Michigan at Michigan State Awards

Michigan at Michigan State Awards

October 17, 2011
Devin Gardner (#7) scrambles, but to no avail.
(image via MGoBlue.com)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Devin Gardner.  I’m not saying more as in he should be the starter, but I do like what Al Borges is doing with Gardner.  I don’t typically like two-quarterback platoons, but Gardner is a more skilled passer than Denard Robinson.  He made some gaffes on Saturday (getting sacked on fourth down, making an illegal forward pass, etc.), but he also threw some nice balls and made some plays with his legs.  People keep saying that Robinson is a threat to go all the way on every play, but if opponents put eight or nine decently talented guys in the box, Robinson won’t have any running room.  And until he proves that he can beat a team with his arm, Michigan needs to work in a passing threat.  Personally, I’m enjoying the plays when Gardner is at quarterback and Robinson lines up in the backfield or at wide receiver.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . the second tight end, whether it’s Steve Watson or Brandon Moore.  If the offensive line isn’t going to get a push and if Michigan can’t run it out of the I-formation, then I think the Wolverines need to get their best eleven on the field.  Junior Hemingway, Roy Roundtree, and Jeremy Gallon are all playmakers, and Kevin Koger is valuable in a lot of ways with his speed, athleticism, blocking, and leadership.  Those four players plus some combination of Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Vincent Smith, and Michael Shaw need to be on the field the vast majority of the time.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Cam Gordon.  Gordon returned to action this week after a nagging back injury caused him to miss the first six games of the season.  In his stead Jake Ryan has made a name for himself as a playmaker at SAM linebacker, but Ryan does have his flaws; he’s prone to both making and allowing big plays.  Ryan has to get quicker at reading offensive plays, maintaining the edge, and using his hands to disengage from blockers.  Gordon might not be an immediate upgrade, but perhaps he can help.  It was clear against MSU that Ryan’s other backups aren’t legitimate options in big-time games.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Brandin Hawthorne and J.T. Floyd (tie).  On one Keshawn Martin touchdown, Hawthorne made a half-assed attempt to tackle him at the pylon and tried to shoulder Martin out of bounds rather than wrap him up.  A good, fundamental tackle would almost certainly have stopped Martin at the 1-yard line, although a touchdown almost certainly would have been delayed rather than prevented altogether.  On the other Martin touchdown, J.T. Floyd made a half-assed attempt to stick with him and jogged behind the play, even though he clearly had Martin in man coverage.  Those weren’t cases of being beaten physically – they were examples of players not playing hard and giving 100% effort.

MVP of the game . . . Will Hagerup.  Nobody had a great game offensively or defensively for Michigan, but Hagerup did a solid job of punting on a very windy day.  He only averaged 31.9 yards on seven punts, but four of those pinned the Spartans inside their 20-yard line, and three of them put the green and white bronze at or inside their own 10.  Despite being unable to get any kind of offensive flow or defensive momentum, the Wolverines hung with MSU in the first half largely due to the field position battle.

Play of the game . . . Denard Robinson’s touchdown run.  After dropping back to pass, Robinson was almost sacked.  But he yanked himself away, tucked the ball, and scrambled to the left, picking up a nice block by Kevin Koger before squeezing inside the pylon.


  1. Comments: 21384
    Oct 17, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    IIRC, Floyd made (or didn't make) an even worse play on Martin's first TD. It was 3rd and goal and Cousins hit Martin at the UM 4-yard line. Martin was standing very close to the sideline and Floyd only needed to shove Martin out of bounds but whiffed badly allowing Martin to score. That missed tackle cost UM 4 points which would have allowed UM to kick a FG to tie the game on that failed 4th and inches at the MSU 9-yard line late in the 4th quarter.

  2. Comments: 21384
    Oct 17, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    I admit I like the plays with Denard at WR/RB too, but Michigan needs to avoid obvious tendencies out of those plays. Maybe complete some swing passes (assuming Denard can catch).

    I'm not yet convinced Gardner is the better passer (though frankly, the way denard's throwing its hard not to be). I don't think the offense has moved the ball any better than Denard has while at QB. Would be curious about the stats, especially yards per carry by backs with Gardner at QB vs Denard… For a minute I was thinking Gardner'd be a better option on 3rd and long situations, but Denard's leg are a major benefit in those situations too. Tough call…Denard's just got to get better.

    I noticed Cam get badly burned on a 3rd down conversion in pass coverage. It was against Martin, but still. I do agree he's an improvement over the other options at SAM behind Ryan.

  3. Comments: 21384
    Oct 17, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Cam did not play at all on defense Sat

  4. Comments: 21384
    Oct 17, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    A bit off topic but…

    Thunder, do you know why we did not get an official visit from Edwin Baker? In-state, Top 50 recruit on Rivals with offers from Florida, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee etc… yet he goes to State without a visit to any other schools. Was he State fan or did it have something to do with his HS coach/Dantonio.

  5. Comments: 21384
    Oct 17, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Appreciate your analysis as usual. As a commenter said on your last entry, this blog is a nice change from the bias and man-with-a-cause mentality over at mgoblog. That place is just too obnoxious. Any plans to add a forum here?

  6. Comments: 21384
    Oct 17, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    Would like to see less of on both sides of the ball: those unis.

  7. Comments: 21384
    Oct 18, 2011 at 3:25 AM

    @Lankownia –

    I think what people mean is not that Devin has passed better, but that he has much higher potential. Because of his playing time so far, I'm not surprised he makes plenty of mistakes and is still getting comfortable.

    Potential doesn't win games, of course.

  8. Comments: 21384
    Oct 18, 2011 at 3:32 AM

    I hate saying this because this ONLY worked in 1998-99 because we had a good defense and were pretty stacked at all skill positions, but rather than just alternate Denard and Devin willy-nilly, there should be a Brady/Henson rotation to see how that pans out.

    It could, however, end in disaster as we're currently halfway through our schedule already.

  9. Comments: 21384
    Oct 18, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Old habits die hard, the coaches have taken a major undertaking to get this team back into some form of consistent football from a fundamental standpoint. They did not play great fundamental football under the old regime and it will take time to get them used to (both Physically and Mentally) playing solid football at all times. When you get under a stressful situation your body and mind quickly revert back to what you were taught, and for many of our guys it seemed as though they went back a little further than the solid changes that were made since the spring.

    After a year or so in the system the guys will change their muscle memory and mindset as the coaches instill and enforce the "new" way.

    The loss was a major let down. We were in the game even after playing horrible and not being able to execute on a lot of plays. It is nice to have a bye week to get the guys healthy, take a break (according to Hoke they have been going full tilt during practice still). Let's see how they respond against Purdue. Either they meet the challenge and turn things around or we are in for another long dissappointing season.

  10. Comments: 21384
    Oct 18, 2011 at 3:31 PM


    That Brady/Henson rotation was pretty much a disaster. Henson wasn't ready, made youngster mistakes, and Brady was forever having to come in and try a comeback. Worked at Penn State, but didn't work so well for Illinois and MSU.


  11. Comments: 21384
    Oct 18, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    @ Anonymous 2:34 p.m.

    Michigan State got on Baker early and really made an impression. I got the impression that he wanted a chance to start early, and that probably wasn't going to happen at Michigan with Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown. He pretty much had a clear path to the starting job in East Lansing.

    Oak Park isn't necessarily an MSU feeder school like some others in the state. I think it was more of an individual choice rather than someone pushing him there or expecting him to go there.

  12. Comments: 21384
    Oct 18, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    @ Anonymous 5:55 p.m.

    I have no current plans to add a forum, but I've considered it. It's difficult to get anything too productive done during the season, but once the season is over, I might check into it.

  13. Comments: 21384
    Oct 18, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    I'd be careful about a forum. Like some others, I'm spending more time here and less time at mgoblog — both because I like the comments here, and also because I'm disenchanted with the group-think (forums!) and high school humor over there. I know nothing about maintaining a blog. But I like what you're doing here.

    One gripe though: More brunettes, fewer blondes!

  14. Comments: 21384
    Oct 19, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Agree with Anon @ 4:37. It's nice that there's an actual discussion here about Michigan football which is difficult to achieve on Mgoblog will all the 'humor', 'meta' and asinine forum topics about freep and espn coverage.

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