Many posts that I have seen (and written) since the Penn State game have hammered Rich Rod for the team's poor performance. However, I have noticed with myself and others that there is a distinct lack of specifics in terms of what the criticism is directed at. His playcalling? The way he communicates and motivates (or his possible lack of ability to)? His defensive hirings and/or schemes? What is it exactly that many are objecting to. The seeming inability to answer this question may be the disconnect between hardcore RR supporters and those that are and have questioned the hiring from the beginning. For those that place a lot of blame on many of this teams failures kind of fall back to a general "blame the coach" without really disecting any specific aspect of his coaching.
I was and have been guilty of this, but not due to lack of knowledge or simply using Rich Rod as a scapegoat, but instead to an inability to really put my finger on what it was the has disturbed me about this coach. Then yesterday I saw the term "anti-Carr" used in several variations on this Blog. It got me thinking. Rich Rod is truly the anti-Carr, the exact opposite of Lloyd Carr in almost every way as a ooach.
Trust me, there were many aspects of Lloyd Carr that I did not like, and many things that I questioned. However, there was a certain self-control to the way that Carr coached that was comforting and assuring. True, many times the same qualities may have resulted in unreasonable restraint, sometimes costing the team an opportunity to really put an opponent away and/or a game out of reach. When it came to taking risks, Carr always defaulted to shying away from "confrontation," he would (sometimes too often) "live to fight another day." However, many times Carr's restraint, in my opinion, saved Michigan's ass in certain circumstances where making the opposite decision could have had catastrphic results. Now, take Rich Rod, the exact opposite is true. RR defaults to the risk. He often does so seemingly without so much as a passing thought regarding what the catastrophic results could be. In doing so, Michigan seems to often be left without a Plan B or a contingency play, whatever you want to label it. Take the goal line stand against Illinois:
After third down. Were stopped. Fourth and Goal. We have a 13-7 lead on a down and out team. A six point lead, a one possession game. We have an offense very susceptible to mistake, a defense with a really fragile mindset and very limited talent. Also, an Illinois team that would have been killed by a touchdown, however, through first, second, and third down, you could feel their intensity picking up, the crowd gradually taking notice. I remember the days of Lloyd and can assure you that one of the following would have happenned. 1) A field goal, a two possession game, neither team is completely deflated, both have acheived some form of success, and both live to fight another day, Michigan with a distinct advantage on the score board, 2) A time out before fourth down with adequete contemplation given to the fourth and goal try, many times with player input received and computed, and a DECISION being made as to its prudence, or 3) number 2 happens and we get stopped, Lloyd would have gathered his defense and truly told them, in fact yelled at them, their importance at that time. Not in an angry or panicked way, but in a "this is it, what are we made of" kind of way.
As it stands today, none of that took place. We went to the line of scrimmage, rushing to get our personell on the field, a decision never really being made, no real recognition or at least no acknowledgment as to how crucial the moment was. Just an angry and confused look on Rich Rod's face and a real sense of deflation after were stopped. Defense like "oh shit," nobody in their ear really coaching, teaching, calming, or fueling. Not Plan-B, no contingency, just panic.
I'm not really that upset that we got stopped on the goal line just in and of itself, and I am not saying that we should have kicked a field goal, but I can say that I am a little disturbed that none of numbers 1-3 listed above took place. If this take on things was posted to Rich Rod, he would probably not even understand the question, he defaults to the risk, that appears to be the way he was built. Much in the same way that Lloyd Carr did not understand the question that was posed to him by the ABC reporter as to taking a knee at halftime of the M v. OSU game in 2003-2004 (Which was the other extreme-I am not denying that was problematic in the exact opposite way) It doesn't enter Rich Rod's mind that something may not work or what the consequences of failure at particular times may be, at least it doesn't look that way.
That is one problem that I have that the goal line stand illustrated in one catch all scenario. Does Rich Rod believe that deliberation = weakness? Or that living to fight another day = surrender. If he does, is that a problem? Does this team (and this coach) often seem desperate in circumstances that don't warrent desperation?
There were a lot of things about Lloyd Carr that I did not like and many decisions that I did not concur with. But I am not sure if I wanted the "Anti-Carr," not to this degree. Are there those out there who share this sentiment? I'd like to know.