Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Observations on Miami (OH) Game

  • The Michigan defense was awful in the first half against Utah. If there was one thing Michigan fans could be sure about heading into the season, it was that the defense was going to be good. At halftime of the Utah game, I bet half of the fans across the country wanted to puke. I know I did. Fortunately, the days of warding off puking should be over. The Michigan defense is, in fact, very good. In its last six quarters, the defense has given up just three points and a scant 280 yards.

  • After two games, there is only one noticeable difference between Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. Both are absurdly bad passers. Both play incredibly stiff. Both are slow. However, Threet does a much better job of finding running lanes and then accelerating through those lanes. Neither QB is good enough to play exclusively but in a tight race, the tie goes to the guy who can actually do something. Threet ran for 36 yards on four carries in just over a quarter. Mysteriously, Threet never attempted another rush after the 14:44 mark of the second quarter. I have no explanation especially since any semblance of running ability by the QB quintuples the effectiveness of the spread.

  • The good news is that Tate Forcier (or Shavodrick Beaver) is going to blow up in this offense. There were so many running lanes for Michigan quarterbacks against Miami (OH) that Michigan could’ve put up 300 yards rushing rather easily with a mobile QB. Without the fear of having the QB take off, opposing defenses have the luxury of focusing almost entirely on the running back. Next year, it’s on! Get excited.

  • It’s amazing to think that just a month ago, Brandon Harrison and Charles Stewart were mired in a position battle at strong safety. Harrison has been dynamite in Michigan’s first two games. He saved a sure touchdown by knocking the ball out of a receiver’s hands in the end zone. He broke up another pass with great positioning that wasn’t pass interference despite Andre Ware’s objections. He was also very good tackling in the open field. I’m not sure many people saw this coming. I know I didn’t.

  • With Harrison’s emergence, Michigan’s secondary now consists of ¾ hot fudge brownie sundae (heaven in a bowl) and ¼ fruit cake (not so much). Steve Brown doesn’t have a lot of experience. He certainly could develop into a capable player. However, right now, he isn’t very good. Rich Rodriguez prefers to talk about the positive and I certainly don’t blame him for that. Unfortunately, Brown has been on the wrong end of a number of bad plays making the “positive” consist of “he has athletic ability and flies around out there”. Not exactly an endorsement of his actual contributions. With Austin Panter and Marell Evans coming out of the lineup after week one, Brown is easily the weak link on defense. I don’t think Michigan has the equivalent of John Thompson and Jonas Mouton to plug in for Brown. Hopefully he gets things together.

  • Donovan Warren has been very good—as a cornerback. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a worse first-step from of a punt returner, though. Warren’s best asset is that he holds on to the ball which is clearly an important attribute for a kick returner. There has to be a better option. Warren seems to hesitate for a split second which is a split second too long. By the time he makes his decision, the coverage is in his face. Michigan needs to find someone who catches and goes without mentally typing a 10-page paper on which direction is the best to run. Plus, it’s disheartening to see your All-American caliber CB unnecessarily blasted five times per game when nothing comes of it.

  • A lot has been made of Rich Rodriguez’s implementation of the spread with a roster that isn’t exactly conducive for such an offense. What people might not be thinking about is the sheer horror that we would be seeing right now from Lloyd Carr. The spread—despite the absence of a spread QB—is actually protecting Michigan because there aren’t any sacks. Michigan has only been sacked three times in two games for a meager total of seven yards. The offensive line has been brutal but Rodriguez neutralizes things by having an offense based on misdirection and quick decisions. Under the hold coaching staff, Ryan Mallet or Steven Threet or whoever would be getting killed with this offensive line.

  • Michigan might have only scored 16 points against Miami but Rodriguez deserves credit for about 37. Threet badly missed would-be touchdowns to open receivers on four occasions. Two were on the same drive. Those are throws that even the worst I-AA QBs need to be able to complete. If Threet doesn’t start making those throws, Michigan will have a hard time beating any team with even a remotely good offense.

  • Threet not only missed four touchdowns with terrible throws, he also failed to complete even a single pass more than two yards beyond the line of scrimmage. That’s just brutal. In fact, Michigan’s strength right now should be throwing down field. Neither QB is equipped to run with the ball. If they can’t throw either, then why not line up Carlos Brown behind center and run every play. Seriously.

  • Miami was almost as bad in the passing game. Miami receivers dropped a touchdown and four first downs. Daniel Raudabaugh also overthrew two wide open receivers on sure-fire touchdowns.

  • Steve Brown was pretty bad on Saturday but he did provide quite possibly the best moment of the day. He yanked down Thomas Merriweather by his dreads. More players should use this play.

  • I have never seen a redo in college football that didn’t involve a penalty. In fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t exist. Dave Pasch and Andre Ware erroneously told the viewing audience that the refs had ruled that an inadvertent whistle had been blown before the snap causing a do-over. However, if you have the luxury of DVR, it was obvious that there was no such whistle. I believe that the refs made up their own rule. They initially ruled the play down with a whistle and then upon discussion, came to the conclusion that the play should not have been ruled an incomplete pass but rather a fumble. So, to cover their arses, they said there should be a do-over. Unfortunately, once the whistle was blown, the play is over. They can’t use replay and they can’t use a do-over.

  • Jonas Mouton played very well. He was quick to the ball and made aggressive hits. He has the potential to be a playmaker. I expect he’ll have some bad moments since there was a reason Marell Evans won the starting job coming out of fall practice. Still, Mouton and John Thompson were a substantial upgrade from Evans and Austin Panter.

  • For the second straight week, Zoltan Mesko punted pretty well but was blown out of the stadium by the opposing punter. Mesko punted seven times for 318 yards for an average of 45.4 yards. That is good for an ordinary human being but not for Punter God II Jacob Richardson. The holy punter booted seven punts for 377 yards for a whopping average of 54 yards. Mesko has been pretty good on the season with 14 punts for 582 yards for a 41.6 average. However, we may have just seen the greatest back to back punting performances by Michigan opponents in the history of the program. Punter God I (Utah’s Louie Sakoda) and Punter God II combined to boot 13 punts for 659 yards for a 51 yard average. Amazing.

  • Go Blue!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you here. These QB's are terrible and the worst I have ever seen @ Michigan in my 36 years. Playing in this offense makes them look even worse to me. I hope it is better next year. I think Forcier fits better but he will be a freshman so I am not too excited. Can't really judge Rich Rod until year 3 I think. We all hoped he would "reload" with existing talent and be great this year but I was maybe silly to think that could happen. My fantasy was that he would combine the talent we traditionally recruited and he would have the super offense but I realize I was mistaken. He seems to be enamored with small fast guys at the skill positions like McGuffie and perhaps that is what works best in his scheme. I worry about being pushed around when we play the big boys like OSU, etc. We will see. I have tuned out of a lot of UM football in recent years because they have lost to OSU so much. Muhc like your "Emanicpation of ME ME" I too was tired of the emotional investment. Maybe in a few years I can get pumped up again. This year will be tough. Oh well, I always have the Lions - wait nevermind.


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