(image via MGoBlue.com)
Well, that was boring. I remember when Michigan was completely devoid of big plays. The year was 2008. That year sucked. In two of the last three games, Michigan has been unable to create big plays offensively (MSU being the other). That bodes unwell.
Have I mentioned that J.T. Floyd isn't very good? Freshman Blake Countess is the best cornerback on the roster, and it's not even close. Countess had 6 tackles and was credited with 1 pass breakup, although it seems to me he had at least 2 of them. Iowa targeted star wide receiver Marvin McNutt frequently, and Countess either had tight enough coverage to prevent a completion or was close enough to tackle immediately. Floyd, not so much. Hopefully another corner steps up in 2012, because Floyd just isn't getting it done.
Have I mentioned that Denard Robinson isn't very good? Denard's final passing numbers: 17-for-37, 194 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 1 lost fumble. He's throwing the ball right now like he's just hoping that his receivers will be spectacular. In the fourth quarter, he chucked numerous bombs down the field to receivers who were well covered . . . and even if they weren't well covered, the passes fell harmlessly to the turf somewhere around the Nebraska border. Roy Roundtree knocked Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater on his ass, streaked down the field wide open, and Robinson wasn't even close to completing the pass. We should all be hoping for a second-year bump in Robinson's performance next year, because counting on him to win the game with his arm is like counting on Mike Sorrentino to win Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.
On a positive note, the defensive line is coming along. After last week's solid performance, the defensive line once again had a good game, producing 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Iowa had a good day running the ball with Marcus Coker (29 carries, 132 yards, 2 touchdowns), but the troubles stopping the run seemed to come from the linebackers. The Hawkeyes seemed to take advantage of freshman Desmond Morgan, who looks good at times, but when it comes down to it, he's just a true freshman. There's a reason that true freshman linebackers don't often start.
The coaches have turned Denard Robinson into a divining rod for the sideline. I want to keep Denard Robinson healthy as much as the next guy, but this whole "run out of bounds whenever you're within spittin' distance" thing is getting ridiculous. Especially when nobody else is capable of making big plays because Michigan a) can't block or b) can't catch Robinson's errant throws, then by golly, get upfield and stop searching for the sideline. I know he's being coached to do it because the coaches and Robinson have said as much, but it's virtual nonsense. Robinson's most effective running play this season has been the quarterback sweep, which by definition is run toward the sideline; if he's supposed to get out of bounds whenever he nears the sideline, then the coaches are removing a huge threat. Robinson's speed makes defensive players take bad angles; in other words, flowing defenders aim too far upfield. That's how cutback lanes develop. Let the kid play. If he gets hurt, Michigan is screwed. But if he plays like a porcelain doll, Michigan is screwed, too. At least go down swinging.
Is this a football or a Shake Weight? I don't understand why Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner both carry the ball away from their bodies with one hand. Tate Forcier had this problem and Michigan paid dearly for it. Last year Robinson always carried the ball in his inside hand, which cost Michigan dearly against Ohio State (and other games). The fact that both Michigan quarterbacks are getting away with this behavior makes me think that it's poor coaching. Don't get me wrong - this team is much better coached than the past few iterations. But this is an area that needs to be shored up, and soon. It's somewhat understandable that Gardner is doing it, since he's raw and only a sophomore/redshirt freshman, but Robinson is a junior and a two-year starter. There's no excuse for his lack of ball security.
|Is the above picture . . . a) an excellent way to get ripped, or|
b) the worst way to hold a football? Trick question: it's both!
Iowa is tough at home. I predicted at the beginning of the year that Iowa would beat Michigan, and I should have stuck with that prediction yesterday. Iowa is always a fundamentally sound team (as is Michigan State), and those kinds of teams give Robinson trouble because he's someone who takes advantages of opponents' mistakes. Iowa stayed gap sound defensively and for the most part (except when Prater fell down) didn't allow Michigan's big-play receivers to get behind them. Kudos to Iowa for being well coached and disciplined . . . on the field, anyway.