Archive for the ‘Big Ten’ Category

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates the game winning touchdown with Taylor Lewan #77 to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 35-31 at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo b

 Michigan is coming off a thrilling win over Notre Dame Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a thrilling, game-for-the-ages win against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Denard Robinson brought the Wolverines back from a 24-7 deficit to start the fourth quarter and had fans in Michigan Stadium singing “Victors” in between cheers of “Go Blue” at the top of their lungs.

Next week, the Wolverines play another home game at the Big House against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Here are five things the Wolverines must do to avoid a letdown against the Eagles.

No. 1: Don’t Forget to Play Defense

The Michigan defense gave up 513 total yards to Notre Dame. This week, the Wolverines are playing against an FBS and in-state team in the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

The Eagles are averaging 419 offensive yards a game. Granted, it’s been against Alabama State and Howard, but it is still impressive.

Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke have to get their defense ready to play explosively and hold the Eagles to a low score.

The Wolverines key should be shutting down the Eagles running game as they run far more than they pass the ball.

  • The Eagles running game has averaged 331 yards over the last two games. Plus they are averaging 7.4 yards a carry.
  • Meanwhile, their passing game is averaging a meager 88 yards a game.

Start off strong and finish the same way should be the defense’s motto going into next Saturday.

No. 2: Let Denard Do His Thing

The Michigan offense was so much more dynamic when it revolved around Denard Robinson. Yes, Al Borges needs to get everyone involved, but let Robinson call the shots.
  • Michigan had 90 yards in the first half and 362 in the second half. It scored seven points through three quarters, then four touchdowns in the fourth. Robinson had 290 second-half passing yards, which means he “amassed” 38 passing yards in the first half.
  • Robinson touched the ball on all five touchdowns; one rushing on a fumble and four were passing touchdowns.
  • Michigan’s scoring drives in the fourth quarter encompassed 261 yards compared to its lone 45-yard drive in the first half.
  • The Wolverines finished the game with 452 total offensive yards. Robinson contributed to half of that alone in the fourth quarter. Amazing.
  • Eastern Michigan is giving up 212 offensive yards a game, and that’s not against BCS teams. The Eagles also held their opponent to -13 yards last week.

Robinson and the running game are better than Alabama State, but will have to avoid their defense rush and be faster and more powerful.

Michigan should be able to put up plenty of points in this game. Score early and often should be the Wolverines’ offensive motto for Saturday’s game.

No. 3: Michigan Needs to Keep Winning to Go into Big Ten Schedule Confident

Michigan faces two more teams (Eastern Michigan and San Diego State) before starting its Big Ten schedule.

The Wolverines could be 4-0 heading into October 1st when they host Minnesota to start the Big Ten.

It certainly helps that the Wolverines continue to be at home for their non-conference schedule. Then, it gets tricky. Minnesota is at home, then they travel to Northwestern, and Michigan State. Then, Purdue at home, and travel to Iowa and Illinois. The Wolverines close out the season at home against Nebraska and Ohio State.

While Eastern Michigan and San Diego State (Brady Hoke’s former school) aren’t the perennial names like many of the Big Ten schools are, they shouldn’t be overlooked.

As you know from the previous slides, Eastern Michigan is tough against the run and has a good running game. San Diego State will be looking to beat its former coach. Hoke will be extra motivated as well. The Aztecs also have a very good passing game.

Michigan needs to go strong heading into the Big Ten, and a ranking going into its Big Ten schedule would be nice as well.

No. 4: The Wide Receivers Have to Keep Supporting Denard Robinson

Michigan’s wide receivers have really stepped up, as they did against Notre Dame. They gave Denard Robinson a security blanket, and confidence in his arm. Not to mention they also took some of the pressure off Robinson so he doesn’t have to run and get beat up.

Robinson hit seven different receivers last week, and none were bigger than the catches the receivers made in the fourth quarter.

Eastern Michigan’s strength is its rush defense, so Robinson should practice throwing the pigskin around.

He definitely could be in for a good day if he does.

No. 5: Brady Hoke and Al Borges Must Keep Trusting Denard Robinson

Last week, Brady Hoke and Al Borges got renewed trust that Denard Robinson can lead the Wolverines late in games when they need scores.

Robinson showed that he can air it out and not always just tuck it and run with it. Robinson also showed great mobility in the pocket and a willingness to hand the ball off to running backs Vincent Smith, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Michael Shaw.

It will be key to maintain Robinson’s confidence as I say this again: The heart of the Big Ten schedule is approaching, and it is tough.

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 10:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines takes the field for warmups prior to playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty ImageDenard Robinson led Michigan to a win over Notre Dame and threw two touchdowns in final 72 seconds.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Denard Robinson led the Michigan Wolverines back to an improbable win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday night.

Michigan was down 24-7 going into the fourth quarter, and one would’ve thought Notre Dame would have this game won. They didn’t and Michigan came back to win thanks to its leader and starting quarterback Robinson.

Here are five reasons Denard Robinson can light up the Big Ten after leading the Wolverines to a big win over Notre Dame:

1. Denard Robinson’s Arm Has Improved.

Denard Robinson looked confident down the stretch throwing in Saturday’s win over Notre Dame. He did throw three interceptions, but it didn’t stop him from going deep again.

Robinson saw the field and hit his receivers for big gains. He saw his receivers open and took shots at his receivers even when they were covered. Robinson stepped back, moved to his sides and threw to the open guy.

Robinson also did a great job in the pocket when it mattered most.

On his touchdown throw to Vincent Smith, Robinson took the ball, went to his right, went back to his left and hit Smith on screen for a touchdown that put Michigan up 28-24 with a 1:12.

Next, he found Jeremy Gallon wide open and then hit him on the money with 23 seconds for a big gain that brought Michigan all the way down to the Notre Dame 16.

Lastly, Roy Roundtree made a big play as he caught a pass over the Notre Dame defender for the game winning touchdown. Robinson found Roundtree in a crowded pocket but used his mobility to connect to him.

Michigan has receivers who can make big plays. Roundtree and Gallon just gave Robinson trust in his arm.

Would Robinson have done that last year? Perhaps he would have taken off and ran with it last year.

Robinson showed patience in the pocket, and didn’t force throws late in the game. His level of poise was high in the pocket in the fourth quarter. When he went out there down 31-28 with 30 seconds left, he looked ready and confident.

Finally, Robinson showed that he can run the hurry up offense effectively.

2. Denard Robinson’s Mobility in the Pocket.
Denard Robinson’s mobility helped him find the open receiver and make his throws that won the game against Notre Dame.Last year, we first noticed Robinson’s mobility when he would run. This year we have noticed it a lot more in the pocket.

Yes, Robinson rushed for 108 yards, but it was ability to stay in the pocket and pass that made the difference. Robinson had his seventh game with at least 100 yards passing and rushing.

In the fourth quarter we saw Robinson able to make plays with his arm thanks to his legs.

Robinson is becoming much more comfortable with throwing and handing off to the running backs. Robinson is ready on every play.

Early in the fourth quarter, he showed just how ready he was when tailback Stephen Hopkins fumbled on the goal line. Robinson then picked it up and ran it in the endzone on the left side for a touchdown.

Later in the quarter when Michigan most needed a play, Robinson didn’t scramble, but stayed in the pocket moving around until he found the open guy or a receiver to throw to.

Just think about it. Robinson could of taken off, but instead, he waited and saw Jeremy Gallon open. Patience. There it is again.

Every week Robinson becomes better.

This game certainly will boost Robinson’s confidence as he will able to trust his arm. His legs will help him give time to find a receiver.

3. Brady Hoke has Renewed Trust in Denard Robinson

With Denard Robinson’s ability to lead the Wolverines to the win against Notre Dame on Saturday, it will give renewed trust for Brady Hoke and Al Borges that the ball is safe in Robinson’s hands late in games.

I thought the game was over with thirty seconds left, and that Robinson might try and just tuck it and run. I am sure it went through the heads of Hoke and Borges head, too, but they didn’t signal for the kicker. They sent Robinson on the field to win the game.

Robinson did not disappoint.

Robinson totally changed that by his ability to spread the ball down field.

Michigan could have just kicked the field goal to tie the game with eight seconds. Hoke’s willingness to let Robinson try for the touchdown is a huge boost for his confidence.

With the heart of the Big Ten schedule approaching, confidence and faith in his starting quarterback to get the job done is just what Hoke needs. Robinson also showed leadership in hurrying the Wolverines up to the line of scrimmage and putting the team on his back.

4. Denard Robinson’s Confidence gets a Boost

Denard Robinson’s confidence has got to be at an all-time high right now. Coming off a big win over rival Notre Dame, and in Michigan’s first ever night game, Robinson has to be thinking that he has the support of coaches, teammates and his fans.

Robinson also has to feel encouraged knowing Hoke trusts him with the ball in his hands late in games.

Robinson’s ability to keep throwing after throwing two interceptions in the first half, and one in the fourth quarter gave him renewed confidence in his arm as well. He could have just decided, “I don’t trust my arm.” Instead, he found his receivers.

His receivers’ ability to catch his passes has to give him the confidence to keep throwing to them as well. Robinson can pass short, to the middle of the field or the side, and know that his receivers will be there.

Roundtree, Hemingway, Gallon and Koger all have got to have an encouragement that Robinson can lead lead this team and get the ball into their hands.

Robinson will know now that he can lead the team victory no matter how much time is on the clock.

5. Denard Robinson’s Decision Making

Denard Robinson’s decision making was great in the fourth quarter, minus his interception. Robinson didn’t fall into the trap of tucking and running with it every single play.

Sometimes that is alright. Not all the time though.

Instead, Robinson let plays develop. He moved around and saw the whole field.

Robinson let his receivers pick him up. His offensive line also did a great job in protecting him, and giving him time to find that open receiver.

Robinson has also learned to give the ball to his running backs. Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw and Fitzgerald Toussaint have done a solid job picking up yardage for the Wolverines.

Robinson needs games like these and it will only make his decision making stronger for when the Big Ten schedule gets tough.

The Michigan Wolverines start the Brady Hoke Era on Saturday at the Big House against Western Michigan. Here seven players who are keys for the Wolverines to be successful in 2011:

No. 1: Denard Robinson, QB

Denard Robinson is the key to Michigan’s offense in 2011.

The two biggest questions for the 2011 season for the Michigan Wolverines are can Robinson adapt to Brady Hoke and Al Borges’ new system, and if Robinson can stay healthy a full season?

First, Robinson had a great season in 2010. Robinson passed for 2,570 yards, completed 62.5% of his passes, and threw 18 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. On the ground, Robinson ran for 1,702 yards, scored 14 touchdowns, and averaged 6.6 rushing yards per attempt.

Second, this offseason Robinson has had to adapt to Hoke and Borges’ new system. That system is a West Coast offense where Robinson will have to take more snaps under center now. It will also want Robinson to hand the ball off more to help lighten the load off Robinson.

Robinson will have to learn not to always tuck and run with the ball, but to be patient. Plays will develop if given time. There will times to tuck and run with it.

Michigan will want Robinson to start and finish this season.

Third, the biggest and most important factor for Michigan to be successful is keep Robinson healthy.

Robinson did not even finish at least 10 games last year. Imagine what he could do if didn’t get injured last year and finished games.

No. 2: Ryan Van Bergen, DT

Ryan Van Bergen is a senior leader for the Wolverines on the defensive line this season and listed number one on the depth chart heading into Saturday.

The senior had 30 tackles last year, and four sacks.

Van Bergen has been steady on the defensive line making 26 career starts on the line, and playing in 37 games. Van Bergen has 90 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, nine sacks, one fumble recovery and six pass breakups during his career as a Wolverine.

Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison are definitely ready to make this team a defensive team again.

Michigan drops its 3-3-5 scheme, and Mattison brings in the 4-3 scheme. Van Bergen will play tackle this season in the scheme.

Van Bergen also got up to 288 pounds this offseason to help beef up the line.

Mattison doesn’t want the Wolverines to give up any more big plays, and Van Bergen will help anchor a defensive line that has to attack quarterback and shut down opponent’s running games, which the Big Ten has a lot of good running backs.

No. 3: Mike Martin, DT

Mike Martin is number one on the depth chart in the 3-4 scheme in the middle for the Wolverines, and also a team captain in 2011. Martin will be called upon to be a defensive leader for Hoke and Mattison.

In the offseason, Martin beefed up to 304 pounds to get stronger and better.

While at Michigan, Martin has racked up 108 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in his career. Last year, Martin had 36 sacks and 1.5 sacks.

No. 4: Craig Roh, DE

In his career at Michigan, Roh has racked up 80 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and four pass breakups during his career. Roh had 42 total tackles, a half of a sack, and two forced fumbles last year.

This offseason Roh added 18 pounds and is up to 269 now. Roh will be the defensive end in Mattison’s 3-4 scheme.

In the new 3-4 scheme, Roh will be looked upon to be a physical presence and helping stop the big plays from ever happening.

No. 5: Troy Woolfolk, CB

Troy Woolfolk was going to the one of the steady, solid upperclassman last year, but then got injured. Now, Woolfolk is back and ready to hit again.

In 2009, Woolfolk had 46 tackles. Now, Woolfolk is back and starting on the left side come Saturday when the season kicks off.

Woolfolk got disappointed with being injured last season, but worked harder to get healthy again, and now is the starter. Woolfolk will be relied upon heavily by Mattison to help anchor the secondary that gave up way too many big plays.

No. 6: Roy Roundtree, WR

Roy Roundtree was the Wolverines leading receiver last season after hauling in 72 catches for 936 yards and seven touchdowns.

With Darryl Stonum out now, Roundtree will be counted on even more. Offensive coordinator Al Borges needs that go to receiver to step up and run good routes and block down field as well.

Roundtree will definitely be called upon to do that.

Roundtree will be the starter opposite Junior Hemingway. Both are fast, and can open down field.

Like the defensive lineman, Gordon put on weight and muscle as well. Gordon is up to 222 pounds. Gordon will look to be an athletic linebacker who can play off the edge with a fire.

Last year, Gordon accumulated 77 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, three interceptions, four PBUs, two fumble recoveries, one blocked kick and a defensive touchdown.

Gordon played safety and linebacker last year, but will start the year as a linebacker come Saturday.

This was a huge improvement as Gordon, as he switched from wide receiver to defense in the spring of 2010.

Hey guys and girls, it has been a while since I’ve blogged, and I thought I share my thoughts about what’s been going on in the sports world the last few days.

Well, first, the NBA Finals are tonight in Game 5 and the series is tied 2-2 after Dallas came back to win Game 4 against the Heat. In the last game, the Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki battled a 101 degree fever and still led the team to the win. However, it was the bench and Tyson Chandler that really stepped up. Chandler was huge on the offensive glass, and scored key baskets down the stretch. Deshawn Stephenson had three three pointers, and 11 points off the bench. What did he do yesterday? He called out Lebron. C’mon man. Just play the game. Jason Terry also stepped huge and will have to do again tonight.

More on Lebron. He didn’t show up last game with only eight points. As far as I am concerned, maybe he is tired. We’ll see if shows up tonight and gets the Heat the win.

The game is at eight Central time, and nine Eastern time on ABC. Be sure to watch.

Second, I am not much of an hockey fan, but the Boston Bruins have outscored Vancouver 12-1 the last two games and evened the series. Wow. That’s all.

Third, Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State program continues to go down a bad road. Who’s gonna be the quarterback now that Pryor hopes to be drafted in the supplemental draft? Braxton Miller? He’s young, but has a lot of potential. I’m starting to believe my Wolverines actually can beat their most hated rivals next November. That would be fun and awesome.

Fourth, keep reading my blog, follow me on Twitter @samtastad, and I’ll leave you with some cute kid videos that SI Hot Clicks featured that are just awesome.

I’ll blog tomorrow. Be sure to come back! And be sure to watch the Mavs-Heat tonight! I promise it won’t let you down.


It’s already June, and Game 2 of the NBA Finals is tonight in Miami. The Heat have a 1-0 series lead after a great game on Tuesday. The big question tonight will be how will Dirk’s finger hold up? Will it affect his shooting? Also, another big question is how can Dallas stop the Big Three? Will they play more zone defense or man to man defense?

The NFL owners and players are talking for a third straight day. That’s good news, right? Let’s hope so. Demaurice Smith and Roger Goodell are at least talking again. There will be a hearing Friday.

The NCAA is still looking into the Terrelle Pryor situation, and all the cars that he has shown up to meetings in. Interesting to say the least. I wonder if Pryor will enter the supplemental draft or weigh out his five game suspension and come back? I mean the Big Ten is really winnable this season, as Michigan State and Nebraska are the top contenders. Wisconsin lost a few players, as did Iowa. Michigan is adjusting to Brady Hoke, but could win 9 to 10 games, too. Penn State could give the contenders some competition as well.

Ricky Rubio is finally coming to the Timberwolves next season, barring that there will be a season. The NBA needs a new collective bargaining agreement. I mean it’s about time, Rubio. Will he be a bust? We’ll see. I’ll say just a starter.

Did you guys see Orioles center fielder Adam Jones over the shoulder catch yesterday? Here’s the link:

Central Arkansas has a grey and purple turf now. Here it is:


Shaquille O’Neal retired yesterday. Here is a tribute to the man who won 3 NBA championships, and scored over 28,000 points:

Finally, to end our blog post, this video is going viral right now. I’ll give it a week and it will have a million views. Check it out: