Hey, all. I rarely post threads (maybe 3-5 in my many years of reading and posting here) but I wanted to post a thread that covers many topics. It's not so much a blatant statement or question as it is hopefully going to be talking points and possible explainations. I normally reply/post by phone on the Android App but I'm on a PC right now so hopefully my almost always long winded responses will have proper spaces this time as it will be LOOONG. lol
The msu game: The first thing I want to say is that I genuinely didn't expect to win this game. That is sad but backed up in a couple threads, including Brian's prediction thread. It was just one of those games where you knew msu would get yards however they could and that has been exclusively running, very quick passes off of the cushion we hand them and then the occasional 20+ yard ball off of PA to not only keep us on our toes but take advantage of single coverage. IMO, anyone that didn't see msu keeping up their offensive "by any means necessary" routine against us just doesn't know MD. I predicted this loss in the pre-season when I predicted we'd go somewhere between 7-9 wins. Basically, if you didn't see this you haven't been watching UM football the last few years. It sucks but I'm neither shocked or that bothered.
Defensively, it was what I expected as well but WORSE. So much worse. I still cannot explain how a team with a 1st round LT and a 5th round NFL caliber RT can be so bad on the OL. More later on the OL but I've seen youth on other teams and what we have in the middle is the equal to what we had defensively under Gerg. Maybe worse. Point being to end this topic is that the game outcome did not surprise me. When I saw how bad the weather was before the opening kick I kind of knew it was going to be the kind of game where a single msu TD would win it for them. Just one unless our QB had more than 2 seconds to throw the ball, made spart decisions and constantly tested that vaunted press coverage we heard so much about. I knew at the end of the first drive that we basically ran our same 4-5 plays and that, if not our defense or a fluke play, we wouldn't get into the endzone. Borges somehow went away from the run too much and why any sane man would PA under center when a crazy good defense is showing double outside blitz is beyond me. How our interior OL cannot grasp the concept of twisting DL is beyond me.
Last words before moving on will be ONE play and THE play where I knew we would lose the game: It was early and the game was tied or we were down a FG. We have the ball and we run the ball and Kalis (the guy supposedly so nasty, mean and strong that he could have started last year) pulled to his left where Bullogh had penetrated the backfield and he was the only man to block. In fact, if he uses his running head start to level the LB it gives Fitz a chance to gain at least a few yards. Yet, Kalis (again, with no question of who to hit and supposedly nasty, etc) got stood up by a LB he outweighs by 50-60lbs and should be much stronger than (is he?) when said LB was stopped nearly flat footed. Max was slightly moving but generally stopped as he honed in on Fitz and without seeing him coming with a running start Kalis hits him, Max feels it, raises a shoulder and stood Kalis up to (IIRC) go on to make the tackle or force Fitz into a pile of doom at the LOS. Right then, it was over for me (I had to DVR the game so I just watched it) and there was 3+ quarters to play. Then on, any movements we'd gain would immediately get negated by stupid calls or Devin being sacked the second the ball touched his hands. Not calling out Kalis but WOW and I will call out Lewan for behaving in a way I'm stunned he was not ejected for. Better weather would have helped but their defense FAR outshines our offense. Their "yards by any means neessary" will work eventually if you keep giving them the ball at mid-field. End. (Sorry for the many "to end my point" only to make more lol)
The Offense: Much Quicker but with more "I honestly do not know"s. It seems as if we are in this perfect storm of youth, regressed QB (sad when he was better on a weeks notice last year than now in EVERY WAY) and atrocious OL play. It's a chicken/egg thing. A catch 22. Whatever you want to call it it's a case of wondering if anyone outside of out OTs remember the basic principles of football, youth, bad coaching, bad play calling or all of the above. As for QB, has he seemingly regressed from the heady actual QB as opposed to glorified HB we knew last year with almost no prep time due to QB coaching, play calling, bad OL play or any/all of the above? Basically, is it a dual issue or one causing them to both fail? What we KNOW is that the interior OL is atrocious. What we don't know is if Devin has regressed or is a victim of having 4 guys on him before he can make a read? I ask because he has had all day in the pocket at times and made amazingly bad decisions to the level where you KNOW he wouldn't have done that last year on next to no prep time.
The Defense: Not perfect but the only part of this team that seems to show signs of improvement in areas. Also very young, they can be counted on to give your offense a chance to not lose a game in almost every game. In a shootout, almost always good for a turnover or two to give the offense the edge. Against a team that wants to line it up, even if the opponent is getting the ball on UM's side of the field for most of the game, they will generally keep the team in the game for much longer than can be expected considering time spent on the field, youth, etc. Only gripe is, as I've said before, many of our 3rd down calls make no sense blitz wise and even if we drop men. We seem to give up a lot of 3rd downs when we cannot afford to. Finally, for having a DL guy as a HC and one of the top DCs in the country, I do not like that our 4 down front pressure scheme is essentially a 4 man bull rush. VERY FEW stunts, twists or even using hands to swim/shiver/etc to beat their man. Cook, along with many other QBs, had times where the bull rush is held at bay and they can scan a defense for 5-7 seconds.
ST: When will Norfleet finally not get tackled by his own feet, a hand or the turf and take one to the house? Every game he has at least one of these returns where you think "GONE!" only for him to stop and turn it back up into a pile of defenders or get brought down by literally shoe tackles with nothing but field in front of him, etc.
The kicking game is regressing. Well, Wile has never been a stud punter but Gibbons also has that shellshocked look/feel to him since the psu game. Not too worried but there that is. I still have faith there but Gibby seems off lately.
Coaching: The big one. The one that causes the most debate and frustration for all of us fans. I'll try to go one by one and give my opinion and general feel for the future with them and respective positions.
Coach Hoke is what he is and we knew what we were getting when we hired him. Did any fan with a brain know that the Sugar Bowl 1st year was a mirage and that we still had years of rebuilding to do? Yes. I hope so. What that first year did was give confidence to a program that was beyond down mentally. Just rewatch Hemmingway's Sugar Bowl speech and tell me this team wasn't in SERIOUS trouble on all front before Hoke entered and got everyone moving in the same direction. We hired exactly what Hoke is: a game manager & that is NOT changing anytime soon. He doesn't wear a headset because the guy coaches one position and surrounds himself with guys he trusts to call the game on their own with very rare feedback/calls made by him. In the sport where coaching means more to success than any other, he hired a game manager. Hoke is not an X & O's guy. He is a great recruiter and surrounds himself with guys he trusts to coach up and win with the kids they have. So, who did he surround himself with?
Greg Mattison, DC, is not only the best pure coach on this team but he is the one guy that, while no perfect, is under no pressure as he has and is getting just about the most you can get out of what he has. Add in being an amazing recruiter and I'll leave it at that. I'm also going to throw the rest of the defensive coaches in the same boat as none of them has stuck out as being a bad coach for the team so far. This includes: Mallory, Smith and Manning.
Al Borges, OC/QB coach. I like to type how I speak and I literally had to put a period there as I didn't know what to type next. Now I do and I'll say that until the psu game (also documented) i never called for anything but patience in regard to him. I stuck behind the lines of "we're transitioning" and "we're also young" even if he called a poor game. It took the psu game for me to finally admit to CONSIDERING that he may not only be the best man for the job bu that he may have to go after signing day. His post psu game interview enraged me with it's snide attitude and arrogance to basic questions like "in the first OT, psu missed their FG attempt and while I get trusting your kicker why did you not try to make the kick easier at the least? I mean, on the outside (the play Brian pictured) we had a 5-10 CB and walk-on safety covering Gallon/Funchess and giving them 10 yard cushions. Why not take free yards when there was ZERO to lose? Again, psu missed their FG attempt. Worst case is a fumble and we go to another OT." And he replied essentially with non answers and answers basically asking if we think we could do a better job. THAT was when I got on the boat of him MAYBE not being the long term guy here. Maybe. I said tossing him at season's end wouldn't anger me.
Then, today we see an OC that had 2 weeks to prep for msu and not only did we show nothing new but we had an OC that could not see that running PA against a house blitz was maybe a time to call TO or something. We saw an offensive gameplan where HIS QB (as QB coach it's HIS QB) looked confused by basic defenses where LBs either came at him or sat in zone. CBs locked up into one on one all day and safeties played about 5 yards behind the LBs until we hit 3rd and 22s. Yet, we see no spreading and telling Devin to throw to the vacated blitz area. No telling Devin to test the mismatch Funchess provided all day. Instead, we ran so litle that msu didn't even bite on PA but rather sent the house at Devin. Devin has not been taught to slide or dive for yards when it's over (his last play was sad but who can blame a guy getting hit ALL.F'n.DAY.LONG). Basically, bad OL or not, it is up to the very well paid OC/QB coach to get yards by any means necessary. Instead, his system is PA when either not running or averaging a yard a carry with said bad OL or running right behind said bad OL so much that we waste 2 downs every possession. All the while, Gallon&Funchess&Butt&Chesson&Dileo when healthy just run routes where one is always open but rarely seen or thrown to because our OL is atrocious and our QB is somehow worse than last year and cannot throw without 6 clean seconds in the pocket. After today, expecting loss and all, I WANT HIM GONE. Im officially on the GHTFO boat.
Like with GMatt, I'll put Coach Funk in this category. Young on the inside, I know! Atrocious OL recruiting before Hoke, I know! Yet, 2 years ago msu started 3 young backups and a converted DT THAT WEEK on the OL and beat us. They generally locked on to the guy in front of them and pushed him. They pulled and given an obvious block to make on a player not moving they generally knocked him over, etc. Young or not, what is so hard about telling 3 guys on the inside to push the guy in front of you on a run? To trust the OTs and "bunch&spread" on pass protection? I've seen OLs just as young and less talented play at least average. You don't have to maul guys yet! Just get in their f#cking way, FFS! How/Why does Kalis have a clean shot at a guy not nearly as big/strong as him and get stonewalled with a running start? How does a simple 2 man DL twist fool 3 guys? 9 sacks?!?! NINE FUCKING SACKS?!? Were we playing the Seattle Seahawks or the Rams? 49ers? As with Borges, age or not, Funk is clearly not teaching basic common sense technique. If he is, my prediction of looking like "old Michigan by 2014" I made 3 years ago is going to be very wrong. I'm now officially on the boat of not being angry if he goes as well.
The others are good or, like the defensive guys, not hurting the team but I think Jackson needs to retire soon. He can go with his head high, however. He hasn't been the best HB coach for a while but he can recruit an area well so be it after this year or next I think it's time for him to go soon. Hecklinski is ok and Ferrigno has been fine as far as ST improving immediately and not having had the type of TE he coaches yet. Butt has played well for a True Fr. Our Pass catching corp has been good and they've even developed walk-on type guys to be adequate when needed.
Players/Future: I didn't intend to but I guess I called out a few players on here. Not so much calling them out as bad but as questioning what is going on with them, really. A quick rundown and my opinions/points/future for them:
Well, Shane's RS is gone gone gone now. I think it has been but if not, it is now. That adds a few things to the mix as Gardner took a physical and mental beating Saturday. His last play (where he curled up and fell right before a gimme 1st down) showed his state of mind and body. he is hurt but we don't know how badly and how much of it is psyche. When healthy, he is our QB. Yet, as said above, for reasons either due to the OL, coaching, play calling or any/all but he is not even the QB he was last year against any defense with a pulse. Even mentally, last year he shook off mistakes. You'd often see him give a confident smile after an INT, etc. Not happy but mentality of "I'm good. I got this." Now? He just isn't that confident and heady guy we saw last year on, once again, almost zero notice. Remember the guy who would draw the DL offsides and use the free play on a deep ball? Where is he? Our OL isn't much worse than last year! If it's a D- now it was only a solid D, maybe D+ last year.
I think I'm just worried about what they are being coached as Denard was always a glorified HB but you saw him clearly regress year two under Borges. Gardner, once Denard went down and on a weeks prep, you saw a QB come in Denard's stead once injured after Nebraska. A true QB. Now? It's like watching a bigger Denard who can throw better but makes even more mistakes even when they don't result in TOs. This turning his back to the defense while scrambling has to stop! He has to toss the ball away once outside the box when there is nothing there. I don't get how that is so hard to coach, especially when he wasn't as bad at doing it last year! He did at times but now he takes the snap and the first sign of pressure he does a pirouette and Benny Hill's it only to take a 10 yard loss by sack/OOB, IG or chucking it randomly in the air. It's amazing how different he is from just last year. I don't know if I want Borges teaching Morris! Yet, if Devin can't game-by-game set his feet and deliver passes you have to look to Morris. It won't be better but at least you're not re-enforcing such poor decisions and I truly think that Morris can be told that, out of shotgun, you make your quick read and take it if open/under pressure. If given time, make your quick read and then progress, etc. He already knows to toss the ball away when the play is broken! Not saying a healthy Gardner gets benched but now that it's gone I don't see why Morris shouldn't get a snap/series here or there just to let the defense know this kid WILL go long and over the top if you play Denard/Gardner defense.
HB: Fitz is Fitz and a victim of trying too hard when he has no OL help. The OL hasn't been the same since losing Molk and neither has Fitz. He dances a bit but you often have to when your OL opens up zero running lanes even with 6 OL blocking for him and needing a yard. Green is a guy that NEEDS to get a clean 2-3 to get churning and be effective. This OL makes him look like a bust but he is exactly what we recruited. He would be a Freshman sensation if given the UM lines of old. Smith is like a bigger Fitz with less speed so I see why he hasn't gotten carries. The rest are the rest. With such a bad OL, you can't really go into your 2-4 deep. If/when the OL actually develops.......Green & Smith are going to ruin opponents.
OL: I think you get my opinion. I get we're young. I get we had atrocious OL recruiting under late Carr/RR. Yet, we have a top ten pick at LT and a RT that will get drafted. Considering a guy the staff unanimously said could have started last year lost his job to a true Freshman we wanted to RS.........facepalm.gif
Our LG is also a True FR and our Center is a walk-on Soph (IIRC). What angered me today was that Mags jersey didn;t have a spec of mud/dirt on it today. Looked unused and he started at RG. I've never understood Kalis not being a LG but what do I know? I have a crazy feeling this unit will either be unexplainably SO MUCH better next year or somehow worse. I don't see them breaking even. I think we'll be all "holy shit! How can we be better without two very good OTs from last year?" ......OR ...... "So, another year or two because their young?" As we curl into a ball on the floor, lol....
This year? Face it. This is our OL. You don't suddenly snap out/into it this deep in the season.
WR/TE: Both the strength and weakness of this team. Gallon/Funchess make a scary combo when, ya know, used. Chesson is criminally underused. Butt is doing about the best a true Fr TE can do when 6-6 230lbs. Williams is essentially another OL but doesn't really excell at that or pass catching. Loss of Darboh was a killer. Man, was that a huge loss. Anyway, I like Hecklinski and we've got guys coming back and in to hopefully replace Gallon/Dileo. I think we're fine here.
DL: The right to rush 4. At least I can see improvement here but will admit that I've never seen such a visually underwhelming DL put up such decent stats against the run, etc. Considering most are RS FR-SO guys. Clark hasn't turned into the monster he and many claimed he was going to be. Once locked up he tends to stay locked up, rarely spinning or using hands to defeat OL. If he runs by them or has the QB flushed to him he tends to finish. I like the progression of Wormley, Henry and Washington was bounced everywhee but he has done nothing but improve to become a clear starter inside. Black is tough because he is quick for the inside but small, slow for the outside and big/not a threat to get the the QB. Surprised at the almost no shows of Taco, Mario and others. Still, future looks bright here and Hand would be a great get (but I've thought a Southern school for months, regardless of our play) along with a certain in-state kid I once thought was a lock but now get the feeling he is finding a reason to go elsewhere.
LB: Another unit that has had its ups & downs but overall has played well and shows improvement. A unit that also lost it's best player and, IMHO, our best impact player at the college level (Won't be a Lewan level pick but means more to our team). Having Ryan back and healthy makes a world of difference but he is clearly still only about 75-80%. Other than he, Morgan continues to be the guy we all know he is. I think he has hit his ceiling as a player but that is still a good MLB and one who can look better if/when the DL improves to demand doubles from just the front 4. Sadly, he may be gone before we see it. Bolden was a guy I thought would really pop out this year but he is still pretty much the same player he was as a Freshman. Improvement but not as much as I expected. Still think he'll get there and, again, an improved DL can make a LB look so much better. Ross is showing improvement but still needs work on taking angles. Made a great backside tackle in the Indiana game but he often overruns the play due to his speed or gets lost in the shuffle due to his size. Like the group overall going forward as they are young but improving and we haven't seen guys like BG or MM get major time yet (THATS GOOD! lol)
DB: About what I expected. Countess seems to still be a step behind after coming off his injury so I expect a much better player next year. Yet, he is still playing well this year but seems to thrive in that nickle spot more than the outside and I think that may be due to the injury and what they asked him to do coming off of it. Taylor has flat out proven me wrong as I thought he would never really be an edge guy we could count on. he has had his moments of bad play but he has also had games where you cannot ask for more coverage wise. He absolutely shut down an NFL WR in Robinson (likely 1st-2nd rounder) at psu when covering him for 99% of the game. He gave us a chance in the msu game when seemingly every fumbled ball or tipped pass somehow stayed out of the UM defense's arms. Their play hasn't shown it due to either uncoverable passes or just not making the play despite position but I really like Stribling and Lewis as true Freshman. I think both will be very good before they leave! Gordon and Wilson also fit the not perfect but generally play well mold. Both make mistakes at times but both also generally play well. Wilson is improving. Slowly but surely. My surprise here is Thomas seeing basially ZERO time anywhere in the secondary all year. In the few blowouts he has played a few snaps but very surprised he has made no impact at all after his blocked punt. I thought we'd see him blitzing out of nickel a few snaps a game this year. Overall, with Peppers coming (last will be a small recruiting bit) in and who we have I like this unit going forward. Mallory is a solid DB coach.
Recruiting: Many expressed concern about whether our play will hurt us in recruiting (especially with Hand and I'd toss the mentioned Malik as well) and I think it could but overall won't. I think Hand (hope I'm wrong) was always going to stay in the Virginia area or go further South. Top DEs from that region just tend to do so. Do we have no chance? Absolutely not. I just think Hand, like most top prospects, want to go to a school where they churn out what his true career will be and that's the NFL and NFL players. I'm sure education is important to him but I've thought for a LONG time that he would eventually go to some Southern school and education would slowly take a backseat to winning and being surrounded by other top DL. Those schools turned out to be Bama and UF. I'd guess we finish behind both, hope I'm wrong.
As for Malik, I actually think our play can have an impact on him. While I think Hand just wants to get a decent education while also playing for an immediate winner, I think MM wants to play for the "hot team". If he stays local I can genuinely see him going to msu or osu. After seeing msu today that could sway a guy as their DL just mutilated our OL. Bigtime guys have gone there under MD and flopped/never developed (odd how the really good ones tend to be the nobodies, ya know!?!) but seeing a QB getting jumped on by 3 DL in 1 second makes an impression. Then, osu had the most fortunate sanctions ever. They traded a coach I think Hoke could hang with for a guy that fled the SEC out of ego only to bring the style up to a weak B10 so they play about 2 games a year where they even have to try. Urban inhereted all that JT talent and the QB just happened to be prototype for his offense. With that offense, the defense can just pin their ears back and with the win streak I think they are appealing to him. Also, don't count out Southern schools for him, either! I could see him pulling a Nick Perry and leaving the area for the "hot team" and that could be a number of SEC schools.
All said and done, I think we could easily miss out on both Hand and MM but for different reasons. So, I don't think those on board are going to jump ship over play as kids understand that even in HS you lose games. Recruits know what it is to lose and reasons why you can lose. Yet, a few guys remaining on the radar may be turned off if we lose out. May even have a kid jump ship but that is nothing special as almost every class has one regardless of play.
This is tough. I truly thought next year would be THE YEAR we looked like "we can hang with anyone in the conference at worst" Michigan again. I'm not so sure now and I'm not so sure due to everything from some coaches to some players. I didn't think we were going to play for or win a NT or even a B10 title this year so the msu loss didn't shock me. I'm shocked at how inept we look on offense given the talent we have. I'm shocked we lost to psu and even more at HOW we lost to them (I think we lied down, bitched out and played not to lose). I thought, while at UTL2, that if we beat ND we'd go into November undefeated but also said we'd potentially drop each game in that gauntlet as it is a gauntlet. No game this month is a sure thing and even more so due to our offense. IMHO, we need to already be secretly vetting guys for OC and potentially OL coach as youth just doesn't cover how poorly the play and calling has been. DB is willing to spend so find a successful guy or two, UM ties or not, and throw the bank at them. If I'm DB, I tell Hoke that AT BEST those two have one more year and he may need to think about guys he'd like to coach beside as they may need to go after signing day. I no longer have any confidence in Borges and have only slightly longer of a leash for Funk.
To end this novel positively, I want to state that I truly think that the current staff has done wonders at times considering what they were left with post-RR. I also want to return to a Stanford (old UM, lol) like offense that just beats you into submission as I LOVE that kind of football and hate the spread. If I can say a decent thing about msu it's that at least they still play good ol' fashion football and no this pansy spread BS. Always hated it. I want to return to the BIG, dominant OL with a BIG FB and BIG TEs paving the way for a stable of BIG HBs and PA passes from a BIG Pocket passing accurate QB to BIG WRs (haha). I DO! SO BAD! Just, right now is right now and Hoke is not Harbaugh. Under Jim, we'd be that team right now but Hoke is a game manager. I think we need to find a new OC and maybe OL coach. Defensively, in a few years we'll be scary. That I see and feel. I think the future can be very bright but all great HCs know when to put business (wins) over friendship. Hoke needs to see that the guy he chose to call his offense is refusing to just do what works until we can be what we want. He needs to see that in the meantime, no change can hurt your image and recruiting and then it's back to rebuilding. Borges insists on living in the house he's building. Hoke needs to see that, determine if he can adapt and move on if he can't as Michigan cannot rebuild again in a few years. This is it or it's a Notre Dame nuclear winter for the next 20 years. I truly think Hoke knows this and I know for damn sure that DB does.
MOD EDIT: Definitely would feel bad about relegating this to the Sticky, so this will be the Sunday Snowflake thread as well. Hopefully, the OP does not mind that - LSA
EDIT: I genuinely do not mind it. Not even kissing butt, haha. I rarely post threads so if this is more suited to diary (as some claim) or here that is fine by me. Just think we all have a right to contribute and I rarely do in a thread sense. I don't know what the sticky is (all post game talk?) but if it's for people complaining I think anyone who actually reads it will see it's just general views, questions, opinions, etc. Not much venting aside from pure confusion. The OL is one of those, HAHA.