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Overall, I thought Michigan played close to its best game this season, especially on offense. Borges appeared to really open up the playbook for Gardner, which allowed him to be successful.
Devin Gardner is legit. He has a strong arm, good athleticism, makes good decisions, and trusts his instincts. If I didn't know anything about Michigan, I would have never thought that was his first start, he looked that comfortable and felt pressure in the pocket.
The wide receivers really stepped up yesterday. Gallon and Roundtree both had some great catches and rarely dropped anything. This may have just been a product of Gardner's accuracy, or they possibly just felt with Denard out they truly needed to step up to win this game.
Jake Ryan will be an All American before he graduates. He plays with amazing speed, yet he rarely makes a mistake. It seems every game he improves and makes some absolutely insane play. I'm really excited to see how he improves for this season, and beyond.
The linebackers overall are a really good group, and can go two deep with the freshmen and Cam Gordon stepping in. Desmond Morgan lacks the athleticism you want out of a linebacker, but he has a nose for the football and doesn't really make too many mistakes. His ability to read a QB and ability to trust his instincts allow him to make plays and he is a key component in this defense. Demens is inconsistent with his play, but overall he is very good in the run defense and solid in pass defense, IMO.
After watching some of the highlights, Kovacs may not be racking up the stats he did last year, but he is the unquestioned leader of this defense and is still great at getting to the QB on a blitz.
The corner backs are going to be nasty next season, especially with Countess returning. I'm not sure what others think of Taylor, but IMO, he and Countess are going to make a no-fly zone.
I'm truly disappointed in the offensive line play from this year. They just seem to lack that nasty streak we saw last year and miss assignments. Like yesterday on a couple run plays, there were three offensive linemen blocking one defender while another defender blasts through uncontested. Teams are going to continue to blitz because they are having great success with it, so hopefully Borges can adjust and find plays that can expose the blitz. Starting Gardner would be my choice because his poise in the pocket and ability to get the ball out fast and accurate so they can run quick slants against the blitz.
The defensive line isn't quite as bad as I expected it to be, and I'm really surprised on how much Quentin Washington has improved. Roh has his plays, but he is inconsistent. He has all the ability in the world to be in the backfield every play, but appears to take some plays off here and there. As I said before Q-Wash has been a revelation and has been that immovable object that we've been looking for, plus he has been getting to the running back and quarter back pretty consistently. He does need to work on his tackling though, jumping on the back of the player tends to be unsuccessful. Big Will Campbell hasn't been great, but he hasn't been bad this year, really a big piece in the run defense.
Running back play has been a part of the offensive line play, but Fitz Toussaint has been bad this year. He is almost too fast for the blockers and tends to get to the line before the holes develop and causes either no gain, or very little gain. Thomas Rawls deserves the starting spot after what he has shown and the way he runs. Not sure why the coaches refuse to take Ftiz out of the starting lineup.
Those are my thoughts on the game, feel free to disagree.
November 3, 2012
Michigan 35, Minnesota 13
Agreed on LBs and CBs. The silver lining of Countess' injury is that Raymon Taylor is getting the opportunity to step up, and I think he and Countess should be our starting CBs for the next two years. Also, the LBs will be an incredible unit for years to come.
Q-Wash has been excellent. We've been saying since the end of last season that one of the incumbent DTs needed to step up, and Washington has done that. I'm very glad we'll have him for another year. The DEs didn't really do a ton against Minnesota, but I'm ok with that - they didn't blow any major plays either, and I'm much happier about that. While we still need an elite pass-rushing DE (or two or three), I'm glad to see Beyer playing well.
Seeing Rawls on the goal line reminds me of why I like him so much. He refuses to go down, even with defenders draped all over him. My hope is that, over the next two years, Rawls and the younger linemen will develop into a unit that is damn near automatic on short-yardage situations. I want to be the team that can line up in the I on 2nd-and-1, run a play-action, and have the defense so scared about the run that our WRs just end up flying free downfield.
WRs - They played an absolutely great game. I feel a bit bad for Bellomy in that Gardner was getting bailed out of a couple passes whereas nobody even caught the easy ones for Bellomy, but it's not like a few more short passes from Bellomy last week would've made much difference. I wouldn't expect the receivers to play like this every week, but it was nice to see them show up when needed.
As for Devin Gardner - while I'm not going to anoint him just yet, I think we've definitely found the front-runner for the starter job next year. I found it very strange how excited I was to watch the passing game. I've definitely missed Michigan having a pocket QB with a good arm. For the first time all season I wasn't cringing and expecting a pick every time the QB went deep. DG did an ok job at extending plays, but the TD pass to Dileo made him a bit overconfident. He needs to learn when to get rid of the ball.
Ultimately, the biggest thing that came out of this game for me was the sheer relief that the 2013 season might not be a rebuilding season at all. If this is what DG can do with a week of prep, what can he do with an entire offseason?
This post was edited by CMXI on 11/4/2012 at 9:11 AM
Good post. I was really impressed with Gardner as well. He looked poised and composed in his first game back at QB. Other than the interception, he made smart decisions and did a great job throwing outside he pocket. I think he answered the question as to who should be the QB next season.
I don't know what has happened to our OL, but it looked terrible.
When denard comes back Gardner will be moved back to WR. I hope Borges will use Gardner I little bit like they did last year in these next three games. Giving him the ability to line up at QB putting Robinson out wide. The difference is Gardner will always be on the field at WR unlike he was last year. I think it could help out more then it did last year.
The thing that really impressed me the most, was Devins ability to make quick decisions. Denard likes to sit in the pocket as long as possible, meanwhile Devin will tuck it and run it, the moment a huge lane opens up in the pocket. Denard needs to take that play out of Devin's play book. If Denard were to run when Devin was yesterday, he would rush for 150 yards/game, just off of scrambles.
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