Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Michigan at Northwestern Awards

Does cringing when I see Denard throw the ball make me a bad person?
(image via TheWolverine.com)

Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Michael Shaw.  Shaw clearly isn't the most decisive running back in the world.  But he is very fast and, despite some people's opinions, will lower his shoulder and run through people when cornered.  I agreed with the way Al Borges used him on Saturday, which was to outrun the Wildcats' defense to the edge.  I won't be clamoring for Shaw to start anytime soon, but he can serve a role on this team.  Oh, and I wouldn't mind seeing him return kickoffs along with Jeremy Gallon.  Give Shaw an alley and you never know what could happen.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . opposing defenders running the other way with the football.  Denard's interceptions are maddening.  It's not like he's trying to fit passes into tight windows and defenders are making nice plays on the ball.  Nor is it that his passes are bouncing off the hands of his receivers into the grips of defensive backs.  Denard is just flat-out throwing bad passes, whether because of bad mechanics, bad reads, or both.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . William Campbell.  I think it's near time that Campbell gets a start.  Starting defensive end Will Heininger is just a guy.  It would be nice to see Ryan Van Bergen bump from 3-tech tackle to 5-tech end.  To me that puts the best four defensive linemen on the field at once, with Craig Roh and Mike Martin the other two linemen.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . Desmond Morgan.  I'm not really sure why Morgan is playing so much.  I've always maintained that I think he will be a solid player in the future, but he got more playing time on Saturday than I would expect in a fairly tough game.  Brandin Hawthorne is a better player overall and a bigger playmaker.  If and when Brandon Herron returns to action, I think he deserves another shot, too.

Play of the game . . . Thomas Gordon's strip and recovery.  When Gordon stripped the ball away from Northwestern wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, I thought that sealed the game for Michigan.  As the second man in, I thought Gordon did a tremendous job of raking at the ball immediately before Ebert could get to the ground.

MVP of the Northwestern game . . . Denard Robinson.  Even though Robinson threw some maddening interceptions and incompletions in the first half, he once again turned on the jets when the Wolverines needed it in the second half.  He finished the game completing 17/26 passes for 337 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions; he also had 25 carries for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns.  It's been said elsewhere, but it's pretty ridiculous that a 454-yard, 4-touchdown performance can seem pretty ho-hum after all of his heroics.  We're going to see 100-yard rushers and 300-yard passers and 100-yard receivers in the future, but it will be a long, long time before Michigan fans ever get to root for a player like him again.


  1. Did you see the interview where Denard said, "It's going by too fast. I don't want to leave"? We all feel the same way, too, Denard. But how sweet it is right now.

  2. YES! Shaw to return kicks.

    Agree with all the Denard comments. We are lucky to have him at UofM.

  3. I watched the defense again (http://youtu.be/E5PLhvY307I) and I don't know why Hawthorne was pulled. I think he is responsible for the first touchdown (starting at 1:25) - he moves inside to take away the first option, but I think that is Demens' responsibility, and by the time Persa pulls it Hawthorne is sucked inside. But he plays for another drive and then Morgan goes in until halftime. Morgan didn't play badly, but Hawthorne is the more decisive, explosive player.

  4. I don't get that the coaches this year are in a hurry to yank anyone from a game. They have shown plenty of patience when it comes to the guys. There have been times I am screaming at the TV only to see the same kid on the field the next play. Don't get me wrong, they will pull them......but there had to be something more to it than just Hawthorne making a bad play. Possibly a different look or package in my opinion.

  5. OK, Hawthorne does lose contain on the second NW scoring drive (2:15), another option play where Persa gives the ball to the first option. I think he again duplicates Demens' responsibility. This does start to look like a pattern.

  6. We'll see 300 yard passers and 100 yard rushers, but I doubt that we'll ever see a guy do it in the same game again after Denard. He has done it twice this year, to go along with his two 200-200 games from last year.

  7. the thing is that the coaches dont really "pull" kids in my opinion. they seem to try and put players in that can stop the strength of the offense. then if the second player doesnt work out they make more switches. i love watching michigan play cause they fly around, make plays and seem to be enjoying the game. coach hoke and coach mattison have done a great job with the overall defense so far, and i cant wait until they get the 2012 recruits on campus and get them into the mix. then from there on out we will be looking at strong recruiting classes every year like we expect as the University of Michigan.

  8. @DNak: From Mattison's presser, it sounds like they just wanted some bigger bodies in there to deal with Northwestern's perimeter blocking on the screen plays. That may explain why Morgan went in.