Michigan Football Indiana Game Primary Offensive Personnel Grades

1 comment

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

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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-

Michigan Football Primary Offensive Personnel Grades – Bowling Green Game

Comments Off

Posted on 29th September 2010 by Ben Krasner in Sports Commentary | University of Michigan Sports

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just went slo-mo through the BG game to put a coach’s eye on everyone to see where we were great, good and not so good on Saturday. Here’s what I saw from Saturday’s primary offensive lineup.

The Great/Good:

Denard – obvious, of course.  The accuracy of his throwing continued to be impressive, especially because of the amount of it that happens on the run.  The running is impressive as always.  And the tough part about telling him to go out of bounds more often… the second touchdown run (47 yarder) would not have happened by ‘playing smart’.  The last thing you want the defense to be able to do is just funnel him to the sideline so he feels compelled to shuffle out of bounds.  It’s just going to have to be a balancing act and he’s going to have to pick his poison while remaining tough.  The reality is he’s taken (and will take in the future) bigger hits both in bounds and out of bounds than the one where he got injured falling out of bounds with a player around his legs.  The key to keeping him healthy is letting the running backs take most of the hits and DR taking a couple of plays out of bounds if he has to (which he DID do against BG – by the way).   Grade: A

Omameh – Lots of good two-level action from Omameh.  He’s best when he’s on the move, not when there’s a single, heads-up assignment that he needs to move down field.  Was better and better as the day progressed.  Pancakes started to pile up in the 3rd quarter.  Mostly low and strong… Seemed to have the least problems with BG’s D-line. Grade: A-

Roundtree – deceptively good routes albeit some of them are shallower than one would like – I attribute this solely to speed – timing is more important than speed in the big picture, but with more speed would come more passing combination flexibility and pressure on the opposing DBs.  Tough to tackle, too.  Wiggly, wormy guy with great hands.  As dangerous as you can be while lacking speed.  Snatches the ball well.  Grade: A-

McClogan – some good iso blocking and gotta love the TD catch on the play action roll-out.  Missed one blocking opportunity on a lead at the goal line by taking a false step and seemingly hesitating which allowed BG to string out the play and force both he and Smith out wider than originally designed.  Also had 3 tackles on special teams.  Doesn’t get a lot of snaps but made a heck of a lot out of what he got today.    Grade: A-

Shaw – first off, this guy’s blocking has to be acknowledged.  Whether it’s a lead block, a kickout, a helper or in pass pro, this kid did a great job.  His running game is tougher than Smith’s but he is more hesitant and less opportunistic than smith. Too many hops and skips and adjustments. He seems to be a cerebral runner and his feet follow that as well.  But when he just gets after it and runs hard he looks very, very dangerous and much tougher to bring down.  Overall he ran well, but blocked even better. Grade: B+

Lewan – Lewan is often the quickest guy off the line.  I counted three plays where he left ahead of the snap and did not get called on any.  Lewan just wants to hit people.  Sometimes he’s too eager, it seems, and doesn’t let the combo block between he and schilling develop enough – that’s where one of the chop block penalties came from.  He is one guy who you can count on to move the man across from him, down the field.  Couple of missed assignments – but not much in the negative department.  Just things he can probably get better at (footwork, pad level and working within the combo blocks/ scheme).  End of the 3rd quarter and into the 4th, Lewan was becoming dominant and mentioned, in his interview with me after the game, that he saw the other guys sucking wind big time.  With improvement, Lewan will start to dominate even when his opponents are fresh. Grade: B+

Webb – the more punishing of the TE blocking combo, rarely misses a block.  If and when he does, he quickly tries to make up for it.  On Denard’s 47 yarder, he missed his first block completely but headed down field and made a couple of nice blocks to make up for his miss.  It’s actually enjoyable for me to watch him block.  Grade: B+

Odoms – again, excellent blocking.  Good routes, good hands.  That ‘illegal block below the waist’ was flat ridiculous.  I have no idea what BG’s coach was screaming about whatsoever during that play.  Lewan went low on a guy, I’m assuming it was something along those lines.  Would like him to be utilized a bit more but didn’t seem to get open like Roundtree did, at least not on the shorter routes and on the outside. Grade: B

Grady – very quick and very sly.  He’s the guy the defense has to try not to forget about.  Leaving him in single coverage situations or loose in underneath routes is a major mistake.  Few opportunities but did well.  Grade: B

Koger – The other part of a straight up deadly blocking combo.  You can count on Koger to get out into space and take a guy out of the play.  When he lined up tight, on the line, he’s just not as good.  Fortunately he spent most of the game in the twin H-back look with Webb and did well out of it.  Grade: B

Smith – This was the toughest running Smith has done since he came to Michigan and it was nice to see.  Arm tackles were broken more often.  He even lowered the gear and tried to run over a tackler (didn’t work, but good to see the ol’ college try).  His opportunities came with traffic and he generally did something with them.  Coming off knee surgery, hopefully this is a sign his getting stronger and more confident in his running into and through people.  Grade: B-

The “pretty good but probably would admit they could play better”:

Molk – Regardless of the illegal hit on a defenseless player (which the TV never did show but that I remember was correctly called from the game) Molk also struggled some with BG’s front.  BG was giving a lot of jab steps for false movement which was throwing off the timing of our linemen a bit and this seemed to cause Molk to be reaching and out of sync on his blocks a lot.  Getting driven back into the backfield on the play where Hopkins fumbled was probably his ugliest.  Credit BG for the strategy and also for working to get into Molk’s pads when he did look to make contact – something he probably always will struggle with.  Couple of low snaps from Molk during the game time that mattered, also.  Grade: B-

Dorrestein – PD can more than hold his own at RT.  If he struggled anywhere it was getting out on the BG backers and especially so when he was on the back-side of the play and he definitely did struggle there.  His assignments made a number of plays – albeit 6-8 yards down the field, not in the backfield.  He’s also not going to overpower a lot of people and that showed up today, even against an undersized front.  But he plays well within the scheme and did especially well on the play-side today.  Grade: B-

Gallon – Looks good with the ball in his hands and I think we’ll see more of just that.  Looks like he has quite a ways to go when he does not have the ball (routes, blocking, attentive to the play, and of course… punt returning (if you’re going to let the punt drop, get away from it… and get well away from it.  Don’t follow it over to the sideline where it and BG players are).  Caught another punt on the 4 while running towards the goal line and then turned to the sideline and got tripped and went out at the 11.  Grade: C+

Stonum – wasn’t featured much today, so I don’t really want to put him down here.  As always, seems to run routes pretty well when he knows there’s a pretty good chance of the ball heading his way.  Other times he just disappears.  Caught him ending his block while the play was still going too often to keep him in the “good” ones.  We kept things pretty vanilla today and I think he knew that.  Still wish he would just play ball every snap.   Grade: C

Those Who Struggled:

Schilling – Actually… a lot of this should be credit to #91 on BG – Chris Jones.  Jones was a full time starter as a freshman last year and resumes his work this year.  Schilling had a tough time with Jones all day.  Jones actually controlled Schilling, didn’t give much ground and even tracked down several plays in the first half.  He was often too high, a step behind and simply kept at arms length a lot.  Jones also bothered Molk on a few plays, especially close to the goal line.  However, Schilling needs to be ready to play substantially better tackles than Jones in the future.  Grade: C-

Hopkins – he’s here because he was playing early and so was a primary player by that measure alone.  He’s a true freshman and had a true freshman type roller coaster ride with his most memorable play being the fumble.  He simply wasn’t ready to protect the football.  It’s not all on him – Molk was taken back into the backfield which started the whole mess – but a runner’s first responsibility is that ball and so… there you go.  Good on-field learning experience for him.  I also felt he sold himself short on a couple of runs where he went with a short gain rather than being patient and finding the alley.  This is pretty assuming on my part – it could easily be that the coaches have him running a certain way – but it seems clear it will come up in coaching and film review that he left yards on the field.  Grade: C-

Hemmingway – yikes.  Still has to get his season going after missing the early portion.  Missed the sure TD by getting distracted by the DB falling down, missed some blocks and didn’t hold some others.  He also doesn’t seem to have all his gas in the tank yet.  Lots of coaching points sent his way, this week, I’m sure.  Grade: C-

Nothing I saw from our primary lineup was worthy of a “D” and … heck… 721 yards while playing 3 different QBs.  Lots of good things on film.  I disagree with the ESPN talking heads, though, that we “dominated” with our offensive line (they were spewing this even in the first and second quarter).  That greatly undersells what I felt BG was able to do. Our runners found lanes, but I guarantee our coaches aren’t praising our guys for dominating BG’s front 4 except for very late in the game.