Michigan vs. Purdue Awards

Michigan vs. Purdue Awards

November 15, 2010
Obi Ezeh led the team with eight tackles on Saturday.

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . good Vincent Smith.  It’s been about 11.5 months since Smith’s ACL tear, and it looks like he’s finally getting healthy.  Perhaps it’s partially due to the fact that it was Purdue’s defense, but Smith looked quicker and faster than he has all season.  I still don’t like the fact that he was put on the field about nine months after tearing that ACL, but he finally seems to be rounding into form.  Hopefully he maintains his level of play.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . bad quarterbacks.  Denard Robinson seems to have regressed in recent weeks, both throwing and running the ball.  I think it’s fair to say at this point that the number of carries Denard has averaged so far this season are catching up to Robinson and Coach Rodriguez.  Robinson was 13-for-21 for 176 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 bad interceptions.  The big plays are going to be there because of the quality of Michigan’s receivers and the threat of Denard running the ball, but Robinson needs to become a more consistent passer – and soon – if he wants to beat Wisconsin and Ohio State.  Tate Forcier wasn’t any better, hitting only 1/4 passes and averaging only .8 yards per carry.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Obi Ezeh seemed to make a nice transition from middle linebacker to outside linebacker.  Since prior to 2008, I’ve thought that Ezeh was more of an OLB than a MLB.  In that season I really wanted John Thompson to play MLB and have Ezeh moved outside.  That obviously didn’t happen, and Ezeh spent his entire career at MLB until recently.  He ended the game with 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.  Ezeh’s biggest problem at middle linebacker was that he read plays too slowly, but the reads at OLB are slightly simpler and one misstep won’t necessarily get him out of position.  With Craig Roh now playing defensive end (which is also a good move), Ezeh is a good option at OLB.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Mark Moundros.  He was voted defensive captain for a reason . . . and I think the biggest reason was that he was clearly willing to change positions (and sides of the ball!) as a senior just to try to help the team and get on the field.  However, I don’t think he’s fast enough, instinctive enough, or experienced enough to make an impact on defense.  Hopefully the guy he replaced (Jonas Mouton) returns soon from his chest injury.  If Mouton is still unavailable next week, I’d prefer to see J.B. Fitzgerald start at weakside linebacker, Demens in the middle, and Ezeh at OLB.

MVP of the Purdue game . . . Vincent Smith.  This was a tough choice, because nobody really took over the game this week.  There were several guys who had one or two big plays (Craig Roh, Cameron Gordon, Roy Roundtree, James Rogers), but Smith had a solid day and finished with just under 100 yards, including a stellar 19-yard run.  Good for him.


  1. Comments: 21381
    Nov 15, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    I think the idea that so&so played and well and so&so did not from week to week is vastly overplayed. The Purdue D focused on stopping Denard and Smith got almost as many carries as Denard. Result: ~100 yards for Smith while the other RBs got much less. People are acting like this game is a big change, but its not. This is the same guy we've seen all year. Smith fumbled this week. He played OK. He's been OK all year.

    Every not-terrible defense we've played has to some degree shut down the running game from either the QBs or the RBs, but no one has done both (though the rain in Purdue came close). ND, UConn, and Penn State stuffed the RBs and Denard ran wild. MSU, Illinois and Purdue shut down Denard and, as a result, made the RBs look good. Iowa (not surprisingly) is the closest thing we've seen to a balanced approach, they sort of just contained everything.

    This makes me think the issue isn't about perceived changes in the player ability. Their inconsistent effectiveness is the result of the offense responding to opportunities created by the defensive scheme (and our OL too).

    Denard isn't regressing as a runner and Smith isn't getting any better. The defenses are just scheming differently. As the season progressed good teams have realized its smarter to contain Denard. They pick the less lethal poison – Michigan's running backs. Better to give up an 11 yard Smith run than a 41 yard Denard run. Better to let M running backs run for 150 than Denard running for 250.

    Don't expect Denard to run wild again in the last 2 games **unless he starts scrambling**. But don't be shocked to see the RBs (whoever gets utilized most) be successful. The offensive keys will be passing game consistency, converting short yardage plays, and everyone's favorite: avoiding turnovers.

  2. Comments: 21381
    Nov 16, 2010 at 2:59 AM

    Agreed, Lankownia.

  3. Comments: 21381
    Nov 16, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Lankownia, this is exactly why I feel a more dynamic runner next to Denard in the backfield will open up the offense more. Smith gets a lot of time back there because he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses besides physical limitations, but if Shaw had Smith's vision and instinct, Smith would probably never see the field.

    You're absolutely right…teams are scheming differently to shut down SOMEONE, and it seems most would rather Smith gash them for a little than Denard gash them for a lot.

    Just one caveat about the Smith criticism…since we brought the classic stretch play back (starting Illinois game), Smith's been picking up more yards. He can get lost and dart in creases on those plays, so I think it's fair to say that the playbook has slightly limited his effectiveness until recently.

  4. Comments: 21381
    Nov 17, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    I like the idea that the coaches would be adjusting playcalling to better fit individual skills. I hope thats the case. Smith, Shaw, and Hopkins certainly seem to have different capabilities.

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