Speaking Jose…

Michigan Football Week 2 – Miami (OH)
September 8, 2008, 11:26 pm
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We move on to Week 2 of the Michigan Football season. Last week, after the lost to Utah, I was looking for Michigan’s Defense to play a complete game to take pressure off the offense and for Coach Rodriguez to stick to one Quarterback for the game. Well apparently I was 50% right, below are my notes from Michigan’s victory over Miami of Ohio 16-6. This was Coach Rodriguez’s first victory at Michigan and hopefully the first of many! Next week Michigan takes on Notre Dame (or as my father-in-law calls it “Our Lady”) at South Bend, Indiana, always a dangerous place for the Wolverines to play.

What was Good

  • Michigan’s Defense – As opposed to last week, the defense put in a solid effort all around. There were a couple of breakdowns in the secondary (Steve Brown we are all looking in your particular direction), but the DL and the Linebackers did a great job again. Special props to T. Taylor and Obi Ezeh for causing havoc with Miami’s offense. 
  • Michigan’s Running Game – The running game finally showed up, with Michael Shaw and Sam McGuffie (of YouTube fame) showing some flashes of brilliance. Although Shaw left the game in the first quarter with a groin injury, he showed how the spread offense could tear it up on the ground as well as the air. McGuffie had a solid game and solidified his position as the team’s best RB, at least until Shaw returns.
  • Michigan’s Conditioning – For the second game in a row I was impressed with how Michigan did not seem to tire out as much as their opponents in the fourth quarter. It was especially noticeable in Miami’s last few drives, Michigan’s linemen and linebackers were all over the backfield, while Miami’s players look tired.
What was Not So Good
  • Too many series are 3-and-outs. It’s understandable that the team is still going to have some growing pains with this offense as they face new and different defenses, but the 3-and-outs are killing us. This hurts Michigan in two ways: First, it usually leads to better field position for the opposing team, and, second, it allows the opponent’s defense to get off the field. 
  • The QB Roulette – I thought that last week settled the QB debate. Unfortunately, Coach Rodriguez again platooned the QBs during the game, with poor results. Neither Threet or Sheridan is able to put the right amount of touch on their passes. In  fact, Threet missed on two deep passes that could have lead to scores, way overthrowing his receivers.  Sheridan came in and did well, but did not do enough, in my opinion, to outdistance himself from Threet.
What Needs to Improve by Next Week
  • Pick a QB! – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Coach Rodriguez has mentioned he is still planning on rotating players next week at Notre Dame. Not sure if this is the best idea, considering its either quarterback’s first road game and at a hostile environment to boot! If Threet really shines in the start, then maybe Rodriguez will back down with the swap.
  • Keep the offense on the field – One of the issues with the spread offense, the way Michigan runs it, is that teams tend to run more plays in a shorter period of time. This means that the offense is always running to get the next play off and the defense works to setup for the next play while not being caught off guard. Michigan needs to take advantage of their better conditioning by working on staying on the field for more that one set of downs at a time.  This way they can wear down the Irish defense some more and keep their own defense fresh.

Michigan Football Week 1- Utah
August 31, 2008, 8:49 pm
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Finally the college football season has started! Unfortunately, Michigan lost to Utah 25-23, but it was an interesting game to see Rich Rodrguez’s system in place for the game.

What was Good

  • Special Teams – Really the highlight of the game. There was a blocked Extra Point, good punts overall (except for Mesko shanking one in the 2nd half) and the return game did not lead to any fumbles or turnovers.  The only part that was still a little weak was Kickoffs, Wright is not getting enough distance that will lead to more touchbacks instead of returns.
  • 2nd Half Defense – Someone either wokeup the the Michigan defensive players or switched them for the Rec League guys playing in the first half. The Defensive Line was much better in getting to the quarterback and the defensive backs actually remembered how to play their positions. Only gave up three points in the second half and that was mainly due to good field position for Utah at the beginning of the series (where they went 4 yds in 3 downs). Obi Ezeh was the star of the game (15 tackles and 1 interception) and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

What was Not So Good

  • 1st Half Defense – Wow, for about 20 minutes I seriously wondered if someone had snuck in Eastern Michigan’s defensive players for the Michigan ones. But then I realized that the EMU players would actually know how to tackle or play the safety position.
  • Offense not Being Able to Move the Ball – Out of all the things that I saw on Saturday, this was the most disappointing of all. I think everyone expected there to be some learning steps and growing pains for the offense, but it was pitiful for most of the game. The biggest worry was that the running game could not gain any traction. Not sure if this is because they tried to go around the line too often instead of trying to power through the line. The passing game was out of sorts, but I think thats going to come with more practice and reps for the the Quarterbacks Sheridan and Threet.

What Needs to Improve by Next Week

  • Defense plays a full game – Miami of Ohio should not be a huge test for Michigan and should be a good game for the defense to become more cohesive and learn to play with more confidence. If the defense cant take advantage of this weaker opponent, then it is going to be a long year.
  • Pick a QB and Stay With Him – It makes sense for Coach Rodriguez to want to try out both QB options during the first game, especially since they were both pretty green when it came to game experience.  Now that both have had a tryout of sorts, Coach Rod needs to settle on one as starter and then stick with him for a while to help stabilize the offense.