The All-Hoke Team: Offense

Tag: Joe Kerridge

5Dec 2014
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The All-Hoke Team: Offense

Denard Robinson

You may or may not remember when I put together an all-star team for Rich Rodriguez’s tenure (OFFENSE, DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS). Well, here’s the Brady Hoke version. I patched together a pretty good team from the four seasons that Hoke was the head man in Ann Arbor.

QB: Devin Gardner (2013)
208-for-345 passing, 60.3%, 2960 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
165 carries for 483 yards, 2.9 yards/carry, 11 touchdowns
This may be an unpopular choice, but Gardner had some brilliant games (Notre Dame, Indiana, Ohio State) during the 2013 campaign. He ended the year as Michigan’s second-leading rusher and showed some great potential. The Notre Dame victory was exhilarating, he threw for 503 yards (a Michigan record) against Indiana, and played great against Ohio State despite a broken foot for part of the game.

RB: Denard Robinson (2012)
177 carries, 1266 yards, 7.2 yards/carry, 7 touchdowns
I’m cheating a bit here by putting Robinson at running back, but he did start a few games at the position after he returned from the elbow injury suffered against Nebraska. He broke 100 yards twice in his three games at running back. Even so, he showed enough running skills at the quarterback position to make this essentially a no-brainer. Imagine the running ability of a team with Gardner at QB and Robinson lined up behind him or next to him.

FB: Joe Kerridge (2014)
3 carries, 56 yards, 18.7 yards/carry
6 catches, 53 yards, 8.8 yards/catch
Hoke employed a fullback quite a bit, but his fullbacks didn’t touch the ball a lot. Kerridge set a record for the Hoke era by getting 9 touches, including some critical first downs and a 52-yard run on a fake punt against Maryland.

WR: Jeremy Gallon (2013)
89 catches, 1373 yards, 15.4 yards/catch, 9 touchdowns
Gallon and Gardner had a symbiotic relationship. Gallon didn’t produce a ton before Gardner became the quarterback, and Gardner was unproductive once Gallon graduated. Regardless, Gallon was a record-setter at Michigan with 1,373 yards that season and had 369 yards in a game against Indiana, the highest Big Ten total in history.

WR: Junior Hemingway (2011)
34 catches, 699 yards, 20.6 yards/catch, 4 touchdowns
Hemingway may not have had higher catch or yardage totals than other candidates for this spot, but he made lots of clutch plays and was Denard Robinson’s go-to guy like Gallon was Gardner’s. Hemingway had some huge catches in wins against Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech

TE: Kevin Koger (2011)
23 catches, 244 yards, 10.6 yards/catch, 4 touchdowns
Jake Butt might have more upside, but Koger had better production in 2011 and had the best combination of skills that Hoke had available at the tight end position. Koger could block, catch, and run a little bit. Plus he was named a captain and liked well enough to be asked to be a graduate assistant on the staff.

LT: Taylor Lewan (2012)
13 starts, 1 touchdown
Lewan peaked in 2012 when he was a First Team All-American and dominant all year, including a great showing against eventual #1 pick Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. He also fell on a fumble in the endzone, notching a touchdown against UMass.

LG: Michael Schofield (2011)
10 starts
Schofield, a tackle by trade, earned the starting left guard job when Ricky Barnum was injured. Somewhat surprisingly, he performed very well for a young guy playing an unfamiliar position. He would eventually turn into a 3rd round pick by the Denver Broncos.

C: David Molk (2011)
12 starts
Molk started the first twelve games of the year and sat out the first series of the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech with an injury he suffered in pre-game warmups. When backup Rocko Khoury struggled with two bad snaps on three plays, Molk entered the game and helped lead the team to a victory. Molk was a First Team All-American and won the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s best center.

RG: Patrick Omameh (2011)
13 starts
Omameh seemed to have a better season in 2011 than 2012, even though he was named First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches in the latter season and not the former. The offensive line protected quarterback Denard Robinson pretty well in 2011 (#34 in sacks allowed), and Omameh helped pave the way for two 1,000-yard rushers (Robinson, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint).

RT: Mark Huyge (2011)
13 starts
With Schofield slotted at left guard, Huyge is really the only choice here. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was solid and never stood out as being a weakness. He, too, was part of the unit that protected the quarterback and helped Toussaint and Robinson run for 1,000 yards each.

24Nov 2014
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Michigan vs. Maryland Awards

Devin Gardner

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . a healthy Devin Gardner. Gardner had some very nice throws, and he had several that were just a little off target. Most of all, though, he looked healthier, which means that he can be dangerous on the ground. That adds an element to Michigan’s attack that has not existed for the last several weeks. A healthy Gardner gives Michigan a chance. He ran for over 80 yards in this game, including a 24-yarder and then a 15-yard touchdown. When Gardner is on, he looks like Colin Kaepernick. Hopefully he can stay healthy and break out a big game like he did last year against Ohio State.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . De’Veon Smith. Smith has no speed element to his game, and he doesn’t break enough tackles to warrant being the main guy. Michigan gave Smith 10 carries in this one, which earned them 28 yards. Meanwhile, Drake Johnson (14 carries, 94 yards) and Justice Hayes (6 carries, 36 yards) combined for 20 carries and 130 yards. Michigan’s offensive line isn’t great, but there are some holes occasionally. I am looking forward to next season, when Derrick Green will hopefully be healthy and Ty Isaac will be in the mix. There’s also a chance that Green could return for the Ohio State game after missing the last several weeks with a broken collarbone.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Willie Henry. I’m assuming Henry has been playing a limited number of snaps because of the hand injury he suffered several weeks ago, so I don’t know if anyone deserves blame here. But without Frank Clark on the roster, I think Henry is arguably the best defensive lineman on the roster. He played a little bit against Maryland, but he didn’t show up on the stat sheet and we’re seeing a lot of Matt Godin. Godin did okay and even notched his first career sack, but he’s not Willie Henry.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Matt Godin. I don’t know who else to pick, so I’ll choose the guy who would be replaced by Henry. You can’t argue with that pristine logic.

Play of the game . . . Joe Kerridge’s fake punt run. It showed some creativity in play calling that we haven’t often seen from this Michigan staff. Granted, it was perhaps the most boring kind of fake punt possible. Baby steps. Kerridge rumbled for 52 yards before being taken down inside the 10 yard line. I’ll just throw this out there, but if that were Ben Gedeon, I think Gedeon would have scored. But hey, that will probably go down as Kerridge’s biggest play of his career (he had only 1 career carry for 3 yards going into the game, and his longest catch was a 17-yarder against Indiana a few weeks ago), so hopefully he enjoys the memory.

MVP of the game . . . Devin Gardner. There aren’t many options here. Nobody really stood out on defense as they gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and the offense stalled out regularly, as usual. Gardner looked more like the player from the second half of the 2013 season, someone who was dangerous on foot (14 carries, 82 yards, and 1 touchdown) and potentially through the air (13/24 for 106 yards and 1 interception), though his receivers dropped numerous balls.

23Nov 2014
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Maryland 23, Michigan 16

Joe Kerridge

Goodbye, Brady Hoke. I thought Hoke’s fate was sealed a few weeks ago, but this was Hoke’s chance to redeem himself in front of a home crowd that had to brave a late start, some cold weather, some rain, and some ugly football. The sloppy way in which this one played out was indicative of Michigan’s last couple seasons. The only real question at this point is whether Michigan fires Brady Hoke this week, or whether they allow him the dignity of finishing out the season before dropping the guillotine. I don’t see a reason to let him go right now. Michigan doesn’t have a suitable replacement on staff, recruiting wouldn’t be affected in a positive way, and there’s no home game next week for which to please ticket buyers. Furthermore, through it all, I think Hoke has been a class act and seems like a good guy. I think Michigan should let him coach out the week and fire him next Monday, but I still wouldn’t be totally surprised if he got the Will Muschamp treatment.

Big gaffes. Michigan made some stupid plays and decisions down the stretch to seal their fate. Unfortunately, this has become the 2014 team’s modus operandi. A punt return touchdown was called back for a pointless block in the back. A field goal turned into a touchdown when cornerback Jourdan Lewis took out the kicker, giving Maryland an automatic first down. (Regardless of what some bitter Michigan fans say, it was clearly a roughing the kicker penalty and worthy of 15 yards, whether you think Maryland kicker Brad Craddock exaggerated or not.) Worst of all was Brady Hoke’s clock management at the end of the game. Michigan’s drive stalled with roughly four minutes remaining in the game, and Hoke waited most of that time before calling his one timeout. By the time he did, the Terrapins just had to run one running play before allowing the final 34 seconds or so to run off the clock.

Speaking of bitter. Maybe I’m bitter, too, but how was Maryland head coach Randy Edsall allowed to do what he did at the end of the game? With a little over 30 seconds remaining, he rushed out onto the field. When the officials stopped him, he turned around, threw his headset in the air, and started celebrating in the middle of the field. I fail to see why a coach is allowed to celebrate on the field before the game is over, but maybe I’m just old-school.

Joe Kerridge fun time. Redshirt junior fullback Joe Kerridge had himself a pretty good game. It’s not often that fullbacks get attention, so here’s some for him. Kerridge has turned into a solid blocker. He also has good hands – as evidenced by his one-handed catch for 7 yards. The most memorable play of his career so far, though, is probably the fake punt run from the first quarter. Michigan was set to attempt a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1 when running back De’Veon Smith inexplicably false started (seriously, a running back false starting on a quarterback sneak is among the dumbest things you can do on a football field). On 4th-and-6, Michigan would surely just punt the ball. Instead, they snapped it to upback Kerridge, who plunged through the line and then got to the left sideline on his way to a 52-yard run. He couldn’t quite get past the punt returner for the touchdown, but that play got Michigan inside the 10 . . . so they could settle for a field goal.

This is the Devin Gardner I like. I can’t say that Gardner played a brilliant game, but this was the best he has looked since the first few games of the season. His ankle finally looked somewhat healthy, which allowed him to use perhaps his best asset – his ability to tuck the ball and run. He ran the ball 14 times for a net of 82 yards (5.9 yards/carry), including a 24-yarder and a 15-yard touchdown. Passing the ball, he was 13/24 for 106 yards and 1 interception. He looked decent throwing the ball at times and was victimized by a few drops, including a Freddy Canteen drop that would have been a touchdown, a Jake Butt seam route that may have been a touchdown, a near-catch by Bo Dever that turned into the interception, and your standard Devin Funchess drops. Remember in 2011 when Michigan’s receivers – mainly Junior Hemingway – bailed out Denard Robinson on numerous occasions? This year is the opposite of that.

Devin Funchess isn’t really trying. Funchess and Blake Countess are the two biggest disappointments this season, but at least Countess seems like he’s trying out there. Funchess, on the other hand, seems lackadaisical most of the time. For being 6’5″ and 230 lbs., he doesn’t have a great desire to dominate people who are smaller than him. It’s the same mentality that got him moved away from tight end. He didn’t try very hard to block, so the coaches moved him to wide receiver. Now he doesn’t try very hard to catch the ball, and when he does, he goes down way too easily. I don’t think I can say this about any other regular during Hoke’s tenure, but Funchess looks lazy and too often self-centered. (I know there is the occasional  effort to, say, snatch the ball away from a Penn State safety or chase down a Northwestern safety who dared to intercept the ball – but those plays just hint at what he can do if he does that whole “trying” thing.)

I’ll give Funchess a pass on his last “drop.” Maryland safety Jeremiah Johnson pretty clearly interfered with Funchess when Michigan was trying to drive the ball for a game-tying touchdown near the end of the game. Johnson’s left hand got to Funchess’s left hand when the ball was still a few feet away. The big guy may very well have dropped it on his own, but he never really got the chance.

Walk-ons. Fans complain when starters are out there on special teams, so I hope they’re not complaining today. Dennis Norfleet finally returned a punt for a touchdown only to see it called back because walk-on safety A.J. Pearson blocked a Maryland player in the back for no good reason. The Maryland player wouldn’t have made the play, anyway, but that’s kind of the point. Walk-ons are walk-ons for a reason. Sometimes they overreach because they’re trying to prove themselves, and sometimes the game just moves too quickly for them. Of course, starters are capable of committing penalties, too, but they don’t have those things working against them. Meanwhile, Bo Dever’s failure to reel in a catch resulted in a William Likely interception. The ball was thrown behind Dever, but he still got both hands on it.

Speaking of Bo Dever, why Bo Dever? Wide receiver recruiting/development has failed in a big way if this is what Michigan has to throw out there. I have been supportive of wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski the past few years because of the work he has done with Junior Hemingway, Roy Roundtree, and Jeremy Gallon, among others. But this season has been ridiculous. Let’s take a look at Michigan’s contributors at the position:

  • Devin Funchess (Jr.): Recruited as a tight end, couldn’t block, moved to WR, generally lackadaisical, too many drops, physical specimen
  • Amara Darboh (RS So.): Recruited as a wide receiver, mediocre speed, mediocre route runner, great hands
  • Dennis Norfleet (Jr.): Recruited as a kick returner/running back, can’t block, can’t catch anything other than a screen pass
  • Jehu Chesson (RS So.): Recruited as a wide receiver, best blocker at position, questionable hands, seems to play less and less
  • Freddy Canteen (Fr.): Recruited as a wide receiver, decent speed, has done zilch
  • Bo Dever (RS Fr.): Not recruited, slow, supposedly decent hands
  • Da’Mario Jones, Jaron Dukes, Maurice Ways don’t play at all
  • Drake Harris is injured
Two of Michigan’s early-season starters (Funchess, Norfleet) weren’t recruited as receivers, a large contributor wasn’t recruited at all, and three able-bodied guys are mired on the bench. Meanwhile, nobody in the receiving corps is exceeding expectations.
Did Michigan miss Frank Clark? Yes, I think they did. His replacement, Mario Ojemudia, had an okay game (5 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup), but Ojemudia is not a match for Clark. Clark was consistently overpowering offensive tackles, and he had reached a point where he was not committing the immature mistakes that plagued him early in his career. Ojemudia lacks the same strength, and there were a couple times where he ran too far upfield and allowed Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown to take off and run. I think Clark would have slowed down the running of Brown (18 carries, 87 yards, 1 touchdown). Obviously, it’s nobody’s fault but Clark’s – I respect Hoke for booting him immediately, and I think Ojemudia did what he’s able to do. It just sucks for Michigan and for his (alleged) victim that he’s such a moron.

Can Michigan beat Ohio State and go to a bowl game? Yes. Ohio State lost earlier this season to a Virginia Tech team that is currently 5-6 after a double-overtime loss to Wake Forest by a score of 6-3. Ohio State almost  lost to a 3-8 Indiana team yesterday, but they pulled it out with a 21-point fourth quarter. There are some chinks in the Buckeyes’ armor, particularly defensively. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman had 228 yards rushing on 27 carries, including touchdowns of 90 and 52 yards. Unfortunately, Michigan hasn’t had a running back like Tevin Coleman in a very long time. Even so, Drake Johnson has shown a decent burst (14 carries, 94 yards yesterday), and a healthy Devin Gardner gives you a chance on offense. The Buckeyes will be the overwhelming favorite, especially when they’re playing for a chance at the playoff, but anything can happen.
9Jul 2014
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2014 Season Countdown: #47 Joe Kerridge

Joe Kerridge and Sione Houma (image via

Name: Joe Kerridge
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 247 lbs.
High school: Traverse City (MI) St. Francis
Position: Fullback
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #36
Last year: I ranked Kerridge #42 and said he would be the starting fullback with 2 receptions for 18 yards. He had 1 carry for 3 yards, 5 catches for 25 yards, and 4 tackles.

Kerridge was Michigan’s first string fullback in 2013, and he did a fine job. As the year went along, offensive coordinator Al Borges reached into his bag of tricks, pulled out the ol’ Spider 2 Y Banana, and shuffled the ball to Kerridge a few times. You know the Bo Schembechler saying: 4.67 yards and a cloud of dust. Kerridge is a decent blocker, but despite visions of him trucking kids in high school, he is not generally someone who should be touching the ball very often.

I have an uncorroborated hunch that new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will value junior Sione Houma’s athleticism over Kerridge’s skills, which may relegate Kerridge to backup or special teams duty. Houma – who is slightly smaller but has better hair – looked niftier and quicker on the 2 passes he caught (for 14 yards), and I would guess Nussmeier wants a little more speed on the field for his tendency to spread the field a little more. The fullback position itself may be downgraded, but the lack of a healthy Jake Butt might make an H-back type like Houma more valuable to run flat routes. Either way, I think Kerridge will take a back seat to schemes and other personnel this year, but he’s experienced and trustworthy, so he’ll see the field a fair amount.

Prediction: Backup fullback; 1 catch for 4.67 yards

19Dec 2013
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Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Running Backs

John Hubert (#33) is essentially Kansas State’s only running back.

Starters: Late in the season, freshman Derrick Green (5’11”, 240 lbs.) essentially took over the starting role and bowled his way to 265 yards and 2 touchdowns on 82 carries, a 3.2-yard average. Green looks to be the guy, but really, any of three players could garner the bulk of the attempts. He has some giddyup, but mostly, he’s a between-the-tackles runner who won’t make many people miss. The other likely option is fifth year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint (5’10”, 200 lbs.), a scatback type who has been slowed a tiny bit since a broken ankle suffered in 2012. He’s started most of the games this year and has 183 carries for 646 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, plus 17 catches for 203 yards. Toussaint has the best big-play ability of the backs and seems to have taken on more of the third down back type snaps late in the season. The starting fullback is redshirt sophomore Joe Kerridge (6’0″, 238 lbs.), who has 1 carry and 5 catches on the season, mostly playing the role of a lead blocker.
Backups: Freshman De’Veon Smith (5’11”, 224 lbs.) is the main backup after the first two guys, and he’s a ball of churning legs who runs like I imagine a stegosaurus might: slowly but dangerously for anyone trying to bring him down. He has just 22 carries on the year for 110 yards, but his best game came in the regular season finale against Ohio State (7 carries, 57 yards). Redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes (5’10”, 192 lbs.) is mostly a third down back and has spent some time at slot receiver; he has just 1 carry for 7 yards on the year, plus 3 catches for 18 yards. I do not expect to see him much. Sophomore fullback Sione Houma (6’0″, 231 lbs.) has 1 catch for 9 yards and fills in occasionally for Kerridge.

Starter: Fifth year senior John Hubert (5’7″, 191 lbs.) gets the vast majority of the running back carries and will likely surpass 1,000 yards in the bowl game; he currently has 182 carries for 968 yards and 9 touchdowns. He runs with a fair amount of power and quickness and has gone over 900 yards for three consecutive years. Look for Hubert to try to take advantage of cutback lanes out of the pistol, and he’s quick enough to get on the edge with some option looks. The Wolverines are solid against the run, but Hubert presents a challenge and is coming off a 220-yard performance against Kansas. Redshirt freshman Glenn Gronkowski (6’3″, 234 lbs.) is the younger brother of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and the starting fullback. He’s rarely used in the running game, but he has 4 catches for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns; his scores have gone for 67, 50, and 29 yards, so he can be dangerous out of the backfield.
Backups: Senior Robert Rose (5’4″, 176 lbs. and no, that’s not a typo) is the only notable backup, but he has 22 carries for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns. Co-starting quarterback Daniel Sams (profiled yesterday) is essentially Hubert’s partner in crime in the backfield.

Michigan’s running backs have yet to put fear into anyone this season, and despite a slight improvement in the running game over the past couple contests, the likelihood is small that Michigan blows the doors off KSU on the ground. Of course, much of that is the result of a young, underperforming offensive line. Meanwhile, Hubert has had more room to run than Michigan’s guys, and he has a skill of elusiveness that . . . uh . . . eludes Michigan’s trio of runners. We have seen the Wolverines come out with some innovative game plans in recent years (2008 against Florida, 2013 against South Carolina), but offensive coordinator Al Borges has limited options with what his line can block and what his backs can do. The Wolverines will probably do what they’ve been doing over the past couple games (lots of inside zones, bubble screen draws), and the Wildcats will also probably try to do what they do best and run inside zones and some powers with Hubert and Sams.

ADVANTAGE: Kansas State