10/31/2009 – Michigan 13, Illinois 38 – 5-4, 1-4 Big Ten
To paint with broad strokes, I probably don't have much in common with 6'3", 290 pound black guys from Miami who think it's a good idea to play for Ron Zook. Our worlds are unlikely to intersect at a Lil Wayne show or the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Cory Liuget has probably never thought to himself "that reminds me of a Morrissey song." Of late, I think that all the time.
But at around 6:30 on October 31st, 2009, we both felt like we had been punched in the dong. In Liuget's case, this is because he had been punched in the dong:
In my case, and probably in yours, you had not actually been punched in the dong unless you had decided at some point that going outside with your buddies and punching each other in the dongs was preferable to watch the metaphorical dong-punching that started when Roy Roundtree's knee hit the ground at the one yard line and has not, to my knowledge, stopped. If you managed to miss this play and its aftermath because you were outside getting punched in the dong, congratulations: this is the one and only time when your decision-making skills will ever be regarded above average. Punch yourself in the dong in celebration.
Liuget got off easy. He was wearing a cup. My soul-dong has no cup, and it's taken a mighty battering in the last couple of years. Weary, bepunched, bruised, bepunched some more, the soul-dong cries out: why, gods who dictate which ghostly shadow genitalia get the full America's Funniest Home Videos treatment, have you chosen these dongs for maximum severe extreme punishment?
In the end, it doesn't matter. It just hurts when you don't move carefully.
You probably think I'm done with this riff on dong-punching. You get the dashes and the topic changes and then the topic comes back around to the previous item by the end of the column, with maybe some more dashes indicating where you should be prepared to shift thoughts. This, surely, is where a sentence can go by without the author mentioning someone getting punched in the dong.
No: the dongs. They are punched. This is what Michigan football has been since about the instant Drew Henson decided to take millions of dollars from the Yankees: the constant struggle to get your dong punched in new and interesting ways. Super-recruit quarterback leaves before senior year: kapow. New, wholly obscure Ohio State coach from I-AA is the anti-Cooper: tiger PUNCH. 2005: E. Honda hundred-hand-slaps your jibbly bits. 2006: more of a Tekken unblockable thunderfist with a huge-long windup that you think is going to be awesome until you fail to dodge the full testicle-crushing force of the blow and end up flat against the wall. 2007: Jack Bauer finds the bomb, finds it's a ridiculously tiny nuclear device, and decides to screw with you by placing it in the appropriate place before the Horror. 2008: A hundred E. Hondas hundred-hand-slapping your scrotum for three straight months.
2009 can be seen above: SURPRISE! You, Corey Liuget, think your dong is unthreatened late in a game you've turned into a blowout. You are wrong, and E. Honda shows up 75% through the damn thing just to give you dangly punishment.
As per usual.
Here we are, gingerly attempting to sit down without having any part of our anatomy brush up against other parts of our anatomy. Things just got raw, yo. Every place on the internet that didn't immediately repeal the first amendment(!!!) is burning.
I've been watching the same stuff everyone has for 1.5 years and here's where I am: it's blindingly obvious that some portion of the suck is Rodriguez's doing. After that huge reversal of fortune you have to back down from any previous stances you have about the program, its progress, and etc etc etc. That is a game-changing event. That game turned "Rich Rodriguez flames out in three years" at Michigan from a laughable notion to a possible one. Distantly possible, but possible.
I'm not sure what the suck is and how much can be laid on the current coaching staff. The Shafer hire was a poor one. Past that, the last couple years have featured four quarterbacks that were either freshmen or walk-ons, a disaster of an offensive line, and a defense that actually saw two walk-ons start against Illinois because they were preferable to the alternatives. I don't know if that's Jay Hopson's fault or just crappy luck that you're starting a guy who would never see the field because the options behind him are so poor.
I still think we aren't anywhere near the point at which we can chuck out Rodriguez's stellar previous track record. That is not an accident. The previous coaching staff was responsible for The Horror and was attempting to position Mike DeBord as a legitimate in-house candidate, so it's not like the vast program-killing screwup that is the defensive recruiting is an huge outlier in judgment.
On the 70-yard touchdown that put Illinois in the lead for good, two players were largely responsible: Leach got dragged out of position expecting a stretch and Kovacs took what he thought was a good angle but was not because he is a freshman walk-on. There are a lot of problems with the program that no one could deal with.
Rodriguez will be back next year with a mandate to get to a mediocre bowl, and he'll be under pressure to produce a serious team in year four. My confidence that he'll do that is waning. There's not much that would improve the situation; as we've seen the last two years, program continuity is a huge factor in any football team's success. Firing Rodriguez before he's thoroughly proven he can't make it work here is going to make the previous suffering in vain.
That's where I am. If you're elsewhere, fine, I can understand that after the huge reversal the past couple weeks. Before the 2008 season I dug out that picture of Bo and Canham and Bump Elliot and placed the fanbase in the center of it:
We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.
The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.
I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.
I still hope it works. It's getting harder to think it will. Next year will tell the tale.
Michigan should prepare for an Ortmann suspension. Omameh is probably the guy who draws in, but he's been practicing at right tackle. Ricky Barnum is the nominal backup left tackle if the Baby Seal U game is an indication, but I don't think he's left tackle material; the real backups at tackle are redshirting.
Michigan's losing their composure, yes, and it's clear there's a cultural divide on the team between guys like Odoms, who know from rough, and Carr holdovers who still seem pissed that this is what they got when it's not what they signed up for.
Holy hell: turnovers. I'd mentioned this before but here's a useful diary post from Enjoy Life on Rodriguez's turnover history. It's ridiculous:
Aside from the ugly first year, West Virginia had a positive turnover margin every year of Rodriguez's reign, with double-digit years four out of six tries. It's not the system, and it's not the weather as it applies to the system—it gets cold and rainy in West Virginia, too. It's freshman quarterbacks and terrible defense.
Also holy hell: what a disaster Mike Patrick is. One: if our starting center was actually named "Mossman" he would a superhero capable of enmeshing opponents in his velcro-like grasp and Michigan's offensive line wouldn't fail to pass block against a terrible team that had no pass rush coming into the game. This was not an error. He and equally idiotic Craig James called him "Mossman" at least six times.
Two: you just knew as soon as the goal line stand happened that the rest of the game would be Patrick and James going Favre on Terry Hawthorne tracking down Roundtree, and this they did, often failing to even describe the play in front of them in favor of yet more rapturous praise for Hawthorne. They should find whatever pasture they've put Maguire in and put Patrick in it, too. And then shoot it into space. It will be like the Little Prince!
Three: this is not Patrick's fault but after a couple games on ABC that were beautifully directed, this one missed a half-dozen plays.
Mike Williams had edge responsibility time and again against Illinois and blew it when he wasn't getting blocked into the bench. He was spectacularly bad, just as he was against Iowa. I find it hard to believe Vlad Emilien is worse, and since he's played on special teams recently he's not getting a redshirt. Wonder if we see him a little bit more the rest of the season.
It's really obvious why they moved Woolfolk to safety in spring now. What a terrible feeling it must have been to watch these guys play in spring practice and know you were going to die in the fall.
Kovacs makes sense because there are literally no scholarship options at his spot other than Emilien and project true freshmen, but what is with Leach getting on the field in front of Fitzgerald or Demens? I'd say it's a failure to develop talent on the part of Hopson, but he's also the guy coaching Leach. All I know is that it's very bad when you have major recruits (Fitzgerald was just outside top 100 lists and Adam Patterson was a top-50 player) idling behind walk-ons.
What happened to Shaw? Undisclosed injury?
The offensive line's pass blocking is the biggest problem with the offense right now. Every week I go into UFR expecting that Forcier will have all these terrible scrambles and there's maybe one or two instances where it was optional. In all other cases, someone is bearing down on him. The line is getting crushed in the protection metric. I hope this is an effect of losing Molk more than anything else; also, Michigan doesn't have any options other than freshmen behind the starters now.
I got emails from people asking why they couldn't post stuff on the blog. How do you attempt to post something on the blog without reading the single paragraph post at the top of it that says you can't post? And should this be taken as evidence that the people in question should not be allowed to post anyway?
LVSC's initial opening line for the game: M –7. Vegas loled and set it at 3.5. But… hey… 3.5 point favorites! WOO MOTOR CITY.
I felt as shitty as anyone on Sat evening, having been born to a Michigan alumni and earning two degrees from UM myself. I found myself sitting in a bar Sat night, thinking to myself how the day will be better if Minnesota hols their lead against Sparty. I then had an epiphany....suddenly realizing I was becoming like Sparty fan, i.e. by judging my day not how my team does, but rather whether or not Sparty failed. I immediately slapped myself across the face, and talked the bartender into changing the TV in front of me from the Spaty game to the World Series. I realized two things: (1) things are not as bad as the last two weeks have shown (for all the reasons already pointed out on this board); (2) we can still meet my pre-season prediction of 8 wins by winning two of our last three games and our bowl opponent. Assuming one of those wins is against the Buckeyes, these last two weeks will quickly be forgotten. Please everybody, keep the faith, keep behind OUR team, and GO BLUE!
Oh, as to the shot to the nuts, college football players don't wear cups, so he likely got him pretty good.
I played two years at Navy, and they didn't even have them available. My brother played at Toledo and the same thing. They slightly hinder your running ability, and you don't have a ball or puck flying around at 100 mph. It was actually pretty rare that anyone took a shot in games, or even practice.
"I got emails from people asking why they couldn't post stuff on the blog. How do you attempt to post something on the blog without reading the single paragraph post at the top of it that says you can't post? And should this be taken as evidence that the people in question should not be allowed to post anyway?"
Yes, yes it should. Furthermore I don't get why these people come to the board/this site? If you want to just spew your opinion then start your own blog. I come here to read Brian and all of the other posters here. It is not my first response to try to post something and create my own content. I think that this does show that maybe the standards for being able to post on Brian's site should be higher and that if people don't like it they don't have to be here.
This is Brian's site and he can stifle your "creativity" if he wants.
Classic post. If only we could let our soul(dong)-glo and let it shine through, then we'd be silky smooth, hanging out with Arsenio Hall and beating down Big Ten fools with broomsticks as if they were a cracked out Samuel L. Jackson sticking up McDowell's. Clearly, I still haven't recovered from the madness.
Is it possible to witness so many disasters you never quite recover? Like taking too much acid and never coming down. I've watched the Lions my entire life and now the one thing I could count on to lift my spirits, Michigan football, is faltering, I fear I may never be the same.
Wisconsin has gone 52-19 in the last 5 1/2 seasons. They field a team that is largely ignored by "big" recruiting schools. Their defense has yielded 30 or more points in just 18 of those 71 games. A true freshman(on his 18th birthday) blocked a punt vs. Purdue
Michigan has already given up 30 or more points in 11 of 21 games under RR.
I badly want CoachRod to succeed and stay. He seems like the perfect guy for our program.
But will our D meld into one like Wisconsin's? Time will tell.
I might just be blind, but I really don't think the defense is nearly as bad as they look. I know that makes almost no sense as they regularly give up 30 points, but watching them on a play by play basis, they just don't seem that bad. I think the offense's issues with maintaining drives and turning the ball over are huge factors in the defenses awful numbers.
I love Kurt Vonnegot and agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Trout's comment. The difference between early season UM and the UM right now is in the offense, not the defense. The defense has sucked all year, but the offense puts them in horrible positions, leading to easy scores. The D isn't good, but it was never good; the offense has gone from above average to slightly below average. The key to understanding this season is figuring out why that happened (is it possible that Molk is really THAT good?)
"out of these tunnels will come the meanest, toughest sonsabitches ever to put on pads"
there are just a few positions namely LB's and safeties that have been "spectacularly bad", as Brian states. And B10 teams have taken full advantage of those glaring weaknesses. DW has been very good all year. Woolfolk hasn't been a world beater, but he hasn't been horrible either. The D line has been good, IME. How many times did they sack or get good pressure on Juice? They seem to be stuffing runs between the tackles. The trouble comes when runners bounce outside and the LB's or safeties need to make a tackle.
Fire Hoke you aks? Well that's the question for the fuckin' ages, ain't it?
They are every bit as bad as they look. They gave up 500 total yards of offense to one of the worst offensive teams in the Big Ten, including allowing 2 100+ yard rushing performances and 6.7 yard per carry. Illinois had 2 70+ yard touchdown runs, and several other 20+ yard plays. The safeties and linebackers were consistently out of position, slow to react, and missed tackles. It was a truly horrible performance.
Brian, I'm not sure if your posts are eligible for TWIS but I think you've written the best Michigan based TWIS ever, if I laughed at all the descriptions of dong punching (despite the battering my soul dong took as a Michigan fan) imagine the joy this post will bring to the haters.
I actually went to this fiasco of a game, and for the first time in my 25 years of going to M games, I left early in disgust. Never thought I would ever walk out early...even in a losing effort I want to see how everyone plays on every down. But this was sickening. To go from the Illinois fans booing and being disgusted with their team to having to acknowledge that the better team won and that for as bad of a coach as Zook is...
Anyway, thanks for saying it, Brian, so I don't have to try to put this sick feeling into words.
It's Hucklebee deep and Davis close and Leach under center...
When you stick your crotch in an opponent's face while you are celebrating excessively and you impede him while he is trying to get back on his feet, you richly deserve negative consequence that falls your way. I hope Liquet pulled his cremaster muscle as a reflex action.
I recall a few years ago, I think it was Terrell Owens or someone like that got caught in the nuts, and it sparked a convo from players about how no one wears cups anymore. It might have been mainly about WRs, since I imagine if you're in the trenches there's more propensity for dong-twisting/hitting/kicking that you'd want to protect against. But I don't think it's for sure that they all wear cups.
Rodriguez is still trying to play with Lloyd Carr's players on defense. As we all know, the end of the Carr era was a big recruiting fail, and you cannot blame this on Rodriguez. You can expect improvement next year and the year after, but I think it's at least 2012 until he can field a defense with normal depth, and mostly non-walkon upperclassmen starting.
I am surprised the offense is not in a better place after 9 games, but you can't over-estimate the effects of losing of Molk, senior tailbacks who have been battling injuries, and playing a true freshman at QB.
as a fan of michigan, how can you accept mediocrity for 3 more years, the argument that Rich Rod's circumstances are mitigating and that lloyd carr left the program in shambles is valid but not inclusive. Coaches can over achieve with less than adequate talent. In fact, many great coaches do that. When Rich Rod was hired after 2007, the fan base raved about a coach who could take Michigan back to a national title. He was pegged the savior of the program. Now, were begging for 6 wins and are trying to escape from finishing last in the big ten. LAST. Im not ready to throw him under the boat quite yet, but it is very clear that there are huge problems in his staff and that our in game coaching is marginal at best. oh and btw Rich Rod needs to take over play calling duties. Calvin McGee is a joke. dude is clueless.
But ... I think what we were all hoping for from our post-Lloyd coach was someone that could get whatever talent was on the team to over-achieve. Perhaps this happened against ND (and maybe even MSU and Iowa). However, the one knock on Lloyd was that he could take a team with several NFL caliber players and still manage to lose 3 games a year.
I think, at this point, the biggest concern wrt RRod is that he hasn't really shown an ability to field a team that is "greater than the sum of its parts". While there have been flashes of potential, it seems like the team is constantly shooting itself in the foot. Moreover, after our first four games, the team has appeared flat from an emotional standpoint. I'm not seeing any kind of fire from any of the units.
In the Illinois game alone, we were in the red zone FOUR(!) times in the second half. The net result of those four trips were ZERO points. While the interceptions are, by and large, something we can expect to live with because of our freshmen QBs struggling to read coverages, I think the fumbling issues are hard to excuse from a coaching standpoint.
The big concern, ime, is that RRod is a guy that can assemble an above-average team that can dominate the Big East, but is a perennial middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team. The bigger concern is, right now, I'd take that.
Suggestion to fellow bloggers, DO NOT see the movie "anti-christ." Rented it on Halloween as the scary movie option without really reading the On-Demand descritpion or watching the trailer. Yeah.... I advise against it... those that have seen (if any) will concur I believe.
if you dare, just know that this movie has NO inhibition even when it desperately needs it, and while I am ussually a fan of the daring Indies, this was too much. Trust me on this. You will wish you hadn't watched it.
"When you see this shot you have 90 seconds to get out of the theater and into the lobby (don't look back!). Once you're there, note the time; you'll want to be sitting down again in three minutes. Use the restroom or buy some popcorn — whatever it takes to keep you from thinking about genitals being smashed by a log and groped to a climax. Listen near the door until you hear Willem Dafoe shrieking. This just means he's regained consciousness and seen the remnants of his testicles, and it's totally safe to go back in. But don't get comfortable! You'll be leaving again in 10 minutes."
and you will be leaving quicker the second time. Too bad, a full hour of very good movie destroyed in ten minutes of what can only be described as torture porn. Hey, a lot like the goal line possession on Saturday.... Good day friends.
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Hey, all you guys that bitterly criticized the posters
who said that RR has to have some blame for this--are you going to criticize Brian now? NOTE: some posters deserve abuse because "fire Rich Rod now" is worthy of abuse as well as just dumb. But others had rational responses saying RR had to share in the blame and got ewhacked as idiots.
"We can't overestimate the value of computers: yes they are great for playing games and forwarding funny emails, but real business is done on paper. Write that down."