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Posted on Sat, Sep 22, 2012 : 11 p.m.

Your chance to grade Michigan's performance against Notre Dame

By Pete Cunningham


Michigan cornerback Raymon Taylor, left, comes up with an interception as Notre Dame wide receiver Chris Brown looks on at Notre Dame Stadium on Sept. 22, 2012.

Melanie Maxwell |

There was no fourth quarter magic for Denard Robinson and the Michigan football team this time around as Notre Dame held on for a 13-6 win over the Wolverines.

Michigan football reporter Kyle Meinke passed out individual grades for the Michigan players , now it's your chance to grade Michigan's offensive, defensive, special teams, coaching and overall performances.


The turnovers. Oh the turnovers. Just when it looked like the Michigan offense was getting going, a sustained drive would end with a Notre Dame player with the ball in his hands. Over, and over, and over, and over again. On the positive side, the Wolverines moved the ball well when they could keep it.


Michigan's defense played arguably its best game of the season (UMass doesn't count). Despite Michigan continually giving the ball away, Notre Dame was limited in what it could do offensively. The Wolverines even came up with a few turnovers of their own, which they've struggled to do previously.

Special Teams

Two made field goals and one made, solid play -- but nothing special -- from Dennis Norfleet in the return game, and good punting from Will Hagerup.


Always tough to judge. Should Michigan have thrown less and run more? How much of the positives were due to coaching, and how much were just players making plays? How much of the negatives should be on the coaching staff and how much of it is players making mistakes?


Put it all together, and what do you get?

Pete Cunningham covers sports for



Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Bama was better than we were at every position on the field. Notre Dame was not. They simply used MSU's blue print for beating Michigan. MAKE Denard throw it.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

First of all, kudos to the defense, they really stepped and if they continue to improve in pass coverage they will be a force in the Big 10. That being said, Denard's passing performance took me back to the horror days of Demetrious Brown, Bo's worst QB ever. Despite his awful performance, you have to love Denard, if not for him we likely would have had 2-3 win seasons the past three years. He has to think better under pressure-Michigan has some sort of sports psychologist, he should she him or her asap. He is an incredible athlete, just shows very poor judgement skills. Now, c'mon Al Borges! You did it again, we get rhythm and momentum and you have to throw in your unnecessary trick plays. Did you not learn your lesson against MSU last year. You need to step up and take responsibility for wasting great drives and taking the offense away from what is working. You also need to take responsibility for misuse of your best weapon. Let Denard do what he does best and quit trying to use him as a pocket passer. It's like RR using Threet and Sheridan as dual threat QBs. And, give Fitz a chance, those slow read handoffs always get him smothered. This team can win the Big 10, the lines played better, Fitz actually ran well and we have a strong stable of possession receivers. if we quit neutering Denard's dual threat capability and develop some offensive game plans that don't out coach ourselves we can be in Indy and Pasedena.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

Is Denard the Tebow of the Big Ten?


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Denard Robinson is a great football player. Denard Robinson is not a great quarterback, or even a particularly good one. Time to give Gardner or Bellomy the ball and use Robinson as a running back and/or receiver.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

I think the most important grade that is missing here is for AL BORGES. I think he is not coaching in the right league. He is not ready to coach at this level. FIRST, what are Denard's strengths? Everyone knows it is not passing. So you make his passing game easier but running the ball and setting up the pass. Let Denard build his own confidence. When the passing game is not working and the game is so close then just go with the running game. FOUR interceptions in the first half is a very good indicator of a failing passing game. You can adjust in the first half. You don't have to wait to go into the locker room at half time. In the second half we moved the ball by not passing. Why didn't AL BORGES figure this out in the first half? SECOND, you move the ball all the way down the field running good plays and making progress. Then you call a trick play with Vincent Smith showing he has very little passing ability for an interception. WHY? Because AL BORGES is not coaching in the right league. The fans would love this play at Ball State, but the fans at Michigan expect much more. AL BORGES GRADE=F-


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

I am not sure that I agree that Borges is not in the right league, but he is probably in over his head when he has to adapt to a stable of players who are so very varied - who are suited for different types of offenses. But one thing is for sure, which backs up your point - if you compare Mattison and Boges, there is so much separation between their individual levels of competence that Mattison is way out of Borge's league.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

People keep saying Denard is a Heisman candidate. I never agreed, perhaps this performance validates my view. He is an amazing running talent. His ability to change direction is unreal. He passes worse than ____ (fill in your adjective). But worse are his repeated mistakes. 1) Throwing in a panic. 2) Throwing without setting his feet. 3) Throwing the ball right to several defenders with no receiver in the vicinity. 4) Not tying his shoes. That has cost us big several times. Enough already. I look forward to us having a stable quarterback and a TEAM that has solid receivers, linebackers, etc. This team and the last two suffer from being a one player team. Without Denard you lose every game.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Denard's is a sad tale to tell: A happy-go-lucky kid feverishly wanting something he will never get, the adults around him all doing their best to give urge him on just so they can selfishly feel good for making the kid smile, for getting some of his attention, for the kid liking them in return. But what the kid wants, and what he can get, are very different. It takes the unselfish, unwavering, and truly caring adults to make the tough decision for the kid - to point him to where he can achieve greatness. Sometimes limitations really are limitations, despite what the outliers and Hollywood lead us to believe. Denard will never be a good QB in college or, and especially, in the NFL. He can produce yards like crazy, but he has been in the wrong position doing so. And so he has suffered, as has his teammates and fans. He should have been moved to another position long ago where he could produce yards without all the negatives. And now its too late for him. And that's a very sad thing for such a good kid. And its the adults' fault.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

Actually, Robinson is not a kid. He is an adult and has been for the last four years.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

And guess who one of those adults was that told the kid he should not play QB? That's right, that coach down in Columbus, who recruited Denard for Florida. Hoke has failed him. But Denard sure does like Hoke.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

I am disappointed with the turn overs. The majority of the turn overs were the results of ND's defense. Their D forced Denard to throw off balance. But I am not ready to fire any coaches. I am not ready to bench Denard or move him to a slot position. What I am ready for is the BIG 10 season. I am a optimistic/realist. I think all of the remain games are winnable, only if the offensive coaches modify how they use their personnel and start using different plays. The BIG 10, like everyone else watches tapes of Denard and how he has been used. It is time to make positive and progressive moves to utilize all the talent. I would love to have seen more opportunities for other QB's, but only the UMass game allowed that opportunity. UM fans love Denard because he is exciting. What all UM fans need to rember, are the days when UM QB's were not the sole yard producing player. I love the excitement, but I am looking forward to Hoke's future players that produce a balanced attack. GO DENARD ! GO BLUE!

Jojo B

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

A good QB can throw off balance or know when not to throw. Unfortunately, I don't think Denard will ever learn this skill. There are plenty of other defenses who apply pressure (obviously) and we will lose to them all this year unless something big changes. Last year's win against ND was absolute luck with Denard throwing a lollipop into the endzone. I think he was hoping for that luck last night, but the last play of the first half pretty much summed up our luck.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Robinson seems very uncomfortable in this offense. You can see that he wants to run and then he realizes that he is not supposed to and forces the his back foot again and again.....Use him for his strength and that is to is a shame that a great defensive effort was wasted......


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 8:55 a.m.

Everyone knows Denard is not a passer. Oh! I forgot! The UM coaches do not know this. Time to clean house and hire a new head coach who will maximize the correct use of the talented players.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 5:19 a.m.

wow, hard to watch a game like that. i am from ann arbor, been to the "BIG HOUSE" more than a hundred games... with exception to a tie game with Baylor in circa 1979? / the colorado fiasco/ and miami of florida comming back from seventeen in the last seven minutes behind bernie kolasar and clevelend gary....i witnessed the "ten ten " tie with OhIo state....numerous victories in between. Never have i seen a coaching staff be O.K with piss poor fundementals. as in baseball' water polo or any other sport where you throw a ball you MUST point your LEFT shoulder and distribute your weight forward towards your target. clearly denard is incapable. so sorry, but we have no plan "b"....if not we have no Plan "c".........?????


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 5:17 a.m.

Despite the atrocious turnovers, one TD on either of our first and goals and it's a tie game. It was an ugly game by Denard, perhaps his worst. And I wound't care if Smith never saw the field again. But the D showed up today and despite all the mess, we could have won. Denard can be exciting, but his passing is just crazy-making.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

agreed, why the half back pass when you are moving the ball......Smith was going to throw the ball no matter what.....a big back breaker......

Jon Saalberg

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:40 a.m.

Notre Dame did not win this game - Denard lost it all by himself. UM had more first downs, more total yards, and far more time of possession. Notre Dame only had one decent drive, and that resulted in a field goal. It's hard to win when your QB is throwing lollipops to the opposing defense. I'll stick with my 6-6 prediction for this team's final record, even though the two losses two decent teams call into question whether UM can beat any half-way decent team.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

I was a Borges supporter until tonight. Granted that he made changes in the second half but it was too little, too late. Play calling in the latter part of the first half makes me shake my head. Our offensive line (all those RR recruits) is awful. I project that we are two years away from being dominating. Unless there is dramatic improvement we are in for .500 +/- season.

Jojo B

Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

We always seem to live and die by Denard. And tonight we died HARD. The interceptions were painful. The out-of-bounds throw that lured Gardner to smash his head into a stand was terrible. While Denard is the "most exciting player in U-M history", I'm looking forward to next year and hopefully having a stable, reliable QB who can actually throw the football under pressure.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:27 a.m.

You cant give Denard a letter grade tonight. The most fitting thing would be to move him back a couple grades.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

Brady Hoke is doing exactly what Rich Rodriguez did -- he's trying to use his QB in a way that is not workable given his skill. Look how it worked out for Rich Rodriguez... wake up Brady!


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

Mr. Borges is horrible.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

Pat Sheridan played major league baseball......Robinson may account for a ton of yardage, but sometimes in the big games he looks shaky and tries to force against ND......


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 5:19 a.m.

Uh, RR tried to run his spread offense using Pat Sheridan and Steven Threet. To date, Denard has accounted for about 90% of our offensive yardage. I really don't see any comparison.


Sun, Sep 23, 2012 : 3:17 a.m.

Its time to switch another QB to receiver. We need a new slot. Bellomy for the rest of the season.