Showing posts with label Denard Robinson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Denard Robinson. Show all posts

Hoke Expects Borges to Remain with Wolverines

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Coming off of a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to Ohio State at home to end the regular season, the University of Michigan's football program has many questions to answer and problems to address coming off of a disappointing 7-5 season, the team's third under head coach Brady Hoke.

The year is not done yet, as the team will likely be playing a bowl game sometime around Christmas, but now is the time that changes to a team are usually announced, whether it be staff or player related.

That being said, Brady Hoke stated earlier this week that he does not anticipate any changes to his coaching staff an expects everyone to return for next season, including much criticized offensive coordinator Al Borges.

Life After Denard

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Last year, after the Wolverines' dreadful performance against Notre Dame, I wrote a post about how much better Michigan will be when Denard leaves.  @TBHReport founder, CEO, and my favorite Australian, +Joshua Henschke put a disclaimer on it, saying that it was my opinion, not that of the website. I received a great deal of negative feedback about it, with even a few people telling me that I wasn't a, "real Michigan fan," or that I didn't like Denard because he was a black quarterback. My response was, "He's only one of those things."

Under Rodriguez, Denard put up Create-a-Player stats against less-than teams but struggled against opponents like Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  Teams that had any type of depth on the defensive side of the ball, and a Defensive Coordinator who had the ability to watch film, figured out how to stop the Wolverines:  Stop Denard.  In 2011, when Michigan went 10-2, the emergence of a legitimate RB threat in Fitzgerald Toussaint added a previously lacking wrinkle in defensive strategies.  Last year, Fitz had a less-than-stellar campaign, culminating in a grisly injury.  The focus shifted back to stopping Denard. 8-5 was the result.

Even with Al Borges calling plays, Denard and the Wolverines struggled.  An injury against Nebraska gave Devin Gardner the chance he needed the following week, and it also gives the Wolverines the best chance to win with an actual quarterback.

Devin Gardner's emergence as one of the two best starting quarterbacks in the B1G conference (Hey, Braxton), as well as the return of Fitzgerald Toussaint and arguably one of the deepest running back pools in recent memory, put Michigan in excellent position to win their first B1G Title since 2004.  It's been a while.

Even some of the players have noticed the difference in the offense this year as opposed to last year. Just last week, Drew Dileo said, "... it's gonna be a lot less Denard runnnig left, Denard running right this year."  I'm sure that Dileo didn't mean anything by his comments, but much can be taken from the words. Put another way:  "Michigan's offense will be more versatile and dangerous, now that the person all of the DCs around the country have to stop is now gone."

Denard fit perfectly into Rodriguez offense, but when (thankfully) the West Virginian Hick got himself fired for actually making grown men hold hands and sing a Josh Groban song, Denard found himself in the position of being the square peg in a round hole.

He performed well, except during B1G play, which is how Michigan measures success.

Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, Michigan's offense will be statistically better this year without Robinson.  It may not be as exciting as watching him leave a MAC linebacker with a broken ankle as he reverses field and scores a touchdown in a game that has already been decided, but I will take a potent, balanced attack that has Jim Heacock and Pat Narduzzi up at night questioning if they've done enough to stop their hated rival over that every day.

And in other news, for the Michigan fans who continue the ridiculous talk that Rodriguez wasn't given a fair shot, or that his record at Arizona proves that he would have succeeded at Michigan: when Michigan went 7-6, Rodriguez pointed to it as a positive reason to keep his job.  Last year, after Michigan went 8-5, Brady Hoke said it was unacceptable and not up to the standards of the University of Michigan. Which sounds better?

A Team Known ‘Round The World

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Photo Credit:
Brenda McGadney 
This May, I spent time on a cross-cultural trip to Uganda, Africa, and had the time of my life. During the trip I worked a health clinic, visited a poverty struck village, played fútbol with hundreds of kids, roamed the big city, hiked up to waterfalls, and went on a three day safari; to name a few.

However, in Africa you start to miss some of the first-world concepts most of us Americans enjoy everyday. For instance, unlimited data and access to the Internet anytime and anywhere. Sure there were a few wireless modems around, but not the kind that allowed me to do the browsing and reading of articles that I am used to. So along with missing those closest to me, I missed keeping up with The University of Michigan, and all of the wonderful sporting news involving the Wolverines. Sure, I was able to see that Jabrill Peppers committed, but unable to watch how he rapped his decision, or check out his blazing 200-meter speed on YouTube. It was hard for me to keep up with the recruiting race for both basketball and football, and almost impossible to follow Denard in Jacksonville, and Hardaway Jr. and Burke as they prepare for the NBA Draft. Of course, these are all little problems, but sometimes I believe it’s the littlest problems that can be the most bothersome.

However, I realized all of these problems could be fixed with some work and some looking around. For me personally, bringing Michigan apparel to wear was enough to cover some of the bleeding. What I didn’t expect is to see a bunch of Michigan apparel (a lot of Nike gear), meet Michigan Grads, and have random conversations about Michigan teams. Heck, at one point of the trip, I even stayed at the same guesthouse as a mission’s team from “Ohio.” Talk about a bitter rivalry. My team made sure to grab all of the American beverages before the Buckeyes came down to eat, because they knew I would love to watch my rival suffer through bitter sodas. They must know me well. I met a guy at a café who came up to me and asked if I played basketball at Michigan (I guess my Adidas shoot around shirt was enough to convince him). I thought about saying yes, but told the truth and mentioned that I was just a passionate fan. He then asked me the name of the short guy with multiple tats that could shoot from mid court, and I kindly replied, “Trey Burke.” He mentioned watching the National Championship game and how many Ugandan’s pulled for the team whose jerseys were “flashy and yellow” just like the National Ugandan Fútbol team wore.  At a resort in Northern Uganda I met a couple that graduated from Michigan, moved to the Netherlands, and still donate to the University today. In an airport in Brussels, Belgium I was asked if I knew “Shoelace” and if I thought he would make a National Team. I informed the young gentleman that I had only shaken Denard’s hand, and that the Jacksonville Jaguars had already drafted him. When we landed in Newark, New Jersey, I passed through customs wearing a Michigan football shirt, and the man who scanned my passport asked me how upset I was that the Michigan vs. Notre Dame rivalry was being discontinued.  I mentioned being upset, but told him that Notre Dame will need a break after two more tough losses against the Wolverines. Go Blue.

You see, I learned a lot on this cross-cultural experience. Mostly about the culture and lifestyle of Uganda, which is why I enrolled on the trip. However, I learned a few other things as well. All of these conversations I had about Michigan, and sightings of Maize and Blue apparel, actually made me feel a little closer to home, as well as make up for everything thing I was missing with my lack of Wifi. I learned that even far away in a third world country, I could still reminisce about my favorite team. But most of all, it allowed me to realize that the Michigan Wolverines are much more then a National team, but a Team Known ‘Round The World.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The last game of your football career is a tidal wave of emotions. Everything you have ever known for the past four-five years suddenly comes to a screeching halt. It could end in elation or it could end in disappointment.

For the seniors of Team 133, they did what many thought wouldn't be possible, they brought Michigan back into the national spotlight. Sure, these kids were aided with the hiring of Brady Hoke and his band of coordinators. But, they became more than a group of Rich Rod castoffs, they become Brady Hoke's players. Students at the University of Michigan who could FINALLY, after many seasons, grasp the idea what it was like to truly wear the winged helmet.

Jordan Kovacs, Denard Robinson, Roy Roundtree, Patrick Omameh -- to name a few. All seniors who have played their final snap of football at Michigan. These young men showed displayed triumph and courage in the face of adversity. Where most would give up on the team, the seniors pushed forward. They bought into a system and finally became a cohesive unit.

They were Michigan.

As the last of the Rich Rodriguez recruits prepare themselves for departure from the university, they were faced with unique challenges that most college players may never face. These kids were responsible for rebranding a program so entrenched in tradition that no matter happened, failure was likely. Though the experiment was indeed a failure. They would have to rebrand the program a second time. A mess that desperately needed to be fixed.

Team 132 set the tone with seniors like Molk, Van Bergen, Martin and so on. But the seniors we witnessed play their hearts out against South Carolina had the most to gain. Though 8-5 is nothing to write home about, the legacy left behind will be remembered fondly.

These Rich Rod guys turned into Brady Hoke guys and put the pieces back together with the leadership of Hoke and the rest of the deep supporting cast. These kids spent hours watching film, getting stronger, getting better, and picking this program up from the depths.

The strength of one can never equal the strength of many. That is what the seniors Team 133 proved this year and during their career as Michigan Wolverines. Their last chapter may have been written, but their story will remain in the annals of Michigan history.

To the seniors of Team 133, thank you and forever Go Blue.

Deebo Knows: Time to Hold Al Borges Accountable

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another ugly display of offensive ineptitude resulting in another road loss for the Wolverines against a quality opponent...

Yes, Saturday in Columbus might as well have been Groundhog Day. We've seen this movie a few times in the last two seasons where the Michigan offense falls flat on its face away from Ann Arbor in a big game.

Many have tried to spin it multiple ways and insist that the struggles are due to the fact that offensive coordinator Al Borges does not have "his guys" to run his offense. Well, Greg Mattison does not have "his guys" either and he is making it work. He's making it work quite well. Enough with that nonsense. Truly good coaches take what they have and make it work.

The bottom line is that an offensive coordinator's job is to come up with schemes/game plans that work with the team's strengths and work around its deficiencies and also, maybe most important, to make in-game adjustments to to help win games. I'm sorry guys but I can't tow the company line here and say that Borges is doing a good job here. If you think I am being a fair weather fan and want to make excuses for him you are living in a fantasy land and need to take off the Maize and Blue homer glasses. He's racked up points on teams with inferior talent and has fizzeld against those who don't.

If you are being honest with yourself you will admit that many times in his tenure he has been stubborn (Alabama and ND), incredibly predictable and unimaginative (MSU), and unable to make quality in-game adjustments to attack defenses' weak points (many games but OSU the most glaring example). These blunders were key contributors to at least two losses this season and, as a TRUE FAN (not a homer/slappy) that can think objectively, I think it's time to take a serious look as to what exactly Al Borges brings to the table. If you can't think objectively or will blindly support anything that this coaching staff does then stop reading because this is not for you.

Forget last year, let's just look at a few games this year where this Al Borges-led offense cost Team 133. And yes, I'll throw out the Alabama game because we weren't beating Alabama this year. Sorry it wasn't happening.

I think one of the biggest blunders was the Notre Dame game in which UM lost 13-6 to the supposed #1 team in America. A game in which the defense played their a***s off and gave the team a chance to win on the road. Why didn't they win? Because the offense had a gazillion turnovers including four Denard Robinson INTs primarily because Al Borges asked him to play the role of Tom Brady and sit in the pocket and throw the ball down field 30 times. Also, at a time when the offense was steadily moving on the stout ND defense and knocking on the door inside the 10 yard line in a scoreless game early, Borges dials up a halfback pass with a 5'7" Vincent Smith only to see it get intercepted and destroy momentum. Not going to go into any further detail but if you watched that game you saw the offense cost that team a W. No two ways about it.

Nebraska was a different avenue for ineptitude. Yes, Denard got hurt. Tough blow. But how in the world is Russell Bellomy not at least adequately prepared to resemble a functional QB? I don't want to hear it was a tough spot blah blah blah. Yeah, it was a tough spot. But it's on the coaches to make sure he is at least serviceable. No excuses. The staff was ill prepared to deal with the possibility of Robinson going down. And who is ultimately responsible for the offense? Al Borges.

I won't even touch on the fact that it's hard to believe that Borges truly felt that Bellomy was going to be the better option to back up Robinson in the event of an injury. Forget the fact that Gardner is an athlete and was a decent WR. His ability at QB is a heck of a lot higher than Bellomy's and I find it hard to believe the coaches didn't see that in the spring or the summer. Gardner may have even been the team's BEST option at QB and it's also hard for me to not at least entertain that idea. Not after what we have watched since the Minnesota game.

Even though the Wolverines beat MSU, they failed to score an offensive TD in that game. A combination of a completely horrendous Spartan offense and a pretty darn good defensive effort by Mattison's boys enabled Michigan to escape with a 2-point win after only mustering four FGs. Why did Michigan only score 12 points? Partly because MSU has a very good defense, but a big part also had to do with the fact the offense was beyond predictable. Denard run left. Denard run right. Denard run center. Maybe a tailback carry in the same fashion. Failure to convert red zone trips to TDs. They didn't even attempt to outscheme that tough Spartan defense. A win is a win but that is a game that very well could've or should've been won 24-10 or something along those lines. Thank God for Greg Mattison.

Now the most recent example of terrible offensive coaching leading to a loss was the disaster in Columbus on Saturday against the Buckeyes. The offense looked pretty good in the first half scoring 21 points and heading into the halftime with a 1-point lead. It had appeared we would see more of the Devin/Denard backfield that worked wonders the previous week. So what happened in the second half? Well, Gardener would throw a 1st down pass for six to eight yards only to be taken out to line Robinson at QB for designed runs. OSU knew he couldn't throw so it was as easy as stacking the box to stop the run. It worked. Shocker.

Not only did the constant QB shuffle kill Gardner's rhythm, it essentially telegraphed what play they would run. If Gardner was in it would likey be a pass. If Denard was in it was certainly a run. Basically, Borges took all of the possible creative ways he could have them both on the field and keep the defense off balance and disregarded all of it. At least when Robinson had his QB runs in the first half they attacked the edge of the defense where they were struggling without one of their best players. In the second half they decided to attack the Buckeyes' strength (and the UM weakness all season) the interior. It's one thing to try that with Robinson who can make plays on his own, but to constantly run a 5'7" 180 lbs. Smith on a power iso play on 3rd and short yardage was inexcusable. How did this make any sense? Someone please explain this to me?

Where were the Gardner rollouts (maybe even with a misdirection play action to Robinson) with a run/pass option that worked so well? Where were the bubble screens to Denard? Heck, try an option with Gardner and Robinson. Where was the creativity we had seen in previous weeks? I'll tell you why we didn't see it. The plays were called to not lose. They were not called to win. And, once it was painfully obvious OSU was not going to allow Denard to burn them again on QB runs, Borges kept dialing them up. By the time they stuck with Devin at QB and didn't even put Denard in the game for what seemed to be most of the fourth quarter, the offense was so out of sync it was hopeless. They didn't even cross the 50 yard line in the half. There is no defending Borges for what transpired on Saturday.

No imagination. No threat of a pass with Gardner out. No moving Denard around even as a decoy. This amounted to no win. The end.

Those are just a few examples of the ineptitude we have seen this season from Al Borges. And if you can't see how they greatly contributed to losses then I want some of what you're on.

You can point to the fact that the running game was putrid or rehash that Borges didn't have "his guys." I'll give you a response of a fart noise. Michigan has one of the most dynamic players in Denard Robinson at their disposal and also what appears to be a darn good dual-threat QB in Devin Gardner. A coach that has been touted an offensive genius and is "well-respected" in the college football ranks should be able to do wonders with that. Many coordinators are able to do a lot more with a lot less. I have a very difficult time defending Al Borges after this year and would not argue with anyone who would think that he held the team back in the win column this year. The numbers and the facts are right there in black and white. The argument can be made.

I am not one of those saying Hoke should be fired. That's goofy talk. I think he is the right guy for the job. Am I a little concerned about some of his game management at times along with his 3-13 road record in his last four seasons against winning teams?  A little. But I think the good he has done as whole has far outweighed those things and I can look passed those for the time being.

However, I am seriously wondering if we have the right guy in Al Borges to run this offense in the future. I am concerned that it is entirely possible that his stubbornness, questionable play calling, propensity to get cute at the wrong times, his inability to make sound in-game adjustments, and his inability up to this point to outscheme any truly good defense could hold Michigan back from winning anything significant. It think it may have done just that this year. I am not saying this will 100% be the case moving forward but if you can't say the thought hasn't even crossed your mind you're crazy and probably delusional. I have seen enough in the last two seasons to at least be concerned.

I hope I am wrong about Borges. I hope he makes those of us who question his abilities look like imbeciles by directing juggernaut offenses. We'll see. But starting next season he won't have to "figure out" how to adequately use Robinson, he will have a QB capable of making the throws needed for his offense, and will have two years of recruiting "his guys." All of those crutches he has used to stand on will be gone and, at least for me, he is now on the clock. No more excuses.

Sorry for the rant. Losing to OSU in a game that was very winnable will do that.


**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Smack Talk & Tattoos

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Oh*o State week, and yes I refuse to spell out the name completely. 

In 1897, the rivalry began. Over one hundred years later, in 2000, it was named by ESPN as the greatest North American sports rivalry. 

This is not just a game. This never was just a game. Because on 22 occasions, Michigan and Oh*o State played to decide who would be B1G Conference champions. It's affected the determination of the conference title an additional 27 times. From there, roses are on the line.

Photo courtesy of

The "Ten-Year War" began in 1969, when Woody Hayes' former Assistant Coach, Bo Schembechler, was hired as The University of Michigan's head football coach. The Buckeyes brought in a 22-game win streak that was deflated by a defensive battle and a 60-yard punt return to set up a touchdown, and in turn, a Michigan win. In 1973, both teams entered undefeated. Four times during the War, Michigan and Oh*o State were both ranked in the AP top five. Six times the teams shared the B1G title. Oh, and there was that infamous quote by Woody Hayes… it had something to do with filling up for gas. 

Photo courtesy of

Then there was the Carr/Tressel era. When Tressel took over, he beat Michigan twice in a row; the second of which was decided on the last play of the game. Michigan struck back at the 100th meeting, winning 35-21 in Ann Arbor. In 2006, each team entered with an 11-0 record. The day before the matchup, the legendary Bo Schembechler died. The Buckeyes won the game, that could have been called an offensive battle, 42-39. There was a brief moment where the possibility of a rematch for the BCS title game was possible and even a reality… but then something happened with the state of Florida.

Photo courtesy of

All in all, there's a history. This year, it's two schools and two new coaches. As history has shown, there really is no "offensive" or "defensive" battle. It's all out war. Oh*o State enters this match-up undefeated. Michigan, despite three tough road losses, has shown the ability to switch things up when needed. The good news is that there's another set of two this year: Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson. Or as I like to call it, double-trouble. If the Iowa game was any foreshadowing: Al Borges has a few tricks up his sleeve with these two. Will the Buckeye defense be able to stop Denard playing as a slot receiver? Will they even know which one is going to get the ball on the snap? Guess we'll have to wait and see how well their football players are at reading. And if I remember right, Cardale Jones wasn't too fond of classes.  

Enjoy your rivalry week Wolverines,

Bust a nut. Beat a buckeye. 

Forever Number Sixteen

Friday, November 16, 2012

Meet Denard Robinson. A little known athlete from Deerfield Beach, Florida. Rated a four-star athlete by Rivals and Scout, he had the mold of a cornerback and a quarterback who could be capable of the spread offense. Fast forward to February 4 2009, Robinson chooses the maize and blue over Florida (coached by Urban Meyer at the time), Central Florida, Ohio State and many more. Little did we know this barely six foot 180 pound kid would sweep the nation and steal the hearts of Michigan fans.

October 8th 2009. We are here in Ann Arbor to celebrate another year of Michigan football. 100,000+ of our closest friends are here for opening day against Western Michigan. After a disappointing 3-9 season the year before, the air was nervous. Was Michigan football now comparable to a MAC school? Surely WMU wouldn't come in and take apart Michigan in our own house. That was hardly the case.

If you were watching at home, the folks at ESPN dropped his high school nickname on the air. Here comes "Shoelace". This gangly freshman who didn't tie his shoes? Great.

At the time, freshman quarterback Tate Forcier lead the team to a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. Michigan would get the ball back to see a new quarterback out on the field, Denard Robinson.The ESPN commentators quotes Rich Rodriguez saying that this kid was just too good to redshirt. It had me intrigued, I was ready. Robinson gets in the shotgun and sets. He gets the snap, but fumbles it to the groan of the Big House. What happened next is something that sticks with you forever.

World, meet Denard Robinson. He is here to stay.

The legend of Shoelace seemed to grow stagnant his freshman year. As all of the magic seemed to be transferred over to the new golden boy, Tate Forcier. The Forcier love wouldn't last long as there was a new sheriff in town.

It's the dawn of a new football season in 2012. UCONN comes to town facing a first-time starting quarterback in Denard Robinson, which once again struck fear into the hearts of many Michigan fans. Did Denard Robinson have what it takes to lead this team to victory? Yep. Denard threw for 187 yards and a touchdown and also amassed almost 200 yards rushing with another touchdown. This type of performance is the beginning of how legends are born. The next Saturday, Robinson went from campus hero to campus legend overnight.

87 yards. All 87 of them was the longest run in Notre Dame Stadium history. All done by a quarterback at Michigan that no one has ever seen before. To top it all off, Robinson drove the team down 72 yards late in the fourth quarter to steal a victory away from the Fighting Irish all while amassing over 500 yards of total offense by himself. All of this and he's just a Sophomore? Could this guy be what was missing for the Rich Rodriguez offense? What could possibly be Superman's kryptonite.

Well, the answer came in the form of late season Big Ten opponents. After undefeated starts to open two straight seasons, Michigan only fizzled out when it came down to face Ohio State. The woes continued. Robinson couldn't stay healthy during games and had to leave. It was bedlam in Ann Arbor.

The Rich Rodriguez saga ended with an embarrassing bowl loss to Mississippi State, a 52-14 shellacking to be precise. The change of guard brought in a former assistant coach for Michigan under Lloyd Carr, a guy named Brady Hoke. A man synonymous with old-school Michigan football. This change of philosophy also meant a change in offense. What would happen to Denard? Sure he would transfer somewhere that could better use his playing style.

Robinson never gave up. He came back to Michigan ready to lead and he has done just that.

September 10th 2011. Michigan Stadium was lit up for the first time ever. So were the Wolverines as Notre Dame seemed to have a good hold on them. There's eight seconds left, Robinson drops back and delivers a pass... and the rest was history.

November 26th 2011. Denard Robinson plays in what is arguably the best game of his career. Michigan finally rids themselves of the stench of losing to Ohio State for so many years. Robinson threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Also, compiling 170 yards on the ground with another touchdown.

October 20th 2012. Though the game wasn't pretty by any means, the losing streak was over. Michigan State had finally fallen to Michigan. Robinson defeated his biggest rivals and eliminated any preexisting losing streaks that haunted the program.

November 16th 2012. This is the day the fans say goodbye. A final tribute to the four years of blood, guts and glory Denard Robinson has given to the program. It's Senior Day. A day where Robinson may not even get to play because he is sidelined with an elbow injury.

So, with that being said, this is really it. This is goodbye, Denard. If he never took another snap at Michigan. His stats would be as follows:

6250 yards passing with 49 touchdowns. 4175 yards rushing with 41 touchdowns.

He's a legend in his own right. Denard Robinson is our quarterback, forever our leader. He took this program in it's weakest time and made it his beacon of hope. With a simple smile that could light up the Big House and a happy-go-lucky attitude, you won over the hearts of fans all over the nation. Michigan football is back in the spotlight, back in the national conversation. Maybe Michigan never did leave. But Denard Robinson, we owe a lot to you.

No matter what, one thing will always remain true.

Denard Robinson. Forever number sixteen.

If the Road Ends for Denard, I Thank You

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This post could be meaningless in a week. But right now, the future of Denard Robinson is definitely unclear. There's a good chance Robinson may miss their upcoming game against Northwestern. If that happens, one would have to worry about his status against Iowa and Ohio State. Surely his elbow injury is worse than it appears. It's a heartbreaking way to end your senior year.

If this is truly the end of Denard's Michigan career. Then myself, as a fan, thank him.

I thank Denard for his four years of dedication to the University of Michigan football program. His desire to never give up on the school no matter how tough it may have been and for being one of the most exciting players Michigan has ever seen.

You can hate on Denard as much as you want, but you can't deny Robinson has been an outstanding human being and a pure "Michigan Man". He's given us four years of hard work and dedication, the least we can do is be appreciative of his efforts.

Yes, at times his play was frustrating. But we were the first to sing his praises as he single handedly picked apart Notre Dame in 2010 and played arguably the "perfect game" of his career last year against Ohio State. He brought us a BCS victory, though it may have not been perfect, we'll take it. He ended streaks against our biggest rivals and most importantly, he's our quarterback.

You may never see another guy like Denard Robinson play for Michigan again. It was a Rich Rod experiment that stuck, and I'm glad it did.

He may not be the prettiest passer, but he managed to get it done. The first snap of his career was a touchdown run. You knew he was going to be special. At the end of the day, the number 16 jersey will never be the same.

With all that being said, Denard could finish the year off. Making this post 100% useless. But, if that doesn't happen..

Denard Robinson, thank you. For everything. We'll see you in the NFL.

Deebo Knows: QB Controversy? NO, STOP IT!

Monday, November 5, 2012

ATTENTION ARMCHAIR QBS, COACHES, ATHLETIC DIRECTORS, ETC: There is no quarterback controversy at the University of Michigan!

Please take the time to read that once more, and maybe a few more times to let it sink in. I'm serious. Read it as many times as it takes for you to fully grasp those words that are written clearly and concisely in the English Language. It is the only language I am capable of speaking and writing in (even though I know very basic Spanish and some cuss words in Italian) so there should be no confusion here.

Okay, if you're still puzzled let me spell it out further. Ready?

For the remainder of the 2012 season, when Michigan's senior quarterback, Denard Robinson, is healthy enough to play he will be, and SHOULD BE, the starting quarterback for the Wolverines, and Devin Gardner will remain the backup. There is no controversy, discussion, second-guessing, wiggle room, ambiguity, or two ways about it. Enough. Stop with the nonsense.

Yes, Devin Gardner was a 5-star recruit and the #1 dual-threat QB coming out of high school and he sure looked the part on Saturday. Not to diminish Gardner's accomplishments on Saturday but they did play the Minnesota Golden Gophers who don't exactly tout a defense that draws comparisons to the '85 Bears.

And yes, Hoke said in his Monday presser that the offense we saw on Saturday was more of the pro-style Al Borges will run starting next year and Gardner ran it well. He appears to be more of the "traditional QB" mold and a better passer than Robinson.

All that is great, but Denard will still be the starter for the rest of the season as he should be. This supposed "QB controversy" is simply another case of the backup QB, goalie, etc. being the most popular guy in town and fans overreacting to the point of ridiculousness.

Robinson may not be the ideal QB that everyone, including the coaching staff, wants to see under center for U-M. However, the fact remains that he is still one of the, if not the, most dangerous player in all of college football. He has not put up the gaudy statistics, broken records, led dramatic comebacks, etc. by luck. He is a very good football player who makes plays and knows how to win football games. Oh yeah, he has also started every game the last three years up until Saturday. One good performance by Gardner is not enough to wipe that away nor should it blind us all as to how special of a player Denard Robinson truly is.

Let's not overlook the fact that Robinson IS the Michigan rushing attack which is why he accounts for over 75% of the team's offense. He's accomplished that by playing QB, not RB, WR, or anything else.

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the RBs and the OL are struggling and Robinson is the only ball carrier who has proven that he can overcome those shortcomings. With that said, stop and think before you speak when you suggest he should be moved to RB or WR for the rest of his college career. If that move was to be made it would've been done either before last season or before this season at the latest. You don't make drastic position changes like that nine games into the season unless your team is desperate and does not have anything left to play for. Michigan is not one of those teams. Enough with the charade.

Look, what Devin Gardner did on Saturday was very encouraging and comforting for the future. If Denard is held out of games at any point during the rest of the season we now know that Team 133 has a very capable backup. That is a complete 180-degree turnaround from the sentiment we all felt after the Nebraska debacle. But that is as far as it goes, at least for the 2012 season.

As for next year, the optimism is completely different. Denard Robinson, for better or for worse depending on which fan(s) you speak to, will have graduated. Now you can talk all day about Devin Gardner being your starting quarterback. After Saturday's performance you would have to believe it may very well be his job to lose. He has the size, the arm strength, and overall ability to be very effective in a pro-style offense and he certainly can make things happen with his feet if things break down in the pocket. Saturday may have been a bit of a glimpse of what 2013 will look like and that is very exciting.

Notice I did not mention incoming 5-star recruit Shane Morris as being thought about as next year's starter. That is because if you think that is a good idea you really don't know much about football. Not trying to be a (insert expletive-filled insult here) but it's the truth. You do not start a true freshman at QB at a program that has championship aspirations unless you either have no other feasible option or said freshman completely blows away the other candidates.

For every Chad Henne there are about a gazillion Jimmy Clausens. Keep in mind Henne had Edwards, Avant, and Breaston to throw to, Hart in the backfield, and a very talented and experienced OL. Morris will not have those luxuries. Let the senior Gardner lead the team for a year, Bellomy play the role of backup, and let the talented 18-year old redshirt and learn for a year.

Don't agree with me, go back and watch some Jimmy Clausen highlights (if there even is any) from his freshman year at Notre Dame. He was the top QB recruit and looked like a deer in headlights all season long. Not pretty. Basically, chill out with the Morris for Heisman 2013 campaign. This is not Xbox.

To get back on track, the moral of the story is that if you are one of those fans that have been screaming from the mountain tops since around 3:00 PM on Saturday that Devin Gardner should start over Denard Robinson save your breath. It ain't happening. The coaches have said as much and they are right. Michigan will be just fine with "Shoelace" under center and will more than likely be fine next year with Gardner, not Morris, as the man. Enjoy the rest of the season and the rest of Denard Robinson's last year at the starting quarterback.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Bellomy Should Not Be Judged By Nebraska Game

Monday, October 29, 2012

There is no denying that Team 133 will only go as far as a healthy Denard Robinson will take them.  That was made perfectly clear after "Shoelace" was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter of Michigan's loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday with a nerve injury to his throwing elbow.

Enter 2nd string QB, and possible 2013 starter, Russell Bellomy...a redshirt Lincoln Nebraska...under the a crucial divisional matchup.

In a situation like this as a fan you take a big gulp and know disaster lies ahead.  Bellomy's final numbers were of Armageddon proportions:
  • INT - 3
  • TD - 0
  • RUSHING YARDS - 0 (Multiple sacks nullified the yardage he gained on 5 carries)
He didn't have have much help as his receivers dropped a handful of passes, he was under duress by the Nebraska pass rush, and the RBs continued to contribute next to nothing, but the numbers are still ghastly no matter how you slice it.  Subsequently U-M suffered a 23-9 defeat and failed to score an offensive TD for the 2nd straight week.

There is always doom and gloom after a Wolverine loss but this week was a little different.

"Russell Bellomy is a terrible QB!"

"We're screwed next year because we have no QB!"

"Shane Morris is going to have to start as a true freshman!"

"Fire Al Borges!"

"FIRE BRADY HOKE! (Yes, I did indeed see this on Twitter)

Look, I was just as angry and frustrated as anyone and entertained some doom and gloom myself...FOR THIS SEASON.

Once I had the opportunity to cheer myself up by watching some Seinfeld and think logically, I was able to put things in the proper perspective.  Bellomy is a redshirt freshman with minimal game experience who was thrown into a snake pit and asked to win a crucial game with very little help.  I am not sure what everyone was expecting.  I would think that nine out of ten QBs would struggle in that scenario.  Give the kid a break.

Was I a little shocked that he wasn't a little more game ready? 


Do I think some of it falls on Al Borges and the offensive coaches to ensure that they have a QB ready to go in and at least be serviceable?

Since they have a running QB who gets pounded every game and has a history of getting banged up you're darn tootin' I do.

But let's get things straight, this was a kid thrown into a situation where the odds were severely against him.  His future career at U-M should not be judged or speculated upon based off of one underwhelming performance in which he was asked to do the unthinkable.  People who think his career will be defined by what happened on Saturday need to scale back on the caffeine and/or narcotics a smidge.

Once the season is finished his mindset, as well as the mindset of the coaches, will completely change.  He will be preparing, mentally and physically, to be the starting QB at the University of Michigan.  Not the backup.  He will be prepared by the coaching staff, mentally and physically, to be the starting QB at the University of Michigan, or at least compete for the spot.  Not to be the backup.  The offense will shift from the spread to more of a pro-style, Al Borges' preference, to adhere to his skill set.  He will be more equipped to be a serviceable, and who knows, maybe even a pretty good starting signal-caller for the Wolverines. 

I don't have a crystal ball but I am pretty certain that given the reps and the opportunity next season, he will prove that he is not nearly as bad as he appeared in Lincoln.  He would not have been recruited by the coaching staff if he was and there is a reason he is #2 on the depth chart.  They are the same coaches that get praised daily for their recruiting prowess so I think we can safely say Bellomy was not brought in by throwing darts at a dartboard.  Chill out people.

Also, those of you who think Shane Morris is going to come in as an 18-year old freshman and take the starting spot are nuts.  I can't put it any other way.  You saw what happens on Saturday when you put a kid in at QB before he's ready...disaster.  As talented as Morris may be he will still be a freshman. 

You don't start a frosh at QB unless you absolutely have to.  And if that is indeed the case you'd be extremely naive and borderline crazy to think Morris will come in and be lights out and lead Team 134 to a B1G title.  This ain't the MAC or Conference USA.  It's the B1G and you don't ask a kid to lead a big time program into places like East Lansing and Iowa City.  At least at Michigan you don't.  Chad Henne was the exception not the rule.  He also had Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, and Jason Avant to throw to and Mike Hart in the backfield.  Enough with the Shane Morris talk people.  At least until 2014.

If you want to worry about what might happen this season if Denard Robinson can't stay healthy then fine.  Believe me, I'm right there with you.  But when it comes to next season let's all just relax and trust the coaches to have the starting QB, presumably Russell Bellomy, ready to run the offense smoothly.  Give a very good staff the benefit of the doubt and step away from the ledge.

Team 133 is in the middle of a battle for a division title.  They are undoubtedly focused on just that and not next season.  I suggest the fans follow suit.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Pay No Attention to the Spread

Monday, October 15, 2012

Revenge. Redemption. Payback. Paul Bunyan. Those are the words that are on the minds of the Wolverines and their fans as THE RIVALRY WEEK is upon us. Those words seem like a very possible reality for Team 133 as the two teams that will square off on Saturday appear to be heading in different directions.

The Spartans (4-3, 1-2 B1G) appear to be crumbling as they suffered a heart-breaking loss to a putrid Iowa team at home on Saturday. Add the fact that the week before they barely squeaked out a victory against Indiana and struggled against EMU a few weeks prior and you have a floundering football team.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 B1G) put a gigantic maize and blue boot in the behinds of a not-so-great Illinois squad to the tune of a 45-0 massacre after "shocking the world" (or at least Kirk Herbstreit) by embarrassing Purdue on the road the week before. They are hitting their stride and booming with confidence at the right time.

As a result, Michigan opened up the week as a huge 11.5 point favorite for Saturday's game. The spread has now dropped to 10 which, in my opinion, is still way too high. Wolverine Nation should not buy into this absurd line...mentally or monetarily. Let me explain.

First and foremost, let's all remember who coaches the Michigan State Spartans. Yes, the man with the biggest maize and blue chip on his shoulder...Mark "The Red A**" Dantonio. He has a complete and utter disdain for Michigan. Hate is definitely not a strong enough word to describe his anti-love for the Wolverines. As a result, he puts quite an emphasis on this game every year and thus has them uber prepared and fired up for this contest...every...single...year. I expect nothing less this year nor should anyone else. Especially after they were embarrassed on Saturday by Iowa at home. He will have the Spartans, angry, determined, and desperate knowing a win against their arch rival is key to salvaging their disappointing season. They will be coming out swinging...count on it.

Second, Michigan State still has a very formidable defense. The group is number one in all major defensive categories in the B1G. It is also a defense that for the past three years has completely shut down Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense.

I am not going to waste my time throwing out the blatant statistics. Anyone who has watched the last few games in the rivalry knows that defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi's "Spartan Dawgs" have lined up and punched the Wolverines' offense in the mouth. It has looked like full grown Pitt Bulls against Shih Tzu puppies. It is THE team that has mapped out the blueprint on how to stop "Shoelace." Many of the players who effectively stymied his play previously will be taking the field on Saturday. It will be up to Denard and Al Borges to prove they can figure out how to bite back. I truly believe Robinson will be incredibly focused on beating the Spartans in his final try and will play his heart out. We'll see if he can keep calm and play within himself and not try to do too much.

The Spartans are the inverse of the Wolverines of the Rich Rod Era. While they tout an incredibly stingy defense, their offense is pretty pedestrian (I am being P.C.). They're pretty bad. No, I am not being a Michigan slappy or a "Walmart Wolverine," that moniker still holds no water to any intelligent sports fan but I digress, I am calling it like it is.

Anybody who has watched the Spartans in the last few weeks will tell you they are anemic offensively. Once again I am not going to throw out the glaringly supportive statistics, I am simply going with the eyeball test. Their receivers are young and drop a ton of balls, Maxwell is still fairly inexperienced and makes some questionable decisions, their offensive line is banged up, and they live and die with LeVeon Bell. With that said, Maxwell, statistics aside, has shown he has the potential and physical tools to get the job done and Bell is an absolute horse. With a struggling air attack, they will feed Bell the rock constantly and force the Michigan defense to match their physicality and stop it. While the UM defense has dramatically improved in recent weeks, they have yet to step up to the Spartans' challenge in recent years. It will be up to them to keep that struggling Spartan offense from breaking out and give their own offense as many possessions as possible.

Don't think I am being a Negative Nancy and thinking the Wolverines will lose the game. Quite the opposite. I fully believe the Wolverines will play inspired football in front of their home crowd and break "The Streak." They look like the more complete team and are motivated to get the MSU monkey off of their backs. However, I am not buying the huge spread that Vegas is selling, nor am I jumping on the Train of Overconfidence that many fans are currently riding. This is a rivalry game, and in the past, no matter how good or bad the teams have been, it is typically a close, hard-fought game. I expect nothing different here.

The Paul Bunyan Trophy has made a home in East Lansing for four years now. It basically has changed its area code to 517. Its keepers, the Michigan State Spartans, a.k.a. "Spartan Dawgs," will be rabid, desperate, angry, and foaming at the mouth to ruin Michigan's chances at a division championship. Dantonio, Narduzzi, and Co. will see to it that MSU gives Team 133 all it can handle on Saturday. Buckle up for another exciting chapter of this civil war because bringing Mr. Bunyan back to the 734 area code will not be easy.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Deebo Knows: Now THAT Is a Road Win!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Wolverines exorcised a demon on Saturday in West Lafayette. You know, the one that normally has Denard Robinson's head spinning like Linda Blair's in the 1973 horror classic (minus the pea soup puke of course). That's right. We're talking road games against a decent opponent.

It has been no secret that away from Ann Arbor in the Brady Hoke Era Michigan has struggled against quality competition. They may have hushed some of the critics with their 44-13 suplexing of the Purdue Boilermakers. The offense was kept simple and was efficient, the defense was aggressive and opportunistic, and the team didn't kill themselves with bad penalties or ill-timed turnovers. It was maybe the perfect road game.

First and foremost, it appears Al Borges FINALLY swallowed his pride and had a game plan that put Denard and the offense in the best position to succeed. Robinson was not asked to sling it all over the yard (only 16 attempts), the routes were those of the high-percentage, short to intermediate variety, his legs were utilized (24 carries for 235 yards), and drives were not stalled with goofy gadget plays or formations. The result was 37 points (the defense added a score), 409 total yards, roughly 13 minutes time of possession advantage, and only one turnover when the game was, for all intents and purposes, over. And this was done against one of the better defensive lines in the B1G.

It is clear that when the offense is kept simple and Denard is allowed to be himself, especially on the road, Team 133 will score points. This was a masterful day in the booth for Borges. I would imagine he now sees the blueprint for this team to succeed offensively and I would expect to see a similar attack moving forward.

How about that defense eh?

If Greg Mattison has shown one thing so far in his tenure at Michigan it is that his defense will improve as the season progresses. This year they have gone from a perceived weakness to a strength. They are one of the best pass defenses in the league and nation, they are starting to create turnovers, the young players are becoming difference-makers (see the monster also known as Jake Ryan), they are aggressive, and they seem to be developing a swagger.

On Saturday they faced a Purdue team that was averaging around 500 yards per game and could score in bunches. Michigan held them to 213 yards (157 passing and 56 rushing) and 13 points. The Wolverines also forced the Boilermakers' offense to cough up the ball three times, held them to one 3rd down conversion, and recorded two sacks. They completely shut down the high-powered Purdue offense. If this is a sign of the things to come, Mattison's boys will give Michigan a chance to win every game they play from here on out.

Also, Michigan played a clean game. They only had one turnover (AND IT WAS NOT AN INTERCEPTION...YAY!!) and they only had one penalty all afternoon (false start). They kept their cool in an important road game, remained poised, and played physical within the rules. That same cleanliness will be needed when they take the field in Lincoln and Columbus, but for now, bravo boys. Bravo.

All in all, Team 133 played the closest thing to a perfect road game as possible. They imposed their will on offense, kept it simple, managed the clock, played shut-down defense, and didn't shoot themselves in the foot. They walked into Purdue's house and punched them square in the teeth. This also may have been the best game they have played this season regardless of venue. If "Big Blue" can stick with this basic formula for the remainder of the season they can very well win every game whether it be at the "Big House," "The Shoe," or the moon. Maybe, just maybe, they can make a stop in Indianapolis before they conquer space travel.

**You can also find this blog, as well as blogs regarding ALL DETROIT SPORTS, at You can also follow me on Twitter @adamdibart.**

Where For Art 'Thou, Fitz?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

One of the most hyped up players Michigan had returning to the squad was Fitzgerald Toussaint. Wolverines fans across the nation were buzzing that Michigan finally had their "guy". A 1,000 yard rusher returning for another season, the first since Mike Hart.

An offseason arrest sent a shock wave through Wolverine nation, were they cursed? Hardly. Was Brady Hoke going to take extensive action and suspend Fitz for a significant amount of time? If the punishment was severe enough, better believe it. But, the punishment only turned out to be a one-game suspension.

We're six games into the 2012 campaign and the biggest question remains: Where for art 'thou, Fitz?

Coming into Illinois, Toussaint has compiled a mind-numbing 169 yards rushing with three touchdowns. Yes, you read that right. All of that in four-games-worth of work. Yikes.

Has Fitz completely lost his way as a runner? Is he a shell of his former 1,000 yard self? It's highly doubtful. Toussaint is not solely to blame for his ineptitude as of late.

Fitz was known for his aggressive cuts and his abilities to find the holes and hit them for huge gains. This season is completely different, the north-south running is being replaced with the fancy east-west style of running. And guess what? It's not working. Fitz is dancing out there like an awkward Freshman at prom. Which is an escape from his angry style of play we saw last year, a style in which fans miss.

As I said before, Fitz isn't completely to blame, though. Losing Molk on the offensive line has hurt more than the coaching staff leads on. Replacing Molk with someone with equal abilities can't be done in a single season, and replacing Molk with inexperience also doesn't help. But, with that being said, the offensive line hasn't done that bad of a job.

Denard Robinson is another factor in Fitz's offensive struggles. We all know he's a speedster and he will get his touches, but his touches have increased steadily throughout the season. During the Notre Dame game, Denard rushed the ball 26 times. Purdue wasn't much different, rushing 24 times. Our quarterback rushed the ball 50 times in a span of two games. FIFTY. In comparison, Fitz touched the ball 30 times the past two games. We know where Borges' trust lies.

To summarize, Fitz's production is missing badly. Denard can't do it all, as much as fans would like him to, we need production from out running backs. The real season is about to start, the Big Ten conference play, if Fitz wants to show up now is the time. Or Hoke won't hesitate to replace him with Thomas Rawls.

Where for art 'thou, Fitz? Michigan needs you.

The Power of Purdue

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This week, as Michigan gears up for it's showdown with the Purdue Boilermakers, I've been trying to figure out just what bothers me about Purdue over the last few weeks.

Not known for much other than being 'that school that Drew Brees played for', the Boilermakers have spent decades as one of the Big 10's also-rans.

They've been on a slight uptick over the past few years, and if a few more ACLs would have held up there's a chance Purdue could have been one of the leaders of the pack in the new look B1G.

So where is this insurgence coming from? Clearly, it's from their coach and the sheer 'power' he has brought to West Lafayette. And by power, I mean that beautiful 'stache parked right below his nose.

Danny Hope, a man of action.

Look at it. It just screams masculinity. When a guy like this yells in your face to make the right read, or block the right guy, you believe. Why? That's one powerful ass mustache.

Some men say (well, me mostly, and Thorny from Super Troopers) that a man's power is derived directly from his mustache. It's a sheer visual representation of masculinity. That mustache looks like it could bench more than me.

Purdue has been a bright spot in the otherwise moribund Big 10 this year. It's only loss was a fourth quarter letdown to Notre Dame. Granted, they've only beaten directional Michigan and Kentucky schools and gave up 41 points to Marshall...but they're 3-1 purely on the strength of that mustache.

Imagine a world where Hope didn't have that mustache. Welp, what the hell do you think their record would be then, huh?

Let's find out.

Am I still a man?
Tell me that's not an 0-4 team right there. I defy you.

Look, it's been widely publicized how putrid the B1G has been this year. When Northwestern is your beacon of hope,  you've got serious problems. That's no knock on Fitzgerald's coaching or Kain Coulter's ability, but there were what some thought to be some serious horses this year who've fallen flat on their faces, Michigan included.

So what's the solution? How does the B1G respond? The answer is right in front of your face, literally:


I'd say the B1G potential could be exponentially improved if the big dogs of the conference were sporting that beautiful face bush. Example:

"Smells like undefeated to me..."

Urban renewal indeed. They're lucky Meyer didn't get everyone pregnant with a blink of an eye with that stache'. How'd the room hold him? That's the kind of man that takes a 'family contract' and uses it for toilet paper. Don't tell him how to live. He' came to down two things, kick ass and win football games...and he's almost out of football games.

How about BERT!?

"Give me a Schlitz and shut the hell up." Does that man above lose to Oregon State? Nope.

Well, heck. If it can work for Bret can it work for grumpy ole' Mark Dantonio? Only one way to find out.

"I haven't had a bowel movement in three years, Pat. Run the dive."
Umm...well...maybe it doesn't work for everyone. Sometimes adding a mustache to a man with that kind of disposition only makes him look more suited for 'To Catch A Predator'. Sorry, Mark.


Penn State is a school in disarray. They chose Bill O'Brien to lead them back to glory (post-sanctions, of course) but with all the controversy you can't blame certain players for leaving the program. But it begs the questions, would the players have transferred if this guy was looking into their eyes?

"You're not going anywhere."

Short answer: No. They'd run through a wall to play for this guy. That's how powerful a mustache of this caliber can be.

Do you think it's any coincidence that teams with two of the best records (Purdue and Minnesota) also have head coaches with amazing facial hair? How do you call yourself a football fan?

Here's Jerry Kill. Man.

"Yeah, I used to bareknuckle box. It's in my blood." 

Can't get any better than that, right? Wrong.

Cue the double stache.

It's like the Captain Planet of mustaches. His and Hope's power combined and you've gone and created a proverbial head coaching sex beast hell bent on national titles, top recruiting classes, and procreation. The Mayans were wrong, because Jerry Kill Double Stache said they were. And guess what? I believe him.

Look, all kidding aside, Hope is a great coach. I know this because I grew up in a community where Hope cut his teeth as a coach. He started as an assistant coach for my Alma Mater, the Manatee Hurricanes in Bradenton, Florida. Hope helped guide the Hurricanes to a state title in 1983 before leaving for the greener pastures of college football when he became a graduate assistant at Louisville. I never saw him coach a game (mostly because I was 2 years old when he coached at Manatee) but everyone in the community knew he was an up-and-coming star as his resume improved. I'm glad he's had success. But if you ever, and I mean EVER, shave that mustache off Danny, heads will roll.

And the bottom line folks is this: You've got to believe in the stache'. It's power knows no bounds. Want proof? Well, I'll leave you with this. Last year, Michigan broke a seven game losing streak to Ohio State. Want to know how? Simple:

Go Blue.

Follow me @MarkTheNomad on Twitter. 

Your 2012 September Heisman Trophy Winner

Monday, September 17, 2012

The tradition of the September Heisman Trophy dates back to 2009, when an unknown freshman named Tate Forcier won two of the five games Michigan won that year with unforgettable performances. Since then, the prestigious award, given to the most overhyped college football hero in the first weeks of the season has not left Ann Arbor. Denard Robinson has two September Heisman trophies on his resume (2010-2011), but a poor performance against the Crimson Tide this year (and being mocked by Michigan State players via Twitter, whose own exploits against Alabama ended statistically worse), Denard fell out of the race.

After USC’s gratifying fourth loss to Stanford in the last four years, Matt Barkley’s candidacy for the September Heisman seemed certain. However, there was one athlete whose hype was so overblown and ridiculous that his fans rewarded him with this coveted award. Ladies and Gentlemen, this year’s September Heisman goes to Le’Veon Bell.

His stats against Boise State were very impressive, given that Michigan State relied on Bell to carry the load with an inexperienced QB and WR core. Boise State gave up 3.5 yards-per-carry last season, and with only four returning starters (five players from the Broncos’ Defense were drafted into the NFL), Bell laid siege to Boise State. His combined size and speed (freak-of-nature talent) made him an instant “dark horse” candidate for the actual Heisman trophy, according to ESPN. Next came Central Michigan University, and after just 78 yards rushing and two trips to the end-zone, Bell exited. We overlooked this performance, since The Angry One would not risk his best offensive player to injury, just to pad stats so early in the season. For Bell and Sparty, this past Saturday represented their first, real test against a quality opponent.

Leading up to the game, ESPN ran several promos for the contest, showing highlights of previous contests between the two (I can watch Little Giants all day, every day, for the rest of my life, to see the looks on Notre Dame fans’, players’, and coaches’ faces), and elevated the stakes. Among the hype, I heard the following phrase uttered by more than one ESPN on-air personality: “Heisman hopeful Le’Veon Bell.” Bell finished with just 77 yards on 19 carries, with no touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 20 yards. Notre Dame represented the first hurdle for the Heisman hopeful, and in true Tate Forcier fashion, he did not live up to the expectations.

In fairness, Notre Dame’s coaching staff is not stupid. They, like every other team that Michigan State will play the rest of this season, loaded up the box with eight defenders and dared Andrew Maxwell and the inexperienced WRs to beat them. And until Maxwell can look more like Kirk Cousins than Andrew Maxwell, that's not going to change.

Please do not think I’m trashing Bell or Michigan State. I think of October 20th and my head starts to hurt. But can we please stop anointing players as “Heisman candidates” when they’ve not played a defense that lost five players to the NFL or has a direction in its title? Le’Veon Bell is the very good football player, but he’s not Bo Jackson on Tecmo Super Bowl.

So, Sparty, you have your first September Heisman winner. Welcome to the club!

NCAA 13 First Glance: How Do The Wolverines Fare?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today is launch day of the highly anticipated college football video game we see every year, NCAA Football 13. Any football fan who appreciates the video game series starts to see an increase in excitement as football season is right around the corner.

The new features and additions are nice. But, what Wolverine fans are really looking for is how exactly do they shape up to the rest of the teams? And how do the Wolverines 2012-2013 football season pan out under a simple simulation? Let's break it down.

By starting a simple "Play Now" exhibition match up, I inspected the three rankings by which a team is judged upon, which are as follows:
  • Overall: A+
  • Offense: A
  • Defense: B+
Not a bad set of rankings there, especially for a team that is ranked number nine in the country.

I also checked out the top five players on the Michigan roster, they are broken down as follows:
  • Denard Robinson: 93 Overall (96 speed, 99 agility and 90 acceleration. Might I add)
  • Taylor Lewan: 93 Overall
  • Kenny Demens: 91 Overall
  • Fitzgerald Touissaint: 89 Overall
  • Roy Roundtree: 89 Overall (surprisingly still holding the number 12 jersey)
With the team briefly broken down, I did a basic simulation (5 minutes, All-American difficulty) of the entire season just to see how Michigan would do. The results, in a lack for a better word, are downright disappointing.

Michigan finished the season with a 9-4 record (4-4 in the B1G). Not a very good season by the new standards instilled by Brady Hoke. The season would start on an electrifying high note as Michigan beats Alabama to start the season 34-31. It would also beat Notre Dame under the lights the next week. Michigan would suffer it's first blemish against Purdue, losing 25-17. They would also lose to Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State.

Michigan would face Oklahoma State in the Meineke Car Care Bowl and come away victorious.

Wisconsin would eventually go on to win the B1G division by defeating Iowa in the conference championship. They finished the year at 11-3 losing in the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (yes, I said it) to Alabama (Bama finished the season with two losses, with the other loss to a conference opponent). Wisconsin was lead by eventual Heisman winner, Montee Ball. Denard Robinson would not finish amongst the finalists.

The top five of the B1G conference breaks down as follows:
  1. Wisconsin: 11-3
  2. Iowa: 11-3
  3. Michigan State: 10-3
  4. Ohio State: 9-4
  5. Purdue: 9-4
With Bama repeating as National Champions (and the National Championship STILL hasn't left the state of Alabama) the game also shows that there were no undefeated teams in the Top 25 this year. You had teams like Tulsa boasting a 13-1 record, and FIU (yes, I said it again) finishing SEVENTH with a 12-1 record. Pure insanity. The Top 5 finish as follows:
  1. Alabama: 12-2
  2. South Carolina: 11-2
  3. Florida State: 11-2
  4. Oklahoma: 10-3
  5. Georgia: 12-2 
To cap the season off, J.T. Floyd was graced with some hardware. As he was rewarded the Chuck Bednarik (best defensive collegiate player) and Jim Thorpe (best defensive back in college football) Awards.  Floyd would break the single season Michigan record of interceptions in a season with 11. Breaking Tom Curtis' record of 10 set back in 1968.

Anything can happen in college football, this simulation goes to show you that the game of football is one whacky sport.

Denard Robinson and the "Sanctity" of the No. 1 Jersey

Monday, April 16, 2012

The future jersey of D. Robinson?
To bestow? Or not to bestow? That is the question facing Brady Hoke regarding to the iconic #1 jersey that has been idling in the equipment room, waiting for a player to step up and earn it. The last time a player had worn the #1 jersey, he had a last name of Edwards. He had a fairly nice career with the Wolverines.

Denard Robinson has been under the spotlight of various rumors and gossip that he could be the guy to don the #1 jersey in his last season in Ann Arbor. If not Robinson, then whom?

Traditionally, Michigan has reserved the #1 jersey for the most outstanding wide receiver, whom exceeds expectations of performance throughout an entire career. Currently, with a depleted receiving corps coming in to 2012, Roy Roundtree might be the only guy that could once be argued as the player that could wear it. Roundtree lead the team in receptions twice during his career, including 72 catches in 2010. But, a 19 catch season last year isn't exactly enthralling to the coaching staff.

My opinion? Patience is a virtue.

Just because the #1 jersey has not been seen on the field for quite some time doesn't mean that it should be bestowed to a player on a whim. Brady Hoke understands this. Also, it doesn't mean that Robinson doesn't deserve the jersey.

Robinson is unique on and off the field. He's reached the top 10 in rushing and passing all-time in the Michigan record books. With one more season to go, his name will go with the greatest names to ever don a winged helmet. With all that being said, the tradition and sanctity of the #1 jersey is too great to ignore. Should it go to a wide receiver? Probably. But, does Robinson deserve the jersey? Absolutely.

Personally, I don't feel the time is right to hand out iconic jersey numbers just yet. The Michigan football program is still recovering from a coach that ignored tradition, and would hand iconic jersey numbers to incoming Freshman running backs. Let's see what Hoke can bring in talent wise, and wait a few more years until we can seriously consider a player for the #1 jersey.

Just because tradition is available to use, doesn't mean it has to happen before the time is right. Have patience, the jersey will find the player. That's when you know it's the right time.

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