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UM's 2010 Schedule & Team Improvement
N.B.: I'm not politicking one way or another. My primary desire is to see Michigan improve as much as possible as fast as possible. I would *love* for this to be under Rich Rodriguez (I find the spread offense exciting and Gerg's hybrid defense, in theory, bad-ass) . Mainly, this was a chance for me to express a perspective/gripe from last year that's relevant to a number of recent posts proclaiming that an 8-4 record would secure Rich Rodriguez's future at UM. The team that earns an 8-4 record in 2010 might easily have gone 6-6 in 2009 or 2011.
the cat did that to my computer by walking on the function keys.
I think it's reasonable to look at the schedule as part of the assessment, but the offense was still much improved over RR year 1 - and again, with a QZ of 0 collegiate experience.
However, calling Iowa a plucky overachiever is absurd. There only 2 losses were sans-Stanzi and their win over GT was emphatic. The outcome of the game at Iowa should be considered a positive sign.
in my eyes of your analysis, is that you are attributing too much of the improvement to the schedule. That IS the schedule. We will play a similar schedule to this every year i.e. Conference games, ND, 1 BCS team, and 2 >MAC teams.
We always play this schedule, so any improvement vs. the schedule is improvement.
Would it really feel that much better to be a more improved team on paper, only to lose 9+ games? No. Winning is the ultimate barometer of improvement.
Just look at '08 vs '09 non-conference. Both had two MAC teams at home, but it diverges wildly after that. ND home on a beautiful day in '09 vs ND away in a monsoon in '08. Given our strategy and home / road tendencies over the past bit, that is a significant difference. Of course that doesn't even compare to the difference between 13-0 #2 in the nation Utah in '08 compared to Delaware State in '09. Especially in the non-conference, the schedule is not the schedule.
As for the conference, I don't think it's equal year to year either. First off, teams come on and off the schedule, so that matters. But the bigger concern is that PSU and OSU are either both home or both away. In a juggernaut year where you're trying to go undefeated, it's best to have those two at home. BUT, if you're just trying to win 8 games and are fairly certain you aren't going to beat either of them anyway, you may as well play them on the road and take your toss ups at home.
So, I'd say the non-conference in '08 was markedly more difficult than '09 while the conference in '09 was tougher to get a respectable record out of than it was in '08.
all you want but here are some better stats to look at.
2008: 3489 yards
2009: 4614 yards
08: 1718 yards, 11 TD, 12 INT
09: 2380 yards, 15 TD, 15 INT
08: 1771 17 TD
09: 2234 27 TD
That is improvement. Passing was closer due to two true freshman instead of whatever Threet was, RS Soph? and the Walk On Sheridan.
The d was not much improved but it was more expected with the losses of personnel and coaching change at the Defensive Coordinator position. Next year the O might not improve dramatically in yardage, but the TD to INT ration should go down. I would expect the QBs to throw for over 2500 yards barring significant injury. I think rushing can hit 2500 as well. Again barring significant injury.
I don't see the running game improving significantly with Minor and Brown graduating and Smith out of practice with injury for spring and possibly summer practices.
probably right about the running game.
I expect the offensive line to be much better next year. Between getting Molk healthy and replacing Moosman/Ortmann with the potential second and third year contributions from Barnum, Mealer, Khoury, Schofield, Washington, and Lewan, the depth and talent should be improved. Having experienced QB's should force opponents to back off in the running game to defend the pass.
Considering these changes and the fact that Brown and Minor were so injury prone last season, I expect the ground game to make strides next year even with a relatively inexperienced (though pretty talented) group of backs.
We barley had Minor or Brown all year. RB doesn't matter as long as the O-line is in good working condition. The spead does scare me because moving the chains is not a premium. I'm still a 3yrd and play action kind of guy though.
I couldn't agree more with you. I'm trying to take a step back and look at U of M from the outside. I think Rich Rod has made some questionable calls, but has the workings to be a very good coach. We at U of M are not used to a Coach speaking as freely as Rodriguez, because Carr was always angry and had no personality. ( great coach though.) Btt we all have to admit that an average Rich Rod Offense is still better than a good Carr offense. Rod's Offense can score in a hurry, which hurts our teams of late because the defense couldn't stop a big wheel with hydraulic brakes!!!! When the defense improves, U of M will compete for BCS titles......too many folks are blaming Rodriguez, when in reality, if Carr would have been Coach these past two years, I see him winning 2 more games in 08, and MAYBE one more in 09. Not a huge difference. I don't believe the 09 team deserved a bowl game, even if they had won another game, though the extra practice time would have been nice.
In 2009 we were pretty much in the same situation as we were in 2008. Defensively, we lost a couple players, and we had a new DC again. Offensively we were loaded with freshmen and sophmores (including 2 freshmen quarterbacks). On special teams, we still had Zoltan, but we had an inexperienced kicker in Oleshmegan. The difference between 09 and 08 is simply hope. There was really nothing good to say about us in 08. In 09 we had a freshmen QB lead us to a couple clutch victories, we saw a couple competitive games that probobly shouldn't have been that close. The only reason they were that close was because the team showed hart throughout the year and never gave up. I think 2010 is where we see why we hired RR. He has players that have some experience, a DC that has been with us for a year already, and he's recruitng players that fit the system. I'm predicting a 9 or 10 win season next year, which will open the door for RR to come back and win the National Chamionship in 2011.
Why are you calling the Purdue game a near-certain loss?!
The Purdue game will be a win for Michigan next year. We lost to them the last two years on special teams trick plays. I refuse to believe we will allow that to happen three years in a row. If we lose to Purdue next year, I will streak campus naked in January.
When you say your thought hasn't appeared regularly on the blog it's because your analysis is faulty; last year's Big Ten bowl results had Iowa as the only victor, while this year the conference went 4-3. This strongly suggests this year's conference is better than last year's; I don't believe our record this year corresponds to a level of improvement.
While I believe the bowl record does show improvement by the Big 10, I still think using it to compare conferences is faulty. Last year and for many years before the Big 10 put two teams in the BCS. As a result the B10 played up in games and performed poorly. This year, we actually got to play relatively even competition. I think bowl performance on its own is an overused meme and really isn't as indicative as pundits push it to be.
we still sent two teams to BCS bowls this year. And we won both of those games. We still had the same problem as usual with our conference "playing up" and we had a winning record. Hell, NW should have won their game too.
It seemed that many games this past season were lost on one play, where the team just seem to get all their momentum drained. I hope one more year of maturity, especially on offense, will allow the team to recover from the occasional bad play and it won't sink them!
The defense is just going to be a work in progress. A lot of younger players will be starting and I hope we see progress through the year. But with a continued weak defense that may have upside potential by years end, I don't see us winning more than 8 games this season.
Losses: OSU and PSU on the road look likely.
Potential upsets at home: IA and WI.
Games that could go either way: Purdue, MSU, ILLINI, ND,UCON.
Should be wins: UMASS, Bowling Green and Indiana.
A good season would be to win the games you should, take one of the upsets at home against either IA or WI, take 3 of your close games...that would give us a 7-5 record. May be if we can upset both IA and WI at home or take 4 of the close games we could go 8-4!
A not so great season would be to lose both your potential upsets at home and only win one of your close game...that would give us a 4-8 season.
Unless the defense plays much better I really don't see much better than a 6-6 record this season with at least a bowl game. I'm still banking on 2011 to be our break out year with 10 wins!!! No matter what I will still be watching and rooting for the team next season. And even if we do go 4-8, then RR should still be given one more season since 2011 will be his turn around season!!!
but if all he can manage is 4-8 he might fire himself. I would be shocked if we go 4-8; the offense could be on the verge of 'high-powered', while the defense will at least have the stability of a second year with the same DC while hopefully adding some good pieces. I'm thinking worse case is a repeat 5-7 with 7-5 a safe expectation to have.
I know you commented on a lot, but I have only one point in response to your post: I think with D. Clark gone, the PSU game is a W for us. Even though we're going on the road, I feel positive about this one.
Also, I'd love a W over K. Newsome!
If we don't make substantial improvement on defense, this is all for naught.
Case in point: the four Big Ten teams that won bowls were nationally ranked on D as follows:
We all saw the Big Ten prevail because in each case, their opponent's high octane offense couldn't score. Stiff D. Radical idea.
If we find a defense(and I think we will be much improved there)then eight, maybe nine wins are possible.
This team is either ready to compete, or it never will. End of story. Time to put up or shut up.
I am not as optimistic the defense will be markedly improved. We are losing our (easily) top two players and don't definitively have anyone who can fill their shoes. While I am hoping that another year of Barwisization will help a lot, I remain less than optimistic that we will not have a greatly improved defense.
I'll give you GT (PSU) and Oregon (osu), but LSU (IA) hardly had a high octane offense. It was middling, at best. #76 in ppg and #112 in ypg. Miami was above average, but not significantly better than Michigan (+0.8ppg and +15.4ypg).
But I agree completely with your larger point that a significantly improved defense will be key to our chances next season.
Each team that won their bowl games this year had a stiff defense. When you look at the lack of progression in Michigan's Defense, you have to look at the lack of consistency the program has faced the last three years. When you have young men who have had three different DC's, one is to get confused and not react the way they should. I would like to think that with the redshirts and true freshmen DB's Michigan will be much improved on the pass. As for the run game, they better find some size and quick up front. Martin Campbell and Van Bergen, need help especially if the offense can sustatin a drive or if they continue to score quickly. The longer the D is on the field the greater the chance they will get tired and blow oppurtunities to secure a victory. The D needs more depth upfront, preferrably bigger and stronger DT's. As for the LB's where was Mouton and Ezeh this year? for the experience they were suppose to have and the play they exhibited I would be all for sitting them in 2010 and playing a true freshman, at least you can excuse his mistakes on lack of experience.
I agree with the premise that, with very little improvement, Michigan could easily go 7-5 or 8-4. The 2009 team had four losses that could very easily have gone the other way (MSU, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue), and in three of those Michigan was arguably within one play of winning or tying.
But that assumes that the games that can go well, do go well. The schedule is tougher in 2010: there is no Delaware State, UConn is a serious threat, and you can never take the Irish in South Bend for granted, even in a rebuilding year.
It’s fascinating to note the statement that an “8-4 record will almost certainly appease the fanbase.” And that’s in a season where virtually everyone is assuming that the Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State games are unwinnable. An 8-4 record used to be considered an off year for Michigan, and until Rodriguez arrived there was practically never an opponent that Michigan didn’t have a credible chance of beating.
In my view, there is nothing “appeasing” about 8-4. It is merely the minimum record that guarantees Rodriguez one more year to get the program back to something resembling its historical level of dominance. Mind you, I am not saying he’d be fired after 7-5 or 6-6, but I am pretty sure it would be considered. When Lloyd Carr retired, were two losing seasons followed by 8-4 anybody’s definition of “progress”?
No way would Brandon make a big move against RR in year one. And Mary Sue seems to really be 100% behind RR, as is Martin. This is my way of saying that even though I wouldn't want it, a record of 6 - 6 would be sufficient in 2010. A record of 8 - 4 wouldn't mean we were back, but would bring more positive vibes, and help with recruiting.
I am looking forward to 2010, but really see 2011 as the critical year . . . our recruiting should have caught up, there should be significant skilled reserves on the bench, a solid and experienced OL, a good secondary, and with Tate in year three and whoever is backup (DG or DR) having time to familiarize with sets and schemes, the Offense should be firing on all cylinders. By 2011, we need to compete with the big boys, and be back in the 9 plus win column.
How does Iowa count as a "plucky overachiever" in the Utah mode? Iowa could very well have been in the NC game if they hadn't lost Stanzi to injury for two games.
I still think Michigan is very close to winning eight or nine games.
All they have to do is be better than the rung of MSU, Ill, and Purdue; if they are, simply taking care of business will get them to eight. Then, they need to win one or more against Wiscy, Iowa, PSU, and OSU.
Nine or even ten wins isn't out of the question next year, especially if GERG stays.
I was thinking the exact same thing.
It would've been very interesting to see what the championship game would have been if Stanzi hadn't gone down.
Also, while I think your logic is sound, it's possible that losing Hopson is more of a boon than one might think. It's the NCAA Football equivalent of a contract year for Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton. If we can get decent play out of the linebackers and SOMETHING out of the corners, the Wisconsin game looks a lot more winnable, and so do a couple more games.
worried about the UConn game for an opener? Granted, UC(Cincy) was all offense with no defense, but a very similar UConn team to next year's scored 45 points on them this year..
Not like we need more stress but has anyone else noticed that our all time winning percentage is getting extremely close to ND's. Here's to hoping Rich Rod can turn it around before Brian Kelly...
1) Michigan 877 wins, 304 losses, 38 ties, 1219 GP, 0.73503
2) ND 837 wins, 291 losses, 41 ties, 1169 GP, 0.73353
3) Texas 845 wins, 321 losses, 34 ties, 1200 GP, 0.71833
4) Ohio St. 819 wins, 308 losses, 53 ties, 1180 GP, 0.71653
5) Oklahoma 796 wins, 305 losses, 53 ties, 1154 GP, 0.71274
If Mich goes 5-7 and ND goes 7-5 (Which I don't think will happen next year but could) there goes our lead...
*GP = Games Played