To continually do the same things, in the same manner and expects different results has to be the definition of insanity. That is what our defense has become to me; an exercise in insanity. We have been cocnsistently awful in 3rd and long situations were we almost concede first down yardage through this awful soft zone that we have not been able to execute all year, but yet we still go to it every time we've got 3rd and forever and it seldom works. How many times are we going to reach for that hot pot handle before we learn that it burns our hand? The next time I see a safety covering a slot receiver in any situation, I'm gonna loose my mind.
I don't like criticizing student athletes as I understand how difficult it is to play football at this level and how demanding it is, but I have to question the coaches at this point because if these guys are still not able to excute the defense by the 8th game of the year, irregardless of any transitions, then there is a major problem with the installation of the defense. For the kids to play fast, they need to be able to read and react almost without having to think and this is not happening, nor is it getting better. If you do not have the personel to run certain schemes then you don't shove the square peg into the round hole. You evaluate your players and put them in a position to be succesful. If the kids don't know where there are supposed to be our have any doubts as to what their assignments are, that causes hesitation and hesitation causes breakdowns in the defense.
Admittedly, I am old school and I love to question GSimmons about his love of the 3 man front, but there is nothing wrong with playing simple fundamentally sound defense. You don't have to disguise everything and get all fancy with your blitz packages, especially if the kids cannot execute them properly. One of my favorite stories from Bo was the one about the coach out of california that thought he had this new fangled way to be innovative in his playcalling and he goes through this big presentation with diagrams and slides, but while he's talking Bo notices that his defense was giving up like 400 yards a game. When the coach finishes his presentation, Bo raised his hand and asked the coach about the opposition's 400 yards per game and the guy responds with something about having problems tackling. The moral of that story is that no matter how fancy or innovative or diverse your schemes or your playcalling may be, if you do not execute the basic fundamentals of football, such as tackling, all the rest of it doesn't matter and it won't work. I believe that is what we are seeing now. We are seeing the fundamentals go by the wayside and the results are ugly.
If the players we have now cannot execute the defense, then how are new players or freshman going to have success in the defense? Every week these message board idiots call out the DBs, especially Brown, and rake them over the coals for making the same mistakes, but as genuine as their anger may be, why aren't they asking why our safety continues to take bad angles and use poor fundamentals 8 games into the year? These are correctable issues and there are two ways to correct it. You can either drill them to death and coach them to be fundamentally sound or you can replace them with someone who can execute the fundamentals consistently. Not that I advocate benching players, but before you can install any offense or defense you need to have the fundamentals installed and drilled. I know of this site, the idea of "out executing" the opponet gets a lot of flack, but there is something to be said for being more fundamentally sound than your opponent. This will continue to show up on the field if not corrected.
It killed me to see Dumb-tonio with that shit-eaters grin on the sideline towards the final moments of the game as if he'd really accomplished something great in beating and 2-5 team that lost to Toledo at home. But we let that game get away as we continued to give up big plays and play that ridiculous defense with the safety over the slot on 3rd and long and we go into a soft zone on the snap. A mediocre QB like Hoyer looked like Tom Brady today because of our playcalling and even when we had the right defense on the field we couldn't get guys on the ground or we lost people in our zones due to poor read and reaction, IMO. I am not someone who calls for the coaches job or starts websites about firing coaches, but I am not encouraged by what I've seen so far. My suggestion for the rest of this year would be to simplfy the defense, trash the 3 man front and play 3 Corners on 3 receiver sets and 4 corners on 4 receiver sets, and to start getting the new guys some snaps as we'll need them next year to have some experience. Otherwise, we'll be talking about this next year. Shafer may very well be a good coach and he's got two other guys on the staff with coordinator experience, so it's not like they don't have more knowledge that the entirety of the message board idiots combined, but sometimes it's good to dumb it down and do it well before you build it bigger as no house built on a bad foundation has ever stood for long.
Lastly, I just want to single out Brandon Graham as being the best player on this team on any side of the ball and claims that he takes plays off are completely ridiculous as some plays are designed for him to contain and spy and not rush the passer or blow up the backfield. For the past two years, BG has consistently provided game changing plays and today he was the lone bright spot on this defense.
This is a story that has come to mind recently.
From Bo's Lasting Lesson's:
“The following season, 1956, I left Doyt and Bowling Green-with his blessings-to become an assistant for Ara Parseghian at Northwestern University. I had made it to the Big Ten! I knew that's where I wanted to be, and I was working for a great coach. Of course, everyone remembers Ara when he led Notre Dame to a couple national titles, but a lot of people don't realize he led the Wildcats to some of their best seasons before that.
Ara was not big ego guy, he was great with players, he was a wonderful motivator, and he understood the game so well he COULD COME UP WITH THINGS NO ONE ELSE HAD THOUGHT OF. He was probably the most imaginative coach I'd ever seen, always adapting his plays to his players instead of the other way around like most coaches do. Heck, we used to call his practice field "The Laboratory," because that's where he'd try every trick in the book on Mondays, testing this and experimenting with that, just to see what might work that Saturday.
Before Ara arrived, Northwestern hadn't had a winning season in five years, but in his first year Northwestern went 4-4-1, and everyone was encouraged. But in Ara's second season, 1957, everything went to hell. We lost nine games - every single game we played! For a coach, that’s just about the most difficult situation you have to face.
We could keep our opponents down to one or two touchdowns, but we couldn't score for our lives. And I was working with the offense!
Losing creates all kinds of other problems too-poor morale, nagging injuries, and lackluster effort. The players were spending more time in the PR office than in the weight room. It was just a mess. I never experienced anything like that in all my years of coaching -and thank God for that.
I learned an awful lot from Ara in my first year at Northwestern. I learned a heckuva lot more from him that second season, when we lost 'em all. And what I learned was how a real leader leads when things aren't going his way.
Ara treated that staff as though we were winning every game. He never gave the slightest indication that we were the problem. He not once blamed any assistant or any player for any loss we suffered that year. NOT ONCE.
"Stick with it guys, and we’ll get through this," he'd tell us. "We're going to be okay." We all kept busting our butts for Ara, working past midnight, doing everything we could to get that guy a victory.
And that's why that losing season didn't break Ara's back: BECAUSE HE'S A CONFIDENT GUY, AND HE KNEW HE COULD COACH. HIS STAFF REMAINED DEDICATED TO HIM AND HIS PROGRAM THE ENTIRE SEASON.
You'd think my two years at Northwestern would have been a horrible experience, but it wasn't. It was a experience, because Ara had put together a stellar staff - they're all still good friends of mine, especially Alex Agase - but mostly, it was because was there.
The result? Pt this down: Ara Parseghian lost every game that year, but the next year his team went 5-4 - Northwestern's first winning season in eight years.
When Ara took the Notre Dame job fiver years later, in 1963, he left Evanston as one of the only three coaches in the last of Northwestern football to post a winning record. And of course, from there he won two national titles and Coach of the Year at Notre Dame. Don't tell me he didn't deserve it.
But that 0-9 year? He didn't get any awards for that, but let me tell you: THAT was the most impressive year of his coaching career."
Hopefully I didn't break any laws by quoting that much of the book, but that story really stood out to me after I read BO's LASTING Lessons. When you hear about RR talking about staying the course, it is because he is confident that the course will lead to success. Even the greatest coaches have down years, especially when they are working with very young kids. But more importantly, what are you going to do when things are going against you? Are you going to start questioning a coach that is a proven winner and has produced fundamentally sound teams? Are you going to give up when things don't look like they are going your way? Well maybe you will because you're not putting the time into becoming a champion, but I will tell you one thing. Those freshman, sophomores, and juniors will NOT throw in the towel for anybody. They are busting their ass right now to turn things around at the end of this season and next season. It’s easy for somebody to sit in their office chair, sip their coffee and bitch about coaching. When you are waking up at 6 am busting your ass to win a championship, there is no time for bitching. When your losing 10 pounds in a week of two-a-day practice, there is no time for bitching. There is only time for buying in and executing what you've been taught. Maybe it’s the Knob Creek that I've been drinking since the first MSU TD, but I still believe this staff will do great things at UM. I believe this because MICHIGAN WILL NEVER GIVE UP, BECAUSE WOLVERINES ALWAYS FIGHT!!
I have heard some feedback from the visitors at today's game, and it's mostly good. There is some frustration and dissapointment, but over all it seems that everyone had a good time, and enjoyed being on the sidelines. Christian Lombard said, "It's a good time, we're all having fun" during the game. He's a Junior OL, and seems to becoming good friends with Jeremy Jackson. Willie Haulstead is a WR that, for now, is committed to Florida State, and was on the sidelines today. There was talk that Marvin Robinson was going to make an announcement today, and I have not heard any news yet. Lo Wood was also hoping to receive an offer today as well. There's been some talk of him waivering on that commitment, so I'll keep an eye out, and try to find out more. Here's a list of all the recruits in attendance at the MSU game.
Anthony LaLota DE
Shavodrick Beaver QB
Willie Haulstead WR
Dewayne Peace WR
Travis Bond OL
Vlad Emilien S
Vincent Smith RB
Josh Robinson DB
Jeremy Gainer LB
Chris Freeman OL
Tristan Mims WR
Nader Furrha QB
Kevin Muma K
Will Schwarz LB
Devin Gardner QB
Nick Hill RB
Christian Lombard OL
Tremondae Branch DT
Ricardo Miller WR
Tyler Blandin CB
Jeremy Jackson WR
Marvin Robinson S
Lo Wood CB
Dionte Savage OL
Austin White RB
Demtrius Hart RB
Dwight Trammer LB
And because i am pissed I suppose I should be posting on the Rivals or Scout board. Because not repressing that vein on my forehead and anger during the year of infinite pain times a million is a sign of doucheness, a lack of patience, a disrespect for benevolence towards other fans and clearly linked to the fact I am a sweet, but behind-the-times little Yooper. But wait, I'm not pissed at RR! No, and I'm even not pissed at Shafer! And my girlfriend is safe from a beatdown too!
I'm pissed because we lost to that fucking Sparty mascot lookalike cryptic wannabe former Ohio St affiliated "crap for a head" (crap in place of head) coach . He spoiled what was supposed to be the best moment of my Michigan football watching & rooting experience. See, Michigan, under the influence of McGee & RR drove down the field at the end of the first half and put up a TD. That was brilliant. That was something I've never seen from the Maize & Blue. Not just being content to take a knee and go into half within range of our opponent. That was the moment I wanted to define this game and the entire RR era. But we didn't hold up in the 4Q.
I'm from Michigan. And just like NJ fans of the M&B I still generally pay no attention to Sparty these days until the week before. Taking Sparty seriously is like taking the WNBA seriously. And maybe, just maybe that is the fucking problem.
SIL-VER LIN-ING! SIL-VER LIN-ING! Please give me a silver lining.
We need to take Sparty seriously again. More than that, we need to appreciate a win. Every win. I'm done looking for flaws, coaching errors and boneheaded plays by our offense and defense. We suck. Threet sucks. Minor sucks. Ezeh sucks. Warren sucks. That douchebag wearing #14 sucks really bad (despite not sucking magnificently today). Our OL sucks. Our DB's suck. There is no one on this team, with the exception of Zolton who does not suck. (Deep breath.) The answer to getting through this year of infinite pain, in my Yooper-educated opinion, is to say, "Yah to the U.P. and Michigan suckiness for JUST ONE FUCKING YEAR." Just one. No more.
Because if we suck beyond 2008, I will go on a murderous rampage and kill anyone who has a problem with me calling for RR and Scott Shafer's head.
Now, go out there and scout the PSU/OSU game to find weaknesses for next year AND b/c watching college football on television is still a less harmful addiction than alcohol and pornography.
Some random thoughts on the Big 10 Bowl picture to preface this week's installment of the middling mediocrity that is now known as my Big 10 Picks. At least I have a winning record still (15-12), but its been one big taffy pull for a couple of weeks now after a hot start.
**** So if you're a Big 10 Pride kind of football fan, are you a little nervous about what January 1 may bring? Are you aware how close we are to seeing Northwestern and Minnesota square off with SEC teams in the annual New Year's Day clashes. Can you see either the Wildcats or Gophers hanging with the likes of LSU, Georgia, Florida or Alabama? With Penn State and Ohio State both looking like BCS candidates, Michigan's overall sucktitude and Wisconsin doing a mean Sparty imitation, its pretty clear the Big 10 will be sending new blood to those bowl games against the mighty SEC. A lot still has to happen to pave the way for NW and Minny to grab one of those bids, but if both schools can avoid traps games on the road this week, then the winner of their contest next Saturday will have an major inside track--especially if that winner is Minnesota. I think the Wildcats will fade back into a December Bowl, but right now the Gophers are in excellent position, It would not surprise me to see them go 4-1 down the stretch (at PU, nw, UM, at Wisco, Iowa), climb to 10 wins and get a long awaited January bowl bid.
****Illinois and Michigan St, of course, will have something to say about those January bowls. Both are in position to start impressive winning streaks and play in January. The Illini, however, need to win some key road games and host Ohio State. The Spartans have to get by their Maize and Blue nemesis today and close the year at Penn State. So, while both teams have potential, it's hard to imagine either going the rest of the way unscathed. Any losses by them would create chaos on the pecking order and open the door for teams like Northwestern and Minnesota, as mentioned above, to grab those January spots.
* Iowa is off this week and that's too bad because we wont get a chance to watch Shon Greene, the best running back right now in the Big 10. If I had a vote, he would get mine right now for Offensive Player of the Year in the conference. He has the numbers: 1,154 yards, 10 touchdowns and an impressive 6.5 ypc. He's tilted the 100-yard mark in every game this year, and his to lowest outputs of the season (109 and 115 yards respectively) came in blowouts where he didn't see any fulltime action after intermission. His 214-yard, 4 TD game last week against Wisconsin stands as the most impressive individual effort the Big 10 season has seen thus far. More than stats, however, is the value he carries to the team. They have nothing without him. He's single handedly carrying them a bowl game.
****How boring would a USC-OSU rematch be in the Rose Bowl? Of course, the elephant in the room is that there's a good chance these two will rematch for all the marbles in the BCS Title Game. The stakes alone there would make the game worthwhile, I suppose, but if the season plays out and these clubs are BCS worthy, but out of the title game, I urge the Rose Bowl suits not to square these teams off. They played each other already once this year and, of course, play each other next September, Give us something fresh. Sadly, there's a also a good chance that we could see another Pac 10-Big 10 rematch in the Granddaddy, that being Oregon St-Penn St. Dont laugh, but Oregon St controls its own destiny as far qualifying for the BCS. A 1-loss Penn St team would be a strong candidate for Pasadena. This probably has a 10-percent chance of happening, but those odds go up with a Penn St loss tonight in Columbus. Regardless, I think its time for the Rose Bowl to forget about forcing a Big 10-Pac 10 matchup on us. The exception would be if they can get USC and Penn St to the game. Otherwise, its a good year to bring at least one new conference to the Rose Bowl.
****The final weekend of the regular season is shaping up huge. MSU-PSU, Illinois-Northwestern and Iowa-Minnesota all will be games between bowl clubs and the results will likely swing the placement of just about every bowl affiliation the league has. Oh yeah, Ohio State-Michigan is that weekend too. It might be the least relevant league game of the day.
**** Here's a real quick synopsis of my bowl projections for the conference that I predicted in a Mgoblog Diary back in August. The good: calling for OSU and, most importantly, PSU as BCS bound; promoting Minnesota and Northwestern as improved, bowl bound squads; rejecting any notion of Purdue and Indiana playing a 13th game; and nailing the fact that because of their schedule the Illini would hover as a .500 team for most of the season, even if they're better than last year. The bad: Predicting Wisconisn and Michigan to get to January bowl game. Actually, thats not bad. Its brutal. Worse than Pushing Daisies. As it turns out, Michigan needs a major win streak just to get bowl eligible while Wisconsin, by dint of a functional do not play in their finale against Cal Poly Slo, will rebound to cobble enough wins to probably snatch the Motor City Bowl bid. Thats good news for local casino operators in Detroit who will have another chance to rake in the bucks from the pockets of Cheeseheads. They'll load up the roulette wheel on 9 for Beckhum, 2 for Casillas and 32 for Clay and those numbers wont hit all weekend.
Ok, enough of the bowl blather. Here are this week's Big 10 Picks.
Minnesota at Purdue. Lines Minnesota -1, O/U 53.5. I dont know about all that mumbo jumbo about the Gophers playing in January, but I am sure they'll get by a reeling Purdue squad. Minnesota is doing everything right and come in with a week of rest. Since they went winless in league play last year, they wont be looking past anyone because every week is a chance to hand out a little revenge. Weber will make plays, they'll run the football and their retooled defense will force three killer turnovers. Purdue has been rotten against good teams over the years. These numbers ought to be familiar by now: The Boilers are just 4-22 against bowl teams since 2005 and three of those wins came against the MAC. There are rumors their QB and RB have a Mallet-Manningham relationship and Tiller has lost this team. We saw the malaise of a lame duck coach in Ann Arbor last season, but the situation is much worse in West Lafayette. Lisa Horne should be on the case any day now.
The Pick: Minnesota -1.......I like this team a lot in this game and feel they are still an under the radar money maker from here on out. They've covered five games in a row.
Illinois at Wisconsin. Lines, Illinois -2, O/U 54. I dont think Wisconsin will recover out of its tailspin this week either. The Illini offense is too explosive and not the type of club you can get healthy against. I think Illinois is going to win the remaining games on their schedule. Nobody has really stopped the Illini all season long. The Badgers lack the firepower to keep up. Wisconsin will play with pride, but the Illini will pull away with some late scores. The Over looks tempting any time the Illini take the field because of their offensive talent. But, I dont see the Badgers surpassing the 20-point mark, but their D will keep the Illini in range all game until late. But, dont take that as a lean to the under either. I do, however, strongly endorse the Illini.
The Pick: Illinois -2.........if you have time, check out Doc Saturday's post from Thursday detailing the sudden collapse of the Badgers and the hot seat Bret Bielema is suddenly on after starting his Wisco career 21-5. He's taking the Kirk Ferentz career arc, but doing it on speed. Or at least pizza.
Northwestern at Indiana. Lines, NW -7, O/U 52.5. Guess this team with the following national statistical rankings: 4th in sacks allowed, 11th in sacks, 28th in scoring D, 39th in rushing D, 35th in passing efficiency D and for good measure they're second in their own league in tackles for losses. Did you guess Northwestern? Thats the right answer. Fitzgerald has this D playing as good as any D in program history. Indiana has nothing on offense. Their best player is QB Kellen Lewis, but he cant avoid the injury bug and play a full game. They're bad with him, terrible without him. Against the better teams defensively in this league, they've struggled to reach double digits. The Wildcats will control both lines of scrimmage and eventually pull away from the Hoosiers like they did last week against Purdue.
The Pick: Northwestern -7.......One team is good, the other awful, but because of the Wildcats schedule this might be the last win either club gets on the season, Fitzgerald knows that his November schedule is nails and he'll have the Cats focused and strong in Bloomington.
Michigan State at Michigan. Lines, MSU -4.5, O/U 45. From a pointspread standpoint, one of the most intriguing developments is how often the game total sails past the Over mark in Michigan games this season. Equipped with the worst offense the program has seen in years has not hampered their games from seeing a lot more scoring than the experts think. The Over has hit 5 times this season in Michigan's games, including every time the team has not played a MAC school In their five games with Utah, ND and fellow league mates, the average total score in UM games has been 54 points and the Over has cleared by more than a touchdown each time. You know the defense will get scorched for big plays setting up a lot of quick points. You know each team will implode enough to set up short scoring drives. I think Michigan will come close, if not exceed, their highest point total of the season, which was the 27-spot they rallied to put on the board against Wisconsin. Sparty will have more than fair share of fireworks. This rivalry has been one of higher scoring games each year for Michigan with the winner averaging 31 point per game over the last decade. If the winner comes close to that mark, this total will hit with ease.
The Pick: Over 45..........I dont want to bet on or against Michigan today This column is 15-12 in Big 10 games, but 1-3 picking Michigan, so do the math there. And, no way I am walking into tomorrow 'sstadium with an MSU ticket in my pocket. We need all the karma we can get and a jackass in Section 14 whose inner gambler is quietly fist pumping for the Green and White wont cut it. I just hope I dont spend an afternoon tailgating in such terrible, Northwestern 2006 like, inclement weather that I feel stupid about this pick the whole time. Although it would be weird to drink heavily over a pick gone awry hours before it even kicks off. Now, I am even more excited to see what happens.
Penn State at Ohio State. Lines, PSU -2., O/U 44. I dont want to bet this game either. No gambling is required to add any excitement to this heavyweight fight. Home field advantage is huge and JoePa has had no luck in the Horseshoe since they joined the Big 10. On paper, Penn State is the better team. As we've seen week to week, Penn State looks better in real time and is certainly more explosive. Despite Pryor's talent, PSU's Clark is the better QB in this game. Something just has not felt right about OSU this year and I cant shake the feeling that the Nittany Lions expose them throughout the contest. I dont think OSU can keep up in a track meet, nor do I think their D can keep this score in the ideal Tressel Ball range either. Penn State has captured football magic. The Illini won in this stadium last year, and PSU comes into this game in a better position to win than Illinois did last year. Not that it means anything, but I use that comparison to convince myself that winning in the Horseshoe is far from impossible for a good team. This just in: Penn State is a good football team.
The Pick: Penn St -2.........would it surprise anyone to see Ohio State play their best game of the season tomorrow night. Me to. So, this is a play I make with shaky confidence at best. I just want one of these prime time games to live up to its hype, so I hope we get a classic and a game winning FG by the Nittany Lions.
One pick for each game. I took four road teams and the Over in the Michigan game. What could possibly go wrong?
Everyone enjoy the action tomorrow as its a great day of football and if you're at the Big House cheer loud and Go Blue!
It's become vogue, from Rosenberg, to Sharp, to current OSU commits, to talk about how little Rich Rodriguez is recruiting the state of Michigan, how well Dantonio is doing so, and how this spells trouble for Michigan athletics. Setting aside that we already have numerous offers out to 2010 recruits in the state, I thought I'd look back at Michigan history to see just how important the state of Michigan has been to Michigan football:
-Of the top 10 rushers in Michigan history, only one (Tyrone Wheatley) went to HS in the state. By contrast, three were from North Carolina.
-Of the top 10 passers in Michigan history, 1 is from in-state (Rick Leach is from Ann Arbor) - though I couldn't find hometowns of Steve Smith or John Wangler.
-Of the top 10 receivers in Michigan history, 1 (Braylon) is from the state of Michigan
-3 of Michigan's top 10 tacklers are from in-state (Sword, Anderson, Morrison)
-2 of Michigan's top 10 in sacks (Woodley, Brandon Graham are from in-state)
So - it would appear that most of Michigan's peak performers have come from out of the state. Looking at the best team in recent memory - the 1997 team, 6 of the 24 starters (including kicker and punter) came from in-state:
FB Chris Floyd
CB Andre Weathers
LB Clint Copenhaver
DT Rob Renes
OT Jon Jansen
LB Sam Sword
This year, 8 of 24 are from in-state.