Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Wide Angle View.

There are a lot of things that aren't clear from watching tv. You can watch all of the replays from Musberger and Spielman, and even watch twice, but not understand what really happened on any given play. The pesrpective of watching the o-line protect and the pass receivers run routes is something that just can't get unless you watch the game from the stadium.

So, what did I see against State?


The defensive line. Obviously. Brandon Graham and Terrance Taylor player particularly well. Brandon Graham was a terror. TT had several outstanding plays and had pretty good penetration for most of the game. And, although I have said this before, I will say again that the Bawis Ginsu Ninja Warrior training techniques appear to be paying off for these guys, because they do not look tired on the field, not even in the 4th quarter.

Now, you would think this stamina would be paying off on the field, yes? No. It isn't. It may next year.

The defensive backs. Ok. You're going to call me nuts. And that's fine. But, it is very clear that our dbs are talented and fast, and hit hard. This was not expected coming into the season. Morgan Trent played well last year, and D. Warren was solid for a freshman. Both of these guys showed glimpses of their former selves Saturday, despite the carnage.

Offensive line. This isn't an actual positive. It is a relative positive. I expected worse. They played relatively well, and there was less backfield penetration on running plays than I expected. Pass protection could have been better, especially in the 4th quarter, but all in all, not as bad as I had anticipated.

Running backs. Brandon Minor played ok. He played tough. We need a second option. Carlos Brown anyone?

Wide receiver blocking. A Michigan tradition has been maintained. The receivers more often than not got a head on a man and made decent blocks. On a couple of bubble screens, the blocks were maintained well.

Field Goal Defense. Awesome. They were in on the kicker each kick. Tremendous rush from the left side of the line.

Kevin Koger. He is the real deal. We may not have tight end of his caliber since Jerame Tuman.


Everything else? That would be a copout, so . . .

Defensive Backs. How can you list them as a positive and negative? Easily. Although there is talant at the corner position, the coaching staff has wasted it. The defensive backs positioning is poor. As a unit, they look and play confused. This = points. I am very concerned. The level of confusion is astonishing for 8 games into the season. I'd think about a play by play analysis, but there were just so many I can't pick. Boubacar has some speed, but his lapse cost a touchdown against Sparty. Unlikely Morgan Trent makes that mistake.

Quarterback. I've given the nod to S. Threet this year. And, frankly, he's played close to the level of Chad Henne is his first year. Threet obviously has a lot less talent at receiver to throw to, and a line far worse than Henne had. Henne also benefited from a pro style passing game which has utterly escaped this staff -- more on that later. But Threet threw too many interceptions, and missed some passes that should have been made. On Stonum's drop in the end zone, the ball should have been thrown about a second earlier. It ended up late, and slightly off target. And, whether by design of the coaching staff or Threet's mistakes, he throws too many balls down the sideline which should have been passed in the middle of the field, including a missed post pattern on the Brandon Minor touchdown/nontouchdown.

Wide Receivers. When will Daryl Stonum learn to catch? Same for Matevious Odoms. A couple of big drops by these guys really hurt.

Clock Management. Please, please, please someone consider hiring an assitant coach to tell the offensive staff that when you're going 3 and out, in your own end, at the end of half you might want to consider moving away from the hurry up offense? With 3 minutes left, Michigan runs the hurry up, 3 and out, and punts the ball away to State with too much time on the clock and after having used no timeouts. With the timouts remaining, State had the option to run the ball, and immediately scored. Maybe it happens anyway, and Michigan did go down the field before haltime and score after State was up 14-7, but this just has to stop. It is pure stupidity. I could actually understand this to a point, if 3 and out wasn't the norm. But it is.

Uuugh. There is a serious lack of improvement on Saturdays from the offense. Rod says we just can't see all those wonderful strides made in practice -- he said it again in the press conference. I don't believe it. I believe he is simply too stubborn to be able to adapt to a downfield passing game, which is what the personnel on this team is better suited for than a quarterback lead running game. In fact, it is just damn depressing to watch our pass patterns becuase it is clear that there is nothing even remotely resembling a sophisticated pass offense.

Sidewayz Yards. And I suppose that we knew this coming from the run game, but on Saturday it looked like every Brandon Minor carry was a sweep running sideways. I trust Rodriguez on this one, and assume this was at least in part because the Threet running option was minimized in an effort to keep him healthy throughout the duration of the game.