Grading The Performance: Notre Dame

Quarterback

I’ve debated long and hard on how to grade Denard’s performance from this game. On the one hand he really struggled to execute in the passing game, there were horrible throws which were matched with even worse decisions. On the other hand Denard was asked to do things that he has long struggled with and that he’s frankly not very good at. Denard was not, is not, and likely will never be a good drop back passer. He makes poor decisions and throws when he is asked to sit in the pocket, scan the field, then make throws. That’s not his strength and it never has been. He was asked to do that a lot in this game and struggled mightily. Denard can’t be completely absolved of the blame however. He flat out made some terrible throws and decisions. He’s been drilled on his footwork and fundamentals all offseason yet still makes the same mistakes over and over. Al Borges can’t be blamed for Denard chucking a screen pass 4 yds over a back’s head, or air mailing go routes. Denard did showcase some of the phenom ability we’ve come to expect. The pass to Hemmingway while being dragged down by a defender was one of the most exceptional plays I have ever seen. In addition Denard made  clutch play after clutch play in the 4th quarter. Still, on a night where Denard finished with only 11 completions and threw 3 interceptions it’s tough not to focus on the negative despite the outcome. In the end both the coaches and Denard are responsible for the performance. In this case I put more blame on the coaches than Denard.

 Grade: C+

Running Back

The backs were mostly non-existent. The efforts to find a complimentary back to help shoulder the load continues. The backs simply weren’t asked to do much as they received a combined 8 carries in the game. I would like to think that the absence of Fitz contributed to the effort but we simply did not use our backs enough to evaluate their performance. Vincent Smith had one of the plays of the game on a screen pass but the Hopkins fumble at the goal line offsets what would normally be a decent grade.

Grade: C+

Wide Receivers/TEs

The receivers were really the story of the night offensively. I would give a gameball to the entire receiving core as they were the real heroes of the game. Junior Hemmingway did his best Braylon Edwards impression on a night when his #21 was honored for Desmond Howard and he really bailed out his QB. Despite being one of the smallest guys on the field Gallon had two of the biggest plays in the game, including setting up the winning TD. Roy Roundtree caught the winning TD on a spectacular effort but it was his blocking on the Vincent Smith TD that really caught my eye. The early drops are the only thing that keeps the WR unit from receiving perfect marks.

Grade: A-

Continue reading “Grading The Performance: Notre Dame”

Grading The Performance: Western Michigan

Quarterback

Not surprisingly Denard Robinson had moments of both good and bad, though there was none of the spectacular plays that we have come to expect from #16. Fitzgerald ToussantOn the plus side Denard seemed more comfortable under center than he did in the spring, he didn’t turn the ball over and his decision making as a passer was good for the most part. Denard threw a picture perfect strike to Gallon on 3rd and 6, a pass that he struggled to complete in the past. On the down side there were several very poor throws made by Denard which were the result of bad footwork. There were under- throws, over-throws, and several passes thrown behind WRs that were caught. There were also several instances where Denard left his receiver out to dry, subjecting them to big hits and potential turnovers down the road. Overall the game management and decision making earn Denard solid marks in his first performance in the new offense, even with the lack of big plays.

Grade: B-

Running Back

The performance by the backs was really a tale of two halves. There wasn’t much running room in the first half and the backs struggled to hit holes and make guys miss. Michigan averaged a measly 4.2ypc going into halftime. That number radically changed in the 2nd half as Fitzgerald Toussaint and Shaw both broke runs of 40+ yards. Michigan finished the game average 7.3ypc with both backs flashing the kind of big play ability the offense has missed. The backs also did a good job of blocking, both in pass protection and lead blocking for Denard on designed runs.

Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/TEs

It was a mostly uneventful day for the receivers as there were only 13 passes thrown in the game. Roundtree and Hemmingway both bailed out Denard Robinson on bad throws and the receivers as a whole did a good job of catching the ball. Koger had 2 nice grabs, including one in traffic which got him hammered. Both the TEs and WRs did a good job of run blocking during the game. Tough to praise or criticize a unit that didn’t get asked to do very much.

Grade: B

Offensive Line

Continue reading “Grading The Performance: Western Michigan”

Press Conference Notes (8/23/11)

Head Coach Brady Hoke:

On Consistency: Team needs more consistency. Defense will be good one day and mediocre the next. Saturday, everyone was really physical. There hasn’t been one practice in my opinion that team didn’t show intensity.

Scrimmage Notes: Troy Woolfolk played very well, Brandon Herron showed some positive signs. Fitz, Smith and Shaw all played very well.

Kicking Game: Tight race between Wile and Seth B. to be the punter.  By Sunday we will have our ducks lined up how we want them.  Right now Brendan is kicking the best.

Secondary: Woolfolk has one spot locked up, Avery and J.T. Floyd are doing a great job and battling for the other spot. At Safety, Thomas Gordon, Carvin Johnson and Jordan Kovacs have all stood out. Gordon has shown the growth that we like.

Continue reading “Press Conference Notes (8/23/11)”

Recruiting Update (1/20)

Hello all. I just wanted to give a quick update on recruiting. It’s been rather crazy since late last week in the Michigan recruiting world. First off, I want to welcome all of the new coaches to the program and wish them well. Recruiting got a huge boost last evening when Coach Brady Hoke named Greg Mattison the new defensive coordinator. He is not only one of the best defensive coaches in all of football, he is the ultimate closer in the recruiting world. I look for defensive recruiting to pick up soon, but especially next season.

On to recruiting. There has been a bunch of bad news over the past couple of weeks, in the form of de-commitments. Dallas Crawford, Matt Goudis and Antonio Kinard (was he ever a true commit?) all decided to commit to Miami. Meanwhile Jake Fisher, Kellen Jones, Brennen Beyer, Jack Miller, Blake Countess and Tony Posada are either contemplating or taking more visits. All but Fisher seem likely to be Blue at this point, but Coach Hoke still has work to do. The Wolverines are also looking pretty good for Chris Bryant and Hakeem Flowers, so the news is getting much better.

Coach wasted little time getting some new offers out there, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerbacks Stefan McClure (Army All-American) and Floyd Raven will both be visiting Ann Arbor over the coming few weekends.

With Michigan lacking in the kicking game, Hoke recently offered Californian Matt Wile. It is still unsure at this point if Michigan is looking to snag a last minute quarterback, but a few names to remember are Max Shortell (rumors are he has an offer), Tanner McAvoy and Christian Suntrup. Two more kids to keep an eye on: OT Patrick Flavin and CB Darren Kitchen is still in the mix. I’m sure we will learn of more offers in the coming days before LOI day is here. We will also have a few profiles up in the next couple of days.

Look for the upcoming weekends to be big visiting weekends. So far this weekend UM has Frank Clark, Stefan McClure, Tony Posada, Raymon Taylor and Matt Wile coming in to visit. And Floyd Raven will be coming in on the weekend of the 28th. I expect the 28th list to grow as well.

Finally a few prospects to add to the Halo List from the past few weeks. Kris Frost, ugh. Michigan was his clear leader for a long time until the coaching change. Then he decided on Auburn, who decided to take his commitment over a week later. A day after I posted Devin Lucien’s profile, he of course drops Michigan because they wanted him as a defensive back. He is not a d-back, so we’re out. Jack Tabb picked UNC and Deion Barnes is picking either PSU or Georgia.