|Denard Robinson tackles defensive end JJ Watt after an interception.|
I'm not upset. This is a game that I expected Michigan to lose. Almost everyone did. That's not to say that I wasn't frustrated by some of the things that the coaches and players did - and the offensive production in the first half was somewhat embarrassing - but ultimately, this outcome is what most educated observers foresaw.
Denard's overthrow early was a killer. No one play completely destroyed Michigan on Saturday. That's impossible when you lose by 20 points. But I can't help but think "What if?" about that long pass from Robinson to Darryl Stonum in the first quarter. Due to Denard Robinson's running ability, he's going to see a lot of Cover 0 with no deep safety. He must take advantage of those opportunities. Stonum is a blazer and probably would not have been caught from behind if Robinson had put the pass within reach. If I remember correctly, that would have tied the game at 7-7. Instead, Michigan went into halftime down 24-0.
Vincent Smith's concussion looked ugly. We've all seen our fair share of concussions on television (and/or in person). The scariest are when players get knocked out cold, but it gives me a queasy feeling to see players stumbling around in a daze like Smith did when he tried to get up. As commentator Chris Spielman said, kudos to Smith for having the toughness to try to get up after taking a knee to the head from 292-pound defensive end J.J. Watt. Smith's reaction was reminiscent of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Stewart Bradley earlier this season, who was inexplicably allowed to re-enter the game almost immediately; luckily, Michigan's training staff seems to care more about its players than the Eagles'. Hopefully Smith heals quickly, but . . .
Injuries are mounting and chances against OSU are slimming. Starting running back Vincent Smith will probably miss the Ohio State game due to his concussion. Starting defensive end Craig Roh apparently had concussion-like symptoms, too. Starting wide receiver Darryl Stonum was carted off the field with his left ankle heavily wrapped in ice. Starting nose tackle Mike Martin missed much of the second half with his ongoing ankle problems. Michigan's top two cornerbacks (Troy Woolfolk, J.T. Floyd) are already out for the season due to ankle injuries. This seems to be shaping up to be a more beaten-up unit against the Buckeyes than the 2007 team that featured a noodle-armed Chad Henne and a gimpy Mike Hart in the backfield.
The deployment of free safety Ray Vinopal was dumb. First of all, it's important to point out that Ray Vinopal has been an upgrade over Cameron Gordon at free safety. There's no question about that. But why in the hell was Greg Robinson using Vinopal as a blitzing box safety? This type of decision makes me want Robinson replaced at the end of the season. Against the biggest, most physical, run-oriented team Michigan will face all season, it makes absolutely zero sense to put a 5'10", 197 lb. (yeah, right) true freshman up at the line of scrimmage to take on a fullback, tight end, or pulling guard. That's ridamndiculous. If you're going to blitz from that position, put in Thomas Gordon. Or send Jordan Kovacs from the edge. There's no excuse for that kind of matchup at the line of scrimmage, and that's not Vinopal's fault. The Greg Robinson experiment needs to end.
Roy Roundtree is good. Despite one inexplicable dropped pass on which he was wide open, Roundtree had another good day with 7 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. I'm looking forward to seeing him wear that #1 jersey.
Congratulations to Denard Robinson. Robinson passed the NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback, previously set by Air Force QB Beau Morgan in 1996. He has now passed for 2,229 yards and rushed for 1,538 . . . and he still has two games to go.