in town for free camps
Okay, this is kind of crazy and nutty, but I thought at least some of you might enjoy this college football riff on Les Miz.
Mod edit: Added to the title to head off some of the same comments we got in the last thread with a similar title. JGB.
Edit II: Woah, completely missed the joke in there. Sorry.
So, I haven't been to Eleven Warriors, one of the better Ohio blogs, for about a month, or before the game in Columbus. I happened to run over, and whaddaya know, they have a full column by Johnny Ginter focusing on Rich Rodriguez and Michigan.
I guess this is what you can expect when they are going through a bowl ban and have nothing to write about in terms of Ohio football. The piece has been up for a day or so, is about Michigan, and actually references mgoblog and Brian several times. For some of you, it will be an interesting read.
I'm not going to put a whole bunch of quotes in: if you're interested, go to the link. If you're not, well, I didn't waste your time. Basically, Ginter goes through the whole thing of Rodriguez being a decent coach who made some missteps, was never given a real chance by Michigan, being both mistreated and having some rotten luck.
However, I'll put in two quotes that were intriguing.
So now you have a choice, Buckeye fans. Do you root for the guy, knowing that each successive victory angers the Wolverine fanbase in a vague, irritating way? Or do you root against him, forcing him to walk the earth as a shadow, forever branded with the mark of Cain that is Michigan football?
You can link to see which way Ginter goes.
The other quote is from a Michigan fan in the comments, regarding our blog:
You could send MGoBlog into a complete meltdown with this post. Not because it is in any way inflammatory; it isn't. But because anything related to Rodriguez now seems to divide Michigan fans. Through no fault whatsoever of Brian Cook (always fair to Rodriguez, and sometimes critical of Rodriguez such as when Brian Cook was about the first person anywhere to doubt the wisdom of Greg Robinson), the mostly anti-Rodriguez MGo readership -- with many notable exceptions -- sort of convulses in a denial of service attack whenever Rodriguez's name comes up.
I kind of agree with this analysis, and can see why Brian wants to just roll his eyes, disappear, and put his fingers in his ears when RR comes up . . . "LA LA LA LA LA LA I Can't hear you LA LA LA LA have you gone away yet LA LA LA LA LA."
Hopefully we'll be able to have rational and non-meltdown discourse on RR at some point in the future.
One thing for sure (unrelated to the Eleven Warriors Blog) is a terrible legacy of RR: his recruiting, even for the different "spread" scheme, has set Michigan back, and left Hoke at a disadvantage. It irks me to have heard the "cupboard bare" complaints about Carr, when Hoke and Mattison and Borges have not complained once (that I've seen) about the players they inherited, but have made do and coached them up.
Without numerous mentions of UMich (past, present, and future ... no kidding) this would probably be too "OT" for the board:
Opinions expressed in the article (such as the one about Gardner) are not necessarily those of the OP.
There is a myth that lives on this board that Denard was a better passer in 2010. This post is not meant to excuse Al Borges' playcalling, or bash Rich Rod, or elevate Lloyd Carr's run-run-run-punt strategy. It's just a look at the falsity that Denard was a better passer in 2010.
The unfortunate, painful truth that this diary reveals is that our passing offense is not much better than it was in 2010, when it wasn't very good at all (when it mattered).
Let's throw out the garbage games and focus on Michigan's games against opponents that had respectable defenses in 2010:
- Ohio (3rd in total yds)
- Iowa (16th in total yds)
- Wisconsin (23rd in total yds)
- Michigan State (32nd in total yds)
You might be wondering, "Where is Notre Dame and Penn State on that list?" Well, I'm glad you asked. They were 46th and 48th...behind powerhouses like San Diego State, Hawaii, and ILLINOIS!!! (the team we scored 67 points against). So they sucked. But we still lost to Penn State. Even though they sucked. Because our defense was, well, worser.
I don't need to lay out the stats from the ohio game. They trounced us, and Denard got pulled in favor of Forcier at the end of the game. We couldn't move the ball at all, and scored only 7 points.
Let's move on to Iowa...
Their defense was ranked 16th in 2010, and yet we were able to score 28 points. This is actually the best comparable for this weekend's Notre Dame game, since ND is ranked 17th in total defense right now. Yes, we lost the game by a score of 28-38, and those four TDs sure do look good...but only because you either don't remember what happened or judge a book (or score) by it's cover (or...score). Here are some relevant stats:
- Denard 13/18, 98 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Forcier 17/26, 239, 1 TD, 2 INT
But here's the most important stat: We only scored 7 points when Denard was on the field. Denard get could get yards (108 on 18 carries) but not points. Iowa was stacking the box, and all the offense could muster was a TD on a drive when Denard threw three passes: one was incomplete, one was for a 6 yd. loss, and the last was a screen to Smith for an 8 yd. TD. Denard got hurt in the 3rd quarter and in came Forcier.
It was Forcier that brought the team back in that game, and Forcier that sealed our fate with his INTs. It's worth noting that completing passes underneath when you're behind by 21 points is MUCH easier. In fact, that leads to lots of confusion about the effectiveness of Denard's passing and the 2010 offense in general: we got loads of "soft" yards because we were hopelessly behind and our opponents played softer coverages and lighter fronts.
Wisconsin has a similar storyline, except that Denard played much more that game. We scored exactly ZERO points in the first half (although we did miss a 30 yd. field goal). With a 24 point lead, Wisconsin converted to prevent defense, and allowed us back in the game. Denard stayed in this time, and racked up a nice, meaningless statline: 16/25 for 239 yds, 2 TDs, and, of course, 1 INT. The important part: Denard was 4/9 for 22 yds passing in the first half. When Wisconsin was playing their base defense, Denard couldn't pass. Only the gooey butter cake version of Wiscy's D allowed DR some meaningless passing yardage. Further proof of this came in the fourth quarter, when we had come back to make it a 21-31 game. Denard couldn't move the ball anymore.
The final example is, perhaps, the most damning. Michigan State had a good-but-not-great defense in 2010. Their success was largely a result of their schedule and some good defensive coaching. They lost badly to Iowa (and 'Bama), snuck by a pretty lousy ND team in overtime, and narrowly edged out a VERY average Penn State team. Their only quality win was against Wisconsin, and that game was played in East Lansing. Despite their easy schedule, the Spartan defense was still only ranked 32nd in total yds. Michigan actually had the lead twice in this game, up 3-0 in the first quarter and 10-7 in the second. Denard was 6/8 for 51 yds in the first quarter, but threw an INT in the endzone. In the second quarter, Denard shined again. He was 4/6 for 81 yds and a TD. At the half, Michigan was down 10-17.
The second half was a very, very different story. Denard was 7/15 for 82yds and 2 INTs. The same guy we saw against ND. Only against a defense that wasn't nearly as good. And we were at home. The 4th quarter TD was only scored after MSU had rung-up a 21 point lead.
So here's the bottom line: Denard has never been a good passer, or even an average passer. And against good defenses, we won't win until he's able to throw the ball somewhat effectively. Maybe that's why Borges keeps making him throw, especially before the B1G season starts.
So what's the difference between now and 2010? The defense. Because our Greg defense is not our GERG defense, we are in every game, and teams don't stop stacking the box against Denard. They don't stop blitzing. They don't play soft coverage. So Denard never gets to ring-up his stats, and looks even worse.
I certainly won't excuse Borges' playcalling on Saturday--it needed to be better. But the fact is that our only quality wins have come when Denard has been able to make plays in the passing game (or Hemingway was able to bail out Denard) and I expect it stay that way. If Denard can't pass, we're screwed, and 4 or 5 losses is our best case scenario.
Some say the blobs on the beach of Mobile can be chalked up to the tar balls BP donated. In reality, it was the stain and sludge finally surfacing and left behind when Nick Saban crawled upon the shores of Alabama. The man has an automatic “Montgomery Burns” edition of automatic doors and a whole other string of players on medical redshirts. There is no doubt that after this essence of evil was suppressed by a lackluster program on the banks of the Cedar, his bad voodoo has been in full force. He has humiliated and tortured other teams in his conquest of the NCAA.
The man has a disgraceful persona so heavy that even he cannot celebrate his biggest wins. He retires to his lair and begins the planning of world domination after every game in the belly of a Greyhound bus. Michigan is coming from a complete different 270 degree position where they have not had the luxury of enjoying the knee knocking fear displayed on their opponent's face, but instead this once great program that suffered a great civil war and limped along in life. Then a man of mutant stature Hoke emerged from the killing fields of many MGoBlogger meltdowns, détente treaties, radioactive topics that were not safe to traverse in conversation, and a hungry loyal following. Jimmy Carter got booted for a said malaise in the country, as did another southern gentleman by the name of Rich Rodriguez for a football program in the same state.
What followed was thought to be as possible as Luxembourg touting a basketball team in the Olympics to defeat the U.S. Dream Team II. Regardless of the impossible odds of an 11 win season and a Sugar Bowl victory, Michigan did it. The offense had more control of the offense as to sustain lasting drives and the defense look as if they did cage fighting over the previous summer with Liam Neeson to toughen their resolve and TUFFness. As the season progressed, the team, the team, the team began to congeal into a deadly opportunistic football team. GoBo finally shaped the offense around Nard Dog’s strengths along with taking some pressure off him with a respectable running game. The juggernaut in a pumpkin carriage capitulated with a defensive victory over a team that would have taken Michigan behind the woodshed in years prior. The sugar poured, and the people roared.
My only logical and reasonable reasoning comes from last year’s Penn State and Alabama game. Alabama wasn’t coming off a National Championship, but heading into one. Given that Penn State was a heavy underdog in the souls of the Nittany Lion hearts same time last year, some of the more “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” crowd in Ann Arbor can relate to the angst and guttural fear of being more meat in the Saban grinder. Although Alabama controlled most of the game, the beating wasn’t as severe as once thought. Penn State suffered through the pain of dying a thousand paper cuts. Michigan’s offense is arguably much more dynamic and able to strike than the Penn State team of a year ago. There are some questions of holes being filled on the O-line and receiving corps. There is also a numbing knowledge of an almost certainly suspended Toussaint that could put the responsibility of winning the game on the lone shoulders of D-Nard. This could lead to the irisless peepers of the Crimson Tide defense on the same person. On defense, the anticipation of how well the D-Line will do without Mike Martin anchoring the buffet busters of 2011 is at its peak. There are glimmering prospects with Will Campbell taking advantage of a Groupon coupon to the Barwis Boot Camp training. The senior is a story in the making of a senior that finally gets what his place is in the team and becomes a one man tsunami on the defensive line. Craig Roh may also get to show that he saved the best for last.
With all the potential outcomes, I think it will boil down to a Michigan team with some questions on replacing key players and possibly being in a unfortunate position of actually having to deal with the new feeling of having a high bar that came unexpectedly last season. Can Michigan focus on having a whole new year ahead of them with the loss of an “us vs. the world” mentality they used as tacklin fuel last year? Can the holes be filled with the unknown and compete at an equal or even better level? These things will be made perfectly clear September 1st, 2012. I do think it is entirely possible for Michigan to catch a rusty and hungover Alabama team with stellar performances by their own offense and defense and pull a wet dream of an upset. But this is Alabama. Premier, Nikolas Saban at the helm. The man has created a machine that even would make Neo pee a little. It is for this reason of shadowy practices and ESS EEE SEE culture of moral fortitude in following every loophole that allows me to believe that a valiant attempt will come up short to the meat processing plant built in the West Nile infested swamp of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It will however, be the very circumstance in where being wrong is much better than being right.
OT ESPN Interview of RichRod Offensive Philosophy: Fast break, Urban Meyer, Northwestern vs Michigan & Denard
I can remember Urban [Meyer], when he first got the Bowling Green job, we were at a coaches convention hospitality bar. He told me, ‘I’d like to run some of your offense.’ So he sent his whole staff for a week, we traded some ideas and so we always traded ideas.