1. The UM secondary - this group has been giving up big plays all season, oftentimes playing far off receivers. Is this because of the scheme Greg Robinson has been using, or is this because he lacks trust in the ability of the defensive backs to defense the long pass? Other than the Warren interception, this group has been more reactive than proactive. They rarely get a good enough read on the QB to step into a passing lane to make a play; instead, they wait for the catch to be made and then react. I can't help but notice that other teams do a better job of this. My guess is this is part inexperience, part scheme. We'll see how they respond to the MSU passing game today, but if the defense is truly progressing each and every week, we should see a few more plays being made.
2. The UM Defensive Line - While solid at times, this unit has had much difficulty putting pressure on the QB. A few more sacks could go a long way for the defense. The other issue has been with the rush defense. Half of the time they stop the running back for little to no gain, the other half they seem to get gashed by a big run. While the MSU run game has struggled, this is the second chance to go against a Big Ten offensive line. If the MSU run game has success, I don't think this bodes well for future games this year. If they put in a solid performance, it's a step in the right direction. No doubt that the problem with the D-Line is, in part related to the first.
3. Freshman on the Road - This is the first true test for the youngsters we have on offense and defense. While Tate has shown poise under pressure, you have to wonder how the rest of the group will respond. Denard is likely to have issues if he decides to pass. The defensive backs are likely to find themselves lost at times. Nevertheless, it's probably better to have MSU for the first road game than a better team like Iowa.
What will we see today - time will tell. WIn or lose, it's still fun to watch this team play and we should sit back and enjoy the maturation of the team.
Dear Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Snyder,
I read with interest your report about allegations of NCAA football violations at the University of Michigan. However, I felt that there were a number of areas in which the investigation and/or report could have been improved with more detail and comprehensive information. Certainly, there are space limitations for articles and deadlines to complete a project, but given the gravity of the subject, the report could have been more accurate and representative in the following ways:
1. Methodology - What specific questions were asked of players and parents? Was a breakdown of how the hours were spent asked of the players? I felt that additional characteristics were needed about the sources used (e.g., Carr recruit vs. Rodriguez recruit, number of former players vs. number of current players). I could come to a very different conclusion about the allegations if the report indicated that the sources were nine former players/transfers and one current player than if it came from 9 current players and 1 former player/transfer. Note that this can be done while still protecting the anonymity of players and parents who requested it. The report would have also greatly benefited from gathering information from a larger sample of individuals. While not all of this information needs to be included, the report would’ve greatly benefited from more detail about the nature of the interviews, what was asked, and source characteristics.
2. Confirming and Disconfirming Evidence - In the search for accurate answers to issues, individuals absolutely must seek out disconfirming as well as confirming evidence. This is true for scientists as well as for journalists. Unfortunately, I only found confirming evidence in the article published by the Detroit Free Press. If more players and parents would have been interviewed, disconfirming evidence would likely exist on this issue.
3. Report Context - The report also did not include any information on the recent (2008) NCAA survey results the USA Today published about the amount of hours collegiate student-athletes spend on academics and athletics. The NCAA study contained a large sample of collegiate student-athletes (N=1,600+ football players, N=21,000+ athletes), and indicated that college football players spend an average of 44.8 hours per week on combined involuntary and voluntary practices and workouts (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2008-01-12-athletes-full-time-work-study_N.htm). Were you aware of this study? If so, I would have either requested data from the study to get more information or at least mentioned the survey in the report. This certainly does not absolve any program from violating hour limitations placed on daily/weekly practices and workout limits nor does it address all the issues present in the UM report, but I felt it certainly would have indicated to the reader that this is an issue that is more widespread (in fact, it’s probably commonplace) and not an isolated problem with one program or one sport. Furthermore, it would have placed the report in a better, more accurate context.
4. Selective Quotations - What did the other players indicate about practice and workout requirements? The articles included selective quotations from players who had negative things to say about practice and workouts as well as an indifferent comment from a freshman (Je’Ron Stokes) who was indifferent about the issue (as noted in the article). Were all players aware of what was being investigated during the interviews?
5. Resolution of Conflicting Information - The report indicates that that one player (sharing the sentiment of others) indicated that workouts in the past two off-seasons at Michigan “affected people’s grades. People were falling asleep in class.” Yet, UM reported that the 2008 cumulative Michigan football GPA is the highest it has been in nearly 20 years. These two conflicting pieces of information needed to be fleshed out more, or at very least mentioned together.
I sincerely hope you strongly consider creating a more comprehensive, balanced, and well-rounded report on such issues in the future.