Grading The Performance: Central Michigan

The GoodJibreel Black 3

Defensive Front Seven– Losing Jake Ryan was a definite blow to the defense but front 7 looked no worse for wear without the presence of #47. The front seven was as fast as the unit has been since 2006. Good pursuit is always preached by defensive coaches but the group of Saturday went above and beyond, often getting to their spots well ahead of their offensive counterparts. The LBers flowed to the ball with exceptional speed and quickness and were solid in their open field tackling. The line didn’t get quick as consistent a push or rush early as Greg Mattison probably would have liked, but they rebounded nicely in the second half and were active throughout. Jibreel Black and Mario Ojemudia flashed the ability to beat one on one blocks that the coaches have been pushing for since in the end of last season.

The Bad

Turnovers – Cutting down the number of turnovers has been a major point of emphasis that has been preached by both Brady Hoke and Al Borges. The first game often has its share of hiccups but the Wolverines did an average job of taking care of the football. The two interceptions have been a major point of discussion since Saturday, but there was also a muffed punt by Dennis Norfleet early in the 1st half.

The Ugly

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2013 Defensive Depth Chart Preview

I expect the 2013 defense to be strong once again despite losing some solid contributors such as Jordan Kovacs, Will Campbell, Craig Roh, Kenny Demens, and JT Floyd. Here is how I see the 2013 depth chart shakinBrenen Beyer - MGoBlogg out with no true freshman included.

SDE: 1. Brennen Beyer – Junior

2. Tom Strobel – RS Freshman

3. Keith Heitzman – RS Sophomore

4. Chris Wormley – RS Freshman

Analysis- After two seasons at the WDE position, I see Brennen Beyer moving to the strong side next year. He will need to gain weight, but his strength is stopping the run. Strobel has earned praise from people close to the program, and I really liked him coming out of high school. He is the future of the position. Heitzman saw some playing time in 2012 and should contribute again in 2013. Wormley already has NFL size and could be a star player in the future if he recovers fully from his injury that he sustained in camp this season.

WDE: 1. Frank Clark – Junior

2. Mario Ojemudia – Sophomore

Analysis- Beyer’s pending move to the strong side is also because of the talent Michigan has at WDE. Clark showed great potential against OSU and is an explosive player. Ojemudia, in a perfect world, would have redshirted in 2012 but saw the field because of his pass rushing ability. Michigan will be solid on the weak side in 2013.

3T: 1. Jibreel Black – SeniorJibreel Black2

2. Nathan Brink- RS Senior

3. Matt Godin – RS Freshman

Analysis- Black showed some flashes of being a dominant 3Tech defensive tackle in 2012. He has been versatile since arriving in Ann Arbor playing three positions along the defensive line. Brink didn’t contribute nearly as much in 2012 as he did in 2011, but provides solid depth at the position. Godin could play SDE or 3Tech in the future, but assuming he gains weight this offseason I see him as a future starter at defensive tackle.

NT: 1. Quinton Washington – RS Senior

2. Ondre Pipkins – Sophomore

3. Richard Ash – RS Junior

Analysis- Q was probably the biggest surprise on either side of the ball in 2012. He showed that he can be an anchor in the middle and should have a solid senior campaign. Pipkins showed flashes in 2012 of the skill set that made him a highly touted DT coming out of high school. As with all young defensive linemen, the offseason will be crucial for Ondre. Richard Ash will need to have a great offseason to contribute.

Will: 1. James Ross – Sophomore

2. Royce Jenkins-Stone – Sophomore

Ana102911_SPT_UMich_vs_Purdue_MRMlysis- Ross pretty much solidified himself as the future of the position late in the 2012 season. He is extremely athletic will instincts that cannot be taught. I see future All-Big Ten potential with his game. RJS will likely start at Will, but could play all three linebacker spots because of his athleticism.

Mike: 1. Desmond Morgan – Junior

2. Joe Bolden – Sophomore

3. Mike Jones – RS Senior

4. Kaleb Ringer – RS Freshman

Analysis- Because of Ross’ late season play, I see Morgan moving to Mike for 2013. He is a solid tackler that lacks ideal athleticism to continue to hold down the Will spot. Joe Bolden had a solid freshman campaign and will (along with Ross) provide a great future at the inside linebacker positions because of his instincts and tackling ability. Jones and Ringer provide adequate depth assuming Ringer recovers from his injury.

Sam: 1. Jake Ryan – RS Junior

2. Cam Gordon – RS Senior

Analysis- Jake Ryan will be the center piece of the Michigan defense in 2013. One of the few defensive playmakers in the 2012 season, Ryan provides a unique combination of skills with underappreciated athleticism. Cam Gordon has bounced around throughout his career at Michigan but will contribute again at Sam in 2013.

CB: 1. Raymon Taylor – Junior

2. Blake Countess – RS Sophomore

3. Terry Richardson – Sophomore

4. Delonte Hollowell – Junior

Analysis- Taylor was another big surprise in the 2012 season and locked down one corner spot heading into the 2013 season. If Countess recovers from the injury he sustained against Alabama, Michigan could have one of the best corner combos in the Big Ten. Richardson needs to add weight in the offseason but is a great athlete. Ditto with Hollowell. Michigan could see some freshman contribute in the 2013 season at the cornerback position.

NB: 1. Courtney Avery – Senior

Anaylsis- Avery is undersized as an outside corner, but provides a solid option when Michigan brings in the nickel package. He has seen significant time throughout his MiThomas Gordon - Rivalschigan career and I expect that to continue in 2013.

SS: 1. Thomas Gordon – RS Senior

2. Marvin Robinson – Senior

3. Allen Gant – RS Freshman

4. Jeremy Clark – RS Freshman

Analysis- I see Gordon moving over to the strong safety position in 2013 following the departure of Jordon Kovacs. He has the skill set to play either safety spot and I expect him to be a solid starter once again in 2013. Marvin Robinson will definitely push at the position. He is a great athlete who just has to put it all together in his senior campaign. Gant and Clark are young but both have impressed the coaches this season.

FS: 1. Jarrod Wilson – Sophomore

2. Josh Furman – RS Junior

Analysis- Jarrod Wilson is the main reason I see Gordon moving spots in 2013. Wilson has underrated athleticism and has shown the intelligence and cover skills to be the future at the position. Furman is a freak athlete and one of the fastest players on the team. He could definitely push Wilson with a strong offseason.

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Grading The Performance: Iowa

Quarterback

Devin Gardner continues to improve at an Devin Gardner - UMGoBlue.comamazing rate. The better Devin plays, the more Al Borges has opened up the playbook and there has been little drop off in play. Devin made several NFL caliber throws on Saturday that Michigan fans haven’t seen since 2007. Throwing the deep 15-20 yard out route between the corner and safety is one of the hardest throws in football and Devin passed the test with flying colors. Devin also threw 2 flag routes to Roy Roundtree that were as impressive and difficult a throw as you are going to see in this offense. Devin continues to showcase that he is at his best when throwing to the sideline and vertically down the field. Al Borges has wisely steered away from throws to the middle of the field which can be hit or miss for Devin. Devin still has moments when he throws into double coverage or doesn’t identify hanging defenders which gets him into trouble. Devin’s interception to Micah Hyde occurred on a play where he failed to identify the hanging defender and threw the ball into what appeared to be an open spot.

If they’re smart, Michigan will continue to recruit mobile and dual-threat QBs in the same mold as Devin Gardner. The ability of mobile and duel-threat QBs to make plays with their legs in addition to throwing the ball is too advantageous to pass up in this era of college football. Devin Gardner’s arm has opened up facets of the playbook that Michigan hasn’t been able to successfully access prior to now. Gardner’s legs will allow them to continue to use parts of the playbook that would otherwise disappear once Denard Robinson is gone. Devin “only” carried the ball 9 times but he was extremely efficient and successful on those runs, accounting for 3 TDs and 37 yds. Devin’s legs not only force defenses to play honest, but give Michigan the ability to continue to actively attack opposing defenses on designed runs.

Grade: A

Running Back

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Grading The Performance: Northwestern

Quarterback

Wistert - UMGoBlue.comDenard Robinson remained sidelined thanks to the wrath of the elbow gods and Devin Gardner saw his 2nd start of the season. There were thoughts after last week that Gardner’s performance was simply the result of playing a weak opponent in Minnesota. Those ideas where put to rest on Saturday as Devin led Michigan to a come from behind victory over a ranked Northwestern team. Devin continues to learn facets of the offense and how to deal with different game situations on the fly, but so far he has handled it very well. Devin was poised for the majority of the game on Saturday and his ball placement was excellent throughout the game. There are times when the ball gets away from Devin, particularly when he throws over the middle. Locating backside defenders continues to be an issues for Devin and Michigan was fortunate to only turn the ball over once through the air. Devin is very adept when throwing to the sideline and vertically downfield. Devin dropped the ball into holes in the defense like a seasoned vet and put his receivers into great situations simply because of the ball placement. Devin did potentially cost Michigan the game with a very poor decision to force the ball into Devin Funchess on a wheel route, resulting in a horribly timed interception late in the game.

Devin continues to be decisive in the run game. Escaping pressure and scrambling to daylight is one of Devin’s strengths and Michigan was rewarded with a productive 47 yds on 9 carries, including 2 TDs. The great thing about Devin is not just his ability to throw the ball and add to the Michigan playbook, but he is still a very capable runner and dual-threat that opposing defenses have to account for.

Grade: B+

Running Back

Fitzgerald Toussaint was finally able to break off a big run during a meaningful stretch of the game. Unfortunately the play ended with a fumble but it was still good to see Fitz flash the same level of explosiveness that he showed last season. The 50 yd run skewed the day that Fitz had from a statistical standpoint. Fitz ran hard but if you take out the one big run, the numbers show 42 yds and a 2.5 ypc average. The 50 yd run was big and must be taken into account when evaluating the running game but room to run was still hard to come by which effected the production of the backs. Thomas Rawls had just 3 carries, one helped Michigan convert for a 1st down while another was a goal line TD.

Grade: C+

Wide Receivers/TEs

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Grading The Performance: Little Brother

Quarterback

The QB play wasn’t always pretty on Saturday, but Denard Robinson made enough plays in the end with both his arm and his legs to put Michigan in position to Denard Robinson - UMGoBlue.comwin the game. Robinson completed just 48% of his passes on the day but converted some critical 3rd down passes to extend drives. Denard took care of the ball for the most part, but there were several occasions when the ball was thrown up for grabs. When the offense continues to struggle in games Robinson has tended to press and try to force plays that aren’t there. Denard didn’t press the issue as much this game but there were still a few “oh no” moments on Saturday. Denard threw behind a wide open Jeremy Gallon in the end zone and misfired on a pass to Roy Roundtree in the end zone early in the game. When plays needed to be made on the final drive however, Denard made them. No play was bigger than the 19 yd. pass to Drew Dileo that setup the game winning FG.

Reads continue to be an issue for Denard in the run game. While in some cases it would not have ultimately made a difference in the success of the play, Denard missed several key reads on the zone read. The fact that Denard hasn’t completely mastered the zone read after 3 years as the starter continues to bewilder. Denard did have the best rushing performance that he’s ever had against the Spartans on Saturday. It took 20 carries for Denard to eke out 96yds on the ground, 44 of which came on a single run.

Denard accounted for all but 67 of Michigan’s 326 yards on Saturday.

Grade: B-

Running Back

After what occurred in last week’s game, there was an expectation that Michigan would continue to use a running back by committee approach. The expectation never materialized as Michigan used Fitzgerald Toussaint on nearly every snap. Fitz probably should have received more touches as he gained 52 yds on just 10 carries (5.2 ypc). Saturday was probably the first game in which Fitz actually looked like the back Michigan fans saw last year. Fitz was decisive, didn’t go down easily, and finished off his runs with physicality. In a game where yards were hard to come by, Vincent Smith had a big 12 run to kick off Michigan’s game winning drive.

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