Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week four thoughts...

1. Ho-hum: another 189 yards of total offense in less than a quarter for Denard Robinson...

Denard was at it again on Saturday, showing what the spread option can do against a weak defense when running at optimum speed. We all know that he went out with a minor and temporary knee injury, but that he will be ready for Indiana. Denard is rapidly becoming the prototypical Spread Option Quarterback. Taylor Martinez of Nebraska is also becoming a force and Trey Burton of Florida may follow in his footsteps soon.

2. Tate is still Great...

Tate Forcier showed that rumors of his demise are somewhat premature. His 12-for-12 performance said a lot about how he has responded to his benching. If MSU and OSU fans get their way, and Denard is indisposed for a few games, Forcier showed that he is more than capable of leading the Michigan offense and has, to all appearances, taken the number two slot on the depth chart back from Devin Gardner.

Forcier can't run as fast as Denard, but he is a very good distributor, and can run just fast enough to "move the sticks" if needed. It is easy to forget how good Forcier was before his myriad injuries last season; the BGSU game was a reminder that he can still play on an elite level. And rememer, he is only a sophomore.

3. Potential...

Devin Gardner showed that he isn't quite as good as the other two QB's yet, but that he does indeed have a very high upside. As the game "slows down" for DG, he will get better. He isn't as quick as Denard, but does appear to have pretty good "top end" speed once he gets going. DG will get a lot better as he gets to know the offense better and makes decisions sooner. He will realize that he doesn't have enough speed to run laterally, but has plenty to run "downhill," and will make the adjustments with experience.

His height helps him see over the line better, and he does have very nice touch on his passes. Potentially, he is the most gifted passer on the team. It should take a year or two for that potential to emerge, though.

4. Let's whine about the defense...

Instead of celebrating a blowout win in which Michigan was able to give their "depth players" invaluable experinece, and were still able to score pretty much at will, the Chicken Little segment of the Michigan fanbase chose instead to bemoan the "deficiencies" of the defense.

Really, though, except for a couple of bad plays, Michigan's defense was servicable against BGSU. And a servicable defense, combined with a state of the art offense, will be enough to win the number of games to which Michigan fans are accustomed. They only gave up 21 points. Many will say that this was to a MAC school, but it's not like they had to win in a shootout.

As I have posted before, the offenses have the advantage in this era of college football. Everyone struggles on defense except maybe five teams. Nobody is really stopping the spread at this point, and Michigan's version appears to be nearly unstoppable with Robinson at the helm.

This defense has a lot of young players, and will consequently have a faster learning/improvement curve than an older defense would. They are big enough up front that they no longer get pushed around, and the mistakes being made by the younger secondary are errors of commission, not omission.

Iowa could be a pretty bad "learning experince" game, as could PSU, but by the time Michigan plays Wiscy and OSU, the players will have had ten games of major college experience. I think we will see a much-improved team the last two games of the year.

5. Ryan Mallett loses his poise...

Ryan Mallett had it all in his hands: a chance to beat defending National Champion Alabama on national TV and thus increase his leverage in the Heisman Trophy race. So, what did he do? He whined and cried like a baby the first time he got hit in the mouth and every time thereafter.

As he showed at Michigan, Ryan Mallett is the bully who is full of confidence and poise until someone stands up to him and hits him back. Mallett looked great until Alabama started hitting him, and he started complaining to the refs after every hit. Soon, he was so busy complaining to refs and thinking about getting hit that he threw two fourth quarter interceptions.

Ryan Mallett didn't leave Michigan because he didn't fit into the offense. Ryan Mallet left Michigan because he didn't fit into the RR/Barwis mold of player. RR and Barwis want a team-first attitude and stress responsibility for one's own actions. They want players who have poise in the fouth quarter. They want players who "tune out" all of the outside influences that keep a team from winning.

Comparing Mallett's fourth quarter performance to that of Denard Robinson against Notre Dame, it is obvoius that Mallett was right: he didn't fit in. But not for the reasons he thinks.

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