Peppers at 10, which seems low.
This is my first post on this blog in any form. I am, all things considered, a Newbie here…so go easy on me. My virgin post. :-)
I want to begin by saying, as I dip my toe in the water of diary posts, that MGoBlog is without a doubt the best UM sports blog on the web. Brian’s material is well researched, thoughtful and well written. And he posts daily. Which when you are an addict is a good thing.
Since it is my first post, a bit about me. My name is Steve and I live in London, ON. UM athletics, especially football, has been a growing obsession with me since the mid-90’s. I am not a UM alumnus. [Hopefully an EMBA or some such thing in the not too distant future will rectify that] I got hooked on UM football, its history, its tradition and its personages while doing a Masters of Divinity at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids. As a Canadian boy raised on hockey, hockey, hockey, coming to Michigan was like being thrown in the deep end sports wise. Nobody cared about hockey, not the way we do in the frozen north. And so, lost and looking for sports friends, I pulled a Casper and took the college football plunge.
At first I spent a lot of time getting acclimatized to the sport. 120+ teams. All those different leagues [conferences], and the best part, the part that really ended up grabbing me was the voting on who was the best team. As I learned to tread water, this is what hooked me…a couple of beers and a group of buddies could argue endlessly over the best team, the best school, the best program, the best era. Ahh to be young and hot-headed again.
Then I fell in love with the game. Being in seminary [and the 10 years of active ministry after that before getting into real estate sales…my current profession] meant I was busy a lot on Sundays. No NFL for me. That meant that Saturday was a perfect day to immerse myself in football. I watched everything. [Oh how I miss ESPN here in the frozen north…by the by…this is what you get when you vote Democrat/Liberal/socialist/communist…no free market media access...our satellite providers are restricted in which networks they offer…so no ESPN]. I love the scale of the game. The players seem human still. They make mistakes. They play for a scholarship and the pride of their school. There are walk-ons and practice squad guys who pay their own way and work out hard just to don the uniform and be a part of the tradition. There are still scholar athletes. Think Rolle of FSU who may have to choose between going pro all and a Rhodes scholarship. There are the weird and wacky traditions. There are the rivalry games. The fight songs. Where in this modern world would the fight song survive if not for college football?
Eventually just being a fan of the game was not good enough for my buddies. Going to Calvin, a D-III school with no football program, meant that I had to pick some “other” school. Too many of my buddies were Domers, and being a contrarian, I picked the “local” [come on if you could pick any “other” school would you pick Western Michgan?] school with the cool helmets, that was on TV all the time and had a shoot-from-the-hip ex-coach with his own TV show and all his talk about tradition and the Michigan Way. I loved Bo. I read his stuff. I used his insights as sermon illustrations.
Then there was 1997. I learned about such things as Michigan Defense. There was Woodson. The anger that came when we got jobbed in the voting. Everyone knows that if we went against Nebraska that year we would have crushed them. But the beauty of it is we will argue it until the Lord comes again and clears up all mysteries concerning his game. Yes football is God’s game.
Ever since then, even though life has carried me to places where I have had to hole up in my home office and listen to radio broadcasts with a weak scratchy signal. I have had to read on the internet. And year after year my passion for this school and its football team has grown. And all this without seeing a game at Michigan Stadium. Obligations and finances have always conspired to keep me away. Now that my real estate business is growing that will soon change. [YEAH!!!] Fall in the life of the church is the busiest time of year and the hardest to get away. Real estate slows down in the fall. Working for a charitable organization does not mean there is a lot of disposable income. Real estate is steadily giving me the means to realize some dreams and once the debts accumulated in making the change to real estate have been paid off [seven months without making a dime…ouch], my deposit for seasons tickets will be sent out. Next year the plan is to come down to a couple of games…once with my boys and once with my buddies to tailgate like grown men who make serious coin and drive Suburbans.
It was wonderful to be in Ann Arbor this summer [we have friends in the area who work in the university health system] for the arts and crafts festival. It was great to be there and not have to worry about overdoing it with fan wear. My doorbell plays the Victors. I could dress seven days a week in Maize and Blue wear. I have a “dress” UM cap, my casual cap and my gardening cap. It is fun to be in London and proudly wear the Maize and Blue. It gives me many opportunities to talk football and hand out business cards.
I loved Lloyd Carr. I loved that he had a life and a disdain for the media. I loved that he read and had other interests than football. As a man, there are few finer than Coach Carr. But you could see his passion and his drive to win were diminishing these last few years. It was good that in spite of the Horror, he was able to go out on a high note. No JoPa here.
And with that introduction, I just want to say I am totally psyched about the Rich Rodrigues Era. I love the media access. I love all the press conferences. I love the little videos very morning getting us pumped and introduced to the team. I love the “Camp Confidential” puff pieces. I love his ability to play down expectations. I think this comes because he has high expectations for himself and for the young men in his program. I like hearing about how tight the guys on the team have become, how they have banded together [to survive Barwis???]. I am a Barwis porn addict. I have the sneaky suspicion, in spite of the sick feeling I get every time I think of the O-Line, that we will be…dare I say it…respectable and competitive. And when I think of the future and Coach Rodriguez being able to recruit ever better classes, that we will be the next USC, the next dynasty. A national championship? Back to back championships? Ruling a decade or more?
I AM TOTALLY PSYCHED!!!!
THE UTES ARE COMING TO TOWN THIS SATURDAY!!!!!
EVENTS ARE STARTING TO TRANSPIRE!!!!!
So it seems the QB & OL will be the biggest weakness of the team this year. In addition, it seems that Usain Bolt is fast (topical!) and Charlie Weis is a super genius. Ok, I’ll stop there. Anyway, lack of depth, talent, experience and fit to the system are all contributing to the low expectations of these position groups this year. Now, I’d love to talk about the OL. It’s the biggest part of the offense and thus probably more crucial to the success of the team than even the QB. However, I’m going to ignore the OL basically for 2 reasons: 1) I don’t enjoy feeling like this little guy, and 2) I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to mitigate the situation. But what about the QB issue? When you have minimal talent and experience at the QB position, can one reduce the impact of the QB on an offense?
I want to find out and hopefully there will be some insightful comments* that can add to the discussion. I don’t have a ton of time to research the topic, so my research outline consisted of:
IF (Google == helpful) THEN
“The Bucs like to minimize the position to the point that their quarterback has no more impact than a receiver does for most teams. On most plays, he's a bystander.”
This may be overstating the situation a bit, but I can not image RR saying to the staff at a meeting, “Goll-ly fellers, I know we have some perrrty speedy RBs and some dang good WRs, but we autta have Nick Sheridan be the playmaker fur dis here team.” It’s logical to assume that the staff would want to mitigate what seems to be the weakest part of the team, isn’t it? So what did the ’99 Bucs do?
Short passes to the RBs:
“A dozen of his passes were thrown at running backs.”
Run a heck of a lot more than they pass:
“On first down, the Bucs have rum 61 percent of the lime [sic].”
Not a lot of down field passing:
“A whopping 66 percent of their pass attempts this season have been for 10 yards or fewer, and only 12 percent have been for more than 20 yards.”
This seems to reinforce the idea that the offense will not be what we have become accustomed to under LC. Decisions will be easy ones for the QB. Passes will be short and designed to allow the RBs and WRs to make plays. First and second downs will be run heavy to make sure the QB isn’t pit into 3rd & ten situations.
Now, some of this may sound similar to what Michigan did with young QBs and that’s because it is. But recall, the offense and young QBs LC had are not the same RR has. I don’t expect short crossing patters that take 8 seconds to develop, nor do I expect 5 yard out patters that require a howitzer to complete. More bubble screens that are easy for the QB to read. Of course, the spread-option is an easy read. The bottom line? Expect a ton of carries for the RBs and the fewest passing attempts by a Michigan QB since Elvis Grbac gave us The Catch.
*insightful comments are defined as the opposite of this: "The O-line is no reason to freak out. They will gel."
During today's mgoblue countdown to kickoff (13), RR calls for maize out at every game right at the end of the segment.
This is particularly interesting to me because I was looking at the student tickets and only the Wisconsin game was specifically called out as a maize out game, so I was wondering what the level of support would be for continuing them.
Anyhow, his comments made me think that there might be a little more vocal / visible support coming from the program/coaches/AD to get fans involved in maize-outs / call for fans to support the team loudly during games, etc (thinking e-mails, pep rallies, whatever else).
Not sure if this will really happen, but it seems like the new regime could do a good job of getting the fans fired up (barwis at a pep rally???) - which could produce some positive fan behavior. Anyone else sense this?
On MGoBlue.com's Day 19 Countdown to Kickoff, the positional coaches hosted dinner at their homes. Hats off to Coach Rod, Tony Gibson, Jay Hobson, and Calvin McGee for scoring hot wives. I would suspect they boast the hottest wives in the BigTen. Pretty Birds = Gridiron Glory. And like their football team, all of their wives possess exceptional fitness. It sends a good message to the kids to not only set high standards on the football field, but also when pursuing the talent running around campus. Our program just got a whole lot cooler.
Information has value. Well aware of this, Coach Carr and his predecessors kept almost all information about the football team secured deep in a sub-basement of Schemblecher Hall behind a steel door with a left-handed combination lock. Fort Schemblecher. Sun-Tzuians should be proud of the minuscule amount of information our opponents could gather in order to “know” us. Just ask Florida.
On the other hand, Coach Rodriguez is giving away information like Santa passing out presents at an orphanage—there is something for everybody—videos, audios, pressers, one-on-ones, photo-ops, and lord knows what else. It’s feel good city for those who smoke, snort, or shoot Michigan football information, for Schemblecher Hall suddenly seems to have glass walls. The vault appears to be empty. And dusty.
Why is he squandering all this information when this has been the traditional time to start filling the vault for a new season? Rodriguez is a seasoned and successful coach who knows what he is doing. He is not running open practices for altruistic reasons. He is not running open practices for self-aggrandizement. He is not running open practices to satisfy your or my curiosity. He is running open practices to better win football games by spreading disinformation. There are smoke and mirrors on the practice field. Rather than burying his stock of information on the fifty-yard line in an old dill pickle jar, he is investing it in the information market with the expectation of increasing its value. He is trying to trick ‘em to get a leg up on ‘em.
What does this mean? In previous years we got little to no information. Now we have it coming out of our ears. The problem is all we learn is reliable but probably not truthful. We are getting smoked and mirrored, tricked, disinformated, and led astray along with Utah and Notre Dame. What we see and hear now is not going to be what we get. The only way to even come close to determining what we will see on the 30th is to wait until the game starts. Zontan may line up under center. We may have three quarterbacks in the game at the same time. Who knows? I have been saying that I don’t have any idea how Michigan will do this year, but that I am sure that they will be exciting. I am revising that upwards to exciting and surprising.
Transitions are never smooth - some are just better than others. The transition from Lloyd Carr to Rich Rodriguez has been bumpy to say the least, and this is before any meaningful football has been played.
I think most rational Michigan fans knew/know that season is going to be ugly. Personally, I just hope that Michigan keeps its post-season bowl streak intact Though lately, I think 8 or 9 total wins is possible.
In the long term, I think there is potential for great things. I like that Rodriguez is aggressive and hungry. I like that he believes in well conditioned players and wants to make Michigan tough like it was in the past. Still, in the pit of my stomach, I'm don't know what to expect from the Rodriguez era. In fact, I'm still not sure it was the right hire.
Was there a better hire out there? I don't know. If I had to pick, I would have gone with Miles because of his ties to the school (and in hindsight, his National Championship doesn't hurt either). For some reason, I just see the Rodriguez era being either total domination or total disaster - nothing really in between. Why total disaster?
- The hiring process. It's well known that Rodriguez was not the first choice.
- The handling of the buyout. Worst litigation strategy ever.
- Current recruiting, specifically the number of 3 stars being offered so early
- Impression that Rodriguez's teams are more offense oriented. Will he overlook the importance of defense?
- The man himself. Definitely not as polished as Lloyd (sans interactions with media)
I think the above bullets are just more irrational fears. Looking at "soft" factors and projecting them on the bigger picture of wins and losses. Maybe its just getting used to something new and different. I'll be the first to admit I have no solid evidence that Rodriguez will bomb, but as of right now, based on his tenure so far, I'm not sold.
Hopefully, Rodriguez will make Michigan an annual contender for the National Championship. Hopefully, Rodriguez will be our Roy Williams and not our Bill Gutridge or Matt Doherty.