UMass Snowflakes

Submitted by 1464 on September 16th, 2012 at 10:04 AM

As suggested last week, I'll post a thread for everyone with a (well formed) opinion to share their thoughts on the game.  Did a 50 point blowout appease anyone?  Covering the spread?  No defensive TDs yielded by the defense?  Or did you still see the holes in our team, even after that whipping?




September 16th, 2012 at 10:09 AM ^

Said it last night, I'll say it again, but the line play still worries me. My only saving grace is that the rest of the Big Ten is anywere from a lot worse than us or right about even with us.

I think the Conference Title should definitely be considered in play, and there's no Big Ten team I'm really afraid of


September 16th, 2012 at 10:20 AM ^

The O-line issues seem to be a cohesion issue which I have hope will be improved soon. A lot of the problem plays, there were guys looking around confused who the block. The D line worries me though, that seems to be a talent issue. We shouldn't be getting blown 3 yards off the ball by U-Mass. Against run heavy teams ahead on the schedule, that could be disaster. On the flip side, I thought the LBs played much better and more decisively which may mitigate poor D line play.


September 16th, 2012 at 1:19 PM ^

Did the LBs play better?  I was at the game and haven't seen it again, but it seemed to me like they weren't involved in a lot of plays.  Given how often UMass ran it up the gut, you'd think our ILBs would have racked up a ton of tackles, but it sure didn't seem that way.  

I think some of the blame being attributed to our DL should really be going to the ILBs.  They need to be decisive and fill gaps when we slant, but often they're not getting off their blocks.


September 16th, 2012 at 10:18 AM ^

Running up the middle has been a disappointment. I wish we ciuld stop the draw. The passing game is better than expected/feared.

As for the rest of the B1G everyone is worse than expected except for Purdue and Northwestern who are better. Maybe Msu and Minnesota are on expectations.

Mr. Rager

September 16th, 2012 at 10:19 AM ^

I will reiterate what I said last week - our offense is sick and our defense is well... not good.  

Some things I did pick up from yesterday:

1) Fitz - stop f*cking around and GO.  I remember he had one run on first down where he hit the hole hard, and all of a sudden was 8 yards into the UMass D.  Why not run like that every time?  Dancing around against good teams won't work, either.  

2) Frank Clark is our best DL.  Or the scheme is setup to make it seem that way.  I can't tell.  Either way, I'm guessing the coaches were willing to overlook his legal issue b/c of his importance to this team and his (previously clean) background.  

3) If the recruiting services were re-ranking the 2012 kids right now, I'd have to imagine Funchess would be in the top 40 overall.  This kid is like OJ Howard on our team right now.  An absolute monster.



September 16th, 2012 at 10:28 AM ^

Our 3rd down defense sucks it will cost us against quality teams....

LBs still aren't good

Offensive line wasn't good

Denard plays great against bad teams

8-4 losses to ND, State ,Ohio


September 16th, 2012 at 11:03 AM ^

I think Michigan and Michigan St are pretty evenly matched this year.  I would even give Michigan the edge with State's offense looking so poor vs Boise and ND.

By the end of the season The Game will be a tossup as well.  I trust these coaches to make this so.


September 16th, 2012 at 10:38 AM ^

It was a heck of a lot more fun, but it tells us exactly the same about Michigan's football team as the Bama game: absolutely nothing. For the exact opposite reason. The first real indication of the quality of this team comes on Saturday. Speculating in the dark is fun though. I expect that the defense will be at least average when the BIG season starts...But again, speculating in the dark.


September 16th, 2012 at 10:47 AM ^

I think we're starting to get a better picture.  I'm not quite as down on the OL at this point.  Pass protection seems good, but they seem to have cohesion issues; the problem isn't getting 'out-physicaled' but rather they seem confused on who's blocking who when teams stunt and send LBs.  Still not good, but I think more correctable.

Fitz just isn't running like himself at the end of the season last year.  He just seems less decisive, and isn't hitting hols, nor juking as hard as I remember.

As far as the defense: pass rush seems good, but man, the inexperience is showing.  There seems to be a lot of breakdowns in contain, and holding the edge is still and issue.  The lack of penetration on run plays is worrisome.  I don't know if this will be solvable, and unfortunately it's still going to be an issue next year I think (I think Wormley getting injured is bigger than we though, as he most likely would be seeing good playing time).  

The biggest thing that worries me is the seeming regession in tackling.  I've seen a lot of missed tackles; one thing that I though was very good last year.  Don't know what to make about that.


September 16th, 2012 at 10:51 AM ^

section 31 needs a major upgrade in talent and leadership.  First they started the wave when a player from AF was injured, then this week was one of the biggest debacles of a wave I've seen.  The order was wrong, it started when we were on offense......I guess at least they have a couple of weeks to get it together with the upcoming road games and bye week....


September 16th, 2012 at 11:03 AM ^

Passing game looks pretty good. Line appears to handle pass blocking much more effectively than run blocking. Gardner and Funchess can get separation and are big targets. Tall receivers are a good thing. Crossing routes underneath all looked good and I would think those plays will work against ND. Bubble screens that worked.

Some running plays were blocked well, but quite a few were not. O line can't seem to make the right adjustments when the opposing D starts shifting and bringing blitz looks.

Fitz will be OK, but he was overly focused on juking guys on a few plays. Just run and use your speed, please.

More Norfleet on offense, please. He justs sees a gap and flies at it. Gets to the edge in a hurry, too. Maybe a coming out party in South Bend?

We couldn't get effective pressure on UMass with 4 guys. Got close a few times, but no cigar. No pressure up the middle at all. Fingers crossed they can improve this for this week's game. UMass had some good runs between the tackles, too. Let's get that cleaned up, too.

Bad tackling on many running plays. I was having GERG D flashbacks with all the high hits and love hug tackles. We aren't that big and strong boys. Hit lower and wrap up. Why does it take 6 guys to bring down Mike Cox? Fond memories of spring football past? All of the cornerbacks hit high. When we do get multiple guys to the ball carrier, we don't seem to be prying it loose. Need to create some turnovers.

Still soft on the edge. With no push into the backfield by the D line, they need to get the LBs and cornerbacks off blocks and out there.

The ND game is squarely on Denard's if that wasn't already obvious. His legs need to slow down NDs front 7 and his arm needs to hit every open receiver, because guys should be open down field. The D is going to give up yards and points. Make ND grind it out so Golson gets a chance to make some mistakes.

So, we crushed a cupcake, but we got some help from them. The D needs to be able to generate all "the crush" we need.

One Inch Woody…

September 16th, 2012 at 11:09 AM ^

Offense - Holy crap this is offense is better than any we have seen in the last 10 years. Why do you think we can't run the ball? It's because teams are going to stack the box with 8 or 9 defenders. Unless you're Alabama, numbers always wins as long as execution is there. Well in the past, we had no true receiving threats. Now we have Gardner, Funchess, Roundtree, and Gallon... so the goal should be come out throwing. Denard's going to have his one "wtf?" moment, but overall we would be dominant.


Defense - The problem does not lie with the defensive line in their ability. I'm afraid some of the blame goes on Mattison. We can't afford to get RPS'ed once every 4 downs because or DL is slanting the wrong way on a run. The DL are doing fine on the slants, but our LBs don't understand the slants and aren't going to fill! They're going WITH the DL on the slant what? Later on in the UMass game, we stopped slanting the DL and Washington and Campbell on numerous ocassions took BOTH the guys that were blocking them and drove them back 10 yards into the backfield. We definitely have the size and it appears the strength to not slant, so why slant??


Special Teams - Can't complain. I like having the faster gunners more to the inside on kickoff returns.


September 16th, 2012 at 11:30 AM ^

I don't think we learned a ton because this is probably by far the worst team we'll face all season.  That said here are my takeaways:

-Running game still looked shaky at first glance.  Fitz made some nice moves to get outside but it still seems like we have no push up the middle.  I'm still calling for Kalis to replace one of the guards (or maybe Mealer and slide Barnum to center) before the end of the season

-I think we played a very vanilla defense this game, and will have a lot more tricks for the ND game.  In general it seemed like they were in standard nickel all day  I kept waiting for an Okie blitz on 3rd and 5+ but hardly ever got one.  I'd like to see Mattison line that up, then run a standard defense that looks for screens and draws out of the package.  Teams have scouted it and seem to screen and draw us often, would be nice to counter-counterpunch that.

-Glad to see we got Norfleet involved on offense, I think as he learns more about the plays/offense he'll see the field more and more.  Too much of a threat to break a play on the edge to keep him on the sideline.  Side note - did anyone notice the idiot announcer talking about the 2nd speed sweep?  He seemed to think Norfleet was confused about the play by not getting the ball (when I think Toussaint or Rawls got the handoff) - CLEARLY this was a misdirection play...

-Frank Clark is really athletic.  I think he will be our most effective edge rusher this season, or at least neck and neck with Jake Ryan

-We saw a lot of Ojemudia, given how small he is this probably speaks to his skill level and future potential.  Expecting him to pack on some weight and breakout in the next year or two

-Get ready for more bubble screens, because our WRs are good blockers and it should really help loosen up the middle of the field.  These seemed really effective


September 16th, 2012 at 11:54 AM ^

One of the nice things about this offense is that, when given an opportunity to run on all cylinders, we really do have a very nice, diverse set of weapons when it comes to both rushing and receiving and could inflict all manner of damage. That in itself is encouraging. It would be nice to see Fitz get 15 carries for 85 yards (or more, we can hope) against ND next week and a better run defense, of course. If the offensive line can get lanes open consistently, then I think we see some better rushing success. 

Like others, tackling concerns me quite a bit - it seems like we missed what should have been some routine tackles, particularly towards the beginning of the game. We still seem very exploitable on the perimeter. If someone gets to the  edge, it seems like we're giving them five or six yards before someone gets there. Cox was averaging nearly 5  yards per rush and Broadnax (sp?) was getting close to 4 per carry on his attempts, and we'll definitely need to try and keep rushers to less than that from here on out, or hold them to that and utilize what looks like an improving pass rush. 


September 16th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

Michigan's huddle is sloppy as hell. Not sure if it is to disguise personnel or what, just looks bad.

Also gallon bubble screen on second series for 14 yds

Toussaint is Turning into a pretty good pass blocker

5th and Long

September 16th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

Happy to see Norfleet getting worked into the offense, so I don't have to wait for the other team to score to see him play. It's a bit conflicting when they score and my first thought is "Well at least I get to see Norfleet now."

BTN ad sponsors are mostly legit now which is good news for B1G revenue. Verizon, State Farm, Honda, Buffalo Wild Wings. This is opposed to just a few years ago when the inventory was littered with late night cable ads like business card scanner software and vitamin supplements. I saw one weird Internet ad "We buy your old iPhones." But that might have been the providor's local inventory. Thats just a sign of the strength of the network while other conf nets are struggling to get carriers.

Also, more $ into the B1G coffers based on what BTN apparently saves by not hiring quality announcers. So there's that.


September 16th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

The fact that Denard can't seem to make an interception free game bugs me, seems to me we are stuck with 1-2 really bad plays a game that will lead to some points for the other team. UMass doubled their offensive output against us, not the greatest.

However, thinking back to last years slightly miraculous 11-2 run, our defense didn't really click until around the 4th game against SDSU, and we should've lost to ND. If the defense can really gel like they did last year, I still think 9-3 or 10-2 is within reach. The conference title is up for grabs and the good news is we don't have to be awesome this year because the whole conference is terrible.


September 16th, 2012 at 5:50 PM ^

Everything looked fine.  The problems on the lines were still problems, the improvements everywhere else were still improvements and ultimately I can't take much away from it since we were clubbing a baby seal.  It's still nice to be "on the other side of the bulldozer" again though.

I think the offense is starting to come together really really nicely.  The tight ends and reciever core are both vastly better than expected and Denard's rumored improvements throwing seem to be cementing themselves as statistically verifiable fact.  The O-line also seems to be pass protecting very well and Denard is improvising well; using his feet in passing situations.  The run game needs to come together but as some have said it seems to be an assignment issue rather than a strength/talent issue (for the most part).  As the season wears on I expect to see Toussaint get back into his 2011 form.  The line isn't giving him much and he looks hesitant as a result.  He's proven that he can make things happen on his own before, he just needs to get back into the habit of doing so again.

The defense looks kinda soft but I'm having a hard time putting my finger on why.  The line seems to get excellent push one play and none at all for the next three.  The biggest concern though, is the tackling.  They're just not laying the hits down like they were last year.  It's better than the GERG era, but still well below last year and Michigan standards.  I think a lot of the problems are still working themselves out there as well...  In 2011 I don't feel like the team really clicked until Illinios, and to some extent they didn't seem to have the same kind of worried passion that this group does so early in the season.  They're hungry for improvement.  They're hungry for success.

This next week, assuming it's not a loony game like last year, should give us a pretty good gauge of "how far we have to go" vs teams that aren't Alabama, don't run tripple option offenses, and aren't baby seals.  Hopefully we'll see continued improvements in the passing game, some more "return to form" in the run game, and our defense "bend not break" and making clean tackles the first time.  Even if we lose a close, if all those improvements manifest themselves I'll feel pretty good about the big 10 season.

Also seeing Norfleet on offense makes me want to see a reverse to Garder who then passes to Denard.  Why?  Why not!


September 17th, 2012 at 12:02 AM ^

It really was good to see a blowout.  I was surprised that Denard stayed in the game so long.  I was hoping to see more of Bellomy but Denard can definitely use the reps.  Funchess in an absolute monster...I can't wait to see how he develops.  This upcoming week is going to be a real good test of where we're at.