Michigan vs. Rutgers Awards

Tag: Joe Bolden

6Oct 2014
Uncategorized 23 comments

Michigan vs. Rutgers Awards

Jarrod Wilson (#22) broke up this dangerous pass
(image via College Football)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Da’Mario Jones. Jones is reportedly one of the faster players on the team, and Michigan is lacking a deep threat. Devin Funchess is being bracketed, Amara Darboh doesn’t have great speed, and Dennis Norfleet doesn’t know how to catch a ball that’s thrown at him. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Jones – it could be Freddy Canteen or Maurice Ways – but Michigan needs to find someone else to stretch the field besides a hobbled Funchess.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . A.J. Williams. He is slow and does not have good hands. Devin Gardner threw a quick out to him on Saturday night, and the results were sad. The tight ends running those routes should be Jake Butt or Khalid Hill. We know Butt is good, but Hill is a guy who seems to be improving steadily.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Jarrod Wilson at free safety. I guess I don’t see the rationale behind playing the more inexperienced Jeremy Clark back there in loads of open space, while the more experienced Wilson is covering the flats or stopping the run. Those roles should be flipped. Clark has size and speed, but he lacks field awareness. Meanwhile, Wilson’s jarring hit on Leonte Carroo was the first of its kind for Michigan this season, and – surprise! – it came when Wilson was playing deep.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . tentative Joe Bolden and Frank Clark. On separate occasions, these guys seemed afraid to hit Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. Bolden lacked his improving aggressive nature on a scramble up the middle, and Clark seemed to pull up on a pass rush that allowed Nova to side-step him and throw a touchdown to a diving John Tsimis. Were they tentative because of the week-long discussion about quarterback safety after the Shane Morris hit? Was it a coincidence? I don’t know. Maybe Gary is just a super Nova. (Sad people make sad jokes.)

Play of the game . . . unlike last week, there are a couple choices. The highlight reel choice was obviously the one-handed snag by tight end Jake Butt. The more meaningful play was Devin Gardner’s 19-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. On a bootleg, he juked the outside contain guy and outran the Rutgers defense to the pylon, all along gliding like only he and a few other quarterbacks can do. He really is fun to watch when he gets in open space. Not many 6’4″, 216 lb. guys can move like he does.

MVP of the game . . . Gardner. He didn’t have a great game, but nobody really stood out for Michigan. Gardner finished the game 13/22 for 178 yards, and 1 interception; he also ran the ball 10 times for 40 yards and 2 touchdowns. For the most part, he managed the game well, especially once he got comfortable in the second half. I also thought Joe Bolden played pretty well – he made 10 tackles, including 9 solo stops, several of which stopped Scarlet Knights in their tracks.

4Oct 2014
Uncategorized 15 comments

Preview: Michigan at Rutgers

Rush Offense vs. Rutgers Rush Defense
Michigan is #50 nationally with 185 yards/game on the ground, and they’re #35 with 5.15 yards/carry. However, the rushing output against power conference teams (Notre Dame, Utah, and Minnesota) have been relatively paltry, where Michigan has had 99 attempts for 301 yards, barely above 3.0 yards/carry. The leading rusher is Derrick Green (397 yards, 5.7 yards/carry, 3 touchdowns), but De’Veon Smith sparked a scoring drive last week and broke several tackled on the drive, including the 10-yard touchdown run. The offensive line is still in flux, because right guard Graham Glasgow has been battling injury and played left guard last week due to Erik Magnuson’s leg injury; Glasgow’s replacement on the right side was Kyle Kalis. The interior is supposed to be the “strength” of the offensive line, while tackles Mason Cole and Ben Braden have struggled mightily. Rutgers is #49 against the run, giving up just 135 yards/game. They also give up 3.98 yards/carry, good enough for #64 nationally. Redshirt sophomore middle linebacker Steve Longa (6’1″, 225 lbs.) leads the team with 37 tackles, and second is fifth year senior cornerback Gareef Glashen (5’10”, 180 lbs.). Unfortunately for Michigan, Rutgers makes a lot of plays in the backfield (tied for #9 overall with 37 TFLs). Redshirt senior defensive end David Milewski (6’4″, 235 lbs.), junior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton (6’4″, 260 lbs.), and redshirt freshman end Kemoko Turay (6’6″, 220 lbs.) have combined for 17 tackles for loss. They are not big, but they are quick, which might be worse for Michigan.
Advantage: Rutgers

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview.

Pass Offense vs. Rutgers Pass Defense
Michigan’s passing offense has been struggling mightily. Sophomore quarterback Shane Morris started last week’s game, but he got concussed (did you hear about that obscure event?) and will be replaced by the guy who should have been playing all along, Devin Gardner. Gardner is completing 63% of his passes for 733 yards, 7.5 yards/attempt, 5 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Those numbers are not great, but they’re better than Morris’s (36%, 3.3, 0, 3). Yikes. Michigan’s top receiver is junior Devin Funchess (24 catches, 321 yards, 3 touchdowns), but he has been slowed by an ankle injury since week two. No other player has been able to morph into a deep threat, so the offense has largely turned into a dink-and-dunk formula with a couple possession receivers in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. Michigan has given up 10 sacks (tied for #85 overall) and any kind of blitzing will leave Braden, Cole, and the various running backs utterly confused. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Rutgers is tied for #1 in sacks with 21. Turay leads the crew with 5, while Hamilton (3.5), Milewski (3), and fifth year senior strong safety Lorenzo Waters (2) follow closely behind. Glashen is their top corner with 29 tackles, 6 pass breakups, and 1 pick. This will probably not well for Michigan, because Rutgers will be all over Gardner in the backfield.
Advantage: Rutgers

Rush Defense vs. Rutgers Rush Offense
Michigan has mostly done well against the run, except against run-heavy Minnesota, a game in which Gophers running back David Cobb ran 32 times for 183 yards. The Wolverines are #21 nationally in yards given up (105 yards/game) and #22 in rushing average against (3.01 yards/carry). Linebackers Jake Ryan and Joe Bolden are tied for the team lead with 38 tackles apiece, while Frank Clark (5.5) and Ryan (4.0) lead the team in tackles for loss. The Wolverines have a solid front, but they met their match against an even more solid Minnesota offensive line. Rutgers ranks #58 with 176 yards/game and #70 in yards/carry at 4.24. The Scarlet Knights’ most dynamic running back, Paul James, will miss the game with an ACL injury. That leaves the job up to redshirt sophomore Desmon Peoples (5’8″, 175 lbs.), who has 67 carries for 288 yards and a 4.3 yards/carry average, but zero touchdowns. The Wolverines will also get a significant dose of sophomore Justin Goodwin (6’0″, 205 lbs.), who averages 4.9 yards/carry on 38 attempts. Only one of their offensive linemen is over 300 lbs. The top players on the front line are senior guard Kaleb Johnson (6’4″, 300 lbs.) and fifth year senior center Betim Bujari (6’4″, 295 lbs.), both of whom were named Second Team All-AAC last season. Rutgers likes to run the ball, but I don’t think Michigan will be blocked as easily this week.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. Rutgers Pass Offense
The Wolverines are #21 nationally with giving up 178 yards/game through the air, but they’re #58 in passer rating against. Teams have not been overly productive, but they have been efficient. Furthermore, Michigan has failed to force takeaways. The lone takeaway in the secondary came from cornerback Jourdan Lewis, and the only other interception came from defensive tackle Willie Henry. Despite some pretty solid coverage, plays just aren’t being made on the ball. It doesn’t help that Michigan is just #56 nationally in sacks with 10 overall, with nobody having more than Brennen Beyer’s 2. Frank Clark is Michigan’s best pass rusher, but quarterbacks have been getting rid of the ball just before he gets home. Rutgers is #62 with just under 241 yards/game through the air, but they’re #14 in passer efficiency rating. Senior quarterback Gary Nova (6’2″, 220 lbs.) completes 64% of his passes, and while he has thrown 7 picks, he has 10 touchdowns and averages 10.8 yards/attempt. Junior wide receiver Leonte Carroo (6’1″, 205 lbs.) is a dangerous catch-and-run guy and has 25 catches for 475 yards and 5 touchdowns, including a state line of 7, 140, and 3 in last week’s win over Tulane. The only other player with double digit receptions is sophomore Janarion Grant (5’11”, 175 lbs.), but there are three guys on the roster averaging 18+ yards/catch. The offensive line has allowed just 6 sacks this season, which is good enough to tie for #34 in the nation. Carroo is dangerous, but Michigan should be able to slow down a big-play passing attack.
Advantage: Rutgers

Roster Notes

  • Players who were offered by Michigan include S Johnathan Aiken, CB Nadir Barnwell, WR Leonte Carroo, OT J.J. Denman, RB Savon Huggins, and OG Chris Muller
  • Players from the state of Michigan include LB L.J. Liston and QB Giovanni Rescigno
  • Rescigno was Shane Morris’s backup at Warren (MI) De La Salle

Last Time They Played . . . 

  • Never. 


  • Michigan’s offensive line struggles mightily with a quick defensive line.
  • Devin Gardner gets knocked out of the game, paving the way for Russell Bellomy.
  • Michigan’s defense plays fairly well until the fourth quarter.
  • Rutgers 24, Michigan 10
7Sep 2014
Uncategorized 45 comments

Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0

Oh, how I long for a “pocket.”

What just happened? I found this question reverberating around in my head from the second quarter onward. The scoreboard – whether it said 31-0 or 37-0 at the end – was not reflective of what this Michigan team can do, and it was not reflective of Notre Dame. Notre Dame has some good players, and so does Michigan. Notre Dame has some good coaches, and so does Michigan. Notre Dame was missing some people, and so was Michigan. Are Notre Dame’s coaches, starters, and backups 31 points superior to Michigan’s? Well, yeah, I guess they are. But I have no idea why. Michigan had 289 total yards to Notre Dame’s 280. It wasn’t that the Fighting Irish totally destroyed Michigan’s offense, or that their offense ripped up the Wolverines’ defense. They just made plays when they needed to make plays, a trait absent from Michigan for the last couple years.

This is where I jump on Doug Nussmeier. When it comes to play calling, I don’t think Nussmeier helped quarterback Devin Gardner at all on Saturday night. Notre Dame realized early on – probably as early as last year – that if they blitzed relentlessly, they could either get to Gardner or at least pressure him into bad throws or mistakes. Instead of pulling out plays to ease the pressure, Nussmeier basically said, “At least one receiver is going to beat his one-on-one matchup, so you’d better find him with Jarron Jones or Sheldon Day in your face.” Al Borges and Vincent Smith perfected the throwback screen. Al Borges and Jeremy Gallon perfected the throwback tunnel screen. Borges loved to run lead draws. Nussmeier’s way of slowing down the rush was to run zone read play action. When the bubbles and quick throws stopped working, he never seemed to take the next step to ward off the blitz. I would have liked to see more sprintouts, half rolls, tunnel screens, etc. He just thought the offensive line would magically stop the overload blitzes. Michigan moved the ball in chunks because they won one-on-one matchups – Devin Funchess vs. Cody Riggs, Dennis Norfleet vs. Jaylon Smith, etc. – but this isn’t Alabama, where he can count on his offensive linemen winning one-on-one matchups. I was afraid that, at some point, Nussmeier would fall victim to thinking that he could just count on being bigger, faster, and stronger than the opponent. I hope he came to realize the errors in that thought process in the aftermath of this game.

This offensive line isn’t as bad as last year. Center Jack Miller was repeatedly shoved back into Devin Gardner’s grill, and that’s a problem. But not every team has a Jarron Jones. Mason Cole and Erik Magnuson had several communication issues on the left side, but that comes with the territory of starting a true freshman left tackle. Regardless of the numbers, I thought the offensive line looked closer to the one that opened up huge holes against Appalachian State than the one that soured the taste in our mouths in 2013. Michigan is not a team that can wear teams down by running the ball, but they should be able to run the ball enough to keep most defenses off balance.

Blake Countess looks uncomfortable. I don’t think Countess is a wussy corner like Deion Sanders, but Countess does look awkward in press coverage. He is not physical at the line of scrimmage, and because he lets receivers get free releases, he’s opening up his hips too quickly. That style does not jive with what we’re seeing at the other corner in the form of Raymon Taylor/Jourdan Lewis. If Countess can’t play press man like defensive coordinator Greg Mattison wants this year, then perhaps he should move into the slot, where his ability to bait quarterbacks would be more useful.

So much for that wealth of cornerbacks. One place I thought Michigan had the advantage going into this game was at corner, where Michigan’s experienced and/or talented guys could win out against some inexperienced – but still talented – wideouts. Then I saw that Jabrill Peppers was on the sideline with his bum ankle, replaced by the lesser talented Delonte Hollowell. Then after the first defensive series, starter Raymon Taylor went to the locker room with an injury and never returned to the game. Just like that, Michigan was missing two of its top three corners. Hollowell was picked on repeatedly by Notre Dame. Jourdan Lewis picked up two pass interference penalties, at least one of which was highly questionable. The next guy in was Channing Stribling, who still looks a half-beat too slow for playing football against the big boys. I thought the numbers were leaning toward Michigan, with five Notre Dame academic fraud suspects off the field and a starting safety missing due to injury. However, those absences quickly started to even out with Peppers, Taylor, and tight end Jake Butt standing on the sideline.

But the linebackers looked good. After being unimpressive last week against Appalachian State, I thought starting linebackers Jake Ryan (11 tackles) and Joe Bolden (10 tackles) looked markedly better last night. They were reacting quicker, and they held a solid crew of running backs to 25 carries for 61 yards.

The refereeing was bad. The second pass interference penalty on Jourdan Lewis was hogwash, and it appears that Michigan is a step late in wanting to be all hands-on with their corners. That’s soooo  2013. Somehow, Devin Funchess got hit early on a crossing route that resulted in an incomplete pass, but the officials kept their hankies in their pockets. There was also no reason for Notre Dame’s Corey Robinson to be ruled down on the three-yard line when Stribling tackled him on a skinny post; the ball should have been placed at the 6″ line. You can’t blame the refs for a 31-point loss, but they certainly didn’t help Michigan find any success early.

The announcing was bad. I hate hate hate watching games on NBC, because it’s always a Notre Dame slurpfest. And while there weren’t a lot of good things to say about Michigan last night, I don’t remember color guy Mike Mayock saying many nice things about Michigan players. He said NFL scouts “love” Jake Ryan, and he complimented Devin Funchess’s ability to be big. Otherwise, he fawned over Everett Golson, Cam McDaniel, Greg Bryant, Jaylon Smith, Jarron Jones, Sheldon Day, Cody Riggs, Will Fuller’s speed (though not his hands), and even Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach. Thank goodness that by the time Michigan plays Notre Dame again in the distant future – the year 2000 – Mayock won’t be around anymore.

Turnovers don’t exist. Michigan has zero takeaways in two games.

I don’t know where this team goes from here. This seems like a game that could make or break some teams. I don’t think anyone was under the illusion that Michigan was going to win a national championship this year, but the shutout could fracture a locker room and make some people question whether this unit is going anywhere. Again, I look at how Michigan moved the ball at times, and I think it might just be an unhappy coincidence that the Wolverines didn’t string together enough plays to create a couple scores. Notre Dame has a high-powered offense, and I predicted that they would score 31 points. We all knew they could march down the field and score. Michigan needs to regroup and get healthy next week against Miami, and moving forward, Nussmeier needs to open up his playbook against blitzing defenses to keep them out of Gardner’s face.

26Jul 2014
Uncategorized 31 comments

2014 Season Countdown: #30 Joe Bolden

Joe Bolden

Name: Joe Bolden
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: Cincinnati (OH) Colerain
Position: Linebacker
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #35
Last year: I ranked Bolden #30 and said he would be a backup middle linebacker. He made 54 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.

Bolden turned in a solid sophomore campaign, starting four games and finishing as the fifth-leading tackler for the Wolverines. He really came on against Michigan’s tougher opponents, posting 8 tackles against Michigan State and 1 sack each against Ohio State and Kansas State. Bolden was the top backup inside linebacker, filling in for both middle linebacker Desmond Morgan and weakside linebacker James Ross III. Bolden seemed to genuinely improve throughout the season after looking a little overwhelmed as a freshman, so I think it’s safe to state – and not just guess – that Michigan has some quality depth at the linebacker positions.

Coincidentally, Bolden is once again the #30 player on the list. I might be underrating him, because he started the spring game at WILL linebacker and seems to have closed the gap between himself and Desmond Morgan. I have always thought that Bolden had higher upside, but right now I think they both offer different strengths in different situations. I would be more inclined to play Morgan in run situations or against traditional running scehemes, whereas Bolden is probably the better bet against teams that spread it out. Both linebackers will play a significant number of snaps, but I have hard time seeing a junior leapfrog a senior, three-year starter in Morgan.

Prediction: 50 tackles, 3 sacks