October 8, 2012

Karsch: From the sidelines

Michigan sideline reporter Doug Karsch, like most U-M observers, found plenty to like in the Wolverines' 44-13 pounding of the Boilermakers in West Lafayette.

Here's Karsch…

On what stood out in U-M's effort: "The defense just gets better and better. They dominated the line of scrimmage. Craig Roh said after the game that they knew just about every play they were going to run, based upon their formation and their tendencies, and they looked like it.

"Craig Roh was in the backfield all day. Jake Ryan was around the football all day. There were plays where Jake Ryan didn't get a tackle, but he blew it up - a screen play where Jake knew from the formation what was coming, and he jumped the route.

"Caleb TerBush looked at his receiver and he knew immediately, 'I've got nothing.' That was as prepared a defense as I have seen. I continue to be impressed with the job Greg Mattison and the defensive staff does with coaching this group up. They get better every week. It's fun to watch."

On the pass defense, which ranks No. 7 in the nation: "They're opportunistic. Their depth might be tested as the season goes on. Jordan Kovacs is a remarkable story, and he continues to get it done.

"I've seen some people complain about J.T. Floyd. I think J.T. Floyd is fine. I don't think he's an All-American, but I think he's pretty good. There were some rumblings that Raymon Taylor could be pretty good, and I've seen nothing that leads me to believe that's inaccurate. Thomas Gordon has proven to be an asset back there.

"I would assume they'd want to get a little bit more of a pass rush, but I'm impressed with the defense at every level."

On Michigan's 17-play touchdown drive to start the game: "It was a continuation of where they left off against Notre Dame. Against Notre Dame they had three second-half possessions, and all three were long, time-consuming, ball-control drives. The difference is, they didn't stall in the red zone at Purdue.

"That fourth-down play call showed a lot, either the staff having a lot of confidence in, or wanting to give confidence to No. 16. They put the ball in his hands and said, 'Do it through the air, not with your feet.'

"If this season is a successful one, this might be one of the moments you look back on and say, 'That's an important and critical turning point in the year.' There was certainly a bit of confidence that needed to get restored with Denard.

"That's a gutsy play call early in the game, in field goal range, to put the pedal down and go for the jugular early."

On the offensive approach, which seemed safer and more run dependent: "I agree, but they didn't have to completely dumb down the offense. There were a couple of throws - the touchdown pass to Devin Gardner was not an easy throw. The third-down completion to [Devin] Funchess was not an easy throw.

"They still let Denard make some tough throws. I was impressed with that.

"I thought one of the most important plays of the game was the third-down play where there was nothing there, and Denard threw it out of bounds. If he does that at The Big House on Saturday, I think fans should applaud it. That's as big a part of being a senior quarterback as anything.

"If he can't find an open receiver, and he can't run, don't throw it up for grabs. Throw it out of bounds. Live to play another down. Live to play another series.

"I remember years where if it wasn't there for guys like [John] Navarre or [Chad] Henne, they'd do their five-step drop, look at their first target, look at their second target, and there was nothing there, those guys who didn't have a lot of mobility would throw it into the first row. Then you'd hear the crowd groan.

"Don't groan when Denard does it."

On Hoke getting after Quinton Washington about an untimely personal foul: "I noticed he gave him an earful. There was an initial yell, and he took him out of the game, and talked to him all about it. Brady went over afterwards and talked to him one-on-one. There was definitely attention paid to it.

"The message got across, from what I saw. And he wasn't out of the game for that long. He only sat out a couple of plays before he went back in. But I would highly doubt that Quinton Washington didn't get the point."

On Michigan's running game: "It didn't look to me like [Fitzgerald] Toussaint had the running lanes that Denard did. I thought about that a lot. It is definitely a priority to try and develop an offense with weapons outside of No. 16.

"The last two years, Purdue had shut down Denard on the ground, relatively speaking. Last year, Toussaint went for 170. It's possible that Purdue's focus was on taking Toussaint away, saying 'Let's see if we can put more of an emphasis on stopping the tailback.' That opened things up for Denard Robinson.

"It just didn't look like the running lanes were there for Fitz. At one point I heard Fred Jackson yell to Fitz to get vertical, when he tried to bounce a play outside. Outside of that, there wasn't a whole lot of acknowledgement. It just didn't look like the opportunities were there for Fitz like they were for Denard."

On one more observation: "For sheer entertainment, if you want to see something funny, watch Taylor Lewan talking to officials during TV timeouts. He talked to the umpire this week about his mustache.

"I noticed Taylor talking to him during a TV timeout. I asked him after the game what they talked about, and he said, 'We talked about the guy's mustache.'

"He's always chit-chatting with umpires. They're the ones standing over the ball during the TV timeouts. It's just kind of funny."

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