Let me say that when Rich Rod was first hired....I wasn't super excited over the hire because he wasn't my first choice. However, since he was hired, I decided that I would support him and even began to believe that given the time, he would turn things around and turn our program into a power once again. I've been an apologist for him since he was hired and debated everyone that hated on him without any basis or knowledge of the program.
However, after sitting in my seat today, and watching this team, I began to realize that these players are not getting better. I saw players not playing up to their potential. I saw players getting beat by players who were physically undermatched in every way. UMass was just flatout better coached, better prepared, and executed leaps and bounds better than Michigan. These players on defense, many of which are still young, but none the less "his" players, don't look any different than the players of 2008 that were NOT "his" players. So much confusion on defense, so many missed assignments, so many bad schemes and lack of adjustments to stop UMass. We all thought that given time, Rich Rod would be able to teach these players and turn these athletes into the type of players they could/should be. However, I'm seeing players playing well below their potential, and being put in positions schematically that don't allow them to succeed. Why in the world would we give a 10 yard cushion on 4th and 9?!?!?!?!? I know their base defense is the 3-3-5, but why wouldn't you adjust when your 3 man front isn't getting any pressure whatsoever, and looking totally inept at containg a semi-mobile quarterback and running back?!?!?!?!?!? UMass was getting the edges and corners at will. Disgusting! They were having all the time in the world to hit their receivers who would just stop in a huge hole in the zone and rack up first down after first down. I'm starting to believe that Rich Rod doesn't know how to get the best out of his players. He really has no clue how to put together a top notch defense, and actually, he hasn't even shown that he can put together a serviceable defense that can adjust to the type of offense that it is up against.
Offensively, outside of Denard Robinson, I've not been impressed one bit. The offensive line, with all of its talent and potential, has really been a let down in my opinon. The inability of them to provide running room for the running backs (who I'll get to in a second) is absolutely driving me nuts. They were getting man handled by UMass for goodness sake!!!! In the first half they were getting driven off the ball easily. In the second half, things got better, but they should have because thats what was supposed to happen, so I'm not impressed by that. I've been really diappointed in Vincent Smith. I don't see any ability from him to use his vision and make plays. He runs right into the defense and hasn't been the shifty hard to tackle running back that we were expecting. I think Shaw has been playing hard and playing up to his potential, but hasn't been given many holes to run through. The offensive line was not very good against ND or UConn either, Denard just covered up their mistakes because you don't have to be great upfront if you have a good running quarterback. The only way you can really judge an offensive line's abilitiy to run the ball is when they run with the running backs. Denard has also helped with pass protection because it is so hard to get a hold on him. The receivers outside of Roundtree and Stonum today have been anything less than impressive or intimidating.
I have a lot more to complain about because I'm so ticked, but I don't want to make this too long.
My outlook: Not great. I haven't been very impressed with Rich Rod's recruiting either. I feel that we are ending up with some traditionally less talented classes the past few years. He has been able to get a few nice players, but as a whole, his classes have been below par for what a traditional Michigan team. Defensively, this team is so thin with talent, and the future isn't looking too great, even with this years class. I don't think we will get many of the top guys that we are supposedly "in" on, and we will again settle for some average to below average 3 star players. Maybe I'm just being a debbie-downer because I saw a Michigan team that hasn't changed one bit over that past 3 years, and is still a power program that will become a punching bag once it enters the Big Ten portion of it's schedule.
I know many of you will disagree with me, but I find that I'm usually very good at seeing these things. I want Michigan to be relevant and a national power just as bad as anyone else, but I just don't see this happening with Rich Rod, especially not before he would lose his job. I love Michigan and can't bare to see a program with all it's history, and fans, and prestige, to barely beat UMass and look so bad doing it.
Sorry for all my negativity, but it's not my fault.