Grading The Performance: Notre Dame

The Good

Devin Gardner to Jeremy Gallon- Michigan fans have seen dynamic QB-WR duos in the past. Grbac to Howard, Brady to Terrell, and Henne to Edwards/Manningham come immediately to mind. While duos of the past have often produced stunning numbers, few have displayed the kind of relationship that the nation was treated to on Saturday night. Gardner and Gallon acted in unison for most of the night and seemed to be connected almost telepathically. The back shoulder fades that Notre Dame found so difficult to defend takes an enormous amount of practice and trust between QB and WR and Michigan’s 2013 duo made it look easy. Devin and Jeremy put on a beautiful display of teamwork and execution on Saturday that is likely the envy of many in both college and the NFL.

The Bad

Nonexistent pass rush- Getting pressure on the QB with a 4 man rush has been the major point of emphasis for the Michigan defense since the end of last season. Despite multiple opportunities for Michigan defenders to go one on one, the Wolverines failed to consistently beat blocks and pressure the QB. Notre Dame used a variety of maximum protections to keep Tommy Rees upright. Michigan struggled to beat blocks and get pressure with a 4 man rush even on the occasions when Notre Dame did not leave backs and TEs in to block however.

The Ugly

4th Quarter Interception- There were a number of instances that could have gone in this space. Notre Dame’s horrific secondary, Eminem’s bizarre halftime interview, Louis Nix’s nonexistent vertical jump. In the end, Devin Gardner’s interception in the endzone was too ugly to ignore. In reality the entire drive could have been include but Devin’s decision to throw the ball while being tackled in the endzone takes the cake. While ultimately not costing Michigan the game, the play marred was was otherwise a flawless performance for Mr. Gardner.

Grades

QB: A-

A single offensive series keeps the grade from reaching A+ level. Devin was the maestro for a Michigan offense that seemed unstoppable.

RB: B

Two of the biggest plays, a run and a reception, occurred on a single drive in the 4th quarter when it mattered most. With limited running room, Fitz Toussaint was able to eek out a number of big plays purely on effort.

WR/TE: A+

The difference in the game was the Michigan passing game, highlight by the playmakers outside. Gallon, Jake Butt, Dileo, Jeremy Jackson, and Devin Funchess all contributed big plays to a stellar day through the air.

O-line: C+

Notre Dame’s defensive line and constant blitzing did a number on the Michigan offensive line. The holes were few and far between and Devin was running for his life on too many occasions. Jack Miller put forth a Heraclea effort inside against Louis Nix, though the interior had issues overall identifying and picking up blitzers.

D-line: C

The lack of pass rush was alarming for the 2nd game in a row, registering zero sacks and only 2 TFL. Michigan is badly in need of high impact, game changing defensive linemen.

LBers: B-

Michigan’s LBers did an adequate job of filling run lanes and making tackles but there were issues with drops into coverage and proper pursuit. James Ross put in a Dr. Jerkel-Mr. Hyde performance, looking like an All-American one series then following it up by looking like a true freshman the next. Both Brennen Beyer and Cam Gordon did a great job making plays from the SAM position.

Secondary: B

Thanks to the defensive gameplan, the primary job of the secondary on Saturday was coming up and making tackles. The Wolverines did a masterful job of limiting the yards after catch for the Irish and also managed to produce two huge turnovers. Blake Countess is well on his way to becoming a bonafied playmaker.

Special teams: D

A dropped punt, a shanked kick, and poor kick coverage all played into a special teams unit that struggled to contribute in a positive way for the team.

A: Unit played as close to flawless as possible. Unit played well enough to win the game on their own.

B: Unit had a major positive impact on the game but also had several assignment/execution miscues.

C: Unit did not negatively or positively affect the game. Unit made key positive plays along with several errors.

D: Unit made multiple critical errors that could potentially cost the team a win. Unit blew assignments and had poor execution across the board.

F: Play of the unit was bad enough that it could directly cost the team a victory.

Note: Plus and minuses denote degrees of the grade.

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My Introduction

My name is Davon Johnson and I have been hired to contribute to this site as a Recruiting Analyst. My job here will be primarily centered on recruiting, but I may do other things as well. IDavon Johnson‘m 16 years old, and I live in Columbus, Ohio (enemy territory, I know). I have written for the following Michigan recruiting blogs : MGoRecruit, Midnight Maize, and Victors Valiant. I have interviewed many prospects such as Michael Hutchings, Devin Funchess, Allen Gant, Erik Magnuson, Kamani Thomas, Cameron Burrows and many others.

How did I become a Michigan fan you ask? It all started when I was just a wee lad. My uncle and I are the only Michigan fans in the family (guess you could call us the "outlaws"), so he took me to my first Michigan game when I was 11. The game was against Appalachian State. My uncle was super excited, as was I, but neither of us could’ve predicted what would happen during the game. I was excited at certain parts of the game, at other times, I felt like crying. When Chad Henne threw the pass to Mario Manningham for a touchdown late in the fourth, I was ecstatic. Then, there was the blocked field goal. At that moment, I fell into a deep depression. On the ride home however, my uncle cheered me up by telling me everything, and I stress everything about the history of Michigan football. Needless to say, after that speech, I became obsessed with Michigan.

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Fantasy Outlooks on Avant & Manningham

I admit that in my two fantasy football drafts so far this year I did not draft Jason Avant or Mario Manningham. But my ears perked up when I heard these glowing observations of two former Wolverines.

Nate Ravitz on Jason Avant during the August 25th episode of the ESPN Fantasy Focus Football Podcast:

”If were not going to see Steve Smith or Jeremy Maclin at the start of the season. The opportunities increase for Jason Avant. Avant caught 41 passes last year and Philadelphia starts the season with two road games in domes against St. Louis and Atlanta. Especially in PPR formats, you can even start Avant at the beginning of the season. Avant has been a solid player in his career, has a decent big body. Even though he has been dealing with tendinitis in his knees, it hasn’t bothered him to much.”

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