I GET IT
The thing that really brought me to write this post was the fact that defense has always seemed to be a weakness under Rich Rodriguez. Part of it is due to the fact that his teams have put points on the board in bunches and quickly putting the defense in a precarious position, but part of it might also be attributed to the recruiting on the defensive side of the ball.
Rodriguez recruits really really well.
Let me rephrase...
Rodriguez recruits really really well on the offensive side of the ball.
Ok, so the rephrased statement is obvious. Rodriguez is an offensive guru, so it's obvious he recruits well on that side of the ball. But on the other side, I cannot say the same. I can already hear the comments coming. "What about Craig Roh, Justin Turner, and Will Campbell?" Yes, Michigan OBVIOUSLY does recruit defensive players, but take a look and see what the ratio of offensive-to-defensive players recruited is.
Offense Defense Athlete/ST
2008 14 8 2
2009 9 9 4
2010 10 7 2
So these numbers aren't THAT telling until you check the athlete section.
2008 athletes: Feagin (O), JT Floyd (D)
2009 athletes: Robinson (O), Gallon (O), Thomas Gordon (O to D), Gibbons (ST)
2010 athletes: Dileo (O), Hagerup (ST)
Heck, a lot of offensive recruits end up getting moved to defense because they can't compete with the talent on the offensive side.
This is a BIG problem. USC recruits defensive players. Florida recruits defensive players. OSU recruits defensive players. Michigan (under Rodriguez) recruits offensive players and turns them into defensive players. This should be VERY alarming.
Disclaimer: I am a very realistic Michigan fan. We are far from 3-9.
My friends and I disagreed about a few things after the Western game and that's what prompted me to create this account and start ranting. Anyways, this week a big argument after the end of the game was the decision to leave Robinson in for the final drive with about 90 seconds left.
My opponents argue that Forcier should have been in the game at that point because of the fact that he is "our starting quarterback" and the outcomes from the recent games. They claim that we would have had a better chance of winning the game with Forcier in the game at that point than with Robinson.
I am obviously in disagreement with this perspective because of the mere fact that I am sitting here writing this. But I will lay my arguments out in a clear and honest manner.
1) THIS week is not LAST week or weeks 1, 2, 3, or 4 either.
Just because Tate has managed to get it done the past few weeks does not mean he is guaranteed at getting it done this week. It was evident throughout tonight's game that this week's version of Forcier was not the super freshman he's been in the first few games. Yes, Forcier has had a low completion percentage before (actually 3 times in weeks 3-5: 53.8, 52.4, 53.1), but in those games there were far more drops from the receivers than there were tonight. Heck, the receivers didn't even have many opportunities to commit drops. Tate overthrew his open receivers on more than one occasion tonight. Maybe his shoulder was sore, but a completion percentage of 42.1 just won't get it done on the road in the Big 10.
2) Denard SHOULD have been in the game for the last drive.
Denard drove Michigan down for a touchdown drive midway through the final frame. Tate was not responsible for a touchdown tonight. Yes, he did manage Michigan down the field for both of Minor's touchdown runs, but 8 completions out of 19 attempts is far from being a "quarterback that manages the game." Denard was more than competent in the second to last drive to bring us to within two. When asked to throw, he delivered the ball on the mark and on time (granted they were only 5-7 yard curls and outs). On the final offensive possession for Michigan, Denard just made a bad read and didn't realize this was COLLEGE football. He had a wide open receiver underneath (5-7 yard gain to give us a first down with 45 seconds on the clock and realistically about 25 yards from a field goal attempt to win the game (Michigan was on the 38 yard line, 7 yard gain puts us at the 45 with maybe three or four shots to get anywhere from 20-40 yards). To sum it all up, Denard deserved a shot at winning a game. They are both freshmen quarterbacks and both were promised an equal opportunity at the job. Denard has a right at trying to get some of that same glory Forcier has received.
3) Rodriguez made the right call.
Not his fault his quarterback made the wrong read. He had to find out if Denard has that "it" factor everyone talks about. I really think Denard gives you a better shot at winning that game than a 70% Forcier who had his confidence rattled. People seem to forget we only needed a field goal. I think Denard's running ability (and accuracy on short 5-7 yard routes) gave us a better shot. Get off our coach's back; do you want 3-9 again?
Al in all, Michigan played a sloppy hard-fought game. 5 turnovers is way too many and to actually have a shot at winning the game was pretty much all you could ask for. Hopefully we shore up our problems in the defensive secondary and heal up over the next two weeks. Let's make sure Delaware St. 2009 doesn't become Toldeo 2008. It might seem like a meaningless game, but get out there and support.
Respek. Go Blue.
Leave the keys at home. You'll probably lose them in your drunken stooper anyways. Instead, bring a handful of change to the game and an UNOPENED water bottle (this way you won't have to pay ten bucks for a bottle at the stadium). When inside, drink the water to sober up, and put the change in the bottle and you'll have something that's 100 times louder than your keys could ever make. I'll be at the game with possibly over a thousand dollars in pennies, so look for me.
Don't wait till 3rd and 4th down on defensive possessions to make noise. Personally, I think it's more important to make noise on 1st and 2nd down because it puts the other team's offense in a more difficult situation on 3rd downs, thus making it easier for our defense to make a stop. But anyways, the whole idea is to make noise on EVERY defensive play. [Also, good point made by a commenter. Don't wait till the opposing offense is set at the line to make noise. Shake those bottles and yell while they are in the huddle. Better yet, start yelling immediately when the previous play ends. Even better yet, DON'T STOP YELLING.]
When someone tells you to sit down (probably a Michigan man of the old generation) and stop making noise, ask them simply if they want Michigan to win. Most likely they'll say yes, and in kind respond, "Well sir, personally I believe it is my responsibility as a fan and spectator to stand up and cheer on our team to create a difficult atmosphere for our opponents." (Yes, say it like this in a sophisticated manner so that they can respect the message. If you talk like a smart-ass, that's when the old generation gets pissed and calls the usher/event staff).
Don't boo when you see Sheridan or someone who you think doesn't belong on the field get on the field. Rich Rod and his coaching staff know what they are doing. Have some confidence and trust in him. You get out there and hold up "In Rod We Trust" signs yet at the first sign of displeasure you boo. What is the deal? Get behind our players, even if it's a former walk-on who can't throw a 15 yard post. We should cheer louder to see scrubs get in the game.
Get there early and let's drown out those echoes that Notre Dame claims to hear. No Notre Dame chants/yells/screams should be heard. This is Michigan.
Anyways, I'll be providing Honest Analysis - University of Michigan v. University of Notre Dame when I get back to LA. Until then, go blue.
[Editor's note: Any current students need to get this message out. Print it out, post it in the dining halls, bathroom stalls, dorm hallways, at Charley's, at the Safe Sex Store, at Bubble Island, on South U, everywhere. It's easy to do. I'm not asking you to stand in the Diag handing out fliers (but if you want you should). Nobody will clown you or hate on you. If they do I'll throw pennies at them. Do your part as Michigan fans. Let's get this sh*t out there. Everyone needs to be on the same page. POST IT UP. And as I said at the beginning, it's easier said than done. Don't talk about it, be about it. POST IT UP. I will literally be at the game with rolls and rolls of pennies. Let's just say I had a good weekend in Vegas and the Michigan football team will be the beneficiary of that. POST IT UP.]
Disclaimer: I am a very realistic Michigan fan. I do understand this was against Western Michigan, but last year, 13-10 Toledo.
First of all, I think it's pretty apparent Michigan's incompetence last year was due to their ineptness at the quarterback position. Michigan's options at quarterback were a walk-on who couldn't hit wide open receivers and a QB they never recruited who never really fit the system. They had skill players who made plays when the ball was thrown to them, but that was a rare feat to accomplish. Anyways, I digress.
Let's be honest; Michigan moved the ball at will in the first half. Tate looked like a young Colt McCoy while Denard showed flashes of Pat White/Steve Slaton (more on this in a bit). The linemen looked great; athletic, strong, and fast. Did you see Moosman make those two pancake blocks on the same play in the first half? The defense was playing aggressive and most importantly, hard. They converged on the ball and there were at least 3 blue jerseys around every tackle. I think Stevie Brown has finally found his position. Not athletic enough to be the last resort guy, but talented enough to be on the field. Outside of the last drive of the first half, the Michigan D held WMU to three-and-outs on six of their first seven possessions. Overall, a pretty perfect first half compared to anything Michigan produced last year.
Ok, now to some people's concerns. Short offensive possessions in the first half. The defense allowed a long, sustained drive in the last WMU possession of the first half. The offense looked inept at times in the second half.
The short offensive possessions in the first half I think were attributed to the talent/execution advantage Michigan had over WMU. By that I mean Michigan has superior talent (simple fact) and better coaching (most likely fact, but talent makes them look good). Michigan simply overpowered WMU; rare negative plays/no gains, rushing plays of 5-6 yard gains as opposed to 3-4 yard gains (yes, it matters), offensive linemen driving their men back instead of getting stood up or themselves being pushed into the offensive backfield, quarterbacks able to hit open receivers...
The last WMU possession of the first half was not worrisome to me as it was to others. I think at that point (UM - 31, WMU - 0), Rodriguez just wanted to go into the half up 31-3 at the worst and pretty much was willing to give up short underneath routes (curls, outs, slants). Essentially, they were calling off the dogs on Hiller for the last drive of the half. 31-7 is a three possession game, 31-3 is four.
Michigan's offense in the second half was not stunning, but it was without their apparent leader for most of it. When Tate was in the game, the offense had a particular rhthym and flow to it. This is not to say that when Denard was in there wasn't, but it was pretty clear to me that Denard is still a raw QB in terms of throwing mechanics/defensive reads. [Editor's note: Forgot to mention that I think Denard might at some point be converted to running back if Tate really establishes himself as the season goes on. Denard has too much speed and athleticism not to be on the field and think he could turn into a Slaton type of back. Also, looking down the road with Devin Gardner coming in, that could be a vicious backfield one day.]
My personal opinion is that the offense and defense were not as spectacular in the second half because of the mere fact that Michigan was up 31-0 at the half. I am of the opinion that Rodriguez doesn't want to expose his whole hand the first week of the season (no pun intended, all-in for Michigan) and has a few things waiting for Notre Dame next week on both sides of the ball. In the second half, by running the same offensive plays that were run in the first half and a pretty much base defense, Michigan did not give Notre Dame anything new to game plan for which I think is a strategic, and IMO genius.
I think next week we see a few (lots of) wrinkles to both the offense and defense. Hopefully Notre Dame has a full house and Michigan shows four of a kind (sorry, had to do it).