Midseason Statistical Leaders

Tag: Jake Ryan

24Oct 2012
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Midseason Statistical Leaders

Dennis Norfleet – Image via MLive.com

Assuming Michigan goes to the Big Ten Championship Game, the season is exactly halfway through.  Here’s a look at team 133’s statistical leaders so far.

Leading Rushers
Denard Robinson – 900 yards (7.4 yards per carry)
Fitzgerald Toussaint – 283 yards (3.5 yards per carry)
Thomas Rawls – 174 yards (7.0 yards per carry)

Leading Receivers
Jeremy Gallon – 309 yards, 16 catches
Devin Gardner – 251 yards, 15 catches
Drew Dileo – 216 yards, 10 catches

Leading Tacklers
Jake Ryan – 52
Desmond Morgan – 44
Thomas Gordon – 40

Leading Scorers
Brendan Gibbons – 55 points
Denard Robinson – 36 points
Toussaint and Gardner – 24 points 

Leading Sackers
Jake Ryan – 3.5
Craig Roh – 2.0

Leading Interceptors
Thomas Gordon – 2
Raymon Taylor – 2

Leading Punt Returners
Dennis Norfleet – 53 (26.5 yards per return)
Jeremy Gallon – 44 (8.8 yards per return)

Leading Kick Returners
Dennis Norfleet – 494 (23.5 yards per return)
Jeremy Gallon – 12 (12 yards per return)

21Oct 2012
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Michigan 12, Michigan State 10

Drew Dileo (image via AnnArbor.com)

Well, that was terrifying.  That was way too much of a heart attack game for my liking.  I mean, I still liked the end result and everything, but that game was frustrating.  Neither team could do anything consistently on offense, and I’m not convinced that it’s because both defenses are great.  Both defenses are very good, but the offenses are just so-so.

That being said, yay!  Good golly, I hate Mark Dantonio.  I hate William Gholston, too, but Dantonio is the biggest tool of a coach in the Big Ten, even more so than Bret Bielema.  It would have felt great to see Dantonio lose, even if Michigan wasn’t the opponent.  It just makes the win that much sweeter that seniors Denard Robinson, Elliott Mealer, Patrick Omameh, Jordan Kovacs, Craig Roh, etc. succeed in their last chance to beat the Spartans.  Congratulations to those guys.

Thank you, Drew Dileo.  Wide receiver Drew Dileo played a great game.  He’s never going to be the fastest player in the field, and he certainly isn’t the biggest.  But he’s the type of do-it-all player and possession receiver that finds all kinds of ways to win a football game.  He came up huge in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech, and he had another standout performance on Saturday with 4 catches for 92 yards . . . and as the holder on all four of Michigan’s scoring plays.

Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile were great.  I was extremely impressed with the solid kicking from these two guys.  Gibbons was 3/3 kicking, including the 38-yard game-winner.  Wile was 1/1 in his first career chance to kick a field goal, and that one was a long attempt from 48 yards.  Obviously, each of the four kicks was huge.

Jeremy Jackson is slow.  At a couple points in the game, I couldn’t help harking back to the days when wide receiver Jeremy Jackson was recruited.  I said then that he didn’t have the athleticism to be an impact player at Michigan, and I still question why he’s on the field so much.  Denard Robinson targeted him a couple times deep, and while the throws could have been more accurate, Jackson looked like he was running in quicksand.  If the play call is for someone to go deep, then Jackson should be replaced by someone with a little giddyup.

The defense was pretty darn good.  There wasn’t much of a pass rush, and the coverage on the outside was mediocre.  But the Wolverines only allowed 68 yards to Le’Veon Bell (on 26 carries) and 86 total rushing yards to the offense (punter Mike Sadler ran 26 yards on a fake punt, which I won’t pin on the defense).  Desmond Morgan (11 tackles) is playing very well, and Jake Ryan (10 tackles, 1 sack) was all over the place once again, and Bell’s longest run was 8 yards.

Cornerbacks are a concern.  J.T. Floyd made a couple nice plays on short passes and supporting the run, which is an improvement for him; however, he was beaten deep a couple times by receivers who were unable to hook up with MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell.  Meanwhile, Raymon Taylor left with an elbow injury, leaving the opposite side to slot corner Courtney Avery.  I’m hoping that Taylor can return soon, because the Wolverines are running out of healthy corners.  The only other guys left on the roster are backup slot corner Delonte Hollowell and tiny freshman Terry Richardson.

Michigan has 900 wins.  That’s more wins than any other football program in the history of the whole wide universe.  By comparison, Michigan State has 643 all-time victories.  The Wolverines are now 68-32-5 against the Spartans.

14Oct 2012
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Michigan 45, Illinois 0

The team celebrates Jeremy Gallon’s 71-yard catch-and-run.

I think Nathan Scheelhaase got hurt.  Play-by-play man Bob Wischusen only said it about 35 times, so I’m not sure.  Also, Danny Kanell is really bad at talking.  Seriously, though, sometimes it’s not so much fun watching a team that’s missing its starting quarterback.  It’s still great to win 45-0, of course, and everyone needs a blowout win once in a while.  But as soon as I saw Scheelhaase hit the ground and look dazed, I assumed that any coach not named Mark Dantonio would yank him for the remainder of the contest.  Thankfully, Denard Robinson’s hand injury only kept him out for a short period, or else that game could have been a real stinker.

Denard Robinson hasn’t thrown an interception in the last two games.  It’s funny how that works.  Michigan has made a commitment to running the ball the last couple games, rather than trying to have Robinson throw for the win.  I know Robinson has had longer runs and more important runs, but his 49-yard touchdown in this game might have been his single greatest individual effort.  He made a couple separate jump cuts before bursting out to the left and outrunning the defense.

What’s up with Jerald Robinson?  Almost every outgoing wide receiver for the past couple seasons has pointed to Jerald Robinson as the next year’s breakout star, and he continues to look completely harmless.  He did have an 8-yard reception in this game, but he also had another drop.  As a redshirt sophomore, that gives him 4 receptions for 47 yards in his career.

The defense was excellent.  Injury to Scheelhaase aside, Michigan held the Illini to just 134 total yards – 105 rushing, 29 passing.  The Wolverines also grabbed an interception, recovered a fumble, recorded 9 tackles for loss, and notched 3 sacks.  Jake Ryan was the most disruptive force with 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  Middle linebacker Kenny Demens has played significantly better since the first couple games, and yesterday he had 8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 interception.  A huge chunk of Illinois’ yards seemed to come when backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole first entered the game and hit Michigan with several screens and draws.

Every running back had a good game . . . except Fitzgerald Toussaint.  Even Toussaint had a touchdown, but he only averaged 3.4 yards/carry and lost a significant chunk of playing time to Thomas Rawls.  I’m not sure what’s up with Toussaint, but Rawls had 9 carries for 90 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown.  Even Justice Hayes had 10 carries for 66 yards, although most of his carries came after Illinois had thrown in the towel.  Hayes has decent speed, but he’s not a very physical runner . . . and he fumbled the ball without even getting touched.  Luckily, it bounced right back up into his hands.

Michigan’s backup quarterback situation is shaky.  Russell Bellomy struggled somewhat.  He let a snap squirt right through his hands, and he completed just 1/3 passes.  I’m not a huge fan of what I’ve seen out of Devin Gardner as a quarterback, and I do think Bellomy has potential down the road . . . but boy, does he look shaky right now.  He wasn’t helped out by his receivers, though, who had their hands on both incompletions; but Bellomy looks afraid to push the ball down the field, and he’s not very crisp running the plays.  I’m going to try to enjoy Denard Robinson while I can, because the quarterback play might be really iffy for a couple seasons.

Dennis Norfleet is too fast.  He blew past everyone except the punter . . . and when the punter stepped up to make the tackle, Norfleet didn’t even give himself time to shake; he just tried to run right through the punter, which doesn’t work when you’re only 165 lbs.  Regardless, he had yet another moment where Michigan fans just think “It’s only a matter of time.”  He did muff a kickoff return (which he still managed to pick up and gain 12 yards), but that 42-yard punt return was fun to watch.

The defensive line continues to improve.  It was obvious that they would improve, but they’re better than I thought they would be at this point in the season.  Quinton Washington had 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.  Craig Roh had 3 tackles and half a sack.  Jibreel Black had 3 tackles, but he showed impressive speed in chasing down Scheelhaase before driving him to the ground on the play that caused the quarterback’s concussion.

Jeremy Gallon screen fun.  Gallon took the throwback screen (which Michigan runs once or twice every game), made a couple people miss, got some nice downfield blocking – especially from walk-on tight end Mike Kwiatkowski – and raced 71 yards for a touchdown.  Gallon had just that one reception, but that was just one more piece of evidence why Michigan needs to get him the ball early and often.

This was a nice confidence booster before the Michigan State game.  The Spartans looked pretty bad in a loss to Iowa, and Michigan obviously looked very good.  At this point in the season, Michigan clearly looks like the better team.  Hopefully the momentum can carry over into next Saturday’s game, which has been announced as a 3:30 p.m. kickoff to be shown on the Big Ten Network.

8Oct 2012
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Michigan vs. Purdue Awards

Michigan’s defense really handled its business on Saturday afternoon, with sacks from both Craig Roh and Jake Ryan
(image via AnnArbor.com)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Thomas Rawls.  I know I’ve been on the Fitzgerald Toussaint bandwagon for a few years, but Toussaint is having his worst year.  After averaging 5.6 yards/carry last season, he’s getting just 3.2 this season.  On Saturday he gained only 1.1 yards per carry on 17 attempts.  If Toussaint can’t get the job done, I’m not sure that Rawls can, either.  But it’s tough to do much worse than 1.1 or 3.2 yards/carry.  Toussaint looks like he has gained a few pounds and/or lost a step from last season. The coaches should get Rawls a few more touches earlier in the game, and perhaps go with the hot hand.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . a second tight end.  I really think Michigan needs to spread the ball around a little more if they’re not going to get the running backs going.  The second tight end has generally seemed to help more for the running backs than for Denard Robinson, but the running backs aren’t getting any seams to run through.  Denard can run the ball whether there are five wide receivers on the field or three tight ends; what Michigan needs to improve is running back production.  Put a fourth wide receiver on the field, spread teams out a little bit, and get Toussaint/Rawls going.  Robinson can’t last the season if he runs 24 times a game.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Keith Heitzman.  Heitzman has made just 2 tackles this season, but I’m liking what I see from him.  He truly looks like an athlete out there, and I think he could have a solid future as a strongside end type.  Michigan needs to develop an heir for Craig Roh’s spot, and Heitzman could very well be that guy.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . nobody.  I thought Michigan’s defense played well on Saturday, and there wasn’t anyone on the field who was a real liability.  I’m still not sold on Michigan’s cornerbacks, but there aren’t many options; and even those two stepped it up from the Notre Dame game two weeks ago.

Play of the game . . . Jake Ryan’s sack of Caleb TerBush.  There were lots of big runs by Denard Robinson and the 63-yard pick-six by Raymon Taylor.  But I thought Ryan’s sack of TerBush really set the defensive tone in the first quarter, and from that point onward, Purdue’s offensive playcalls seemed designed to get the ball out of the quarterbacks’ hands in a hurry.  The Boilermakers seemed to know that they wouldn’t have much time in the pocket, and that made it easier for everyone on defense.

MVP of the game . . . Denard Robinson.  He ran 24 times for 235 yards, though he was held out of the end zone; and he completed 8/16 passes for 105 yards and 1 touchdown.  It was a grind-it-out game by the Wolverines, and the grinder was the 6’0″, 195 lb. Robinson.

7Oct 2012
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Michigan 44, Purdue 13

Denard Robinson had 235 rushing yards and 1 passing touchdown in the 44-13 win

Michigan’s defense is awesome or Purdue’s offense is terrible.
  I couldn’t figure out which it was.  I’m leaning toward the latter, really, because Purdue found it necessary to try three different quarterbacks and a bunch of trick plays.  Don’t get me wrong – Michigan’s defense looked good.  But Purdue couldn’t do anything with consistency.  A couple trick plays turned out fairly well, and Robert Marve’s first few plays were productive.  But otherwise, they just don’t look like an offense that should scare any decent defensive teams.

I’m officially concerned about Fitzgerald Toussaint and the running game.  Toussaint (17 carries, 19 yards, 2 touchdowns) looks slower this year, quite frankly.  He also looks like he’s dancing too much instead of burrowing forward for a couple yards when he can.  Of course, it starts with the offensive line, and I haven’t been impressed this year with what the offensive line is doing.  None of the offensive linemen has taken a step forward this year, in my opinion.  Taylor Lewan has taken a step backward, and the other guys are just average.  Obviously, Denard Robinson (24 carries, 235 yards) was great, but the offensive line can’t open holes for the running backs.  Even Thomas Rawls, who had good numbers (4 carries, 33 yards, 1 touchdown), had to break tackles at the line of scrimmage to get anything done.

The broadcasters were terrible.  One of them called it a “flea flicker” when Robert Marve hit a wide receiver on a hitch, then tossed it backward to the running back coming out of the backfield.  That’s a “hook and lateral.”  I thought the dumb interpretation of that was “hook and ladder” but the BTN guys took it one notch stupider.  Also, there was no way that Denard Robinson was down at the 1-yard line on the play they reviewed.  Even if the officials determined that Robinson’s elbow hit the ground prior to the ball crossing the plane of the end zone, the ball should have been placed at about the 2-inch line.  I couldn’t believe that the refs didn’t change the spot of the ball (or award the touchdown), but the announcers didn’t point it out, either.

Raymon Taylor had an okay game.  Taylor hasn’t lit the world on fire and did get beaten on a slant for a touchdown, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  This was his second consecutive game with an interception, and he returned this one 63 yards for a touchdown.

Denard Robinson zone read anger.  Twice in this game, Robinson held onto the ball too long before pulling it out of the running back’s stomach.  The first time it worked okay for him because he gained a bunch of yards, even though his running back (Toussaint or Smith, I can’t remember) got smoked.  The second time it was disastrous because he got Smith crushed and, oh yeah, Robinson fumbled the ball in the process.  He gains a lot of yards because he’s a dynamic runner, but he’s never been adept at running those plays.

I’m really liking the linebacker crew.  I thought Jake Ryan (6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack), Kenny Demens (6 tackles), and Desmond Morgan (6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss) all played very well.  There’s not much experienced depth, but the guys backing them up are pretty good, too.  I like James Ross as a prospect, but I don’t think anyone can really justify the talk about Morgan getting passed.  Michigan should be able to field a pretty good inside linebacker crew next year from some combination of Morgan, Ross, and Joe Bolden, not to mention a few other good linebacker prospects.

I liked the game plan.  If Denard Robinson can throw the ball fewer than 20 times a game, that’s probably a good thing.  Between good defense and running the ball well, the game wasn’t on Denard’s throwing shoulder.  Offensive coordinator Al Borges said that he re-evaluated his play calls from the past couple seasons, and he seemed to conclude that throwing the ball with Denard is a bad idea.  Good for him.  Robinson still missed a wide open Fitzgerald Toussaint on a swing pass that would have gained a first down and had a couple other questionable throws, but a 50% completion percentage isn’t so terrible when you’re only throwing the ball 16 times.