Georgia Tech has so much more experience and talent on offense it's ridiculous.
New Coach, New System, New DC and Instant Success - Here's Who Did It
To prove it is possible, here's a school which brought in a new head coach this season with a totally foreign offense, in this case Navy's triple option. He made due with leftover QB's, except for Steven Threet, who fell into Michigan's lap. He lost his defensive coordinator, a guy who's now at Notre Dame named John Tenuta. But he inherited a decent defense - all the D-linemen are considered NFL prospects. He's coaching at a school with high academic standards and a previous head coach who might not be a Crisler but is a Heisman.
Despite a young team which experienced injuries, he's reached # 20 in the rankings with a 7-2 (4-2 in the ACC) record. The losses were to Va. Tech and Va. By now you've figured out it's Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech.
Without the benefit of hindsight, who would you have taken back in December? The choices are Paul Johnson of Navy's boring, smallish offense or Rich Rodriguez of West Va's sexy, cutting edge spread. Not even close.
The similarities between the two situations are eerie, with Michigan possibly getting the nod for better looking brianiac, liberal arts vs. math and science coeds. With what you've seen so far, who would you take now, being a doormat for at least a year and maybe more but with the vision of dreams to come (us) or the certainty of a winning season and a decent (although sometimes the Humanitarian in Boise) bowl game, but probably never being better than 9-3 (them)?
as a native Detroiter and lifelong M fan, yet also a GT alum, this is something ive been thinking about for a long time.
GT's players are not more experienced or talented (except in the D-Backfield), they're just more productive. GT has noone on their roster with a Brandon Graham type profile, or Jonas Mouton or Steve Schilling for that matter. Michigan's entire backfield is made up of 4 star tailbacks, while GT starts a guy named Lucas Cox (look him up at Scout or Rivals). GT's o-line was considered adequate, maybe, going into the season.
The real differences are:
A) quarterback - GT has a guy who is constantly making plays
B) coaching - PJ is just better than RR and has made better staff decisions. Its no knock on RR to say that, PJ is better than most coaches. All he's done is win.
Look at our ofensive line (Steve Schilling and a bunch of guys who were never expected to contribute, including a defensive tackle most of the time) and their guys, who they've been counting on or expecting to contribute for a long time, and tell me Georgia Tech doesn't have a significant advantage there.
GT's starters on the o-lin include David Brown, a TE last year who was lost for the year against UVA and replaced by true FR Nick Claytor (who started against FSU); Joseph Gilbert, a RS FR; Cord Howard, who had 6 starts last year; and Dan Voss who started 7 games at G as is a first year C.
Admittedly Andrew Gardner is a star, but now hes gone for the season as well and GT will still rack up 200 rushing yards against UNC. AJ Smith was a proven performer but he's been hurt for a while.
So we have 2 freshmen, a first year Center, Cord Howard (6 prev starts), and Andrew Gardner.
On Michigans side we have David Molk, a top 3 center and 4 star recruit in his first year; Mark Ortmann, a RS JR with 13 career appearances and 2 starts; David Moosman, a RS JR 4 star recruit with 8 games of previous experience; Tim McAvoy a RS JR top 20 OL recruit with 7 games and 1 previous start, and Steve Schilling. Granted, injuries brought Dorrestein and Nowicki on to the field, but even healthy this group is not as productive as they should be.
GT's o-line is not the the 2nd coming of the Redskins Hogs, nor is UM's o-line Pioneer HS JV.
Besides, UM gave up 48 points to (a very bad) Purdue (with a 3rd string qb) despite having a defense scattered with returning starters and 5 star recruits. GT has first year starters at 2 LB spots, and started 2 true freshmen in the d-backfield against FSU, and gave up 20 fewer points to a team that is VASTLY superior to Purdue.
Josh Nesbit >>>>Steven Threet
Dave Wommack>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Scott Shafer
PJ > RR
Year Round Pick Player Name Team Position
2008 3 30 93 Philip Wheeler Colts LB
4 23 122 Tashard Choice Cowboys RB
6 2 168 Durant Brooks Redskins P
Year Round Pick Player Name Team Position
2008 1 1 1 Jake Long Dolphins T
2 26 57 Chad Henne Dolphins QB
3 15 78 Shawn Crable Patriots LB
3 32 95 Mario Manningham Giants WR
6 36 202 Mike Hart Colts RB
7 30 237 Adrian Arrington Saints WR
Also lost the evil that is Boren, and our 5-Star QB recruit from 2007.
sorry, my first post reply - I'll work on formatting in the future
I am a big fan of each of these school and there is one thing that should also be thrown in the mix. GT is considered the youngest team in the ACC. They have 35 freshman and sophomores in the two deep from both sides. It hurts to watch one hire go so well and the other go so poorly at first. I hope RR can live up to his rep
Any analysis that doesn't look at the actual players each coach has to work with is very short sighted. So let's dig into this comparison a little further.
LT Austin Barrick r-So.
LG Cord Howard r-Jr.
C Dan Voss r-Jr.
RG Joseph Gilbert r-Fr.
RT David Brown r-Sr.
LT Mark Ortmann rs-Jr. / Perry Dorrestein rs-So.
LG John Ferrara rs-So.
C David Molk rs-Fr.
RG David Moosman rs-Jr.
RT Stephen Schilling rs-So.
So GT has the following playing
rs-Sopho. 2.5 (one of which was playing DT two weeks before the season)
Your analysis fails to take into account the giant talent deficit we currently have at offensive line, therefore the comparison is rather worthless. This youthfulness is even more telling on the OL because that is the position group where having time to develop physically is the most important. We can't run block very well and that wasn't changing regardless of who the coach was.
No one is happy that we are having a terrible season, but the root cause of the problem lies with the roster, not the coaching staff. So Paul Johnson would be in the same situation we are in right now.
Funny you should mention this.
I started working down in Atlanta for a year or so on a project. I got to know a lot of proud Ga Tech alumni; in fact, my girlfriend is one. I "joke" with her all the time about how much greater Michigan is than GaTech. I once told her and her GT friends that Threet left GaTech because he was unhappy with the sports program and wanted to get a well-rounded, world class education. If that weren't enough, I also added that he was particularly excited about the upgrade in the coed department. Needless to say, GaTech is a world class academic institution, and my gf and her friends didn't find my jokes all too amusing (yeah they did!). I digress...
I had the privilege of attending a home game last year (against Virginia Tech) and was completely caught off guard by the fans in suits and dresses (southern thing?) I had a Michigan Rugby style shirt, with a Yellow Jackets blue hat on (similar colors, cut me some slack.) Aside from one annoying fan, I had a great time.
To answer the question posted above though- We've been that team that more or less had the certainty of going ~9-3 for a few years now. I thought we were all tired of that? Our goal as a football program shouldn't be to just "Win the big 10 and go to the Rose bowl" it should be "Win a National Championship" preferably in the Rose Bowl. I think that's the direction the football program is headed in now. I'm assuming that was the intent behind hiring Rico Rodriguez. Put me down for Visions of Dreams to Come!
Still, I think the point is well taken that Paul Johnson was a good coach at Navy and is doing a nice job at GaTech with a new offense that does not resemble their old one much at all.
Yes, we HAVE had bad luck nearly across the board with injuries/graduations/transfers that have made the OL much worse this year than previously, leading to the fact that we had much higher attrition than we normall would have, but I think to simply say "we weren't going to be good this year, see talent deficit" cannot possibly we quite right. We cannot have gone from alleged nat'l title contenders to we suck b/c we simply don't have any talent. Yes, I get it, Henne and Long graduated, we had a lot of talent leave, but we're still Michigan and it should not ever be the case that we have such a huge turnaround.
The question isn't whether RR's first year would be an adjustment- I think everyone acknowledged that it would be- but whether it would be this bad, which it shouldn't be.
It is almost certainly wrong to say if we had Paul Johnson we would end the year 9-3, but it is not unfair to say that our adjustment should have been better than it is, and it's not unfair to point to Paul Johnson as an example of how it could have been easier. I don't think pointing to Johnson as an example of doing a nice job in a transition year necessarily presupposes that we should be 9-3 or anything like that, it just simply says that a transition year doesn't necessarily mean RR should get a free pass on 1-11 or 3-9 or whatever.
Criticizing RR for the awful season is not the same as saying the transition year wasn't going to be tough, and it is not the same as saying he should be fired.
Saying RR should still be coach next year is of course reasonable, and saying that he should be given some leeway for a transition year is further reasonable. Saying that RR should be given a free pass on the season simply "because
transition" or "because talent" is not reasonable. Is Purdue tons more talented than us? No, they are the worst Purdue team in years. How about Toledo? Hardly more talented than us.
At the beginning of the year I thought that "if x were coach, we'd be better" arguments were kind of dumb because they are rather useless. At this point, however, I think the poster is simply noting that it is not necessarily true that "transition season = huge disaster."
3-9 (even assuming we win a game or two) is never ok at Michigan ever, ever, ever.
Paragraphs are your friend.
Are you serious with that comment? A year after losing 4 games, including a game to a 1-AA team, as well as losing every single starter at the skill positions, you think we were national title contenders? What are you smoking and where can i get some.
To quote jfs52:
"We cannot have gone from alleged nat'l title contenders to we suck b/c we simply don't have any talent. Yes, I get it, Henne and Long graduated, we had a lot of talent leave, but we're still Michigan and it should not ever be the case that we have such a huge turnaround."
We had 5 players drafted in the NFL from an offense that ranked in the mid 60's last year. That implies that the other 6 guys were really dragging down performance. Of those 6 guys, one is playing (Shilling), and one is playing DE (Butler). I'll give you 0.5 for Minor. WE HAVE HAD TO REPLACE 9.5 PLAYERS FROM A BAD OFFENSE LAST YEAR!!
You said "but we're still Michigan and it should not ever be the case that we have such a huge turnaround."
I agree with you. Ask Lloyd Carr why he left such a huge talent void in the roster. That is the problem, not the current coaching staff.
A few things could have been done that MAYBE eek out a game, but that is equivalent to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The ship still has a big gaping hole in it.
It's not quite fair to say that Michigan lost 5 key players from a bad offense last year.
The statistics on offense were bad last year in large part because the two most important players -- Henne and Hart -- were either out of games entirely or ineffective because of injuries. When everyone was healthy in the Citrus Bowl, the offense looked great.
I agree with your main point that this year's offense was never going to be good. I don't think it's primarily a lack of talent, but of experience. Assuming Threet is the starter at the start of next season, they'll be using players next year that are already on the roster, but I expect they'll be vastly improved.
No one in the ACC had really seen or defended GT's new offense before. Everyone has seen the spread before, and a lot of other teams play it, so we didn't have the advantage of novelty against any of our opponents like GT had.
I think this is exactly right, and it may explain a lot of our growing pains this year. In the past, when Rich Rod was installing his offense at a new team, it would have taken a lot of opponents by surprise. Now the spread has to be much more well-executed in order to work, and the play-calling probably has to be more complex (which makes things much harder on a team that's just trying to learn the basics). It goes back to what Brian has said about the Magic: The Gathering card games.
... The new offense is the Triple-Option. It's not exactly hard to defend. More than any other offense the Triple Option is a 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Defending it takes discipline, tackling, and linebackers.
The only reason the Triple-Option is now a novelty offense is because everybody has moved on from that kind of offense, just like nobody runs a Wing-T or a pure Wish/Flexbone anymore.
I-Blue -- the talent void is a true lack of talent in the junior and senior classes. Maybe I should have been more clear as experience will fix the younger players, but there is without question talent lacking in the upperclassmen.
And losing Hart for a few games should not result in a monumental drop off. No team should be so completely reliant upon one running back. This next comment may offend some people, but he was not an Adrian Peterson, Bo Jackson, or Tyrone Wheatley level running back that is irreplaceable. Our roster was so thin of capable running backs that going from Hart to plan B was a huge issue. Even in 1994 when Wheatley was injured, we had another player on the roster to fill-in quite well, Biakabatuka.
And there was no suitable back-up for Henne. A true freshman in Mallett is a poor option for an "elite" team that should have depth at each position.
Think of the past Michigan teams that had suitable back-ups that challenged for starting time at QB, Griese/Driesbach/Brady, Brady/Henson, Taylor/Grbac, Grbac/Collins. Following Henson's recruitment, we have lacked suitable options at QB. 2001 left us with an unprepared Navarre, Navarre's graduation left us with Gutz and a true freshman back-up (Henne).
The existence of a few stellar players since roughly 2001 has masked our total lack of depth all over the field. This came to a head this season as we had no depth behind last year's starters, of which 9.5 offensive starters are no longer playing.
I am not implying tht Paul Johnson is a poor coach, but comparing his results to RR's in Year 1 is not applicable.
GTE -- GT's O-line is much more experienced. This is indisputable. And there have been several posts detailing the loses in each class on the OL. The prior regime did an exceptionally poor job of developing players on the OL and many decently rated recruits quit, even before the hiring of RR. There is a talent issue on our roster that only recruiting, coaching and time will fix. Next year the OL should be much improved, but it still won't be dominant.
Prior events are not an indicator of future results in this case. in his first year, PJ has the Jackets on the cusp of an ACC title and the requisite Orange Bowl appearance. Double digit wins looks like a likely scenario.
As GT alum gte posted below, supplying facts I didn't have:
"GT's players are not more experienced or talented (except in the D-Backfield), they're just more productive. GT has noone on their roster with a Brandon Graham type profile, or Jonas Mouton or Steve Schilling for that matter. Michigan's entire backfield is made up of 4 star tailbacks, while GT starts a guy named Lucas Cox (look him up at Scout or Rivals). GT's o-line was considered adequate, maybe, going into the season.
The real differences are:
A) quarterback - GT has a guy who is constantly making plays
B) coaching - PJ is just better than RR and has made better staff decisions. Its no knock on RR to say that, PJ is better than most coaches. All he's done is win."
My points in the post were that RR at UM has fared much worse in a better situation than PJ has at GT. RR was not left totally bereft of talent - in the words of Jim Harbaugh "We're Michigan". Where PJ lucked out was inheriting and retaining several QB's who turned out to be playmakers in his triple option offense. Where RR's fallen short is in inheriting a veteran defense that's proven to be pretty defenseless so far. The fall has been accelerated on the offensive side by not having a reliable QB and having to go with an inexperienced OL that's turned out to be sub-par.
He would have been diving head first into the LOS, no matter where he wound up.
Where does an immobile pocket passer go these days?
Wisconsin or MSU mostly...
Mikemac -- this team is bereft, regardless of what Jim Harbaugh says about some completely unrelated situation. Graham has been terrific. Shilling and Mouton are sophomores. While GT has a DL that is even better than Michigan's DL (which is clearly the strong point of our team). I have heard talking heads on ESPN say all 4 GT DL's may get drafted.
Our OL is extremely young. Much younger than GT's O-line. GT's starting offensive line has 13 years of experience prior to this season. Michigan's line has 10.5 years (averaging Ortman and Dorrestein). That's 1/2 a year per starter. And this is giving Ferrara credit for two years, even though at no point in his football career has he EVER blocked someone until 2 weeks before the season. Removing his 2 years of experience from the equation and Michigan's OL gives up nearly 1 year per player.
Please take your "RR was not left totally bereft of talent" argument somewhere that fact checking is NOT consider a community trait.
MJV, If you're saying the cubboard was bare because our talent sucks, that's applicable only to much of the offense, apart from our 4 and 5 star RB's. Our defense should have been much better than it's shown, with the return of Jamison, Graham, Taylor, Ezeh, Warren, and Trent (who more than held his own against Percy Harvin). Granted our safeties were question marks, who are much worse than expected.
As to fact checking, here's a link to an article that summarizes GT's rise from a start much less promising than what RR had to work with.
Among the points made: They're the youngest team in the ACC, with 75 freshmen and sophomores. PJ was hired too late to do much recruiting and had schollies capped at 72, not the usual 85. The new offense in their spring game was a debacle, with 9 fumbles.
The players he inherited were recruits of Chan Gailey, who had an NFL-oriented offense, the antithesis of Navy's. His OL came from a mid-level ACC program. It's been better than expected, ours much worse.
Maybe GT will suffer a November swoon. Maybe PJ is the luckiest coach in the NCAA to have stumbled upon a wealth of talent that far overshadowed what RR was left with. If that's true, at least he was cagey enough not to let it slip away from him in an always difficult transition year.
I ripped these off ESPN in about 9 seconds so they aren't exact but they'll do. GA Tech has 104 passing attempts and about 534 rushing attempts. They run an astounding 80% of the time. Nesbit, the QB, has about 20% of the rushing attempts. Nesbit has 104 rushes and only 65 passing attempts--FOR THE SEASON.
Paul Johnson is a fine coach. However, can you honestly tell me that Michigan could run 80% of the time and be even moderately successful with that offensive line? What QB that RR inherited could run well enough to be the second leading rusher with a 4.0 YPC? I'm not going to get into a so and so is this many stars type of argument because that is pointless. Here is my question: Do you contend that Paul Johnson could have come to Michigan and run his offense and had anything like the success he has had with GA Tech? The idea is ridiculous.
Johnson did the same thing RR did. He came in and installed his system. Johnson had a functional OL and a running QB. RR did not. Simple as that.
Mikemac -- PJ is a very good coach, I don't think that many people would question that. And GT has a very young roster, but beyond the starting OL, I have not looked at their roster to see the seniority of the other starters.
My reason for the focus on the OL is that it has been the over-riding reason our season has gone so poorly. (The realization of other teams exploiting our poor safety and LB play has occurred more recently, and in my opinion, is a secondary reason to our poor record.)
Also realize that the ACC is clearly one of the two weakest BCS conferences this season, while the Big Ten has far greater depth than in past seasons, and probably the 3rd strongest conference behind the Big 12 and SEC. And to quote two lines in the article you linked "The Jackets have won the close ones — 4-1 in games settled by four points or less" and "They have come from behind in the fourth quarter to win two times and if they nearly lost to little Garner-Webb."
GT has faired better than we have but they are winning close games while we have let games that we have had leads slip away (and the reasons for losing those losses seems to vary week to week). When a team is not dominant, the line between winning and losing is very thin and there is little margin for error. only one game this year did we not have a lead or threaten in the fourth (ND in the monsoon). Even against Illinois and PSU, we looked very good early in each game, only to falter in the second half.
I'm not saying RR should be up for coach of the year, but there are a lot of roster issues that he is saddled with that saying "We're Michigan" is an inappropriate means to gloss over.
mjv - im sorry but if you think UM has a had a much more difficult schedule up to this point you're wrong. Michigan doesnt beat BC(away), VT(away), Climpsun(away), FSU, or UVA. Duke and Miss St. would be 50-50. With Jax St. I give Michigan the win (hesitantly, considering Ryan Perilloux is their QB), same with Garnder-Webb (where GT had a drop back passer 3rd stringer at QB). Michigan also doesnt win at UNC, at home against UMFL, or at UGA.
Georgia Tech on the other hand beats ND, Wisc, Toledo, MSU, MIOH, Minnesota, NW, and Purdue; probably beats Illinois and Utah, tossup with OSU, and loses to PSU.
We're talking about 3-9 Michigan with GT's schedule (maybe 4-8 with an upset), and 9-3 GT with Michigan's schedule assuming a split with Utah and Illinois (even though i dont think that would happen considering both at home), and a loss at OSU (which im also not convinced would happen).
Im as big of a Michigan fan as anyone, but GT is a BCS caliber team and Michigan is just not good.