Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Smart Football: For the Win - Hook-and-Lateral...and Lateral

Jessica Cediel
This looks like a fun play.

Video: Jamie Morris tribute

What I've Been Reading

Pat Tillman, the subject of Where Men Win Glory
The Essential Smart Football  by Chris B. Brown.  If you're a frequent reader of the site (mine or his), then you know the basic gist of what you'll find in this book.  It's a collection of blog posts and essays by Brown on the various offenses and defenses being run by the NFL and college teams around the country.  For Michigan fans, there is plenty of discussion of Tom Brady and even a section on offensive coordinator Al Borges.  As a high school coach who's constantly trying to grasp new schemes and tweak old ones, I breezed through it in no time and want more.  Of course, it helps that the entire book is only 139 pages long.  And luckily, even though I want more, I just have to skip over to Smart Football  and see what's new.

Where Men Win Glory  by Jon Krakauer.  Ever since I read Under the Banner of Heaven  about a year ago, I've been on a Krakauer kick.  I read Into Thin Air  over the summer, and I just ordered Into the Wild. I know I'm behind the times a bit with reading some of these books, but oh well.  I was always fascinated by the story of Pat Tillman because I watched him in college and I liked watching him play for the Arizona Cardinals, who used to be my second favorite team (behind the Lions).  At the time that he left football for the Army, I couldn't imagine someone giving up a pro football career for a life of fighting in the desert.  It was admirable, of course, but it was a sacrifice of a lifelong dream.  Lots of athletes participated in earlier wars (World War II, Korea, etc.), but there was a time when being a pro athlete wasn't quite as glamorous.

A Clash of Kings  by George R.R. Martin.  I finished reading A Game of Thrones  a few months ago and immediately moved on to this one.  It seemed to get a bit of a slow start, but eventually picked up and turned into a good read by the end.  I hate to spoil the book for anyone reading or planning to read it, because there are all kinds of twists and turns for the various characters.  The longer this goes on, though, the more I like Tyrion Lannister.

A Storm of Swords  by George R.R. Martin.  Unlike its immediate predecessor, A Clash of Kings, this book started off fast-paced and ended the same way.  It seems like Martin really found his rhythm in this book, although by this point, I've started to catch on to his foreshadowing techniques and been able to make some pretty accurate predictions about what's coming down the pike.  Also unlike the previous books, this one ends on somewhat of a high note.  Things seem to be going in the right direction for the protagonists, and some of the villains are getting what they've had coming to them.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks  by Max Brooks.  I am a nerd.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Rivals: Around the Big Ten - Week 5 Notes

Francesca Frigo
Kevin Minor runs down this week's happenings in the Big Ten.

Video: Michigan drill

ESPN: Top 300 Watch List for 2014

Michael Ferns is on ESPN's watch list for 2014
Here's a list of Michigan targets in ESPN's watch list for the 2014 class:

Mark Andrews - WR - Arizona
Alex Bars - OT - Tennessee
Jackson Barton - OT - Utah (Utah)
Andy Bauer - OT - Missouri (Missouri)
Quin Blanding - S - Virginia
Jeb Blazevich - TE - North Carolina
Dante Booker - LB - Ohio
Andrew Brown - DT - Virginia
Orlando Brown, Jr. - OT - Georgia
Khairi Clark - DT - Florida
Kevin Crosby - LB - South Carolina
Michael Ferns - LB - Ohio (Michigan)
Leonard Fournette - RB - Louisiana
Da'Shawn Hand - DE - Virginia
Drake Harris - WR - Michigan (Michigan State)
Javon Harrison - ATH - Florida (Virginia Tech)
Joe Henderson - DE - Ohio
Kiy Hester - ATH - New Jersey
Jalen Hurd - RB - Tennessee
Roderick Johnson - OT - Missouri
Jamarco Jones - OT - Illinois
Demetrius Knox - OT - Texas
Tyler Luatua - DE - California
Josh Malone - WR - Tennessee
K.C. McDermott - OT - Florida
Malik McDowell - DE - Michigan
Bryan Mone - OG - Utah
Montae Nicholson - S - Pennsylvania
Ed Paris - CB - Texas
D'Andre Payne - CB - Washington, DC
Jabrill Peppers - CB - New Jersey
Damian Prince - OT - Maryland
Cameron Robinson - OT - Louisiana
T'kevian Rockwell - S - Texas
Bo Scarbrough - RB - Alabama (Alabama)
Brandon Simmons - S - Texas
Braden Smith - OT - Kansas
Bentley Spain - OT - North Carolina
Dionte Sykes - WR - Arizona
Jalen Tabor - CB - Washington, DC
Casey Tucker - OT - Arizona (USC)
Troy Vincent, Jr. - CB - Maryland
Nick Watkins - CB - Texas
Damon Webb - CB - Michigan
Nic Weishar - TE - Illinois
Parrker Westphal - CB - Illinois
Dexter Wideman - DT - South Carolina

Attractive Michigan Girl of the Week


If you have any other pictures of girls wearing Michigan gear, drop me an e-mail.  Go Blue!

Video: 2012 Women's Football Academy

Mailbag: What position will Shallman play?

So, I know that coaches have told Shallman he is going to get a shot at FB or RB in college, but he is getting to be a very big boy for that.  He is already two or more inches bigger than former NFL back Mike Alstott and already 20 pounds heavier than former NFLer John Riggins.  Most FBs are 5'10"-6'1"; much over that is not good for FBs, right? His frame is going to add a lot in S&C.  What are your odds he becomes Ryan Van Bergen II? Would people feel better about this recruiting class if we looked at Wyatt as a DL and not as a FB? I kinda think he would be wasted as a situational offensive player.
Well, I sort of answered this question in my scouting report of Wyatt Shallman from this past winter, but I didn't talk about this aspect in great depth.

First of all, I wouldn't really worry about how Shallman compares to John Riggins.  Riggins played from 1971 to 1985, so he was retired for a decade before Shallman was even born.  Players are bigger and faster than they were then.  There are guys like Michael Turner (5'10", 247 lbs.), Steven Jackson (6'2", 240 lbs.), and Brandon Jacobs (6'4", 264 lbs.) running amok in the NFL these days, and each of those guys is heavier and/or taller than Riggins.

I am not the world's biggest fan Shallman's abilities.  He doesn't have the suddenness of an elite running back, he doesn't have great speed, and he doesn't break enough tackles to satisfy me.  What he does offer is a differing set of skills from any other running back on the roster or in the 2013 recruiting class.  With the offensive line Michigan is building, the Wolverines should be plowing over people in a couple years the way Wisconsin has been for the past several seasons.  Shallman is a poor man's Ron Dayne, P.J. Hill, Montee Ball, etc.  This past Saturday night, I watched Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla (6'5", 246 lbs.) line up in the backfield and carry the ball 7 times for 63 yards against Arizona.  Players of lots of different shapes and sizes can run the ball in college.

As for Shallman's size, there have been suggestions that he's not quite 6'3" or 6'4" and that he's not 255 lbs.  He doesn't look 255 to me; I might buy 235.  Recruiting weights are often overreported, whether it's innocent exaggeration or someone trying to beef up his own measurements to garner more attention.  Several guys in Michigan's 2012 recruiting class showed up to campus weighing less than was reported on Rivals or Scout.

The coaching staff seems to have been pretty honest with recruits about their future positions.  They would rather have guys playing positions they want to play than to have to shoehorn guys into positions they dislike. Guys will play harder for you that way.  The coaches have promised Shallman a shot at running back, and I think that's where he'll stay.  There's always a chance that somebody will change positions, but it doesn't seem to be Brady Hoke's M.O. to bring guys in and then turn their world upside down.  Guys like Jordan Paskorz and Ricardo Miller have changed positions, but Hoke didn't recruit them.  Gardner is making a temporary (or permanent) switch to wide receiver, but again, Hoke never recruited him.

Van Bergen was an athletic guy coming out of high school, but he was clearly headed for the defensive line and never had any delusions otherwise.  He had the frame to add significant weight, and he ended up at almost 290 lbs.  Even if Shallman adds mass, he will likely still be 6'3".  That's relatively short for a strongside end and he could struggle to get his hands on offensive linemen before they get into him.  Meanwhile, unless he makes a concerted effort to beef up, he looks like a guy who could play his college career at 250-ish pounds.

On top of all that, I was not impressed with Shallman's high school highlights.  Word is that he was suffering from some nagging injuries last season, but I don't see a high level of effort and determination on the defensive side of the ball.  Some guys are equally adept at playing football on both sides; other guys have "it" on one side or the other.  Shallman's "it" factor seems higher on offense than defense; he's a fine high school defender, but comparing their high school film, I would take Ryan Van Bergen on defense over Wyatt Shallman.

What are the chances Shallman plays defensive end in his college career?  Eh, I'll go with 15%, just because injuries and attrition and random things happen.  But what are the chances Shallman becomes the next Ryan Van Bergen (a borderline NFL draft pick at defensive end)?  I'd say that's closer to 5%.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Smart Football: Two-Quarterback Zone Read System

Alicia Whitten
Chris Brown from Smart Football  talks about Louisiana-Monroe's zone read with two quarterbacks on the field.  This is not something I want to see Michigan run, but it's an interesting idea.

Video: Leroy Hoard tribute

Video: Michigan Rewind - Notre Dame

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Stevie Brown

Brown celebrates his first career interception
Believe it or not, Stevie Brown is in his third NFL season and making a few plays.  Brown recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter of his team's 37-6 drubbing of the Carolina Panthers last week and returned it 44 yards.  He is listed as a second string safety on the New York Giant's depth chart and is apparently getting somewhat comfortable with his new team after spending last year playing for the Indianapolis Colts and his rookie season for the Oakland Raiders.  Brown has five tackles, one pass deflection and one interception through three games this year.  His Giants are 2-1.

Honorable mention:  Tom Brady moved past Joe Montana into 12th place on the NFL's all-time passing list during his team's 31-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football.  Brady threw for 335 yards and one touchdown in the game, but that didn't stop the Patriots from dropping below .500 for the first time since the opening game of the 2003 season.

Miscellaneous:
  • Brandon Graham still isn't lighting the world on fire, but he is showing some signs of life.  Last week he recorded four tackles and half a sack in an Eagles loss.
  • David Harris is continuing with his tackling machine like ways this season and tallied nine in the New York Jets overtime victory in Miami on Sunday.
  • Mario Manningham has 12 receptions for 113 yards through three games; he is the 49ers third leading receiver behind Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grantland: Cam Newton and the Diversity of Carolina's Zone-Read Package

Hannah Lynne Leigh
The zone reading is slowly creeping into the NFL game.  Look out, Arizona . . . somebody might be stealing your coach soon.

Video: Hoke press conference

Ex-Wolverine Updates

Sam McGuffie had 109 receiving yards, including this 50-yard touchdown reception.
Former Michigan QB commit Shavodrick Beaver: Beaver had 4 carries for 14 yards and was 2/2 passing for Midwestern State against Texas A&M-Commerce a few weeks ago, but he hasn't played in the Mustangs' last couple games.

Former Michigan S Vladimir Emilien: Emilien had 6 tackles in Toledo's 38-28 victory over Coastal Carolina.

Former Michigan DT commit DeQuinta Jones: Jones had 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup, but Arkansas lost to Rutgers by a score of 35-26.

Former Michigan RB Sam McGuffie: Rice lost to Marshall by a score of 54-51 in overtime, but McGuffie had 4 receptions for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez: Rodriguez suffered his first loss at Arizona, a 49-0 beatdown at the hands of Oregon.  Arizona's defense did a decent job of stopping the Ducks' rushing attack, holding them to 4.3 yards/attempt.  But the Wildcats had 5 turnovers, including 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Former Michigan WR Je'Ron Stokes: Stokes had 1 catch for 0 yards in Bowling Green's 37-0 loss to Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Big Ten Blog: Instant analysis - Notre Dame 13, Michigan 6


Brian Bennett gives his "instant analysis" of Michigan's loss to Notre Dame.

Video: Inside Michigan Football - Episode 5

Recruiting Update: September 25, 2012

ADDED TO THE BOARD
Washington (DC) Friendship Collegiate linebacker Yannick Ngakoue decommitted from Maryland.  I don't blame him because Maryland is terrible.  Michigan still isn't in the picture, though.

OFF THE BOARD (2013, 2014)
Piscataway (NJ) Piscataway athlete Nadir Barnwell committed to Rutgers.  Michigan was recruiting him as a cornerback, along with Rutgers, but he could also play wide receiver at the next level.

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech linebacker Deon Drake, a 2014 prospect, committed to Michigan State.  He didn't have a Michigan offer yet.  Michigan is likely going to be very selective with their offers to linebackers in the 2014 class, because they took four in 2012 and have two lined up in 2013.  Drake is a decent linebacker, but not an elite one, and the weakside linebacker position looks to be in good hands for a few years with Desmond Morgan, James Ross, Antonio Poole, and Kaleb Ringer already playing that position.

MISCELLANEOUS
Check out the series of Recruit Tracker posts for updates on how the seasons of Michigan's 2013 recruits are going.

I've been saying this for several weeks, but with four or five high school games on film and the upcoming bye week, I expect some more 2014 offers to go out before Michigan's next contest.  Recruiting news has been slow for the past month or two, but now I expect it to pick up a little bit.

Monday, September 24, 2012

AnnArbor.com: Hoke never thought about benching Robinson

Laura Michelle Prestin
Based on Denard Robinson's past heroics, I don't think he should have been benched, either.  But just about any other college or NFL quarterback would have been benched during a performance like that.

Michigan vs. Notre Dame Awards

Desmond Morgan (image via AnnArbor.com)
Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Jeremy Gallon.  Gallon had a couple decent runs and a few good catch-and-runs.  Good things tend to happen when Michigan gets the ball in his hands.  Three catches and 2 rushing attempts are too few touches.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . good defenses.  Because most of the time, they make Denard Robinson look lost.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . Brennen Beyer.  I know Beyer has been injured, but I'm looking forward to his return.  That will allow Jake Ryan to play SAM linebacker and move around occasionally without having to play defensive end on running downs.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . Mario Ojemudia.  He's just not ready right now.  I know he's in there because of necessity, but he's not strong enough or big enough to make any plays right now.  It would be nice if Michigan could get enough depth where they don't have to play guys like this every year.

Play of the game . . . Thomas Gordon's interception.  Gordon made a leaping catch of an Everett Golson pass in the endzone, preventing  a scoring opportunity for the Fighting Irish.

MVP of the game . . . there aren't a whole lot of options, because nobody really had an exceptional night. I'm going to go with sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan, who I thought had a very good game.  I haven't rewatched the game, but in watching on Saturday night, I thought he was very solid in run support.  I also thought Quinton Washington got off the ball really well; this was the best performance I've seen out of him.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Detroit News: Gardner catching on at receiver

Dawn Jaro
Angelique Chengelis talks about Devin Gardner's improvement as a wide receiver this year.  So far he has 11 catches for 195 yards and 3 touchdowns, either leading or tying for the team lead in each category.

Video: Hoke postgame press conference

Notre Dame 13, Michigan 6

This will not end well. (image via USA Today)
I wish I were wrong.  I pretty much had the lowest score prediction in the Michigan blogosphere, and even I didn't expect the sloppy snoozefest that occurred on Saturday night.  I was criticized on my game preview for picking a 24-20 score because the offenses were powerful and the defenses weren't.  Well . . . we saw what happened.  The defenses were okay, but the offenses aren't where they should be for either school.  Notre Dame should be more explosive for offensive genius Brian Kelly, and Michigan should be better with a senior quarterback.  Brian at MGoBlog sort of criticized my understatement that this would be Denard's worst game against Notre Dame, but I guess I wasn't clear enough; the pressure up front was bound to make Denard jumpy.  I just expected more breakdowns in the defensive backfield.

Denard Robinson is a terrible (passing) quarterback.  He was, is, and probably always will be.  I have been saying this for years.  He's capable of good games (Ohio State in 2011, for example), but that's not the norm when he faces decent teams.  Over the past two seasons, he has 26 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Last night he was 13/24 for 138 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions; he also fumbled twice and got sacked 3 times.  There's no excuse for the poor decisions he makes, the poor footwork, the turnovers, and the inaccuracy.  Even his Hail Mary interception at the end of the first half was terrible because he overthrew every single dude on the team; you're not trying to beat the opponent deep in that situation - you're trying to complete the pass and get yards after the catch.  And all that stuff happened with Notre Dame missing starting safety Jamoris Slaughter and starting corner Lo Wood.

Vincent Smith and Al Borges d'oh.  Michigan was moving the ball really well at one point in the first quarter, and then Al Borges had to go ahead and call that play where Vincent Smith throws the ball to the other team.  That was a huge turning point in the game, because it seemed Michigan was on its way to scoring before that play.  Of course, Smith should know better than to throw it, but he's a running back.  Hell, Michigan's actual quarterback threw four picks of his own, so who's to say that Denard wouldn't have made the same poor decision?  I thought Borges called an okay game, but that was a huge, huge mistake.

Hooray for Jeremy Gallon.  I thought Gallon was pretty consistent throughout the night in all phases of the game.  He made good decisions on punt returns, ran well after the catch, and had a couple nice designed runs.

J.T. Floyd rabble rabble rabble.  He did not have a good game.  He is not good.  I take that back.  He isn't good at covering, he isn't good at supporting the run, and he isn't good at taking on blocks.  However, he does have a knack for tackling wide receivers when they catch the ball in front of him.  So there's that.

Freshman safety anger.  I hate hate hate playing freshman safeties.  I've mentioned this before.  All safeties should redshirt or be limited to special teams.  Jarrod Wilson got caught flat-footed in the second quarter and then had to grab onto Tyler Eifert to prevent a touchdown pass.  Pass interference, first down, then touchdown.  Wilson also picked up a holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff.  All that attrition in the defensive backfield over the past few years has really hurt the team.

WTF on Notre Dame's touchdown?  Notre Dame lined up in pro left with trips to the right on the 2-yard line..  Michigan put four guys down with Jake Ryan as the middle linebacker and safety Jordan Kovacs about 7 or 8 yards off the ball.  This is problematic because a) Notre Dame has six blockers to block five guys and b) Jake Ryan isn't a middle linebacker.  Ryan's read step took him to Notre Dame's left (presumably because that's where the uncovered gaps were), but he was also moving backward on the snap.  Quarterback Tommy Rees simply took the shotgun snap and ran right behind his center and right guard, who were double-teaming Quinton Washington.  Washington didn't do a bad job of holding up, but that's just setting up your defense to fail.  Put Desmond Morgan or James Ross in there, and maybe your MIKE has a chance of making the right read.

Jake Ryan's role needs to be re-evaluated.  I think the coaching staff is asking too much of him.  Sometimes he's a SAM linebacker, sometimes he's an inside linebacker, and sometimes they put him at defensive end, even in running situations.  He can't hold up at defensive end against the run.  Leave him on the edge and then move him around in obvious passing situations to get after the quarterback.  He's a quality player in some aspects, but he's not a freak athlete that can be moved around at will.

Where is Michigan now? Out of the top 25.  And that's probably where they deserve to be.  They were overrated to begin the year, and now they're probably in the range where they deserve to be.  The loss of Junior Hemingway has hurt because Denard doesn't have a go-to guy, and the lack of playmakers on the defensive line has turned this into a mediocre defense.  The linebackers and safeties are fine, but the defensive line and cornerbacks are weaknesses right now.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Give us some of that old time Denard Robinson religion

Jenn Kaelin
Matt Hinton talks about Denard Robinson's past performances against Notre Dame . . . and whether he'll be able to make something awesome happen again on Saturday.

Attractive Michigan Girl of the Week


If you have any other pictures of girls wearing Michigan gear, drop me an e-mail.

Preview: Michigan at Notre Dame


Rush Offense vs. Notre Dame Rush Defense
Michigan is #45 nationally in rush offense, but Denard Robinson accounts for 117 of the team's 192.3 yards/game.  The offensive line has generally struggled to create creases for anyone else.  Meanwhile, Notre Dame is #23 in rushing defense, giving up 96.3 yards/game.  They held Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell to 77 yards on 19 carries (4.1 yards/attempt) and the entire Navy offense to 149 yards, a team that was #3 nationally in 2011 with 358 yards/game.  The Fighting Irish have done a good job of recruiting in recent years, and they now have several very good players in the front seven.  Denard Robinson has shown that he can run on these guys, but I have some concerns about whether the offensive line can hold up.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Offense vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense
After playing two cupcake defenses and one very good defense, Robinson is completing 54.6% of his passes for 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions; he's the #39 rated passer in the country, thanks to some long completions.  However, two of those interceptions have been returned for touchdowns.  Michigan has its full complement of wide receivers, and the 6'4" Devin Gardner leads the team in yards, touchdowns, and yards per catch.  Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish are missing starting safety Jamoris Slaughter and starting cornerback Lo Wood for the season; the other starting corner Bennett Jackson had 2 interceptions against Purdue, and safety Zeke Motta isn't much of a pass defender.  Receivers should be able to get open, but the 3-4 defense will probably put some pressure on Robinson in the pocket; Notre Dame sacked Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell four times last week.  Defensive end Stephon Tuitt leads the country with 5 sacks and the team is sacking the quarterback 3.67 times per game.  Big plays will be there both ways, but based on past performance, I think Robinson will make some big things happen through the air or by scrambling.
Advantage: Michigan

Rush Defense vs. Notre Dame Rush Offense
This matchup terrifies me, because Notre Dame has several running backs with a great deal of ability.  Theo Riddick had 107 yards and 2 touchdowns against Navy; George Atkinson is averaging 9.5 yards/carry; Cierre Wood returned last week to run for 56 yards on 10 carries against MSU; and quarterback Everett Golson can run a little bit.  Michigan has struggled on the inside, and both defensive end Brennen Beyer and defensive tackle Richard Ash are questionable to play due to injury.  They're #104 nationally against the run. Riddick and Wood are both capable running backs, but Atkinson is the wild card.  He's fast and physical and could be a huge game-breaker.  I do not see this phase going well for the Wolverines.
Advantage: Notre Dame

Pass Defense vs. Notre Dame Pass Offense
Golson is Notre Dame's starter, but he's backed up by a couple capable guys in Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix.  The youngster is completing just 58% of his passes for 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, so he's not lighting the world on fire, but if the running game produces, he won't have to win it through the air.  The Fighting Irish have a handful of capable receivers, not just one guy to concentrate on like Michael Floyd the past few years.  Tight end/wide receiver Tyler Eifert, receiver T.J. Jones, receiver DaVaris Daniels, receiver Robby Toma, and running back Theo Riddick all have between 6 and 9 receptions.  Eifert, in particular, seems like a matchup problem because of his size (6'6", 251 lbs.) and speed.  Notre Dame gives up 2.67 sacks/game, and Golson holds onto the ball too long sometimes, but Michigan barely gets after the quarterback unless they use Jake Ryan as a rusher.  Without starting cornerback Blake Countess, it might be a struggle for Michigan to cover each of the targets.
Advantage: Notre Dame

Roster Notes
  • Michigan recruited K Kyle Brindza, WR Chris Brown, WR DaVaris Daniels, DT Sheldon Day, LB Dan Fox, QB Everett Golson, OT Mark Harrell, DE Jarron Jones, QB Gunner Kiel, OT Christian Lombard, OT Zack Martin, WR Davonte Neal, DT Louis Nix III, S Elijah Shumate, OG Chris Watt, TE Alex Welch, RB Cierre Wood, and CB Lo Wood.
A Look Back . . . 
Here's my review of Michigan's 35-31 win last season, my awards from that game, and some highlights:

Predictions

  • Denard Robinson has his worst career performance of the Notre Dame series.
  • Notre Dame gashes Michigan for 190 rushing yards.
  • Big plays go Notre Dame's way this year.
  • Notre Dame 24, Michigan 20

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rivals: Weekend top performers


Rivals' Josh Helmholdt discusses the top five weekend performers he saw, and the top four guys are Michigan targets.

Video: Brady Hoke press conference - Notre Dame week

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Charles Woodson

Straight chillin'
In a pregame interview, Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler sarcastically wished Packers defensive backs "good luck" covering his wide receivers in their match-up during last week's Thursday Night Football.  Cutler ought to know better than to challenge one of the greatest defensive backs of all time.
"We understand that Jay is excited about his new weapons," Woodson said. "But it's the same old Jay.  We don't need luck.  We just need to be in position.  Jay will throw us the ball."
Woodson and his mentees must have been in position quite a bit Thursday night, picking off Cutler four times in their 23-10 victory.  Woodson ended the game with one interception (the 55th of his career), five tackles, a pass breakup, and most likely nothing but a smooth look toward Jay Cutler that said, "I KNEW U WERE PATHETIC BEFORE THE GAME EVEN STARTED DUDE."

Honorable Mention:  In only the second game of the regular season, Mike Martin started at nose tackle for the Titans and apparently showed well, recording his first NFL sack and registering four total tackles.  Martin started due to an injury up front and is still listed as second string on the official roster, but that shouldn't prevent him from continuing to see plenty of playing time.  

Miscellaneous:  
  • Tom Brady is not the Former Michigan Athlete of the Week.  The Patriots were stunned by the Cardinals, 20-18, and Brady finished with a QB rating below 80.
  • Larry Foote recorded seven tackles and Ryan Mundy recorded five in the Steelers 27-10 win over the New York Jets.
  • Brandon Graham continues to NOT light the world on fire.  Two solo tackles are the only non-zero items on his 2012 boxscore besides "games played."  
  • After coming off an early season-ending injury, Mouton started the 2012 season inactive for the Chargers.  He is listed as second string on their depth chart.
  • Braylon Edwards had five receptions for Seattle the first week but none last week.
  • Stevie Brown continues to collect an NFL paycheck.  Now in his third season, Brown is a backup safety for the New York Giants and has recorded five tackles this year. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big Ten Blog: Weekend rewind - Big Ten

Danielle Sullivan
Brian Bennett gives his Big Ten "Weekend Rewind," which mentions some goings on around the league, including a couple Michigan players.

Video: Borges, Mattison press conference - Notre Dame week



Ex-Wolverine Updates

The guy in black was Jake Fisher in high school.
Former Michigan TE/DE commit Pharaoh Brown: Brown had 1 catch for 26 yards as Oregon beat Tennessee Tech by a score of 63-14.  He has 2 receptions for 42 yards on the season.

Former Michigan CB commit Demar Dorsey: Dorsey and former Michigan LB commit Antonio Kinard are both on Western Arizona Community College's football roster.  Dorsey was supposed to head to Hawaii and Kinard was supposed to be at Miami by now, but both have run into academic and/or legal issues.  Western Arizona CC is a repository of former high school talent, including former USC wide receiver Markeith Ambles and former South Carolina quarterback Tanner McEvoy.

Former Michigan OT commit Jake Fisher: Fisher jumped on a De'Anthony Thomas fumble in the end zone after Thomas caught a pass at Tennessee Tech's 49-yard line and almost scored himself.  It was Fisher's first career touchdown, which is probably an obvious statement.

Former Michigan RB commit Dee Hart: Hart had 4 runs for 21 yards as Alabama beat Arkansas by a score of 52-0.

Former Michigan S Carvin Johnson: Johnson had 5 tackles and 2 pass breakups, but Hampton lost to Florida A&M by a score of 44-20.

Former Michigan DT commit DeQuinta Jones: Jones had just 1 tackle as Alabama ran over Arkansas, 52-0.

Former Michigan RB Sam McGuffie: McGuffie did not have a good day on Saturday, as he had 1 rush for -5 yards, 1 catch for -3 yards, and 2 kickoff returns for 25 yards.  Rice lost to Louisiana Tech by a score of 56-37.

Former Michigan WR/CB commit Dewayne Peace: Peace had 10 receptions for 103 yards, but Houston lost to UCLA by a score of 37-6.

Former Michigan WR Je'Ron Stokes: Stokes had 1 reception for 12 yards, but Bowling Green State lost to Toledo by a score of 27-15.  By the way, Denard Robinson's former teammate Cassius McDowell plays for Toledo now; he had 8 carries for 40 yards and 4 receptions for 40 yards for the Rockets.

Former Michigan S Ray Vinopal: Vinopal had 1 tackle in Pitt's 35-17 upset of Virginia Tech.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wolverine Nation: Dreisbach coaching offense in Texas

Claudia Fijal
As Wolverine Nation  reports, former Michigan quarterback Scott Dreisbach is coaching high school ball in Texas.

Video: Pre-gaming with Pat - UMass

Michigan vs. UMass Awards

Mike Kwiatkowski
Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Mike Kwiatkowski.  I like what I've seen out of him so far.  He caught a 16-yard pass and that's all, but he looks pretty athletic and does a decent job of blocking.  Despite Brandon Moore getting the Ron Kramer "Legends" #87 jersey, I think Kwiatkowski is the superior player.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . opponents running with the football.  Three games, four interceptions for Denard Robinson.  The one in this game was returned for six points.  A senior quarterback should not be making these mistakes.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . Joe Bolden.  I'm not a huge fan of replacing seniors with freshmen, but Bolden has done a good job the past couple weeks.  Starting middle linebacker Kenny Demens played the vast majority of snaps last season, but Michigan can afford to rest him (or replace him?) with Bolden and not miss a whole lot.  He's more athletic than Demens.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . Raymon Taylor.  I really think Taylor is overmatched.  I'm not sure if Michigan has a better option (Courtney Avery? Terry Richardson?), but I'm worried about how Taylor will match up against Notre Dame and other future opponents.

Play of the game . . . Devin Gardner's catch-and-run.  Gardner did a great job of catching the ball, getting upfield, and stretching for the pylon.  He's deceptively strong for having a lanky frame and did a great job of staying inbounds when it looked like he would get knocked out at around the 2-yard line.

MVP of the game . . . Denard Robinson.  He ran 10 times for 106 yards and 1 touchdown.  He completed 16/24 passes for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns.  The turnovers and near turnovers are frustrating, but the bottom line is that he accounted for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MLive: Hopkins takes notes from former great fullbacks

Dianna Dahlgren
Nick Baumgardner talks about Stephen Hopkins's adjustment to the fullback position after being a tailback in high school and as a freshman in college.

Video: Hoke, Denard, Smith, Campbell, Gordon, Omameh, Dileo postgame







Highlights: Michigan 63, UMass 13



Michigan 63, UMass 13

Jerald Robinson almost made two one-handed catches. Unfortunately, he dropped both.
(image via Boston.com)
We've seen this before. This game felt eerily similar to Michigan's 63-6 beatdown of Delaware State back in 2009.  The only difference was the interception that Denard Robinson threw, which was returned for a touchdown.

We didn't learn much from this game. I didn't really see anyone stand out in this game and make an unexpected impact. There weren't any big plays on special teams, Michigan struggled to get much pressure on the quarterback, none of the second-teamers stepped up to have a great game, etc. A few players saw their first action (Graham Glasgow, Curt Graman, Justice Hayes, Joe Kerridge, Kristian Mateus, Jordan Paskorz, Steve Wilson) and a couple guys record their first statistics (Justice Hayes had 3 carries for 19 yards and 1 touchdown; Mike Kwiatkowski had 1 catch for 16 yards), but this team still has some problems that aren't quite fixed.

Turnovers, please? Michigan is one of 11 teams in the FBS to have zero interceptions. Michigan had a chance in this game, but cornerback J.T. Floyd misplayed a long ball and let it sail harmlessly overhead. Paul Gyarmati did recover a muffed punt, though, so at least we've got that going for us. I'm looking forward to when Michigan gets some good cover corners on the field.

Vincent Smith is Spider-man. That 19-yard reception along the left sideline was ridiculous. He caught the ball, got hit immediately, spun like Kristi Yamaguchi, and kept running. I've never been a huge fan of Smith as a feature back type of player, but I'm going to miss his multi-purpose skills after this season.

Oh by the way, f*** you guys. UMass running back Michael Cox, who played for Michigan from 2008-2011, had a pretty solid game for the Minutemen.  He ended with 18 carries for 76 yards (4.2 yards per carry) behind a bad offensive line with not much of an aerial attack.  There were a couple plays where he ran east-and-west when there was no hole, losing a chunk of yards.  But he had some impressive runs against a Michigan defense that should have been able to clamp down on the running game.  I never really thought Cox was a superstar, but I did think that he deserved a shot to play when the aforementioned Smith was being used as a feature back.  The knocks on him were always fumbling (he never fumbled at Michigan, though there was a botched exchange in this game), learning the playbook (I didn't see any missed assignments in this game), and running east-west too much (perhaps a fair criticism).  The kid is a decent running back.  Also, he looked huge.

I'm scared for Michigan's offensive line. The coaches are clearly aiming to redshirt all the true freshman offensive linemen, which will only work if all the starters stay healthy.  Joey Burzynski got quite a bit of playing time at right guard and did an okay job, but the backup tackles (walk-ons Erik Gunderson and Kristian Mateus) were like revolving doors.  I still wasn't impressed with Michael Schofield at right tackle, either.  I thought he played better as a guard last season.

Devin Funchess and Devin Gardner look like studs.  Funchess (2 catches, 34 yards, 1 touchdown) outran a safety for a touchdown and caught a low pass in traffic.  Gardner (2 catches, 48 yards, 1 touchdown) grabbed a crossing route, outran a safety, tiptoed down the sideline, and launched himself across the pylon for his score. Gardner could have had two more long gainers, too, but he was badly overthrown by Denard Robinson.

Speaking of Robinson . . . I'm probably just a Debbie Downer, because the guy accounted for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns.  But he also threw a pick-six, fumbled on the goal line, and missed several open receivers.  I don't understand how he can have such poor throwing mechanics after four years of playing quarterback for a major college program.  He steps way to the left of his target, lets his arm drop, and throws off his back foot too much.  Even the Devin Funchess touchdown pass showed terrible mechanics.  Obviously, that play worked out okay, but he did the same thing on the pick-six and it cost the team a touchdown.  The kid completed 67% of his passes, threw for 3 scores, and ran for 106 yards.  He was the most dominant player in the game.  Obviously.  But good grief, he's frustrating to watch sometimes.

Frank Clark looked like a stud.  UMass didn't run much option, so Clark didn't have much of a chance to look confused and lose outside contain.  But he has a knack for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage and ended up with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 2 pass breakups.  I predicted in the game preview that he would notch his first two career sacks, and while that didn't happen, he abused the opposing tackles and was clearly the most disruptive pass rusher on the field.  If he can mature as a player and stay out of trouble off the field, he could be a solid NFL prospect in a year or two. I also liked what I saw from freshman linebackers Joe Bolden and James Ross.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pre-Snap Read: Five New NCAA Rules Felt Early


Pre-Snap Read  talks about some of the new rules that were implemented for this season of college football.

Video: Hoke, Roundtree, Floyd interviews





Visitors: Michigan vs. UMass

Malik McDowell
Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt: Butt committed to Michigan back in February.

Avon (OH) Avon CB Ross Douglas: Douglas committed to Michigan in July.

Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes: Dukes committed to Michigan back in February.

Detroit (MI) East English Village TE Khalid Hill: Hill committed to Michigan back in February.

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech RB/LB Gary Hosey: Hosey is a 6'0", 215 lb. athlete from the 2014 class.  He might be physical enough to play fullback, but he does not have the speed to be an FBS tailback.

Westland (MI) John Glenn WR Da'Mario Jones: Jones is a 6'2", 185 lb. wideout who committed to Central Michigan over offers from BGSU and Toledo.  He transferred to John Glenn from Montgomery (NJ) Montgomery.  With LaQuon Treadwell delaying his decision longer and longer - and Michigan appearing to fall back to the pack with him - Michigan might need to offer more receivers in the near future, so Jones might be a guy watch. (Highlights.)

Maitland (FL) Orangewood Christian FB/LB Jimmy Martin: Martin is a 5'11", 205 lb. prospect from the class of 2015.  He claims a 4.62 forty (but was timed at 4.84 at a national combine) and had 111 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries as a freshman in 2011.  Keep in mind that Orangewood is a small Christian school that doesn't play the best competition.  However, he was named to the Maxpreps Freshman All-American Second Team.  His head coach was previously the head coach at Orlando (FL) Dr. Phillips and Orlando (FL) Edgewater, the latter of which sent wide receiver Greg Mathews and linebacker Mike Jones to Michigan. (Freshman highlights.)

Detroit (MI) Loyola DE Malik McDowell: McDowell is a 2014 prospect with offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford, and Wisconsin, among others.  He has been considered to be a heavy Michigan lean, but he's also interested in Michigan State and Ohio State.  He is expected to visit MSU for their game against Notre Dame after he visits Ann Arbor in the afternoon.  McDowell stands 6'6" and weighs 292 lbs., and I think he'll eventually end up at defensive tackle rather than end.

Plantation (FL) American Heritage RB Sony Michel: A 2014 prospect, he already has offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, and Notre Dame.  His older brother Marken is the leading receiver for UMass, which is likely the biggest reason for visiting Michigan.  The younger Michel is coming off an ACL tear he suffered during his sophomore year.


Detroit (MI) Southwestern RB Romello Ross: Ross is a 5'11", 180 lb. running back from the class of 2015.  As a freshman in 2011, he had 1,312 yards rushing, 46 tackles, and 6 interceptions.  He doesn't have any offers yet, but that's not unusual for a kid at the beginning of his sophomore season. (Highlights.)

Novi (MI) Catholic Central RB Wyatt Shallman: Shallman committed to Michigan back in February.

Ottawa (IL) Marquette LS Scott Sypniewski: Sypniewski committed to Michigan back in June.

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech CB Damon Webb: Webb is a 5'11", 170 lb. wide receiver/cornerback with offers from LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and others.  LSU and Michigan appear to be the front runners in his recruitment.

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech LB William White: White is a 6'1", 215 lb. linebacker from the 2014 class.  Of the Cass Tech trio of linebackers, I think White is the second-most talented player behind Deon Drake. (Highlights of White.)

Harper Woods (MI) Chandler Park Academy WR Csont'e York: York committed to Michigan back in May.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kickstarter: Hope for Pahokee

Joslyn Cano
If you want to help out Pahokee, FL, an impoverished area that supplied Michigan with Martavious Odoms, Brandin Hawthorne, Vincent Smith, and Richard Ash, check out Odoms's Hope for Pahokee campaign and make a contribution.

Attractive Michigan Girl of the Week


If you have any other pictures of girls wearing Michigan gear, drop me an e-mail.  Go Blue!

Preview: Michigan vs. UMass

Maria Menounos is from Massachusetts. True story.
Rush Offense vs. UMass Rush Defense
After Denard Robinson's 218-yard performance against Air Force, Michigan is now #74 in the country with 141.5 yards/game on the ground.  However, the offensive line has really struggled to create holes for anyone else, as Thomas Rawls ran for 9 yards against Alabama and Fitzgerald Toussaint gained just 7 against Air Force.  Indiana rushed for 331 yards against the Minutemen, including 115 from quarterback Tre Roberson (on just 5 carries) and 86 from freshman running back Tevin Coleman.  If Michigan can't manhandle UMass up front and run the ball with someone other than Denard Robinson, then it will be a long season.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Offense vs. UMass Pass Defense
Interestingly, everyone but Tre Roberson did well passing the ball for Indiana against UMass.  They were 26/40 for 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception; Roberson had 7 of those incompletions, including the pick.  Through two games, the Minutemen have 3 interceptions and 1 sack.  So far this season, Denard Robinson has thrown 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, so it's possible that UMass will add to that interception total; however, the offensive line has allowed just 1 sack, so it will be a struggle getting to the quarterback.  UMass doesn't have any athletes who can match up with Devin Gardner or Devin Funchess, and Jeremy Gallon should be able to do some damage, too.
Advantage: Michigan

Rush Defense vs. UMass Rush Offense
Michigan is currently #113 in the country at stopping the run, allowing 261 yards/game; however, that's a bit misleading because they played one of the top rushing teams in the country (Air Force) and the national champions (Alabama, duh), who are pretty good at running the ball, too.  The Wolverines aren't as good up front as they were last season, but they won't be #113 in this category by the time the season ends, either.  Meanwhile, UMass has run the ball 60 times and netted 81 yards, an average of just 1.3 yards/attempt.  Defensive end Brennen Beyer and backup defensive tackle Richard Ash will both miss this game due to injury, but the Wolverines should do a pretty good job of handling the rushing attack.  Fans shouldn't be surprised that Alabama and Air Force ran for a bunch of yards; if UMass follows suit, that's very bad news.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. UMass Pass Offense
Starting quarterback Mike Wegzyn is 27/48 on the season for 0 touchdowns and 1 interception, and he's a 6'5", 215 lb. pocket passer.  The top receiver is 5'10", 185 lb. Marken Michel with 8 receptions for 82 yards.  Michigan hasn't done anything spectacular against the pass this season (2 sacks, 0 interceptions), and there have been some breakdowns in coverage this season.  If UMass puts any big plays together, I think they'll have to come in the passing game, where they might be able to take advantage of a couple slow-ish safeties and a depleted cornerback position.  I expect them to try to dink and dunk their way down the field and hope that eventually they can hit something deep.
Advantage: Michigan

Roster Notes
  • Former Michigan running back Michael Cox transferred to UMass after last season.  He wears #5. During his career with the Wolverines, he had 19 carries for 169 yards (8.9 yards/carry) and 2 touchdowns, and also caught 1 pass for 11 yards.
  • Head coach Charley Molnar was previously the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame.
  • Cornerbacks coach Jeff Burris played defensive back for Notre Dame in the early '90s and then played for the Bills, Colts, and Bengals.
A Look Back . . . 
Here's my review of Michigan's 42-37 victory over UMass in 2010, as well as my awards from that game.

Predictions
  • Denard Robinson sits on the bench for the entire second half
  • Frank Clark gets his first 2 career sacks
  • Vincent Smith attempts a halfback pass
  • Michigan 52, Massachusetts 3

Thursday, September 13, 2012

WSJ: The NFL Moves Back into the Dorms

Rachel Neiberding
The Wall Street Journal  writer Kevin Clark looks at the Washington Redskins' movement toward a college-style offense to suit Robert Griffin III.  Naturally, one would think that an NFL franchise might do a similar thing for Denard Robinson, another fleet-footed quarterback seemingly ill suited to play QB in the NFL.  However, Griffin was a much more consistent thrower on the college level, meaning he can adapt to the NFL a little more easily.  I still think that Robinson would struggle at QB in the professional ranks and, like most other people, assume he will have to switch positions in order to make a career of it.

Video: Michigan vs. Air Force - Every Snap

Former Michigan Athlete of the Week: Larry Foote


The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football in the first week of the NFL season by a score of 31-19.  Pittsburgh's defense as a whole didn't live up to expectation, but Larry Foote delivered a strong performance, tallying eight tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and a pass deflection.  The eleven year veteran again started at "Buck" linebacker for his team--which is just another term for "Will" from what I gather--despite being "questionable" headed into the game.  Also the home to former Michigan athletes Ryan Mundy and LaMarr Woodley, the 0-1 Steelers face off against conference rival the New York Jets next week.

Honorable mention:  A strong case could be made for Charles Woodson, who recorded 1.5 sacks, a handful of tackles and a forced fumble in a 30-22 loss to the 49ers Sunday.  But I'm going with Mike Martin for earning playing time in the first week of his rookie season and getting his first three career tackles. The Titans got shellacked, 31-13, by Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Miscellaneous:  
  • Junior Hemmingway bought a Ferrari Spider for his girlfriend and was then cut by the Kansas City Chiefs.  Then the Chiefs signed him again.  Then they cut him again.  [EDIT:  Junior tweeted out, "I just bought a Ferrari Spider for my girl.  I told her to drive it like it got eight legs!"  But I guess those are lyrics from a Lil Wayne song.  Thanks to the commenter for the heads up.  I do not listen to Lil Wayne.] 
  • Adrian Arrington was released by the New Orleans Saints [Update:  Arrington re-signs with the Saints and is placed on the Injured Reserve].  
  • Tim Jamison signed a two year contract extention with the Houston Texans.  
  • Ryan Van Bergen did not make the Carolina Panthers final roster cut.  
  • David Molk is listed as the second string center on the San Diego Chargers depth chart.  
  • Stephen Schilling is no longer with the Chargers and now a free agent.

  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

AnnArbor.com: Is it good or bad that 12 freshmen have played?

Olivia Paige
Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner discuss whether it's good or not that 12 true freshmen have played for the Wolverines this fall.

Video: Hoke, Schofield, Hopkins interviews





Video: Borges, Mattison press conference - UMass week



Ex-Wolverine Updates

DeWayne Peace had an excellent game for Houston
Former Michigan CB Cullen Christian: Christian had 2 tackles and 1 pass breakup for Pitt, but they lost to Cincinnati by a score of 34-10.

Former Michigan RB Michael Cox: Cox had 15 carries for 36 yards and 4 receptions for -2 yards as UMass lost to Indiana by a score of 45-6.

Former Michigan S Carvin Johnson: Johnson had 18 tackles and 1 tackle for loss, but Hampton lost to Tennessee Tech by a score of 41-31 in week 1.

Former Michigan DT commit DeQuinta Jones: Jones had 3 tackles, but Arkansas was upset by Louisiana-Monroe by a score of 34-31 in overtime.

Former Michigan RB Sam McGuffie: McGuffie had 2 rushes for 14 yards and 3 receptions for 15 yards as Rice beat Kansas by a score of 25-24.

Former Michigan WR commit Dewayne Peace: Peace had 11 receptions for 141 yards and 1 touchdown, but Houston lost to Louisiana Tech by a score of 56-49.

Former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez: Rodriguez's Arizona team upset #18 Oklahoma State by a score of 59-28.  His offense put up 501 yards, which was 135 fewer than OSU . . . but his defense came up with 3 interceptions.  The Wildcats are 2-0 on the year.

Former Michigan WR Je'Ron Stokes: Stokes had 1 reception for 15 yards and 1 touchdown in Bowling Green's 21-13 victory over Idaho.

Former Michigan WR Darryl Stonum: Stonum had 2 receptions for 41 yards and 1 touchdown in Baylor's 59-24 blowout of SMU in week 1.

Former Michigan CB commit Adrian Witty: Witty had 1 tackle in Cincinnati's 34-10 victory over Pitt.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

AnnArbor.com: Robinson, Funchess win Big Ten honors

Jeniffer Hernandez
Denard Robinson and Devin Funchess were named Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, respectively, by the Big Ten.

Video: Inside Michigan Football Episode 3

Recruiting Update: September 11, 2012

Bo Scarbrough
OFF THE BOARD
Tuscaloosa (AL) Northridge running back Bo Scarbrough, a 2014 prospect, committed to Alabama.  It was presumed that the Crimson Tide would be his eventual destination, and he pulled the trigger at the end of last week.  Here are some highlights so you can see what Michigan is missing:

VISITORS
This wasn't a big weekend for visits, and headliner LaQuon Treadwell was unable to make the trip from Illinois.  However, there were several Cass Tech prospects on hand, including 2014 cornerback Damon Webb.  Here's the list.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pre-Snap Read: The 2012 All-Name Team

Renee Somerfield
Pre-Snap Read  shares its all-name team.  Blake Countess received honorable mention.

Video: Hoke, Lewan, Mealer press conference



 

Video: Michigan Rewind - Air Force

Michigan vs. Air Force Awards

Devin Funchess caught 4 passes for 106 yards and this touchdown.
Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Devin Funchess.  The freshman tight end burst onto the scene Saturday with a 4-catch, 106-yard, 1-touchdown performance.  His 30-yard touchdown reception showed him getting behind a safety and leaping to snatch the ball out of the air.  Brandon Moore can't do that, and I doubt A.J. Williams can.  Kevin Koger could do it occasionally, but Koger caught 4 passes just twice in his career and never had more than 60 yards in a single game.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . Denard Robinson.  Twenty carries is too many.  The team needs to get the running backs going.  Fitzgerald Toussaint had 8 carries for 7 yards in this game.  Thomas Rawls had 6 carries for 9 yards last week.  And those were your starting tailbacks.  Yep, 14 carries for 16 yards through two games.  Michigan needs to improve the play of the offensive line and let these tailbacks run a little bit.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . Courtney Avery.  I was not impressed with Raymon Taylor's performance at cornerback on Sunday, and I think Avery should remain the starter at field corner.  The coaches need to find another contributor for the slot corner spot, whether it's Taylor, Delonte Hollowell, or Thomas Gordon.  The injury to Blake Countess and the departure of Terrence Talbott have really hurt Michigan's secondary.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . Frank Clark.  Clark is still too undisciplined.  Yes, he made a couple nice plays, but he also made a couple bone-headed plays where he was culpable for losing contain.  He needs to be more consistent.  Hopefully Brennen Beyer's injury isn't too serious, because Beyer needs to get a bunch of snaps there.  Mario Ojemudia also looks decent as a bit player, although his size will become more of a detriment once the Big Ten season hits.

Play of the game . . . Denard Robinson's 58-yard touchdown run.  The first touchdown run was longer (79 yards), but the second was more fun to watch.  He slid to the left, waiting for Patrick Omameh to pull through the hole, then burst forward, cut to the right, cut upfield, jumped outside to the right sideline, and outraced the Air Force defense to the corner.

MVP of the game . . . Denard Robinson.  Jake Ryan had a great game, too, but Robinson had 218 rushing yards, 208 passing yards, and accounted for all 4 of Michigan's touchdowns.  He could have thrown the ball better, but he made just about every play possible in the running game.  He also seems to be developing a rapport with wide receiver Devin Gardner and tight end Funchess.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

AnnArbor.com: Michigan's defense searching for answers

Lauren Waugh
According to Kyle Meinker, Michigan's defense is still searching for answers.  I think Michigan will be okay. They played Alabama in the first game, and this week they played a triple option team.  Things should settle down in the coming weeks.

Highlights: Michigan 31, Air Force 25





Michigan 31, Air Force 25

Denard Robinson rushed for 218 yards and threw for 208, accounting for 4 touchdowns
(image via Sporting News)
The officials were terrible. Terrible. Air Force's first touchdown should have been called back for illegal procedure.  Quarterback Connor Dietz tossed to A-back Cody Getz, who beat everyone to the edge.  In the meantime, the wing started moving forward  prior to the snap like he was in the CFL and chopped down safety Jordan Kovacs, who was responsible for the pitch.  Without that forward momentum, Kovacs - Michigan's best open-field tackler - very well could have stopped Getz before the goal line.  Later in the game, Air Force converted on a key third down when both the quarterback and the running back - who were in a shotgun formation - started moving to their right before the ball was snapped . . . and a slot receiver was already in motion.  So three  guys were moving prior to the snap, and the play was allowed to stand.  Those were obvious, blatant non-calls and each one could have had a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

Devin Funchess is the new Junior Hemingway. The freshman tight end is listed at 6'5", 229 lbs.  I expected him to look skinnier than he does, but he's fairly solid looking and showed an ability to stretch the field a little bit.  He caught a 29-yard wheel route and a leaping 30-yard touchdown, totaling 4 receptions for 106 yards and that TD.  Jump balls aren't going to work with most receivers on the roster, but this guy could be Denard Robinson's savior.

These are not the droids you're looking for.  Forget what you saw the defense do yesterday.  Yes, it was ugly.  Michigan allowed 290 yards rushing and 127 yards passing, but Michigan won't see another triple option offense this year unless they meet Air Force or Georgia Tech in a bowl game.  The defensive line won't see cut blocking like this, the outside linebackers and safeties won't have to be as disciplined, etc.  I know yesterday was frustrating and too close for comfort, but it's also mostly irrelevant to the rest of our opponents.

The cornerbacks are scaring me. Raymon Taylor was very, very weak in run support.  I'm not a huge fan of J.T. Floyd in run support, either, but Taylor looks to avoid contact with blockers whenever possible, and that's a bit scary.  Now I'm going to go back to forgetting what the defense did.

The offensive line has taken a step backward.  The absence of David Molk is noticeable, and I still wonder whether it was a good idea to let Rocko Khoury walk instead of getting a fifth year.  Starting center Elliott Mealer's snaps have been good, but he's much slower than Molk.  Meanwhile, Michael Schofield looked much better at left guard last year than he does at right tackle.  The offseason was rife with talk about how Schofield looked so great at right tackle, but I'm just not seeing it.  Some people mentioned how Fitzgerald Toussaint looked rusty, but it wasn't Toussaint - it was the offensive line allowing so much penetration.  He had nowhere to run at all.

Dennis Norfleet wants to eat.  When Norfleet jumped in front of Drew Dileo to steal a kickoff return, I sort of felt bad for Dileo.  Dileo's body language indicated he wasn't too happy about it, either.  Norfleet got hit after a short return, but then he bounced off and turned in a nice play.  He had 3 returns for 77 yards yesterday, an average of 25.7 per return.  The kid is going to be exciting to watch for the next few years.

BREAKOUT PLAYER JERALD ROBINSON! He had 1 reception for 10 yards.  Departing seniors have been calling for him to explode for the last two seasons, and now he has 1 career catch.

The linebackers will be awesome for years to come.  Jake Ryan had 11 tackles, including a nice tackle on the second-to-last play, and a leaping pass breakup on Air Force's final pass attempt.  Overall, he had an excellent day.  Sophomore Desmond Morgan made some nice plays at times, freshman Joe Bolden made 10 tackles, and freshman James Ross made a couple nice plays.

Denard Robinson continues to destroy mediocre defenses.  It was a blast watching Denard Robinson yesterday as he demolished the Falcons' defense, but it wasn't unexpected.  This is what he does to so-so defenses (see Bowling Green, UConn, UMass, Indiana, Eastern Michigan, etc.) and occasionally to good defenses (see Ohio State circa 2011).  A guy who's faster than Usain Bolt (not really) ought to run away from a bunch of Air Force Academy cadets, and Robinson looked fairly comfortable in the pocket.  If Michigan continues to struggle blocking for the running backs, Robinson is going to need to replicate this performance many, many times this year.

Hail to the Air Force Academy.  I'm sort of glad that Air Force put up a good fight.  My father and grandfather are veterans, another close family member graduated from the Academy, and I have a strong appreciation for those in the military.  They don't deserve to be embarrassed anywhere, including on the football field.  They should be proud of the way they played on Saturday.