Michigan 48, Indiana 41 (2 OT)

Michigan 48, Indiana 41 (2 OT)


November 15, 2015

Jehu Chesson had a great day receiving, although this attempted leap did not end well.

I’m glad Jake Rudock transferred to Michigan. I’m not sure what Michigan’s record would be without Rudock, but they wouldn’t be 8-2. This one would have been a loss for sure. Rudock was 33/46 for 440 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 1 interception. On top of that, several times he bailed out Michigan with his legs and finished as Michigan’s leading rusher with 7 carries for 64 yards (9.1 yards/carry). He accounted for 504 total yards, which (I believe) is the second-most total yards in Michigan history, behind Devin Gardner’s 584 total yards against Indiana in 2013.

Michigan misses Ryan Glasgow . . . and will for a long time. Glasgow was in a sling this week, so we assumed he would not play against Indiana. But Jim Harbaugh revealed the worst news possible after the game, which is that he will probably be out for the season with a pectoral injury. When he left the Rutgers game, it looked like a pec or a shoulder issue. Now the Wolverines are very thin at the nose tackle position. Sophomore Bryan Mone broke his leg in August, and he was expected to be Glasgow’s primary backup. Now Michigan is down to its third-stringer (Maurice Hurst, Jr.) and some position-switchers. Hurst has been very good as a backup, but he seems to run out of gas and is a little bit undersized. Brady Pallante was receiving garbage time snaps earlier in the year, but Michigan inserted Tom Strobel instead, who was an extra offensive lineman earlier this season. He has been practicing on both sides of the ball, and I didn’t think he was terrible, considering the situation, but he’s obviously a step down from the Glasgow/Hurst rotation. I think Michigan needs to consider moving Willie Henry inside more, while other guys will have to step up outside. Indiana running back Jordan Howard ran 35 times for 238 yards (6.8 yards/carry) and 2 touchdowns.

Don’t get too cute. Before I expand on this, I should throw out the caveat that wrinkles and trick plays often look great when they work and terrible when they don’t. Hindsight is 20/20 blah blah blah. However, I thought Michigan was trying to be too creative early in the game when they tried to run laterally, throw laterally, etc. The freeze throwback screen to Jake Butt was a terrible idea. (Side note: Against my better judgment, our high school team has run that play several times with very little success.) Once the staff figured out those plays weren’t working, they just started throwing downfield. Magically, good things happened against a bad secondary. Indiana is not a team Michigan needs to trick. Indiana is a team who will trick themselves. Don’t give their front seven a chance to make plays – force their secondary guys into mistakes. Also, I think Michigan was trying to keep Jabrill Peppers fresh against Indiana’s hurry-up offense, but I mentioned last week that he needs to get the ball on some more conventional offensive plays. I would like to see him line up at tailback and run a toss sweep or a power play, line up in the slot and run a slant route, be a bubble route option on a zone read, etc.

I would swap Michigan’s OL and RB for Indiana’s. It’s not often that Michigan would probably say this, but Indiana’s offensive line and running back situation is better than Michigan’s. I’ve been saying for several years that Greg Frey was a very solid position coach during the Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan, and now he’s Kevin Wilson’s offensive line guru at Indiana. They consistently gashed Michigan up front, and they mostly kept QB Nate Sudfeld clean, too. Howard was stout, tough to bring down, fairly quick, and showed some good vision. He’s what Michigan fans wanted Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith to be, but Green lacks the natural athletic talent and Smith lacks the quickness and vision. Realistically, Michigan might have the least talented running backs in the entire Big Ten – and yes, I’m including runners from bottom-feeders Maryland, Purdue, Rutgers, and Illinois. I think Michigan needs to take the same approach to running back that they did with the quarterback position: recruit a bunch, look for transfers, and let them compete. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, it seemed like Michigan was the Georgia of today. Michigan went from Powers to Wheatley to Biakabutuka to Thomas to Perry to Hart (except for an interceding year here or there), and Georgia has had Moreno, Crowell, Gurley, Chubb, Michel, etc. I might add Brandon Minor to the end of Michigan’s list, but he couldn’t stay healthy and didn’t have a very good team around him.

Indiana = records. Anytime Michigan plays Indiana, it seems like they set records or players have career games. In 2013 Devin Gardner threw for 503 yards, and Jeremy Gallon had 369 receiving yards. This year Jehu Chesson tied a school record with 4 receiving touchdowns and Jake Rudock set a school record with 6 touchdown passes. Indiana can never put together a solid unit on defense, and even when they have a decent player at one level, the other levels let them down. The Hoosiers had a decent front seven, but the cornerbacks and safeties were young and lacking awareness.

Rudock to Chesson. It took two-thirds of the season, but it seems like Jake Rudock and Jehu Chesson have finally synced up on the deep balls they kept missing on early in the year. Some people questioned whether Rudock could hit a deep ball, but I think it just took some time for Rudock to figure out how fast Chesson was and for Chesson to figure out how to adjust to Rudock’s throws. It didn’t take long in this game for them to hook up, as Chesson caught a 34-yarder to open Michigan’s scoring. Later in the game, he caught a dig route and housed it from 64 yards away. Chesson finished the game with 10 catches for 207 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also had some huge, clutch catches down the stretch, including a leaping 5-yard touchdown catch on 4th-and-goal at the end of regulation. Chesson’s previous high in receptions was 4 (twice earlier this year), and his previous high in yardage was an 82-yard day against Michigan State as a redshirt freshman in 2013. Over the past three weeks, he has 16 catches for 273 yards and 7 touchdowns.

What’s happening on special teams? Early in the year, Michigan’s special teams units were a revelation. Lately, not so much. It seems like the units were perfect until the Michigan State game, when everything came crumbling down. Actually, that seems to be a fairly large part of it. On the play when Michigan State bowled over long snapper Scott Sypniewski – whose snap was fairly low, anyway – punter Blake O’Neill dropped it, and the rest is history. But Sypniewski reportedly broke his thumb on the play, which has resulted in some questionable snaps over the past couple weeks. He rolled one back to O’Neill last week, and there was a bad snap on a field goal attempt against Indiana. It might be time to look at walk-on backup Andrew Robinson. Michigan had a pretty long run of good long snapper play before this year, but it’s a question mark right now. Furthermore, I don’t know if Michigan has the right personnel out on the field for special teams. They’re trying to work in some younger guys and give guys like Jabrill Peppers and Jehu Chesson a break, but those younger guys just don’t have the same talents. Add in the fact that Channing Stribling had Indiana punt returner Mitchell Paige wrapped up but failed to make the tackle, and you have a 51-yard punt return touchdown. I will also say that one issue I have with the spread punt is that teams usually employ big guys as the shield. That means that instead of having linebackers/safeties/running backs/fullbacks on the field, your last line of defense is often a 300-pounder. That was the case on Saturday, when the last two people with a shot at tackling Paige were offensive guard Ben Braden and defensive tackle Chris Wormley. Those guys don’t have a shot at corralling a tiny slot receiver, but it doesn’t get to that point if people like Stribling don’t whiff in the first place.

This was Delano Hill’s best game. I’ve been clamoring for Hill to be benched in favor of Dymonte Thomas for the past couple weeks, and it happened. Unfortunately, after Thomas made 3 early tackles, he was injured on special teams when Joe Kerridge was illegally blocked into him. In stepped Hill, who made 10 tackles and the game-clinching pass breakup. Maybe the benching was the kick in the pants Hill needed, because I thought he stepped up his game in the tackling department and made his second career pass breakup.

Targeting. The problem with all these rules in today’s game is that the game is moving too fast for officials to see and judge everything. Rudock got hit in the head while sliding in this game, his chinstrap came up over his nose, and he laid on the turf, and . . . nothing. Meanwhile, Joe Bolden got ejected for being blocked into Connor Cook against MSU. Officials don’t know how to see everything, and I honestly don’t see this targeting rule ever being able to be fairly and equally enforced. The only way “targeting” can ever be enforced well is if the rule says, “Targeting is any and all contact from a blocker/defender to the head/neck area.” Otherwise, it’s too big of a judgment call and varies from official to official, game to game. It’s applied as inconsistently as pass interference, except one is a 15-yard penalty and the other gets people ejected.

Indiana is a very intimidating place to play. At least, one would assume so based on Michigan’s penalty situation. The Wolverines were penalized 13 times for 72 yards. By the yardage total, obviously most of them were garden-variety 5-yarders. Erik Magnuson false started, Graham Glasgow had a false snap, Mo Ways couldn’t get set on one of them before A.J. Williams went in motion, Matt Godin jumped offsides twice, Hurst came across once, Henry came across once, etc. It was ridiculous. The worst was when linebacker Joe Bolden thought he timed up the snap count, raced full speed toward the A-gap, and then everyone looked at him like “WTF are you doing?” as the flags flew in. I keep hearing about his leadership and he’s a captain and everything, but he has some monster brain farts at times. When I watch him sometimes – the jumping around the stadium when he got kicked out against MSU, the “stake” incident at MSU last year, this boneheaded penalty – I almost see him as someone who hasn’t quite made the leap from high school to college. Ten games into his senior year, it’s time to grow up.

What does this mean for Penn State? Michigan’s going to have a tough time down the stretch. The easy games are behind them. Penn State can run the ball a little bit, and they have a stout defense. Michigan’s record looks pretty good right now at 8-2, but they could easily be 8-4 after another couple of weeks. The Wolverines need to figure out their defensive line issues, and they need to find a way to create plays in the running game.

60 comments

  1. DonAZ
    Comments: 466
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Nov 15, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    It’s fairly obvious Michigan is a team that is limited by the talent on the roster, bless their pea-pickin’ hearts, each and every one of them. But they are who they are, and the only way Michigan maximizes the output is to stay healthy and avoid mistakes. Well, injuries are accumulating, and Michigan pulled this one out despite the penalties and some poor tackling. But the team played with determination, and pulled this one out.

    The experience of the Minnesota win and now the Indiana win has be of value. The tendency to give up, present last year, seems gone. Which is a positive. Add to that the fact both were road wins is even more a plus. Let us hope they carry some of that into Penn State.

    • Avatar
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      brandywine
      Nov 15, 2015 at 2:00 PM

      Interesting that Michigan has a chance next week to win 4 regular season games away from home for the first time since 2006. Having won 3 so far is already a big step. The last time they accomplished 3 was in 2010, interestingly enough, and before that 2007.

    • Avatar
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      Joined: 9/3/2015
      suduri xusai
      Nov 15, 2015 at 2:45 PM

      Yes thats a huge positive and without that grit we would have had a Hoke record by now, something like 5-5.

      D-line worries me so much after losing 3 guys. Durkin et al got to figure something out quick or we could easily be 8-4, unable to stop Penn State and OSU rungame.

    • Avatar
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      WindyCityBlue
      Nov 15, 2015 at 2:49 PM

      Yes, when you watch teams like Alabama, Clemson, Baylor, Oklahoma State, it’s very apparent just how big a talent gap there is between us and them…the speed and athleticism is at a whole different level. We have better recruits at every offensive position than IU, and somehow they perform as well as us. Why is our offensive line so inferior to theirs? Why can we not recruit a single decent running back?

      As noted, this could still very likely be an 8-4 team. That’s not bad, but the improvement that was hoped for among individual players and as a team as the year progressed has not been there. Just once it would be nice to be playing at least as well if not better at the end of the season as we were at the beginning, but that hasn’t happened.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3256
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Nov 15, 2015 at 6:47 PM

        I think there are several guys who have improved – Chesson, Rudock, Thomas, Peppers, etc. To some extent, I think in-season improvement is difficult to gauge. At a lot of positions, “you are who you are” going into the season. Improvements in personnel, size, strength, speed, etc. generally take place in the off-season. If you’re a redshirt junior offensive linemen, you’re generally not going to be a completely different play from Week 1 to Week 10.

        • Avatar
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          Roanman
          Nov 15, 2015 at 7:37 PM

          I’d add Clark, Ryan Glasgow and probably Braden to that list as well. I’m feeling particularly kindly toward Delano Hill at the moment, he can be on it too. RJS even maybe. Houma hardly sniffed the field prior to this year, he’s getting carries, some yards and is consistently dropping both linebackers along with occasional defensive end.

          Indiana has been tough on everybody they’ve played, all season long. We got out of their place with a win without probably our best defensive lineman. Our QB who struggled mightily for the first half + of the season, just put up 440 yards and 6 TDs passing.

          I really don’t get the gloom. We might well lose the next two, but we just might win them both as well. If I was betting, I’d bet the split with a loss at Happy Valley and a win at home over the highly favored Buckeyes, who are due from us. Either way, if you can’t see a marked improvement in this team both individually and as a unit, and the program in general, the problem is with you.

          As an aside, Don AZ gets it right, this team has some grit that has been lacking around here for a good long time.

          • Avatar
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            WindyCityBlue
            Nov 15, 2015 at 8:49 PM

            Well, don’t mistake playing two of the worst defenses we’ll face all year as “improvement” from guys like Rudock and Chesson. If Rudock can make it happen against Penn State and OSU, that’ll be another matter. I don’t really see any of the guys mentioned having improved significantly since the start of the season, though. Peppers has been decent all year, but not a star-caliber playmaker on defense by any means, and Hill hasn’t even been good enough to play that much. He only got in yesterday because someone else got hurt. Certainly our running game has not improved at all this year, and our defense is getting worse and worse.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 15, 2015 at 8:58 PM

            UNLV is similarly ranked to Rutgers and Indiana. Against UNLV, Rudock completed 63% of his passes for 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Against Rutgers and Indiana, Rudock has completed 72% of his passes for 8 touchdowns and 1 interception. Chesson has obviously had a leap in production, and not just against Rutgers/Indiana. (Also, he had 1 catch for 12 yards against UNLV and couldn’t adjust to a deep ball.) So I think the evidence pretty clearly shows that both of those guys have improved.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5314
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 16, 2015 at 11:50 AM

        The obvious answer here, IMO, is that OL development was the biggest weakness under Hoke. Basically their best OLmen have been a walk-on and a true freshman. The OL has made huge strides this year, but you don’t dig out from the hole that was 2013 overnight.

        Michigan got punked by Indiana this side on both sides of the line. Indiana isn’t the Indiana of old but that’s still an embarrassment. The DL can use injury as an excuse…but the OL? How does Michigan get 1st and goal at the 1 and have to rely on a 4th down pass to get the TD against Indiana.

        The answer is the OL. It was not developed under Hoke and they are still getting rid of the bad coaching.

        All these grumbles about the QB earlier in the year, the WRs in the lead-up to the year, and the RB now…ignore the real problem here — the last coaching staff failed to teach people how to block. All you need to do is see how the OL – now mostly seniors – struggles to create substantial holes. Look at how bad AJ Williams was last year. Look at Funchess and to a lesser extent Butt.

        It’s the blocking. It’s Hoke and his staff.

        It’s going to get better.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5314
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 16, 2015 at 11:44 AM

      Isn’t every team limited by their talent? If not, are you implying our coach isn’t getting the most out of his players?

      Health is important to every team. Michigan is starting to get hurt by losing both NTs and their only true rush-end. That said, I don’t think they’ve suffered more than a typical team.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 466
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Nov 16, 2015 at 5:14 PM

        Every team is limited by (a) their talent, and (b) the extent the talent is utilized.

        I think Harbaugh and staff are doing an excellent job getting every last bit of production out of the current players. That’s my point — there’s a limit to how far “player development” can take a team. People who think this team can somehow squeak into the playoffs and make a run at the NC are likely dreaming a little too much.

        Health — I think Michigan has probably been fairly lucky so far. Our problem is our injuries seem to have been focused on the defensive line. That’s led to some questions about Michigan’s ability to slow a decent running attack. We’ll see how they do against Penn State. But it’s really easy to see how a few other injuries — Rudock, Lewis, Peppers — would have been far, far worse.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5314
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          Lanknows
          Nov 17, 2015 at 6:25 PM

          I find it a bit preposterous to argue Michigan lacks talent, overall. Michigan is going to have more NFL players than Utah, has higher ranked recruits than Utah. Ditto compared to MSU and every other team they’ve played until OSU rolls into town.

          Michigan absolutely COULD have snuck into the playoff. A play or two away vs Utah, a play away vs MSU, and OSU is beatable. Yeah that goes both ways (Minnesota and Indiana) but that’s college football. Michigan could have landed ‘heads’ 4 times in a row.

  2. crazyjoedavola
    Comments: 191
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    crazyjoedavola
    Nov 15, 2015 at 11:55 AM

    Brandon Minor was definitely the last good running back we had, but aside from the injuries he had a case of fumbleitis. Toussaint would have been pretty good behind a decent OL but he lacked in the toughness department. If Harbaugh and Drevno can’t figure out how to run the ball against horrible defenses with Hoke’s 4/5 star linemen and backs, then I don’t know who can.

    • Avatar
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      brandywine
      Nov 15, 2015 at 1:52 PM

      I struggle trying to reconcile our backs with their recruiting rankings. On one hand I really believe backs are a product of the system and line they run behind. I’m confident if Green or Smith were at OSU or Georgia or Alabama or even Iowa they would show much more ability, because I think having big holes gives players opportunity to develop skills like making cuts, running aggressively etc. When players run into piles they don’t get the game reps to become great runners. Similarly, when there is a consistent culture of great backs before them, depth players have an example for how to train, what skills to emulate, and a standard of play to aspire to.

      On the other hand, visually our backs seem to lack any of the athletic ability that backs on either teams have. We’ve rarely seen them make hard athletic cuts or accelerate aggressively. I look at Iowa’s, Wisconsin’s and MSU’s backs and see huge long tree trunks of legs, short torsos and balance. Our backs just seem to be of a different mold.

    • Avatar
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      suduri xusai
      Nov 15, 2015 at 2:43 PM

      well, a lot of busts among Hoke recruits. I really hope Drevno and Harbaugh can work that Stanford magic with the running game. I think it will happen, but maybe not until year 3.

      • Avatar
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        WindyCityBlue
        Nov 15, 2015 at 6:34 PM

        Unfortunately, in Year 3 (2017) we will be dealing with significant losses at just about every position group, with the exception of QB, and maybe LB (which will see a fairly complete turnover after this year). And there has been no significant development of freshman and sophomore players this year to make up the core of the lineup two years down the road.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3256
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Nov 15, 2015 at 6:39 PM

          While I agree that we’ll be dealing with significant losses, it’s really hard to say what this team will look like two years out. Right now Mason Cole is our best OL. Did we know that would happen back in 2013? Jehu Chesson didn’t look like someone who would have a 10-catch, 207-yard, 4-touchdown day. Jourdan Lewis played, but there wasn’t much indication that he would be an All-American-caliber player.

          • Avatar
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            WindyCityBlue
            Nov 15, 2015 at 9:00 PM

            Well, 2-3 years ago, we could project quite a few potential starters on the Oline and LB, for example, because we had a lot of what appeared like high-impact recruits at those positions. Not all of them worked out so well, but we had prospects. It’s not just a question of talent, but sometimes just bodies. What can we even project at DT in 2017, at any talent level? Hurst and Mone, and that’s it. We don’t have a single DT recruit in the 2015 or 2016 classes. OLine? Cole is the only guy on the roster with any promise who will be left. We lost three guys who would have been seriously in the mix at OL for 2017, and Dawson and Kugler have shown no promise at all, which puts us back to starting a lot of inexperienced guys. Peppers is the only DB on the roster with any experience or talent who will still be around in 2017. Harbaugh has recruited a lot of projects, who may not be ready to contribute until 2018 or 2019, but very few if any immediate impact players.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 15, 2015 at 10:01 PM

            Hurst, Mone, and Pallante are potential defensive tackles. It’s only November, and we have several potential defensive tackles to sign (Rashan Gary, Keyshon Camp, Chris Daniels, Jordan Elliott, etc.), not to mention a very large DE who could grow into a DT (Rashad Weaver).

            Cole has promise, but Newsome doesn’t? Newsome has been playing as a sixth lineman for the past two or three weeks.

            It’s odd that you’re complaining about this. A year or two ago, we were complaining that the offensive line was young. Now you’re complaining that because we have an experienced OL, there’s nobody who has proven to be a star in the making. You can’t really have it both ways. This is the way college football goes – people sign, people quit, people change positions, people develop, etc. The coaches’ job is to sort it all out.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 16, 2015 at 11:53 AM

            The OL projections were foolhardy. As I said at the time. OL recruits, even in the best of times when you land a stream of 4-stars, are about 50/50 to turn into quality starters by the time they are seniors.

            If you assumed half these guys aren’t going to work out (as they haven’t) then things never looked that rosey until 2016. Michigan needs more numbers at OL: again, still, for the Xth year in a row.

          • Avatar
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            funkywolve
            Nov 17, 2015 at 1:26 AM

            I’m assuming you’ve been to most of the practices and that’s how you know the freshmen and sophomores haven’t really developed at all?

            You mention that other schools have players contributing as freshmen and sophomores. Let’s see what Harbaugh’s 2016 and 2017 classes look like and how they perform. Harbaugh pretty much had one month to get the 2015 class together.

        • Avatar
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          Roanman
          Nov 15, 2015 at 8:02 PM

          If you think it through, we don’t even want underclassmen on the field this year with this particular team, We finally have a the kind of team we want around here, in the sense that the field is full of Juniors, Redshirt Juniors and Seniors. We’ve been getting our butts kicked with underclassmen running out there for the last two years. We’re finally lining up with young men rather than boys, and the results should be obvious. We have played everybody we’ve lined up against really tough all year long. We pound the teams we should be pounding, then we are going on the road and winning tough games against teams that can play.

          We have no clue one way or the other about the development of underclassmen, which is as it should be. Probably and hopefully, they are mostly getting their heads handed to them in practice by bigger, stronger and more mature upperclassmen. This is exactly how it’s supposed to work.

          Two years from now, they will be the badasses on this team. They will be less experienced than the group we started out with this year to be sure, but that is the result of the real bad hand we were dealt two years ago, which hand we are are presently in the process of turning around. This is all a good thing.

          • Avatar
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            WindyCityBlue
            Nov 15, 2015 at 9:11 PM

            Well, look at the teams we’re chasing, like OSU. They don’t take 4-5 years to develop players into high-quality starters. You see guys in their first and second years on the field making a huge impact for them. Bosa, Elliott, Lee, Bell, Jones, Barrett, just to name a few, were all huge stars, all-conference caliber, as redshirt freshmen or sophomores. We have no underclassmen playing at that level, or even showing flashes.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 15, 2015 at 10:07 PM

            Gotcha – Jabrill Peppers isn’t showing flashes of being a good player.

            Anyway, different players taken different amounts of time to develop. I don’t really care whether they’re freshmen or fifth year seniors. As long as they’re winning, what’s the difference? Jim Harbaugh has won everywhere he’s been.

          • Avatar
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            suduri xusai
            Nov 15, 2015 at 11:30 PM

            I don’t think there’s any doubt that OSU recruits well, not just in terms of ratings but in terms of how they actually pan out. I hate Meyer as much as the next Michigan fan, but that snake in the grass is good at his job. On the contrary, there are so many busts among Hoke recruits. I hope Harbaugh is a better judge of talent and character than Meyer is.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 16, 2015 at 11:55 AM

            “Two years from now we will be so much better.” Every team, every year, forever.

  3. Avatar
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    LVBlue
    Nov 15, 2015 at 11:43 PM

    Compared to where we were at this point last year, there has been marked improvement. Our special teams, red zone efficiency, QB protection, defensive proficiency, and overall performance are improved. This was always going to be a rebuilding year. And when comparing UM to other teams, keep in mind those programs like Alabama, OSU, etc… haven’t had the pleasure of an inept, egotistical AD, a coach with MAC level coaching ability, and political infighting between a boosters and alumni over a coaching hire. Texas is in the middle of their storm, UM is currently coming out of theirs. An interesting state was pointed out to me yesterday. UM is 13 points from being 10-0. Think about when complaining about lack of improvement.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5314
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 16, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      Last year is a low bar, but yeah. A little perspective is needed. We’re 8-2, which is probably right where it feels like we should be. Would I swap the MSU win for a Minnesota or Indiana loss – sure, but we don’t get to make those choices.

      Beat OSU and it’s a happy season. Lose and we’re still talking about, hopefully, 9-3, maybe 10-3 after a bowl. That’s pretty great for year 1.

  4. Avatar
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    Roanman
    Nov 16, 2015 at 5:50 AM

    Mason Cole,

    Grant Newsome just burned his redshirt.

    You can’t point to an OSU or Alabama or even a MSU roster that offers more than a smattering of Freshmen and Sophomore contributors. They catch one or two most years, and then as injuries occur during the course of a season, a couple/three more work their way into the two deep. That’s what’s supposed to happen in a real program, and that is exactly what’s happening here. For the most part, there is no room on the field because we have veteran people ahead in the upper classes.

    If we had FreshmenSophomores running all over the place, you’d be crying about the lack of “player development” while we were getting beat.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5314
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      Lanknows
      Nov 16, 2015 at 11:59 AM

      I think Mason Cole already knows Newsome burned his red-shirt.

    • Avatar
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      WindyCityBlue
      Nov 16, 2015 at 12:32 PM

      It’s not an either/or. Elite programs have their share of more experienced players, but they recruit immediate impact guys and get them significant playing time their first year, a lot of the time by building up big leads so that their starters don’t have to play deep into the fourth quarter, as ours usually do. Then they have guys ready to step in as big stars as sophomores. Not the whole roster, obviously, but you don’t need that. Just as one example, look at Joey Bosa..7.5 sacks as a freshman, starter projected as all-conference as a sophomore. On our side, we have a guy like Taco Charlton, who is a “project”, and maybe plays decently, but never at that level, despite everyone crossing their fingers every year that he’ll break out as an elite pash rusher. That’s the difference between a perennial NC contender and a perennial 9-3/8-4 team that only puts the pieces together for a 10 win season every 5 years or so.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5314
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 16, 2015 at 1:17 PM

        Yeah, this is a fairly obvious point. You want to have elite underclassmen who start. Jake Long, Jabril Peppers, Charles Woodson, Mike Hart — there’s no reason for these guys to be riding the bench.

        What you don’t want, and what I think Roanman’s cogent point is (that he’s not making very well) is that you don’t want to have to rely on underclassmen as a result of past failures. For us that situation applies along the OL (where you see true freshman playing but only being OK at best), at slot WR, and … where else? I think Michigan has pretty good depth actually. Besides the two spots above the only issues are NT (where the top 2 guys have fallen) and Buck (where we’ve had to slide backup LBs into the spot).

        Michigan’s depth is pretty good across the board besides at QB (where they needed a grad transfer), WR, and DE. A gamebreaking talent at RB would be nice, sure, so would a havoc-wreaking OLB or end, but that’s relatively minor weaknesses and that’s why we’re a top 15 team this year.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 4
    Joined: 10/18/2015
    dantonioisthedevil
    Nov 16, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    Teams are stacking the box against us, and trying to make Rudock but them through the air. Safeties are within 10 yards of the LOS and the wash of bodies makes the holes hard to find. There are some creases to be found, but now Rudock can make these teams pay if they cheat.

    I saw an interesting comment from someone on a different blog that IU Olineman where wearing white gloves and holding our guys to get the edge. I think Harbaugh should ask for a rule change for that. Seems very unfair if that is the case.

    Final note, I have quick question for Magnus. Is it possible to burn Mone’s RS and insert him in the lineup if he is practicing (at least reasonable well). One redshirt is worth it if you can make a run at a Big Ten title and make the playoffs. What have you heard good sir?????

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3256
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 16, 2015 at 8:25 AM

      I did notice several uncalled holds on Saturday. I thought they held the crap out of Chris Wormley all night, for example. I don’t know that you can make a rule against that, though. I think that gets into some questionable territory.

      As far as Mone goes, I think you leave that choice up to the kid. At this point I don’t think he deserves to have one of his years of eligibility trimmed down to 2-3 games. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? I don’t think so. I have not heard anything about him returning on Michigan’s end. From what I’ve seen, it’s mostly fan speculation.

      • crazyjoedavola
        Comments: 191
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        crazyjoedavola
        Nov 16, 2015 at 9:03 AM

        I feel as though this year refs are not calling holding on outside zone runs as they previously were. Not just against Michigan, but I consistently see tackles pull on the shoulder pads of DEs/LBs while keeping their hands outside, and it’s not being called. I feel that in general the officiating took a step backwards this year, and I am glad that some conferences are willing to suspend incompetent referees.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 5314
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Nov 16, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Well Thunder, it should come as no surprise that I disagree with your take on the RBs.

    You absolutely raved about Ty Isaac and how he looked at USC and then he comes to Michigan and what… great run against UNLV kid, but you’re still stuck behind 2 or 3 guys and haven’t exactly shined out against meaningful competition. You also raved about Derrick Green coming out of high school. You always said Smith was too slow, but he was a 4-star back M beat out OSU for.

    So – is the problem really running back talent here?

    Would we really be better with Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, and Rutgers backs. C’mon man.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3256
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 16, 2015 at 8:13 PM

      Yes, at least some of the problem is RB talent.

      I did like Ty Isaac, and I still do. The problems there aren’t really physical, which is something I really can’t gauge from film. The problems there are about mentality.

      I never raved about Green. I thought he would be a productive back because I thought Michigan would have a good-to-great offensive line by now. Unfortunately, several guys (Magnuson, Kalis, etc.) haven’t developed as much as they probably should have. I always had reservations about Green.

      Regardless of whether Michigan beat out Ohio State for De’Veon Smith or not, he is slow. I mean…we can all see this by now, right? Do I still have to defend myself for calling him slow when he was in high school?

      Yes, I think we would be better off with backs from those other schools. They are better all-around backs. I still think Ty Isaac has the ability to be a standout running back, but he obviously does not have all of the personality traits that Jim Harbaugh wants.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5314
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 17, 2015 at 6:34 PM

        Aren’t they? Isaac isn’t fast for a RB and isn’t powerful enough to blow through tackles. If you screwed on his head straight, he’d be a quality back but not a standout. Would he be a lot better than Smith or Johsnon? I know you are CONVINCED that the answer is yes but the on-field production doesn’t back it up (though you’ll always have UNLV won’t you.)

        Do you need me to link back to your Derrick Green profile and his eventual rank? I’ll let you look that up yourself. You gave him a 92. You ranked him #16! in preseason countdown on a team with Fitz Toussaint, Thomas Rawls, and DeVeon Smith on it.

        Yep – Smith is slow. So was Toby Gerhardt. So are some of these crappy backs at other schools.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3256
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Nov 17, 2015 at 7:01 PM

          I will always have UNLV. And maybe more. Isaac is still sitting at 6.83 yards/carry, while the other guys are at 4.41, 4.51, and 3.34.

          Here’s what I said in the 2013 countdown about Derrick Green:

          “My pick for the top backup is Green, and I think he’ll be the heir apparent. Most backups wouldn’t be ranked this high in the countdown, but Toussaint has been injured every year except his breakout 2011 season and was suspended for game one of 2012. Odds are that Green – or whoever is the #2 guy – gets at least a start or two. He also should get some looks in short yardage and on the goal line due to his size.”

          That’s not exactly a rave review. And yes, I gave him a 92. As I mentioned above, the ratings I give are dependent on the rest of the team. That 92 was given with the belief that we would have a standout offensive line by now. Obviously, that has not happened. He’s not a guy who can create on his own, but I still think he could wear down linebackers and defensive backs if the OL was consistently opening holes for him. That’s not the case. Thus, he’s not playing like a back with a 92 grade.

          De’Veon Smith ain’t Toby Gerhart. (By the way, Gerhart ran a 4.53 forty at the NFL Combine.)

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 17, 2015 at 8:12 PM

            You said Green was one of the 3 or 5 best backs in the country and compared him to Beanie Wells. You thought he might be the leading rusher in 2013, when Michigan had a horrible OL, so you weren’t exactly saying it was all the result of a powerful OL. You bumped him up to 95 (from 92) after he committed. Then after the CMU game you said he looked faster than Drake Johnson and should play more.

            Now, you aren’t alone in taking the recruiting rankings at face value (or close to it) by any stretch. I’m just saying… To say you never raved about Green just because you didn’t want to call him the #1 back in the country is disingenuous.

            While I’m looking through old posts:

            You also praised Green in saying “He wasn’t brash or cocky and genuinely seemed to fit in with his teammates. ” which reminds me of our Barry Sanders conversation. Maybe the polite guys sometimes lack competitive fire.

            I WILL credit you for a VERY accurate scouting report on Green in regard to Weaknessess. Nice work there. There might be hope for you yet in RB evaluations!

            The point about Smith is that you don’t have to be fast to be effective. Anyone who watched Mike Hart knows that. Best to not forget. We all know Smith isn’t fast, no one is disputing that, no one disputed it in the past, no one will in the future. Smith reported a 4.5 forty – That’s probably exaggerated but the point is neither of these guys is a big play burner. I think you know that.

            The Isaac/YPC thing we’ve talked to death. He got nearly half his yards on one play against a terrible team. Smith is, was, and will be a better RB than Isaac. Smith is no standout, so Isaac certainly isn’t. Isaac MIGHT beat him in a 40 yard…but this is football, not track. He’d beat Mike Hart too.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 17, 2015 at 8:25 PM

            I compared him statistically to Beanie Wells when I was doing a study of #1 rated backs.

            Leading rusher =/= greatness. De’Veon Smith is Michigan’s leading rusher in 2015, which is what I expected prior to this season. Does that mean he’s great? Green was Michigan’s leading rusher until he got hurt in 2014. Does that mean he’s great?

            A big part of being successful at RB is having at least decent speed. You don’t have to be Chris Johnson, but you should not be slower than every linebacker on the field (which literally might be the case for Smith). Pointing out Russell Wilson and Doug Flutie does not negate the fact that most QBs are tall.

            Take away the 76-yard run for Isaac, and he’s averaging 4.44 yards/carry. That’s a yard more than Green and a smidge better than Smith.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 17, 2015 at 11:36 PM

            haha. Yeah – good quarterbacks are usually tall…and exceptionally productive RBs are usually pretty good!

            This “I didn’t say he was going to be really good I said he was going to be really productive.” argument is pretty outlandish.

            Isaac got better blocking and played in easier situations than Smith. Those context stats tell a clear story. He wasn’t as good. That’s why Harbaugh doesn’t play him.

            You’d think arguing for Derrick Green after his production vs CMU would teach you a lesson about applying YPC. Or you know, the dozen or so examples I provided a couple months back.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 18, 2015 at 11:23 AM

            I don’t think it’s outlandish. Sometimes there are running backs who are very productive but who are the products of a good offensive line. Just look at Wisconsin in recent years, when their running backs have done great in college but have done nothing beyond. P.J. Hill, John Clay, etc. are good examples of mediocre runners who looked good behind a dominant offensive line.

            Believe it or not, just because you argue something doesn’t mean that it’s true. Your arguments regarding running backs are not convincing.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 19, 2015 at 3:06 AM

            Michigan isn’t Wisconsin. In 2013, when you argued that Smith would be extremely successful, Michigan had a terrible OL.

            I find it ironic that you would call my arguments not convincing after I point to a bunch of yours re: Green and Isaac – arguments that have been disproven, by multiple coaching staffs and most significantly Jim Harbaugh.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 19, 2015 at 11:02 AM

            I know Michigan isn’t Wisconsin. I don’t think anyone was expecting Michigan’s offensive line to be so bad/mediocre from 2013 onward. Again, my ratings/discussion require a projection of how the whole offense/team will be performing. None of the running backs have really panned out, but at least part of that has to do with the OL’s inability to blow people off the ball with regularity.

            Your definition of “proof” is different than mine. I don’t want to go down this road again, but you see “proof” as guys being benched, demoted, etc. I see “proof” as guys playing in the NFL, putting up good numbers, etc. We clearly don’t have the same opinion on what we should be looking at, and that’s fine.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 19, 2015 at 3:00 PM

            Some people were. I was. I was freaking out about the 2013 and 2014 OLs when Rich Rod got fired and Hoke didn’t replace Jake Fisher. The issues weren’t hard to see coming. Freshman on the OL and a scheme change = trouble.

            Michigan lost it’s entire interior OL from 2012. People said “it can’t be worse” and hammered on 5th year seniors like Omameh. It was worse and it shouldn’t have been a surprise. You’ll see the same stuff next year — people have spent so long saying bolden sucks that they will assume freshman and other guys can fill in, and they probably won’t be able to. But I digress…

            Smith has panned out. Johnson has panned out. They’ve done what they were supposed to do or better. Green and Isaac have not.

            A common theme here is a lack of appreciation for guys who do the job, perhaps unexceptionally, but adequately. Those guys still matter and deserve credit, rather than hostility and constantly having their role questioned amidst calls for them to change positions or move to the bench. I mean, I’d like Leonard Fournette too, but we didn’t land that kid, so lets show a little appreciation for the guys we do have…

            Playing in the NFL is not what we are talking about – we are talking about Michigan football. I don’t care much that Jeremy Gallon isn’t in the NFL – he was great at Michigan, far better than Devin Funchess who is in the NFL. I also don’t care about stats, in the simplistic way that you use them at least when talking about YPC. If you’re going to ignore sample size, context, etc the data loses relevance. I’m sure you view this as nitpicking but like…that’s just how statistical analysis works. You have outliers, confidence levels, variance, bad data, sample size, etc. If you ignore these considerations you will draw incorrect conclusions. This is not a controversial statement.

            But yeah, everyone IS entitled to their own opinion. Mine’s just the correct one (<— that's a joke, but in this case – really)

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 19, 2015 at 6:59 PM

            Smith hasn’t “panned out.” He’s one of the worst running backs in the Big Ten. He’s 9th in yards/game despite being 7th in attempts/game. He loses carries to a 2-star (Drake Johnson). He’s #23 in the conference in yards/carry.

            But I suppose those other 22 guys just get “easier carries” in “easier situations”…

            You’re right in your own mind, which is all that matters, I guess.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 20, 2015 at 12:27 PM

            Smith STARTS. He starts on one of the best teams in the Big Ten. So no, he’s not one of the worst backs in the Big Ten – none of those guys even play.

            I don’t think he’s great, but he’s a 4-star recruit that OSU and everyone else wanted. He was slow then, he is slow now. You think Urban Meyer did not notice this when he recruited him?

            Smith’s met expectations. He’s an average back running overall. He lacks bigtime speed but breaks tackles and runs hard behind an OL that still isn’t very good at run-blocking in scheme that is never going to produce gaudy ypc stats (even Toby Gerhardt ‘only’ averaged 5.2 ypc when Stanford’s OL was running on all cylinders). We don’t run a spread and so our RBs are never going to average 6 or 7 yards a pop over any meaningful sample size.

            If you honestly think Jim Harbaugh sits in his office and thinks Deveon Smith is one of the worst backs in the big ten you are “in my mind” out of your mind.

            Then again, your RB takes have been so wrong for so many years that I think Smith should take your criticisms as a complement.

            If explained again and again why using YPC as the end-all-be-all of RB evaluations is ridiculous and wrong. You’ve never disputed any of those points in the abstract. You chose to ignore them, which is your prerogative. But it’s funny that you are happy to argue individual people based on YPC over and over again. But only when it suits your argument, not when say, Drake Johnson starts getting carries early in games and does little with them, while DeVeon Smith outpaces him.

            I’ve explained again and again why the guys who play in meaningful situations against good defenses don’t outperform (in terms of YPC) the starters that you want benched. But to you context doesn’t matter and yards vs Rutgers and UNLV and CMU are just as valuable as yards against MSU and OSU and Alabama. “In my mind” the Alabama defense is different than CMUs. Those yards “count” different.

            “In my mind” I am right to consider context. That’s because I’m right.

            I know this because some of the elite football coaches in the world agree with me. They don’t just start every guy who rattles off big carries against terrible competition or late in decided games. I know this because talented ball carriers sit the bench while guys who can pass-block, catch, and get hard yards that don’t show up in YPC. I know this because teams don’t just stick every good kick returner in at RB. I know this because OL coaches are higher paid than RB coaches in college. I know this because RBs barely make more than guards in the NFL, less than tackles, and a fraction of what a starting OL makes.

            Context matters. You can bull-headily ignore it if you want. Every man is free to have an opinion “in their mind”. Every man is free to be wrong.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 20, 2015 at 12:33 PM

            Truthfully, I have grown tired of this argument. I’ve hinted at that a couple times now. You think you’re right. I think I’m right. It’s funny that you say I’m “bull headed” when part of your end of the discussion is saying “I know I’m right.”

            The end.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 20, 2015 at 1:23 PM

            Saying ” I know you THINK you are right.” is not a way to ‘hint’ at ending a discussion. It’s a way to turn a discussion into an argument. Everyone thinks they are right when they say something, otherwise they ask a question instead.

            You’ve used a similar tact before in making some inconsistent distinctions between facts and opinions.

            “Lets agree to disagree” or “we have different opinions on the matter” is fine. This was not that.

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 5314
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Nov 16, 2015 at 12:08 PM

    Great comment about Frey. The one thing I never get about blaming Hoke’s bad OL on Rodriguez was that this one ONE! thing Rodriguez absolutely knocked out of the park. Rodriguez recruited good OLmen, his success rate was high, and he developed them very quickly. Frey was probably a big part of that.

    I would swap Indiana’s OL and RB for ours too, but I would credit the system they run too. It seems like a big benefit of the spread-to-run offenses is that they develop OLmen well and quickly in general. Simplicity has it’s advantages. In contrast, a pro-style power offense like Harbaugh runs requires several years to get the maulers they want to run the intricate blocking assignments down.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 177
      Joined: 9/3/2015
      suduri xusai
      Nov 16, 2015 at 3:01 PM

      Absolutely. That Stanford magic………….

  8. Lanknows
    Comments: 5314
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Nov 16, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    I really like to see Harbaugh evolve a little more towards the dual-threat QBs. You see Rudock getting 60 yards rushing — imagine what a guy with plus plus running ability could do…

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 466
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Nov 16, 2015 at 5:20 PM

      Expand on this a bit, please.

      In an ideal world we’d have a 6’6″ 260lb QB with the pocket presence of Tom Brady and the elusiveness and speed of Denard Robinson. But they are few and far between.

      So if we assume there’s a bit of a trade-off here between pocket skill and running skill (that’s not a fixed law of nature; I’m saying let’s assume a sliding scale trade-off) … then what do you think Harbaugh wants — more on the pocket skill with “enough” running skill to move the sticks? Or do you think he’d be willing to sacrifice a bit of Brady-esque pocket skill to get the occasional Robinson OMG touchdown?

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3256
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Nov 16, 2015 at 8:18 PM

        Exactly. You generally can’t get the best of both worlds. The guys who are good dual-threat guys have generally played in systems where they’re in shotgun the vast majority of the time, running zone reads, etc., and don’t know how to turn their back to the defense, drop back from under center, etc. It’s extremely rare that a high school coaches takes a guy with Denard Robinson’s running ability and puts him in the Wing-T…except for, of course, Denard Robinson’s high school coach.

        The guys who have good ability to sit in the pocket and throw the ball, or to drop back from under center and make good reads? Those guys are running pro-style offenses or pass-heavy spreads in high school.

        So sure, it would be great to find 6’6″, 260 lb. QB’s who can run like Cam Newton and throw from the pocket like Aaron Rodgers. I used to create those guys on NCAA Football back when it was legal. It is/was a fantasy.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5314
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 17, 2015 at 6:39 PM

        I’ll grant your assumption of trade-offs in general, but I will add that you aren’t going to recruit dual-threat guys if you don’t show that you have an offense that suits them. Same goes for pocket passers. So, in a way it’s self-fulfilling. If you want a Vince Young, Cam Newton, Steve McNair, Steve Young type of QB you better have an offense that provides some opportunities to use the athleticism (beyond the occasional scramble.)

        In other words, you can’t have “the best of both worlds” if you don’t try.

        Michigan, given it’s prestige and head coach, can. That is no fantasy.

        But back to your question — yeah, I’d tradeoff some accuracy for some running ability. I’d be pretty content with Vernon Adams and a bunch of other guys too. I think if Devin Gardner was coached for 5 years by Jim harbaugh he’d be one helluva QB. If Michigan can add Taysom Hill to the depth chart, I think they should.

        • UM_1973
          Comments: 88
          Joined: 10/14/2015
          UM_1973
          Nov 20, 2015 at 2:08 AM

          Does Jim Harbaugh have a particular preference for his QB? I have the impression that he just take the best QB available without regards to classifications of a Dual Threat or Pro Style. He is happy to take both Victor Viramontes or Zach Gentry and let them compete?

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 20, 2015 at 12:00 PM

            I don’t know that Harbaugh would have recruited Tyrell Pryor or Denard Robinson to play QB. I think what you say is mostly true, but I believe that he wants guys to have a certain baseline of throwing ability and pocket instincts. I also don’t think he is going to take a total non-athlete (like Jon Navarre for example) and make him a QB either.

            I think he wants guys that are both strong-armed and fast…in addition to being smart and accurate. It’s actually not too much to ask, IMO, despite the comments above.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3256
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Nov 20, 2015 at 12:45 PM

            Based on his offers, Harbaugh likes dual-threat guys, too. It seems to be partly a matter of whether those guys can throw the ball from the pocket. But yeah, I agree that someone like Denard Robinson would probably not get offered, at least not as a QB. Maybe Pryor would have, though – he was tall and had a good arm. Harbaugh very well could have offered him with an eye toward moving him to WR if things didn’t work out at QB.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5314
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 20, 2015 at 1:28 PM

            Denard had a pretty good arm too, though it wasn’t as good as Pryors. He was just very unrefined in terms of decision-making and accuracy. Which, obviously – he spent more than half his time learning to make decisions in the run game rather than passing game.

            Pryor wasn’t accurate either. He was just a taller version of Denard. I don’t think Harbaugh would have gone for either guy, but you never know.

            I think Harbaugh will give Virmontes a chance at QB, might even install a small package for him, if things go well. But the expected outcome (I think consensus) is that he’ll try it, see that others run the offense better, and then end up elsewhere like H-back or LB.

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