...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
To prove it is possible, here's a school which brought in a new head coach this season with a totally foreign offense, in this case Navy's triple option. He made due with leftover QB's, except for Steven Threet, who fell into Michigan's lap. He lost his defensive coordinator, a guy who's now at Notre Dame named John Tenuta. But he inherited a decent defense - all the D-linemen are considered NFL prospects. He's coaching at a school with high academic standards and a previous head coach who might not be a Crisler but is a Heisman.
Despite a young team which experienced injuries, he's reached # 20 in the rankings with a 7-2 (4-2 in the ACC) record. The losses were to Va. Tech and Va. By now you've figured out it's Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech.
Without the benefit of hindsight, who would you have taken back in December? The choices are Paul Johnson of Navy's boring, smallish offense or Rich Rodriguez of West Va's sexy, cutting edge spread. Not even close.
The similarities between the two situations are eerie, with Michigan possibly getting the nod for better looking brianiac, liberal arts vs. math and science coeds. With what you've seen so far, who would you take now, being a doormat for at least a year and maybe more but with the vision of dreams to come (us) or the certainty of a winning season and a decent (although sometimes the Humanitarian in Boise) bowl game, but probably never being better than 9-3 (them)?
An election day special from Tom VanHaaren.
Change we can believe in. Hope for the future.
This isn’t a cheesy political statement, but rather a description of Ricardo Miller. With the season going the way it is, Michigan needs a big time playmaker, and Miller is that player. If you haven’t watched video of the highly touted junior, take a look at his highlights from this year in the video provided:
With two spread friendly quarterbacks in this year’s class, Rich Rodriguez has got to be licking his chops with this commit.
“They use me where ever I can get a mismatch in high school, whether it’s in the slot, on the linebacker, tight end, or the outside,” Miller told me. Miller plays big, fast, and competitive. Along with his competitiveness he brings the kind of character and personality expected from a Michigan Man. Only a junior in high school, Ricardo told me he already thinks about earning the coveted number one jersey. Take a look at what else he had to say.
TOM: Tell me about your visit, all I've heard is good things from you.
RICARDO: I really liked the atmosphere, and the whole stadium. I felt like a part of the team already, and I can’t wait to prove myself. I want to show everybody I’m not just the Ricardo Miller in high school; I can help Michigan turn it around.
TOM: Did this visit really put the cap on the recruiting process for you?
RICARDO: I feel like that visit, it made my commitment stronger. Besides the loss, it was great. I’ll fit in Michigan real well, with my personality and my character. It really made me feel my decision was the right one. It was cool, all the coaches showed me love, and I knew I made the right move.
TOM: When did you really know that Michigan was it?
RICARDO: When I saw Braylon Edwards go for over 3,000 receiving yards, I said that is going to be me. I want to work for that number 1 jersey like he did.
TOM: Have other schools still been trying to recruit you?
RICARDO: I still get Florida calling, Stanford, and Rutgers. But, it’s all straightforward, I don’t really pay attention.
TOM: You're kind of like the spokesman for Michigan in Florida right now, what are you trying to tell other recruits?
RICARDO: I just tell them that no matter what decision you make, make sure it’s a good one. From what I’ve seen, I feel like Michigan has all the tools you need to be that great football player. All this talent going to one team, it’s going to be unstoppable. The SEC, ACC, we’re going beat them all. It will also help you in the process to get to the next level.
TOM: What recruits have you really be working hard on?
RICARDO: I’ve been working on Lo Wood, a cornerback from Apopka. Marvin Robinson, Michigan is still on top for him, but hasn’t made a decision. A future 5 star, Demetrius Hart, he plays running back and corner back. Whoever I can get in contact with that will go to Michigan. Demetrius Hart is excited about Michigan, and Lo Wood after being up there he thinks that Michigan is something special.
TOM: With your team right now, you are used all over on offense, have the coaches told you how they want to use you at Michigan?
RICARDO: They use me where ever I can get a mismatch in high school, whether it’s in the slot, on the linebacker, tight end, or the outside. The Michigan coaches told me that they want me mostly at WR, x and z. But if they want that mismatch, they’ll put me at tight end too.
TOM: Are you excited for that creativity that Rich Rodriguez brings? Being able to make plays specifically for you?
RICARDO: Yea, and just being around guys like that. Someone with that much ability to make a program good is exciting. The spread that he runs, he’ll make plays for me, and they’ll be big time plays, it will be crazy. To be able to make something big happen, it’s stunning. Being the kind of wide receiver I am, playing for Rich Rodriguez is going to be a dream.
TOM: Have you started to build a friendship with Shavodrick Beaver or Tate Forcier?
RICARDO: Yea, Tate I haven’t talked to yet. Beav we talked for a couple months now, just trying to get used to see how his personality is, him as a quarterback and me as a wide receiver. Beav is a cool guy.
TOM: Your Mom is a UM grad, how much did she weigh in on your decision?
RICARDO: I won’t lie; my mom was in my ear about Michigan ever since I can remember. I messed with her when I was younger, and would say I’m going to a different school, and she would say, oh no you’re not. But she’s sacrificed a lot for me, so I feel that I’m gaining another bond with her by going to Michigan.
TOM: How do you think your commitment to Michigan will have an effect on Michigan’s efforts in Florida and the south for your class?
RICARDO: By me committing and being from Florida, you don’t see too many wide receivers leaving the state. So I hope I show kids they can go anywhere, I have a positive influence on other recruits. They’ll start to think, if he’s going there maybe I should check it out, there must be something good about it.
TOM: You are miles ahead of most recruits your age, is almost a relief to know that you can focus on your senior year?
RICARDO: You don’t know how many letters and phone calls I got before I committed. My High School coach gave me the keys to the mailbox at school, and told me to go get the mail. It’s down now, and I get a lot more time to myself. I don’t worry about this coach calling, and that coach wanting to talk to me. Coming from where I come from, this is the greatest opportunity I’ll ever get. People used to tell me I was an average player, and I didn’t listen, and I feel like I can be an outstanding player.
TOM: Is there anything you want to really focus on getting better at? Since college is a big jump, what have the coaches told you to work on?
RICARDO: They feel like I basically have the essentials, but just stay focused. It’s a big step and transitioning to Michigan and a college atmosphere, I just need to stay focused on the task at hand. There are thousands of people screaming your name, and you have to be ready for whatever is thrown at you. My focus level has to be high; there will be a lot of obstacles. With my character and personality I should be fine. You can always improve, and I just want to keep improving.
TOM: Is there any possibility anyone could get you away from Michigan?
RICARDO: No, no, no. Honestly people asked me that after the visit, and I told them after seeing that atmosphere, there’s no way I’ll give up that opportunity. Rich Rodriguez said as much as you’re committed to me I’m as committed to you.
I am now an official member to the magnificent site, MGoBlog.com. I have been a frequent visitor ever since the nation-wide coaching search in December of '07 after Lloyd Carr resigned his position. I finally got off my rear and signed up after watching the collapse at Purdue. Enough pleasentries, it is time to delve into the meat.
First off, I want to point out that I am a huge supporter of RichRod. I think what he is trying to do at Michigan will pay off in the long run, and everything will fit into place within the next couple of years. But, there are some minor suggestions I want to bring up, some things I have been wondering for awhile now.
Rodriguez knew in December when he decided to accept the HC position at UM, that he was not going to have nearly the skill-players that he left at WVU, or the players he wanted to have to run his "spread offense." So, I'll ask you this. He knew very well that Threet and Sheridan both were incapable of running this offense the way he wanted it to be run; he should have realized that the first practice that the QBs would just not work. So why try? Why not bite the bullet, and for his inaugural season, run Michigan's power offense with the players he had. Utilize Minor and Grady in the backfield, and get some tosses out to Mathews and Hemingway and run Michigan's old fashioned offense. I don't think we would have seen much of an improvement, but with the way Minor has been playing the last few games, why hasn't he been seeing more action since the beginning? McGuffie is a good player, I'll give him that, but he cannot take the ball up the middle and expect to gain a whole lot of yards. He is a back that needs to get outside and use his explosiveness to beat the defenses. I think with Minor starting from the get-go, UM could have beaten Notre Dame, Toledo and maybe even Utah. But who knows.
Another quick question. Why would UM sign Rodriguez to a 6 year deal? Six years seems awfully long, especially the way this season has gone. 2 wins? And look at who we beat: Miami (OH) by 10 and Wisconsin, who is not nearly as good as anybody thought they'd be. This could easily have been an 0-9 season right now, if we wouldn't have pulled in out late in the game. My opinion (though probably wrong) is sign him for 3 years and see how he does, then if it doesn't work, go see what Les Miles is up to down in cajun country, and beg for him to return UM to glory. On the flip side, if he does fantastic after 3 years, then extend his contract. I have a hard time seeing the logic in this move, but that's why I don't hold Bill Martin's position.
Those are a few things I wanted to bring up, whether or not they have been mentioned on here before, I think they are some things that are deserved to be addressed. You may think I am a complete fool, but that is okay. I hope this can spark some discussions on here and find out what everyone else is thinking.
Don't you all miss John Cooper? I know I do. Beat OSU! In Rod I Trust.
Its natural to question the man’s job security given worst defense in school history, etc. But to hear RR come right out and say that they’ve switched to the 3-3-5 stack for the rest of the year, I think you have to put the odds at Shafer returning at 25-30%. Shaf was questioned repeatedly about running that defense in the off season, and he consistently maintained that it would be incorporated because his defense would be multiple, but that he was a 4-3 base defense guy. RR handed the defense over to Shaf, but its obvious from the changing schemes and now RR’s comments, he has felt the need to step in an exert control.
To steal a point from Steve Deace who posted this at GBW, while RR hired Shaf from the outside and gave him a ton of autonomy, Shaf didn’t make a single hire for his own staff. He concludes that the result is that the defensive performance has widened the rifts between philosophical differences in the staff. He further concludes that Shaf has made concessions to those coaches calling for change by incorporating more of their ideas, but this has turned the defense into a grab bag as opposed to one with an identity which goes multiple to keep offenses on their toes.
I personally believe that the basis for the Shafer hire was sound, and one horrific season doesn’t make him a bad coach. His track record as laid out in detail by Brian is that yr 2 under Shaf brings the results he is looking for (more sacks, more Tos). IMO his resume should buy him another season, one in which RR and the other defensive coaches fully commit to his system or are replaced (the assistants, not RR).
But based on RR’s comments I don’t think that is happening. I’m not a coach, but I don’t think anyone would argue that our best defensive players go Graham, Jamison, Taylor in some order, with Johnson and Martin filling in two of spaces in the top 7. Based on offensive personal, the defense is probably going to need to play 5 defensive backs at least half the time. (Que broken record) would you rather take out one of our 5 defensive lineman to get Bobo or Williams on the field, or do you take out a Thompson or even Ezeh? On the surface it appears that going with the 3-3-5 stack from here on out is a build for the future concession, not something that is going to help us now.
A future I think its safe to assume would not include Shafer. Which brings me to this question, what effect does the scheme change move have on recruiting? I don’t think Shaf was any sort of a gangbusters recruiter, but if you’re a DL or DE, wouldn’t you much prefer to play the 4-3? There is one extra position so more PT. And is a guy Campbell going to want to play the nose in a 3-4, and play behind Martin? Or would he rather line up next to Martin and go after the QB while the OL tries to figure out who to double? Ditto for Jones who was already shaky. How are Roh and Lolota going to feel about fighting through more consistent doubles, while fleet Lbs race around them to pick up sacks?
And what about the Lbs and Dbs we’re going to need? Right now most of our LB recruits look to be playing somewhere between 225-235 in college. Not that our starters now are having a lot of success with this, but how many of those guys are ever going to be ready to stand up MSU pulling guards or Wisky Fbs in the hole? Now we’re going to need more Dbs. M isn’t exactly lighting it up with Turner, Gordon, and maybe Peace in the fold.
If Shaf goes it is yet another hit and negative pub against M. Maybe that doesn’t matter in the blizzard of bad pub already out there, who knows. I think it is safe to say that the move will hurt recruiting because everyone is being sold on one system, and now we’re changing. And even if it doesn’t, based on current players/recruits I don’t think UM is suited for the 3-3-5 scheme.
Last year. #75 offense, #25 defense (both national rankings in terms of yds/game and excluding bowl peformance)
This year. #89 offense, #97 defense
Last year. 5 NFL Players -- #1 Overall draft pick Jake Long, senior, record-breaking, 4 years starter QB Henne, heisman candidate Mike Hart, one of the most talented receivers in UM history in Manningham and of course Arrington. Senior-laden team.
This year. 5 freshmen starters(Threet, Stonum, Odoms, Koger, McGuffie - prior to injury), wildly inexperienced offensive line. New coaches, new offensive system.
Sure, we were #25 on defense last year. How? I don't know. We gave up 32 to App. St, 39 to Oregon, 22 to EMU, 37 to Wisco, 32 to Florida (acceptable I suppose). We also had 2007 ND to pad our stats. We didn't exactly have the best defense. We were slow, got torched by every running QB, and suffered from general incompetence. If on the 1st or 2nd play of last season Stevie Brown takes a bad angle, misses a tackle and gives up a long touchdown then (armanti edwards to dexter jackson i think), how is Scott Shafer supposed to turn him into Ed Reed and our unit into some amazing defense?
Look at last year's offense. #75!! This with the aforementioned talent. As Brian said, this wasn't exactly the greatest show on turf.
Am I disappointed with this season? Incredibly. But we were at a peak last year in terms of the talent cycle with most of our key players being seniors and we weren't that good. Let's keep the talent and circumstance we currently have in perspective, and cut the coaches and players some slack please.
I'm not really sure what kind of people write on these boards, but as a UM student it is somewhat disappointing to see so many people getting on the players and coaches in such a disgusting way. Sure there is whining among the students but it seems to be a lot worse among the rest of the fan base.
True fans empathize with their teams, not cheer them during the good times and throw em under the bus in the bad times. If you had a child that does something stupid, you scold him. But if your child disappoints you in a deep way, you feel sadness, not a burning desire to beat the shit out of him. That's how I feel about Michigan football. So next time we lose, take a deep breath and have a drink. It will get better.
This loss is probably even worse than Toledo. I've gotta believe that the players are now totally crushed.
The only good thing for me is that I was at work and couldn't watch it. Not that listening on the radio was a lot of fun. If I had a dollar for everytime Frank Beckman said "broken tackle", "missed tackle", or "wide open for a first down", then I could buy a beachfront mansion in Hawaii and put a Ferrari in the garage.
Eight starters returned from a defense that was second in the conference in pass defense, and that did a great job against Tebow & Co, and right now they don't look like they could stop an 8th grade team. A guy that wasn't even a QB two weeks ago totally torched the D. He probably had a tougher time against the scout team in practice. Playing against the Wolverines is an almost virtual guarantee for a QB to be Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
Granted, it would've helped if the offense could convert some 3rd downs, but they DID put 42 on the scoreboard (35 minus Odoms punt return). That should be a win.
The defensive numbers are horrific. 38 points a game in conference . . . THIRTY EIGHT!!!