Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Michigan Tuesday: Don't Forget To Hoke!

I'm sorry, I mean Vote.  Doesn't matter for which candidate you fill in the bubble for, make your vote count! 

Today's post topic comes from a question from Mike W.:

Hey just throwing ideas for you to cover any chance norfleet takes over punt return duties it seems like gallon has misplayed a few the last few weeks and I have a feeling that if its not addressed it could cost us gallon is reminding me of his freshman year when he couldn't catch a cold back there as a punt returner not to mention the only punt return norfleet had was a big play he is explosive and a threat he barley gets any returnable kickoffs so it's a way to get the ball in his hands 

Thank you and keep up the great work!

I would like to take this question in two different directions: 1) The impact of True Freshman this year & 2) Hoke's coaching style.  I hope to answer the question somewhere between both of them.

I will start with the second topic first, Hoke's coaching style.  We sometimes forget who Brady Hoke learned from when he was a young coach.   Jack Harbaugh at Western Michigan, then hired by Gary Moeller and coached under Lloyd Carr at Michigan.   Jack was a little before my time but we know that Gary and Lloyd were Bo Schembechler disciples.   To me that rings loudly for a strong defense and a conservative offense.  Which I'm sure hit Dave Brandon's hot button in the interview and was the complete opposite of Rich Rod. 

Brady strongly believes in upper classmen and not taking too many risks in special teams.   I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that Gallon is told to fair catch the ball if there is any on coming rusher anywhere in his sight lines. 

So I agree with you that Norfleet has been a nice surprise this year with his kick off returns but I have a feeling that Brady feels having a freshman field punts on the 10 yard line is too much of a risk and not worth it.   As long as Gallon is catching the ball (or not turning it over), I think his job is safe. 

Now to the impact of freshman this year. 

Dennis Norfleet wasn't a part of Michigan's class until the day before signing day.  He was a highly rated RB but many had felt his size didn't fit the Wolverines need.   I disagree and have a philosophy regarding players like Dennis and Michigan.   There should always be a roster spot for speed.   Sometimes you just need speed guys on your team, whether at CB, WR, KR or RB = you can't teach or develop speed and when a kids has it, Michigan should embrace it and find away to use it.   I really have enjoyed the way they have used Norfleet this year and wish they had got him more involved in other areas. 

Funchess is another true freshman we have been very excited about.  Big Al really needs a find away to get him more looks a game.  2 or 3 isn't enough. 

Other Freshman that have been on the field and should have been:
  • AJ Williams - Mostly a blocking TE
  • Mario Ojemudia DE
  • Ondre Pipkins, NT
  • Joe Bolden, LB
  • James Ross, LB
  • Jarrod Wilson, S

Guys who Redshirts have been blown but I wished they still had it:
  • Terry Richardson, CB
  • Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB
  • Amara Darboh, WR 
  • Sione Houma, FB
I understand that special teams is important and a missed tackle or block can change the outcome of a game, but I really hate when we burn redshirts on kids on just special teams.   My feeling on Darboh is, try him at WR and see what he can do and I really wish RJS still had his red shirt. 

Big Will being on extra point duty during his freshman year cost him a year of college development under Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison.  That might have been the difference in a NFL career or a corporate gig for that young man.

I know I got long winded but thanks for the question!

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