Been waiting for this all morning. I feel better now. My opinion is now formed and complete. Thank you Sir Brian.
10/30/2010 – Michigan 31, Penn State 41 – 5-3, 1-3 Big Ten
these were the same pictures used in the very first Greg Robinson post and were named –fail1, –fail2, –fail3.
A few years back my fiancée (then girlfriend) and I had one of those conversations that draw out over two weeks. You have them when the other person's position is so bizarre and unbelievable that unlocking the reasoning behind it is important if you're going to hang around this person for a long time—because it's possible the reasoning goes something like "I'm a stabby person who stabs you in the stab places."
The argument was about the narrative of overarching, capital-P Progress that the world is or is not making. I, the engineer, pointed to various statistics that all point in the right direction. She regarded all of it as different paths to the same thing: misery for all but a few. A Foxconn factory is just a handy place to jump off, and they take even that away from you.
I don't think we ever came to a satisfactory conclusion despite the lingering threat of stabbing, but I don't think we have to anymore. Since that conversation the world's financial system exploded, the economy fell into a deep and lingering malaise that figures to last most of a decade, and Greg Robinson was hired to coordinate Michigan's defense.
The worst part has been the illusion. Actually, the worst part has been the actual progress. The worst part has been a combination of the illusion and the progress. The worst part has been a combination of the illusion and the progress and the relentless losing.
The illusion: two straight years Michigan has leapt out to a hot start only to see all the supposedly quality wins evaporate. A thrilling win over Notre Dame devalued as the Irish collapse into a heap of laughable crap. UConn goes from team on the verge of a Big East championship to a team that can't even keep its head above water in a horrible conference. Indiana is still not a surprisingly good, competitive version of Indiana. It's just Indiana. Then there is losing, and not competitively.
The actual progress: Michigan has the #1 yardage offense in the Big Ten by a huge margin. The gap between Michigan and #2 Ohio State is considerably bigger than the gap between Ohio State and #7 Iowa. The prophesied Rodriguez Leap, which did happen last year, happened again this year. Rodriguez is what he was sold as.
That progress looked like enough to get Rodriguez through 2010 into a prove-it 2011 until some walk-on shredded Michigan for 28 first-half points. If Progress means not being Minnesota, Michigan is failing. At some point last night the extremely depressing score was 31-10 and the ticker scrolled to the OSU-Minnesota game, which was also 31-10. The Gophers managed to hold Penn State to a mere 33 points and caused them to punt an astounding six times. Michigan did it twice. A comprehensive description of the ways in which Michigan's defense failed last night is impossible, but here's an attempt: Penn State scored 24 points against Kent State, 22 against Temple, 13 against Illinois, and 44 against Youngstown State… with their starting quarterback.
Youngstown State is a 3-6 I-AA team ranked 94th in total defense. They are the closest comparison to Michigan's D amongst Penn State's opponents to date.
Greg Robinson should be fired. Tomorrow, yesterday, bring in Gary Moeller, bring in anyone, don't care. He should never have been hired, just like Jay Hopson and apparently Scott Shafer. At the time of his hiring he was a decade removed from his last sustained success, fresh off driving a respectable Syracuse program into Washington State territory. As a head coach, he sounded like an idiot. His team played like he was an idiot. Michigan hired him and has gotten exactly what they deserved.
The worst part other than the illusion and the actual progress and the relentless losing is that this was obvious at the time:
Anyway: being a stunningly incompetent head coach does not necessarily mean one is a stunningly incompetent coordinator. Numbers will have to make that case. Go, numbers, go!
Year Team PassEff Rush Scoring Total 2008 Syracuse 101 101 101 101 2007 Syracuse 109 108 104 111 2006 Syracuse 81 110 72 107 2005 Syracuse 37 97 67 57 2004 Texas 31 16 18 23
I'm a little stressed out by that. Robinson walked into a good situation at Texas* and managed not to screw that up, then went to Syracuse, where he had an average defense on a horrid team (1-10), which he then proceeded to crater for the next three years. Before his brief, star-making turn at Texas—again, for doing nothing more than treading water—he presided over one of the worst defenses in the NFL, getting fired after three years. The last actual success you can plausibly attribute to Greg Robinson came during his tenure as the Denver Broncos' DC, when his defenses were top ten in the NFL and a significant aid in Denver's back-to-back championships. Since then it's been abject failure save the one year in Texas.
Now it's even more blitheringly obvious. Syracuse is 6-2 despite Doug Marrone having R-U-N-N-O-F-T huge swathes of Robinson's leftover pack of unmotivated jackaninnies and while Scott Shafer's defense has gotten bombed in a couple games and is severely overrated because of games against two terrible I-AA schools and the worst I-A school (0-9 Akron, 56-10 losers to WMU and everyone else), the last two weeks they've allowed 7 and 14 points in road games against West Virginia and Cincinnati. Neither of those teams is good at offense, but neither is Penn State.
Greg Robinson is a terrible football coach. Hiring him was literally the dumbest thing Rich Rodriguez could have done, and he did it. Hiring Jay Hopson to see him leave two years later was a terrible decision, as was whatever the fiasco was with Shafer. The rot on defense goes deeper than Robinson, though—Michigan has insisted on being "multiple" this year, to what purpose is unknown. Week after week Michigan plays teams that sit in a 4-3 with a two-deep shell and play defense adequately enough for this Michigan team to be headed for a New Year's Day Bowl; Michigan has not maintained the same system year-to-year during the Rodriguez era, largely because the leftover guys on the staff are all 3-3-5 guys and they keep insisting that these DCs who have never run the system become One of Us. Braves and Birds nailed this problem when he compared it to Tommy Tuberville's zombie offensive assistants submarining Tony Franklin and eventually Tuberville himself.
Michigan's addiction to the 3-3-5 is causing them to do the exact same thing Rodriguez rejected as dumb his first year when he installed the spread because that's what he knew how to coach—they're shoehorning a coach into a system when that coach doesn't even know how to properly align his middle linebacker. At left, Michigan's horrible defense. At right, West Virginia's excellent 2007 D:
Kenny Demens finally moved further from the LOS in the second half of the Penn State game. The supposedly attacking, slanting, different-front-making defense has been a passive heap of quivering goo coached by someone who clearly doesn't understand what the system he is running is supposed to accomplish. Robinson's been put in a terrible position, but he has no track record save blithering idiocy and there is no reason to retain him.
As for Rodriguez, well, hell. The are four games left, for one. Michigan is #4 in total yardage nationally and isn't scoring at an insane pace only because the special teams and defense have been beyond terrible. The special teams were not a problem before this year and really the only problem this year has been the kicker*, which is a thing that just happens sometimes in college. If they overhaul the defensive coaching by either bringing in an actual 3-3-5 guy like Jeff Casteel—who may be in need of a job after the season—or toss the Tuberville saboteurs overboard and bring in a Serious Man, I'd be willing to see where the Denard Robinson era ends up.
*(Willing to bet that by year's end Michigan isn't giving up any yards on an average exchange of punts; kickoff returns have been bad but that's an incredibly minor facet of the game—an average team is gaining one more yard per attempt than M.)
Change please. How many terrible decisions does Jeremy Gallon have to make before he loses his job at returning things?
Also: gararagagagargh Vincent Smith third and two. Hopkins's fumble was not his fault; Robinson put the ball in his shoulder. (I'm surprised he handed the ball off high—if Smith was in the game Robinson's handoff would have been in Smith's facemask.) Shaw can't be healthy, Cox is not healthy, Toussaint is not healthy… it's actually possible that Angry Michigan Running Back Hating God has been more wroth than Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God this year. The tailback situation is so bad that even Fred Jackson has gone no sugarcoat:
“We have to play better,” Jackson said. “Let’s call a spade a spade. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got plays there to be made and we’re not making them, I’m talking from the running back position.
“We have to play better.”
This is different from Jackson's usual approach of calling a spade a fantastical thousand-story casino in the clouds.
DerpBord. The circumstances behind hiring Greg Robinson are eerily similar to those behind the re-hire of Mike DeBord after his "no mas" faceplant at Central Michigan, down to the seemingly more competent guy being pushed out due to unconfirmed but widely speculated conflict. One dollar Robinson is assistant (to the) linebackers coach in the NFL next year.
The Ron English Effect. The next defensive coordinator (or next head coach, depending) is in line for a mega Ron English Effect, wherein some guy takes over a crew of players returning a ton of starters and looks like a genius for improving them when all he really did is not prevent his players from aging normally. In 2006, Ron English inherited Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, David Harris, Prescott Burgess, Shawn Crable, and Leon Hall and looked like a genius. The next year absent all those guys save Crable he was bombed into oblivion during The Horror and Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game.
Anyway, next year's DC gets every starter back save Mouton, Rogers, and Banks, adds Troy Woolfolk, and should have a healthy Mike Martin. He could pick his teeth and look SMRT.
Martin doom. It's clear by now that Martin's injury is the dreaded high ankle sprain and we probably won't see him play effectively the rest of the season. Hurray.
Aw, hell, it's just variations of this with either equal or slightly less tolerance for Rodriguez's terrible choices on the defensive side of the ball. I do like the Hoover Street Rag saying the "shields are down." That's about right. Zook is loading his photon torpedoes.
Been waiting for this all morning. I feel better now. My opinion is now formed and complete. Thank you Sir Brian.
The response was tongue in cheek.
did RR say that martin's injury on saturday was the other ankle? i thought i heard that. one can hope.
He did. Still, I can't decide if I'd rather Martin have two sorta-bad ankles, or one really-bad ankle.
two kind of bad ankles might heal. so that's my hope.
Does anyone have insight as to why Rodriguez is so wedded to the 3-3-5? If he doesn't coach the defense - and he's admitted as much - why is he so stubborn about the specific scheme that is being run?
I don't think its him as much as it is the assistants he brought over from WVU
Gibson needs to go away.
Yeah but the assistants wouldn't trump the decisions of the Defensive Coordinator, would they? The suggestion we've heard repeatedly is that both Shaffer and GERG have been forced to run the 3-3-5. Who else but Rodriguez could force them to do so?
It's the best defense for his offense to go against in practice.
Unless the teams Michigan is likely to face over the course of the season also run the 3-3-5, that makes no sense whatsoever.
Brian I know and love.
GERG was a terrible hire from the get go. Was there anyone, here or elsewhere, sold on his hiring? I don't think so. That experiment has run its course.
As for RRod...I have been steadfast in his defense for three years now. But as I have said elsewhere, it comes down to improvement. Have we improved at all? Our offense is better than year 1...but really, I almost think that is only because of 2 players: Denard and Tate. Would this offense be better than 3 years ago, with Sheridan at the helm? I don't think so. So this is not a systemic improvement.
This is where the rubber hits the road. It comes down to appearance. If it appears we are flailing through the end of the year, RRod needs to be gone. It pains me to say that, but it is a fact. If he somehow miraculously shows some improvement, then maybe I will reconsider. But I don't think Brandon will make this easy on him. I think, at this point, everything points to RRod departure sooner rather than later.
If you don't think this offensive line is better than the 2008 line, you haven't watched either team.
Schilling, Molk, Dorrestein, Stonum, Shaw, Koger, Webb... Lewan, Omameh, Huyge, Roundtree, Grady, Smith, Hopkins.
those are the names of players that are new or improved since 2008. "Would this offense be better than 3 years ago, with Sheridan at the helm?" Of course it would. Do some fucking homework before you post. That's just idiotic.
His post may have been idiotic, but yours is just as bad. You can't just post the new players we have as if that "proves" the non-QB players we have are somehow better than what we had two years ago -- you need to compare them to the players we had in the past.
Smith and Hopkins show improvement at the runningback position? The guys who couldn't average three yards a carry against PSU's crap defense? Really? I'll take Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown, thanks.
Here are the players on the 2008 roster who are not around this year: Ortmann, Mooseman, McAvoy, Mathews, Clemons, Babb, Savoy, Butler, Massey, Minor, Brown, Kevin Grady, McGuffie.
Of those departees, only Clemons and McGuffie are playing football this year and none is in the NFL, Minor and Brown included.
And maybe Molk, who played for both teams, how many that you listed currently will be in the NFL?
Schilling and Webb have, IMO, as good a chance of making an active NFL squad as any offensive player since 2007.
Those are the only guys coming out this year. You're not expecting me to predict the 2012 NFL draft, are you?
You can really use who made the NFL as a comparison vs. guys you admittedly don't know will make the NFL or not.
So the fact that Minor and Brown aren't in the NFL means they weren't better than this year's versions of Smith and Hopkins? That's ridiculous, and you weaken your position by suggesting it.
Second, Matthews is playing for the Bears, so you're just wrong there.
Our offensive line is clearly better this year than in 2008. Our runningbacks are clearly worse. Our wide receivers are better, though it's hard to tell how much of that is the result of quarterback improvement. But clearly the vast majority of our offensive improvement comes from having a talented QB who fits the system.
My reaction is about 2008 vs. 2010, in total. OP suggested that Tate and Denard are the only reason this offense is any good and that Sheridan would produce no better with this offense than he did in 2010.
Oh, and Matthews has never played for the Bears other than as a rookie camp FA and practice squadder, and now he's on the Rams' practice squad, so it's you, not me that's "just wrong there".
Is to say "you got the wrong NFL team that player is on"?
Unfortunately 1 or 2 players can make a huge difference. If Cam Newton is still at Florida they're probably 8-0. He's not so they're 3-3 in conference.
If Martin goes the whole game maybe we get some stops.
The Robinson / Rodriguez 3-3-5 thing is bad, but there's just a really shitty confluence of things taking kinda bad and turning it into horrendously bad.
Well now I feel better.
I work at a hedge fund, I watched Lehman go down hard and seeing my beloved Wolverines being (aptly) called Lehman Brothers really just hit home.
I was depressed before. I'm now very, very depressed.
sometimes writers shoehorn them in when they don't really fit. This is what happens when someone is protecting his psyche against the possibility that we may not win again this year
He's overreacting. It's cold today and it feels like Winter is setting in. But Brian doesn't remember at the moment that this is Michigan, and we always survive the winter. It fact it makes us stronger, and more appreciative of Spring.
Lehman was written on a piece of paper, and could be thrown in the trash; Michigan is of the Earth, rooted in the trunks and leaves of the trees of Ann Arbor. Though the limbs may be going bare at the moment, have no doubt they will return again, and even stronger. It has always been this way, and always will
*see how my metaphor is just as dramatic, but more fun
Sorry Brian, but Rodriguez is the guy who has to go. Shafer was the scapegoat for year#1 and Hopson was the scapegoat for year#2. Rodriguez has officially reached his scapegoat quota. He took his worst assistant coach and instead of firing him, gave him control of special teams. Hiring a new defensive coordinator is pointless. The next guy will have a terrible defense too. The problem is Rodriguez/.
If RR is gone, I won't be heart-broken, but I don't think he has to go. If they hire a new DC and let him choose scheme and personnel, I think we see a huge bump next year. If Gibson is still coaching for us next year (someone suggested making him the recruiting coordinator, which is fine by me), then we have a problem and RR should be gone.
Hiring a new defensive coordinator is pointless. The next guy will have a terrible defense too.
If, as you point out, the next DC will have a bad defense too (probably because we have very little exceptional talent or depth on D), then all of the defensive failings can't be laid at the feet of GERG. An offensive HC's responsibility on defense is hiring the DC, and all the blame can't be plced on said DC, how is RR the problem?
That is nowDC of the 20th ranked defense in the nation. And here's a little salt to the wound, Shaefer has 5 freshman starting for the defense.
The Syracuse D this year starts 7 seniors, 2 juniors, and 2 freshmen.
C'mon man, do a little research before talking out of your ass.
but the Dilithium core has a crack in it, Commander Riker has gotten his dick caught in his jumpsuit zipper, Mr. Sulu is playing video solitaire on his display while humming the theme music from "The Price is Right,' Scotty is blind drunk in his cabin eating haggis, McCoy has admitted that his medical degree was obtained through a diploma mill on Mars and that he is in fact a geologist, Uhura has just found out that she caught a nasty case of Vulcan groin-worms from Spock, and a Romulan war bird has just uncloaked off the starboard bow.
Well then, I'm puttin' all my money on that new guy wearing a different colored starfleet shirt!
Darth Tressel meanwhile is chuckling softly to himself as he fires up the superlaser on the Death Star.
/mixing my SciFi
is the Kobayashi Maru?
Then we should do like Kirk did - cheat - but how?
It didn't work. Spock caught us cheating :(
The no-win situation.
(And Don, that has to be the post of the weekend).
Captain Kirk would say thanks but he's engaged in an intense game of strip three-dimensional chess with Seven of Nine and Dr. Crusher, and after ten minutes he's already down to his king, three pawns, and his socks.
MGoBlog user, but couldn't he do better than Crusher? I'm thinking that Vulcan chick from Enterprise (heck, Hoshi Sato from Enterprise) or preferably anyone with green skin.
Thanks for making me wonder what 3-D strip chess (or any game) entails. Now I'm wondering where Kirk is wearing the sock. (I'm mean, it's Kirk!)
for the life of me figure out why anyone thinks that rr can make a decent enough defensive personnel decision as to warrant another year with a new guy.
as greg over at mvictors said:
Sorry, at this point there are no thirdsies for Rich Rod with respect to the defense and the coordinator.
look at who RRs brought in already (hopson, schaffer*, robinson), why does anyone have confidence that he could find someone now after he's epically bombed the previous two decisions.
*note: i know shaffer is looking good, but rr ran him out of town. thats still a "bad defensive personnel decision"
Gibson has to get at least an honorable mention on that list as well considering the suck he produces from our Special Teams and DBs.
1000 times this. Gibson cannot coach anything. See:DB apocalypse. See also: special teams.
But until RR wakes up and admits that his ol' buddy Gibson is a liability, this sort of frustration will continue to effervesce.
I don't know if it is all Gibson...there is probably a reason James Rogers had played at all before this year (on example).
I really, really hope that WVU doesn't suddenly get smart this offseason and hire Jeff Casteel to be their new head coach. If we can pirate him away to Michigan, it might finally (finally!) cure the scheme issues.
Why would that be the smart thing to do? He has no HC experience, and many coordinators turn out to be lousy head coaches.
Well, they did hire Stewart, who had only 3 seasons of head coaching experience (at VMI, of the Big South Conference), where he went 8-25. Hopefully, they go for more HC experience this time.
Rodriguez made all the bad defensive hires you've outlined. We can continue to throw Defensive Coordinators and position coaches overboard for another 3 years. At what point does this become RR's albatross, not the DC's? I mean, yes, RR has been as advertised -- as an offensive coordinator. He needs to be a head coach managing all facets of the game.
As for special teams, three years of muffed punts and kickoffs (combined with the aforementioned handing off to Vincent Smith on third and one) are almost more concerning to me than the defense. We've all seen the stats and analysis on the defensive depth. At some point (and I don't have an answer here) this comes home to roost with RR. The defensive coordinator fiasco is entirely on his head. Given that fiasco/history, his obsession with the 3-3-5, and his apparent unwillingness to let a defensive coordinator run the defensive show, why in the world do you think anyone decent would want to come into this mess now?
I'll let the next 4 games play out. But I have a hard time believing, even with our returning starters, that this program is headed for anything better than 8-4 next year. Is that enough? Look forward to your off season analysis on this.
was "On the plus side, at least we're not going through redshirts like it's the first time the landing party beams down to a new planet."
Well, maybe Devin Gardner's, but he was just wounded by the vicious alien of the week.