Injury roundup: Michigan to get back Desmond Morgan, but without others for Notre Dame - Desmond Morgan is back from injury, but James Ross could provide a stiff test when it comes to who starts at WLB. The rest of Michigan's injuries are known quantities.
Michigan's Brady Hoke enjoys Notre Dame series, but won't be heartbroken if it ends - Hoke engaging in coachspeak.
Hoke loves playing Notre Dame. But, if for some reason the Fighting Irish aren't on the Wolverines' schedule at some point down the road, Hoke won't exactly be heartbroken. "They've got to do what they need to do for them," Hoke said Monday. "If (the Michigan-Notre Dame series) continues, it's great. "If it doesn't, then we'll move forward."
I'm with Brian over at MGoBlog: it would be terrible for this series to end. How much joy (and pain) has this series brought? How great have these games been? Both schools look to be trending back upward for the first time together in quite some time, and now we are thinking about stopping it in a few years? Crazy.
Part of the magic of working on the MVictors' Michigan History Calendar is not just walking down memory lane for the obvious highlights, it's finding those little moments in the hopes that the user will remember them as well. David Brandon may have committed himself to creating "wow" experiences, but the Magic of Ordinary Days is not about wow. It's about "neat" or "nifty" or "cool". For instance, no one would remark on Michigan's 1996 game against Boston College as a "wow" game, it, in fact, was not much of a game. But it always has stuck in my memory as the moment I earned my first Fandom Endurance III badge, and for the Battle of Britain of marshmallow fights (back in the day when we were allowed to bring things like marshmallows into the stadium.) So a day like yesterday is going to be important for someone. It was inevitably someone's first time at Michigan Stadium yesterday, probably a place that they had dreamed of going for their whole life. And they're going to remember that they got to see Michigan win and that will be all that matters. Because there is Magic in Ordinary Days, you just have to know how to look for it.
Michigan vs. UMass Awards - Magnus is high on Bolden
Let's see more of this guy on defense . . . Joe Bolden. I'm not a huge fan of replacing seniors with freshmen, but Bolden has done a good job the past couple weeks. Starting middle linebacker Kenny Demens played the vast majority of snaps last season, but Michigan can afford to rest him (or replace him?) with Bolden and not miss a whole lot. He's more athletic than Demens.
I am as well, but I don't want to see Demens taken off the field too much. Despite his faults, Demens is still an experienced starter and a capable middle linebacker. Bolden is young and has yet to flash his promise against a really good team (at least I don't remember him doing much against Bama, but I could be wrong).
Hokepoints: Denard Under Center - Seth did some incredible work compiling this study of Denard Robinson's passing success from different formations, and even though the conclusion is below, you've really got to read the whole thing.
So that's my final answer. Drilling on his footwork seems to be helping Denard's accuracy reach Henne-an efficiency overall, but it's not being under center so much as being in the West Coast offense's dedicated pass-protection formation on 1st and 2nd downs. More time in the pocket means better chances to collect yards with scrambles, and more passes that Robinson has time to step into. For about three plays per game, Borges has found Denard that time by trading in the threat of his quarterback's legs for the built-in passer protections that made the Ace Two-TE formations a favorite among WCO aficionados. It's not often enough to distract defenses from focusing on stopping the core shotgun spread offense, but it's enough to act as an extra weapon deployed where it can do maximum damage. And from the results above, you'd have to admit this particular course of Borges-Robinson fusion cuisine has been exquisite!
Mining the Box Score: Caught Short - The Only Colors takes a closer look at MSU's loss to Notre Dame. Worth a read to get a better understanding of what Michigan is facing. The overall takeaway seems to be: attack the Irish with downfield passes because the front seven will eat you alive if you try to dink and dunk and run all day in an effort to be conservative.
Week 3 Hotseat Watch - Nice to know that Michigan's coach doesn't end up on every one of these lists, right?
Five Wide Fullbacks: The "We're Taking This to the BCS/Getting Carried Away" Edition - One Foot Down on Notre Dame and Denard Robinson.
So how is Notre Dame going to stop Denard Robinson?
They're not. As coaches typically say, you can't quite stop Denard Robinson, you have to contain him. Though, I gotta say Alabama pretty much stopped him. The play of the Prince Shembo/Ishaq Williams duo will be key as will the (now even younger, due to Slaughter's season ending injury) secondary. If the pass rush can get to Robinson every once in a while and land a good hit just to get to his head (I'm looking at you all 650 pounds of Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt) while using Shembo and Williams' athleticism to bother Robinson on the rollouts, there is a chance that Robinson will not completely embarrass Bob Diaco's defense this Saturday. But who are we kidding. This is Denard Robinson we're talking about. Of course he'll look like the Heisman favorite against Notre Dame. (Dear God, please let this reverse jinx work.)
The writer then goes on to predict that Robinson is held under 50 yards rushing, which sounds to me like a refutation of "contain him", but hey, it isn't my blog. I think Robinson goes over 100 on the ground, but with the way the line is handling things I think he is the only one that gets anywhere close to the century mark. Probably going to be another disappointing day for Fitzy.
One Foot Inbounds: The Sack of Troy - Hinton over at Football Outsiders on USC-Stanford and other things.
It's no great feat of analysis to point out what went wrong after it's gone wrong –- 20/20 hindsight and all that -– but it was also no secret coming into the season that USC's glaring weakness as a national contender was its defensive line. Read those season previews closely enough, somewhere down in the footnotes beneath odes to quarterback Matt Barkley and his world-class wide receivers, and you'll find it. That concern only deepened when senior defensive end Devon Kennard was ruled out for the year in preseason drills, leaving one returning starter along the front four, Wes Horton, who was subsequently injured himself in the Trojans' win over Syracuse. So it probably should not have come as any surprise that Stanford, nouveau beacon of old-school, salt-of-the-earth power running, turned out to be the opponent that exploited it.