Monday, September 27, 2010

Bowling Green: Where a QB is a QB

Despite all of the horror of the 2009 Big Ten schedule and the relative uncertainty of the 2010 team, the last 16 games have done at least one thing: They have effectively demolished the memory of 2008's offensive ineptitude. No longer is the team having trouble finding a quarterback who can complete a pass, run the zone read, or having trouble getting the offensive line to know their blocking assignments. If the first four games of this season have proved anything it's that the offense has arrived. And it's more than just having the right players. The schemes are exact, the players know what they're supposed to do, and it is unquestionably lethal.

Caveats about Bowling Green's talent level aside, as a team, Michigan completed 23 of 26 passes for 255 yards (9.8 YPA), with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Almost more impressively, nine different players carried the ball for a total of 466 yards on 56 carries (8.3 YPC) and combined for 7 rushing touchdowns. The point is, Michigan has weapons. This will be the most effective Michigan offense of recent memory--there's really no debate about that anymore.

The real question heading into the Bowling Green game was the defense and how they would bounce back from a 2009-like performance against UMass. They responded... adequately. Despite the television commentators harping on Michigan's defensive troubles in the game, Bowling Green ended the game with 283 total yards, 71 of which came on a screen play that ended in a touchdown because of some bad tackling and poorer angles. They completely shut down Bowling Green's ground attack, which was promising. However, BG's backup and third-string quarterbacks were able to rack up a fair amount of yards through the air, despite not being particularly efficient (19-31 with 2 interceptions).

What all of this means for the rest of 2010 is still up in the air. The defense still looks really shaky and may cost Michigan a game or two that they should realistically win (I'm looking at you, Indiana). Otherwise, the offense looks good enough that winning shootouts shouldn't be a problem.

  • Obviously, a tip of the hat goes to Tate Forcier for his performance. After all of the drama involving Forcier this year, he stepped up and proved that he's still a legitimate threat in this offense. In fact, his performance may have solidified him as #2 on the depth chart. But we'll worry about that if Denard ever gets seriously injured (knocks on wood).
  • Speaking of QB depth chartin: Does anyone else think that Devin Gardner is severely lacking in speed? Obviously it's hard to compare him to Denard, but Gardner looks slow and lumbering in the backfield. He appears to have very little in the way of acceleration, and I'm starting to get concerned about his viability as a runner. He moves well, but this offense works best with a home run threat runner. Gardner does not look to be it.
  • Speaking of not a home run threat: Fitzgerald Toussaint. I really wanted to see Toussaint get a few carries in the game and while he proved himself to be productive (66 yards on two carries), getting caught from behind, and convincingly so, by a Bowling Green defender on his 61 yard carry was not encouraging. For someone who was being heralded as the next great Michigan running back, that was not a great introduction.
  • Will Campbell looked nigh unblockable on the goal line. I continue to push for more playing time for him.
  • It was good to see Terrence Talbott, Courtney Avery, and Cullen Christian get a lot of snaps during the game. The other encouraging sign was that Greg Robinson called a lot of man coverage. It returned mixed results, but the fact that he recognized the issues with the defensive zones is encouraging.


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