killed Oregon and West Viriginia, yet took a minor miracle to beat Alabama the first time and then got crushed when they played again.  While, this is a different Alabama team than las year, one can argue they are even better on offense this year and it has yet to be seen what type of drop-off, if any, they will have on defense.  Michigan got beat up by Alabama.  So?  Going by last year, they could have done this to pretty much every other team in the country.  It really is not a great gauge at all of how Michigan will fare the rest of the year by any means.  Actually, it is a horrible gauge which is why I could give a shit what the UFR is going to show.  B/B+ level players can look like D/C- players when you go against a team loaded wiht A/A+ talent and that needs to be realized.  Also, does anyone even remember where Michigan was 2 years ago?  Rome wasn't built over night. 

Saying that, Michigan just played the best team they will all year and they are going to come away from that learning alot.  While teams like Iowa, MSU, and Wisconsin struggled to put away low-level teams that field players much physically smaller than their own, Michigan's inexperienced d-line got to go up against the best offensive line in the country. They got hurt, beat up, and looked awful.  But they will be better for it. 

Also, these type of games are great mental tests as well for the players.  The coaches got to see which kids busted their ass all game even though the outcome was already in hand.  They got to see which kids play with a lot of pride and heart and that will only serve to make them better in the future.  Furthermore, a lot of talented freshman saw the field and got invaluable experience.  Two or three years from now, these kids will have this game in their memory banks and know first hand how one has to play to be considered a champion. 

While no one liked losing how they did, I think we can all say their is a silver lining to this game.  I don't know about you guys, butI can't wait for this Saturday's game against Air Force.  I love this team and am expecting a great performance! GO BLUE!


September 3rd, 2012 at 11:29 AM ^

I agree they are probably not near what they were last year, but to put them on a par with Northern Iowa U. Is a bit of a stretch. MSU struggled but that it not as near as embarrassing as Wisky IME.

No team in the B1G looked great last week - Ohio the last 3 qtrs. and UNL came closest. On Nebraska, Despite the numbers Martinez' delivery still looks funky to me.....


September 3rd, 2012 at 10:01 AM ^

Boys, one game out of the season.  This was a great experience for a young team.  Nearly a dozen Freshman were given the baptism of fire Saturday night. Invaluable experience moving forward, NOTHING will be as daunting as that game.

The true test will be how the coaches and players evaluate and build from here, developing the chemistry they'll need for B1G play.

Keep your eye on the prize.  GO BLUE!


September 3rd, 2012 at 10:03 AM ^

Some of these things were mentioned yesterday in various threads, of course, but we do need to remember them all the same.

- The 69 yards net rushing would be the 6th best performance against Alabama's run  defense if this had been last year. Against a team that allowed less than 1000 rushing yards last year, that  ends up being essentially an average performance against the Crimson Tide by comparison.  

- Denard's passing yards - compared to Crimson Tide  opponents in 2011 - would have been the third best. Only Florida and Arkansas did better in the air. 

- We held them to 3 of 10 on 3rd down conversions. This would be essentially a normal performance even when compared to how other SEC did against Alabama last year. 

- 9 TFL and 3 sacks by our defense against Alabama is almost the best overall showing in those categories when compared to how opponents did  against them last year. 

Statistically, in important respects, we did OK against Alabama, despite the score. It definitely showed us how far we need to travel before we can beat an MNC team, but if we put up what would pass for an average performance against them with our personnel, it makes me feel pretty good overall about this season and the future. 



September 3rd, 2012 at 11:01 AM ^

Although Denard will never be a true pocket passer I think his throws looked alot better than last year. The interception where Roundtree got pushed out of bounds almost needs to not count. If the reciever had been able to continue his route we don't know what the outcome of that pass would have been. Yes he still had some bad throws but I saw alot less throwing off his back foot and heaving it up for prayers. I'm hoping that watching the play calling unfold meant that they knew the Alabama D was focusing on Denard and was trying to catch them off guard with the passing. And if we had been able to complete a few of those throws early it may have worked to open up some sort of running game.

I think Devin will be a very good reciever in a month or so. He still doesn't have tons of game experience not to mention he was playing a new position and still held his own with the best D we will face this year. To expect him to turn into Braylan Edwards in one camp is expecting a little much. Gallon seems to be ready for a big year. Norfleet is fast and will probably return a couple for TDs this year. BWC didn't look awful so there is hope with him finally breaking through. I think this game tells more about how good Alabama is this year than it does how bad we are. We will learn alot more from this game than we would have from playing a MAC school and will pay dividends down the road when we get into the heart of the B1G schedule.


September 3rd, 2012 at 11:17 AM ^

So are we judging our team by success againsty MSU now?  I want to win the B1G and beat Ohio State, this program needs to get back to where beating MSU is an after thought not the primary goal of the season.  That's their role not ours.  MSU is not our measuring stick!


September 3rd, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

The way the divisions work out, yes--UM needs to beat MSU to win the B1G.  To achieve your goal of winning the B1G beating the top divisional oponants is more important than beating Leaders division opponents.  This includes Nebraska, MSU, and Iowa (probably not as tough this year).


September 3rd, 2012 at 11:22 AM ^

Much like Notre Dame, it doesn't matter what our record is.  We always have a bullseye on us.  We have the cool stadium with the sweet helmets and awesome fight song.  That's why kids like playing here.  We're used to being the "Rose Bowl" for 8 or 9 teams on the schedule every year.