he grew a beard
I have to admit to being a GERG fan after he coached my youngest son at the M Football Camp a couple summers ago (sentimental fool that I am). He was terrific to Evan and all the other kids.
Nonetheless, I have been perplexed by M linebacker play -- tentative, out of position, overrunning, but most of all, caught in the wash. Watching M LBs, they seem to initiate play from 3 or fewer yards behind the LOS. Watching other teams (and M teams past), you see them most often position themselves 4-5 yards back on anything other than 3rd and long. The difference is, what, 30-60% more distance? More decision time, more distance to get downhill momentum, more opportunity for angles to the ball, more distance and space for an OL (slower and less agile) to cover, and, importantly, a lot less wash.
Being over half a hundred years old, my own high school experience is probably less than relevant, but I do have vivid memories of my coach yelling, "Move back, dumbass!" more than a few times after I buggered up a play for any of the reasons mentioned above.
Any opinions from the more learned amongst us?
I just have to get this off my chest.
I was out at the bar watching the game yesterday, and from the first snap, I couldn't believe the misinformed, racist garbage spewing out of the mouth of one of the patrons at the table next to ours. As soon as Denard came out onto the field, I immediately overheard this guy complain, "I don't understand why they're still running that idiot out there at QB. Last week proved that he can't play QB. They need to put Tate in."
For a while, he kept to himself, but as soon as Denard threw that interception (his only interception of the day, mind you), he started mouthing off again, "What a dumb throw. A chimp could do this guy's job. In fact, this guy is a chimpanzee." WTF?
Naturally, Tate came in and had a pretty good performance, no doubt, but it was particularly frustrating hearing, "Look at how much better we look now" despite the lower completion clip and two picks that Tate had on the day. Even after Tate's second pick, the guy kept going on, "That's okay, we should leave him in. Denard needs to move to cornerback; it's obvious that's all he ever was."
It's bad enough that there are people who blame the quarterback no matter what is going wrong with their team (especially with THIS team), but it's just beyond frustrating to overhear this type of misinformed, racist garbage in this day and age. We have a quarterback shattering records left and right who has been very good throwing the ball, but some people would rather just adhere to misconceptions of how football "should" be played and what a QB should look like.
At work today I was listening to the post game wrap up via podcast that is hosted by Ira. I believe our fanbase is a cut above most, because we're Michigan, leaders and best, and I expect our fanbase to be similar. I always get a little smile on my face when I reflect on Bob Ufer's radio call from one of the big games against Ohio State, "And here we are in Columbus in front of a sellout crowd of 10000 alumni and 74000 truck drivers." , obviously poking fun at the character of the probably ravenous crowd, and think to myself how our fanbase would never be referred to like that. I'm beginning to think some of these truck drivers had switched alliegiance.
I never believed our fanbase could ever be as virulent as I expect OSU fans to be, but after hearing what Ira had to hear after the game, some of us could be mistaken for Buckeye backers quite easily. Ira endured so much bad mouthing, I couldn't believe what some people were calling up saying. Angry because Michigan couldn't cover the spread, folks sprouting off about about our record against our Big Ten brothers -which was hilarious because they kept using the wrong record-, tired of hearing the 'excuses'. Really angry, nasty stuff; one guy even called him names.
Ira was a class act. I couldn't of done it, how he didn't let the drunken haters get to him, how he kept the show going in the right direction, discussing rational topics callers phoned in about, as well as calmly and professionally sidestepping the shower of venom; if there was a 'Purple Heart' award for radio broadcasting, Ira earned it. Hell, he would of earned a Medal of Honor.
Look forward to hearing more from you when the winning starts, Ira...
I will defer to Brian when it comes to maticulously combing over the performance of Demens in the Iowa game. However, I will say from my standpoint as a Michigan fan and general college football fan, I was pleased with him. Sure there are some fixable mistakes which stem from his youth. In all, though, I saw him as being very athletic and much more aggressive and decisive in his play. As opposed to Ezeh, who generally waits for the play to get to him, Demens seemed to attack more. In reading the last 3 years of UFR's about Ezeh's poor play, that seems to be a common missing component from his game. Ezeh just doesn't play downhill enough. Just about every coach I've ever had has always echoed the same sentiments when it came to playing style and mistakes. I agree with them. I would rather see a player make a mistake while playing hard and aggressive instead of being overly conservative and basically just taking up space. Ezeh let's himself get caught up in the wash of blockers and takes poor pursuit angles far too often. Not something you expect to see from a multi year starter and upperclassman. Demens, in my eyes, tried to fill and shoot gaps when he could. His athleticism let him pursue well and the most important thing is that he tackled when he got his hands on defenders. I don't know how he'll grade out in the UFR, but I am hoping his playing time continues to increase. Bottom line, I would rather see someone aggressively participating in the effort to win rather than someone who basically just takes up space and plays indecisively.
Interested to hear other's thoughts on this.
For everyone complaining about wins, losses, and the defense, here is a little perspective on how well we have it. I feel bad for the kid. It didn't look like he used bad form on the tackle either. I hope that he can pull through and reach the levels Brock has. There are things more important than wins and losses and this is one of them.
Everyone knows the past two weeks haven't been pretty.
There are lots of reasons why.
One of them may or may not be coaching.
I think its a worthwhile question as to when we should legitimately start holding the coaching in whole and in part accountable for what is going on.
No matter what, we have this coaching through this season, for better or for worse. Dave Brandon is a competent businessman, he's going to be considering all options, so no matter how things turn out, this guy will be prepared.
I might reccomend that we hold off on discussion as per the quality of our coaching staff until the end of the season. By all means, arguing decisions made by our coaching staff is completely legitimate, but extending that to calling for the heads of our coaching staff is premature.
Case in point: If we go 10-2 nobody here will complain.
However, if we go 5-7 obviously it would be a different story.
IN CONSIDERING THE ABOVE,
Please remember that the season is at least 12 games long, and a very critical 5 of those have yet to be played. Ultimately you can't judge a Michigan coach's season until he's played Ohio State anyhow, so give it until then before calling for his head.
AT THAT POINT, HOWEVER,
As coach of this team, Rich Rodriguez and by extension, all his staff, should be held completely responsible for every aspect of this season, for better or for worse. At that point, we should remember that we are Michigan, and while bad stuff has happened to us this season, we should hold our coaching staff to Michigan standards in accordance with the situation. We should have Michigan expectations of this team, and I think there are certain things we need to see, given that, to evaluate how well this staff has done with the program at the end of the season.
TL:DR - Stop calling for our coaches' head while we still have a bye week and 5 games of football to be played.