Michigan vs. Minnesota Awards

Michigan vs. Minnesota Awards

October 3, 2011
Didn’t you dummies watch the Notre Dame film?  What else is there to do in Minnesota but watch film?
(image via AnnArbor.com)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Thomas Rawls.  The freshman running back (10 carries, 73 yards) is yet another runner who looks better than Stephen Hopkins.  The lower Hopkins goes on the depth chart, the better off Michigan will be.  Fitzgerald Toussaint (11 carries, 108 yards, 1 touchdown) looks like the best back, Vincent Smith is a solid change-of-pace and third down back (5 carries, 27 yards; 3 total touchdowns), and Michael Shaw (8 carries, 60 yards) ran the ball well on Saturday, too.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Hopkins.  It was necessary for #33 to play almost the entire way because starting fullback John McColgan missed the game due to injury.  McColgan has developed into a better blocker this year than he had been previously, and I think he has some value when running out of the I-formation.  Hopkins made a nice catch out of the backfield for 28 yards, but I’m hoping McColgan can return when the schedule gets tougher.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Blake Countess.  The freshman cornerback looks to have surpassed sophomore Courtney Avery.  He’s a decent enough tackler and has better coverage skills than Avery or redshirt junior J.T. Floyd.  Countess had 2 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble to go with his 5 tackles.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Troy Woolfolk.  For goodness’ sake, let him have a week off.  For the fifth week in a row, Woolfolk left the game due to injury.  He’s got a tweaked ankle.  I know he wants to play and I commend him for it, but everybody and their mother knew that Michigan didn’t need Woolfolk to beat Minnesota handily.  The coaches had a chance to rest him against Minnesota so he would be available for the two tougher offenses coming up the next two weeks – Northwestern and Michigan State.  Now he’s still injured, Northwestern looms as a snake in the grass that could rise up and bite the Wolverines, and Michigan State follows with its dangerous passing game.  There won’t be another possible opportunity to rest him until possibly Purdue, three weeks from now.

Play of the game . . . The most exciting play of the game was Devin Gardner’s scramble and run.  He bootlegged right into a defender, ran out of an arm tackle, reversed field, juked two defenders, gained about 4 yards up the sideline, and then churned his legs for another 2 or 3 yards after the defense caught up to him.

MVP of the game . . . It’s a tough choice between Denard Robinson, Vincent Smith, and Fitzgerald Toussaint.  I’m going to go with Smith, who didn’t have a monster day numbers-wise but had a hand in three offensive touchdowns.  His day included 5 carries for 27 yards and 1 touchdown; 1 pass reception for 28 yards and a touchdown; and 1 halfback pass for 17 yards and a touchdown to Drew Dileo.  On top of that, he made a heads up recovery of a Devin Gardner fumble late in the game.


  1. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    My candidate for play of the game was Smith's touchdown reception on the strength of both safeties (one might have been a corner) blocked to the ground.

    I'm still looking for those earrings.

  2. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    @ Anonymous 7:57 a.m.

    Yeah, that was a good one, too.

    The earrings are tough to find. Keep looking.

  3. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    RE: Smith's halfback option pass–that may be the best "sell" of a run on that play I have ever seen by a RB. Usually, they are already winding up to throw the pass about 0.5 seconds after they get the hand-off. The pass itself…well, it's a good thing he is a RB.

  4. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Cox must have really pissed off the coaches if he couldn't even get into this game. Starting to look like he may never see the field again for Michigan.

  5. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Blake Countess looks like a future first rounder to me, more so than any other defenders on our roster. I know I'm jumping the gun on this and that I'm extrapolating future development, but the kid looks more natural than any corner we've had this side of Leon Hall. Thoughts?

  6. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    @ Anonymous 10:00 a.m.

    Cox didn't dress for the game due to an injury.

  7. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    @ Rikard 10:01 a.m.

    I'm right there with you. I mentioned that in the review of the game the other day. I think Countess' cover skills are pretty equivalent to Hall's.

  8. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Re: Woolfolk. He'll get a rest with the bye week that follows MSU (we play Purdue in 4 weeks, not 3) but the larger point still stands, no reason to play him this game, especially when we're going to have to play a bunch of nickle and even dime next week if Persa's healthy enough to go.

  9. Comments: 21383
    Rob Pollard
    Oct 03, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    After a great week, I agree the only blemish is the inexplicable decision to play Woolfolk. Understandably, coaches never want to assume any game is a gimme, but if someone is leaving every game early with an issue, it is extremely prudent to use that as an excuse to give him a week off. Who's going to play against BJ Cunningham in two weeks – Countess? I sure how it's not Floyd.

    On another note, can you believe how bad Minnesota is? They're a long way from the salad days of Glenn Mason and their annual trips to the Music City bowl.

  10. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Hard to pick a play or player of this game. Minn's awful, but it's still encouraging to see everyone execute.

    Seems like they're easing Hopkins into the FB role, but keeping him happy with some carries and targets – probably a good idea for a guy who was a high-profile workhorse in high school.

    I don't care to see Rawls other than in mop-up duty. Shaw, at this point, theres just no reason to play the guy. Better to develop Rawls or Hopkins for the future than hand him carries. Still don't know why he isn't returning kicks, a role he could thrive in with his speed and big-play ability.

    Countess looks good, but let's remember he hasn't faced anybody who can test him yet. MSU's receivers look pretty decent.

  11. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    @Rob Pollard:

    Woolfolk against Cunningham would be nice, but not essential. Cunningham is big with excellent hands and gets yards after the catch, but he's not actually that fast. Hawthorne could probably cover him on mid routes and Floyd could match up well, especially given his recent play.

    Don't let Sparty trick you. Cunningham is not Michael Floyd.

  12. Comments: 21383
    Painter Smurf
    Oct 03, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    I feel bad for Jerry Kill. I think he is a good coach and could have Minnesota consistently over 0.500 winning percentage again under the right circumstances. Minnesota has some natural advantages compared to other bottom feeder B1G schools that could be exploited by the right coach. But his health problems and the shear crapiness of the current roster are giving him a rough start.

  13. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    @Thunder I hadn't read your review, I feel like a regurgitating clown now. Excellent observation, I guess.

  14. Comments: 21383
    Oct 03, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    I disagree with your opinion that Hopkins should see less of the field. Last week against SDSU a repeatedly saw John McColgan get blown up by their LB #9. Whatever is name was, neither McColgan or Koger could deal with him. Hopkins on the other had, while not a better blocker than McCoglan, is much more versatile out of the backfield. Hopkins, who is able to block, run, or catch passes out of the backfield, fits better with the Wolverines offense.

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