Michigan vs. Western Michigan Awards

Michigan vs. Western Michigan Awards


September 10, 2018

 

Shea Patterson (image via WRAL)

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Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Ambry Thomas. Thomas had just 1 catch for 5 yards and had only a couple snaps on offense, but it would be nice if Michigan could put together some packages for him. He’s the #4 corner on defense right now and Michigan lacks playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, so they might as well use him on offense. Get your best athletes on the field.

Hit the jump for the rest of the awards.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . nobody. When you rush for 308 yards and throw 3 touchdowns with 0 picks, there’s not a lot to complain about on offense.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Joshua Ross. I really like what I’m seeing from Joshua Ross on defense. He’s physical and quick. He finished with 5 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Devin Gil. Gil got the start at WILL linebacker, but I think he’s being outplayed by Ross. That’s what I see in games, and it also matches up with the stats (Gil made just 2 tackles). Michigan rarely rotated linebackers when it was Devin Bush and Mike McCray starting last year, but now Ross is getting a lot of run at inside linebacker, so maybe the coaching staff is still trying to decide which of these two guys should start.

Play of the game . . . Noah Furbush’s interception. There were a lot of good plays, but I really liked the one by Furbush. He started the play at the line of scrimmage feigning a blitz. Then he dropped to his zone, located the receiver running a curl route, and made a nicely timed leap to reel in the catch. That’s pretty good work for a 6’5″, 240 lb. outside linebacker.

MVP of the game . . . Shea Patterson. Patterson’s numbers weren’t out of this world, but they were pretty good overall (12/17 for 125 yards, 3 TDs). Best of all, he made some nice throws that other Michigan quarterbacks have missed on over the past couple years. The touchdown pass on the corner route to Donovan Peoples-Jones required arm strength and good ball placement, and the score to Nico Collins was a throw that the quarterbacks from last year would have turned into a difficult catch. Or incompletion. Or interception.

23 comments

  1. Comments: 848
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Sep 10, 2018 at 6:42 AM

    On offense, how about seeing more of Zack Gentry? He’s supposed to be a matchup nightmare, and a prospect for early NFL entry, but we’ve barely bothered with him. If we’ve determined to go with a dink and dunk passing game, the tight ends in general are going to have to be more involved.

    • Comments: 46
      Joined: 1/10/2017
      Julio
      Sep 10, 2018 at 7:11 AM

      I’ve also wondered about this. Supposedly he and Patterson developed a good rapport over the summer.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 397
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Sep 10, 2018 at 7:53 AM

        I wonder if Harbaugh’s playbook for these early non-conference games has Gentry’s role muted, saving him for some Wisconsin / MSU situations? Did Gentry get good separation in the ND and WMU games, or are opponents focusing on covering him?

        • Comments: 848
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Sep 10, 2018 at 8:08 AM

          Sorry, but the “Our coaches don’t want to give away the playbook” meme needs to be buried and forgotten. Every year, new excuses are dredged up for why we’re running a bland, unimaginative offense that doesn’t use all the weapons available, as if it’s some kind of grand master plan to bamboozle future opponents, instead of just a lack of talent and coaching chops. We don’t have a stash of secret, magic tight end plays that MSU and Wisconsin have never seen before. We just don’t.

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 397
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            DonAZ
            Sep 10, 2018 at 8:15 AM

            I didn’t say it was so; I was merely speculating. Hence my second question about coverage on Gentry. Has he been open? What’s your theory?

            • Comments: 848
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Sep 10, 2018 at 8:26 AM

              No one ever actually says it’s so…it’s always just speculation, and at this point, it really is silliness. It shouldn’t even be proposed as a possibility by anyone wanting to be taken seriously, because it has never, ever turned out to be true.

              As far as Gentry being open, he’s 6’8″. Do the math.

              • DonAZ
                Comments: 397
                Joined: 8/12/2015
                DonAZ
                Sep 10, 2018 at 9:55 AM

                That’s right … just because someone is tall, it’s clearly obvious he’s open. That being the case, they should be recruiting 7’6″ freaks of nature. Problem solved.

                There was an incompletion in the WMU game where a throw to Gentry was broken up because Patterson didn’t throw it to a height Gentry could get but the defender could not. Why Patterson did that, I don’t know.

                There *is* a reason for so few throws to Gentry at this point. What that reason is nobody here knows. But your assertion that plays are never held in reserve is simply incorrect. It’s done all the time. MSU no doubt will have plays used in their game with us that won’t be on film.

                Your condescension is duly noted, and truly appreciated.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 2614
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Sep 10, 2018 at 10:21 AM

                  FTR, we have plays in our high school offense that we have yet to run this season. There are a multitude of reasons (not the right score, injuries to important personnel, not the right weather conditions, not getting the defensive looks we want, etc.). I can think of 7 plays off the top of my head that we haven’t run against opponents yet due to some combination of those factors. So I’m positive Michigan has some things in reserve that they have not shown yet. Whether it has something to do with Gentry or not is another question, but considering he’s a tight end and Michigan uses tight ends a lot…I’m quite sure there are plays in Michigan’s offense that haven’t been used this season.

                • Comments: 848
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  WindyCityBlue
                  Sep 10, 2018 at 11:35 AM

                  You want to try to find and play a 7’6” TE? Knock yourself out, but that’s just more siliness. Your sarcasm notwithstanding, height IS an advantage to pass catchers, up to a point that readonable people recognize.

                  And the falsity of your assertion about what I said is also duly noted. I said we don’t have a secret stash of never-seen-before TE plays. We don’t. Just because Harbaugh hasn’t used something in the first two games of THIS season doesn’t mean he’s never used it or that it isn’t on film. Do you seriously think that State will only look at this year’s film on us?

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3825
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 10, 2018 at 11:05 AM

            My opinion is this:

            Speaking of memes that need to retire. “Guy a couple inches taller than other guys is a matchup nightmare”. Maybe before we start going gaga over height we should look for requisite check boxes like route running, speed, hands, positioning strengths and instincts.

            Typically before somebody becomes a “nightmare” they have to do something more than catch 17 balls in a season.

            I’ve never heard anyone outside of the program say Gentry is “supposed to be” anything. He’s a converted quarterback who isn’t prototypical size. I’ve done the math and results are in. Like 6’3 RBs — there aren’t that many TEs that tall. Football isn’t basketball.

            So where is the hype coming from? Is it supply or demand? Legit merit or wishful thinking? How much is just filling a void because the other skill position talent has been meh?

            I don’t know that this offense needs much more from Gentry. Other than being tall and still learning to block (expected from a position switch from QB) he’s a typical TE and his production reflects that.

            They need somebody to step into a go-to role but my eyes are on Collins, Black, DPJ, Evans before Gentry because those guys have shown more big play potential.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 2614
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Sep 10, 2018 at 11:18 AM

              I think you’re conflating two things. Utilization and matchup differential are two different things. Shaquille O’Neal was a matchup nightmare because nobody could guard him…but he’s less so if his PG doesn’t throw him the ball in the post. Kevin Durant is a matchup nightmare on the perimeter…but not so much in the post if that’s the only place he plays. Saquon Barkley is a matchup nightmare for linebackers on pass routes… Etc.

              Gentry averaged something like 17.6 yards/catch last year, which is indicative of matchup problems. He can outrun people, and he can outjump people. If you don’t throw him the ball, it doesn’t matter. He did have a PBU against him in the Notre Dame game where the safety reached around him and yanked his arm away, which could have been mitigated by better body positioning. But if Patterson threw that ball where only a 6’7″ guy could catch it, we might be singing a different story right now. Patterson threw it where any average-sized tight end/safety could get his hands on it.

            • Comments: 848
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Sep 10, 2018 at 11:43 AM

              Here’s the hype:

              “He’s 6’8″ and can run very well for someone his size. He’s a complete mismatch for defenses, and in my opinion, he could be another Mackey Award winner in the making.”

              “Gentry is a playmaking threat that teams have to account for on every play. It’s not often you can find a tight end who can get you 18 yards per catch. Gentry can be a big-play guy and a red zone threat, and he also improved his blocking. I also believe he can be effective on RPOs if Michigan decides to go that direction with quarterback Shea Patterson. I think this could be a breakout year for Gentry, and maybe it will be good enough for him to leave early for the NFL.”

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3825
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 10, 2018 at 1:22 PM

                I was not excluding fans when I said “outside of the program”. The wording may have been confusing but my point was that it was Michigan fans driving the hype bus.

                Nobody over at MSU, OSU, PSU or Wisconsin is shaking in their boots because of Zach Gentry.

                He caught 3 balls in those 4 games. People can blame the QBs all they want for that.

                McKeon caught 11 balls. So did Perry. Hill caught 5.

                But yeah, good YPC. No argument there. Relevance TBD.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3825
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 10, 2018 at 12:40 PM

              Here is a list of guys who exceeded 15 ypc since 2004

              Alijah Bradley
              Andre Criswell
              Zion Babb
              Mario Manningham
              Kevin Koger
              James Rogers
              Junior Hemingway
              Ricky Reyes
              Daryl Stonum
              Terrence Robinson
              Roy Roundtree
              Martevious Odoms
              Kelvin Grady
              Stephen Hopkins
              John McColgan
              Jeremy Gallon
              Devin Gardner
              Drew Dileo
              Devin Funchess
              Joe Reynolds
              Keith Heitzman
              Bo Dever
              Drake Johnson
              Khalid Hill
              Amarah Darboh
              Ty Isaac
              Bobby Henderson
              Michael Hirsch
              Gentry
              Higdon
              Eubanks

              Safe to say sample size is relevant.

              Manningham, Hemingway, Roundtree, Gallon, Funchess, Chesson, Darboh are the only guys who did it with more than 20 catches, and most of them did it multiple times.

              Is Gentry’s YPC predictive of stardom? On 17 catches it’s pretty speculative.

              FWIW his catch rate was pretty good too, so yards per target YPT makes a stronger case for Gentry.

              The sample size still is what it is.

              • Thunder
                Comments: 2614
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Sep 10, 2018 at 12:57 PM

                …and all those guys who did it with 20+ catches are wide receivers. So Gentry was 3 catches away from being in a realm where only WRs normally go. That reinforces my point.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3825
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 10, 2018 at 1:08 PM

                  There are different ways to interpret the data.

                  Khalid Hill did it on 4 catches and became a FB.

                  Koger did it as a freshman and then as his catches (i.e., sample size) went up above 20 he finished with 10.6 ypc as a senior.

                  Your prediction for Gentry was ” 25 catches for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns” so clearly you don’t expect him to maintain last year’s YPC. Nor do you expect a major increase in his utility, despite expecting a far better QB.

                  Those are not the stats of a “matchup nightmare”. I think we probably agree a lot more than you’re letting on.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3825
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 10, 2018 at 12:51 PM

              People got Shaq the ball because Shaq put himself into position to get the ball on damn near every play.

              Shaq wasn’t great because he was tall (there are a lot of 7′ basketball players in the NBA), he was great because he was supremely athletic and strong for a guy that tall. And yes skilled, at least in post play.

              Durant not being a matchup nightmare in the post is a dubious assertion but it illustrates the point I’m trying to make – it’s not about height.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3825
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 10, 2018 at 12:57 PM

              Finally the most important point:

              “throw it where only a 6’7 guy can get it”

              This place is a myth. It’s only relevant if you ignore reach (arm and hand size), quickness, leaping ability, timing, and body control.

              I keep saying this but nobody ever has a retort for the fact that the best 3 jump ball guys in recent Michigan history are Jeremy Gallon, Roy Roundtree, and Junior Hemingway. Despite a whole slew of receivers over 6’2 those guys had the most success.

              Height IS an advantage of course, but it’s something like 10% relevant while the other stuff is 90%.

    • Comments: 962
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 10, 2018 at 9:05 AM

      Gentry needs to fight for the balls that come good way, act like a big man!

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3825
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 10, 2018 at 11:07 AM

        My hot take is that this is something that takes years to learn. It’s a critical WR skill and part of why just moving a QB out to WR is generally not very successful. At outside WR in particular.

  2. DonAZ
    Comments: 397
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Sep 10, 2018 at 6:48 AM

    What are some examples of offensive plays you think would be good for a player like Ambry Thomas? And how would you disguise them so Thomas’ entry wouldn’t signal to the defense?

    (I ask because it seems the speedy guys are used for jet sweeps, and my memory struggles to remember one of those really breaking big.)

    • Comments: 4
      Joined: 9/17/2017
      nofunforfu
      Sep 10, 2018 at 9:55 AM

      The routes for Thomas don’t need to be overly complicated. Any dig/crossing route would be easy to implement and allow him to use his speed to gain separation. Add in deep in/out routes, and the occasional pivot route (fake the dig/cross and cut outside) and that’s a handful of routes that likely wouldn’t require a lot of time in practice to get a basic understanding of, considering his WR history from high school.

  3. Comments: 533
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 10, 2018 at 11:37 PM

    Offense: Lets see more of Mason or anyone who can add to max pro protect. One less wr and one more blocker. Need to give Patterson a little extra time and then he will feel more comfortable. You actually can have too many targets.

    If I give you Jerry Rice and you give me an extra defender (12 on the field) and I can only play them on the other half side of the field, does it really matter?

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