Without a shadow of a doubt, the electric Denard Robinson is the story of the extremely young season for the Michigan Wolverines to this point.
None other than Pat White recently labeled Denard a “beast.”
Robinson’s numbers would be highly impressive if he was a senior going against a couple of cupcakes.
Putting up nearly 900 yards in his first two college starts against teams that will likely end up playing in decent bowl games? Staggering.
Understandably, Shoelace is the talk of college football. Although no one in their right mind could have predicted the surreal explosion that Robinson has delivered, it is not at all surprising that he is turning in explosive performances.
In case you missed it, here’s a link to an article about Shoelace two weeks before the UConn game: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/439047-denard-robinson-david-molk-2-reasons-michigan-is-back
The following slideshow is about the six biggest surprises (both good and bad) after the first two games of the year.
After Troy Woolfolk went down in practice, many pundits expected the UM secondary to be a major weakness.
Although there have been a few glaring breakdowns, the group of JT Floyd, Jordan Kovacs, Cam Gordon, and James Rogers has performed admirably.
Kovacs started last year and basically amazes me because he has neither the size nor speed that you look for in a safety, but yet he continues to be a very solid tackler. He also notched a big interception against the Irish.
Floyd, as expected, is starting to develop into a big-time playmaker. He delivered a key play in the UConn game when he forced DJ Shoemate into a big fumble at the Michigan goal-line.
Floyd also notched his first career pick against the Irish.
The next slide features the biggest surprise in the secondary: James “The Jet” Rogers.
Over his career, “The Jet” has bounced around from DB to receiver and back to DB.
Usually when you hear about a guy having to switch positions repeatedly and barely seeing the field during his junior year, you don’t expect much production.
The Jet, however, has been stellar during the first two games of the season. While he displays solid tackling skills, his coverage abilities are even more impressive.
As a senior, Rogers really seems to understand the defense and helps our many young DBs break down film to ensure they are well-prepared on game day.
Rogers did a phenomenal job as one of the lead defenders against Notre Dame’s excellent receiver Michael Floyd.
Floyd ended with just 5 catches for 66 yards and no TD’s. Here’s a great picture of Rogers breaking up a potential TD pass intended for Floyd in the end zone (you have to scroll down a tiny bit to see the pic):
It is really a testament to Rogers’ great attitude, work ethic, and physical ability that he has been able to put together such a strong beginning to the season.
While many of today’s college athletes jump ship when the going gets tough, Rogers has proven himself to truly be All In For Michigan.
Major kudos to The Jet for being ready when his number was called!
A number of Michigan’s young players have transferred due to a lack of playing time early in their careers. Possibly the most unforgivable came last week when sophomore safety Vlad Emilien requested and was granted his release.
Emilien was listed as high as a four-star recruit coming out of high school. However, when he tore his ACL during his senior year in high school, many schools started backing off and showing less interest.
Coach Rodriguez and Michigan, however, honored their commitment to Emilien.
The sophomore has struggled to see the field in the maize and blue. He played sparingly last year and did not see significant game time against UConn this year.
He claims he wasn’t given “the opportunity to showcase what [he] can do.” What a bunch of total nonsense.
For crying out loud, we play two safeties and a safety-linebacker hybrid on most downs. If you are a safety, you get a great opportunity to find your niche on this team.
Considering almost none of the guys had much experience going into the season, do you really think the coaches didn’t give every single guy a fair shot to show what they can do? Give me a break.
Emilien says he “loves” Coach Rodriguez, the school, and the social life. This is the very definition of lip service.
In the end, he didn’t feel he owed true loyalty to the coaching staff that stuck by him when others didn’t.
Obviously Vlad isn’t the only guy to transfer, but this is one player that should have realized that the Michigan family honored their commitment to him, and he should have been blue through and through.
As much as I give major kudos to The Jet for sticking through some tough times, I also chastise Emilien for failing to do the same.
Click Here For the full Detroit News interview with former Wolverine Vlad Emilien : http://detnews.com/article/20100909/SPORTS0201/9090475/Vlad-Emilien-seeks--new-start--after-transfer-from-U-M#ixzz0zTGgIQfN
Senior linebacker Jonas Mouton has been nothing short of outstanding in the opening two games. Per Scout.com, Mouton was a five-star stud recruit coming out of high school in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, last year, despite starting most games, Mouton did not deliver too many five-star results.
While everyone expected Mouton to improve this year, he has played absolutely lights-out in the first two games of the year.
Mouton has used his speed, power, and experience to help control the UConn and Notre Dame offenses.
He has led the way as a great example of how the coaches want the players to play with a “hard edge.”
Mouton’s diverse skills were on full display against the Irish. He had a game-high 13 tackles to help control Notre Dame’s tough-nosed running game.
Mouton also had a huge impact in the passing game with a great read for an interception and a deflection that went right into Kovacs’ hands for another pick.
If Mouton can continue to deliver impressive performances, he will have a great senior season and help the Wolverines defense continue to improve throughout the season.
While Shoelace has averaged a brilliant 8.14 yards per carry, the two main running backs, Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith, have been limited to 3.39 yards on the ground.
One of the weird things about this huge discrepancy is that both backs are clearly running hard every time they touch the ball.
According to coach Rodriguez, both guys have also been making the right reads on most carries.
So what gives? It seems highly unlikely that both opponents would overplay the RBs to force Denard to keep the ball.
Heck, pretty much the scariest thing for a defense in college football right now is Denard Robinson with the ball in his hands!
Now that Denard is turning into the 2010 version of Pat White, the offense will absolutely explode if the Wolverines can find their Steve Slaton-esque running back.
I don’t have the answer as to why the backs haven’t picked up more yardage. Just as mysterious to me is why Mike Cox hasn’t seen a single carry through two games.
Cox is big, tough, physical, and fast. He was effective in his limited action last year, gaining 113 yards on just 13 carries.
So, again, what gives? What have the coaches seen to keep this potential terror off the field? Dramatically lowering the turnovers from the last two years is a huge point of emphasis. Is that part of it?
I only ask because it’s hard to imagine that he is an ineffective runner in his third year in the offense. RichRod did say on Monday that Cox is getting closer to being ready to play.
Fitzgerald Toussaint, another powerful RB, is back from injury this week, but Rodriguez cautioned that he doesn’t know how much No. 28 will play.
Fitz was hurt all last year and again in fall practice. A healthy Fitz has the potential to be awesome in this offense.
In the opening game, slot receiver Roy Roundtree took a wicked hit on a pass that Robinson telegraphed.
The hit was nasty enough that he was coughing up blood on the field and was diagnosed with internal bruising.
For most of the week, it was widely believed that Roundtree would be unavailable for the ND game.
Suddenly on Friday, word spread that Roundtree would be available against the Irish.
Even after hearing this, I figured he would be relegated to backup duty. Instead, ‘Tree delivered a game high eight grabs for 82 yards and UM’s lone receiving TD.
Roundtree is clearly one tough hombre. In the picture featured on this slide, he holds on to make a great grab while taking a gritty shot from the Irish defender.
Oh, and uh, yeah, with less than a minute to go in the game and Michigan trailing by three, the sophomore receiver hauled in a clutch 15-yard grab over the middle to get the ball down to the Irish 2-yard line with less than a minute to go in the game.
Roundtree’s determination to play was instrumental in the win over the Irish.
Three other surprises worth honorable mention:
- The defense has only registered one sack.
- Marvin Robinson hasn't seen the field on defense.
- Carvin Johnson winning the starting role as the Bandit.
I'm curious: What has surprised you about the first two games of the 2010 Michigan football season?