Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Burning redshirts

Rodriguez has come in for a lot of praise on this blog already this season. I've been an ardent supporter of Rodriguez since he arrived in Ann Arbor and seem to always look for the best. That's probably no more apparent than in the last two weeks where I've basically hailed his playcalling as unheralded brilliance. But that's not to say I agree with everything the team's doing, so without further ado, the first installment of Good Idea, Bad Idea:

Good idea
  • Hiring Greg Robinson. So maybe this is premature, and given the majority of our sample size (2009), this should probably go under the Bad Idea header, but the improvement that the defense has seen this year feels like it's due in large part to Robinson. Aside from the schematic changes that appear to be for the better, the work that Robinson has done with Stevie Brown, and more relevantly, what he appears to have done with Michigan's current linebackers has helped quickly turn around a talent-barren defense. By the season's end, this may very well flip to the negative side of things, but right now Michigan is coming up all spades.
  • Playcalling. I've mentioned this most often on the blog, but Calvin Magee and Rich Rodriguez have been calling brilliant offensive games. Look no further than the Roy Roundtree touchdown and its setup as proof. Other plays that stick out are the Vincent Smith screen pass touchdown against a fierce UConn blitz and Denard's various QB draws (like the intentional--make no mistake, this was intentional--QB draw on 3rd and 15 deep in Michigan's territory, that earned a first down).
  • Burning Devin Gardner's redshirt. Despite the obvious gains that the program would see from having Gardner around for a fifth year, it's difficult to look at the way the offense functions under Denard and not understand the need for a similar athlete as a backup. Getting him time on the field is going to be essential if Michigan wants to have a real insurance policy should Denard go down.
  • The Tate hug.  Before the Notre Dame game, the cameras panned along the Michigan sidelines and focused on Tate and Rodriguez for a moment as the two shared a pre-game hug. Despite this feeling staged--you couldn't have done that in the locker room or before the game or, ya know, not on national television?--with all of the rumors about the relationship between Tate and Rodriguez, this put the chatter to rest.
Bad idea
  • Burning Devin Gardner's redshirt (SeewhatIdidthere?). The most groan-worthy moment of the season thus far has been watching Devin Gardner come onto the field after Denard took a hip stinger, only to be a nonfactor and mindlessly waste his redshirt. It's understandable that Rodriguez feels the need to win this season, but Gardner is not the kind of athlete that comes along every year. Having him for two seasons after Denard and Tate are gone would've been highly preferable to the one we're going to get.
  • The predictable snap count. MGoBlog has been lamenting this for two years now, but Michigan's snap count continues to be problematic. UConn didn't really exploit it, but Notre Dame did. After Denard drops into the shotgun, he lifts his leg and systematically snaps the ball after it. Notre Dame was actually changing their defensive front before the snap, which I presume changes the reads for Denard. Fortunately, Michigan didn't really get beaten on this, but better defensive teams will be able to key in on this in the future.
  • Whatever Rodriguez is doing that's making players transfer. There has to be something going on here that's making these players transfer at such a high rate. Maybe not. Maybe this doesn't fall on Rodriguez. But it feels like it does.
For posterity


Joe said...

With regard to "burning Gardner's redshirt", I'm a little surprised that I haven't seen too much mention of Tate's current redshirt-ability.

I can't imagine he'd *want* to sit out the entire season (scratch that: there's no way in hell he wants to sit out), but here we are two games into it and we do still have a QB that hasn't played a single snap.

(Really, though, this might boil down to "If he sits out all year here, does that mean he can play right away once he transfers?")

Chris Gaerig said...

That's a good point. But if Tate redshirts and sticks around at Michigan, that just coincides Devin and Tate's senior years. And given the current depth chart, that seems to just be delaying the inevitable for Tate.

Dave said...

Those intentional QB draws are freaking ridiculous - and terrifying. Those should scare the shit out of every team in the conference. I know I'm scared. I can see the worst happening. Hopefully a linebacker group like MSU's is up to the challenge. I would run Denard like that every third down. But like I said, as someone on the other side of the ball, hopefully some D backs are keen to this. Dammit he's good.

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