Do you think it was more than just slightly coincidental amidst last Saturday's misery that the marching band chose to do an emo halftime show?
That's only the tip of the iceberg, man: during the Wisconsin game they did a Ferris Bueller parody where the drum major was absent, then showed up at the last second. Just like the team!
Rodriguez has been dealt an impossible hand by a combination of (a) circumstances (untimely graduations and transfers) and (b) transitions (the personnel we had is ill-suited to the offense he wants to run). He is doing the best he can, and we have been competitive in every game we played this year, except for the ones where we took howitzers and pointed them in the general direction of our own nutsack.
My bigger concern is not Rodriguez and it isn't how we are doing this year. My bigger concern is the high level of risk associated with the spread offense. It absolutely cannot come as a surprise that Threet was injured -- he has been getting hit hard on a regular basis. This is what happens when the quarterback is an important yard gaining aspect of one's offense. I am concerned that in the bright future, we are going to have a really good team well-suited to running the spread -- and our entire season will hang on whether the quarterback can avoid injury. And when he won't, we'll spend lots of times saying "If only [fill in name] hadn't gotten injured in the fourth [fifth, seventh, first] game, we could have been really awesome!"
You think back to Oregon with Dennis Dixon. They were unstoppable. Then Dixon got hurt and they were nothing. It is just such a "everything must go right" type of offense. That's my big concern.
Anyway, just wanted to sound off about the spread in a different way. Not so much a "where the fuck are we?" kind of way, because as you ably pointed out, that's not very useful. More in a "does it make sense to go in this direction when we are the type of program who can recruit hosses and play a sweet pro style offense."
This is often cited as a reason to be leery of the spread: Pat White, Drew Stanton, Dennis Dixon, and many other spread quarterbacks have been blown to smithereens and taken their teams' chances with them. While dropback passers get hurt, too, it's reasonable to suggest that Pat White (197 carries, including sacks, in 2007) is more likely to get hurt than your average Michigan quarterback (57 combined carries in 2007).
I think the dropback guys aren't quite as well off as that disparity suggests, though. Quarterbacks don't have to register a carry to get hit, especially when they're dropping back to pass behind an iffy offensive line. I think it's safe to assume that Michigan quarterbacks got hit as they threw the ball far more often than White did—for one thing, White only threw a quarter of the time. This narrows the gap somewhat. Also, when you're running with the ball you are usually conscious of the people trying to tackle you and rarely take a big hit; quarterbacks getting attacked from the blindside or standing in and throwing often take wicked shots. So it's not a slam dunk the spread guys are at more risk. I think they are, but if it's 10% or 20% you're probably better off with the spread.
To find out we'd have to go to the numbers, classifying quarterbacks as spread or pocket passers and surveying the recent history of college football to determine how much time the spread guys missed versus the pocket guys. Without anything resembling an injury database you're reduced to inferring which guys got benched (good or bad, you can rest a guy at halftime of the 'Cuse game and that looks like he's injured) or had disciplinary issues versus which got knocked the F out. That's a ton of noise when you're looking for an effect that's pretty noisy itself; I don't think any sort of study is feasible.
So then you're measuring whatever bonus effectiveness you get from running your quarterback—and the evidence suggests this is substantial—against the murky increased chance of injury to you quarterback.
All I can tell you on this is: I don't know. This is a tootsie-roll-pop-level mystery, and will probably always be so.
I have a rhetorical question for you. Is it just me or does McGuffie run straight up? I know the kid has talent but I will guarantee if he leads with his pads more he'll stop going down on first contact. This is a pet peeve of mine similar to your coping issues with clock management. I don't think anyone can use the argument he's to small right now to run thru defenders. Mike Hart wasn't always big and Jacquizz Rodgers seems pretty successful. At this point I'm hoping it's something Jackson is working with McGuffie on this since I believe it will expedite his success as one of the great Michigan running backs. Go Blue!
Yeah, McGuffie's major flaw to date has been a near-total inability to make yards once a guy has him wrapped up. He's the exact opposite of Mike Hart. I'm not sure if he's ever going to get better at it, either. He's a slasher, which fits very poorly with our current inability to block defensive linemen consistently, and is probably 20-30 pounds lighter than Hart. I think it's something we're going to have to live with.