Monday, September 29, 2014

Michigan vs. Minnesota Awards

Devin Gardner (image via
Let's see more of this guy on offense . . . Devin Gardner. Not for one second has Shane Morris given the slightest inkling that he's a better quarterback than Gardner. Unless he's hurt - as he was for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl last season - Gardner should be the starter at Michigan until he runs out of eligibility. Sometimes people can't accept that a mediocre player can be the best one available. Commenters keep throwing out bizarre questions like "Are we going to win with Gardner at quarterback?" but that's not even remotely the point. No quarterback can guarantee you victories, particularly behind a mediocre offensive line with a questionable running game. Gardner gives Michigan the best chance to win, and that's all you can really ask for right now.

Let's see less of this guy on offense . . . Shane Morris. The kid has a 0-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and he's absolutely careless with the football. Gardner fumbles the ball when he's fighting for extra yardage. Morris fumbles the ball when he's just standing in the pocket and has nothing better to do. Looking ahead to 2015, Michigan should be exploring transfers and planning an open competition between Morris, Wilton Speight, and even Alex Malzone. The situation is dire.

Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . Jabrill Peppers. Rumors were circulating that Peppers was hurt. Rumors were circulating that he didn't play because of a disciplinary issue. Maybe it was a combination of both. I don't know. What I do know is that Peppers has seen the field very little in his first five weeks as a college football player, and that's extremely frustrating. There's nothing the coaches can do about injuries, I guess, but he's a playmaker on a team largely devoid of playmakers. If the defensive backfield is too jam-packed with veterans and talent, then play Peppers at slot receiver or running back or wideout or wildcat quarterback. The kid needs to be on the field if he's healthy.

Let's see less of this guy on defense . . . Dymonte Thomas. Thomas was the one who appeared to blow the coverage on Maxx Williams on Saturday, which led to a touchdown. Against Utah the week before, he blew the coverage that led to a touchdown for Dres Anderson. Opponents keep finding a way to attack him, and he's not up to the challenge. Maybe Peppers should move ahead of Thomas in the safety rotation.

Play of the game . . . Frank Clark and Taco Charlton's sack of Mitch Leidner. Give me a break. There are so few good plays to choose from. Clark leaped over a cut block from a running back before charging ahead to sack Leidner for a loss of five yards. Charlton latched on to help take Leidner down. It's sad when this is the highlight.

MVP of the game . . . Devin Gardner. Again, the pickings are slim. Gardner entered the game with under eight minutes remaining, immediately leading a touchdown drive. He went 3/6 for 39 yards, and he ran the ball 5 times for 23 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run. Yes, he took a sack, and he almost threw an interception (or took a safety) from his own endzone. However, the team got a spark from his appearance. Any further heroics or shenanigans were thwarted by Brady Hoke's inexplicable decision to punt with four minutes remaining while down by two scores.


  1. Let's see less of this enormous dumpster fire.

  2. It is a damning indictment of this football program that for this game, at this point in the season, and it this point in Hoke's tenure, that it would be this difficult to find positives.

  3. If the rumors about Peppers have any basis, his treatment has been the reverse of that given to Pat Massey a few years ago (loyal, mediocre guy who pleases the stubborn, old-school coaches is given reps over the high-variance newer guy who hasn't "bought into the program").

    I wouldn't suggest giving guys like Terrell Pryor the benefit of the doubt, but I have a bad feeling that Peppers is much closer to a "Massey" in character and getting the short end of the stick here.

  4. Against Utah, they were down a couple scores late yet we saw them huddle and move so slowly it was like they were trying to kill the clock while leading. This week, they were down a couple scores late in the game and punted. IT'S MADDENING. I can't even......

  5. Kudos to you, by the way, for being a voice of reason (here and elsewhere) with respect to the issue of Morris in the game on Saturday.

    The other site is in full flames, calling for Hoke's dismissal and some hinting at criminal charges.

    Be careful what you wish for, people ... if the rush to judgment succeeds in over-reaction, Michigan may well take on the reputation as a toxic environment for *any* football coach, let alone a good one. We may well be witnessing the demise of Michigan football relevance forever.

    1. I agree with you Don.

      This is just like the Morris thing. People are pissed we are losing and overreacting in irrational ways.

      Hoke should be reprimanded and should apologize for what was obviously a mistake. He should just own up to the fact that football culture values toughness and he has to instill that character into his players but this was a situation where safety was in jeopardy and he crossed the line. He should admit he has to improve how the team handles head injuries and state that they will. It is possible to nip this in the bud. Now they are just making it worse.

      For me, that was "the straw" irt firing Hoke, but it's more damning that he is not trying to win football games. Starting Morris, keeping Morris in (before the injuries), and then punting, not going for 2 and all that....when your coach is giving's bad, man.

  6. Let's see less of Hoke and his entire staff... throw in the chief clown too... Brandon. Clean sweep, rebuild from ground zero, that's where we are now.

    I am sure glad Bo isn't around to witness this debacle.

  7. It's pretty kind of you to call the OL mediocre.

  8. I've been a proponent of looking beyond carries for the RB position, but I think Smith has been consistently more impressive as a ball-carrier than Green. For me this game was a "game-changer" on that front.

    Smith had QB-less TD drive all by himself (and his blockers). Green ran 6 times for 1 ypc. We've seens signs of it before, but it never looked this conclusive. When Smith gets the opportunities Green gets he seems to do more with them. I don't think it changes the world, the OL is still bad, etc, but he looks like the best guy.

    This at least is a debate worth having. Gardner/Morris is not.

  9. I talked to a guy who talked to a guy who talks to Brandon (old friends from school, apparently). So take this FWIW, and if you don't care or don't believe a random internet commentator, I don't blame you (or care myself). Again, FWIW, but these things are things he shared and they seem plausible to me.

    1. Brandon hates Miles. Reasons are the same things that have been rumored other places (extra-marital affairs, feud with Lloyd Carr over health rumors, general dirty recruiting tactics, relationships dating back to 60s and 70s have never been good between them and have been negatively reinforced since.)

    2. Miles wanted the M job quite badly. Was never offered it and won't be with Brandon.

    3. Jim Harbaugh was lined up to be the coach. He had verbally agreed to take over, but backed out after all the NFL attention came late that year. His wife would much rather live in bay area than Michigan and that played a role too. This left Brandon in a tough spot (short time frame, fewer good candidates, etc.)

    4. Peppers was suspended for discipline not health.

    5. This guy thinks the public's Brandon-hate is irrational and unreasonable and wouldn't be there if they were winning.

    1. Your opening paragraph disclaimers are great ... pretty much covers the whole waterfront. :-)

      #1 ... I've never been on the Les Miles bandwagon. Back in 2008 maybe; less so now.

      #3 ... Interesting. If true, then I don't think the door is entirely closed. If Harbaugh's NFL experience is such he wants to return to the college ranks, there's a possibility here. Small possibility, but greater than zero.

      #4 ... I wish we if this was true, and then what the full context is. There's a tendency in this anti-Hoke atmosphere to think his every decision is wrong. But there's a chance Peppers did something worthy of sitting out a game.

      #5 ... Yes, winning is the soothing balm that cures a multitude of ills

      Regarding Brandon ... I think some of the anti-Brandon feelings are a bit over the top. I find it particularly irritating to read rants from people who obviously have no concept whatever about revenue, profit, variable cost and fixed cost. They cry for more support for non-revenue sports, higher pay for everyone, and lower football ticket prices. They live in a fantasy land of endless money and hazy memories of their carefree college days.

      That's not to say Brandon hasn't taken things a bit far in many cases. But the idea that we can simultaneously pay top dollar for every football coach while eliminating all corporate sponsorship, reducing ticket prices for everyone, and having several dozen sports programs nobody -- and I mean NOBODY -- gives a damn about simply indicates those who rant like that have never held a position of financial responsibility.

      Okay, my rant is over.

    2. Miles is dirty. I don't want him. I don't like agreeing with Brandon, but I do here.

      Not much evidence for Harbaugh wanting to return (either one). Ship may have sailed there.

      I pass no judgement on the Peppers thing. We don't have info. Not sure we should. Maybe Hoke is protecting the kid (for all we know).

      I think you're a little harsh on the Brandon haters but your general point is probably true. It is over the top on the internet, I agree, but people are justified in taking issue with gameday atmosphere in particular but also the general culture that Brandon is installing is anethema to the "leaders and best" ideals. There are tradeoffs to be made, but Brandon has made too many of them without seeing the benefits. If it was just losing, it would be fine. If it was change in atmosphere coupled with winning, it would be fine. You can't do all these things people dislike AND lose.

    3. Well, I don't really buy the Miles stuff -- Les has things set up at LSU with plenty of money. Why would he even leave? And start over? He also doesn't come off as someone who cares about Michigan and its values either.

      2. Discipline? Well, according to Desmond Howard Peppers was the only player with any desire to be exceptionally good on this team. Maybe Peppers was tired of all this air of loser-ism on the team. Maybe he spoke out against the coaches. Maybe. But I feel sorry for the kid.

      3. I hope Hoke is fired asap. This season is done. I doubt Michigan wins another game. And I am disgusted to hear all the excuses from Hoke. Better to cut the cord now, and get in the market for a new coach ASAP. Offer 5, 6 million+ for a qualified coach.

    4. You talked to a guy, who talked to a guy, who talks with Brandon.

      1-4) Internet rumors are cool.

      5. When Brandon left Dominos there stock was trading at 10 dollars a share. They're trading at about 80 dollars a share today, only 4 1/2 years later. I'm assuming any hatred there was unreasonable and irrational as well.

    5. @Anon - thanks for repeating my qualifiers. That's what FWIW means.

      I'm no Brandon supporter, just passing along the thoughts this guy shared.

    6. @Lanknows at 3:03pm

      >> but people are justified in taking issue with gameday atmosphere in particular but also the general culture that Brandon is installing is anethema to the "leaders and best" ideals.

      With respect to the gameday atmosphere ... it's not just U-M football, of course ... pretty much every sports venue today has some degree of noise and flashing lights. I went to a Arizona Diamondbacks game a few years ago and was shocked by how distracting it all was.

      I'm not sure there'd be consensus as to what constitutes a "leaders and the best ideals" at this point. Well, other than winning.

  10. Thomas and Morris should be red-shirting. Countess or Taylor should be playing safety over Thomas. Bellomy would do no worse than Morris. You can argue arm strength all day, but Morris hardly completed a pass that wasn't a screen or other kind of short throw.

  11. Magnus - I'd be interesed to know your analysis of the problems in the passing game: The QBs do have plenty of time on many passing plays but can't seem to find open receivers. The announcers say they don't see receivers getting seperation. What's going on with the receivers?

    (Yes the OL makes mistakes, and yes the QBs make some bad throws, but I can't think of hte last pass I saw to an open receiver.)

  12. I'd be interested to hear Thunder's take too but....who the hell knows. It's probably all of it. The protection is inconsistent (to put it kindly) but on the plays they do get it, our QBs are not making great throws. Some of it is inaccuracy. Some of it is skitishness. Some of it is inexperience. Whatever simplicity Nussmeir installed to make the run game improved (by a little bit) has not translated to the pass game.

    A new system takes time, but we are seeing consistent errors between Robinson, Gardner, Morris, Bellomy -- all of Hoke's QBs. These guys all have talent so I put the blame squarely on the coaching.

    The receivers? they are slow. They are big and slow, just like Hoke recruited them to be. How many times have you heard our recent recruits are "not a burner". Our fastest WR (who plays) might be a TE recruit.

    The guys who are quick are relegated to 'specialist' roles as "slot" WRs, who are not used as often as TEs and H-backs. This is on the coaching staff. They want guys who win jump balls, not guys who can cut quickly and get open. Catching radius is emphasized at the expense of separation. Norfleet, Hayes, Canteen - these guys should be on the field. Instead we get Kerridge, Williams, Green, Darboh and so on.