Busy Sundays and general ennui the past many weeks have not allowed for my usual post-game posts. I try to keep to posting Sunday morning since by then I have had time to sleep on it but my thoughts are still fresh. Bachelor parties, Disc Golf Tournaments, Weddings, etc. keep this time from being available.
I like Rich Rod. I don't have any real reason for this but I do. I dig his Aww, Shucks
attitude and love the potential he brings to Michigan. I firmly believe that he would take us to consistent top 5 finishes if given the time to rebuild this program. There are many variables at work here so I'll just focus on:Five Things:
- Michigan has the worst defense in the B10. This is not really news and is not relying on any statistics but just my opinion having watched a lot of B10 games this year. This defense has no time or personnel to change what it is and the real problem is in looking ahead to next year: The defense could actually be even worse. Our best D-lineman and Linebacker (by far) will be gone. We have no best Safety. Our best Corner (by far) may very possibly be gone as well. There are bright spots: Roh and Martin are beasts, Fitz has looked pretty good lately, Justin Turner gives us hope. Here's to hoping that simply having the continuity of a second year of the same defensive system will make Michigan's defense better.
- The offense continues to improve. The first half against Purdue was the single best half of offense we have seen since the Notre Dame game at least. Our first four drives ended in points, three of them touchdowns. Purdue is not a top end defense so we should have expected this but what, with all of the turnovers lately (read: past two seasons), it was like a breath of fresh air. Then the second half continued its curse on us. Next year should be better still for this Offense with second year QBs, faster and less-injured RBs, more experienced WRs, and more talented and developed O-linemen.
- This confluence of probabilities is not favorable for the current coaching staff. Michigan is known for giving its coaches time and not being hasty in firings. That said this situation may not right itself in time to save Rich Rod and friends even given the extra slack. The offense, no matter how good it gets, cannot be expected to make up for a defense sucking at the level of this year and probably next. At this point I would put our record next year at 7-5 and that may be optimistic. There is a serious and very uncomfortable chance of 3 straight losing seasons if I am reading the tea leaves right. It appears that 2011 is our real chance for redemption at this point but by then the atmosphere around Rich Rod and the program may be so toxic that anything short of awesome in 2011 wouldn't be enough to save this staff.
- I would put it at at least improbable that we will win either of our
last two games this season. Assuming that we finish 5-7 and miss a
bowl game for a second year in a row, is there any way recruiting does
not take a serious hit? Yes, we are still Michigan but incoming recruits would have to be nervous about the possibility of a coaching change. This comes at a time when Michigan desperately needs to land the commitments they have now and add some more on defense to address depth issues.
- Danny Hope is an asshole.
Let me start by admitting that my gloomy attitude is a distinct departure from my earlier posts this season. I think we all can admit that our perspective has been changed somewhat in the past month. It is truly startling how fast this team has gone from "on the rise" to "on the ropes." So much of the near future of Michigan Football and Rich Rod's place in it looks to depend on the next two games. I don't like our chances of winning either of them but a win could make many of my above thoughts somewhat moot. So let's start by hoping against hope for a win at Wisky or against O$U.
There are glimmers of hope for the defense next year as well. Maybe Warren looks to increase his draft stock and stays. Maybe Turner is a freshman Warren next year and the two of them can solidify the corners. Maybe Vlad or a freshman MRob emerges as a competent safety to play opposite Woolfolk and saves our secondary. Perhaps Fitz steps up to lead a young linebacking unit to competency. Our D-line should be OK but you can't replace Graham with what we have on hand. So maybe the defense could be improved. The problem is then that one injury creates a hole and derails the improvement. And what we can bank on is that no season will be injury free.
So to sum up, I don't see us making a bowl game this year (but holy hell would it help down the road), and next year is looking like bowl game or bust. I should mention again that I like Rich Rod and hope he coaches here for a long while. The sad reality is that he is in a very bad spot and circumstances may send him packing before he can turn this boat around.
Go Blue. Beat them Badgers and save this season.