I could have saved you a lot of time.
Best: Nothing. Worst: Everything
I know you feel, John…
Worst: Totally Meta
To let you in a bit on how the sausage is made with one of these posts, I usually sit down with my laptop during the game and play around in the liveblog while taking some really cursory notes. While I’m sure I could figure out how to watch lineplay and defensive adjustments intricately in order to make really astute observations about particular players, there are lots of people here at MGoBlog who do a great job with that level of detail and, frankly, I doubt I’d be able to add much. No, the Best and Worst is all about a layman’s observations of a game, with (I hope) a bit of humor, some fun long-form ideas, and insufferable references to wrestlers and 90’s television shows.
Well, usually my notes take on a bit of a narrative as a game progresses; I inevitably start ordering comments into Offense, Defense, Special Teams, Coaching, etc. buckets, so by the end I’ve got my talking points, as they are, laid out. Given the opponent, I figured they’d be succinct and pretty general; it’s hard to derive too much from a blowout.
Well, by the last 4 minutes of the game, my notes spanned 2 pages typed and, if my keyboard was both sentient and possessed the necessary funds to file documents with a court, would be Exhibit A of a battery suit brought against me. People joke about how typing “OMFG” or “ROFL” negates the emotion you are attempting to convey, like telling someone how funny something is instead of actually laughing. But part of the reason you use these shorthands, though, is because “nfsakjf528095353u55b25jewrnijrggrehjigh3u04u-421” followed by your dog fleeing the room is hard to convey in words. So yeah, based on my notes…
Worst: Goliath has Fans Too
I’m usually not one to complain too much about announcers except if they go full Spielman and openly root for one team over the other, but the announcers were extremely excited about the possibility of Akron beating UM. And that got me thinking; seemingly everyone loves the David vs. Goliath matchups that end with David victorious. At first blush, it totally makes sense; David represents the everyman, overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds with character, ingenuity, and guile. To root for David is to root for the human spirit and the impossible dream. Rooting for Goliath is like rooting for the house in blackjack.
But here’s the thing; being “Goliath” is not free of context, nor is it purely a “you vs. them” dynamic wherein everyone agrees how the story should end. In other words, Goliath has fans too, and in most cases they don’t view themselves as the bully, the victor, the unstoppable force OR the immovable object. Goliath is just a guy who is blessed with some physical advantages that he honed with rigorous training and passionate loyalty to a cause. In the eyes of Goliath, he’s entering into fair combat against another warrior who just happens to be smaller than him and who wields a slingshot. He’s not Razor Ramon or Vince McMahon, “heels” personified who want nothing more than to ruin the face’s day. No, He’s not the “bad guy”, unless “being tall and strong” and winning most of the time are dastardly traits. He is the Big Bad because the only lens used to view him is as the seemingly unattainable or antithesis model, the personification of David’s shortcomings.
So saying you love David vs. Goliath games is really saying you like to see the big guy lose not necessarily because you have a rooting interest in David or against Goliath, but because you don’t want to be reminded that not everyone has David’s problems. On some level, you hold Goliath’s strengths and accomplishments against him, believing something must be cosmically wrong to explain his winning ways, and that a loss will somehow right this off-kilter universe.
But that really isn’t fair to either party; Akron is just a bad FBS program trying to find its footing and UM is the winningest program in college football history. UM has all of those wins because, for most of its existence, it has fielded talented, well-coached teams that beat other ones on the football field. Akron, not so much, but that isn’t because of something UM did. And, humorously, the tables are turned in the other “football”: Akron has been one of the best college soccer teams for years now while UM is the “upstart” that scored a major 1-0 upset over the Zips a couple of years ago during an otherwise poor season.
I’d say millions of people partook in today’s game in some way (live, TV, radio, internet, etc.), and a significant number of them are probably fans of UM football. They wanted to see UM win for any number of reasons, and few if any thought Akron winning would be a “good thing”. Russians certainly didn’t think losing to the US at the Olympics was a good idea, nor are Phi Slamma Jamma fans clamoring for Lorenzo Charles (RIP) memorial jerseys, and I’m guessing Lloyd Carr isn’t sending Armanti Edwards holiday cards. Had Akron pulled off the win, it would have been heralded as a huge upset both for the year as well as historically, and people who “like” upsets would have another moment to cheer about. But for the fans of Goliath, David is just the guy who got lucky, and no amount of culturally-endorsed schadenfreude will change that.
Today’s game ended with Goliath winning, though it was obviously closer than expected. The narrative is that Akron gave UM all they could handle, and that in a game of inches UM got lucky that Akron came up a bit short. But it was a game that both teams had a chance to win, and this time Goliath benefitted from a missed opportunity; history hasn’t always been so kind. I’m certainly not going to complain.
Worst: It’s a Win? (as said in the voice of Ron Burgundy)
Yeah, I’m not going to be one of those people who says it would have been a better “learning experience” if they had lost; I’m a results-based grader so a win is always better than a loss. That said, this is up there with narrowly beating Indiana and Illinois under RR and a turrible 10-7 win against 5-6 Utah in 2002 (a game I attended and apparently blocked from my memory until now). And unlike those games where you could at least point to one element of the performance being a positive, it isn’t really hypoerbole or “ESPN talking head”-ole to say UM was beat in all three phases of the game.
Best: It’s a Win
But it’s a victory for UM, and 3-0 is 3-0. Just ask MSU, whose offense finally eclipsed the defense is scoring 3 games into the season. Teams have bad games, and for all of the hell the players are likely to have rain down on them by the coaching staff this week, it would be immensely worse if Saturday’s game had ended with an “L” on the schedule. This game probably ratchets down the expectations a notch if you saw UM as a top-5 outfit, but otherwise it was a close shave for a team with top-15 talent. Given the number of massive upsets this year, it could have been far worse.
I know the Internet is the ultimate echo chamber for cynicism, and this blog’s particular composition only accentuates that property, but just like was a need to pump the brakes a bit after the ND game, this game doesn’t not necessarily mean you need to stock your panic room quite yet.
Best: I don’t want…your life!
One of the more underrated moments in Varsity Blues is the “hungover” game played by the West Canaan Coyotes after Mox, Tweeder, Billy Bob, Wendell, and Lance spent a night at the Landing Strip Gentleman’s Club*. Hungover and clearly off their game, they lose in embarrassing fashion and Bud Kilmer turns to threatening Mox about his scholarship to Brown if he doesn’t shape up and fall in line.
In no way am I insinuating that UM’s play against Akron was caused by every starter heading off to Deja Vu in Ypsi Thursday night, but it clearly looked like a team that was out of sorts from the outset. UM did force a 3-and-out on Akron’s first drive and followed it up with the long TD by Funchess, but for most of that first half the offense looked lost and the defense held tough but couldn’t generate much of a pass rush. And once the 2nd half began and Akron made some adjustments offensively, the defense struggled to keep them off the field. Plus, Gibbons missed his first kick since Purdue and Matt Wile shanked a couple of punts, resulting in an average of 33 yards per kick despite “booming” one 54 yards. As a couple of people noted (including Ace), if it was against any other team but Akron, UM probably would have been run off the field. But still, just a disorienting performance.
Of course, Notre Dame also had a pretty off performance against Purdue, so who knows where everyone was last night.
* I know this is saying a great deal in a movie where James Van Der Beek is a Texas QB, literally every play is either a bone-shattering tackle or a 50-yard TD (seriously, watch the clip and you’ll see 4-5 NFL Blitz-style flying tackles), and a HS team is allowed to basically coach itself once Jon Voight leaves at halftime – you’ll notice no assistant coaches take over or are even on the screen, but the most unbelievable part of that movie is a HS health teacher moonlighting as a stripper in a city of, oh, 10,000 people in Texas and NOBODY notices until some HS kids see her act. I mean, that club looked packed on (I’m guessing) a weekday night, and early on the movie establishes that Miss Davis must be making decent money from her dancing in order to afford a Mustang convertible, so it is clearly a popular place. Yet her double life remains a mystery both before and after this night. Simply unbelievable.
UM averaged 5.5 ypc* and 8.3 ypa** while holding the Zips to 3.6 ypc*** and 6.3 ypa**** which look good on paper, but as the astute reader might have picked up, those little *’s aren’t just looking for a party to crash; they are massive caveats. First the rushing: Gardner averaged 10.3 ypc on his 103 yards, showcasing the game-breaking speed that can turn a collapsing pocket into a 36 yard TD. Fitz recorded 71 more yards on 19 carries, but didn’t crack 4 ypc against the #80 rushing defense in the country. And while I initially thought he was the recipient of some bad luck out there due to penalties on runs, the only one apparently was a holding penalty by Gallon on a 3-yarder. Of his 19 carries, 7 were for losses and 8 were for minimal gain (though one was the TD). He recorded 65 yards on 4 other carries, and added a nice 27 yard reception to goose the numbers up a bit. On most runs he was engulfed in the backfield or had trouble locating holes either because they weren’t there or a momentary hesitation closed them too quickly. I’ll get into my feelings about the line play later, but this was not a banner day for a guy who has played reasonably well this year given the obvious issues in front of him.
As for that 8.3 ypa, that is .7 ypa below Akron’s 114th-ranked pass defense, and came with a 53% completion perctange and 3 INTs, including a horrible screen-ish pass that was returned for a TD. Nobody other than Gallon caught more than 2 passes, and while Funchess had a nice day on paper with a TD and 65 yards on his two catches, one was a 48-yard TD run that was aided by some poor angles and tackling by Akron, a theme they continued on Chesson’s only catch (and first of his career) on the day, a 33-yard TD where he was pinballed toward the endzone by an Akron defender. Criminally underused Drew Dileo was held without a catch, so hopefully this week Brian will be able to release that particular Kraken.
The defense did marginally better, holding Akron to about their season average rushing and about a yard less passing, but those numbers were put up against UCF and the zombified remains of the 4th President of the United States, er, eponymously-named FCS James Madison University. And Akron had 4 drives longer than 45 yards, including two 11-play drives that ended with a TD and the final drive, as well as a 5-play drive that ended with Wilson’s INT in the endzone. UM could not get Akron off the field in the 4th, including giving up a number of long completions and “they only need 5 yards for the first down, let’s give the slot receiver a 10-yard cushion” plays.
So yeah, statistics should be trusted only as far as they can be thrown, which against UM’s defense today is apparently both quite far and with minimal coverage.
Okay, okay, that’s a little mean. But it was pretty bad out there.
Worst: Push it!
So you know how earlier I mentioned that statistics sometimes lie? Well, a big reason why UM’s running game struggled was the continued inability of the offensive line to consistently block for anyone. Against Akron, Fitz had 15 carries that resulted in either lost yardage or minimal gains, and a significant number of them were because one or more Akron defenders were in the backfield rather quickly. It remains a team that is strong on the edges (though both Lewan and Schofield missed a couple of blocks) and “maturing” or “weak” (depending on your viewpoint) in the middle. Akron didn’t seem like it was doing anything special defensively, yet they always seemed to have the number’s advantage at the point of attack. And while they only recorded a single sack, Gardner was harassed most of the day by the line without excessive use of blitzes or disguised coverages. I’m not expecting major changes on the line next week, but this is a team that can’t consistently get 4-5 yards a pop on the ground without the QB getting involved, and that is not a sustainable situation during the conference season unless Devin remains healthy throughout, which would be a minor miracle.
As for the defensive line, to say the “Right to Rush 4” mantra needs to be redefined would be an understatement. A unit with a decent amount of hype heading into the season failed to register a sack on 49 attempts, though the defense was credited with 8 QB hits. Still, it took an all-out blitz to get pressure on the QB to end the game (reminiscent of the Points-a-Palooza some years back), and when your undersized tackle (Black) is your most consistent pass rusher against a MAC team, that isn’t good news. I guess the jury is still out on Frank Clark, but at this point the judge expects to hear a verdict by the end of lunch. It certainly didn’t help that Mattison seemed reticent about using more than 4 linemen to get pressure, and as a couple of people noted in the Liveblog the stunting was glaringly obvious, but again you shouldn’t have to overly gameplan for a team coming off a 1-11 season.
Best: Times are Changing
Now, I know I just spent a couple of sections dumping on Akron and minimizing their influence on today, but they deserve quite a bit of credit for playing UM to a standstill. Maybe 25-30 years teams like Akron are just happy to be playing in the Big House and are overwhelmed by the moment, but in today’s college football ecosystem everybody believes his team can beat anyone else. For even with Akron’s fallow history, it is still an FBS team with D1 players on it, and given the exposure and resources available to virtually all such programs nobody should be surprised they didn’t just wilt as soon as The Victors played. Terry Bowden may have looked like he ate his daddy Bobby before the game, but he’s still got a career record of 142-75-2 (including 47-17-1 while at Auburn), and certainly knows how to beat teams like UM. They played solid, largely mistake-free football and took advantage of UM’s miscues. They played like a major college football team, and this game should be yet another reminder that “MACrifices” isn’t a reality in today’s football landscape.
Best: Tackling, and the Lack Thereof (part deux)
Last week I mentioned how refreshing it was seeing the other team (in that case, ND) miss some crucial tackles while UM largely wrapped up quickly. Well, count both Funchess’s and Chesson’s TDs as beneficiaries of some dodgy tackling by the Zips. By comparison, UM typically tackled guys at contact, though Jourdan Lewis had a pretty bad “tackle” of Pohl as he rushed for a first down late in the game. There were also the coverage issues with the corners and linebackers, especially in the middle of the field where D’Orazio was seemingly open all day. This definitely felt like a gameplan limitation, at least initially, but it was troubling that late in the game receivers were able to get open in the secondary with players trailing them by 2-3 yards.
Worst: Hitting Reset
Last week I waxed poetically about Gardner being a modern-day unstoppable video game QB, UM’s answer to Michael Vick circa Madden 2004. He was like UTG Trevor Siemian crossed with a mongoose, and it was glorious. Like Vick in the game, it just felt unfair to have him on your team, and to talk about him in front of your vanquished opponent is to welcome scorn and possibly some shoving.
Well, against Akron people saw the other side of the videogame analogy: when the computer “cheats” and everything that could possibly go wrong does. Suddenly, your all-world QB can’t complete a pass except to the other team, your RB can’t get a yard beyond the line of scrimmage, you are getting called for penalties on any positive play, and even digital Texas’s GERG thinks you are playing too soft defensively. By the time a defensive end houses an interception off a screen pass, you’re diving for the reset button while cursing Alan Turing and his stupid face.
Of course, in real life that’s just the third quarter of the game, and you still have to watch and hope that somehow, someway your team figures it all out enough to pull out a victory. Against Akron, Gardner and the offense did just enough in the end for the win, and on a seemingly snakebitten game they can lick their wounds and give it another shot.
Best: Even YMRMFSPA had Bad Games
So the Vince Young analogies have been trotted out for Devin since his game against Northwestern, and with his improvisational skills, strong arm, and galloping strides it is hard not to see a bit of the college star in him. Unfortunately, Gardner also showed the same characteristics that drove Texas fans crazy early on in Young’s career, with 4 turnovers, including a TaINT, and some happy feet that resulted in missed receptions and poor throws. If you check out Young’s gamelog from his first full season, you’ll see the same tantalizing mix of promise and growing pains: 5 TDs against no turnovers against Texas Tech following 8/23 for 86 yards against Oklahoma and 3/9 with 2INTs against Missouri. After those games, people we calling for Chance Mock to play at QB, and if that name doesn’t ring a bell it’s because he didn’t do anything to make people forget about Young. People in A2 forget this because of the game Young had against the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl, but Young finished with a 12:11 ratio on the season and had some tough performances even in wins. The next year he emerged as a breakthrough player and led Texas to the title.
I’m not saying Gardner is going to do that, but this game was a reminder of how fickle and infuriating the maturation process can be at times, and that the same player can have a stinker like today AND a performance against ND without there being anything wrong with him. I suspect he’ll play better next week, but regardless of his performance it won’t change this past game or how the future plays out. Every game is another data point, and sometimes you don’t realize there are outliers until time and distance it provides have given you some perception. Gardner wasn’t a Heisman winner after last week and he’s not a bum after this one, but instead a work in progress like the rest of the team.
I’m wheeling out my extra-tall soapbox now, so if you don’t want to hear my complain about fandom in general and UM followers in particular, feel free to skip to the next section.
What has always driven me crazy about the fandom in sports is the moralizing and dime-store psychoanalysis people place on players’ motivations. A team plays well and people lionize the “heart” shown by the winners while questioning that of the loser. Every down and distance becomes a Greek tragedy played out with a pigskin, and we want to equate higher meaning with 3rd-down conversions and missed blocks. But that’s the thing – it’s just a game, and teams win and lose, players play well or poorly, for reasons that have nothing to do with their moral fiber or ability to “lead” men.
Both during and after the game, there was a contingent of fans who tried to make the game a referendum on these players. They questioned the leadership displayed by Taylor Lewan apparently not getting the line “up” to block, as if Kalis, Miller, and Glasgow would have held their blocks if only they had cared more. Gardner threw INTs not because he made a bad read or had a bit of bad luck, but because he wasn’t a leader out there and his receivers didn’t have confidence in him. And in the postgame, when both Lewan and Gardner said they promised a better effort next week, people on the blog questioned their motives and suggested they had “heard this before” and UM still lost, proving that fans shouldn’t operate heavy machinery following a game because their blindness will undoubtedly cause accidents.
Sports were oftentimes used as stand-ins for battle both in real life as well as in narrative devices; we speak of “warriors of the gridiron” and its bond with iconography of good vs. evil and right vs. wrong is hard to ignore. But in the end, sport is just a game, with winners and losers according to the rules of the contest. To try to derive some greater meaning from it, to look deep into a man’s soul on a 3-yard run at the end of the game and hope to identify his humanity, is a foolish exercise. I know people will continue to act this way long after I’m cold and in the ground, but I still hope that one day sports will be treated as the athletic contests they are, not the day of reckoning some yearn for them to embody.
Best: Quick Hits
A couple of points that aren’t really worth their own sections:
Best: Release the Hounds
I could have saved you a lot of time.
Best: Nothing. Worst: Everything
Eh, a win's a win. I'll take it.
Eh, we did see Gardner scramble well making a few long plays with his feet as the pocket collapsed around him. That was alright. Most of it was bad and rarely (I feel) do all 3 phases of the game fail so much simultaneously. Until the sample size increases, I think this game is an aberration, line play be damned.
You're right that the hazy concepts of effort and want-to probably don't factor much into performance on game day. That said, Nick Saban always says that the game isn't won on Saturdays, it's won on the days of preparation leading up to game day. Did the offensive linemen pay enough attention during sessions with the coaches to understand the tendencies of the defensive line? Did they know whether Akron was more likely to blitz or play soft on a 3rd and five from Akron's 40? Did the defensive line recognize the offensive line's splits and what it meant for pass vs run, and where?
In that case effort and attention can mean the difference between and win and a loss (or a big win vs a close win). I would be hard pressed to believe our team prepared properly for this game, but that's just me.
On the BTN announcers talking about Dileo's speed and ability in space - I laughed aloud when one of them said something like "and he can run!" after Dileo fielded a punt.
The announcers were right to have been "extremely excited about the possibility of Akron beating UM." Most of the game they were singing the praises of various Michigan players. Hoke is undefeated at home. Neither ND (twice), nor Ohio State, nor anybody else has won against Michigan while Hoke has been HC, and to think that Akron was within a few feet and seconds of pulling that off is quite amazing.
Well done. A great response to what went down yesterday, both on the field and Mgoblog.
Venting during and after a game can be fun for a fan and in most cases is totally harmless and even full of humor, but the number of folks here who seem to have such a large part of their identity and happiness tied up in finding someone to blame when things, to them, are UNACCEPTABLE and don't go right (even when the result is still a W!) actually surprised me this time, and I've been coming here since the blogspot/haloscan days.
Not a moral judgement or being holier than thou and I'm sure a digging through of my old posts would reveal my fair share of ignorance and blaming, but dang, why be a fan and follow the team if a poorly played game in which you had no part in the outcome brings out the long lasting levels of pain and anger that we saw yesterday? The highs and lows of sport are what most of us love, but the amount internalization of the team's performance was, for lack of better words, truly fascinating.
Losses used to devastate me, destroy my emotions and attitude for that day and days after. But that was when I was young and stupid. I grew up and realized that there's more to life then Michigan football and its not worth it. I enjoy the wins, hate the losses, hate the games like yesterday but I don't let it consume me like it seems to consume some. Ill go ahead and blame age for some of the outlandish thoughts and craziness and hope that one day these fellow MGoFamily members see the light and just chill.
Can you imagine being an Akron player today? They played their hearts out with a QB that was limping down the field and after their gut-wrenching loss, where they left everything on the field, their opponent can only mutter how embarrassed they were.
In a show of sportsmanship, I will tip my cap to those young men from Akron and wish them the best of luck the rest of the season.
This I agree with 100%. I definitely took wins and losses harder in years past than now, which obviously comes with age and time away from the cauldron of UM. That said, I don't remember ever being a big "heart" guy even when I was that age, maybe because I would see these guys off the field and realize they were just like me, just way bigger and, frankly, with far more responsibilities. I think people want to have a "reason" behind wins and losses, but sometimes it is as simple as the other team played better. Play this game 10 times and UM probably houses Akron 9 of them, but just that should take away from the fact that Akron played well and UM didn't. But it isn't a moral referendum on either team, which was the point I was trying to make.
Like you, losses would absolutely devastate me and ruin the rest of my weekend growing up. I would sulk around the house, and in several instances, put my fist through the nearest door. I'm not sure why I took it so personal.
Even now, the losses still hurt but I try to look at the bigger picture. The RR years gave me perspective and a much-needed sense of humility. Granted, I still hate losing to rivals but at the end of the day ( my wife loves to use that phrase) it's a game in which I have no control over. Michigan winning or losing won't pay my bills or keep food on the table.
I guess like many football is my escape from the realities of the world. On Saturday, I can be kid again and overload my senses with pigskin. I love the game so much, and I can understand why fans take the outcome so personally.
I don't know what else to say other than appreciate these fall Saturday's and cherish every memory but remember life will go on - win or lose.
nor is it as bad as its last performance, unless its last performance is one you've seen repeated time and again.
And I guess that is the point of much of the criticism, this is a team at a crossroads because the most glaring issues with this team were magnified in this game, a game that while a win, conveys all the worst elements of Michigan fandom. Let's face it, this was supposed to a easy win. The media didn't even analyze this game based on the matchup.
The only guys who thought they could compete, were the guys wearing Arkon uniforms. And then they they allowed Funchess to look like a man among boys weaving his way downfield via an early score. And the Funchess was on even if the crowd at Michigan Stadium, while topping the crowd at College Station, site of the day's biggest game, was sort of pitiful looking.
The coach was right, the thought of upset is always in the mind of the favorite. So, you either crush that opponent or if you don't, live with the consequences of failing to do so.
I just can't imagine today had Bowden actually been more aggressive in play-calling when his team had chances near the goal line late in both halves. To me, he was the difference in the game, not the players on either side. He blew it, not his team. His kids gave him everything they could deliver. I mean you talk about not mixing metaphorical thoughts about football prowress, then talk about wrestling, Friday Night Lights storyline credibility, and I'll just note that Bowden and staff cost his team yardage near the goal line that prevented an easy field goal in the second quarter. On the coach, not the team.
In the Bama game, McCarron convinced Saban and with his OC's approval, that he should try a play action rollout pass to a wide open full back as the deciding score, the only that gave the Crimson Tide a commanding lead. Talk about system qbs, and guys who just win, AJ McCarron is the man. Saban said he just trusted his players.
Here's the thing: in a game of no importance across the landscape of college football, the only headline that would have reverberated for years, was a loss at the hands of the Akron Zips. That would have attached itself forever to the legacy of Hoke, in a way that App State could never do, because App State had credentials coming in. Akron had a pair of coaches to give it credibility.
So, the best and the worst yesterday was every play leading up to the last two plays where Michigan dug deep and found a way to keep itself from being tossed into football oblivion on its home field on a day where most of its fan base took the day off.
Out of 123 FBS teams:
We don't have much of our feet left.
That's interesting and damning at the same time. I kind of expected the offense to be a work in progress, but the defense is nowhere near what I expected it would be.
2009 or 2010?
I am really dreading out conference schedule now ...
Good read. Figure I owe you a reply.
And the analysis on a 10+ year old Van Der Beek movie did not go unnoticed.
Our DL did not have a fair amount of hype coming in - what we have is depth (for once!) and youth. We knew going in that unless Clark blew up we were going to struggle to get pass rush. What was unexpected is that we seem to have trouble stopping the run, too. That could be attributable to Ash and Pipkins coming off the field against most of our opponents but it is worrisome. Brian Kelly kind of let us get away with that - Fitzgerald and Meyer won't.
We do have a solid back seven and early returns indicate that our safeties, while not Kovacsian, are solid and improving. What we need more than anything else is for someone like Chris Wormley to turn into a pass-rushing terror. Maybe he will when he's further removed from his knee injury and has more experience.
Our O-line issues concern me more. The Dline has depth and youth on its side - I expect improvement as the year goes on. On the Oline we don't have as much depth or youth. Improvement from Kalis can be expected, but it's not clear to me that Miller or Glasgow will improve that much.
I think the defensive line got some hype heading into the season beyond Clark; talk was of Washington possibly being All Big 2nd team-ish, and Ojemudia seemed like a sleeper-type that people had started to notice, and there was still a sense that it would be better rushing the passer than we've seen so far.
As for the offensive line, I think there is quite a bit of depth and youth, but unfortunately have the latter means the former is suspect. I mean, check out the recruiting chart for the line - there are quite a few young guys coming into the system. The problem was that RR failed to recruit basically any linemen one year, and that left massive gaps in the cycle. I suspect that there will be some shakeup inside, probably with Bryant pushing Glasgow, but who knows. To me, the depths of both lines look the same - the talent is there, but relying on Pipkins or Kalis to step in and become dominant players with their first extended play is tough.
This post overall was a good read, thanks for taking the time to put this together. A few comments: