Michigan 30, Connecticut 10

Michigan 30, Connecticut 10

September 5, 2010

I was only able to watch the last two-and-a-half quarters of the game due to my football obligations, but here are some thoughts on what I saw.

  • Denard Robinson has improved exponentially. He took advantage of a weak defense, but he still completed 19/22 passes (86.3%) and didn’t turn the ball over. Oh by the way, he rushed for 197 yards and one touchdown on 6.8 yards per carry.
  • The offensive line looked excellent in pass protection, but only so-so in run blocking. It makes things much easier for Robinson if he doesn’t have to run for his life. However . . .
  • . . . Michigan’s running backs looked only average. Between Vincent Smith and Mike Shaw, they got only 3.4 yards per carry against a weak defense. Both failed to hit the line of scrimmage full speed at times, and neither showed an ability to be “special.”
  • There’s no excuse (unless there was an undisclosed injury to Tate Forcier) for the way that Devin Gardner burned his redshirt. When Robinson left the game momentarily with a minor injury in the third quarter, Rich Rodriguez inserted true freshman Gardner instead of apparent third-stringer Tate Forcier, who started all 12 games in 2009.
  • Robinson had way too many carries (29). Yes, he was successful carrying the ball (6.8 yards per carry, 1 touchdown), but that would give him 377 carries over a 13-game season. The NFL record over a 16-game season is 416, by running back Larry Johnson. The coaches and Robinson himself need to be smart about how he’s deployed and get the ball out of his hands once the game is safely out of reach.
  • Too many redshirts were burned today. Not only Devin Gardner’s, but also Drew Dileo’s (to hold for extra points!) and Ray Vinopal’s (for special teams!). Some freshmen were obviously needed to play, but with those three, what’s the point?

Some thoughts on the defense:

  • Even though Michigan only allowed 10 points, I’m certainly not satisfied. UConn helped out the defense with several dropped passes, and UConn quarterback Zach Frazer completed just 18/37 passes (48.6%) despite the fact that only 4 were deflected by Michigan players.
  • The tackling is suspect, although UConn has a solid running game.
  • Obi Ezeh seemed to play solidly for most of the game and led the team in tackles with 9, although as a senior, his play recognition should be better. On third-and-long, there’s no reason to bite on a play action fake and not get the proper depth in your drop. That left an open receiver in the seam and allowed UConn a first down.
  • When a 195 lb. freshman linebacker (Carvin Johnson) is taking on a 6’7″, 325 lb. offensive guard on the interior of the line on a goal line play, something is wrong with your defensive scheme. Hopefully Johnson’s knee isn’t hurt too badly, but the replay showed his lower leg twisting in a direction it shouldn’t.
  • J.T. Floyd should be praised for forcing a fumble near his own goal line, but he’s lucky the crown of his helmet hit the ball being carried by D.J. Shoemate rather than Shoemate himself. Nobody wants to see another Zia Combs moment.
  • Zero sacks on 37 pass attempts? UConn has a large, veteran offensive line, but the pass rush needs to improve in the coming weeks.
  • Cameron Gordon took some poor angles at free safety, but he’s also a head hunter back there. If he can get a bead on receivers and running backs, he’s going to give some offensive players some headaches . . . literally.


  1. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 1:17 AM

    Thanks for the quick evaluation; I hope you're able to catch the first half of the game because I trust your instincts about the nuances of the game more than my own.

  2. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    @ Captain

    Thanks. I'm going to try to catch up on the first half (probably after our morning practice on Monday), but it's tough this time of year. I was frustrated today because I expected to be done with football meetings by 3:30, but there was a glitch with one of the films we had to evaluate… Oh well.

  3. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:00 AM

    I have to agree on the RB's. Shaw looked average at best. Even if you took that 8 yard loss out he still only averages 4 yards per.

    I have to say Smith looked better than I thought he would. If he hadn't been the run out the clock guy he'd have likely averaged over 4 per.

    I still would have liked to see Cox get at least a few carries against someone other than Delaware State. I don't know why RR likes Shaw so much, but he's not a good RB.

  4. Comments: 21379
    Michael S
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:09 AM

    Shaw ran tough and converted several first downs.

    I thought Roh had a sack, but maybe they gave him a TFL. I think there was decent pressure even if they didn't get many sacks. I'll take decent pressure from 3 or 4 rushers if it means no 60 yd touchdown bombs.

  5. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:13 AM

    Great stuff today. A very good win against a team plenty of folk thought would leave the Big House (which looked great) with a victory.

    But because this is Michigan and because of the last two years I'm still a little worried. That is, Michigan is going to be a highwire act this year. A lot is going to need to go right and it's going to be excruciating to watch them. Going to need a) drink and b) nerves of steel to get through it.

    Key stats today: Denard was 19 of 22 passing. That won't happen every week. And UM was 14 of 19 on 3rd downs. That won't happen every week either. UConn passed for 11.8 yards per catch. That might happen every week.

    And if UConn could catch the ball – especially the early drop on the 2 yard line – then this might have been a different game.

    On the other hand, UM (finally!) got some luck with fumbles and so on. May the regression to the mean continue.

    And Denard was at times magnificent. There's something almost terrible about how quickly you can fall in love with a QB…

    Still, let's hope UConn win the Big East now. (Though I don't think they will.)

    This was a big, big win and great to see. Let's hope Denard continues to progress and that this wasn't his best performance of the season….

    Even fucking Lou Holtz – who was chuckling about the App State game earlier – had to admit UM was quite impressive.

  6. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:28 AM

    @ Michael S

    Lot's of RB's do that and don't average barely over 3 YPC. Shaw could be a fantastic receiver or even a decent corner. He's at best an average RB.

  7. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 4:55 AM

    im gonna b honest and say my eval will probably be wrong BECAUSE i only watched a few plays(texas was toying with rice on ESPN at the same time that michigan was playing).

    – denard is fast
    – the offensive line looked amazing
    – denard is gonna have to carry ur rushing attack
    – trob is a lot slower than i expected from a michigan WR
    – denard is fast
    – denard ran the ball way too many times to expect to play a full season
    – putting in gardner was just plain dumb. i dont care if the kids competitive and doesnt wanna redshirt. sit him down and tell him to be competitive for a whole nother year later on wen hes actually needed
    – greg robinson got fired up after that fumble. seeing ur coach get fired up like THAT gets u fired up to do it again
    – uconns receivers need gloves
    – denard is fast


  8. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 5:46 AM

    Aren't redshirts not actually burned unless they play in more than 30% of the games, and none after the 6th? So couldn't they still conceivably redshirt?

  9. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 6:37 AM

    @Bill Gallagher

    From the NCAA's official website:

    You should know that NCAA rules indicate that any competition, regardless of time, during a season counts as one of your seasons of competition in that sport. It does not matter how long you were involved in a particular competition (for example, one play in a football game, one point in a volleyball match); you will be charged with one season of competition.

  10. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    @ Michael S

    Just throwing this out there, but Shaw only ran for 3 first downs. I guess that could count as "several"………….

  11. Comments: 21379
    Sep 05, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    @anonymous and Bill:

    Although Gardner's played this season, if he gets injured he could apply for a medical redshirt. From what I hear there's some gamesmanship with that: if the coaches announce an 'injury' early-ish in the season and the player doesn't see the field again, I guess getting the redshirt is a possibility, whether the player was actually seriously hurt or not.

    However, the NCAA could deny the medical redshirt request. And in this case, surely a lot depends on what happens with Forcier. If Tate ultimately leaves the team, then Gardner is surely going to play. If Tate wins back at least the #2 QB slot, then Gardner might not play again.

  12. Comments: 21379
    Sep 06, 2010 at 5:28 AM

    I don't know a whole lot about the nitty gritty, just the bigger general things. With that said, how much of what Denard did was the zone read and how much was designed QB draws?

    Thanks, love your site.

  13. Comments: 21379
    Sep 06, 2010 at 5:31 AM

    @ Kines

    I'd have to go back and look at each of his 29 runs to tell you for sure. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do that. But if memory serves me correctly, it seems that about 40% of his rushes were on the zone read option.

    There was a botched mesh with Michael Shaw at one point that resulted in a fumble, but otherwise, I thought Denard made the right read most of the time . . . or if he mistakenly kept the ball, he was able to outrun the defensive end anyway. He's clearly worked on that part of his game.

    Thanks for the compliment!

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