Michigan 31, Illinois 14

Michigan 31, Illinois 14

November 13, 2011
This was a common sight on Saturday – Michigan’s defensive line swarming the Illinois backfield.
(image via MGoBlue.com)

Thank you Greg Mattison thank you thank you thank you.  For the last few years, people have been making the excuse for Michigan’s defense that “It’s Jimmys and Joes, not X’s and O’s.”  Yeah . . . well . . . not so much.  Michigan has three freshman starters (Blake Countess, Desmond Morgan, Jake Ryan), a couple former walk-on starters (Jordan Kovacs, Will Heininger), and less experience than the 2008 team.  The difference: they’re not being coached by Scott Shafer, Greg Robinson, and Rich Rodriguez.  This still isn’t the most talented defense around, but it held Illinois to 30 total yards in the first half, a 50% completion rate, and 1.1 yards per carry for the game.  They also produced 4 sacks, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, and 6 tackles for loss.

J.T. Floyd was okay for once.  One of the frustrating things about Floyd is that he’s slow to cover underneath routes and come up to make tackles, but he didn’t get beat deep against a receiver that Illinois really wanted to hit deep.  Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins had 8 catches for 103 yards, but the Illini targeted him more than 20 times to get those catches.  That low success rate wasn’t entirely due to Floyd – Michigan’s defensive line put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks – but when you get thrown at that much, you’ve had a decent day by allowing only 8 receptions.  I was disappointed that Floyd didn’t take his pick to the house, because he was brought down by a pretty weak tackle attempt by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.  But I’m not going to complain too much about a 42-yard interception return.

Those referees were horrible.  How many plays went to the replay booth and were reversed?  Three?  Four?  Whenever the game was stopped for a replay, it was essentially assured that the call on the field would be wrong.  The most egregious error was Illinois running back Jason Ford’s fumble (that wasn’t a fumble), which was picked up Courtney Avery and returned for a touchdown (even though Avery’s knee was down when he grabbed the ball).  The replay booth got the call right, but jeez, the head referee was standing right there  and totally blew both calls.  The one replay that wasn’t reversed, which was the tumbling catch by an Illinois receiver, was ruled incomplete on the field but looked to me as if it should  have been reversed.

Fitzgerald Toussaint had a great day.  Illinois eventually figured out that Michigan didn’t want to take chances with throwing the ball, and Toussaint still ended up with 27 carries for 192 yards (7.1 yards per attempt).  He’s clearly taken over the role as the lead back, and this represented his highest career carry total.  The previous high was 20 when he put up 170 yards against Purdue a couple weeks ago.  Michigan’s offensive line didn’t have its greatest effort, either, so Toussaint created a lot of those yards on his own.

This looks like the offense to come.  It seemed clear to me early in the game that the coaches didn’t trust Denard Robinson to put the ball in the air very much.  The game plan was to run run run the ball.  And that philosophy worked, even though it was largely boring to watch.  The Wolverines only attempted to throw the ball 16 times.  Robinson threw 1 interception and fumbled once when he was sacked (plus another fumble on a quarterback run), and he only played until midway through the third quarter, when he was apparently injured on a pass attempt.  At least against defenses that put the pressure on our jittery quarterbacks, the coaches seem to have decided that they would rather keep the ball in the ground.

Desmond Morgan is a truck.  I thought Morgan had his best game yet this season, not least of all because he destroyed Illinois running back Troy Pollard in the hole while getting blocked.  He might only be a freshman, but he’s a thumper.  I wonder if Morgan might eventually move to MIKE when Kenny Demens graduates, but in the meantime, the kid is doing pretty well for a true freshman at the WILL spot.  I have occasionally been frustrated with him getting out of position, but the kid makes tackles when he’s in the right spot.  Even with the vaunted linebacker class coming to Ann Arbor in 2012, it’s going to be hard to push Morgan off the field.

The defensive line had a hell of a day.  It’s hard not to look back and wonder why Michigan couldn’t have produced this same kind of effort back in 2008, with guys like Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson in the middle of the line.  The defensive linemen combined for 20 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 4 quarterback hurries.  It’s rare that a defensive tackle leads the team in tackles, but that’s exactly what Mike Martin did with 9 tackles.

Troy Woolfolk argh.  It’s hard to complain about the defense much, because they allowed only 14 points and 214 total yards.  But on the play prior to Scheelhaase’s 13-yard touchdown run, it was clear that free safety Troy Woolfolk cramped up or pulled a muscle in his leg.  I said the people I was watching the game with, “Get him out of the game.  He’s going to cost the team a big play.”  Sure enough, on the next play, Scheelhaase busted out and Woolfolk couldn’t beat him to the corner of the endzone, and the couch cushion next to me took a beating.  A healthy Woolfolk makes that play.  Meanwhile, backup safety Thomas Gordon – who should be starting – had one less tackle than Woolfolk, added 1 fumble recovery, and broke up a pass.  Woolfolk hasn’t been healthy all season, and Michigan missed a chance to rest him earlier in the year.  Now he seems to be playing at 85%, and it’s hurting the team.  Gordon is a playmaker who has grabbed 5 turnovers (1 interception, 4 fumble recoveries), while Woolfolk hasn’t created even one.


  1. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Wow, what is Floyd going to have to do to get more than an OK? He had a great game. He outplayed Jenkins, who averages over a 100 per game. Keep in mind, 32 yards of Jenkins was on that 4th down that Floyd was out of because of cramps, and most of the rest was on that same drive where they were basically in prevent.

  2. Comments: 21381
    Painter Smurf
    Nov 13, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Give it up for JT! Fans do not think much of the guy (me included) but it is telling that Mattison put him on Illinois' only offensve threat the entire game. He reminded me a bit of OSU CB's in his style of play. They tend to be all over receivers the entire game. The refs get desensitized to it and choose not to throw the flag in borderline PI situations. It's great that Mattison can get good snaps out of a limited guy like this.

    Morgan's development has been pretty amazing. LB was not his focus in HS. So to come in as a freshman, start, and look competent in most games, that is a rare situation.

    Speaking of Mattison, his zone blitz is really helping the front 7 get to the QB. Illinois was very undisciplined in their pass protection. It may not work as well against teams with better OL or a quick passing game. But it is great to see good scheming going on on defense and players playing up to their potential.

    Boy, I am having more and more trouble watching Denard. He had three turnovers, but it should have been at least four with Illinois dropping an easy INT. When you only get what, 12 possessions per game, to concede that your QB will blow at least three is tough to swallow. They are winning, so it is OK. But Denard's general sloppiness with the ball is starting to grate on me.

  3. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    I look forward to the day when you finally give JT Floyd some credit. He had a helluva a day, including the only int on D and blanketed their best WR for the entire day. He may not be the quickest or the most talented, but he has certainly improved dramatically since early in the season.

    Yea Desmond Morgan was good but Jake Ryan pwned the first half. That kid was in so many big plays and showed a lot of hustly and savvy. It's a shame Cam Gordon had to get hurt, but I think Ryan has secured that position. Not bad for a RS freshman.

    What schematic advantage does going for it on 4th and goal from the 2 give you when you're up by 14? Answer: Zero. Take the points, make it a 3 score game. And if you're going to go for it, come up with a better play than your Borges dipsy doo BS (I was so pleased not to see a single D Gardner/D Robinson play this game, btw).

  4. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Also, I feel it necessary to say that Denard looked TERRIBLE out there today, and I was overjoyed that he went out of the game, injured or not. I have felt for awhile that having a 1-dimensional QB who is turnover prone is not our best chance to win football games (especially when the OC designs an offense that make Dneard do what he's worst at–throw the ball–and not do what he's best at–running the ball. Congrats Borges, you've managed to neutralize one of the most electric players in the country last year).

    The only reason we could move the ball at all is because Fitz Toussaint had a ridiculous day running the ball. But 2 fumbles and one pick with nearly a second (on a simply HORRIBLE decision) is enough to get any QB in the country pulled, and surprise, Denard got pulled.

  5. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Dude, I said the exact same thing about Woolfolk to anyone who would listen…except I was watching by myself so yeah.

    T-Gordon has been consistently around the football when it hits the turf and just seems to have a knack for being in the right place. Woolfolk often appears a step slow arriving and doesn't come with force when tackling. I love that he's giving his all out there, but when you have a healthy T-Gordon on the sideline, who is stronger, a better tackler, and I think a better diagnoser of plays from that position, why run T-Woolf into the ground when he's clearly not healthy?! I mean, his one huge asset that he's supposed to have as a free safety is his speed, which, isn't the case anymore because of repeated ankle injuries this season. You're killing T-Woolf!

    That is my only gripe from this game. Well, defensively.

  6. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    It also appears that Denard has zero confidence when he takes off on a zone read/designed run. He seems to run tentatively and doesn't hit the hole hard. As well, the run-run-run-run theme really does show the coaches don't trust him anymore, and I think his confidence is really waning.


  7. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Thunder, I have to agree with your assessments of Desmond Morgan. I really liked his high school film. It showed a LB reading and diagnosing plays, taking on and shedding blocks, good hard hitting sure tackles. He isn’t the greatest athlete but he’s good enough and obviously tough enough to be a force.

    I also think he slides over to the MLB spot next year in passing situations and then takes over in 2013.

  8. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Boy your post was dead on! Woolfork is really hurting this defense and Gordon has played well all year. I am really starting to get concerned about Denard. I hate to say this but he just is not a good quarterback. I love the guy as a play maker but I fear he is actually starting to hold this offense back in some ways.

  9. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    It's almost like you decide these things in advance of watching games. You know I enjoy your blog, but I lost some respect after this post…

    Denard ran for 2 TDs (one of your favorite metrics) and was 6 for 9 passing (excluding the haltime hail mary attempt – which, not mentioning that fact when talking about the INT is totally disingenuous). Like any QB, if the running back is moving the chains, the QB's job is easier but… If you're going to kill him for being inaccurate and making poor decisions while ignoring his rushing exploits, then when he does well give him credit too. As for his rushing – THAT looked pretty bad for the 2nd week in a row, TDs or no. Hard to believe this is the same guy who has run for over 100 yards four times this season (not to mention last year's ridiculousness.)

    JT Floyd had the best performance by a Michigan CB in a long time. Since at least Donavan Warren. He jumped routes (not just the INT), he made tackles, he stayed on Jenkins deep – he isn't next in the Law-Woodson-Jackson-Hall tree of killer corners, and I don't think he has the talent of Countess, but he played a GREAT game yesterday. Deep, shallow, medium – he was there. Yet, all you'll give him is a "okay for once". C'mon, man. Credit where it's due.

    I thought Woolfolk did a decent job overall. A lot of credit goes to the kid for moving positions yet again. The coaches do need to pull him if he's hurt.

    As for the Mattison thing – yes, he is awesome. BUT, the jimmys and joes ARE much better this year. Everyone else is a year older, Martin and Woolfolk are healthy, so are Floyd and Heininger. Blake Countess (probably the best CB on the roster) is here. I'm pretty sure GERG would have taken those 5 guys and Demens, Van Bergen, Roh, Black, Avery, Gordon, etc. being a year older in exchange for Mouton, Ezeh, and Rogers. Mattison was set-up to succeed. That said, he's done a great job minimizing the weakness that are still there. He's legit, but we knew that.

    GERG deserves plenty of scorn, but Schafer's proven to be a pretty good football coach.

    The OL was creating HUGE holes for Fitz. I don't know what game you were watching, but nearly ever big run he broke had a gaping hole.

    Morgan deserves every bit of praise you gave him this week, but as good as he was against Illinois he was at least as bad against Iowa. Freshman type stuff. You made a really good call when you highlighted Morgan as a freshman you thought was underrated, but let's not overstate how good he's been. Now that I've said that…

    Stuff I agree with:

    Morgan to MIKE eventually makes sense – after he bulks up and Demens moves on. LB corps look pretty strong next year eh? – Ryan/Demens/Morgan with the freshman and some serviceable vets behind them. Those '12 guys may red-shirt after all.

    Fitz is the man! So nice to have him healthy and producing.

  10. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    Greggoblue – let me finish that sentence for you:
    "Congrats Borges, you've managed to neutralize one of the most electric players in the country last year" during the first half of the season when he played against vastly inferior opponents.
    You should include the full story to avoid making ridiculous accusations.

    And Thunder – I've been coming here to avoid the bias Brian has instituted over at Mgoblog, but your bias against JT FLoyd, which I've asked you about before, is more and more apparent and is making your blog less and less appealing. Where the hell to go for decent, fair analysis these days?

  11. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    @ Anonymous 9:32 a.m.

    Yes…Jenkins averages over 100 yards a game…and got over 100 yards in this game, too.

    I just didn't see Floyd having a great game. I saw Jenkins getting open and I saw Scheelhaase missing him on several occasions. Scheelhaase had a bad day throwing the ball, and I think that was largely because the defensive line got after him. I don't think Floyd played terribly, and I said as much. He deserves credit for a) not getting beat deep and b) making that interception, and I put those things in the original post. I gave him credit. But I don't think I need to go much further than that.

  12. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    @ Painter Smurf 9:50 a.m.

    Agreed on most of what you say, especially Denard. The turnovers are infuriating, and the dropped INT was a horrible decision/throw. In only 11 attempts, 2 of them should not be interception-worthy passes.

  13. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    @ GregGoBlue 9:56 a.m.

    We obviously disagree on Floyd.

    I do agree on Ryan, though. He did have a very good day, I thought.

    I meant to mention the field goal, but it slipped my mind. That decision irked me because it seemed like Hoke was trying to send a message ("We will not be deterred by failure!") rather than taking the points. Going up by 3 scores is a more significant message, in my opinion.

  14. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    @ GregGoBlue 10:23 a.m.

    I wasn't overjoyed that Denard left the game, because he clearly went out due to injury. I'm not looking for him to get hurt – he's obviously a valuable part of the team. I don't think he was doing particularly well, though. I was especially frustrated when he tried to run the QB draw in the first half, inexplicably tried to run sideways, ran into a teammate, and then kept pushing his teammate as if his teammate were going to suddenly evaporate and create running room. It looked like Denard was terrified of getting hit. And I know he's not, but it was a bad football play.

  15. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    @ Lankownia 12:56 p.m.

    Yes, I decided that Floyd was not a good cornerback before this game. I decided it a while ago. And I have yet to be convinced otherwise. I'll admit when I'm wrong (I was wrong about Kovacs, for example), but I haven't been proven wrong about Floyd. He had a decent day, and it shows how bad he's been that a decent day from him seems to warrant rejoicing.

    When did Denard throw the ball well? No, I'm not giving him credit for this game. He wasn't good. He hit a bunch of short passes to wide open guys over the middle (Hemingway, Odoms), completed a screen to Gallon, and threw an "overthrown" bullet to Hemingway that was an amazing catch. In other news, he missed a wide open Odoms in the endzone, threw a duck to an Illinois DB that was blatantly dropped, and his INT was just another of his many overthrown deep balls. If it was a jump ball that the other team came down with, I'd shrug it off. It wasn't. If I remember correctly, there were three Michigan receivers running streaks down the sideline…and the ball wasn't within 4 yards of any of them. That's an INT. He wasn't 6/9. He was 6/10.

    And you're right that he ran the ball well at times and scored 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he's also asked to pass the ball, and he turned the ball over twice (the INT and the fumble when he was sacked) in about 11 dropbacks. I'm not going to praise him for that performance.

    I'm not overstating Morgan's performance this year. When he has deserved criticism (like last week), I have criticized him. When he has performed well, I have noted that, too.

  16. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    @ Anonymous 2:20 p.m.

    If you want me to agree with you 100% of the time, then you might be in the wrong place. I like to think that I'm pretty fair when it comes to analyzing games. That doesn't prevent me from being wrong sometimes, which is obviously up for debate. You're entitled to your own opinion.

  17. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    @ Lankownia 12:56 p.m.

    Another bad throw: when Koger was running alone down the sideline, Robinson badly underthrew the ball, which Koger had to stop and wait for. Hit him in stride and it's an easy touchdown. Instead, he got tackled at the 2-yard line.

  18. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Koger almost had a touchdown on the underthrown ball anyway because he's MANtastic. It wasn't quite Webb-vs-Johnny Adams, but great to watch, especially wearing my #86 jersey.

    I agree with you about Floyd. I like when he has good games, but Jenkins was wide open multiple times only to watch the ball sail over his head. The interception was pretty sick, though.

    I'm getting continually more aggravating with Borges. I hate making coordinators into goats, and there are progressive problems with execution, but he's also the quarterbacks coach and they look terrible most of the time.

  19. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    Running away from Mercilus certainly helped the ground game, I thought. Huyge could NOT handle him at any point, which probably contributes to your stance on the O-line performance.

  20. Comments: 21381
    Rob Pollard
    Nov 13, 2011 at 8:34 PM

    I am thrilled with improvement of the D, as it surprising the team is legitimately an above average defense, but let's not get too carried away: Illinois has a terrible offense. In their last four games, they've scored 7, 14, 7 and 14 points.

    Again, I think Mattison and the players deserve a ton of credit for putting together a legit defense but I thank goodness we play in the Big 10 – I watched Oklahoma State and then later the Oregon/Stanford game. Frightening stuff.

    The good thing, Nebraska's offense is OK at best, and OSU is not very good, so I expect two more sub-21 point performances from this group. I hope they do it – Van Bergen, Martin et al (and yes even JT Floyd) deserve it.

  21. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Everyone seems to want to praise Floyd for the Int, and a few pass break ups, but if Michigan wasn't able to get pressure on the QB, Jenkins could have easily had a few long touchdown catches. Even with an 8 yard cushion he was still beating Floyd deep. Floyd seems to have decent instincts and awareness as evidenced by his interception and pass break ups, but he lacks the speed and athleticism to be very good. Unless he jams a receiver pretty well at the line he has to give a good cushion and can still have fast receivers fly past him.

  22. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    I'm sorry, but describing the interception as "just another of his many overthrown deep balls" is absurd. It was a HAIL MARY from the point on the field that he couldn't even reach the endzone. There is no point in trying to hit your WR's on that. You wind up and throw it as far as you can, and hope your wide receivers get there and something lucky happens. You're not so much targeting a streaking WR as on most deep balls, but aiming for a spot in the endzone.

  23. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    @ Anonymous 4:54 p.m.

    Yes, it was a Hail Mary. And the only people anywhere close to it were wearing orange jerseys. It was a crappy throw from a quarterback who has been making crappy throws all seasons, as evidenced by his 52% completion rate. Why is it hard to believe that this would be another one?

    You're not aiming for a spot in the endzone. You're trying to get the ball to one of your wideouts. Speaking of "absurd"…

  24. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 10:09 PM


    We're talking about the Illinois game right? Not if Floyd is an NFL corner or if Denard is a Drew Brees? I just don't see why you'd harp on the established negatives the day after a guy exceeds our expectations.

    You and I and everyone else on the planet have agreed that Floyd isn't real good, but sometimes bad players have great games and sometimes great players have bad games. The rejoicing was over him containing a big-play WR largely by himself (which Michigan hasn't done all year) and on top of that making an enormous game-altering INT. At the time, the Michigan offense was stumbling under Gardner and IL was threatening to drive again after a TD score narrowed the lead to 10 and Michigan punted. Momentum seemed to have turned. The play that Floyd made was the biggest of the game by far and, unlike big plays from Herron or Hawthorne, he was actually responsible for it. We stopped a stud WR – and Floyd played a big part in that. It wasn't just bad throws, Floyd blanketed him many times. This is a kid with moderate ability stepping up and playing a big game.

    I'm not saying the guy is a 1st rounder all the sudden, but what he did in this game should be celebrated. I think if Countess had done the same things, you'd have been all over praising him and wouldn't have tried to credit the DL for it.

    Floyd draws the toughest WR matchup every week (over Countess). He now leads the team in INTs and broken up passes and he has a forced fumble on top of it. These are stats you repeatedly cite – but not for him. Gordon gets to be Mr. Just-Makes-Plays because he's recovered 4 fumbles and Countess is a blog favorite and comes in for praise almost weekly. Not that I disagree with either assessment, it just seems like you're willing to throw stats out there selectively to support your biases. (In fairness, so have I, but usually to counter one of your assertions).


    If you're going to fault Denard for a desperation hail mary…there's just no point in expecting a fair evaluation in this space. Regardless of accuracy, Denard made good decisions yesterday. He hasn't always done that.

    Look, everyone knows he's not an accurate passer. If you're going to focus on that every week you'll be negative. But – duh! What we need from Denard is good decision-making, limiting mistakes, and some big plays – through the air or on the ground – it doesn't really matter. If he can do the above we're going to win games and he's a good QB. The big plays have never been an issue with him, but yesterday he didn't really have any. What he did show, was good decision-making.

    He's still turning the ball over too much (this week it was fumbles), but the decision making is, two weeks in a row now, very good. Yes, he threw one really bad ball that should have been picked, but besides that he was nearly flawless in making decisions about where and when to throw. I see signs of improvement and him gaining comfort in this system.

    On the flip side, I think Denard ran the ball pretty poorly, despite the TDs, and that's 2 weeks in a row. Denard's still a weapon with his legs, but he seems to have regressed from what he was. I don't know if it's comfort with the system, health, or just how things have come out in the last couple games, but he's not as productive as he's been. I'm not seeing the same loss of speed as others, but maybe that's part of it. Last year he ran for over 100 yards in just over a half vs Iowa, 191 yards against PSU. This is an area where I wouldn't argue with you if you criticized him and/or Borges.

  25. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    I don't care if Denard or Devin starts I just want the best guy but to make a case that Denard was 6-9 for 90 yards is a good thing is crazy! I'm sorry but I want more out of my QB than 6-9,90 yards and 3 tournovers! His regression has been awful and his "arm punts" are killing us!

  26. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    @ Lankownia 5:09 p.m.

    Yes, Floyd had a decent game. Which is why I mentioned him in the post. You're criticizing me for pointing out that he had a solid day, when in fact you apparently want me to be salivating over him. It's not going to happen.

    If expecting a Hail Mary pass to be within 5 yards of three wide receivers is such a high expectation, then yes, I guess my evaluation is "unfair" and I should set my sights lower. The last I knew, a Hail Mary pass was supposed to give at least one receiver a fighting chance at catching the ball. It didn't. It was a bad throw. Maybe not a bad choice, but a horrible throw. That's not my opinion. It's a fact.

    I can't believe you're touting his decision making. He wasn't allowed to make decisions! The coaches were avoiding throwing the ball! He was indecisive when running the ball, he chucked up a duck that should have been picked, and he tried to throw the ball when he was getting hit, which turned into another turnover. Out of 11 dropbacks, TWO of them (22%) were bad decisions.

    But never mind, he's clearly making good decisions with the ball, right? Hell, if he stays in for the entire game, he would have been on pace for 4 or 5 turnovers. Ridiculous.

  27. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    @ Worm 5:32 p.m.

    6/10. He was 6/10. Don't let the rhetoric fool you. You can't just weed out statistics that you don't like, which is what Lankownia is doing.

  28. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Wind helped every CB on the field to the detriment of both QBs.

  29. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    @Thunder I agree with you totally! 6/10 is not good for a quarterback. Sad thing is this isn't a one game thing either. he has played poorly all season.

  30. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 11:01 PM


    How much of this falls on Borges, seeing as he's the QB coach as well?

  31. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    "J.T. Floyd was okay..he's slow to cover underneath routes and come up to make tackles, but he didn't get beat deep…(Jenkins) low success rate wasn't entirely due to Floyd…I was disappointed that Floyd didn't take his pick to the house".

    That's not a very positive review, it's overwhelmingly focused on negatives. The nicest thing you can say about a guy who made the play of the game is that he was 'decent'. I mean, why not say something to the effect of "I criticize the guy often, but I have to admit he played a nice game and made a great play on the INT." That's not salivating, that's just giving credit where it's due for a nice game.

    It's your blog, do as you like. I'm just pointing out that it makes it look like you're playing favorites. I'm not the only one whose reaction was 'hu?'.


    In statistical analysis of all kinds, it's common to excise outliers, irrelevant data, and special cases that skew objective analysis. This 'weeding' isn't 'rhetoric', it's the right thing to do.

    An end-of-the-half hail mary doesn't say much more about a QB than a flip of a coin. It's like criticizing a basketball player for hurling the ball at the rim from halfcourt to end a quarter. If Hoke had decided to take a knee Denard wouldn't have had a better or worse passing day. Just like the knee wouldn't have taken away from his rushing day (even though the stat book says so.)

    If Denard had completed the hail mary you would have minimized it's relevance and chalked it up to luck (which it would have been). It should work both ways if you're being fair.


    Actually your opinion about the hail mary isn't a fact at all since there is no objective basis for calling a pass good or bad – it's a matter of opinion, for everyone. It was a fact that it was complete. It is your opinion that it was poorly thrown.


    Last week, when Denard had WR's drop multiple balls (you claimed it was 3, but Mgoblog's tally was 5) you said 'that's football' but this week when a CB drops an INT it's 'Denard's a bad QB." (paraphrased, maybe, I can't remember) Last week, Denard attempted many long passes and most were incomplete but you gave him no slack for level of difficulty and banged him for his completion percentage. This week the passes were short and complete, but he gets no credit for taking care of business on easy passes, which yeah, most were but not all. Again, it doesn't seem like you're being consistent.

    The coaches didn't throw the ball much because the run game worked and Illinois has a killer blitz. (If you remember you predicted 3 sacks and 2 INTs – there was 1 of each.) When tasked with throwing, Denard did very well. Level of difficulty may have been low, but he did. He was 6-6 to start the game and 6-9 excluding non-half-ending-prayers. He made decisions about who to throw to, when, and if. Facts, right there.

    I've said my piece on this subject.

  32. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 11:45 PM

    Thought Omameh and Huyge had poor games TBH. They were getting blown off the ball all game. Particularly Omameh.

  33. Comments: 21381
    Nov 13, 2011 at 11:52 PM


    67% (6-9) or 60% (6-10) or 62% (Denard completion rate last year) is generally considered good for a QB.

    52% – Denard's percentage this year is not. No one's debating that point and no one think's Denard has great accuracy.

    Most QBs can't run for 1,000 yards, so Denard gets a little slack for his (obvious) flaws as a passer.

    What most of us hope for are some improvements. Denard's a square peg in this offense's round hole. But maybe he's getting a little less square and maybe the offense can be a little less round.

    Denard was awful against MSU and very lucky against ND. He's made dumb mistakes and he's missed easy passes. But he's still runs well and he's been pretty decent the last 3 games IMO. If that's the coaches making it easier for him – I say great. But if he gets the job done, he gets it done. He doesn't have to throw 25 yard timing route lasers to be a good QB.

  34. Comments: 21381
    Nov 14, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    I just don't know what to make of Drob this year. Will htey ever start working to his strengths or just keep square pegging him and when he doesn't fit just pull him? Something has to give here and it seems like Denard has been asked to do all of the giving. This kid can have success in college as a qb, but it seems like he's set up for certain failure here with how they're using him, or not using him.

  35. Comments: 21381
    Nov 14, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    JT is always okay. He's obviously not fabulous, but he reads the QB's shoulders on short routes and does better than his straight line speed would suggest against deep routes. His performance wasn't a surprise to me because he did what he always does.

  36. Comments: 21381
    Nov 14, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    @ David 6:01 p.m.

    I'm not sure how much of it is on Borges. As much as Hoke says he's "hands off" when it comes to offense, I have to believe that the general offensive philosophy (I-formation vs. spread, run vs. pass, etc.) comes from Hoke. But like I've said before, there must have been a reason that almost nobody wanted Denard as a QB coming out of high school. The inaccuracy and decision making he's shown in college might be a couple reasons.

  37. Comments: 21381
    Nov 14, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    @ Lankownia 6:37 p.m.

    I see weaknesses in Floyd's game. They frustrate me. You can argue all you want, but I'm not suddenly going to change my mind on his performance. Like I said, a big reason for his success was the DL putting a ton of pressure on him and Scheelhaase having a terrible day throwing the ball.

    It WAS a bad throw by Denard at the end of the half. That is a factual statement, not an opinion. It wasn't a bad decision (he should chuck it up there no matter what), but it was a terrible throw. None of his receivers had a chance to catch it. When you see Hail Marys go 10 yards out of the endzone or fall 10 yards short of their target, they're bad throws. There is a way to screw up a Hail Mary, and Denard showed us one way.

    I'm not being "consistent" because Denard isn't good. That's the bottom line. Every QB suffers from occasional drops; that's no excuse to complete 52% of your passes. You keep making excuses like "Well, his receivers dropped a couple passes" or "It was just a Hail Mary", but every quarterback in the country has receivers who drop balls and most probably throw a Hail Mary or two per year. Not many of them are completing fewer passes or throwing more interceptions. So you can keep making excuses, but I'm going to look at his 52% completion rate, his 13 interceptions, and his 3 fumbles in the past two games…and yeah, that's not very good.

  38. Comments: 21381
    Nov 14, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    @ Lankownia 6:52 p.m.

    Denard's played pretty well the last three weeks? Let's take a look at his statistics:

    PASSING: 32/61 (52%), 456 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT

    RUSHING: 39 carries, 148 yards (3.8 YPC), 2 TD, 3 fumbles lost

    That's a poor completion percentage, a poor rushing average, and a horrible turnover rate. Boy oh boy, you have low standards if you think that he's played well.

  39. Comments: 21381
    Nov 14, 2011 at 12:41 PM


    The problem that I have with people wanting Denard out of the game is do you really think that Devin is better and gives us a better chance to win? I'm not sure if he does and it's so close that I think that you have to stay with Denard (at least this year). I wouldn't be surprised if Devin took the job next year which relegated Denard to a rb or wr role but doing so this year hurts the team.


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