I'll have what he's having :)
I'm much more hopeful than I thought I would be
Last spring I wrote a diary called "Please God, Let me be Dead Wrong About Michigan Football 2010". Part of my concern at the time was Michigan's lack of upperclassmen in the secondary. Like most other Michigan fans, when T-Wolf was injured I felt my whole world collapsing in on top of me.
Having had some time to think it over, I'm much more hopeful than I thought I would be.
Two main reasons:
1. Our offense could be on the verge of a breakout year.
*Denard really sparkled in the spring game. I know, I know, it's just a scrimmage, and he wore a red jersey. However, more encouraging than his accuracy on the short routes and the long TD to Roundtree was the understanding he showed of the offense and his role in it. He sold the pass and THEN ran.
*If Denard is not the starter, I still feel very confident in Tate. Wingless helmet or no, he's added 20 lbs, will have a much better line, and showed a lot in his freshman year.
*Devin is apparently the goods. This means that while our QB's are young, we are in VERY good position for this year and beyond.
*O-line looks good, with upperclassman starters and solid redshirt underclassmen for depth.
*Receiver core is experienced.
*Sure, RB is an open question - but the talent seems to be there, and with a solid O-line we could see a breakthrough (especially if our top 2 RB's are not injured off and on thru the whole season)
*RR's offense has succeeded everywhere he's ever been. At Michigan he hasn't had the personnel he's needed on the field - until now.
*Conclusion: yes, the D will be a weak spot, and yes, we can safely assume that our secondary will be awful. BUT in contrast to 2008 and 2009, one of the two units should be solid, and possibly dominant. Only when BOTH units are bad can we say there is no hope. If one is spectacular, as our O could be, we should be at least .500 and possibly better.
2. Contrary to the what pundits are saying, I do not believe that RR has to win 8 or 9 games to save his job
*What if Michigan wins only 6 games and loses to OSU again, BUT the offense makes major strides, averages 25-30 pts per game, and Denard looks like Pat White? What if Demetrius Hart sees that and says, "Huh, they only won 6 games but the offense is finally up and running, I want to be a part of that"?
*The defense will get better as the talent we already have ages. Defensive recruits could see our progress on the offensive side of the ball and think, "Hmm, their D stinks, so I can step in right away, but their O is dominating, so I know their program is moving in the right direction..."
I am much more hopeful than I thought I would be. We should be much better this year than last, at least on one side of the ball. This should diminish the number of plays we have on defense, and thus reduce the error opportunity of our D-backs. B10 title? Not this year. Victory over The Hideous Minions of Evil? Not likely. But don't be surprised if we surprise. I trust RichRod, and I think that after this season a lot more of the doubters will as well.
and keep them coming until after the bowl game.
We don't want our talent to "age", we want it to "mature". But I'll take some Kool-aid too, please.
"ageing" is good in football, as they will have time to add the muscle to handle D1 pounding, and then be better able to do some of the pounding themselves.
Love the optimism and can't wait to see our team take the field Sept. 4, just 2 more weeks!
"we should be at least .500 and possibly better."
In the midst of talking the masses of the ledge you drop that!?
I say this will be a fun team to watch. They are young and seem to be united for the first time in RR's tenure.
I simply mean that if the O dominates, .500 would be the floor and there would be room for something possibly better, possibly much better. It seems like there have been teams out there with suspect defenses but thriller offenses that have done very well (Texas Tech, anyone?).
I just don't know, man. I go back and forth from thinking anywhere from 4 to 8 wins. We just can't know at this point, and it sucks. I sure hope you're right though, and I admire you for your optimism.
The defense is worrisome, but then I think "Didn't we average almost 30 ppg with an injured true freshman and a freshman who didn't know how to throw yet behind an injured offensive line with injured running backs?"
Then I imagine our offense steamrolling over everything.
The defense was awful last year so I can't see it being worse than it already was (particularly against the run).
The offense will surely improve save some injuries to key players (fingers crossed).
The competition should be better but I see at least 6 wins this year. 6 may be pushing it for RR to keep his job, however I agree that Brandon is a smart guy and if he sees improvement and the potential to win 9-10 games in 2011 RR will stay. Brandon should know that another transition (if it's Harbaugh right back to the Pro offense right?) will kill us with even more attrition.
I'll bite. I think our offense has a more-than-solid year behind an experienced and possibly dominant offensive line. Of course, a lot of that hinges on Lewan having a breakout year. I wouldn't bet against it after a lot of the noise he's been making this offseason. But with Molk, Schilling, Omameh, Dorrestein, and Lewan, that's possibly two or three all-B10 first-teamers with Schilling and Molk being the most solid of the group. Remember how good we were on offense with Molk at center? Imagine that with even better quarterback play and a whole year of V. Smith and Roundtree.
The defense is of course a concern. I'll hold off judgment until further on in fall camp. An optimist would say that Troy's injury at least gives the younger guys a chance to get even more reps and to be prepared since his injury happened fairly early. My hope is that a simpler defense in the 3-3-5 stack will give guys like Mouton and Roh a chance to use their athleticism in the versatility that the scheme provides. Can Floyd be adequate in the secondary? I think so. I'm looking for a younger guy, whether it be Marvin Robinson, Cam Gordon, or Josh Furman to step up and seize a role at one of the safety positions and give us something to look forward to on the back end.
At the very least, we have athletes to plug in. You couldn't say that in 2008 or 2009.
few teams are perfect at every position, but when you're too young and inexperienced at almost every position you can't win. We don't have that problem anymore - RR and crew have more options at their disposal for tyring to hide/minimize weaknesses. By next year, there should be fewer and less severe weaknesses.
I remain convinced that when RR is starting jrs and srs on both sides of the ball, we will be able to play with anyone in the country, including The Hideous Minions of Evil.
I didn't really even think of this until now but even with a less than stellar offense last year and the on going nightmare of safety play had Molk not been injured we, most likely, would have gone to a bowl game. So add a year to virtually the entire offense (sans chronically injured RB's - we love you guys but the injuries that kept hitting you were nothing short of cruel) and more experience on D (of course sans any returning CB and no BG) and, at worst, I think our D will be just as bad but our offense is going to be a lot better. So, going with that and knowing that last year we were most likely 1 Molk injury away from bowling or approximately 2 ft depending on if you remember the illinois game (most drank too much in the immediate aftermath to remember, you lucky, lucky souls) I don't see how this is anything less than a 7-5 squad. Yes, 7-5 sucks but that's a min, I think, and will at least give us 1 more year to see what RR can do when he's got everything he needs to run roughshod over the newly 12 member Big 10 conference.
*puts down the Maize'n'Blue glasses*
You also forgot:
1. the VERY probable reduction in turnovers (because of expereince), and
2. The increased size of the front 7 on D and presumably better run defense that comes from that.
Those two things killed us last year.
I stand happily corrected!
In any case I like your points, and Harmon's optimism which he supported with his viewpoints.
I'd add that the improved Oline will help reduce turnovers, AND that because the offense will move the ball better, our D will get more rest. That's huge because last year the D was on the field a lot, which led to giving up more points later in the games. I didn't check the stats, but that's my recollection.
OT - Petr Klima was one of the fastest skaters I ever saw on the rink.
Sorry, but I am not the hockey player (who does spell his name with just one "e").
It seems like Rich Rod is much more comfortable and happy in his preseason press conferences than he has been the last two seasons. I don't know if I'm the only one who feels this way, but you can just sense a difference in him. In years past he was always quick to note a lack of depth or "too many freshmen" at a particular position to lower expectations but now it seems he's trying to hide his excitement behind a grin. I'm still positive in the aftermath of T-Woolf Suicide Watch '10. I just want to see them fight for 8+ wins and shift into high-gear championship mode in 2011.
I have also gotten that feeling from RR press conferences this year. You watch a press conference or hear him talk about the team in his first season, you can read between the lines and see the lack of confidence he had in the playing level and performance of his program. He conveyed a work in progress, and its great to see the enthusiasm he has going into this season.
I can't wait until next year when we beat Nebraska in the first ever Big "Ten?" Championship game!
can hold their own in the first 4 games, they can go into BT play with some confidence. If they struggle early, it might be a long year. I say blitz the crap out of the good QBs.
My koolaid says we run up the score early and fast, forcing the other team to become a throw only offense. We run prevent all year and pull 8 wins out of our butts.
if the o-line can stay healthy we will be much improved. turnovers killed us the most last year
... depth and competition at QB.
D has second year in GERG's system.
Player cohesiveness and unity.
Solid O-line and good news about the D line as well.
Hearing positive things about kicking game and general ball security. W.H. sounds as good as promised for punting.
Overall excitement and energy coming from the players...
Confidence from the coaches.
As much as the media would like it to be the case, nobody's head is really going to roll if the team performs reasonably well this year. Brandon is the new AD and has shown an inability to be rattled; and anyway, he gets a grace period of at least a couple of years. Sure, RR needs to win, but Brandon has made it consistently clear that he has his own metrics for winning, and if RR hits them then he is safe. So while another 3-9 season will probably lead to some upheaval, the notion the team needs 8-9 wins simply has no basis in reality.
As for the team, I think the offense will be far more proficient and the defensive line and some of the LBs should better, or at least more competent than last year. I do hope a QB and RB emerge in the next couple of weeks, but overall I agree that the team is trending upward.
I'm half full!!
were worn out at the end of the year. I think we have better depth to get us through the grind. We will have a good year, have an upset or 2 and show great improvement. I think we are set up for a 10 win 2011.
I would also hold onto the scholies a little bit tighter at this point so that we could sell our success to higher ranked kids.
I totally agree with you that RR does NOT have to win 8 or 9 games to keep his job. I know we're going to hear that from the media all season long, but that is flat out NOT the case. We need to show good progress - yes - but Dave Brandon does not want to part with RR and start over with someone new. That would be bad management, and I don't think that's in his DNA.
The only thing that could endanger RR is an ugly, complete collapse. I doubt that's going to happen. If we show progress, RR is just fine.
The offense holding on to the ball longer and being more succesfull is a huge part of this season being succesfull. How many games were given away in the fourth quarter or later because the deffense was too tired to stop anybody. Having more experience and better conditioning is going to be huge this year.
Rich Rodriquez seems very confident in the press conference about Woolfolk's replacements so I'm confident as well. Throw in the fact our offense will hold on to the ball and have longer drives resulting in a lot of points I'm still very excited for the season.
I think we'll have lots of drives this year that eat of yards but don't eat much clock.
However, since we have depth on the D-Line, giving the ball right back to the opposing offense after a lightning bolt TD will not necessarily be a bad thing. If anything, we may see opposing O-Linemen wear down over the course of the game.
Shoot, we did that last year, not even counting the baby seal game. The offense should be substantially improved over 2009 (barring injury, etc., knocking hard on wood): better yards per attempt, fewer turnovers, higher completion rates... I expect at least 3-5 points better.
And that offense will need to score more if this team is to win more than 5 games again.
why not club a baby seal
so put the number you want in there, the point is that if the offense is clicking RR will likely still be around next year, even if we win only 6 games or so.
I've also been struck by the confidence that RR is "showing" in the way he talks to the media. I've been thinking about it and I think it comes from this years team actually being a team. RR didn't win everywhere else with 4 and 5 start recruits but his teams were good. That just makes me think that RR is a true coach who can get the most out of his kids...make them believe in and play their best for the team. RR is always talking about competition but I think this is just another way of saying that teammates are pushing eachother, which is what a good teammate does (see: Wolfolk and Forcier or Martin and Molk). The more good teammates we have the better the team will perform come game time.
I'll disagree. Look at what ND did to Michigan's secondary last year. ND was in position to win that game because there was one match up that clearly favored ND, and Big Charlie rode it like a three year old on a dime store pony.
All one team needs to beat another team is a clear mismatch somewhere and the ability to exploit it. Cissoko was no match for Michael Floyd and Michigan probably loses that game if Floyd doesn't get hurt or Charlie doesn't throw a bomb on second down.
It is highly likely that the M secondary will not match up well with many of the opponents this year. And asking an offense with any one of the three potential starters (an injury prone returning sophomore starter, sophomore back-up with modest game experience and a history of throwing INTs, or a true freshman) to win weekly shootouts is overly optimistic.
I will be optimistic that even a losing record can get RR another year, assuming that the offense does turn the corner and show what it is capable of.
You're right. Floyd was torching our guys - especially BC, but we have to also see that, just like Charlie Weiss failed (all be it, an injury helped us) to figure out a way to go to the same well time and time again, I think that we have a number of coaches whose arrogance or ignorance will keep them from doing exploitation well. Let's be real here ... how many coaches that we're going up against this year truly know how to go for the throat? That was Weiss' M.O. from his days with the Pats, yet, even he doesn't have that killer instinct like I thought he would.
I wouldn't be so sure ND will be able to do the same this year since Clausen and Golden Tate are both gone. Sure Floyd is still there and still amazing, but their gonna rely on QB Crist's ability to pass...which we haven't seen yet. Not to mention we don't know how well the change in offensive scheme will come together with Kelly's changes. I'm not by any means saying our secondary will be able to handle Floyd or that we will even win for sure. I'm just saying you can't count this as a loss til we actually see what the new post-Clausen/Tate ND can do
the ND game from last year is the perfect example. Our secondary got shredded yet Michigan still won - because the offense was dominant. Tate shined and we put up 38 pts.
but offense wins games. I think this offense will win us some games.
I've been a homer for as long as I can remember - I'll admit it. But, I've become far more willing to admit reality since moving to SEC country a few years ago. Down here, I'm faced with some of the most illusioned people in the realm of sports - which has probably made me less of a homer, because I've thought, "rational people just cannot function the way they do down here."
As I've become increasingly more sober in my opinions of Michigan Football, I've been quite down as of late (because the media - especially in the South) seems to want Michigan to do poorly.
But, I think much of the media is wrong - and I'm saying that as a recovering homer. Personally, I'm glad that national expectations are so low. Sure, I fear the lack of depth in the secondary, but the more I read, the more I have a gut (and a rational) feeling that it's quite different. Reasons:
1. Real Leadership from a number of guys - not just one or two, but a core group
2. Second year under GERG, and I have enjoyed hearing what he says about the kids enjoying playing the game (I think their enjoyment says something different about the atmosphere).
3. The Fast guys are getting older
4. RichRod is exceptionally honest - even to a fault it seems. He's let us know when it was going to be bad. HE was always hopeful, even when he said it was going to be bad. Now, he's hopeful, but talks of so many more positives. HE's been around a while, and he understands what false expectations could do to his job security. With that being said, his encouraging words would only come from a seasoned coach who honestly believes what he's saying.
Its, sadly, not just the media in the South which wants Michigan and especially RR to fail badly. Every time I turn on sports radio in Detroit the great majority of hosts and callers are openly rooting for M to step on it this season and for RR to be fired. I don't understand it? I look for it to come together this season for M and for RR to silence the loudmouthed critics.
Depending on how we play the first 2 games...that sets the tone for the season.
We win both 8 - 4 (9 - 3)
We Split 7 - 5
We lose both 5 - 7
We are young, lotza drama in camp, alot of kids had their feelings hurt losing their wings, transfers, injury(s), and (X) starters losing positions to new kids. I believe once all this year is over barring major sanction penalties, any major transfers, or grade failures. That next year we contend for a B10 championship.
RR will be here next year no matter what. I do have hopes for this season. I don't have super high expectations. With the team being so young it goes to reason that emotion will play a larger part of how we play than talent.
I agree with all thats been said. I think the media and most fair-weather fans have been just shouting for 8-9 season without acknowledging the fact that RR has to rebuild a program, while recruiting more extensively in the South like we hadnt before (I'm thinkin Pahokee here). We have the potential to show some serious improvement in a lot of areas.
Unfortunately with our secondary issue, i think-like its been said before- we're gonna suffer at the hands of teams that pass first and run second, which means we may end up having tougher games/losing to teams that aren't that good in anything but passing, like Indiana (i forget his name but they have an all star receiver).
Getting rid of RR after this season and bringing a traditional Michigan pro-style coach (I'm lookin at Harbaugh) would just trigger another mass exodus of our dual threat QBs and another growing period of losing seaosns for 3 years. To all RR critics, I say give the man a fighting chance.
Agree with you totally that Rodriguez leaving/getting the boot tacks on at least three years of irrelevancy to our stint in purgatory. I think the MSU game is by far the most critical to his staying. If we win 6, and beat little brother, I think he'll have appeased the wolves enough to stick around for another season. I think if we win 7 or fewer, and lose to MSU again, he's gone. An OSU win might change that, but losing 3 in a row to Sparty, including twice at home, will lose Rich his job almost guaranteed.
Worse case would be 4 wins, best case could be 10 wins. If we win enough of the close games, I'm thinking 7-5!!! I would be surprised if RR is let go before the end of 2011. Only way is if we end up with a 3-9 or 4-8 season.
I got to this line:
BUT the offense makes major strides, averages 25-30 pts per game
I would definitely not consider averaging 25-30 points per game major strides.
I think we need to be a blitzing machine this year. Our defensive backfield is going to get burned if we don't put pressure on the quarterback (they'll probably get burned anyway). I'd rather see us give up a few long plays but keep the offense on its heels with multiple blitz packages, which I think would lead to more turnovers as well. Can't see us winning any other way then Texas Tech style this year - putting up tons of points and hoping the other guys can't keep up.