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.
Rival camps have been formed on the issue of turnovers, with one arguing that turnovers are essentially random, and the other arguing that they're a sign of poor coaching. Both camps are wrong.
Turnovers aren't random. Not in the big-picture standpoint. I expected us to lose the turnover battle yesterday. I didn't know how we would, but I figured it would happen. It's not because we're "worse coached" than Iowa. It's because we're a younger team - particularly at QB, but also on defense. Here is the thing: young teams commit more turnovers than more experienced teams, and get fewer takeaways. The reason Phil Steele expects teams with lousy TO margins to improve the next year is not because of "regression to the mean," but because it usually means that they'll be more experienced the next season.
Young QBs throw more interceptions than experienced ones do. Almost any QB not named Reggie Ball will cut down on INTs as he gains experience, as the speed of the game slows down for him and he realizes that he doesn't have to force a play that isn't there. A year ago, Stanzi threw interceptions in every game he started, several of them returned for TDs. This year he's thrown two in seven games. It's not random variance, and it's not because Kirk Ferentz suddenly figured out how to coach quarterbacks. It's because Stanzi has matured and doesn't make as many bad reads as he once did.
So why are we throwing as many INTs as last year? Because we aren't really any more experienced at QB. In all three of RR's seasons, he's started a first-year QB. This is the first season in which he had the opportunity to start a returning starter, but that player (Forcier) was not the best fit for the offense, and lost his job. It's frustrating to see our QBs make bad reads, throw passes behind WRs, and so on. But that is likely a consequence of them not being experienced, and not some coaching deficiency on the part of RR, Magee, or Rod Smith. We can expect, in 2011, Denard to throw fewer interceptions than he does this season. (And yes, I agree that it's frustrating that in year three, we have to say, "Next year it'll be better." But that is how it's worked out.)
The other side of things is defense. Young defenders don't get many takeaways. They frequently find themselves out of position and blow more assignments than veterans who have been playing longer, watched more film, and can anticipate their opponents' moves more easily. A case in point is MSU. A year ago they ranked last in the conference in takeaways, with just 14. This year, with a lineup dominated by upperclassmen (especially in the back seven, which is responsible for pass coverage), they're getting a couple every game. Iowa, another team with a veteran defense, regularly gets a lot of interceptions. We get considerably fewer. The ones we have gotten have mostly come against - you guessed it - young QBs. We got three INTs against ND's three young guys, and a pair against BGSU's 2nd and 3rd-stringers. We're less likely to get them against experienced QBs like Cousins and Stanzi. The next three weeks, against three new QBs, we might have more of a chance.
In sum: when an experienced team goes up against an young team, expect the former to win the turnover battle. This is particularly true if the former has a veteran QB. If your team is young, expect to lose the TO battle regularly. That's how it goes.