Has everyone caught their breath yet? No? Well, too bad, there's analysis to get to. We've already taken a look at the Defensive Performance against UConnso it's time to get to analysisizingeration the offense's performance last Saturday. I have no intention of being as detailed and obsessive as MGo's UFR, so this is more a cursory look at patterns, strengths, weaknesses, and individual performances that stood out for one reason or another. You can watch every snap from the UConn Michigan here.
To save time and energy, we're going to skip discussing Denard Robinson's performance on Saturday. Why? Because there's already been a surplusage of ink and pixels devoted to praising him as the coming of the divine savior of mankind, we're not going to waste time basically repeating what everyone's already said. He had an amazing game. But the game's over now and he's got to get ready for Notre Dame. So on to the rest of the squad.
Overall, I thought the offense's performance was very good, but not without areas of concern or room for improvement. UConn had an unseemly 11 tackles for loss on Saturday, there were ample missed blocking assignments and some bad reads on the day. Let's be clear, Saturday was very impressive. But there are things to work on.
One thing I am very pleased to see out of the play calling is that there wasn't much of a discernible pattern to how Michigan executed its offense. Sure it was a rush first offense, but there weren't any tips or tells that I could on the film that would let a defense know what was coming. Michigan ran equally left to right. One thing I did notice, however, was that Michigan was very successful running behind Mark Huyge. Huyge was dominant against UConn's somewhat depleted Defensive Ends and could usually be found mauling some poor fool in a White and Blue jersey. Of the offensive linemen, I thought he had the best day. I'll wait for Genuinely Sarcastic to release their offensive line reviews for confirmation, but Huyge looked good.
The line did look good, but there were plenty of moments where UConn split the zone scheme fairly effectively. Patrick Omameh had some plays where he was blown back into the backfield and others where he was thumping someone. It seemed like a fairly uneven day for Omameh, and I think he needs to work on latching on a little better to his blocks. The rest of the line did its job. Stephen Schilling, David Molk and Perry Dorrestein all looked good but missed an assignment or two. No harm no foul, right? I think there are a lot of positives that came out of the game, but there are things to work on. A solid B+ performance.
Going out to the wings, a very solid day from the receivers. When you've only got two incompletions that were on target, and both of those incompletions were due to: 1) Roundtree getting absolutely destroyed by the safety; and, 2) a really good play by the corner on a 4th and 6 with Michigan leading 30-10 and the game over .... well... you've had a good day. The only negatives I found on the day were Kelvin Grady's fumble on the reverse and Roundtree's pre-smokage blocking. That's it.
Frankly, I thought Kelvin Grady and Darryl Stonum were awesome. Grady was a force blocking down field and his blocks set up Denard's touchdown run and cleared the final hurdle for Vincent Smith's first touchdown run. The block on Smith's run was a complete pancake and a thing of beauty. Also deserving of HUGE blocking praise is Martell Webb, who not only blocked a FG, but delivered crushing blocks including the first big block that sprung Denard's touchdown run.
Everyone made themselves available to receive passes, held onto them when they were thrown, and found holes in the zone the way they were supposed to. Terrance Robinson and Darryl Stonum were awesome. Martavious Odoms third down catch and run were wonderful to see. Kevin Koger quietly had a great day, picking up two first downs on three catches and generally being open when he needed to be. The receivers did everything you could ask of them on Saturday and are definitely deserving of an A on the day!
Focusing on the backfield now, the duo of Vincent Smith and Michael Shawactually combined for 99 yards on 29 carries, even with Shaw's WTF!?11 yard backward loss in the third quarter. The most impressive thing about the runningbacks' performances was the fact that both backs were consistently running downhill. Unlike last year, there was limited scampering around in the backfield. Instead, Shaw and Smith went forward, following their blocking for positive gains. As Rodriguez likes to harp on, limiting negative plays is the quickest way to improve your team, and when there was only one negative play out of your tailbacks on the day you're doing okay.
The one thing between Smith and Shaw that jumped out at me was the difference in the quality of blocking between the two backs. I thought that Shaw was consistently the better blocker in both rush and passing situations. this is not to say Smith was bad. He wasn't. He just wasn't as good at sealing the linebacker or the DE on running plays as Shaw was. Shaw was a monster blocker on Saturday and hopefully that will help make up for a little bit of that WTF!? run.
Getting past the blocking, both backs were outstanding between the tackles runners and both showed some surprising power and shiftiness. Shaw's cut backs, right to left were designed, but still goregous. Smith's slippery run into the end zone stunned me, I honestly don't think the UConn defenders could seehim until it was too late. Going further, both young men absolutely steamrolled their tacklers on multiple occasions. Shaw in particular seemed to delight in lowering the BOOMSTICK on his would be tacklers as he rode over them for extra yardages. And it wasn't just on the run or zone read. Both Shaw and Smith were extremely competent receivers Shaw's 16 yard swing pass could easily have gone for a touchdown had UConn's last defender not been semi-competent. Smith caught 3 passes including a touchdown, but wasn't able to break anything long.
Overall the running backs looked very competent and secured the ball well. There was a fumble, but that was more on Denard (and it was recovered by Martell Webb, more praise for the TE!). You would've liked to have seen bigger numbers out of the backs and their three-point-something averages weren't particularly inspiring, but they were effective when called upon. Because of something iffy blocks by Smith, Shaw's WTF!? run, and the low YPC average, I can't give this group an A. But they certainly deserve a B trending to a B+.
I definitely think there will be room for improvement this week. The offensive line had the benefit of not going up against a fully functional Defensive Line, as UConn was missing one DE starter and forced to start two newbies at the position. Notre Dame's defensive line will certainly be more talented and active than UConn's, so the O Line is going to have to buckle down and work on eliminating those gap shooting NT's and active linebackers before they find their way into the backfield.
Overall, though, a great performance from the offense. Alright, there are my thoughts on the Offense's performance. Let's hear yours.