Monday, September 7, 2009

Western Michigan Impressions

Offense

Ah, so this is what our offense is supposed to look like. RR used our depth on offense to our advantage, playing a number of bodies at the various positions. These are my observations (player first, then team):

-Tate Forcier: wow. For a true freshman, Tate showed uncanny poise, patience and knowledge of the offense. He was not afraid to keep the ball on the zone-read, as did so frequently, rushing for 37 net yards on 11 carries. By showing that he has running ability and is not afraid to keep the ball, this will force opposing defenses to honor the QB on the zone read in the future (what a change from last year!). One indication that Tate is a very polished QB is in his great ball fakes, especially on the bootleg touchdown to Koger in the second half. Denard still has a ways to go in this department, as his ballfakes and his mesh, especially on the zone-read, were not so great. In this game, when Tate set his feet he threw a pretty deep ball (esp that perfect pass to Hemingway on Hemingway's second TD). When Tate was on the move, his deep balls tended to not have enough air under them. Make no mistake, though, this kid can throw on the run very well a la Jeff Garcia. Very encouraging game from Tate, just please stay healthy!
-Denard Robinson: fast. This kid is a weapon, and is probably more dangerous when the play breaks down than when he follows the scripted play. When he sees the open field, nobody is going to catch him. It's obvious that the playbook is really limited for D. Robinson, as he was a fall enrollee, but it was encouraging to see him attempt some passes. Hopefully he'll pick up more of the playbook as the season progresses, so that it won't be completely obvious what he's going to do every time he's on the field. As my mom said, "as for putting that speedy quarterback in for every running play... how about a loudspeaker." Great Rodriguez quote on D. Robinson: "Even when goes the wrong way, he goes the wrong way fast."
-As was expected, Denard saw exactly 15 snaps, compared to Tate's 31. I think that's going to be a fairly consistent number of snaps for Denard as the coaching staff feels out this kid and learns how to best use him in the game.
-Even with Sheridan's drive ending in an interception, he is noticeably bigger this year with a stronger arm and improved mechanics. Not a bad third option for Meech compared with impending doom when Sheridan was called upon (save the Minny game).
-Kelvin Grady: Wow, did he make that transition from basketball to football look easy or what? He showed great hands (except one obvious drop on a screen), quickness, and good blocking skills. I can say without reservation that he is our best receiving slot receiver currently on the roster.
-Martavious Odoms: though he only caught one ball (hard to believe from our leading receiver last year), Odoms made his presence felt as a punishing blocking slot receiver. On Denard's TD run Odoms threw a key block, driving his player out of bounds after pursuing from the back side! He would throw a few more very impressive blocks in the game, which leads me to state that he is the best blocking SR on our roster, which in my opinion is just as important (if not more important) than the receiving SR. Nice job M. Odoms.
-Junior Hemingway has arrived. Good to have you back, Jr.
-Where is spring scrimmage sensation (ah sweet alliteration) Roy Roundtree in the slot?
-I wanted to see more of the running game, esp from the RB's. We had a very balanced attack between our passing and rushing, but I'd like to see our running backs break a few big plays next week.
-Offensive line looked very good. They are powerful and quick off the line, and when they pull, they're coming at you fast!

Defense

This is a different defense than last year. Not just in scheme with new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, but there is a palpable attitude difference when this defense takes the field. They are hungry, they lay the wood, and they swarm to the ball. With a year under Barwis as well, we look noticeably quicker on D. Also, I was super impressed with the very obvious improvement in solo tackling skills. Robinson's goal to be the "best tackling team in America" is well on its way. We were wrapping and driving, not whiffing painfully like we did so much last year.

-Craig Roh: this kid is the real deal. I was super impressed with his play. He is so quick off the edge, has a motor that doesn't stop, and he was surprisingly strong for being an "undersized" defensive end (how one can be "undersized" at 230, I have no idea). He played well rushing the QB (and on his sack simply overpowered the lineman on a head-on bull rush), and also played well when dropping into coverage. He's got the raw talent, and when he bulks up a little bit after a year with Barwis he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with. Very nice, impressive play from Roh.
-Brandon Graham is an absolute terror. I am so glad he's on our team. Hiller will be having nightmares for weeks.
-Obi Ezeh played solidly at the MLB spot, and led the team in tackles once again.
-Boubacar and D. Warren both played quite well this game. D. Warren had a great de-cleating hit, and his coverage was good, though the consecutive penalties (esp the personal foul) need to go. JT Floyd was not very impressive in his coverage, which is why CB depth is scary. I was a little confused why we didn't see any of the 5-star true freshman Justin Turner, since he's been impressing in practice. I hope that Turner will overtake Floyd, since apparently Floyd has reached his athletic ceiling though he's supposedly pretty sharp mentally. Let's see what the kid can do! (Btw, Cullen Christian commit plz. Having four 5-star corners on the team at the same time would make me breathe a bit easier)
-All I can say is thank goodness those WMU receivers couldn't hold onto the ball, because we certainly capitalized on a lot of drops and passes that were batted upwards.
-Didn't get to see too much from our safeties, though Mike Williams made his presence felt in the run support a few times. That bomb over the top on WMU's only touchdown scares the hell out of me. Good thing Jimmah Clausen can't throw the deep ball well (note: yes he can. Very well in fact. See his shellacking of Nevada as exhibit 1). This game next week should be a very interesting test for our D.

1 comment:

MK said...

Offense - I was happy to see so many guys get involved. Seven different players caught passes, eight different guys ran the ball. Can't wait to see Brandon Minor become the primary rusher - he is a bruiser. Impressed with Kelvin Grady for sure. Will Kevin Koger be the go-to-guy this year...Tate's safety outlet?

I want to see Greg Mathews and Junior Hemingway stretch the field to open up bubble screens and short passes to Odoms and Grady. We did it once on the TD pass from Forcier to Hemingway and I'm hoping there is more of that as the season progresses. The first TD pass from Forcier to Hemingway was a big-time play with Forcier directing traffic.

Defense - great to see so many winged helments getting to the ball carrier. Last year we only had 9 INTs, nice to see us come up with 2 against WMU.

And how about that place kicking? A 44 yarder for Olesnavage on his first try. Nice to see, would like that not to be a worry this year.

Good victory. Get ready for the Irish!