Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Quick Hits: Miami Game Observations

  • Before I get into the Miami game, I want to mention that Tom Brady reportedly is out for the season with a torn ACL. Brady's knee was hit by a Chiefs player and it flexed. Immediately it was known that something was wrong as Brady went to the ground and was screaming in pain. If the reports about him being out for the year are true, New England is screwed. Their starting QB will be backup Matt Cassel or someone from the outside, such as Chris Simms, who is being brought in for a workout today.
  • The announced attendance for the Miami game was 106,724, which is the lowest attendance for a Michigan home game since 1997. That was before the capacity was raised to 107,501, showing you the effect of the current renovation on attendance this season (and next season, too). As the game was getting underway a huge block where visiting fans normally sit under the south endzone scoreboard was completely empty. Fans filled it in as the game went by, but there was no one there leading up to kickoff.
  • The quarterback controversy will continue this week as neither Steven Threet nor Nick Sheridan separated themselves from one another. Personally, I think Threet should be the starter. Threet ran the ball well and sells fake handoffs better than Sheridan, although he can't hit an open receiver to save his life. At the same time, I don't have any trust in Sheridan if he has to throw the ball beyond the line of scrimmage and don't believe he ran the offense any better than Threet did.

    I'm sure we'll start to figure out who the starter will be later on in the week assuming Rodriguez doesn't name someone in his weekly press conference that will take place today. My guess is that Threet will get the start, but just as we have seen in the previous two games, chances are Sheridan will play as well.
  • I really would like to see Michigan line up in the I-Formation more often. They did so maybe five times against Miami and usually gained quite a few yards on each run when the QB was under center instead of in the shotgun. Being in the I-Formation allows Michigan running backs to work with better holes as the blocking seems to be better, and fullback Mark Moundros got a carry, which was cool to see for a change.
  • Starting left tackle Mark Ortmann went down in pain due to an elbow injury. Ortmann left the game and never returned as the injury appeared to be very painful. Bryant Nowicki replaced Ortmann, which should tell you just how little depth Michigan has on the offensive line. Even one injury can be devastating, and if Ortmann is out for an extended period of time that's exactly what this injury will be.
  • During and after the game I wondered why Michael Shaw only got 2 carries, but it turns out he left with a groin injury. That makes much more sense now as Shaw gained 45 yards on the only 2 carries he had, leaving me to wonder at the time why he didn't play more.
  • Brandon Minor scored a touchdown on the only carry he had during Saturday's game. He saw such little playing time due to a wrist injury that is still bothering him.
  • Greg Mathews did not play due to an injury, but should be back against Notre Dame this coming Saturday.
  • After the game was over the team made their way to the student section to sing "The Victors." There have been random times in the past where the team would celebrate a win with the student section ('02 vs. Washington, '02 vs. Penn State, '04 vs. MSU, and '05 vs. PSU), but that was only because Michigan won in dramatic fashion or on the last play of the game.

    Rich Rodriguez stated in his postgame press conference that the players asked him to do this, so it appears we have another new tradition. As I said in the game recap, I like it.
  • Defensive tackle recruit and one-time commit William Campbell was at Saturday's game. He talked with John Heuser and gave the impression that Michigan still is at the top of his list for now. Campbell simply is re-opening his commitment as he prepares to visit other schools. I don't get why he decided to actually decommit considering his plans always called for him to take visits, so I don't necessarily understand what changed.

    Regardless of the fact that he did decommit, what scares me most is this:
    Campbell said his top three schools are Miami (Fla.), USC and Michigan, in no particular order.
    If Campbell even gets on a plane to USC I'll consider Michigan's chances of landing him to be zero. USC has been able to land the top prospect in the state of Michigan the last two years, and both of those players at one time were considered leans to U-M.

    The first to head west for USC was Ronald Johnson, who reportedly silently committed to Michigan on two separate occasions before suddenly deciding to go to USC. Similarly, Nick Perry was strongly considering going to Michigan until he visited USC. RoJo hosted him and that was that as far as his recruitment went.

    All I can say is that if Campbell visits USC, I won't exactly have a very good feeling about him coming to Michigan.
  • No offense to Donovan Warren, but can someone else please return punts? Warren has done a good job of catching punts, but his returns have been pretty bad. Considering Michigan has such a tough time moving the ball offensively, punt returns are a big way that they can improve their field position. I just don't see that happening with Warren back there, though, as he hasn't been able to make the first guy miss.
  • Boubacar Cissoko returned kickoffs and did do a nice job. He broke one that went all the way to midfield, but a penalty brought it back. Still, he showed signs that he can take one back to the house at any given time.
  • Kevin Grady returned from his suspension and gained 6 yards on 3 carries. He is definitely a situational back that will primarily get the ball in short-yardage situations. Beyond that he isn't going to get a whole lot of playing time as his strength is powering forward to pick up yards rather than make defenders miss.
  • Am I the only one that wishes Michigan would bag this running punt formation and let Zoltan Mesko go back to being an NFL-caliber punter? Mesko has struggled in the new formation and doesn't have the distance on his punts like he used to. He was the recipient of a couple nice bounces on Saturday to pad his average, but I really miss seeing him just boom the ball down the field.
  • My early thoughts on the Notre Dame game are that Michigan has a chance to win, though it won't be easy by any means. It'll be tough considering this is the first road game of the season, but it's not like Notre Dame is a great team or anything. At times against San Diego State their offense looked just as bad as Michigan's has this season. Both offenses will likely struggle, so this game will probably come down to defense. If Michigan's defense can play like they have the last one and a half games then the Wolverines should leave South Bend with a victory.
  • Notre Dame is actually very lucky to be 1-0 right now. San Diego State, who lost to Cal Poly in week 1, was leading Notre Dame 13-7 in the fourth quarter and had the ball inside the 1-yard line. That is when one of their players fumbled the ball right as he was about to cross the goal line. Notre Dame fell on it and drove down the field for a touchdown to go on top 14-13. SDSU was done at this point as the wind completely went out of their sails. ND added one more TD to put the Aztecs away by a score of 21-13.
  • This week's polls are out and there is no change at the top. Ohio State dropped to 5th in both polls after greatly struggling against Ohio. East Carolina is 14th in the AP Poll after destroying West Virginia, and somehow Notre Dame got 3 votes in the Coaches' Poll.
  • Michael Rosenberg published an excerpt from his book on Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes.
  • Braylon Edwards and Michael Phelps are pretty good friends. Edwards worked out with Phelps once during the offseason and actually told him that he would double Phelps' gold medal total in Beijing by the way of touchdown passes. Edwards said that before the Olympics actually happened, so if he wants to come through on his statement he'll have to catch 16 or more TDs this season.
  • Speaking of Phelps, he is going to host Saturday Night Live this week and will be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno today.

No comments: