The Wolverine

October 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 47 of 91

������ michigan football Hot 11: Top Michigan Players Through The Non-Conference Every Monday during the regular season, ranks the top Michigan performers from that weekend���s game, in a feature we dub the ���Hot 11.��� After four Mondays, we���ve added up the points accumulated to unveil the Hot 11 for the non-conference portion of the schedule. 1. QB Denard Robinson (39 points): A year ago, Robinson held the No. 1 spot every week (and thus had 44 points). This year, he���s been No. 1 only once, in large part because he hasn���t put together a complete game yet; he connected on less than 50 percent of his passes against Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan and San Diego State. Robinson has been terrific as a rusher, though, and led the Big Ten with 138.0 yards per After four games, junior quargame on the ground, while terback Denard Robinson scoring five times, through the led the Big Ten in rushing at first four weeks of the 2011 138.0 yards per contest. Photo by Per KjelDsen campaign. Michigan needs him to improve drastically as a passer, though, going forward. 2. SS Jordan Kovacs (32 points): Perhaps the biggest surprise of the non-conference was Kovacs. The surprise was not that he has started ��� he started every game in 2010 ��� but that he was, inarguably according to the Hot 11, Michigan���s top defender through four weeks. The redshirt junior made big play after big play for the Wolverines. He led U-M with two sacks and was third with 28 tackles through the end of September, and also had an interception, a pass breakup and a forced fumble. 3. TB Vincent Smith (25 points): Smith is better suited to be a third-down back than a lead ball carrier, but after a 118-yard rushing performance against Eastern Michigan, the junior has become a go-to threat for the Maize and Blue on first, second and third down. Smith led all skill position players (not named Denard Robinson) in all-purpose yards with 378 (94.5 per game) through four contests, including 179 yards rushing and 70 yards receiving. 4. WR Jeremy Gallon (21 points): In an offense that returned proven performers Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree at the receiver position, Gallon actually emerged as Robinson���s top target four games into the season. The redshirt sophomore had a team-high eight receptions for 143 yards and a score. He also solidified Michigan���s punt return game, handling 13 potential returns without a muff while averaging 12.8 yards on five opportunities; he faircaught eight. 5. TB Fitzgerald Toussaint (15 points): The redshirt sophomore missed the Notre Dame game due to injury, but he thrived in U-M���s three other contests, rushing for at least 45 yards in each while averaging better than 4.2 yards per carry in all three games. Toussaint was the Wolverines��� secondleading rusher after the conclusion of the non-conference games with 193 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries (5.5-yard average). His three scores were second only to Robinson���s five. 6. LB Kenny Demens (12 points): Michigan���s most experi48��� the wolverine��� ������ October 2011 enced linebacker, with seven career starts entering the 2011 campaign, Demens was expected to lead by example this fall. He hasn���t been as productive as anticipated; though he led U-M in stops, with 30, through four games, the redshirt junior was averaging only 7.5 tackles per contest compared to 10.1 in his seven starts from 2010. The good news is the Oak Park, Mich., native can (and likely will) play better. T7. LB Jake Ryan (11 points): The redshirt freshman strongside linebacker has been a revelation. He first earned attention in April when he recorded two sacks and an interception return for a touchdown in U-M���s spring game. The 6-3, 230-pounder then stepped into a starting role in week one with an injury to redshirt sophomore Cam Gordon. Ryan hasn���t relinquished the post since (though Gordon did return to action during those four weeks), recording a teamhigh three tackles for loss among 13 total stops through September. T7. DT Mike Martin (11 points): The senior defensive tackle was a virtual no-show the first two weeks of the season. Without pressure from Martin and the front four, Michigan blitzed constantly to force Western Michigan���s Alex Carder and Notre Dame���s Tommy Rees to make mistakes. Martin���s effort was better than his production, however, and his determination began paying off in week three. In week four, he was at his best, dominating the line of scrimmage in harassing San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley all day. T9. WR Junior Hemingway (10 points): Hemingway and Roy Roundtree, who didn���t even make this list, are victims of an ineffective passing attack that registered just 35 completions in four games (8.8 per game). Hemingway had a monster night against Notre Dame, catching three balls for gains of 43 (touchdown), 45 and 77 yards. However, he had just one catch against Western Michigan and one against San Diego State, going without a grab against Eastern. T9. DE Craig Roh (10 points): Like Martin, Roh went two weeks without contributing, but his absence ��� zero tackles in two games ��� was glaring and drew incredible scrutiny from the media and fans, and even, he admitted, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Roh had his best week of practice before the Eastern Michigan game, though, and responded with a sack among five tackles. He was even better against San Diego State, recording a sack and two tackles for loss, and he appears on the verge of emerging as a consistent pass-rushing threat. 11. FS Thomas Gordon (9 points): Michigan���s defense allowed a single pass completion of 30 yards or more in the first four weeks of the season, and while a number of Wolverines and coaches deserve credit for that, the presence of Gordon has been critical. The redshirt sophomore has one of the best football IQs on the team and has done a good job, along with Kovacs, of keeping the ball in front of U-M���s safeties. Gordon has also been a bit of a playmaker, with an interception and two fumble recoveries to go along with 30 tackles. Also Receiving Points: LB Brandon Herron, C David Molk, DE Ryan Van Bergen, WR Roy Roundtree, TE Kevin Koger, CB Blake Countess, RB Michael Shaw, OL Michael Schofield, WR Kelvin Grady, WR Drew Dileo, DL Will Heininger, CB Courtney Avery, P Matt Wile. ��� Michael Spath

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - October 2011