Monday, November 11, 2013

Michigan vs. Nebraska Awards

Cameron Gordon (image via AP)
Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . a fifth receiver. Assuming the top four guys are Jeremy Gallon, Devin Funchess, Jehu Chesson, and Drew Dileo, I don't care who the fifth guy would be. It could be Fitzgerald Toussaint, Dennis Norfleet, Da'Mario Jones, Jake Butt, virtually anyone. Hell, put Blake Countess out there at receiver a little bit and see what he can do. Michigan needs to spread the field laterally instead of packing everything in tight. With receivers packed in tight, that makes it a lot easier for defenses to blitz, stop the run, etc. If you spread the field wider, you can see the blitzes coming and you prevent so many guys from coming and confusing your offensive line. Go five-wide a few times, give the offensive linemen one-on-one matchups, and see if something develops. Even if one of the young interior linemen gets beaten, Gardner is a good runner and can create some things on his own. Right now teams are green dogging against Fitzgerald Toussaint, so even if he stays in, it's an extra protector against an extra blitzer. That doesn't give Michigan a statistical advantage.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . Graham Glasgow at center. Glasgow was a better guard than center, and I'm not sure that's saying much. Bad snaps can destroy an offense, and Glasgow has been a poor snapper ever since he was inserted against Minnesota. He has been good for at least one fumbled snap per week and numerous other snaps that look slow, throwing off the timing of the offense. In the last two weeks, Glasgow has botched three shotgun snaps, all of which have resulted in big yardage losses, including a -20 yard play against Michigan State and a -10 yard play against Nebraska. Jack Miller was a poor blocker, but his snaps were spot on and more consistent. I have to wonder if Glasgow's poor snaps (sometimes they're low, sometimes they're high, sometimes they're right in the chest) are affecting Gardner's thought process prior to the snap.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . Cameron Gordon. Gordon was tied for the team lead in tackles with 8, forced a fumble that was recovered by Chris Wormley, and sacked Tommy Armstrong for 13 yards. It seemed like Gordon lost snaps once Jake Ryan returned from his torn ACL, but with the hand injury to Keith Heitzman, SAM linebacker Brennen Beyer has been moved back to defensive end. Gordon is one of the best athletes on the defense at 6'3" and 237 lbs., and he's a guy who can cover, rush the passer, and chase plays to the sideline.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . freshman defensive backs. I still see freshmen out there every week, and it seems like they're always getting Michigan beaten. On a 26-yard catch and run by Nebraska wideout Kenny Bell, Channing Stribling missed a tackle, Dymonte Thomas missed a tackle, and then redshirt junior Josh Furman got blocked and blocked and blocked. Junior Delonte Hollowell started the spring game and now can barely get on the field. The freshmen are overmatched right now. I've never been a huge fan of Hollowell, but he is feisty and physical and probably would have been better prepared to tackle Bell on that play.

Play of the game . . . Devin Funchess's screen catch and run. There aren't many options, but Funchess took a high pass over the middle, tipped it to himself with one hand, stepped through a tackle, and ran 23 yards up the sideline before getting pulled down. He also ran an end around for 5 yards. Both plays were fairly impressive plays for a guy who's a "tight end."

MVP of the game . . . Cam Gordon. There's no great choice here, but Gordon made 8 tackles, had Michigan's only sack, and had the only forced turnover (the other turnover was a muffed punt).

16 comments:

  1. Let's hope that the team can get it back together and beat the spread, which currently favors Northwestern (4-5)...

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  2. Somebody needs to go visit Lloyd and ask him for the 2008 M-FL bowl gameplan.

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  3. I've been reading "Touch the Banner" for several years now, and this might be the most downcast article you've written. Not that I blame you ... it's not so much that Michigan lost a game; it's the manner in which they lost it, combined with the manner in which they've played all this season. There's not a lot of sunshine.

    Near as I can figure, this coaching staff (either Borges, or Hoke, or both) thinks that repetition of the power running game concepts will bring results. Maybe. But obviously not in the short term. So I'm left wondering what this staff is thinking.

    "Power" and "Spread" are not binary options ... there's a range of things between the two. Why they can't (or won't) adjust to compensate for current weaknesses I can't fathom (beyond simple stubbornness).

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    1. They just aren't very good, that's all.

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  4. As far as moving Miller back in, generally I agree with you a bit (mostly because of the snap thing a little because he's actually better at blocking or pass pro), but I wonder if the coaches are worried about switching the OL around again at this point. I think they want to give the unit a somewhat realistic chance to gel. I'm just not sure, no matter what they do, that there is an answer that makes this OL anything but terrible.

    Agree with your point in your recap re: Funk.

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    1. I agree that the coaches might want to give the line a chance to gel, but to me, the snapping errors are unforgivable. If it were me, I would probably have replaced Glasgow after the botched snap in this game. If not, then certainly by the Northwestern game.

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    2. I was thinking the same, to be honest. And it's not like the coaches didn't know he had snapping issues, it's the reason they started with Miller. But I understand not doing it as well.

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  5. I can't believe you are asking for more Jeremy Jackson because that's probably who the fifth receiver would be.

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    1. I don't think Jackson would be the fifth-best wide receiver, but the coaches probably disagree with me. Even so, just putting a fifth wide receiver out there would help out the team by formation.

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  6. OK so I wasn't the only guy to notice that as well, on that key Bell play. As it developed, I couldn't believe I saw those guys out there. I am all for playing the younger guys in some key situations...but isn't that what is killing us this year, being forced to play too-young OL's strung across the middle? I can't believe Mattison had that personnel out there, too young, inexperienced, all on that side of the field. I like Mattison a lot, like his decisions and coaching, but that seems like a big-time mistake.

    I never liked JT Floyd but whenever he got beat in his senior year, I didn't see the problem with it, as there weren't viable replacements who had the experience and were ready, and he was a willing competitor (I actually thought if he hadn't been suspended we win against SC last year).

    Also, love the idea of a fifth receiver - or maybe targeting Chesson more on quicker-developing routes? It seems so often like Devin's progression is Gallon, Funchess, Funch - sacked. Has Chesson got major flaws in his game that people like me can't spot? Or is it that he is the kind of wideout who needs longer-developing plays to be effective, something we can't do right now?

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    1. I think Chesson just hasn't built up the relationship with Gardner that some of the other guys have. Chesson also had a couple drops early in the season that may have soured Gardner on throwing to him. Personally, I think Chesson is going to be pretty darn good by the time he's done here.

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    2. I think Chesson has matured as a player immensely over the season. He's shown in the past couple of games that he can adjust to balls he struggled with earlier. If Darboh comes back fully healthy (and matches the expectations put on him by the coaches), we might not miss Gallon and Dileo as much as we think.

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  7. Josh Furman is just a bad football player. I hate to say things like this but there is no two ways about it. He is consistently late on helping, shows zero decisiveness in the run game, and generally looks clueless out there.

    Thomas Gordon must have really done something terrible to be benched from the starting lineup again. Hoke mentioned some bullshit about him maybe having an ankle injury. If that was the case then why did he play on special teams? I don't get it.

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    1. Yup. Furman is a total bust despite his relatively high recruiting ranking. I think top-5 safety or something like that. I had a bad feeling when he was having public drama with his girl, and as a senior he did nothing.

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    2. I'm still of the opinion that Furman should have bulked up to play OLB. He doesn't have the instincts for safety. He should be a SAM linebacker right now.

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  8. At this point this season is pretty much shot - time to let the kids play. I mean, Gordon, Gordon, and Avery don't deserve to be benched entirely, but we need to see Thomas, the freshman CBs, and any other young player that has burned their red-shirt already get into the game and learn some lessons.

    As for putting Miller back at C - might not be a bad idea against Northwestern but I'd hate to see that against OSU's DL. Our long-term prospects are better with Glasgow. I think snapping is something that can be improved, but Miller's always going to be undersized for a power scheme. We just have to take our lumps here.

    I like to see Kalis get back into the lineup too, even if he isn't the best guy for the moment.

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