Monday, September 19, 2011

Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan Awards

This became a familiar sight: Denard Robinson leaves someone in his dust.

Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Junior Hemingway.  Due to Denard Robinson's complete inability to hit open receivers, Michigan's big play receiver has 4 receptions in 3 games and was held without a catch in Saturday's victory.  There's no excuse for Michigan's failure to get the ball to Hemingway, not to mention Roy Roundtree (3 catches, 29 yards, 1 touchdown this season).  I know they don't mind blocking for Denard Robinson in the running game, but the reason the running game is struggling is because teams are loading the box,  barely covering the receivers, and still having moderate success stopping the run.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . Denard Robinson.  He has 42 carries in the past two games.  Yes, all 16 of those carries were necessary against Notre Dame, which came down to the wire.  But the 26 carries against Eastern Michigan?  Not so much.  Not only did Robinson take a beating, but he could have been working on passing instead, and the coaches could have maybe developed chemistry and timing for the running backs and receivers.  Instead, they honed the running skills of a guy who ran for 1,702 yards last season.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . William Campbell.  For two weeks in a row now, Campbell has played well at defensive tackle coming off the bench.  Will Heininger did a decent job against Eastern Michigan, but he doesn't seem to hold up against better talent.  As long as Campbell is putting in the work during the week, I think it's about time he gets the nod and starts at defensive tackle.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . Jake Ryan.  I know, I know, he's done pretty well.  But I had to pick someone, and sometimes he makes mistakes.  And if Ryan is this good, I'd really like to see what the starting SAM linebacker - Cam Gordon - can do if he's recovered from his back injury.  That would also give the coaches an opportunity to move Ryan around and play him more at weakside end.

Play of the game . . . Thomas Gordon's one-handed interception.  Not only was the catch itself a thing of beauty, but the failure of the double pass gives an indication that Michigan's players were wary of the diamond formation on the left sideline that led to such a play.  Tyler Benz didn't have a prayer of completing that pass, and the best he could have hoped for while the ball was in the air was a stone-handed defensive back who would let the ball drop the ground.  No such luck.

MVP of the Eastern Michigan game . . . Denard Robinson.  He didn't have a particularly great game (7-for-18 passing, 95 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception; 26 carries, 198 yards, 1 touchdown) and the horrible passing took some of the luster off of his nearly 200 yards rushing, but he still led the team to a 28-point victory and made some ridiculous moves in the open field.  Vincent Smith had a nice game, too, but he ran through gaping holes and didn't score any touchdowns.


  1. I have heard comments that Denard has a sore shoulder???? Heard anything on that....might explain why they used him to run so much rather than slinging the ball down field.

    Still doesn't explain why they didn't use Gardner instead to take the pressure off Denard and save us the scare of an injury or two. Maybe they don't want to create a quarterback controversy by sticking Devin in and having him play great, thus showing Denard that he is the quarterback and that they are trusting him like he stuck it out with them. Who knows?

  2. I don't think Campbell needs to start. For a guy with reported motivational issues, I'd say you want him to really "earn it" and maybe hold off until MSU at the very least to get his energy up for that game. We'll really need him to stop the run that game.

    Heininger's a walk-on senior who has fought through a major injury rehab and bulked up, as requested by the coaches. I think it's OK to make him the nominal starter, even if Campbell looks better. Not like the starting gig means a whole lot for a DL that is rotating so frequently.

    If someone can rush for nearly 200 yards and we call it 'not a great game' I think we're starting to take that someone for granted. Not that I disagree, I'm just saying - what a player we have.


    I don't think the holes were as gaping as you say for the RB. I thought Smith and, especially, Toussaint actually broke or avoided a number of would-be EMU tacklers. They're EMU tacklers, but still. I thought the RBs had a very good day - they ran strong and fast.

    I think that's a good point on Ryan. He's good, but he's probably playing a few too many snaps at LB. It'd be good to get Cam back, especially for coverage against SDSU.

  3. @ Lankownia 10:59 a.m.

    I think if you look at the tape, several of Smith's runs - especially the long ones - were through giant holes and/or around the edges that were sealed well. Smith made a few people miss, but I don't know how many tackles he broke.

    I try not to take Denard for granted, and I do realize that he's a great runner. But I also know that at some point (Ohio State, Nebraska, someone) is going to shut him down in the run, and as a quarterback, he better be able to throw the ball or we're going to lose the game. Just like John Navarre was a bit of a hindrance because he lacked mobility, we'll all be frustrated with Robinson if we have to depend on his arm and he keeps completing passing at a 43% rate.

  4. Good analysis. I like to think, however, given the smarts on this coaching staff, that Denard was running late in the 4th for a good reason. Perhaps it wasn't all about Denard, as we are wont to think? Perhaps they were working on issues/plays/players other than Denard, but needed Denard to run those plays. Just a theory.

    Lankownia - Motivational issues for Campbell? Its easy to say, but its more likely that that is in the past. From what it seems, many players had motivational issues under the last coaching staff. From all reports this year, Campbell has been putting in the work for some time now. No need to continue to dog him for context he was in over the past few years.

  5. @ Anonymous 11:15 a.m.

    I doubt that the staff were working on things they needed Denard to run. They didn't run anything particularly fancy, and they wouldn't want to give away anything that an upcoming opponent might want to use. Hoke said himself that he doesn't feel comfortable with a lead until it says ":00" on the clock, and I think that's more of the issue...but it's still not a good reason. If you're up by 25 points and your backups allow a score or two, you can always put your starters back in. And it's one thing if you're up by 25 to a team like Oregon or Boise State, who can put up points in a's quite another if you're up by 25 to Eastern Michigan.

  6. @Anon

    I doubt Campbell's motivational issues just disappeared. There were a few plays where he was being blown back by EMU OL. I don't think that's a thing that just disappears for every guy. Sometimes you have somebody (e.g., Chris Perry) for whom the light just goes on and stays on, but some people need to be motivated consistently.

    Anyway, I'm not dogging him really, it's more that I don't think Heininger necessarily needs to be demoted. Campbell's earned more time, yes, but I don't think he needs to start just on the basis of 2 good games in a row.


    I agree with you about Denard's passing, but he still played a great game overall because his running was just so damn ridiculous. As for the future, yeah, he's got to find a way to be more accurate (or the coaches have to figure it out for him). The only way the EMU play-calling makes sense is if the coaches were trying to get him comfortable. It was surprising to see almost no I-form stuff. I think they're really struggling with how to get Denard to be more consistent, but he still didn't look it, even with the Shotgun-heavy attack. He'll never last if he runs it 25 times a game, yet he kept calling his own number and scrambling. I don't know that there's a good answer here. He might just be what he is and you try to make incremental improvement and hope that the INTs come on long passes rather than screens.

  7. @Thunder

    Excellent point about the EMU offense. They weren't coming back with the run-oriented offense they have.

  8. Gardner isn't seeing playing time for a reason. He's unhappy about the fake "open competition" between he and Denard in fall camp. There never was one and devin is taking it personally. Unfortunately, Devin has let his anger towards the coaches affect his practice habits and that has earned him a spot in Coach Hoke's doghouse (right next to other players like Michael Shaw Jerald Robinson). Make no mistake, Coach Hoke & Coach Borges were sending a message to Devin on Saturday by keeping him on the bench.

  9. @ Anonymous 2:14 p.m.

    I guess that might be true (I have no hard evidence to argue otherwise), but he seems like a pretty positive kid and always seems to have positive things to say on Twitter. Plus he didn't look upset on the sideline the way Forcier did last year. I guess I find your account hard to believe, but I'm not saying it's wrong.

  10. I wasn't paying attention to #73 on every play, but I don't remember him being blown back at all. I do remember Heininger getting crushed once or twice though early. Looked to me like Campbell was out there most of the snaps except obvious passing downs.

  11. That would explain it though. It was extremely odd that they kept Denard in the game and it certainly wasn't to get him more experience under center. The play calls betray that possibility. Maybe he is getting upset, I can't say I blame him. By all accounts, he's a better passer than Denard, if this is so the team might actually be better if they had Devin at QB and Denard at some other position.

  12. @Anon 2:14, while this is an idea that may or may not be true.......along the same logic I guess you could stretch it to include that the Coaches are playing Denard as much as possible to get him noticed by the NFL. Thus he would get drafted and they could move on to another style offense. I guess if we can dream then someone will believe us.

  13. Doesn't make sense to me RE:Gardner doghouse.

    If they were going to send a message why play him at all? They could have ran Denard out there to hand the ball off repeatedly...or put in the walk-on guy.

    What message does holding him out an extra series really have?

  14. Anonymous @2:41

    Magnus is being too nice to you. There's no hard evidence to argue against your account, but you have no evidence to begin with. It's all useless speculation and borderline character assassination, especially given Devin's consistently positive attitude.

    Your last sentence is a pathetic rehashed meme that still has no basis in reality. Until it does, it would be better to leave it alone.

  15. For what its worth, I've read elsewhere that Devin is unhappy, so maybe Mr. 2:14 is onto something. Also, I actually have noticed a difference in Devin on twitter, but I was not sure if that was just due to the start of the season. But it was right around fall camp that his temperament seemed to change on Twitter. I have noticed it since. He went from tweeting a lot, tweeting congenial things, to tweeting little and often dour things. It does not mean much, but it might mean something. Also, I think leaving Denard in for the extra time definitely would send a message to Devin. It was the difference between moderately meaningful snaps and meaningless snaps.

  16. So from your perception of a change in how Devin "tweets," you're making inferences about the inner workings and decisions of the football team?

    Wow. ...Hey, are you in the market for a watch? A new used car?

  17. Anon @11:21

    What about "It does not mean much, but might mean something" dont you get? What inferences did I make? Nothing more than, 'it might mean something.' I commented on his twitter behavior, which Thunder referenced, nothing more. In your rush to criticize you forgot to think.

  18. The Big Ten announcers (yeah, I know) said that Denard had a sore shoulder and didnt' throw much in practice the Thursday prior to the game. Anyone confirm this?

    Also I think I know why Craig Roh wasn't playing much early in the year. Watch the EMU game again, you'll see he's wearing a brace on his upper arm/ shoulder.

  19. @ Anonymous 7:22 p.m.

    I've heard that elsewhere about Denard's shoulder. I don't think it's anything to be concerned about physically, but a sore shoulder shouldn't really affect his throwing in the game. The adrenaline ought to take care of that.

    Roh aggravated the injury at the beginning of the game, but I don't think it was affecting him in the first couple games.