I am in the category of bloggers who give Rodriguez (and by extension, Greg Robinson) a pass for the play of the defense this year.
- We lost Woolfolk and Jones and Van Slyke to injury, Warren to the draft, Cissoko to sad stupidity, Turner to laziness and a following transfer, and Demar Dorsey to the NCAA clearinghouse. Add these players, and the defense looks very different.
- We went from the Carr regime to Scott Shafer to Greg Robinson as Defensive Coordinator in three consecutive years, a recipe for disaster.
- We had a disaster with Hopson as position coach with the linebackers.
- We have a lack of experience throughout the defense, witnessed by all the true freshmen getting playing time.
- We have a lack of depth in much of the defense.
All these things should be better next year. The freshmen and sophomores being baptized by fire will be seasoned vets next year. We have more defensive recruits coming on board. We will be in our third year under Gerg, with greater familiarity on schemes, and less thinking, more reacting instinctively. We also will see continued improvement in the linebacking corps.
I think Brian is exactly right in suggesting that 2011 is the critical year for evaluation of Rodriguez as Michigan's football coach.
My one complaint: I lay responsibility for special teams play this year on Rodriguez. To my way of thinking, this is a coaching issue, and less one of experience and depth. Our kicking game and return game and coverage on punts, field goals, and kickoffs all leave a lot to be desired. With Gerg working with linebackers, (and hence, no problem with NCAA coaching staff restrictions,) there is room on the staff for a coach dedicated to special teams play. While player stupidity occurs at every level from PeeWee to the NFL, I just don't see an adequate excuse for how special teams have performed in 2010. For this one area, I hope that Dave Brandon meddles and gets on Rodriguez to improve.