Monday, September 15, 2014

Michigan vs. Miami-OH Awards

Derrick Green
Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Derrick Green. He saw plenty of action this past Saturday, but he looked pretty darn good. Green ended the game with 22 carries for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns. Granted, Michigan has played two patsies so far in the form of Appalachian State and Miami, but Green is on pace for 200 carries, 1,228 yards, and 12 touchdowns. That pace won't hold up, but he showed nifty feet and improved vision from the past couple weeks. He also got stronger as the game went on and started to run through some tackles. I was okay with the distribution of carries in this game, but it seems like Green is separating himself from De'Veon Smith. On a side note, Smith's body language suggested to me that he is none too happy about playing second fiddle to Green. I think that dynamic may be interesting to watch as their careers develop.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . Amara Darboh. I only say this because I want Devin Funchess back on the field. Darboh is a complementary receiver, and while he led Michigan in receptions and yardage, he just looks raw in several ways - route running, running after the catch, etc. He will improve over time, just like Jehu Chesson did last year, but Darboh's not ready to be a featured receiver.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . Blake Countess at nickel corner. My current feeling on the cornerback situation is that Michigan needs guys on the outside who can play press coverage, like Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers, and perhaps Raymon Taylor. It's tougher to play press man on slot receivers because of their alignment and such, so perhaps Countess would be better off inside.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . Delonte Hollowell. Hollowell didn't play a lot against Miami, but he played enough to get beaten for another touchdown on an out route. That's the second week in a row, and teams are probably going to continue to test him out there. He's best deployed as a special teamer, and he just doesn't have the quickness to be effective at corner, in my opinion.

Play of the game . . . Jake Butt's 29-yard touchdown catch. On a fake tunnel screen, Butt hit the corner and then turned upfield. Miami's secondary bit on the pump fake, and Gardner's pass was a wee bit too far. Butt was able to tip it to himself and jog into the endzone with no RedHawks in sight. That was the first time Michigan has shown the play so far, and they probably would have liked to have saved it for later in the year against a more formidable opponent, but Michigan was up just 17-10 at the time and it helped the Wolverines pull away.

MVP of the game . . . Derrick Green. There aren't many choices here on a team that was missing several key players - safety Jarrod Wilson, wide receiver Devin Funchess, and cornerback Raymon Taylor - and couldn't put away a MAC team on an 18-game losing streak. The Wolverines had some trouble getting open, protecting Gardner in the pocket, and getting Gardner on the edge, so Green's running was a big key in helping Michigan pull away in the second half.

28 comments:

  1. I expected you to say you'd like to see more Butt this week.....which could have multiple meanings given the pictures on your site, but in this case means Jake Butt. We already saw a lot of Derrick Green and that won't change. But I thought once Jake got involved in the offense more he added something they didn't have with Kerridge, Williams, or Hill. I like what Hill has done this year so far, but I also heard he got hurt too.

    I still like Smith a lot and I hope they keep giving him a few carries. I think he has the best "skills" of the backs - meaning vision, breaking tackles, balance, leg drive, etc. Though it is hard to knock Green and I wouldn't read too much into body language from TV coverage.

    AC1997

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    1. Well, Jake Butt is progressing back from injury...so I actually DON'T want to see more of him. I like seeing him in a part-time role for now.

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  2. The good thing about the Butt fake screen is that running a straight screen against the same defense Miami showed would have probably been a TD as well.

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  3. What's your guess about Derrick Green's improved vision ... due to additional carries and gaining experience? Or is this a coaching thing?

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    1. I don't think you can really improve "vision" in a week. I think it's just a matter of reading blocks. He's not really an instinctive back, but more of a guy who can hit the hole and hit it hard. That's why I've always seen him as more of a power back and less of a zone guy. It takes time to see how the zone runs will open up. It's taught differently in various places, but on an inside zone, he's probably taught to read the first playside defender from the center and then the MIKE linebacker. That can be a lot to handle within 1-2 seconds of the snap.

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    2. I agree with Thunder. Guys are going to have better games and worse games from week to week. Miguel Cabrera can go 0-4 on Tuesday and 4-4 on Wednesday - it doesn't mean he got appreciably worse, he just had a good day. Thursday he might go 0-4 again.

      And of course, you have to factor in the opponent. Some of the criticism of Green's vision is legitimate, but some of it (e.g., Brian Cook's UFR for Notre Dame) was highly debatable. He obviously didn't have a GREAT game, but asking him to run to a hole that features an unblocked defender on one side of it is asking a lot IMO.

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  4. I feel like Green will do better against weaker defenses where he can get going without worrying about getting tackled behind the line. But when we play a more stout defensive line we should play Smith because he usually doesn't go down on the first hit and always fights for those extra yards.

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  5. Have you thought about doing a post comparing Smith and Green? It's been one of the most persistent questions about this offense - which RB is better, which should be getting the bulk of the carries, or should it be an even time share.

    Personally, I still don't see why people favor Green over Smith, even after this game. I agree with d_ronii; Green looks good against weak defenses when the line gives him big holes to run through, but as the opponents start getting a little more stout, Smith's ability to get those extra yards after contact is going to put him ahead of Green.

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    1. I've thought about it, but I've addressed it so many times in preview posts and such that I didn't think it necessarily bore repeating. I might get to it at some point if time allows.

      I think Green is the more explosive back, and I think he's more versatile in that he can run inside and outside. Smith breaks more tackles and has better vision, but he's slower and can only run between the tackles. I've said several times before that Green would be my choice for running back if the OL is opening holes like they should be, but if the line is flailing, then Smith needs to see the ball more.

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    2. Maybe it just speaks to my pessimism about the OL's ability to open those holes consistently. And I just don't see Green as being that much of a home run threat (he'll get further down field than Smith when he breaks a long run, but he still can't seem to make it all the way to the end zone).

      The versatility about being able to run outside that Green's speed provides that Smith's power doesn't is one I hadn't really considered.

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    3. Neither one has the speed of Carlos Brown. But like you said, Green's going to be able to go 40 yards when Smith might go 32. Will he able to go 90 yards without getting caught? Maybe not. But once you get to midfield or so, it could be the difference between a 50-yard touchdown run and a 35-yard run that turns into a stalled drive and an attempt for a field goal. I don't think speed is everything when it comes to the running back position, but it is a pretty big deal. There are some who will point to Mike Hart when they say speed isn't important, but he was an except. Most big-time backs have breakaway speed, at least at the college level.

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    4. Good discussion. My opinion is we still don't know who is better between Smith and Green. They have very similar skillsets and sizes, and we're just starting to be able to draw meaningful distinctions between them.

      From my perspective, Smith looks a little better as an every-down ball-carrier. However, I might be reading too much into highlights and memorable plays and WHEN they happened (i.e., Smith's big run against OSU and his nice spring practice runs get longer 'play' in my mind due to a lack of new information for a while).

      What we don't know is who is doing a better job of pass-catching, blitz-pickup, and blocking in general.

      What we do know is that the coaches have put Green ahead of Smith this year and did the same last year. They clearly prefer Green in short-yardage too. They could be wrong, but usually they pick the better player.

      What we should also consider is the long-term development. Green probably has more upside. If the two are running neck and neck you favor the guy with more potential. Finally, who knows what the motivational element is here. Hoke said Green had a great week of practice. Maybe that was his way of letting Smith know he had to do more, or simply rewarding Green for hard work.

      I hope both guys keep getting significant snaps until one proves significantly superior. Nussmeir's offensive implementation/transition is still in progress. You may see "instincts" improve as these kids (both the OL and the RB) get more familiar with the plays and know what they can expect of each other.

      One last thought: most seem to think Isaac is going to shove both of these guys aside next year, but I'm not so sure that'll be the case. He was 5th string at USC last year and this year he'd probably be 3rd string. It's optimistic to expect a legit 5-star superstar. It might be that Hayes is the guy that'll be unseated, not Green (or Smith).

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    5. Thunder, it was stated on MGoBlog about two weeks ago that Smith was seen limping around on campus. Do you think that might be playing into Smith getting fewer carries or do you think he might just have been sore and tight after the game?

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  6. Your posts are consistently spot on. Well done. Specifically like the recognition of Holllowell. It clear after the past two games, the opposing offense sees him as a weakness. They throw at him successfully quite a bit.

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    1. I agree. This week's recaps seem on point.

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    2. Comment about Hollowell is right on the money. He's pretty bad.

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    3. I also concur on the recaps. Really good reads. Thanks again.

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  7. I'm a bit concerned that Smith may be a flight risk. Rumors were he got on Hoke's bad side last year because he felt like he deserved more playing time and this note on his body language would seem to indicate that may be continuing. With Ty Isaac also available next year, Smith might find himself 3rd on the depth chart and elect to finish his career elsewhere

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    1. Well, I wouldn't want him to leave, but if he's only the third-string back next year, it would be understandable.

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    2. Too early to worry about it IMO. Lot of season left.

      That said, if you recruit RBs every single year and sometimes multiple guys - if you're trying to go 6-8 deep at the position...it's going to happen. RB is one position or 1.5 if you want to break out "3rd down" as a separate role.

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  8. Agree about Hollowell...I thought he looked decent against App. St, but the last two weeks he's been getting burned regularly. We need Taylor back badly and soon. Stribling has also been a bit of a disappointment, since he seems to be behind Hollowell on the depth chart.

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  9. Good read today Thunder. Nice to see you pick up on some less than obvious stuff. Green made a pretty good statement on Saturday. There seem to be a time where just decided to make it happen and carried the team down the field. Some of that goes with the OL, but Green looked determined at that point.

    What is your take on Braden....he looks like the weakest link on the OL right now. Any chance we some experimentation there during the Utah game? I know it all comes down to having everyone healthy...Kalis.

    I was hoping to see Morris get more PT this week. The game should have been put away by half time and instead they made it a game until thee 4th quarter. His time was limited, but he didn't look terrible. His reps are far too short of a sample to judge on, but in case of injury I would really like to see more PT.

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  10. Good observation. At the end of the game (garbage time) it looked like Smith was throwing a slight temper tantrum. I got the perception that this was beneath him plus that Green had a really good game and was entrenched as the starter.

    I like Smith but Green did well and he was more effective against Miami. Smith may in all likelihood be better against certain types of defenses but he should project a better attitude.Smith is ultra competitive. Had heard that he is vocal about his interests which rubs the coaches the wrong way.

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  11. Drawing conclusions from performances against weak opposition is highly questionable. I would not bury Smith yet, yall.

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  12. Smith looked sooooooooooooooo slow when he was in the game. I thought I had hit the slo-mo option on my dvr when he was in. I like his power, and his vision seems good, but damn he is slow. Mike Hart would burn him in a race.

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  13. Smith is an inside the tackles rb. He can get the job done but he isn't going to be a big time player because of talent limitations. Power specialty back? Grinder. I'll take him but if Green continues to improve along with Isaac next year then Smith may become disillusioned with his PT.

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    1. I think so, too. Smith is just not fast/quick enough. Green as a true junior and Ty Issac one year behind him as a redshirt sophomore... sounds like a deadly combo to me. I think D. Smith will probably lose out.

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