Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wisconsin 48, Michigan 28

Denard Robinson tackles defensive end JJ Watt after an interception.

Bullets:

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.

14 comments:

  1. Magnus - I know you had and continue to have concerns about Denard's accuracy as a passer. Nonetheless, he's had some great success in his first season as the full-time QB, though he's certainly had problems against some of the Big Ten's better defenses. Do you see him as the long-term answer at the position (which presumes, of course, continued improvement)? There's always a lot of talk on the mgoboards about platooning him with Tate (or next year, Gardner) or moving him to a different position. Wanted to get your thoughts.

    Personally I think Denard is our long term solution at QB and look forward to two more years of seeing him as the full-time starter. But I thought I'd ask you the question now that we have almost an entire season to review (I hold out no high hopes of an impressive performance against OSU), and you're obviously far more knowledgeable than myself when it comes to football.

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  2. 364 yards onthe ground to Wisconsin? What a fucking disgrace. We don't need to get rid of Robinson. We need to get rid of the guy who hired Robinson. No more mulligans on DC. Sweet Jesus RichRod has got to go. This guy gives us just one terrible embarrassment after another. We're going to get humiliated in Columbus and then in our bowl game. Our 2011 recruiting class will be Iowa-like and then our 2012 class will be crap too if Rodriguez is still around. And next year, it will be the same unwatchable shit all over again. Another loss to MSU and then humiliated losses at home to Nebraska and OSU. This program will suffer until RichRod is gone. No other program would ever put up with this shit.

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  3. That's right. If it weren't for GR and RR we would be playing Marlin Jackson, Charles Woodson, Leon Hall and Garland Rivers instead of four freshman and we would kick W's butt.

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  4. Gorgonzola, are you suggesting that RR bears no responsibility for the unusually high of attrition we've experienced, or the fact that several of his recruits weren't academically qualified?

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  5. @ Anonymous 1:06 p.m.

    I do think that Denard Robinson is the future quarterback of the program. Forcier is a good relief pitcher, but Robinson has the ability to run and pass well enough to command the whole offense.

    Robinson has improved greatly at reading defenses since last year, but his accuracy is lacking. That is evidenced by his poorly thrown bubble screens on Saturday and the overthrown deep ball to Stonum. But seeing how much he improved since last year, I assume he can make another (albeit smaller) leap as a junior.

    The offense is averaging 36.8 points per game, which is great. The problem is that the defense is giving up 33.5 points per game, which is atrocious in itself...and 39.5 points per game against Big Ten opponents.

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  6. I really don't see how anyone can continue to stick up for Rich Rod. We are getting man handled by teams that we used to dominate. We have a losing record to every team we play the last 3 years aside from ND. The offense has gotten better each year but Denard really helps with that. The defense and Special teams are atrocious. You can throw in the "cupboard is bare" all you want but the fact of the matter is RRod has not recruited or developed players the way that you should at Michigan. Will Campbell was a 5 star player who was coveted by everyone in the country and it turns out he can't even play defense? I don't buy it.

    RE: Vinopal blitzing non stop. I kept thinking the same thing. He either got blown up immediately or ran himself out of the play. The plays he did get in the backfield, they just ran the ball to the opposite side and UM had no one there to cover that gap (of course they wouldn't)

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  7. I love all of this "freshman on the defense" excuse making. How many freshmen did we have on defense back in 2008 when we gave up 48 points to Purdue's third string quarterback? Answer: zero. We were almost all juniors and seniors that year, and one of the sophomores was 5-star CB Donovan Warren. The defense has sucked horribly since the day that Rodriguez arrived and it has done nothing but go backwards. Somebody name for me one single example of a defensive back who has improved under Gibson's coaching. Morgan Trent certainly didn't. Warren didn't. Stevie Brown didn't. Mike Williams didn't. None of the young corners this year have improved as the year has gone on or shown any flashes of brilliance. The defense was pathetic in 2008, it was pathetic last year, and it will be pathetic again in 2011 despite all of the returning starters. Three years into the program and we're as far away from beating the powers in the conference as we have ever been. We're not a year away. We're not even two years away with this ass-clown. I can't believe that Rodriguez still has defenders. It's amazing to me.

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  8. Agreed on the Vinopal blitzing. They might just as well have put Vinopal on the sidelines and played with 10 guys. He's a good tackler, and he's done admirably with the standard safety responsibilities. But, for crying out loud, why would you put him up against Wisconsin's tight ends and fullbacks.

    It failed miserably the first ten times, yet Gerg persisted in trying it another ten just for kicks! Was he giving RR grounds for dismissal, or what?!

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  9. @ Anonymous 2:08 p.m.

    I'm not a huge fan of Gibson, but...

    a) Morgan Trent was Scott Shafer's player, not Gibson's. Shafer coached the cornerbacks; Gibson coached the safeties.

    b) Personally, I think Courtney Avery has improved this year.

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  10. Good points all around, especially about Vinopal. The Robinson bubble screens reminded me of Threet. Which is actually a pleasant reminder of overall progress in the offense.

    Also expected a loss, but was very frustrated by the offense in the first half and the difference between Gallon and Stonum in kick returns. This coaching decision is just inexplicable.

    No one on either side of fire/keep RR debate is going to change anyone's mind but I'll try anyway. RR is responsible for the defense but there are reasons why thats the case. "The cupboard is bare" isn't the only reason. Some reasons are on RR but not all. He is ultimately responsible though - Its not like you're pointing something out something that no one is aware of. RR knows he has to get the defense better.

    If you think RR is incapable of fielding a strong defense, then you haven't been paying attention to anything other than 2008-10. The offense improvement has earned him another year to figure out the defense.

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  11. @ Lankownia 6:19 p.m.

    I don't disagree with the coaching decision for kickoff returns. They need Stonum fresh for offense. The coaches have been able to find decent returners the past few years (Stonum, Cissoko, etc.). Stonum is clearly the best, but I think he's more valuable as a receiver on offense. And Gallon would actually be pretty good if he could hold onto the ball.

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  12. And Gallon would actually be pretty good if he could hold onto the ball.

    That's well and good, but 10 games into the season, Gallon had already established that 1) his decisionmaking when he's fielding kicks/punts is terrible; and 2) when he does field them, he can't hold onto the ball. He's not helping the team when he's back there, and while I consider myself a RR "defender," the decision to continue to use Gallon is indefensible. If they want to keep Stonum fresh, which makes sense, they need to put someone back there who while perhaps is not as dynamic, won't turn the ball over (Dileo seemed to do well).

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  13. @ Anonymous 8:54 p.m.

    I agree. I said when Dileo was recruited that he should be a return specialist at Michigan, so I'm all for using him for that purpose. I think Gallon is probably a little more dynamic, but like you said, I'd rather have a decent return from Dileo every time than one awesome return from Gallon and then a bonehead mistake.

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  14. Now that Odoms is hurt, I can see saving Stonum...but with 3 healthy and capable outside WR theres was no reason to keep Stonum out if he was clearly the best guy. Its not really about Stonum though - Gallon wasn't terrible when he held onto the ball but his obvious failing there overrode anything else he did.

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