Despite being passive, Michigan was 23rd in INTs last year [Eric Upchurch]
Since Hoke has taken over, it seems the expectation / criticism has been largely focused on the offense. Since rich rod left the defense in shambles, hoke & mattison seem to have taken a bend don't break approach and largely been given a pass while they accumulate talent and experience. With most of the experience and talent on the defensive side of the ball this year, does the pressure to get it done and carry the team to victory shift?
I balk at the idea that someone needs to be "given a pass" after turning what was literally the worst defense in Michigan history into the #17 total defense in a year and improving to 13th the next year before dipping to 41st. FWIW, in yards per play terms the Mattison defenses are 46th, 25th, and 41st—a narrative of drastic improvement in year one, another step forward in year two, and then a step back.
I wish that step back hadn't happened, too, but the defense ended up collapsing once it was putting Richard Ash and Nose Tackle Jibreel Black on the field against the top rushing team in the country and then facing Tyler Lockett in a dismal who-cares bowl game they had approximately zero chance of winning once Gardner was ruled out.
Against the rest of the schedule, the defense was good enough to win. They could have carried Michigan to victories against Penn State (1.9 yards a rush, 6.8 per pass), Nebraska (under 300 yards total O), and maybe even MSU (16 points through 3 Q) if the offense was extant. People jumping on the D are a lot like people saying SHANE MORRIS COULD START YOU GUYS: they're letting the unprecedentedly terrible running game color their perceptions of the rest of the team.
That said, yes, last year's D was frustratingly passive and with Michigan returning almost everybody of note (departures from the two deep are limited to Black, the underutilized Quinton Washington, and both Gordons) it is time to take a step forward from passable to very good or great. The offense is not going to get where it needs to be in one year, so if Michigan wants to have the kind of season that makes people think Hoke should be back it's up to the defense to hulk up.
The rivals. We must beat them. Or not.
Can you talk me into a scenario where Michigan loses to both at MSU and at OSU this year and we call the season a success?
Let's step back for a second. There was a thread on the board about the recent Angelique Chengelis article in which she predicted a 10-2 record with losses to MSU and OSU. As always, the thread was split between people going "lol more like 2-10" and people responding to folks that say "I'll be happy with 9-3" with:
Is this what we are now? A program with fans that are "pleased" with mediocrity.
YES! YES, THIS IS WHAT WE ARE NOW. I mean… Michigan had that one 11-2 year that they acquired by shooting the moon six times. Aside from that, Michigan's gone 3-9, 5-7, 7-6, 8-5, and 7-6. And that last 7-6 doesn't really encompass the true face-crippling misery that was last season.
So, yeah, there are a ton of seasons that include road losses to the two teams that met in the B10 championship game last year that seem like a success. 10-2 is obvious. 9-3… sheeeeeeit, I would take any 9-3 record any way any how right now, no questions.
Would it suck to lose yet again to OSU and MSU? Yes! Yes, it would be a kick right in the plaster of Paris. But we're not in a place where we can turn up our nose at anything resembling a fun season. Just getting to a place where I can think "hey, this offensive line might be good next season" is a success. That necessarily comes with some wins, but except in pissy fan ways I'm not sweating who they come against.
Updated minutes for basketball.
It's go time for Derrick Walton [Bryan Fuller]
Can I get a prediction on next year's starting five?
Three and a half of the spots are pretty obvious. The three:
PG: Derrick Walton
SG: Caris LeVert
SF: Zak Irvin
C: Mark Donnal/Ricky Doyle
Michigan might be able to spare some minutes for Donnal at the 4 depending on how foul prone those gentlemen are. Freshmen bigs ten to be very foul prone, so… yeah.
Even PF is not that confusing: it'll be split between Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson. Chatman will also get minutes filling in for LeVert and Irvin; Spike will get 10-15 minutes; Bielfeldt will be in the 0-15 range depending on how the other guys perform and if he can actually hit some of those threes that Beilein says are unstoppable in practice.
My guess at the minute breakdown now:
PG: Walton (30) / Spike (10)
SG: LeVert (35) / MAAR (5)
SF: Irvin (30) / Chatman (10)
PF: Chatman (15) / Wilson (25)
C: Donnal (25) / Doyle (10) / Bielfeldt (5)
MAAR over Dawkins is just a guess. I do think it'll be one or the other by crunch time since Beilein favors short rotations. It is possible that one of the two redshirts.
That's very young and skinny up front—four freshman and Bielfeldt is your frontcourt—but I'd put Michigan's backcourt up against anyone in the conference no problem.
But what about The Process?
I've seen a few stories about how young Team 135 will be. They all highlight the small senior class, but never get into The Process's impact on the class. In my opinion, the 2011 recruiting class was a mess largely because Dave Brandon waited until January to fire Rich Rod (and then spent a couple of days actually firing him). By the time Hoke was hired, there wasn't much time to put together a class. In your opinion, how big of a factor was The Process on this year's senior class?
Don't forget the song-and-dance with the planes and four or five days spent in an apparent effort to throw people off the scent of the most Michigan Man choice available.
We'll never know for sure whether or not Rodriguez was a dead man walking going into the bowl game, but I've heard from multiple people on that disastrous trip that everyone thought he was. This led to a widespread breakdown in order and the performance-type substance Michigan put out there. If there was any chance he'd be back before it, there was zero after. Brandon didn't hang the man swiftly or extinguish the idea he'd be gone, so Michigan got a month and a half of limbo during which Blake Countess inexplicably signed up and nothing else happened in recruiting. Hoke walked into the following recruiting class:
To this he added in the two or three weeks available to him:
Both ends of that class are equally subpar. Hoke's ten late adds produced Taylor, Clark, and Wile. There's a possibility that Hayes or Heitzman will contribute at a decent level this year; that is meh.
Given what we've seen from Hoke since, especially before Michigan's offense descended into awful unwatchability, you have to figure he would have done much better with the extra five weeks. He almost certainly would have found a tackle to replace Jake Fisher—he may have in fact held on to Jake Fisher—and found a tight end who was capable of staying on a college campus for more than three weeks. They may have found a better fit at QB than Bellomy, whose main asset was his mobility. And they would have gotten a better idea about a few guys who weren't likely to stick—I'm thinking about Posada mostly, by the time signing day rolled around some people were skeptical about his commitment level—and grabbed a guy to fill out the OL numbers.
So… it was significant. There is a reason schools don't wait until January to throw guys overboard, and Michigan is suffering through that this year.
Similar to Sideshow Bob's "Die Bart Die", the problem seems to be that we should be reading this in German. To wit:
Even IF we have an elite defense, 9-3 would be a good year. 10-2 feels like the ceiling right now. That said, I will reserve judgment until after the ND game. Unless we lose the Horror II, in which case I will say that we will not be winning 9 games, and that Hoke is getting canned.
Therefore better year. That's all folks.
2 nfl ready tackles > 2 not nfl ready tackles
And gallon > darboh
I'll be thrilled with 9-3 and a win over MSU or osu
I was kinda doing this last year, and I kinda judged the season was going to be wildly fun. Then the rest of the season happened, and it was wild alright.
As guys that partake in the sports blogosphere and are emotionally crippled both positively and negatively by what happens to our football team at least 12 Saturdays a year, the lowered expectations of those around us are really one of the few positives we have going for us.
I mean, I'm getting married because of someone else's lowered expectations. A few of you have held a girl's hand or brushed up against a girl without getting slapped because of lowered expectations. This despise against lowered expectations has to be an internet tough guy thing, because lets be honest, it's all we've got.
Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials, may you and your bride share a life beyond your expectations. May you both be blessed.
Those minutes are almost exactly what I expect. I don't think Donnal plays the 4 spot this year and probably not next year either. I think he's a 5 until/unless Doyle or someone else shows they can play it. And with Chatman/Wilson both being 6'8" I don't see a strong need to move him either. At this point the spots up for grabs are MAAR/Dawkins for the back-up wing and Doyle/redshirt depending on how well Donnal and Bielfeldt play. I doubt we can afford to redshirt Doyle given the foul trouble and height issues.
I'm not being snarky - I don't know nearly enough about Basketball as I probably should, but I am surprised at the low amount of minutes for MAAR given solely that as a Grad Transfer - you'd think he'd be coming here to actually...you know...play? Is his skill level that far below LeVert at this point that he'd be sitting so much?
Please educate me. :)
MAAR is not a grad transfer.
Got him mixed up with the dude we didn't get. My bad.
Nothing to see here but an idiot.
He'll be a freshman, not a grad transfer. And yes, LeVert is getting pre-season All-America buzz, so his skill level is below LeVert.
I think Walton, Spike, and Caris take all 80 guard minutes (minus garbage time) a la Isiah, Dumars, and Vinnie.
That's probably correct come March. But even by the time January rolls around, that's a lot of minutes to give for quite a bit of season left. I think in Jan and Feb you still see some reserve minutes, though they become increasingly more limited.
Realizing I was going off of just gut instinct, I looked up the '13-'14 minutes. Caris was at 34 MPG, Walton was at 26.7, and Spike was at 14.7. That's already >75 minutes. I can easily see Walton getting up to 32 minutes to make it 80. They might even give Walton 32, Spike 16, and Caris 32 at guard and another 4 at SF. Having shot blockers at the 4 and 5 positions might make it easier to play two shorter guards at the same time. I think it's more likely that Beilein gives more minutes to the guys in the program who understand his offense than giving minutes to freshmen.
The stats also show that Morgan and Horford only combined for 34 MPG. I'll miss Morgan, but losing both players doesn't even equate to losing one position worth of minutes.
But my recollection is that it was frustratingly non-aggressive much of the time during those two seasons. The DC those two years was Mattison. The DC for our much more aggressive D in '97 was Jim Herrmann, but having a great DL and Charles Woodson made that much more feasible, and soon Herrmann was getting criticized for a more passive approach to defense, justifiably or not.
I don't care so much about scheme as I do results. Hoke and martteson have done a great job the last three years. But it's time to move from ok to great. Especially since the offense will not be elite this year.
"Defenses aren't good because they're aggressive, they're aggressive because they're good."
In '97 Michigan's defense had experience and talent, in came a new DC, and he was aggressive with that great unit. The results were great.
Of course, Jim Herrmann was also the coach in '05, when the defense wasn't as aggressive. Then they returned a ton of talent. Ron English came in and was very aggressive and the defense looked great.
Herrman was pretty aggressive by nature, as is Mattison and really as is English. Michigan has had coordinators that were probably more aggressive than the norm for the most part of the past two decades. However, you have to be talented to be aggressive, and we've seen those coordinators with less talent appear less aggressive as well. But if Mattison is more aggressive this year, it's because he's more comfortable with the talent and experience he has on that side of the ball.
If our DL can generate meaningful pressure on QBs themselves without always having to bring a DB or LB, the defense will be markedly more effective this year than last. I think the key will be the interior guys; if the only pass rush you can generate is wide, a good QB can step up into the pocket and get the pass off. If our interior can consistently penetrate, then Clark and the other DEs can clean up.
We had excellent defenses in 1995 and '96 - not all-world like '97's was, but very good all the same. The offense was almost solely responsible for our losses those years.
A thought experiment: can you recall a defense, at any level, that was both aggressive and bad?
I can't. I don't think anyone can.
I think the reasons are because coaches with little talent generally try to play it safe and because our brains work in a way that we always blame defenses lapses on a lack of aggression.
I think Justice Hayes committed to Michigan while Rodriguez was still coach.
Justice Hayes committed to Michigan in November 2010, which was before Rich Rodriguez was fired and before Brady Hoke was hired. He belongs in the Rich Rodriguez column of recruiting wins.
Hayes was a Notre Dame pledge, but he flipped his commitment in 2010.
after he had already committed. I can't remember for sure. I find it hard to believe Brian Kelly could be a jerk to anyone.
Once more unto the breach...
If you assume Brandon was giving RR the bowl game as a chance to save his job - and by the action of keeping him, you have to assume that's what he was trying to do -, then The Process as a meme breaks down. It only works if you assume Brandon was going to fire him all along, and you admit that you'll never know that. Doesn't matter if everyone assumed he was gone, and it doesn't excuse the horrible showing in that bowl game. He's the head coach, he'd done a much worse job than he wanted to for 3 years, but he had weeks of bowl practice and one game against an SEC opponent to show improvement. To show something. It was his job to get the team's buy-in, and have them play their asses off. Really... if the players gave a shit, they would have played their nuts off for him. Instead my lasting memory of that game will be Denard screaming back at him late in the game, when RR went off on one of his tirades.
By keeping RR, Brandon provides the only evidence available for his intent. He may have had plans to broom him all along, but no data supports that. You can't get into his head or manufacture an unknowable thought process to fit an argument. If Brandon was going to fire him no matter what, logic dictates he be gone after the Ohio game. There's no evidence he was out interviewing Hoke or any other candidates (beyond those that also so John Gruden in the Glick parking lot). The fact that he was kept means - if you put aside illogical or biased assumptions of "lol Brandon has no logic" - he was being given an opportunity to keep his job. I would assume avid RR supporters would have appreciated that (I did, I went to that POS bowl game expecting a win... or at least some semblance of effort; I finally gave up on the RR era in the fourth quarter). Because he failed so miserably is not the fault of Brandon. Beforehand I wouldn't have given him any vocal support either, because he didn't deserve any. And the result proved that course of action correct.
EDIT: Getting the hire right is more important than recruiting. Brandon hired Hoke shortly after the bowl game. The jury may still be out on whether Hoke was the correct hire, but I see no errors in this process. The blame for poor late term recruiting that year is on RR, for failing at his job.
have done a lot better salvaging the recruiting season even if he had been hired a month earlier. The football program had already become a bit of a train wreck over the last 3 years and one month wasn't going to make a huge difference IMO.
Yeah, but knowiing what we know now about Hoke's recruiting prowess, it's reasonable to assume that given an additoinal month to work, he might have pulled in an additional kid or two that would've shored up the ranks better than they are now. Indeed, he wouldn't have come aboard and turned that class into a Top 10 bunch, but I think we can assume he would've had a chance to get a couple of more guys that could be contributing right now.
I would agree with this, but allowing for Brian's note above - Hoke likely could have re-secured Jake Fisher if he had a month to work on it. At the time no one knew who Hoke was, and even then I think Fisher gave him two in-homes to try and keep him. I think he was a kid that probably really wanted to go to M, but there was too much risk with a new staff/system.
Huge loss too. He probably was good enough to kick Schofield back to guard (or rather keep him there, next to Lewan). That would have helped tremendously last year, and he would have slotted right in at LT this year. But even that isn't more important than making the right head coaching hire (which again, I understand people still debating).
EDIT: this should have been a reply to True Blue Grit
Plus, look at what Urban Meyer did in his first couple of months at Ohio State. Since their AD is not a complete moron like ours, he got hired in November and he immediately went to work on getting Brionte Dunn to flip back to OSU. WIthout Urban in place to provide that pressure on day 1, I guarantee you Dunn goes Blue. OSU's recruiting class went from being a complete disaster to the #1 class in the conference, despite the loss of a few scholarships, and despite the recruits not being able to play in a bowl game as freshmen.
Hoke's first two classes exceeded expectations by a long way. Given what I have seen other coaches do, and given what we know about Hoke's first 18 months of recruiting, it's very reasonable to assume that he would have had a substantial effect on that class, maybe turning it into a Top 15 outfit and getting some guys who would stay. I think for sure that Zettel would have committed to him. He was considered a Michigan lock from day 1. Dee Hart's recruitment was very salvageable, given that he ended up playing in a non-spread offense. We were really close with Kris Frost too. Everyone knew that Rodriguez was gone. The program was effectively without a coach for six weeks. The effect was devastating.
I think this is a tough comparison. Fickel was an interim coach and unless he set the world on fire there was no way the interim tag was coming off. Urban wasn't coaching either. He was announcing. He had to take himself off the OSU-UM telecast because he was taking the OSU job and if you believe what you read/hear Fickel was actually a proponent of Meyer being the head coach.
By no means am I giving Brandon a pass, because he messed up. RR probably should have been the week after the OSU game, but the stars alligned and Meyer fell into OSU's lap.
Lets not forget that the NCAA allowed Ohio State to have essentially two coaching staffs for a period. Fickell coached the bowl game while Meyer recruited.
This is not a knock on Meyer at all, I think he is the perfect coach for them in the Woody/Tressel line of great coaches/terrible people. But Ohio had a much easier transition than we did.
Coming off 4 years of embarassing suckage.
They hired Urban Meyer, evil genius festooned with NC rings and a decade of success with one year of NCAA induced turmoil. Not to mention Urban only had to recruit while the existing staff prepared for the bowl OSU should have voluntarily forgone.
The difference in ability to sway a recruit in the last months before signing day in any comparative scenario were in Urban Meyer's favor anyway. So that comparison is pretty weak.
That said, Hoke is a trenches recruiter, and I think we could have saved the OL class in some contributing manner if he had been hired earlier.
The Process was intentional for whatever reason. This is why I believe it will e very hard for Brandon to fire Hoke if this season goes very badly.
I think the argument against The Process is that Brandon should not have made a situation where it was "win the bowl game and you're gone". If one game is going to change your decision, you're too indecisive to be a Michigan AD. Either can him, or give him your confidence. Don't create a month of limbo.
Honestly I think Brandon either lacked the stones to oust Rodriguez after a mediocre but in some ways promising season without making sure he was good and humiliated by a nasty bowl loss, or he didn't realize that RR had lost the team. Neither of these are good things. Or maybe he really did have a pre-deal with Harbaugh.
I know "lack of confidence" doesn't sound like Brandon at first blush, but when you look at all the times he's told a transparent lie rather than admit error, it sort of makes sense (not admitting he wanted Harbaugh, seat cushions, the band, the noodle...).
...and I will.
But I know for a "fact" that if we would've BLOWN out Mississippi State and shown promise for the next season. Rich Rod would've kept his job for one more year with Denard coming back.
I know that for a "fact." Face to face. Not "I heard" or anything else.
I say "fact" only because it wasn't from Brandon himself, but someone in/close to the program who is still in/close to the program.
If Michigan goes out and waxes an SEC team in the Gator Bowl and creates some excitement and buzz...Rich Rod stays.
It's not going to change the minds of people who want to feed into the Brandon conspiracy. But you'll never be able to tell me otherwise.
Now I'm not saying Rich Rod would've made it with even an 8-4 season after that...but he would've been the head coach to begin the year.
I was even at that game with the Michigan admin. You could feel in the air when Michigan scored the first TD..."okay, we may have something hear...Rich Rod had a month and we're seeing what we're supposed to be seeing."
At the end of the game people couldn't even look each other in the eye. It was weird. It was beyond weird. It's like we all knew what was about to happen but no one wanted to be the first one to bring it up. It was one of the strangest things ever.
Even the fans knew. No one booed. It was SILENT as people walked back to their cars. It was like we just watched Rich Rod get fired at midfield in front of EVERYONE.
So yes, if Michigan puts the beatdown on Mississippi State in that Gator Bowl, Rich Rod is the coach for at least one more year. However, I think he would've had to go 9-3 or better AND beat OSU AND win a bowl game to keep his job the following year.
...revealed that Brandon is either an idiot (for not moving on to a new coach sooner) or an outright sadist (for taking 2 days- 2 days!-to fire someone).
A little from column A, a little from Column B.
was that the time was spent negotiating the arrangements for the rest of the football staff. I don't know if that takes 2 days- maybe if they have to get some answers or commitments from outside the room.
I don't think there was any chance of RR keeping his job regardless of the bowl game's outcome. If he'd been fired prior to that game, who was going to coach it? Magee or GERG? Or RR stays as a lame duck?
"Michigan's gone 3-9, 5-7, 7-6, 8-5, and 7-6."
I realize we have been mediocre for a long while now but when you see them all lined up next to each other like that, it is really depressing. Especially when you consider most years you have 2 massive baby seals in non conf and usually a 3rd "average team" like an Air Force, and you have 2 Big 10 garbage teams you get in conference every year so you essentially are handed 4 (5) wins on an annual basis.
Take away the 4 "no brainer" wins (LOL Akron!) every year and the W-L against teams fielding a halfway competitive team with staffs that are not likely to be fired within 24 months and it reads like:
[-1]-9, 1-7, 3-6, 4-5, 3-6.
So that is the record versus functional to good football teams the, 6 of th epast 7 years. Just sad.
p.s. I am surprised how much time you give to Wilson, we'll see! I see Donnal getting all the minutes at 5, and maxing at 24-25 per game (Mitch was 19 as a first year player, I am giving Donnal an extra 3-4 due to experience in the system... so it mirrors Morgan's minutes as a RS FR).
So, RRod recruited guys who didn't stick. Hoke has recruited guys that appear to be sticking around. That has left for some small recruiting classes in 2014 and 2015, and left the team with a small number of upper classmen.
If they keep filling classes to the max, will they ever get out of this cycle? Meaning that in 2017 and 2018 it is very possible that we have very few juniors and seniors again. Hopefully they'll be more useful juniors and seniors, and I guess they'll be guys on the lines with red-shirts in front of them.
Am I worrying about something I don't need to worry about?
Yes because the use of redshirting. We have been playing a sick # of freshman the day they hit campus. In a good program that is healthy you'd be redshirting a lot of players and maybe 4-6 max get their redshirt taken off (someone like a Peppers this year). So the next cycle around i.e. the 2012 class's equivalent instead of playing 12-13ish or whatevever we did you play 5-6 and a whole host will redshirt.
Plus the reality is some of these 2012-2013 players will wash out, transfer, leave football, finish their 4th year and not come back for football, have an injury that ends career etc. So it will all balance out in time.
Some of the guys who have stuck so far will soon realize that they will never see the field and leave the program. Some guys will be injured. In other words, we will get down to average attrition levels. The reason we haven't seen very much is because the oldest of Hoke's recruits (from full classes) are going into their redshirt sophomore seasons, and are still in the try to compete for a spot mode. I'd suspect a few guys from that class will leave during the season and after.
We'll settle back into that 18-22 recruits/class range soon. That's just how it usually works.
I wouldn't get too worried about. Carr wasn't a huge proponent of redshirts or roster management and he tended to have consistent classes. Football isn't basketball in that you have massive turnover; give Hoke a couple of years and you'll see a pretty consistent senior class of high teens/low 20's players with similar classes.
"9-3… sheeeeeeit, I would take any 9-3 record any way any how right now, no questions."
So in a worse case scenario that would mean losses to OSU, MSU and ? (could be ND or Ap St or someone else I guess depending on your perspective), AND crappy wins against other (likely bad) teams in the same vein as last year's Akron and UCONN games (keep fighting that win is a win is win fight boys).
If thats ok, no sorry better than ok, you'd take it right now no questions asked. What do you actually expect? I would assume it can't be better than 7 and 5 and perhaps worse.
I guess I'll simply say I would NOT take the crappiest 9 and 3 imaginable right now.
Could be App State? Really? While, I'm the first to agree that bringing the Mountaineers back to Ann Arbor for a rematch is a really stupid, fucking idea, let's not deceive ourselves. The team that is showing up here at the end of August is a far cry from the 3-time National Champion team we faced in 2007. App State is much closer to Baby Seal U nowadays and we're not gonig to lose to them this time, which is precisely why this game is stupid. We'll get zero credibility with the polls for winning it while having to spend the entire week leading up to it reliving The Horror in the media over and over again. We could crush these guys by 70 points and it will change nothing. It will exorcise nothing.
Don't be so sure... for psychologically, beating them by 70 pts this time, along with, say, beating msu in EL, could truly reset the entire thing It will have an effect if we beat them badly.. but if we don't, then thats a real problem.
When I said beating App State will change nothing, I meant it would change nothing for us, the fans. Certainly, if MIchigan goes out and blows these guys out of the stadium by 70, it will do a lot for their state of mind, but not because it allows them to crawl out from under the cloud of The Horror. None of these guys were around for that. But, it should exorcise some of the lack of confidence they may be carrying from stuggling against Akron or UConn last season. That's the barrier these guys need to push past. They'll feel pressure to win this game against App State, for sure, but The Horror is not their cross to bear.
My point before was, if we come out and blast these guys to kingdom come, are you really not going to care about 2007 anymore? I won't. I don't think anybody will. That's why scheduling this game in the first place is so damn silly.
And as for beating Sparty in EL, I agree, it's a big opportunity for us to quickly dash any level of self-esteem those guys may have acquired from last year's championship. We go in there and take them down, with them having to come back to Ann Arbor the following season, you deal a big psychological blow to all of Spartan Nation. Now you're poised to beat them 3 out of 4 years and the whole Dantonio has flipped the script narrative is torched. It's a tall order, but losing in East Lansing is far from a foregone conclusion.