Assessing the Michigan Wolverine
Football Team after Game 2/Notre Dame Preview:
Overall, it is hard to be too critical
since we've only played two games against weak opponents; however,
one can see strengths and weaknesses so let's explore this:
Offensively: Overall grade of B+
had a terrible game second game. He overthrew a lot of receivers
all game long, but especially in the first half. He continues
to have several passes batted down at the line of scrimmage every
game; it is hard to believe he has started 31 games with the same
problem. Gutierrez looked sharp, and should be a solid backup
in case of injury. He is very mobile especially on the bootleg.
Brinton didn't throw, but it is nice to know we have experience
there. Notre Dame will be coming hard at Navarre; they know how
to beat us, and part of that game plan includes rattling Navarre.
Cedric Hilliard is supposed to be back and Gutt's former teammate,
Derek Landri along with former M recruits, Greg Pauley, Victor
Abiamiri and Travis Leitko. They'll be looking creating turnovers
on blitzes, picks, sacks and they have the line to do it. Our
offensive line will have their work cut out trying to protect
him. I would give Navarre a C+ grade after two games, and
my confidence in him has deteriorated.
has been a pleasant surprise; he has blocked quite well so far.
He has had no carries or passes thrown his way in two games. He
will be severely tested against the Irish. Thompson came in and
caught his first pass, but has no carries either. We sure could
use Sanderson here especially in the red zone. This is a weak
position, and may be exposed against strong teams like Notre Dame,
Ohio State, etc. Dudley will be hard-pressed to block Courtney
Watson (Butkus nominee and leading Irish tackler last year), Derek
Curry and others; however, he has a solid B+ grade so far.
has been awesome! He looks like the back we have always hoped
he'd be. He was quick, fast and made good cuts. He caught one
screen and is very dangerous in the open field. I'm not sure how
well he did in blocking, but we are lucky to have him. Underwood
also looked solid with his first 100 yard game; he is also a dangerous
back catching screens and he looks very muscular. Underwood should
log a significant amount of playing time. I was more impressed
with Jackson than Rembert; he is quicker and probably faster.
Even Bradley looks like he can contribute; he is low to the ground
and fast. It was also nice to see Bracken come in and play. Hopefully,
we'll be able to stay away from fumbles and turnovers against
the good teams. We are solid at this position! It is critical
we have no fumbles against the Irish at this position if we are
to win. Let's give Perry and company a straight A.
have two of the best in the country with Edwards and Breaston!
They are gamebreakers and backbreakers! I don't see any defenses
stopping either; they are too hard to double cover without exposing
other defensive weaknesses. Bell, Avant and Butler look to be
good pass catchers and blockers. Tabb was impressive, but Gonzalez
has been uninvolved as he broke his hand. We had 7 solid receivers
with two being gamebreakers; unfortunately, with Gonzalez and
Avant his hurt, we are down to 5 scholarship receivers here for
the Irish. We will probably throw 20-30 times a game depending
on how well we do with our running game; we will probably have
to throw more against good teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State,
etc. We are solid at these positions (Flanker and Wide Receiver);
we have speed, quickness, deep threat, crossing, quick toss, solid
blocking, etc. We will take a B- though due to drops, overthrows
and injuries. The Irish corners, Vontez Duff (their Captain),
Glenn Earl (Thorp nominee), Garron Bible and Jason Beckstrom will
we haven't show much here. Massaquoi only caught two passes in
two games; he, Mingery and Ecker logged most of the playing time
and they blocked for the most part. We will be hard pressed to
get as much production as last year when Joppru made over 50 catches.
It looks like Fisher was back against Houston so possibly his
absence in the first game was due to suspension or injury. We
cannot say this is a solid position. Time will tell whether it
is a weak position; it will be mostly a blocking position as is
our fullback/H-back. We'll send in a grade of C+.
Offensive Line: We took one sack in two games; there were several
hurries in the Houston game. Pape and Baas are 1st team All-Big
10 and possible All-Americans. Stenavich and Lentz looked solid.
Pearson didn't appear to make all of his blocks, and that could
be a problem against the tough teams up the middle. When the second
team came in, Solomon, Kolodziej, Henige, Christopfel, Bihl, Riley,
Gaston and Morgan seemed to be a good group. We appear solid here
at every position and as a group; however, injuries could be a
factor here. We grade out as an A- so far! The challenge
for the Irish game will be to get 200+ yards rushing, no sacks,
tipped passes or hurries. This game should tell whether we have
a top notch line or not because the Irish are solid in their defensive
front. The matchup that scares me the most is Dave Pearson against
Greg Pauley or Cedric Hilliard; we may need to double the noseguard
with Lentz. Notre Dame had 2 sacks in their 6 tackles for loss
against the Cougars with 2 forced fumbles, one pick and 3 pass
Place-Kicking and Kickoffs-Nienberg consistently drove the ball
in the end zone or inside the 5. Kickoffs/Kickoff Returns: It
looks like we have good coverage on kickoffs. LeSueur and Hood
are our deep threats, and the fake reverse was a nice look for
the Irish to see. Three of six field goals isn't an impressive
performance for the first two games. Hopefully, we'll improve
here, but to say that we aren't concerned is an understatement.
In order to win a national championship or big ten title, we must
be able to count of our kicking game when a close game is "on
the line." We will give the kicking game a B grade
so far. Rivas appears to have won the placekicking duties for
field goals and extra points. Hopefully, the Irish game won't
come down to Rivas or Setta; however, if it does, the Irish certainly
have the advantage.
Defensively: Group grade is a B+ so far! Only 10 points
scored against in two games for a 5 points per game average.
The second game was a complete reverse of the first game; we were
very impressive here. They get a D for the first game, but an
A for the second for a B- average. Stevens, Kashama, Massey,
Van Alstyne and Woodley must contain Carlisle Holiday, and sack
him several times. They must also contain Ryan Grant and Julius
Jones on the run. This will be a real test for our ends. The Irish
were only 4 of 16 in 3rd down conversions with 5 fumbles (losing
3 to Washington State) and 9 penalties in their first game; we
need to continue to keep their self-esteem low by stopping their
So far, I've been the most impressed with Watson and Ofili, and
the least impressed with starters Heuer and Bowman. Harrison didn't
play against Houston; hopefully he'll be back against Notre Dame.
We give this group a C+ so far. We definitely could use
some recruiting help here, but until that happens we'll simply
have to be satisfied with the coaching scheme. We've always played
smaller guys here that for the most part are former linebackers
converted. They'll be blocked initially, but spin and squirm to
the ball. Our linebackers will have to fill to help our line recover
from the initial push. I'm concerned at this position; I see Watson
as receiving more and more playing time. Our "angle"
scheme is one teams like Notre Dame will exploit. Senior Jim Molinaro,
left tackle for the Irish, is their offensive captain although
they are picking new captains week-to-week this year. Sean Milligan
is the other senior on their offensive line. Washington State
caused 6 sacks in their 9 tackles for loss including 3 forced
fumbles and one pick; however, Notre Dame was 5 for 5 in the red
zone for their 29 points.
Linebackers: I was very impressed all linebackers as they also
improved a lot between game one and two. Even though Diggs was
gone with a family tragedy; I feel comfortable with our starters
and depth here. Let's give this group a B+! Reid, Woods,
Manning, Sarantos and Kaufman give us solid rotations, and hopefully
Reid and Crable will be available. We will certainly be tested
by the strong Irish running game.
Curry and LeSueur look to be solid corners, but they will be tested
with the outstanding team of Irish receivers: Stovall and Jenkins,
McKnight and Rodamer. I don't think we have great depth here with
a true freshman, Hall, as our 3rd corner in. Hood looks to be
the 4th. We'll give them a B so far. The Irish will be
looking to exploit us here; hopefully, we can get some picks with
Jackson and LeSueur. Luckily, the Irish aren't strong at tight
end as Godsey was out against Washington State.
Safeties: Marlin Jackson and Shazor give us two solid starters
here; Stewart is a solid backup, but after that we are inexperienced
with Barringer and Shaw. Burgess is only seeing action on special
teams. Barringer is still hurt, and didn't play against Houston.
We'll give the safeties a B also. Look for the Irish to
try to burn us deep to keep our safeties back so they can run.
Punting/Punt Returns: Finley is doing a solid job! Coverage looks to be
good with Hood, Shazor, Mundy, Burgess and others competing as
"flyers." Breaston is a game-breaker on returns; you
can bet the Irish will be sending their fastest downfield to prevent
him from jitterbugging. This group gets an A so far. Vontez
Duff gives the Irish a big threat on punt returns as does Julius
Jones on kickoffs.
Schedule/Results of Second Week: It looks like our two toughest games will be Notre
Dame and Ohio State. The Irish have an outstanding defense. If
you look at their roster, they have an awful lot of talent including
several players we recruited heavily. Their leaders on offense
are Holiday, Grant and Molinaro; on defense, Watson, Duff, Curry
and Earl lead a staunch, turnover seeking group. It won't be easy
and certainly expect a "nailbiter." Advantage for us
in home field advantage; advantage for the Irish is Nick Setta
and an outstanding kicking game including the "luck of the
Irish." Ohio State was very impressive, and hopefully we'll
improve enough to stop their streak at two. Michigan State was
also impressive; Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue will all
be tough in the Big Ten. Certainly, USC looks to be one solid
threat for the Pac-10 title along with Oregon.