Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quick Report Card...

A few quick thoughts on today...

First and foremost a hearty welcome to "MK" to our humble sports blog.

Denard Robinson threw the ball a few times today, with at least one of them being a deep pass. Unfortunately, he threw 2 INT's which were both a product of his poor decision making. The bullet he threw to Odoms (that was incomplete) was a bullet right on target, which gives us some hope. He seems to be more comfortable and accurate throwing on the run than he is with his feet planted. Interesting that they might use that to our advantage in certain bootleg and play action plays. He is clearly still a work in progress when it comes to the passing game, but he shows promise.

That being said... he is a sick sick sick sick sick runner. His ability to make something out of nothing is really remarkable. He is very exciting to watch, and is a spark to our offense.

Tate Forcier looked just okay today. He made some questionable judgement calls holding on to the ball too long, which is to be expected with a freshman QB. But it sure was scary when he went down in the 3rd quarter. He seems to be ok, but the really impressive thing was his clear desire to want to get right back into the game. Gotta love the heart.

The receivers today looked pretty good, although we barely threw the ball all day. I would love to see us utilize the tight end in the middle of the field more, especially on QB rollouts (see: Denard Robinson. Although Tate would be great at this as well).

Carlos Brown seemed to step up huge today. Part of this is a product of our offensive line just man handling their d-line, but Carlos still looked pretty good. Michael Shaw also had a few good looking runs, including a few ankle breakers. They should both compliment Brandon Minor well for the rest of the season.

Our d-line looked fairly good, however they were mostly matched up against a mediocre o-line. That being said, Craig Roh is going to be a nasty player when he develops further.

Linebackers played meh, and Ezeh is consistently out of position to make plays. It bothers me that we have no one else better than him on the depth chart. I know he is a great athlete but his positioning routinely scares me. As we enter Big Ten season, it will be interesting to see how they match up against the run.

Secondary was ok today. Donovan played well, but that shoulder injury is clearly still bothering Boubacar. He can't press at the line, and he has trouble being physical with the receivers. Hopefully he will be better when it comes time to play against MSU etc... Safety play is much better, save for a few mental errors by Woolfolk and others, and Stevie Brown actually looks like a football player in his new position.

All in all, not too impressive of a win, but we got the job done and I guess that is what counts. Looking forward to starting the Big Ten season off with a win.


MKaz said...

Let's start off with the good:

The run game piled up 380 yards, an impressive total no matter who you are playing. The offensive line was beyond solid - especially considering John Ferrara stepped in for the injured David Moosman. Ferrara's been moved around a lot in his career and it was good to see him play so well on the O-line.

Carlos Brown and Michael Shaw truly stepped up yesterday. They both looked fast and determined, Shaw ran possessed at times - a quality that was great to see. Also impressive to see the running depth in Vincent Smith and Michael Cox (who never gave up on his first rush and managed to squeeze out about 15 more yards).

Denard...there is no doubt about his legs: explosive, electric, gravity-defying!? How do you describe his burst?? When it comes to throwing, M did not call enough passing plays for him. But then again considering he has 3 rush TDs on just 18 attempts, you gotta like those odds and let him keep running the ball. On his second TD his footwork was much improved, he planted solidly as though he would throw before taking off. In the first game against WMU, he didn't do anything like here's hoping that's a sign of continued improvement.

The defense is clearly still a work in progress. They did shut out EMU in the second half which was great to see. Kevin Leach played competently in place of Jonas Mouton and Stevie Brown continues to prove he's one of M's better defensive players. Walk-on safety Jordan Kovacs also looks comfortable out there. Seeing Kovacs and Leach play well does a lot to assuage fears that after our starting 11 M is in trouble.

On the defensive line Brandon Graham continues to show why he's an All-American player. The stats may not be there yet, but that's because he's getting held or double-teamed on most plays. He still manages to play in the backfield quite a bit - something you need your star D-lineman to do. He takes the pressure off M's other down lineman and especially opens things up for the blitz (I like the safety blitz Greg Robinson unleashes from time to time). To me it was a little frustrating that more subbing wasn't done in the second half. The fact that M's first defense was still in the game with five minutes left scared me. We need to develop depth and that's not going to happen with guys like Will Campbell watching from the sidelines. Lineman like Renaldo Sagesse, Greg Banks and Adam Patterson should have played more heavily in the second half - especially considering Mike Martin got a little banged up.

Overall a win is a win. Let's not get too spoiled by this team. Despite their obvious talent they are still very young and will make mistakes. Let's all remain realistic about this team's chances - when the season started most prognosticators predicted M should be happy with a 6-win season. Well, we're halfway there after just three games.

EMU is a team M should beat, and they did and did so handily. It's another good win for a program that needs to keep exorcising the demons.

GregGoBlue said...

Re: Denard Robinson. Earlier in the game, his stat line was 3 rushes, 75 yards, 2 TD's. He scored on long TD's 66% of the time he ran the ball. I felt that he improved every time he threw the ball. The first throw was late over the middle in the face of a rush into double coverage. Not surprisingly an INT. We have to temper our expectations of freshman QB play even though we have Tate who has defied them. Keep in mind Denard is playing QB like a real true freshman should. At least what we saw is that he has the arm strength, and he has the accuracy, he just needs to work on his decision-making. I'm happy with that.

My boy Mike Shaw had a HUGE day yesterday. I've been a big Mike Shaw fan since last year, and I'm glad he's not making me look stupid, much like he made the EMU player when he juked the bejesus out of him. As my dad said "whoa, somebody call the jock strap cleanup crew!" When Minor and Brown graduate, I see Shaw playing a major role next year. And whoa, Mike Cox? The Avon Old Farms CT private school league Mike Cox? We have scary depth at RB, and Fitzgerald Toussaint (arguably better than V. Smith) isn't even healthy!! SUPER impressed with the running game and offensive line play vs. Eastern.

Now, onto defense. It is clear to just about anybody who has watched out last two games that we are struggling to stop the run. A middling MAC team was racking up the rush yards on our D, and with virtually the same play (power left), which we were unable to stop. ND's Armando Allen had himself a field day against our D as well. It is clear that the run game against Michigan works. Who has a strong running game? PSU, OSU, for two. We're going to have to outscore those teams (i know, I know, you always have to outscore teams to win, but you know what I mean) or somebody will have to step up.

I'd like to echo Sancho's comments about Obi, and it's painful to watch him make the wrong reads and/or get blocked out of the play time and time again. It will be a happy day for me the day we have somebody better than Obi to anchor our D, but that day is not today. JB Fitzgerald, Kenny Demens? C'mon guys! RR, recruit some LB's plz. We have enough slots... Although I do have to admit I laughed when Obi CLOBBERED the EMU QB by flying at him through the air (never leave your feet, young LB's). That must have terrified the opposing QB, seeing Obi flying at him.

Yes, MK, B. Graham was getting held EVERY PLAY against ND. He is a monster. The best players on our D are as follows:

1) B. Graham
2) D. Warren tied with S. Brown (who has played very well in the past two games)

We need more talent on D. We need it now.

Last thing, where was all the amazing form tackling we saw against ND and western? We looked like last year's Michigan against Eastern. So many missed tackles (sticking out for me: Mike Williams, Obi Ezeh). C'mon guys!

MKaz said...

On defense -

is it possible for backups like Kevin Leach and Jordan Kovacs to continue pushing for playing time?

Suspensions and injuries gave them the opportunity to get in the past two games and I'd have to rank their play as "solid" (on a scale from 1 to super solid).

I feel like there wsa so much talk about our lack of defensive depth coming into the season that many fans feel resigned to accept our starting 11. Entitlements shouldn't put you on the field, quality play should. If that means Mouton and Leach out there instead of Ezeh, so be it.

GregGoBlue said...

Well, considering Mouton and Leach play the same position, I'd expect Ezeh to be out there too. We're all waiting for JB Fitzgerald to emerge to replace Ezeh, but he hasn't played so well in his looks this year, so we may be waiting for awhile. He was great on special teams last year, so I was expecting something big from him this year. Not so, so far.