Michigan vs. Notre Dame Awards

Michigan vs. Notre Dame Awards

September 13, 2010
“Prison Abs” Gordon

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Michael Cox. I know I sound like a broken record, and it doesn’t bode well for me (or him) that Cox hasn’t seen the field in the first two games. However, Michigan’s runnings backs just aren’t getting it done. So far Michigan’s three running backs (Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw, Stephen Hopkins) have combined for 42 carries, 129 yards, and 2 touchdowns (a 3.07 yard average). I really don’t care who totes the rock for Michigan, as long as he runs the ball at a better clip than 3.07 yards per try.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Denard Robinson. Hold on just a second before you go ballistic, though. I don’t want him to be relegated to the bench (unless the game is out of hand). I’d just like to see him carrying the ball less. He’s averaging 8.0 yards per carry, but he’s averaging 28.5 attempts per game. That would be 370.5 carries in a 13-game season, and that’s way too much. Hopefully Robinson can get a bit of rest in the next two weeks against UMass and Bowling Green. Robinson might be the best player in the country right now, and he needs to stay healthy.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Thomas Gordon. True freshman Carvin Johnson won the starting Spur job in fall camp, but Gordon played pretty well against Notre Dame in his first career start, as Johnson missed the game due to a knee injury. Gordon was the fouth-leading tackler against the Fighting Irish, tallying 5 stops, 2 tackles for loss, and Michigan’s lone quarterback sack. I think he’s stronger at the point of attack than Johnson, and while the freshman is probably more athletic, my bigger concern at the position is the ability to stand up to blocks and tackle. Gordon seems to do those things better than Johnson, from what I’ve seen.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Craig Roh at defensive end. I think this was a game plan adjustment for Michigan’s coaches, and the results were questionable. In order to counter Notre Dame’s passing game, Michigan put elite pass rusher Roh on the field instead of the solid but unspectacular Greg Banks. However, Roh was overpowered repeatedly, and despite getting a decent rush at times, he was unable to take down the quarterback. If Michigan goes with a 4-front, then I’ll be happy to see Roh lined up at defensive end. But in a 3-3-5 defense, he lacked the strength to stand up to the two blockers that usually stood in his way.

MVP of the Notre Dame game . . . Denard Robinson, obviously. He had 258 rushing yards, 244 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 passing). He also led the game-winning drive, on which he was 5/6 passing and ran for 17 yards, including scoring the final TD.

Unsung Hero of the Notre Dame game . . . Zac Johnson. Rasheed Furrha and Johnson share the #36 jersey according to the official roster, and the official site lists Furrha as the player who participated in Saturday’s game. However, I distinctly remember seeing Z. JOHNSON on the back of #36’s jersey, so I’m assuming that was a typo on the website. Regardless, Johnson had 2 special teams tackles and continued the solid special teams coverage he’s shown for the past couple years. He also made a smart play on the punt return unit, grabbing a ball on the bounce that appeared to have hit a Michigan player (although I don’t think it did). Johnson saw the ball bounce, plucked it out of the air, and fell to the ground, eliminating any chance for a Notre Dame player to recover.


  1. Comments: 21383
    Sep 13, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    The problem with Mike Cox is he has all of the ability in the world but he makes the dumbest decisions which is why he's buried in depth chart. He makes a great play and then make a bad play the next.

    He has problems like Mike Shaw a year ago when he dances too much, going east and west instead of going north and south.

    Regarding ND game, I've noticed that ND is making Denard keep the ball rather than letting the RB get the ball which is puzzling to me since Denard is the most dangerous runner on the team. Plus the blocking leaves a lot to be desired. They struggled to block head on, but their strength is blocking in space. They're outstanding in that department.

  2. Comments: 21383
    Sep 13, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    TTB, good catch with Z. Johnson. I saw that play and wondered who TF that was. From his bio on the MGoBlue site, he seems to be the type of walk-on that RichRod (and probably most other coaches) would value.

  3. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 12:39 AM

    How do you know enough to say that Cox makes bad decisions when running in games? I haven't seen him carry the rock in a game this year.

  4. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 1:38 AM

    I hope Cox gets some PT the next two games and really shines.

  5. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 1:39 AM

    Glad to see a player (e.g., Thomas Gordon) get an opportunity (albeit I'm sad for the reason … Carvin's injury) and really make the most of it.

  6. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    Thunder: Any comment on Ezeh? It seems to my inexperienced eyes that he's playing much better.

  7. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    Anonymous from 3rd post,

    I know a few players on the team. They said that he danced too much and tends to run east and west instead of north and south. They said that RR was on him hard for not being decisive.

  8. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 3:54 AM

    @ TriFloyd 9:40 p.m.

    Ezeh did okay, I think. He wasn't spectacular. He made a couple good plays and a couple bad ones. Armando Allen made him look bad a couple times, but Allen isn't a prototypical Big Ten back – he's quicker and more elusive than the majority of backs Michigan will face. I'm not going to hold a couple missed tackles against Ezeh too much.

  9. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 4:31 AM

    lol u cant really add stephen hopkins to the list of RBs who have gotten carries. hasnt he gotten 1 carry for 1 yard and a TD? im trying to defend the new kid from texas here


  10. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 4:37 AM

    @ horn 12:31 a.m.

    I can't really leave him out, either. He's a running back, and he had a carry.

  11. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Interesting observations. Nice catch on Johnson and I'm glad to read you thought T.Gordon is doing well.

    I'm confused by the Roh comments though. On one hand you're bemoaning the lack of pressure but you're also saying the D needs to pull their "elite pass rusher" (which is highly debatable, but we'll move on…). Do you want him off the field entirely or dropping into coverage as an LB?

    I get that you want to see 4 people rushing and that Roh is being overpowered on the 3-man line, but you're also admitting that Roh got pressure at times and have been one of the most vocal critics around on the lack of depth and talent in the secondary. I don't think you can have it all with this team. We got 3 turnovers, many punts, and occassional pressure by rushing 3 guys most of the game. Obviously, at times there was no pressure, but thats the price you pay. We knew this team was going to try to play bend but don't break. Save for a couple big miscues against ND they've done that pretty well this year.

    Anyway, I suspect that with Jones being out for the year you'll get your wish. When you pull Banks for Jones to improve pass coverage, it makes sense. When you do it to bring in Leach or M.Williams…not so much.

  12. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    Roh just needs to bulk up more since he's still too light to play with his hands down. Next season, he should be in a good weight at 260 lbs. He's a year away from being physically able to hold up at POA

  13. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    @ Lankownia

    I don't want to see Roh removed from the field – I'd just like to see him playing linebacker instead.

    And as for leaving more secondary guys on the field…

    …well, that worked to the tune of 381 passing yards against Notre Dame. So I'm not sure that we can use the ND game as a story of success.

  14. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    ND wasn't a roaring success, but the 3 turnovers wouldn't have happened without extra defenders hanging around the secondary. Those turnovers made up for a lot of yardage given up. And while you obviously can't ignore the three long pass plays, they contribute to possibly overstating how bad the pass D was against ND. Crist's injury probably offsets that though…the number would have been closer to 500 yards.

    Considering how good ND's passing offense could be (Crist and the WR talent, plus Kelly's schemes), I'd say 380 was holding this team in check, outside of a few big plays. Maybe thats not the most meaningful statement, but the bottom line is that a defense with enormous issues didn't get completely overrun. Most of us are taking that as a positive.

    We can debate the scheme, but after two games against decent competition, the strategy to mask personnel deficiencies in the secondary with lots of heavy coverage packages seems both reasonable and relatively successful

    Roh, as a LB, would have to drift into coverage with the current scheme. So you'd be taking him away from his strength if you really think he's an elite pass-rusher. Against teams that will do most of their damage through the air, you accept the disadvantage of Roh at DE on run plays to get him rushing the passer on pass plays instead of covering at LB. I'll be upset if it continues against MSU and Wisconsin, but for now…eh..ain't broke.

  15. Comments: 21383
    Sep 14, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    @ Lankownia 1:28 p.m.

    Holding any team to 380 yards passing isn't really "holding them in check." No matter how you slice it, that's too many yards. And this spills over into another hotly contested topic, but that number would have been higher if Crist had remained healthy (which you acknowledge). What does that 381 balloon to if he stays in the whole game – 450? 500?

    Would we still be saying that we held Notre Dame's passing game in check if he had 450 passing yards? Or if Notre Dame scored 42 points, which they were on pace to do with Crist in the game?

    Michigan has allowed FOUR 37+ yard passes in two games. That's not good.

    That being said, I mentioned on the other post that this will probably be the best passing attack Michigan will see. I doubt any other teams will rack up 380 yards passing on us. But I can't really say that this defensive strategy was a successful* game plan.

    *My interpretation of "successful" is "stopping the offense." Others might say that "successful" means "playing well enough to win the game." I can see both sides of the argument, but Michigan definitely got lucky that Crist got a booboo.

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