Getting Offensive: Breaking Down Michigan's Offensive Performance Against Bowling Green in the Wolverines' 65-21 Win

Below is MGoVideo's usual outstanding video compilation from Saturday. Couldn't break down any game without it. Watch it, review it, think about it. Every Offensive play from Saturday's win over Bowling Green. I'll save you some time if you missed the game, 95% of this is awesome with only 5% "meh". Once you watch it, my goofy ramblings after the video will make more sense.

 

Initial Thoughts

First, the Bad.  GET OUT OF BOUNDS. OH GOD, GET OUT OF BOUNDS! WHY DIDN'T YOU GET OUT OF BOUNDS!? Other than that, note to  Junior Hemingway, catch the ball ball. Note to Stephen Hopkins, carry the ball higher and hold onto it tighter. And... uh... well... oh yeah, Devin Gardner, you are not in high school anymore, get upfield and get yards. You're not going to outrun people to the corner at this level, at least as a true freshman.

Now, the Good.  Lessee... 721 yards of total offense, 467 yards rushing the ball, 255 yards passing, a completion percentage of 88.5 (23-26 passing), and 65 points. I've seen baby seal clubbings that were more competitive (seal v. dude with club) that were more competitive that BGSU's defense against Michigan's offense. Frankly, I thought the seal showed a little more spunk. This was a demolition of a FBS school that Michigan fans haven't seen the likes of since Michigan Bikini Atoll'd Iowa, 63-7 in 1971

At no point did the Michigan offense look like it was out of sync, even with all the personal foul penalties (I'm sorry, I still don't know what David Molk was called for, nor can I explain how a totally legal hit dished out by Martavious Odoms was a foul) this unit was a machine. It didn't matter who was under center, running the ball, or doing the blocking. A dominating, wonderful performance all around.

Positional Reviews after the jump....

Positional Reviews

The Offensive Line: The amazing stat of the day, Michigan lost one yard rushing. One. With the exception of a single play and a single yard, the Michigan offense operated exclusively in positive territory thanks to the road grading job turned in by the offensive line. To borrow from Robin Williams, BGSU defense was like putting gauze in front of a semi. The starting offensive line of Taylor Lewan, Patrick Omameh, David Molk, Stephen Schilling, and Perry Dorrestein was dominant in every facet of the game. No one came near the quarterbacks during pass plays. You could've driven a convoy through the holes they were opening up on run plays. You also have to recognize the great job that Kevin Koger and Martell Webb are putting in at tight end. They're not catching a lot of passes right now but they are absolutely crushing people off the line. They'll get their passes as the season goes on, but you can't say enough about their blocking.

One thing that needs to be said is that the difference between Perry Dorrestein last year and Perry Dorrestein this year is mind blowing. Michigan has no compunction whatsoever to run behind him and 90% of the time Dorrestein is blasting his man into Ypsilanti. Also, Taylor Lewan... daaaaaaaaaaammn. He is really, really friggin good. At this point I have to believe he's taken over the left tackle position for good, with Mark Huygecoming in as the first Tackle off the bench. Huyge's good enough to start, and to have that kind of luxury is really pretty nice. The interior of the line was its usual dominant self. There weren't any crazy, OMG Omameh downfield blocks that I can think of, but Molk, Schilling and Omameh turned in another crushing performance. Sure everyone missed a little bit of a block here and there, but no one flat out whiffed. It was awesome.

Another encouraging thing was the demonstration that Michigan does have some depth on the line. Ricky Barnum finally got in a game and looked pretty good. Rocko Khoury took over at center and looked solid. Then, one of my favorite guys of the bench, Quinton Washington came in at guard and started smooshing people. Finally, Michael Schofield garnered a little time at Tackle, replacing Mark Huyge after Perry Dorrestein came out. Depth. Domination. You can't ask for anything more. The Line gets an "A+", with the caveat that things aren't going to go this easy against the rest of our schedule.

The Receivers: Another solid day blocking and receiving for Michigan's cadre of fleet footed pass catchers. There were only a few notable deficiencies I could find in an otherwise stellar day for the receivers. First, Junior Hemingway, dude... that Gardner pass was perfect. You've gotta haul that in. But you know that, so we'll move on. Second, Roy Roundtree, you had some great catches today, but what was with falling down on decently thrown bubble screens? You seemed to be a little off balance and twisting around waaaay too much. On that 36 completion, if you keep running forward you're probably in the endzone. Too much flash, man. Just run straight ahead, fast, and you'll get the job done. And... uhhhh... that's it.

I mean, look at these numbers for the receivers!

Receiving               No.  Yds   TD  Long
Roundtree, Roy     9      118    0     36
Stonum, Darryl      3         38    0     30
Grady, Kelvin          2        26    0     17
Gallon, Jeremy      2        25    1     14
Hemingway, J.      2         25    0     17
Odoms, M.              2        16    0     14
Dileo, Drew            1           3    0      3

Even Drew Dileo got in the action (who, BTW, looked great as a punt returner. He has to start as PR from here out if we're only going with one PR. No, I'm not kidding). Darryl Stonumcontinues to look like a new man out there. His adjustment coming back to the ball on Gardner's horribly underthrown pass was a thing of beauty and resulted in a 30 yard pickup. Kelvin Grady was equally impressive picking up two catches for 26 yards and running for a touchdown that got called back. His emergence as another able, speedy receiver is such an unexpected bonus for this offense it's hard to adequately describe. Finally, congrats to Jeremy Gallon on his 11 yard catch and run TD, which included fighting through a horse collar tackle. good stuff little man!

A solid A for the receivers. I can't give a plus because of the Hemingway drop. When you drop a sure six points, you've gotta get dinged a little bit.

The Running Backs: I think we played everyone.

Rushing              No  Gain Loss  Net   TD   Lg    Avg
Toussaint, F.       2     66      0        66     1    61   33.0
Smith, Vincent    12    62      0        62    2    11    5.2
Shaw, Michael    12   59      0         59    1    11    4.9
Cox, Michael        6     56      0        56     0    35    9.3
Hopkins, S.         6      33      1        32     0   19     5.3
Jones, Teric        3      7        0         7      0     4      2.3

It's hard to be happier for any of the running backs than I am for Fitzgerald Toussaint. after a year of demonstrating just how good he is to the practice squad, he was finally healthy enough to take the field, rattle off a 61 yard run and score his first touchdown. Congrats Fitz. A second round of congratulations to John McColgan who caught his first career touchdown pass, and cleared the way for some great runs.

After that, the group was it's usual awesome self, minus the Stephen Hopkins fumble. I thought both Hopkins and Michael Cox showed some great power and vision during their stints in the game. Either of these two could become the "runaway beer truck" this offense so desperately needs. Well. It doesn't need it. I just want to be able to say that more often. There were a couple of runs where Hopkins just lowered the boom on some people. I love it.

Another workman like day for Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw. Two TD's for Smith and one for Shaw. It's kind of funny, for such a small dude, Smith is an amazingly productive goal line back. On top of that, Smith finally had a big day (average wise) running the football. He was steady the entire time in the game, only cranking out a long run of 11 yards, but still averaged 5.2 ypc on just 12 carries. I thought this was probably his best game of the year. Similarly, Michael Shaw looked pretty good as well. Of the backs, Shaw is easily the strongest, fastest and most powerful of the group. He didn't lose a yard on Saturday and always found his way to positive yardage. If people fail to wrap him up in Big Ten play, oooooh baby, he could go nuts. The only downside is that he got leg whipped something fierce against BGSU, and I'm hoping that Rodriguez is able to limit his carries and involvement in the Indiana game to allow the leg to heal. We're going to need him against MSU.

While the Hopkins fumble is worrisome, the rest of the running backs' play was not. Another solid A for this group.

The Quarterbacks:  Efficeincy defined. 23 catches on 26 passes. One drop was a sure touchdown. One incompletion was a ball that obviously slipped out of Gardner's hand. The only pass, and I mean the only pass, that was questionable was the 4th and 5 pass to an obviously (double covered) Junior Hemingway. Other than that... you run out of superlatives.

Denard Robinsonwas his usual flying, I-beam bending, crime fighting self. Rushing for 129 yards and two TDs on just five carries. To put this in context, he equaled the best output of any of our running backs (and almost the enitre Big Ten's running backs' best output) in five carries. He was also deadly accurate in the air, hooking on all four of his passes for 60 yards including a 36 yarder to Roy Roundtree. It's almost like he can do this with his eyes closed. If there's a criticism it's GET OUT OF BOUNDS. OH GOD, GET OUT OF BOUNDS! WHY DIDN'T YOU GET OUT OF BOUNDS!? Seriously dude. You're a tough kid, but don't take chances in meaningless games. Thankfully, he's okay and will start on Saturday.

After Robinson, you have to start talking about Tate Forcier. I've written plenty about Tate already, but there are some great things to look at while he was in. The biggest thing that jumped out at me was the velocity on Tate's throws compared to the end of last season. It's great to see him finally healthy and able to put some zip on the ball. It's also clear that he has a much better grasp of the zone read and the WR option on the zone read than he had a year ago. One thing that reallly struck me on Saturday was how much quickerTate looked in the running game than Gardner did. Gardner didn't seem to explode and accelerate the way I thought he would, and looked a little tentative (re: slow) on the keepers. Most of this seems to be related to him being able to turn on the jets at will in high school and run away from everyone, and that not being the case now. Gardner will learn. But Tate's already learned that lesson and was explosive, for positive yards, every time he touched the ball.

There's something about the kid that's just plain ole' fashioned fun to watch. He's spunky. He's gritty. He's like Wes Welker at quarterback in the spread system. He plays through pain, regardless of where it is. I guess that makes him "spritty"? Yesno? It's funny, but the more I watch Tate, the more he reminds me of former Philadelphia Eagle Randal Cunningham. There's just something about Tate when he's improvising that is so much fun to watch for me and so blood boiling terrifying to Michigan's opponents. It's almost like he's better on the fly than in the system. Maybe that's not fair, but the thought did occur to me. Even so, it's not like Tate wasn't awesome on Saturday while executing the system. When you go 12-12 and lead four straight touchdown drives, including ones where personal fouls wipe out first downs, you're doing something right. An outstanding performance from Tate.

Finally, Devin Gardner. I thought Gardner looked pretty good for his first legitimate action as a Division One quarterback. Of the group, Gardner's got the best pocket presence but hasn't quite learned how to make all the throws. As stated before, the big hookup with Stonum was dreadfully underthrown and would've been a touchdown if he'd laid the ball into the endzone. I think this will develop with time, but his throws to Hemingway and Grady (both should've been touchdowns) were beautiful. Devin was pretty solid running the offense Saturday, but was clearly still learning. He made some iffy zone read plays and had at least two questionable throws out of nine pass attempts. He an unquestioned talent, and I'm comfortable living with him as our quarterback if circumstances call for it, but he's clearly the #3 guy behind #1 Denard Robinson and #1A Tate Forcier. Stil, a great showing for a true freshman QB.

Even with some minor criticism, the Quarterbacks performed almost flawlessly. A+.

Overall

If you're looking for things to complain about after Saturday's performance, you're out of luck. This was the most complete offensive performance by a Michigan team against a FBS opponent since the 2008 Captial One Bowl. But lets also not get too far ahead of ourselves, Bowling Green was not the 2007 Florida Gators. The road from here out becomes increasingly difficult as conference play begins and Michigan is not going to have the luxury of playing a team with the crippling lack of talent that plagues the MAC. This, more than anything, was a warmup. A scrimmage in which the Wolverine offense got to execute the same play over and over again so as not to give anything away to Indiana or the rest of the Big Ten.

Even holding 90% of our cards close to the vest, Michigan still ran up 65 points.

It's great to see the offense clicking the way it is and it's even better to see the depth that's developed. Now it's time to put that depth to work. The conference season starts on Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers.

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