|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.
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