Michigan-Western Michigan: Grading the Wolverines' Football Opener
The first game of the season for the Michigan Wolverines must be considered a success. A 31-7 beatdown of Western Michigan signaled the Wolverines' first opening day win in three years.
The offense looked balanced, and the defense looked pretty dominant throughout the game, especially in the first half.
However, there were things that need improvement before next week's showdown with Notre Dame. Thus on to the grades.
Tate Forcier: A-
Forcier looked cool, calm, and collected inside the pocket and on the run, and he completed some nice-looking balls, especially his two touchdowns to Junior Hemingway.
The first touchdown, a 28-yarder on the Wolverines' opening drive, was especially impressive, as Forcier scrambled away from pressure and found an open streaking receiver for the score.
Also, his ability to avoid the rush and turn sacks into four- to five-yard gains is crucial to spread offense success.
His decision making was not excellent, as he tends to key on his main receiver and not scan the field as well as he should. However, as a true freshman he definitely impressed with his poise, leadership, and playmaking ability.
I see Forcier now as the undisputed starter, probably for the next four years, and as the next great Michigan quarterback once he improves his decision making and field awareness.
Denard Robinson: B
Robinson is an incredible athlete, there is no one doubting that, but I am unsure whether or not his future is at the quarterback position.
In four possessions at quarterback, Robinson attempted only four passes, completing only two. One of those two, a seven-yarder to Kevin Grady, was badly overthrown high, and more credit has to go to the receiver than the Robinson.
On the other hand, Robinson is an excellent runner and made clearly the play of the day with a 43-yard tackle-eluding scamper in the first quarter.
I see Robinson being a vital part of the offense, but maybe more as a receiver, running back, returner, and occasional change of pace quarterback (sort of how Florida used Tim Tebow his freshman year) than as a full-time QB.
Nick Sheridan: F
He is the senior quarterback, but he looked more nervous and confused than either of the freshman. He threw a bad interception in the end zone trying to force the ball and made nothing happen on his one drive.
He should put on the headset and enjoy his mop-up duty in the fourth quarter of blowouts (unless David Cone takes that from him).
Running Backs: B
It's obvious the running backs missed Brandon Minor, the would-be starter who missed yesterday's game with an ankle injury. He could have played and should be good to go next week vs. Notre Dame.
The running backs, Carlos Brown especially, did a fine job, but they don’t seem to be home run-hitting backs.
Junior Hemingway/Kevin Koger: A; Everyone Else: C
Hemingway was great, consistently beating his man and making great catches, and Koger seemed to be a great weapon and made the best catch of the game, his ridiculous one-hander in the second quarter.
However, no one else seemed to impress, with no other receiver breaking 20 yards.
The O-line was sort of suspect against a much smaller and less talented defense. They caused some pressure to get through on the quarterbacks and committed four holding calls, bringing back some big plays.
Rush Defense: A+
The rush defense was the high point of the team. Western gained only 1.6 yards per carry and still had negative total yardage into the mid-second quarter.
Led by LB Obi Ezeh, the defense stuffed the run completely and caused Western to become a completely one-dimensional team.
Pass Defense: C+
The pass defense was not as good. It was not bad in the first half; however, the short passing game of Western seemed to befuddle the Wolverines. They seemed to be giving the Broncos too much respect on the outside and too much space.
Then in the second half the subs struggled a little, giving in total over 260 yards through the air.
Also, the interceptions seemed to be more the fault of tipped balls and bad decisions than great defense.
They will need to step up to handle Jimmy Clausen’s Irish offense next week.
Special Teams: A-
The kickoff and return teams were both pretty good, and the punting, led by senior Zoltan Mesko, was excellent, averaging over 47 yards a punt.