"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
On October 14, 2014 m1jjb00 presented a statistical analysis examining the relative incidence of football injuries: "Comparing injuries across the Big Ten". According to his calculations, Michigan had the second highest rate of injuries among fourteen teams. Since I have 24 years of professional experience in the health and fitness field (also worked as an addiction counselor), I thought it was time to speak up. I put together a diary titled, "Reason for so many injuries".
In summary it said: When a human being trains to get bigger and stronger, in the process their neuro-muscular system, the kinetic chain, becomes tighter and less flexible. For optimum athletic performance, training must include various compensating modalities to regain and increase freedom of movement, such as stretching, yoga, myofascial release, massage, etc. The various types of resistance training (i.e. weights, cables, elastic bands, body weight, etc.) must be taken into consideration.
Multi-planar activity incorporating twisting movements (Transverse Plane) develop coordination and support joint stabilization. Flexibility, mobility, agility are central components of a complete, integrative training program. These areas are often undervalued or neglected, not only in gyms around the world, but even in the most sophisticated professional environments.
Some people's comments noted that I did not make an airtight case to support the conclusion which I reached. I agree that's a legitimate question. However, athletic training is a complex, evolving field. When you study practices such as Olympic training, body building, power lifting, martial arts and yoga, just to name a few, you find tremendous diversity in methods people use to improve physical performance. There's a lot of disagreement, even among top professionals in the upper echelon of sports science. This is far from a mature, exact science. So then, was "Reason for so many injuries" an overstatement?
No, it is not.
The time is way overdue for someone to speak up for the well being of these young athletes, who put their health on the line for our football team. The University of Michigan is a world leader in many areas; I expect nothing less from our strength and conditioning program. John Bacon recently reported that NFL scouts find U of M football players lacking in key parameters of physical conditioning. When you take a look at the work of people like Paul Chek, Kelly Starrett, Gray Cook, Naudi Aguilar and Shannon Turley, you see we lag behind.
Making a convincing case that details the deficiencies of our current training regimen, and mapping out a comprehensive program that would help prevent injuries and improve athletic performance is not really practical in the parameters of a football blog. In this context, I can only summarize and indicate directions where we can move forward.
So moving forward, I propose we begin a conversation which will consider some of the methods our football team can use to improve their athletic performance. Of course, this applies to all sports in general, and your own personal health and fitness as well. Please note: I'm not a statistician. I study this field intensively, including human performance in general, work with amateurs and professionals, and speak from personal experience. I would like to invite you to contribute any information you think is relevant, or personal experience you feel is interesting. I'm not expecting to avoid controversy, but prefer to engage it in a respectful, courteous way.
Let's begin by considering a comment from Blueinsconsin. He noted there's "incompetence at the top of the program", and made a really good, if somewhat unlikely suggestion, that we "steal Shannon Turley from Stanford". Bluesnu provided this informative link to an article about Turley: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/sports/ncaafootball/stanfords-distinct...
Shannon Turley at Stanford is one of the tops in his field. Some of his innovations are now being practiced at all levels, even well received by the NFL. He employs dynamic, multi-planar methods of training, and utilizes a functional movement metric (that is, he monitors and tests for flexibility and range of motion) to gauge the progress of his players.
I've seen many indications that such progressive training methods are lacking with our football S&C training. They may well be being employed for other sports at the University of Michigan. I'm curious about that, and welcome any information on this subject.
In a conversation with Bluesnu, we discussed the relative merits of Hypertrophy training (getting bigger) versus training for Power (generating force with speed). I presented this analogy: "Would you rather have a 300 lb lineman who is carrying all sorts of dysfunctional, neuro-muscular internal restrictions, lumbering around like a water buffalo? Or would it be better to have a 285 lb lineman who has been trained to move and "deliver a blow" (quote from Greg Mattison) with the speed and agility of Chuck Norris?"
Now of course bigger and stronger is necessary. But take a look at this video which demonstrates combined functional and martial arts training. Then you decide if these methods would make our football players more athletically powerful, efficient, and less susceptible to injury.
If the topic of health, fitness, and S&C training generates an interesting dialogue without too much kneejerk negativity, we might continue this conversation further.
OUR (ESTIMATED) PROSPECTS IN A HANDY GRAPHIC FORMAT
Just a brief diary this week about what the statistical crystal ball might hold for the remainder of the season.
For those of you who regularly check Massey and Sagarin and other sites which calculate ratings and/or projected win probabilities, you may have already figured this out, but for those of you that aren’t in the habit or have not yet dared to dream (a terrible dream, of course) at looking through these stats, here’s the current estimate.
In all seriousness, of course, we’re not quite doomed yet, although it would be fair to say that our chances at redemption grow fainter by the game, and by redemption, I mean at least gaining a berth in a certain bowl which, if you live in Metro Detroit, is within rather convenient driving distance. Actually, that’s probably not a conventional definition of the term “redemption”, so we’ll just keep it at “bowl eligible” and leave it for now.
Here’s the matrix – blue indicates a hypothetical win, with each number being the Massey estimate of this occurring (numbers current as of yesterday mid-morning). The estimated probability of each of the remaining possible combinations of wins and losses is in the final column:
So, yeah, the most likely single combinations of events is beating Indiana and then cruising to a cool 4-8 mark on the year, followed by losing out and going 3-9. After that, the next most likely combination would put us at 5-7 with wins against Indiana and Maryland. You can see where this is going, of course. Our collective chances of winning X number of games are below:
Bowl eligibility – 3 or 4 wins – currently sits at 12.18%. Hypothetically, if we beat Indiana, the chances at becoming bowl eligible rise to 20.06% if no other numbers change. If we lose on Saturday, the estimate on bowl eligibility would fall to a very manageable (if you want to call it that) 1.73% - if we don’t change any of the other probabilities in the matrix.
I decided to move this to diaries since I put a little bit of work into it and it was already buried on the sidebar by the time I updated with results.. This is based on a survey a number of board members filled out earlier today.
I’d like to preface this with a warning: this is not intended to divide the fan base or claim that alums have more of a right to cheer for the team than anyone else. I simply had a hypothesis and decided to test it. I did not perform statistical analysis to determine validity. Obvious caveats of sample size, measurement technique, sampling procedures, etc. apply, but here it is:
My hypothesis was that those officially connected to the University (alums, employees, etc) would be more concerned with long-term damage to the program (and greater University as a whole) more than win/loss record, and thus would consider ousting Brandon the more pressing issue.
Caveats: (1) For people who indicated both Hoke and Brandon in their responses, I counted one towards each. Obviously this isn’t the best way to do it, but it was easier on me, so deal with it. (2)Also, I collapsed alums and employees together. For the sake of testing my hypothesis, they are effectively the same.
First, some demographics: 62% of respondents were associated with the University (student/alumnus, employee, etc.). 38% had no association to the University.
Of those associated with the University, 24% placed the majority of blame on Hoke. 86% placed the majority of the blame on Brandon (see caveat (1)). 3% said Hoke should be fired first, while almost 100% (see caveat (1)) said Brandon should be dealt with first.
Now for the fans: 43% said Hoke is to blame, and 56% said Brandon is primarily at fault. 18% said Hoke should be fired first, while 82% said Brandon should be fired first.
All caveats applying, it seems like my hypothesis was, to some extent, supported. It seems like those associated with the University harbor more ill-will towards the AD than the fanbase as a whole, while the fanbase is more willing to consider Hoke the problem, placing less blame on Brandon.
Take from it what you will, but I thought it was an interesting idea to look at. Just take it with a grain of salt.
Let me know what I missed, or if you have any more insight that I can add.
Week 8 Notes: Jake Long and LaMarr Woodley placed on season-ending IR.
Tom Brady (1997-99) | Patriots, Starting QB (W 51-23 vs. CHI)
- Huge game: 30/35 for 354 yards, with 5 passing TDs and no turnovers.
- In October, Brady is 100/144, 1268 yards, with 14 TDs and no interceptions.
- Brady hasn’t thrown an interception in the past 5 games. For the year, Brady is 181/281 for 2,059 yards. 18 TDs with 2 interceptions.
Denard Robinson (2009-12) | @denardx | Jaguars, RB (L 27-13 vs. MIA)
- Second game as feature back, huge game. 108 yards rushing on 18 attempts for 6.0 yard average, and a long of 41 yards. He also caught a pass for 10 yards.
- Video of the 41-yard run.
- Has started 4 games this year, has rushed for 329 yards on 68 carries, and has 12 receptions for 47 yards. Robinson has zero fumbles, compared to 3 fumbles on 20 rushing attempts last year.
Jason Avant (2002-05) | Panthers, WR (L 13-9 vs. SEA)
- No catches, rushed once for 1 yard.
- In his first year with the Panthers, Avant has made 19 catches on 28 targets for 185 yards, and 1 TD.
Taylor Lewan (2009-13) | @taylorlewan77 | Titans, Starting T (L 30-16 vs. HOU)
- QB was sacked 2 times.
- Started third consecutive game.
- Chose settlement over trial for assault case from 2013. http://t.co/etQdy3asfD
Jake Long (2004-07) | Rams, Starting T (L 34-17 vs. KC)
- HUGE loss: Tore his ACL for the second time. Out for the year. QB was sacked 9 times this game.
- Has been a starter since he entered the league 7 years ago.
David Molk (2007-11) | Eagles, Starting C (L 24-20 vs. ARI)
- QB was not sacked this game.
- Has started past 4 games, due to starter injury.
Patrick Omameh (2009-12) | @patrickomameh | Buccaneers, Starting G (L 19-13 vs. MIN)
- QB sacked 5 times this game.
- Has started all 7 games this year.
Steve Schilling (2007-10) | Seahawks, Backup G (W 13-9 vs. CAR)
- Started his third consecutive game. Had a bad snap turn into a turnover. QB sacked 3 times.
- In his first year with Seattle.
Tim Jamison (2005-08) | Texans, Backup DE (W 30-16 vs. TEN)
- 1 tackle and recovered a fumble.
- Has started 1 of 8 games this year. Jamison has recorded 11 tackles, 1 recovered fumble, and half of a sack.
Mike Martin (2008-11) | @gomikemartin | Titans, Backup DE (30-16 vs. HOU)
- 1 tackle.
- Started two games this year, with 10 tackles.
Brandon Graham (2006-09) | @brandongraham55 | Eagles, Backup LB (L 24-20 vs. ARI)
- 1 tackle, but had 5 QB hurries in 15 attempts. There are calls for him to play more.
- Has not started yet this year, but has 18 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in 7 games.
Kenny Demens (2009-12) | @kdemens25 | Cardinals, Backup ILB (W 24-20 vs. PHI)
- Did not record a statistic.
- In 7 games played, Demens has recorded 5 tackles and 2 forced fumble.
Larry Foote (1998-2001) | @larryfoote313 | Cardinals, Starting MLB (W 24-20 vs. PHI)
- 1 tackle and 1 pass deflection.
- Has started all 7 games in his first year with Arizona, recording 36 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 INT so far.
David Harris (2004-06) | Jets, Starting ILB (L 43-23 vs. BUF)
- Game-high 10 tackles. Rumored to be on the trade block for the 1-7 Jets.
- In 8 starts, Harris has recorded 64 tackles and 1 forced fumble.
Leon Hall (2003-06) | Bengals, Starting CB (W 27-24 vs. BAL)
- Team-high 7 tackles. Battling a back strain.
- Has 34 tackles and 1 interception in 7 starts.
Ryan Mundy (2003-06) | @rmundy29 | Bears, Starting SS (L 27-14 vs. NE)
- Team-high 9 tackles. Also embarrassed by Gronk.
- Has recorded 43 tackles and 1 pick-six interception in his first 8 games with the bears.
Charles Woodson (1995-97) | Raiders, Starting FS (L 23-13 vs. CLE)
- 6 tackles, 1 pass breakup.
- Has 45 tackles and 2 interceptions in 7 games.
Stevie Brown (2006-09) | @steviebrown27 | Giants, Backup FS (Bye Week)
- Brown tore his ACL and missed the 2013 season, and has started 3 games this year. He has amassed 13 tackles in 6 games.
Michael Cox (2008-11) | @mikecox1mill | Giants, KR (Bye Week)
- Has played 2 games, exclusively in kick returning duties.
Did Not Play
Junior Hemingway (2007-11) | @younghemi21 | Chiefs, Backup WR
- Did not play. Was questionable with a hamstring injury.
- In 7 games, Hemingway has 8 receptions for 89 yards.
Chad Henne (2004-07) | @chad_henne | Jaguars. Backup QB (L 27-13 vs. MIA)
- Did not play. There are calls for him to get playing time due to Bortles’ turnover issues.
- Started 3 games to begin the year. 42/78 for 492 with 3 TDs and 1 interception and 1 fumble. Has apparently lost starting job to rookie Blake Bortles.
Michael Schofield (2009-13) | @schoblue75 | Broncos, Backup T
- Has yet to play. Is marked as inactive.
Jonathan Goodwin (1999-2001) | Saints, Injured C
- Missed his first game since 11/24/2008.
Cameron Gordon (2009-13) | Patriots, Injured LB
- On injured reserve.
LaMarr Woodley (2003-06) | @lamarrwoodley | Raiders, Injured DE
- Placed on season-ending IR with torn bicep.
- 4 tackles in 5 games.
Will Campbell (2009-12) | @idonttweet73 | Bills, Practice G
Jordan Kovacs (2009-13) | @jkovacs32 | Eagles, SS
- Was cut from Miami during fall camp. Played in 9 games last year for the Dolphins.
Last week, Brian included a photo of the Michigan Football 2014 Team Goals in an Unverified Voracity post. Let's see how the team did this weekend:
4th Quarter? Yes, but just barely.
Kicking Game? I have no idea how they judge this, but Wile made his FG and Sparty missed theirs. So, yes?
Time of Poss.? No.
Let's look at that last goal in the context of this game. In the third quarter, Michigan won the time of possession battle, 10:08 to 4:52. If that's one of the top five goals for the team, that must mean we did well in the third quarter, right? Let's check the drive chart in the play by play. Hmmm... State had one drive that consumed 0 plays, 0 yards, and 0:00 time of possession and resulted in 7 points. Of course, that's the pick six. State had another drive that consumed 1 play, 70 yards, and a whole 11 seconds. That drive also ended in a touchdown. 14 points in 11 seconds. It boggles the mind. If time of possession were so important, maybe this coaching staff should have called timeout at the end of the first half to save some time for our offense to answer State's second score. Being down 14-6 with some momentum and getting the ball to start the 2nd half is much better than being down 14-3 with bupkis.
I agree with the first 2 and 1/2 goals. I would change 4th quarter to 2nd half, because if you get down 28-3 by the start of the 4th quarter, the 4th quarter is meaningless. So how about these as goals:
Hold their running back under 100 yards? No.
Rush for over 100 yards as a team? No.
Average per pass <7 for them, No, >7 for us, No.
Total offense yards <350 for them, No, >350 for us, not even close.
Third down conversions < 40% for them, No, >40% for us, no.
So for all of the meaningful goals one might set, we came up short.
There is one last goal I'd set and that would relate to penalties. We had fewer penalty yards than State did, but maybe that's because our coaches don't teach, or at least condone, targeting. State picked up 2 personal foul calls for targeting and one ejection of a meaningless special teams player. The more important starting middle linebacker was allowed to continue playing in the game, and of course, he made an interception later in the game. Does anyone think Dantonio will offer an apology for his players targeting our players with helmet to helmet hits? I mean, this is something that actually matters. Sticking a stake in the ground is so inconsequential, it doesn't even show up in the boxscore. But helmet to helmet hits lead to brain damage, players committing suicide and donating their brains to science for study. That matters. Stakes do not.
Boxscore link: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/102514aaa.html
Mom is visiting this weekend from, of all places, East Lansing, (she was smart enough to get out of town for the weekend) so I'm cutting it short this week. Besides, it just doesn't matter.
For various reasons, this diary is going to be low on game-specific commentary. The box score tells a pretty complete tale already; I don't think you need me to supplement the numbers to get the drift. Plus, I need a little R&R.
Worst: Our Place in the Dirt
Few lines have gotten me this excited about a movie more than Mr. Dirk Pitt intoning about the plight of the human civilization as we look to the heavens for a way to escape a dying planet before the last embers of humanity as extinguished. From what I've read about the movie, it is all about scientists discovering a wormhole that (apparently) would allow faster-than-light space travel, Earth no longer being capable of sustaining life due to the effects of cataclysmic climate change, and Dr. Larch calling upon Rust Cohle and Fantine to travel beyond the solar system in search of new, habitable planets. Throw in Christopher Nolan and some cool cinematic effects, and I am already making triple-redundant babysitter plans for opening weekend. Doesn't look like I'll be missing much in the way of relevant football then.
For decades, Michigan fans looked at every season not just with hope, but with expectations. They expected to compete for conference titles and bowl wins, to beat rivals and stay atop the college wins list. To being, for lack of a better word, good. The stars didn't always align themselves (and let's be frank, more times than not goals were equal parts hubris and idealization), but Michigan fans always had their heads up, dreaming big.
But since 2006, that hasn't been the case. Sure, there have been glimmers here and there (most of 2011, the starts of 2009, 2010, and pre-Akron 2013), but they've all been mirages, pockets of air escaping a dying husk of a collective fantasy. Michigan the football program isn't "dead", of course; it will rebuild (with a new administration and a new coach) and undoubtedly return to competitiveness on a national stage. You don't post decades of winning seasons without being able to adapt and reform, and this fallow period will most likely be an historical outlier (and not a trend) when my kids look back 32 years from now.
But I'm talking about the future, of a generation of fans who are still figuring out what "Michigan football" means to them. They'll know it for this period of struggling, but as the team improves these memories will fade away, and one day they'll look back and wonder what the hell was happening in Ann Arbor in the late 00's and early 10's, much like my generation wonders about Bump Elliott and the 60's. But this generation, the current era of fans who only know Bo and Carr and "the Streak" and spoiling OSU's perfect seasons and consistently pants-ing MSU, those memories are being buried deeper and deeper under each blowout loss and non-competitive game, under every good coaching hire in Columbus and East Lansing, and every "great" alum chiming in with his #HOTTAKE about the current team. This is our first taste of failure, and its one that will linger for years.
I'll be there cheering on Michigan in 2019 or whenever they are "legitimately" good again. When they are beating MSU and OSU, winning 9-10 games consistently, and celebrating your first touchdown in nearly 3 games doesn't break Ace. But right now I'm staring at the ground, powerless to effect change and just hoping that someone, anyone can make sense of what has happened these past 7 years and make it stop. And yeah, I'm sure they will, but it will be hard to wipe away this much dirt, this much grime with a couple more wins against Sparty and a couple of shiny TV games. It's going to take something truly significant.
Or maybe none of this matters. Maybe this is just a cycle ever team goes through, the karmic payoff for 40+ years of bowl games and #1 selling merchandise. Maybe Michigan's Circadian rhythm is just longer than everyone else's, its death and rebirth on a different timeframe than most others, and thus what feels unfortunate and untimely is right on cosmic schedule.
Worst: 11 Points
Michigan scored an offensive touchdown against MSU for the first time in 3 games, or to put into perspective, for the first time since before the world had 7 billion people on it. Excuse me for a moment.
Best (I Guess): No Hell in a Cell
You know how I know you know something about professional wrestling, dear reader? Because you've heard good Ol' J.R. announce epic dunks, huge hits, and internet fails for years now. And chances are you probably watched the original video of the Undertaker vs. Mankind in Hell in a Cell. If you haven't, here's that memorable scene.
What made this match so memorable wasn't the novelty of the cage; it had been around in a similar form for some time, most prominently as part of WCW's WarGames gimmick match. And the violence that is so easily lent to the caged environment had become far less jarring with the continued evolution and prominence of lesser-known federations such as ECW, which had co-opted the "hardcore" style previously found in Japan and (to a lesser extent) Mexico and Latin America. No, what made these early Hell in a Cell matches iconic was the escalating brutality they displayed. In the first, Shawn Michaels took a for-then rough bump to the floor, but it was still pretty controlled and "safe", basically Michaels jumping from the cage onto a free-cut table. But when the Undertaker battled Mankind, any reservations or sense of self-preservations were thrown out the window. Watch the video again, and see Mick Foley dive off that cage onto the floor. When Ross cried out that Foley was likely dead, you could hear real concern in his voice. We were still a year away from Owen Hart's tragic death during a pay-per-view making this kayfabe fear a reality, but this was still a grown fan flying off the top of a 20+ foot cage onto the concrete floor of an arena. It was both terrific theatre and terrifying spectacle, and the fact Mick Foley continues to show the lasting effects of this and other, similarly-brutal matches cannot be forgotten.
Last year's game felt like Gardner was flung from the top of the cage. We semi-joke around here about his ribs being crushed by MSU and that "breaking" him, but it was terrifying to watch and made me legitimately question whether or not referees should be allowed to pull a player for his safety. The fact Gardner kept getting up was courageous in a sense, but at some point you just wished he had stayed down and everyone just go home. But in a sad testament to the season thus far, I didn't think Gardner suffered nearly as much against a ferocious MSU front. Yes he was sacked twice and hit a half-dozen more times, but it looked like a normal 2014 game, not a life-changing evisceration on national TV. It was your typical slobberknocker between these two teams, and if we are looking for a silver lining at all, everybody seemed to leave the game with all of their bones and organs in the same general place.
Worst: So Close
This is Michigan's gameplan in a single gif. They had halfway-decent field position on a couple of drives, and moved the ball in fits and spurts. But every time they had the hint of momentum, they'd go for an ill-fated flea-flicker, or fail to execute a simple bubble screen, or just run the damn ball on 2nd-and-9 for 1 yard and waste any opportunity to keep the game close. It was infuriating, it was depressing, it was par the course for the year.
Worst: Running Gardner
I saw a number of people arguing for Gardner to be more involved in the running game, the logical argument being that while his passing wasn't working well against MSU's stout defense (13/28 for 121 with 2 picks - including on pick-6), he likely would have been more effective running the ball compared to the rest of the team (which if you squint kinda came within the ballpark of 100 yards total). And maybe in another world, with actual QB depth and a coherent offensive plan, I'd agree with you.
But we've seen the backups for UM at the QB position - Morris isn't close to running this team, and Bellomy has looked lost every time he's been asked to do anything with this team. This game was lost as soon as the two teams had the coin flip, but (in theory) Michigan has a chance to finish 6-6 and make a bowl game with very winnable games against NW, IU, and Maryland coming up. But if Gardner goes down and is replaced by either of his most-likely backups, the team might as well not get off the bus. And though I'm absolutely of the belief that Hoke should be gone, he's still being paid to win games for the University of Michigan, and he is going to make decisions that will maximize his ability to do so. That means keeping Devin Gardner as healthy as possible, and in a game where MSU was going to be teeing off on him at every opportunity, exposing Gardner to any more damage in a lost game didn't make a whole lot of sense.
Worst: Saving Timeouts
It was beyond infuriating to watch Brady Hoke allow MSU to run a good 40 seconds off the gameclock to end the half before scoring their second TD to push the game to 14-3. With MSU needing about a quarter of a yard on 3rd down, Hoke allowed MSU to run the play clock down before plunging forward for a score. Even if UM stops MSU at that point and the Spartans kick a FG, a couple TOs used there conserves clock and gives UM a chance to at least get within long FG range. But with a full complement of TOs, Hoke let the clock burn down, ran for a couple of yards on the last play of the half, and went into halftime with three timeouts and nothing to show for them.
I guess you could argue Hoke wanted to see if his defense could hold MSU without giving the Spartans a chance to consult on 3rd down, or that he didn't want to expose his beleaguered offense to another set of downs that could lead to a turnover or some other misfortune. Those are all theories with merit in a vacuum. But this is Brady Hoke and Michigan in 2014, and that this point try to win the F*CKING GAME and squeeze one more possession out of the game. You'd already gotten a couple of gifts in that first half; any shred of confidence you could hang your hat on went out the window when you basically told your offense you'd rather regroup than try to matriculate the ball down the field in a minute. Still...
Worst: Hoke is the Worst A.I. Ever
Punting on fourth and three down 25 with nine minutes left. Fucking quitter. — mgoblog (@mgoblog) October 25, 2014
This might be semantics, but I don't think Hoke is a quitter. He's (sadly) calling the game the same way in the 1st quarter as he is in the 4th quarter. He's like the worst movie version of artificial intelligence. He doesn't learn from the past, he doesn't integrate new information into his plans, he isn't becoming sentient, and he sure as hell isn't turning the world's electronics against the humans. He's a mediocre football coach who seems unwilling to break out of his gameplan to any meaningful degree, and that's why all of these losses feel the same. With a lead he's maybe willing to take a couple of chances, but when he's down its all huddling, predictable pass plays, and punting for field position. He's not trying to "look good" for his bosses or nab a "moral" victory; he's just coaching like Brady Hoke at Michigan. Now, the fact that this style resembles a guy who is over his head and failed to install anything resembling a consistent, sustainable identity is another matter.
They gave up 446 yards, 4.8 yards a rush, busted on a 70-yard TD pass, and never made life too uncomfortable for Connor Cook. At the same time, they played 29 minutes of the first half, forced a couple of turnovers to keep the game close, stopped MSU on 4th down, and for long stretches of the game looked competent despite missing a number of rotation/starters. I know the raw numbers say otherwise, but it did feel like the defense was up to the challenge of today's game, and had the offense been able to sustain anything in that first half the game might have been a bit closer. I'm not saying there would have been an upset, but for a defense that hasn't caught a break all year, the turnovers in particular were a welcome reprieve from the muck and, had they been capitalized on better, might have kept the game more competitive.
Longer-term, it doesn't really matter what Mattison and his coordinators do going forward. Like Hoke, they are gone in a couple of weeks, so complaints about coverages, line play, RPS, etc. are kinda irrelevant. I could see a world in which Nussmeier is retained due to his relative newness to the program and the expertise of the coach coming in, but Mattison is going to ride into the sunset with Hoke. He'll leave having improved Michigan's defense significantly from RR's time, but not to the level people expected after 2011 and, frankly, what was needed to keep this team competitive.
[EDIT: Put this in comments section below, figured I'd add it here for completeness]
Best: IU Defense - The Best Gift a Sport Could Give
So my daughter is celebrating her first birthday next week. Since she's been born, Michigan has basically lost every meaningful game and looked like a steaming crater of tires covered in bird shit. So that's not a good thing. But what IS a good thing is that they are playing Indiana, and with all due respect to Jamie Mac, I'm pretty excited to see Michigan get a chance to put the spurs to a bad defense for once. It won't make up for the past 12 months, but it will give me something else to smile about, and would be a perfect gift for this little Wolverine-in-training.