Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Taylor Lewan. Lewan entered the game in the second half, filling in at left tackle for Mark Huyge. Lewan played extremely well and had a few pancake blocks. The thing I liked most about him coming out of high school was that he blocks through the echo of the whistle, and that was evident on Saturday. I didn’t see a single missed blocking assignment, unless you count a sweep to the offense’s right and the OLB blitzed around the edge. Lewan didn’t touch him, but the blitz took the defender out of the play, anyway. This is Michigan’s left tackle of the future, and the future might not be too distant.
Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Vincent Smith. He’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry, and that’s including his 11 carries for 42 yards (3.8 ypc) against an overmatched UMass defense. Despite the fact that Michael Shaw had runs of 34 and 50 yards (Smith’s season long is 13), the diminutive Smith got only one less carry (11) than Shaw (12). I honestly don’t understand Rich Rodriguez’s insistence on getting Smith so many snaps. He’s not a productive running back.
Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . an edge pass rusher. Michigan is not adjusting well to the 3-3-5 defense. Despite having two potentially solid replacements for Brandon Graham at the 5-tech defensive end spot (Ryan Van Bergen, Craig Roh), Rich Rodriguez and his staff have been employing a 3-3-5 stack most of the time. The Wolverines have two sacks this season (one from Thomas Gordon, one from Mike Martin) against teams that have thrown the ball a great deal (111 pass attempts in 3 games, an average of 37 per game). The competition level will only get better once Michigan reaches the Big Ten season, and I’m guessing Big Ten quarterbacks are licking their chops. Big yards without getting pressured? Yes, please!
Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Jordan Kovacs. Before you get bent out of shape, read the rest of the entry. It’s not that Kovacs is doing a bad job, and I don’t want him benched permanently. But if Marvin Robinson is healthy this week against Bowling Green (he missed the UMass game due to a shoulder injury), then I’d like to see what Robinson can do on defense. I don’t think Kovacs is the long-term answer at Bandit, although he’s probably the best guy for the position right now. Kovacs could be part of a decent defense, but if Michigan’s going to be an elite team in the next couple years, I think he needs to be replaced.
MVP of the UMass game . . . Michael Shaw. One reason that Shaw was able to run for 126 yards on 12 carries and score 3 touchdowns was because of the threat of Denard Robinson. So while it’s tempting to pick Robinson again, Shaw was the most explosive player on the field Saturday. He had a 34-yard touchdown run and added a 50-yarder. Even if you take those two big runs out of the equation, Shaw had 42 yards on 10 carries, which is still a solid average of 4.2 yards per carry.
Unsung Hero of the UMass game . . . Kelvin Grady. He earned a lot of hype during fall practices, but he hadn’t done much this year until Saturday. Grady had a nice over-the-shoulder catch of 43 yards and a 15-yard run on an end around. Grady’s not going to get the ball a ton, but he has the ability to make big plays because of all the other homerun threats around him.
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