The All-Rodriguez Team: Offense

The All-Rodriguez Team: Offense


July 7, 2019
Denard Robinson makes fatties look fat.

In case you can’t tell, I like to make lists.  And depth charts.  And lineups.  This has nothing to do with football.  But when I was about thirteen years old, I laid down in my living room with a piece of paper and a pen.  I wrote down a batting order for my favorite team, the Detroit Tigers.  And the Atlanta Braves.  And the Chicago Cubs.  And, what the hell, the rest of Major League Baseball, too.

From memory.  If you wanted to know the emergency catcher for the Montreal Expos, I was your man (er, well, boy).

So here’s another list.  I’ve often thought about the best players to come through Michigan during the years of my fanaticism, and this one is narrowed down to the Rodriguez years.  Which players in the past few years turned out the best seasons for what amounted to be Michigan’s worst three consecutive years in program history?  Despite the 15-22 record over Rodriguez’s tenure, we had some pretty good individual players.  But as you might expect, the majority of them (nine out of eleven) were on the 2010 squad that had a winning record and played in a bowl game.

QB: Denard Robinson (2010)
182-for-291 passing, 2570 yards, 18 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
256 carries, 1799 yards, 14 touchdowns
This is a no-brainer.  For half the season, he was on pace to win the Heisman.

Hit the jump for the rest.

RB: Brandon Minor (2008)
103 carries, 563 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 9 touchdowns
Minor made an entire season out of one career.  He had 331 carries for 1,658 yards and 20 touchdowns over his four years.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay healthy for any length of time, and 2008 was his best season, despite only starting four games that year.

WR: Junior Hemingway (2010)
32 catches, 593 yards, 4 touchdowns
Hemingway made some spectacular plays in 2010, catching some deep balls, running after the catch, and channeling Houdini on a 45-yard catch and run against Illinois.  He didn’t put up spectacular overall numbers, but averaging 18.5 yards per reception is pretty nice.

WR: Darryl Stonum (2010)
49 catches, 633 yards, 4 touchdowns
Stonum became somewhat dependable as a junior in 2010, finishing second on the team with 49 receptions.  He only averaged 12.9 yards per catch, but that was largely a function of the routes he was asked to run and – I’ll say it – some inaccuracy on Denard Robinson’s part.  His numbers could have been better, but there were several occasions where Stonum had to contort his body or dive for a ball thrown by Robinson.  His 66-yard catch and run on a slip screen against UMass was a thing of beauty, though.

SR: Roy Roundtree (2010)
72 catches, 935 yards, 7 touchdowns
I feel bad that I couldn’t include Martavious Odoms on this squad, but Roundtree’s numbers are unimpeachable.  Sure, they could have been better (he suffered from the dropsies late in the year), but Roundtree turned in the single best receiving performance of the Rodriguez era this past season.  He made some clutch receptions and showed some nifty running ability with two 74+ yard receptions on the year.

TE: Kevin Koger (2010)
14 catches, 199 yards, 2 touchdowns
Koger put up better numbers in 2009 than 2010, but I thought he improved overall as a player from his sophomore to his junior year.  Koger had some maddening drops in 2009, which fell off somewhat in the next year.  I also think Koger’s blocking improved, which led him to be used as a sort of H-back to lead the way for Denard Robinson and the running backs.

LT: Mark Ortmann (2009)
This won’t be the popular pick because everyone loves Taylor Lewan.  And I love Taylor Lewan, too.  The problem was that he had too many drive-killing penalties (false starts, personal fouls, etc.).  Lewan certainly has more talent, but Ortmann was a solid player who didn’t make the same kinds of mental mistakes.

LG: Steve Schilling (2010)
Schilling spent his first couple seasons playing right tackle, which was a bad fit.  He moved to guard in 2009 and then, in my opinion, improved significantly from his junior year to his senior year.  His understanding of the guard position improved, and his work with the strength and conditioning program seemed to bolster his athleticism as time went on.

C: David Molk (2010)
I almost picked the 2008 version of Molk, simply because he was such a revelation for Michigan football fans that season.  His ability to reach block defensive tackles gave us an idea of what the offensive line would look like in the years to come.  But Molk was even better in 2010, paving the way for Denard Robinson’s 1,700 rushing yards.  The best thing about Molk, though?  Unlike the other centers who filled in when Molk was injured in 2009, his snaps were quick, accurate, and dependable.

RG: Patrick Omameh (2010)
Omameh still has room to improve.  He’s a little bit of an odd fit at guard, standing 6’5″ and only weighing about 300 lbs.  He has the body of a tackle, but fit well at guard for Rodriguez.  He still got overpowered at times, but his athleticism was key in getting to the second level.  Witness Denard’s 87-yard run against Notre Dame, on which Omameh latched onto linebacker Manti Te’o four yards downfield, drove him another six, and then pancaked him into the ground.

RT: Perry Dorrestein (2010)
Right tackle was the weakest offensive line position over the three years, going from Steve Schilling in 2008 to Dorrestein and Mark Huyge in 2009 and 2010.  While not a star, Dorrestein was the best of the three.  He didn’t make a lot of outstanding plays, but linemen are a little like officials – if you don’t notice them, they’re probably doing an okay job.

This was originally posted on April 1, 2011.

19 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 21856
    Anonymous
    Apr 01, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    1) So who was the Expos' emergency catcher?
    2) Are you going to do the D too, or…well, you know.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 21856
    Apr 01, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    @ Anonymous 5:46 p.m.

    Okay, I don't think the Expos had an emergency catcher that year. They just had a backup and another backup. That was back when the Expos had all kinds of awesome prospects and young players that they would kindly supply to the rest of MLB once they got too good. Marquis Grissom, Delino Deshields, Rondell White, Cliff Floyd, etc.

    I will be "doing the D" although somehow that sounds dirty.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 21856
    Apr 02, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    I thought you nailed the LT thing with Lewan. He is great but needs to grow up alittle bit.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 21856
    Apr 02, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    Thanks, Worm.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 21856
    Apr 02, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    Solid idea Magnus, and it's a very good list. I'm a little nervous to see the defense though. Something tells me that a lot of players that wouldn't have ever played meaningful snaps in the 90's or the early aughts are going to be on that list. At least I can reminisce about Brandom Graham.

  6. Avatar
    Comments: 21856
    Apr 02, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    @ Alex 7:19 p.m.

    Thanks.

    The front seven isn't too bad. The secondary is where it got really tricky.

  7. Avatar
    Comments: 1283
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Jul 07, 2019 at 11:25 AM

    My youngest son has always loved lists too. I remember the notepads coming out so he could track NBA rotations, and football depth charts

    This was a good throwback. Thanks for the summer Sunday read!

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3015
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 08, 2019 at 7:06 AM

      You need to get your son to read the blog, too!

      (Just kidding. Sort of.)

  8. GKblue
    Comments: 290
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Jul 07, 2019 at 4:23 PM

    I felt we must have been snake bit to have so little production from the tandem of Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown.

    Denard’s wheels, we will never forget him.

    Molk’s attitude, efficiency and quotes were old school tough.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3015
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 08, 2019 at 7:08 AM

      Yeah, the lack of running back production was very frustrating to me, considering Rodriguez had Steve Slaton at WVU. Slaton was a good player, but he didn’t do anything in the NFL, and Michigan should have been able to get more out of Brown, McGuffie, etc.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 444
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Jul 08, 2019 at 7:27 AM

        A serious question coming …

        … I’ve always thought that a QB that leads the team in rushing is a sign of a problem. I’ve often wondered if: (a) Denard himself would tuck-and-run too often, and (b) if Rodriguez tended to rely too heavily on Denard and just call QB run time and time again.

        Is there anything to my thinking, or am I off base?

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1184
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Jul 08, 2019 at 8:04 AM

          Denard was one of the greatest talents in the history of college football. You bet, RR was calling his number all day, every day. Additionally, when running the option, Denard was pretty sure that pulling the ball would accomplish more than letting go. So he held it, and rightfully so.

          • GKblue
            Comments: 290
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            GKblue
            Jul 08, 2019 at 8:23 AM

            This reminds me of my high school days. Our QB got injured and the coach moved our best back up to take direct snaps. He didn’t trust him to pass or hand the ball off. After about ten straight carries he was totally gassed.

            I was a DE and TE and had moved to fullback and must have said gimme the ball a hundred times. I would have run like an angry Minor busting through the line I just know it. I was pissed not getting my shot.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3015
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 08, 2019 at 8:25 AM

          I do think it’s a problem, because it puts too much pressure on one player. What was the best play action Michigan had when Denard was the quarterback? It wasn’t the jet sweep or the fake handoff on outside zone – it was the QB play action. When Denard was a threat to run, linebackers and safeties got caught out of position.

          It also puts pressure on him as a passer, and if you’re not a good passer (which Denard wasn’t), then the defense doesn’t have to concentrate on anyone else. Yes, there were some spurts of production from certain players (Junior Hemingway, Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Roy Roundtree, etc.), but none of those performers was consistent. If you look at successful spread offenses, there are almost always at least two consistently good performers (QB/WR, QB/RB, QB/slot receiver, etc.); Michigan only had one, and that was the QB.

          I think Rodriguez did rely on Denard “too much”…but that was because Denard was his horse. He was the only one that had developed within the framework of the offense enough to be a consistent threat and producer.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1184
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Jul 08, 2019 at 8:39 AM

            Plus, we couldn’t stop anybody. When you need 60 plus to beat Illinois you got problems. So he put the ball in his stud player’s hands and said, “Make plays.”

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1184
              Joined: 8/13/2015
              Roanman
              Jul 08, 2019 at 8:45 AM

              And, the pass off run action … actually, not even run action, just Denard taking the snap and starting to hunt around for a crease pulled safeties like nothing I’ve ever seen. Roy Roundtree would be just so incredibly wide open that even a limited passer could hit him with room to run. He’s be just kind of alone back there, not even very deep, just loping along waving his arm for the ball. It was amazing.

            • DonAZ
              Comments: 444
              Joined: 8/12/2015
              DonAZ
              Jul 08, 2019 at 10:18 AM

              If I recall, Tate Forcier was fairly involved in that Illinois game. Oh if only that kid had his head screwed on better …

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 444
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            DonAZ
            Jul 08, 2019 at 10:24 AM

            >> “He was the only one that had developed within the framework of the offense enough to be a consistent threat and producer.”

            That I agree with. Trouble is, that only worked against teams where that could work. I recall against the better teams Robinson would be in the backfield dancing around, trying to make things happen, and the defense would just box him in and take him down. I’ve long maintained Robinson was fast but *not* that quick in his first step. Get him to a standstill and he was vulnerable against disciplined defenders.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4767
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 09, 2019 at 4:46 PM

              The competition thing gets trotted out against Denard everytime but it is entirely typical. Mgoblog linked to some PFF stats today about how Patterson’s stats and DPJ’s stats dropped way off against top competition. These are 5-star recruits playing for proven NFL coaches and on track for successful NFL careers.

              “Against five opponents that finished the year ranked, Patterson still completed 62 percent of his throws, but at just 11.3 yards per completion. It was 10.3 in three losses. Donovan Peoples-Jones averaged 18.4 yards per catch against unranked foes and 8.7 against ranked. Be it Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, a finally healthy Tarik Black, or someone else, the Wolverines need a playmaker against the teams with the strongest pulse.”

              This is just how it goes, and it doesn’t mean you are a bad team or a bad player. Production depends on context.

              This is also why YPC is so limited as a stat but enough about that for today…

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