First off, don’t forget to check out diehardsport.com. There’s a lot of great content over there, and I think a bunch of you would like it. Also, a huge thanks to Bryan Thomas for helping get this site up and running again, could not have done it with out him and I’m sorry I didn’t thank him sooner.
Second off, these are the types of weekends that are great. Michigan has a nice easy win, the Lions were on a bye week so I couldn’t get upset by them losing, and the Tigers won both their playoff games.
The Michigan offense should be run like that every week; it’s just the way it has to be. Fitzgerald Toussaint has been nothing short of awful this year. I mean, 18 carries for 20 yards? Sure he had two touchdowns, but those were short goal line carries. I’m fairly certain that most of the people I know could get 20 yards on 18 carries; for all the math wizards that’s 1.1 yards per carry. Fitz is way better when he is a downhill runner, but there aren’t any holes open on the inside of the line. Then, he tries to bounce the ball outside and loses yards, it is becoming a vicious cycle. This is what happens when you lose the best center in the country.
Denard has to be the go-to center piece and that’s exactly what he was on Saturday. Let him carry the ball 20+ times, gain 200 yards and throw for 100; it’s a perfect plan. I don’t care if he becomes a glorified running back, if he doesn’t throw the ball 40 times a game, Michigan is going to have a better chance to win. He’s proven that he still didn’t develop as a passer and his decision making is still very questionable. What isn’t questionable? How fast and great he is as a runner. He’s going to run a sub-4.3 40 at the combine and then the Oakland Raiders are going to draft him in the second round to play him at wide receiver and kick returner. If he had gone to Oregon, he would be touted as the best quarterback ever and his stats would be absolutely unreal.
The offensive line is still very iffy when it comes to run-blocking. It’s becoming more and more clear that this line is not a line of road graders, and merely a line of pass blockers. I was pleased with the play of the receivers and of course, Devin Funchess, and it is crucial to keep the passing game to be a viable option. Yes, I do want Denard to run more, but it has to be a 60-40 balance, if it gets anymore unbalanced, then teams will just stack the box with eight defenders and Michigan will lose a lot of games. Basically, he needs to keep running around 25 times, and throwing between 15-20. The offense as a whole though, was around a 75-25 split (in favor of the run) and this is fine. They just have to keep the defense off-balance when Denard has the ball or he will turn in more Alabama performances.
What I really want to know is what happened to this pass play (Or watch the embedded video starting at the 30 second mark).
Seriously, if I could interview Al Borges, the only thing I would ask him is why he doesn’t run this play five times per game. That play is literally how Roy Roundtree got 90% of his career receiving yards. As soon as Denard starts running, the safety drops down and virtually everyone on the defense forgets what their responsibilities are normally supposed to be. This pass play is something that Denard has proven he could run, and would be a phenomenal change of pace from the quarterback runs. If they re-installed this play, then Denard could throw the ball more times per game, with a smaller chance for an interception.
At least the defense looked good again. Mattison has them firing on all cylinders and they seem to be clicking as a unit very well. And like I said earlier in the year, Raymon Taylor is a very good man coverage corner. Jake Ryan consistently has a fantastic motor, and Kenny Demens actually looked very good in pass coverage. I just hope that the knee brace Jordan Kovacs was sporting won’t become a serious hindrance. He is a key piece to the defense, and without him, our secondary issues will get even worse.
Nonetheless, I’m always happy when I’m doing these posts and I don’t have much to say about the defense. The defensive line did a great job, and while they didn’t get a massive pass rush, none of them got pancaked and blown up the whole day; and when you have a bad defensive line, this is crucial. I’ll trade their lack of a pass rush, for not being a detriment to the team any day of the week.
Another guy I love and have pretty much since day one is Dennis Norfleet. He’s shifty, fast, and literally has no fear when he is returning kicks. He welcomes contact and he doesn’t crumple up or try to avoid it. His superman dive over a pile of guys during a kick return is an example of this, and I wish I could find a YouTube video for it because I was in awe when he did it. But this is the only one I’ve got.
Sure he didn’t run any of the kicks back, but he still looked damn good on a night that he was far too busy. He’s a stud in the making and will be a key part of the team going forward. To be honest, I’m surprised that he hasn’t been given more snaps on offense yet, given how bad the run game has been.
Either way, it’s always a good weekend if all you have to wonder about is some new play calling to use. For me, a win is a win and I’m always happy when Michigan puts up a W. Nobody asks how, they only ask how many, right Pointer?
Hopefully Michigan doesn’t overlook Illinois this week, I don’t need the Homecoming game spoiled, and with Michigan State coming up it could happen. I’m not sure who will get to wear Gerald Ford’s #48 when it comes out of retirement this weekend, but you can be sure that it will be a Senior leader, and not necessarily an impact player. After they gave Brandon Moore, Ron Kramer’s #87, it became clear that these numbers would be going to leaders and not the best players. I’ll make a prediction that they give it to Patrick Omameh.