Michigan vs. Western Michigan Awards

Michigan vs. Western Michigan Awards

September 5, 2011
Linebacker Brandon Herron picks up a fumble and returns it 29 yards for a touchdown as
former Wolverine Dann O’Neill (#68) chases from behind

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Michael Shaw.  Fitzgerald Toussaint looked pretty solid as the starting running back (11 carries, 80 yards, 2 touchdowns), but Shaw (4 carries, 54 yards, 1 touchdown) has the speed to be a gamebreaker.  He also has a little bit of shake to him and can run through a tackle once in awhile.  The knock on Toussaint has been his vision, and his 43-yard run could have been longer if he had made a cutback.  Both performed well and should continue to see time, but hopefully Shaw gets more than 4 carries next week.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Michael Schofield.  Schofield got the start at left guard because of an injury to Ricky Barnum.  While Schofield didn’t play horribly, he’s too tall at 6’7″ to be a guard and doesn’t have the agility that Barnum does.  Big #75 is a capable backup, but hopefully he can get back to being a second string tackle soon.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Brandon Herron.  The fifth year senior linebacker got the start at WILL despite being listed second on the depth chart behind Mike Jones.  Neither player has lit the world on fire – until Herron’s performance on Saturday – but #58’s outstanding game should warrant another start next week.  He tallied a career high 8 tackles to go along with his 94-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . J.T. Floyd.  I’ve never been a big fan of Floyd’s abilities, and he again showed a lack of change-of-direction skills on Saturday.  In a perfect world, Floyd would be playing safety.  It’s not a perfect world, obviously, because Boubacar Cissoko (who should be a senior) is in jail, Cullen Christian (who should be a sophomore) is at Pitt, and Justin Turner (who should be a redshirt sophomore) is out of football right now.  It’s not Floyd’s fault that he isn’t very good at football, but I sure would like to see Troy Woolfolk on the field instead.  Floyd’s ceiling is very low.

MVP of the Western Michigan game is . . . Brandon Herron.  He accounted for 12 of Michigan’s 34 points and put the Wolverines up for good when he returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown in the middle of the second quarter.  It took the breath out of Herron, but it sucked the life out of the Broncos.  The fumble return for a TD was the icing on the cake, and the combination of those two plays earned him the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week award.

Play of the game . . . Herron’s 94-yard interception return for a touchdown.  Not only did linebacker Jake Ryan bust through the line to bat the ball, but Herron stayed inbounds after catching it, and then raced down the sideline with a convoy of blockers that included 290 lb. defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen and 300 lb. defensive tackle Mike Martin.  It was a total team effort and one of the most exciting plays I’ve experienced as a Michigan fan.


  1. Comments: 21381
    Sep 05, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    How about coaching awards? As coach yourself, what did you think about the game plan and coaching during the game?

  2. Comments: 21381
    Sep 05, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    @ Anonymous 9:29 a.m.

    Well, I did have some doubts about how well prepared the team was on WMU's first drive. It's not that Michigan was getting beat – it's that they didn't even know where to line up. There were multiple plays – most notably the play near the goal line when Carvin Johnson left Courtney Avery alone with two receivers – on which the defense looked confused. But they got it fixed after the first drive.

    The talent just isn't that great on Michigan's defense, and that's not the coaches' fault.

    I thought the offensive game plan was a good one. They didn't lose many yards (I think Toussaint had one carry on which he lost a single yard), and they gained yardage consistently. There were no fumbles and no interceptions, so I'd give the coaches a B+ overall.

  3. Comments: 21381
    Painter Smurf
    Sep 05, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Agree about the first drive. Lots of confusion on D. The announcers were spewing BS about WMU's OL playing great, but the reality is there were at least 3 or 4 plays on that first drive where guys were obviously misaligned. WMU's QB was sharp, however. Part of the problem on D was getting calls in late and the pace of WMU. I was a little surprised that Mattison did not start out a little simpler. With the substitution packages and zone blitzes galore, it may take some time for the defensive players to settle in.

    In my opinion, we learned two things from this game:

    1. Confirmation that the coordinators are good. Mattison had some great blitz packages and is definitely an an aggressive coach. The zone blitz stuff is fun to watch. Borges is also adjusting to Denard's and his OL's skills. Seems like a very versatile OC.

    2. No miracles in player development. UM has mediocre talent in several spots and these coaches are not going to turn so-so players into monsters. There are young guys with promise, but Hoke will not have the depth he wants until the 2013 season in my opinion. This team will have ups and downs until then.

  4. Comments: 21381
    Sep 05, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    It seems to me that Kovacs has elevated his game. He was always in the right spot, but now he's more comfortable and looking to make plays. He was my MVP.

    Ryan was a revelation to me. Good call Thunder there – I believe you predicted he'd beat out Gordon and that may indeed be the case as the season goes out.

    I thought Avery looked pretty good too. Hopefully he and Woolfolk are both healthy next week and keeping that passing attack in check.

  5. Comments: 21381
    Sep 06, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    @ Lankownia 6:02 p.m.

    Kovacs did have a good game, but there's no way you can justify giving the MVP to a guy who had 2 sacks and 1 pass breakup over a guy who had 2 touchdowns on defense.

    I figured Gordon would start the season. I do really like Ryan, though. I awarded him my "Most Underrated Recruit of the 2010 Class." He's going to be a playmaker here.

  6. Comments: 21381
    Sep 06, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    You're pretty harsh on Schofield. Other than getting beaten pretty badly on one passing play, I don't remember him doing anything badly. He had some big blocks in the run game.

  7. Comments: 21381
    Sep 06, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    @ Anonymous 9:37 a.m.

    If I'm being too harsh on Schofield by saying that I want our starting left guard to return from injury, then here's my admission of guilt.

  8. Comments: 21381
    Sep 06, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Respectfully disagree Thunder. Credit where it's due – Herron's first TD was created by Ryan splitting the OL and batting the ball into the air while the second was Kovacs making an aggressive play. Herron was basically at the right place at the right time (i.e. lucky) in both cases. I'll be interested to see how he grades out in Brian's UFR for the rest of the game, but I'm willing to bet it's not near Kovacs. I'd be surprised if Herron scored another TD all season.

    This seems to speak to one of our fundamental philosophical disagreements. To oversimply it, you're a results-oriented guy and I'm more focused on circumstances. You view big plays as differentiators and I view them as outliers until proven otherwise.

    LOL to the Schofield response.

    FWIW I thought he did well, but yeah Barnum won the job. Like Cam, you want him back.

    On Smith's 7 yard run I noticed they went with an unbalanced line. Lewan, Schofield, Huyge (and a TE) on the left. Omameh and a TE on the right. Omameh pulled and Smith had an easy gain. Seemed like a good use of personnel to me. Do you recall Rodriguez ever running anything like that?

  9. Comments: 21381
    Sep 06, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    @ Lankownia 11:08 a.m.

    I give credit where it's due. I realize Kovacs created the fumble, and Ryan created the interception. But just like Kovacs was "lucky" to have a good blitz called, and just like Ryan was "lucky" to have two offensive linemen who did a crappy job of blocking him, Herron was "lucky" to be in the right place at the right time. And he was good enough to outrun WMU's running back on the fumble return, not step out of bounds on the interception return, etc. Kovacs had a good game, but like I said, his 2 sacks don't outweigh 2 touchdowns.

    No, I don't remember Rodriguez ever running unbalanced formations. As far as his offensive line goes, he wasn't very gimmicky. In fact, he wasn't very gimmicky overall. The "trick plays" in his arsenal included a couple end arounds, one reverse, and a pass from Forcier to Denard Robinson in 2009 . . . and that's about it. Lloyd Carr was probably more gimmicky than Rodriguez – at least with Carr you could expect a couple end arounds in a year and maybe a halfback pass.

  10. Comments: 21381
    Sep 06, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    I think you're right about Rodriguez. It's only a gimmick if it's novel. Otherwise, it's just a play. I think an unbalanced line could form the foundation of a nice set of plays. If they can be effective with it repeatedly, they could even run some play action or waggle off of it.

    Re: Kovacs and luck…I think to some degree Kovacs and Ryan made their luck, especially Ryan. Didn't seem like Herron was doing anything special when he got the ball. Now, after he got it…your point about Herron's speed seems true. Others might have been chased down.

  11. Comments: 21381
    Sep 07, 2011 at 12:41 AM


    Herron had 8 tackles on top of his touchdowns (being in the right place in both of those instances requires some skill, especially on the fumble) and if you review the game, #58 was around the ball more often than not.

  12. Comments: 21381
    Sep 07, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    @ Lankownia 12:11 p.m.

    I think there's some amount of luck in the fact that the WMU offensive line didn't really try very hard to block Jake Ryan. I also think there's some luck in the fact that Jordan Kovacs stormed unimpeded into the WMU backfield because of a poor adjustment on the offensive line's part. But I won't hold that against them. They were presented with the opportunity to make plays, and they took advantage of those opportunities. That's excellent for them.

    By the same token, Herron was presented with opportunities to make plays and turned them into 12 points. Whether it's "luck" or not, the bottom line is that he got the job done and that INT return absolutely changed the game.

  13. Comments: 21381
    Sep 07, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    Schofield and Floyd

    Just wanted to say that I'm a bit concerned about your saying you want to see less of these two.

    Floyd – is there someone better? I don't think we have a choice at CB but to play him.

    Same with Schofield. IIRC he's listed as the primary backup at 2 or 3 (!!!!) OL spots.

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