Michigan Football Indiana Game Primary Offensive Personnel Grades

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Posted on 6th October 2010 by Ben Krasner in Sports Commentary | University of Michigan Sports

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The offense played pretty well against Indiana, save for a couple of drives and there were some circumstances that led to that.  I would definitely say we left a lot out there, Saturday.  We definitely did not play our A game on offense for the entire game and nowhere was that more evident than the boys up front.  I would go so far to suggest that if our offensive line had done a better job handling Indiana’s front 4 we probably score on at least one more drive.  And, of course, if we don’t drop the ball at the goal line on a bad center-QB exchange we score another time.  Such actions would have changed the game quite a bit because IU would not have been able to play their dink and dunk style of offense and have kept up.  They would have had to press and I believe that would have played into our hands on defense.

Without further ado…

Those that played well:

Junior Hemingway – The best way to put it is that, in our offense, if you are an outside WR that wants the ball you have to demand the attention you seek. If all you want to do is catch screens and hitches, then wait. Wait for the matchup the coaches are looking for against an opponent and be ready for your opportunity. But if you want to be considered a primary weapon in the offense all you need to do is watch Hemingway’s game tape against IU and follow that lead. By getting after it on every play, whether in a route or in blocking or as a decoy, Hemmingway was showing the coaches that he was the man to look for on the outside. Hemmingway simply had a great game, on Saturday, and clearly showed that he’s finally healthy and game ready. Will we continue to see games like this one from Junior if he stays healthy? Only time will tell, but not since the Western Michigan game in 2009 have we seen him as such an obvious, outside, down-the-field threat. Hemmingway’s not blazing with speed and yet played within the scheme to get behind the defense on multiple occasions.  And where, last week, his concentration on the ball failed him, this week Hemmingway caught everything that was thrown in his range and snatched the ball very well.  There’s very little from the IU game for coaches to use on Hemmingway in terms of corrections, and lots to use in terms of building on success.  Line: 3 catches for 129 yards and a TD.  Grade: A

Roy Roundtree – The most consistent and smoothest wide receiver in our arsenal continued his play with a really, really good performance at IU.  There’s a few pieces of film for coaches to use for corrections, but it was great to see Roundtree actually out-run a couple DBs to the endzone on his catch-and-run TD on our second possession.  If he’d have gotten just one good block from Kelvin Grady on his other long catch of the day I’m convinced he scores on that one, too.  Jumping to catch a ball unnecessarily (that admittedly was higher than a coach would like to see from Tate Forcier) cost us a first down when Denard was on the sideline… that was somewhat frustrating, especially because we needed a play, right then.  And there were some isolated blocking items that he graded out a little low at (for me anyway) where he wasn’t as physical as one would like and even lost his block at inopportune timing.  But Roundtree just always suits up and plays ball, and his work is a big factor in making this offense work as well as it is, right now.  He’s caught everything, even the tough one … His 74 yard reception started with a great adjustment to a throw that was behind him.  Roundtree ran consistent routes and had many more routes beyond the underneath options that he was mostly responsible for last week.  It’s almost unreal how well he gives Denard his quick toss option with such preciseness.  Denard really could throw that one with his eyes closed if it weren’t for defenders being on the field that he has to read.  Line: 5 catches for 126 yards and 1 TD.  Grade: A-

Martavious Odoms – Odoms didn’t start the game on the field; he actually didn’t hit the field until close to the end of the first quarter.  I attribute this to (a) Junior Hemmingway’s arrival and (b) our commitment to using an H-back often against IU, which was key in our success.  You then have to rotate Odoms in somewhere and you just cannot take Roundtree off the field at slot.  But when Odoms did get to the field he reminded coaches why he has to be on it.  His forte is the underneath routes, tough running and spirited blocking and that’s exactly what he excelled at against IU.  He would be a great blocker if he had more size (height and longer reach).  Taller DBs can hold him at bay and then shed him or get around him but when he goes full bore and gets into a DBs body that defender is no longer part of the play.  He ran routes well today and caught what was thrown to him.  He also ran tough after the catch.  Wasn’t asked to do a ton but did well.  Line: 2 catches for 19 yards.  Grade: A-

Martell Webb – Webb was the more consistent of the two TE blockers against IU.  He was the more physical TE and the most effective, overall.  His only shot in the passing game came on the same play where Koger caught his TD reception and Webb helpped out by drawing a lot of attention in the middle, there.  Webb sealed the edge well on several plays and did well on the most crucial play of the day – Denard’s game winner.  He only lost points because he sometimes took poor routes to his target and then doesn’t have anyone to hit during the play, or sometimes was simply not quick enough to get to a target.  But he played well within the scheme, didn’t have any penalties and continued to be the blocking asset we need from the edge of the line or from the backfield.  Maybe a little film to coach up with, but not much.  No line.  Grade: B+

Vincent Smith – It’s amazing that certain folk who have access to microphones and keyboards take issue with Smith in the days following him breaking a 56 yard TD, showing continued improvement off his surgery and where executed his role so well, overall.  I attribute this to being myopic on the ball carriers and the scoreboard (we must have blocked well because Denard didn’t get sacked and we scored 42 points, right?).  The truth is 90% of Vincent Smith’s plays are designed to go in between the guards.  Therefore, he’s only going to be the better option (over Denard running it) when Denard sees his defensive keys in position to ’stop’ his outside run option.  Denard isn’t reading the success or failure of the interior offensive line play when he hands the ball to Smith.  If he did, he would have kept several of those and headed outside.  When Smith gets the ball it’s just up to him to make the most of things.  Yes, there is a designed lane and typically when the outside run is contained the inside run is more open.  But credit IU for clogging the middle all day.  When Smith was given the ball on outside read runs, he made hay.  So that should make it pretty obvious that it wasn’t a matter of ‘hitting the hole quicker’ but rather blocking the IU interior.  Smith did everything he could on almost every run, save for maybe 1.  His actions on the option left defenders standing and reading which is what enables Denard to run past them.  Honestly, the only area where Smith lost points against IU was in blocking.  He had one top notch block when we needed it badly on Denard’s game winning TD run (what a great cut block on a blitz pickup) and a couple of other decent blocks prior to that.  But Smith too often just got to his man that he needed to block and didn’t get physical with him.  What’s more, after his option action in the backfield and where he does not get the ball, he almost always turned back to watch the play instead of looking for someone to hit.  We’ve seen him block well before, so it’s likely that this is a temporary issue.  Line: 9 rushes for 80 yards and 1 TD.  Grade: B+

Perry Dorrestein – Perry was Perry.  Against IU you see the same Perry that you see most of the time so far this year.  He is not going to rack up pancake blocks or overpower a D-line all day.  And he isn’t the most mobile of our linemen so sometimes he doesn’t look super in the second level when he’s given that responsibility, but was only tasked with that twice that I recall.  Perry never missed an assignment and never ended up on the ground.  I’d like him to pack more punch when he blocks, but I’m more than content with him taking care of what needs to be taken care of from right tackle.  I have to assume the coaches will view his IU game performance the same way.  Not great, but definitely solid.  Certainly nothing to worry about.  Grade: B

Those who would tell you they should have played better:

Taylor Lewan – Taylor got his first road start of his career under his belt and got his first taste of Big Ten play in the process.  While he generally played his best ball early in the game, play #3 was one he’ll want to forget if he can.  He was absolutely knocked to his butt by a linebacker he was headed out to hit but was not in good position to do so.  He’ll add that to the motivational mix tape.  As the day went on the intensity picked up and Lewan played somewhat less effectively.  He still graded out fairly well but fortunately the refs kept their flags in their pocket because he could have been called for a number of holding penalties.  As a former coach, to me, if a holding penalty wasn’t called I generally say it wasn’t holding, then.  However, Lewan lost enough points to be in this category based on the last drive alone.  Three holds where #44’s jersey was pulled away from his pads (and definitely should have been called) and Lewan was the one who started the tit-for-tat all the way down the field, on that drive, by antagonistically getting his feet into the legs of #44 on the very first play (after dragging him to the ground in what could have been called holding).  He also ended up losing his cool completely at the very end, which was very poor.  Everyone loves the kid’s tenacity and effort and that’s all good.  But control has to be kept as well.  He was the play-side tackle a lot, during the day, and showed very well in many instances.  On the back-side he was not as good.  He found himself on the ground a bit too much today and there’s plenty of both film to coach with this week as well as the mental side of the game.  Basically he get’s a B+ for a blocking grade with subtractions for the couple of holds that were inexplicably not called and the poor decisions on the last drive.  Grade: B

David Molk – Molk wasn’t dominant against IU but played pretty well overall.  IU’s defensive line isn’t too shabby, though not as good as 2009’s.  The interior of our O-line struggled to get good push on most of the zone read plays, Saturday, and Molk was part of that issue – though I would say the guards had more to do with it.  He and Denard combined to drop the ball (literally) on the bad snap on the goal line that was costly.  After a big play they went hurry up and, after getting a penalty on snap one, the defense flinched on snap two.  That flinch made Denard start moving and Molk start moving before they finished the snap.  Actually, he really didn’t have the best day snapping it in the shotgun, either, as several snaps had Denard reaching left or right to catch them.  He was pretty good in the blocking game but maybe not as consistent as one would hope and for someone who likes to hit people as much as he does, it seemed like he was more apt to just mark his man rather than tee off on him.  The center in this scheme moves a lot and Molk did well on his feet, today.  His best play was the chalkboard play of the day – Smith’s 56 yard TD run.  He had to move quickly and take over for Omameh’s block as Omameh headed to the second level.  It was pretty and was the pivot point on the play.  If he doesn’t get there the play gets stopped for a loss.  There’s certainly enough film to coach with, but outside of the snapping Molk played pretty darn well.  Grade: B

Denard Robinson – Denard played about as well as you can play and yet still end up in this category.  His running game was, again, easily excellent with the exception of the couple of series after he went down.  I am convinced that when he aggravated the brusied knee both he and the coaching staff started to over-think what was going on.  They clearly wanted him to avoid hits after that (until they had no other choice) and Denard clearly was hesitant as well.  When he did have the ball in his hands in the running game, on more than one occasion, you could see huge holes that Denard just didn’t jump through as he normally would and in fact did take advantage of earlier in the day.  Eventually, though, the chips were on the table and everyone just said “go”, which is where we (and he) drove the field in a minute and won the game.  As referenced in Molk’s grade, he was half to blame for the botched snap at the goal line – easily his worst mistake from Saturday.  Denard was not as accurate as he has been earlier this season.  Even on a successful play like Roundtree’s 74 yarder, that throw was well behind Roundtree.  Missing Hemmingway on a wide open stop-and-go behind the defense is one Robinson surely wants another shot at, as too was the deep 9 route to Terrence Robinson.  The connection to Hemmingway late in the game was a tough play.  Denard couldn’t stand in the pocket any longer and took a good shot just after releasing it, but that throw was under-thrown and Hemmingway made a great play on the ball.  There were definitely a couple of reads that he made that were incorrect – both in the zone read and in where he did or didn’t run when his number was called.  But even with all of that, he still put up a tremendous showing.  His grade is made up of both the highest of the high and the lowest of the low.  There’s plenty of film work from this game, even for the clear Heisman front runner. Line: 19 rushes for 217 yards and 2 TDs, 10-16 passing for 277 yards and 3 TDs.  Grade: B

Kevin Koger – Koger started the game off with a play where he didn’t hit anyone and then followed that with a great ISO block in the lane that sprung Denard on his first TD run.  And so went the day for Koger who turned in both ‘100′ marks and ‘70′ marks.  He had a much better first half, overall, than he did a second half which is likely why Webb got more action in the second half and why plays went to Webb’s side even when Koger was in the game with him.  Koger played like he was very comfortable with some assignments and very uncomfortable with others and this showed up in his inconsistent physicality.  It was great, though, to see the TEs in the passing game down by the goal line and Koger grabbed his first TD pass of the season on that 3 yard toss.  That play is more important to the season than it was against IU as it gives LBs and safeties yet another item on the high side of their priority list.  Line: 1 catch for 3 yards and 1 TD.  Grade: B-

Daryl Stonum – Stonum wasn’t asked to do a whole lot in the passing game and again had issues with displaying some disinterest out there, Saturday.  But he blocked better and specifically I liked that he blocked all the way through the plays against IU – something he did not do against BG.  My reference made in Hemmingway’s grading about demanding attention is indeed aimed at Stonum.  Until he gets that, he will forever be the guy looking to take the short pass and break a long gain out of it when the coaching staff sees a matchup they like.  His down-field routes today were all right, but not exactly spirited.  Better routes would have gotten him open, I believe, but in his defense he basically ran two routes 95% of the time against IU – the quick screen and the stop and go.  As a DB, if I see that, I don’t need to worry a whole lot about what you are going to run against me.  I’ll sit here until I know you are going deep, and then I’ll turn and go deep with you.  Stonum had a shot at a crossing route mid-way through the game that he did not run well, which was disappointing.  This young man has far too much talent to appear on lists like this as “a pretty good blocker, but…”.  He needs to demand attention and he has to do it in all phases of the game.  I don’t typically include special teams in my grades but he’s not exactly helping himself on kickoff return, here, either. No Line.  Grade: B-

Patrick Omameh – Up and down was the best way to describe Omameh’s IU game.  And he clearly played better in the first half than second half, though some adjustments by IU after half time likely contributed to that.  He was both on top of defenders after pancaking them as well as being knocked on his butt into the backfield.  Didn’t have the easiest matchups today and IU was game for the challenge.  That led to lots of plays where little or no movement of the defensive line was evident.  He did not do a great job of churning the legs to get drive blocks going and was shucked more than a few times by defenders who had good technique.  He had some really great blocks but far too many efforts where he needed to be much, much better.  Lots of film work, here.  Grade: C+

Steve Schilling – Schilling’s here (and not lower) because he picked it up as the game went on and was really quite good in the final third of the game.  His first half was not good – hell the first play of the day he trips and goes down without hitting anyone.  There were so many plays where Vincent Smith is trying to run it up the middle and there’s just no place to go because nothing’s been opened up, yet.  He can have a bad play, or Omameh can have a bad play.  The two of them cannot have bad plays simultaneously or the middle of the line looks piss poor.  It looked to me like IU laid a challenge down to Schilling and he just didn’t respond all that well until adjustments were made later in the game.  His good plays were much better than his bad plays, so he essentially made up for anything that happened in the first half (or anywhere else), but he is asked to do a lot and has the experience and athleticism to do it.  When you’re asked to do a lot, underperforming 25% – 30% of the time or so shows up a lot in film, even when there’s enough to balance it out.  Plenty of IU film examples to work on.  Grade: C+

Those who clearly struggled:

Kelvin Grady – The lone soldier in this category this week, Kelvin is here because he was primary, did have opportunities to make plays by blocking and receiving, and just didn’t most of the time.  We needed him to shove just one guy forcefully on Roundtree’s 74 yarder and if we get that Roundtree scores.  Instead he got in Roundtree’s way as much as anyone else’s and the ‘contact’ that he made on his block attempts … he’s hit guys harder congratulating them for a nice catch.  He is getting to his man quickly and with purpose when he has to block, now he has to play football instead of basketball.  He had one opportunity for a reception that he should have made, even though Robinson threw it behind him and to the inside.  It would have been a somewhat difficult catch because he was marked quickly but he got two hands on it and tried to run before he pulled it in.  And part of the reason he was marked so quickly is because he tipped his route off early.  It’s Terrence Robinson and Kelvin Grady fighting for this second-slot-on-the-field position.  Right now Grady is this guy most of the time, but too many more games like this one against IU could lead to a shuffle.  In this scheme, you simply have to block, be a good decoy often and be ready to catch when called upon.  Based on his IU performance alone, Grady has the decoy role down all right, but has lots of work to do otherwise.  No line.  Grade: C-

  1. badmash says:

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    6th October 2010 at 7:46 am

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