Kevin Koger Game Eval: Game 2 (Fremont Ross)

Last Friday GoBlueWolverine made our second trek of the season to see Toledo (OH) Whitmer TE Kevin Koger in action. It was an intense game for the future Wolverine, and the teams battled all the way through. However, Koger's team fell just short, dropping the contest 23-21 to rival Fremont Ross.

In game two of the season, GBW saw Kevin appear more comfortable on both sides of the ball. He is one of the captains on his team and it was easy to see why. He was like a coach on the field, often placing his teammates in their proper positions and being an emotional leader on the field.

On the offensive side of the ball he was not as active in the passing game as he was in his first game against Tiffin Columbian. In that contest he was all over the field at tight end, flanker and wide receiver. Against Fremont Ross he mostly was a tight end and only a few times was he ever flanked out or involved in the passing game. Thus far this season, Whitmer has rarely used Koger's size advantage against shorter defenders. In both games we've seen this year he was probably thrown the ball seven or eight times total. He has the kind of talent to warrants that many passes in a single contest. It's hard to judge how good his route running is because there just aren't enough passes thrown his way to make an accurate assessment. That said, from the times he does go out he seems to get down the field quickly and outmuscles defenders that try to jam him or knock him off of his routes.

As far as blocking goes, Koger really seemed like he picked it up as the game went on. He did a good job of sealing his man and was much better at finishing his blocks in week two.

Besides playing defensive end and tight end, Koger also plays on punt and punt block teams. He was a factor on both specialty teams Friday night. He was the up back calling the signals when he took a direct snap ran a fake from the Whitmer 20 yard line on a fourth and four. He just barely made it by dragging several defenders with him as he stretched for the first down. The play was a little risky especially being down 16-0 in the 2nd quarter, but I believe Whitmer Coach Joe Palka knew he had to do something to stop the bleeding. Koger later made another good play on the punt return team in which the snapper sent the ball over the punters head. The future Wolverine hustled and recovered the loose ball

Defensively Koger was more active in game two. One of his best plays was a sack that he earned by he slipping past the offensive tackle and then the guard trying to pick him up before putting a good hit on the quarterback. He also did a better job holding his ground against the run this week. His presence seemed to cause Fremont Ross to go to the weak side on the majority of its runs.

The game was ultimately decided by a crucial penalty. Fremont Ross had a 4th and goal from the two yard line, but was kept out of the end zone... or so it seemed. There was a pass interference penalty on Whitmer, which gave Ross new life. Ross then scored on the very next play to make the game 23-21 Fremont Ross.

Fellow GBW member was also at the game at had the following observations:

From (ohiowolverine43611):

"What a tough game to lose after a good come back. I thought overall he is a true TE. He ran good routes and did not seem to have any trouble getting past the DL and LBs. Plus no CB I saw could match up with him. The offense he is in obviously does not play to his strengths, as I felt they use him too much to block for option runs which were not very successful. Till midway through 2nd quarter his blocking was not great. He often would lower his head too much and lose his leverage against the defender, but as the game went on he got much better at keeping his head up and keeping his hands working, which led to two very good pancake blocks in the quarter. In the 3rd quarter he had a better rush as a DE and was using his legs more to push through the line, which is something he was not doing much of to start. I think once he gets his lower body strength up he will become a dominant blocker in the running game. On the scoring run to his side he made a great block, tying up the DE and finishing him off. He kept his pads level and drove through the guy. He did seem to find that 'fire' on defense in the 4th and made some really nice moves on the RT, but I just do not see him playing anything but TE for Michigan. The thing that stood out most to me was his leadership on both sides of the ball. Moving guys around and making sure he was in the right spot as well. He has the size, speed, hands, and smarts to play well and seems to run good slants and short-ins. The thing I see that needs improvement the most is lower body power to help his push off of the line and to hold his ground when the rush comes at him. If the few passes that thrown his way were at all catchable, it would have been nice to see what happens after the catch. With a more rigorous workout regimen and college coaching, he has the skills to be a very good player."

After the game Kevin Koger's father took some time to chat with GoBlueWolverine about the latest happenings with his son.

GBW: Is Kevin going to keep playing basketball and track after the football season like he has in the past, or is he going to get ready for Michigan football?

Mr. Koger: "Kevin is expecting playing basketball and track this year. We asked (Coach DeBord) if that is ok for Kevin to be able to do since basketball at one point was Kevin's favorite sport until he started getting noticed in football and stopped growing. Playing football in college is just like a job because it’s all year round. We wanted to make sure Michigan was fine with him playing other sports at the high school level after accepting a football scholarship. (Coach DeBord) said he wants Kevin to do what he wants to do with no restriction because they actually want kids to enjoy their senior year in high school."

GBW: Were you always a Michigan fan living in Ohio?

Mr. Koger: "Well I grew up in Detroit and I do not mean in the suburbs like so many people say now... but from the city of Detroit. I grew up a big Michigan fan, but I let Kevin do what he wanted and make his own decision even though a lot of people were pulling him both ways."

Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for more from Mr. Kpger and Q&A with Kevin Koger.

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