well Minor Rage was in Full Effect Today
and Roundtree was just catching footballs
Re-Evaluation is Necessary
well Minor Rage was in Full Effect Today
36 - purdue
13 - illinois
10 - penn state
28 - iowa
20 - msu
the penn state and illinois games are really the only ones where our true freshmen led offense has been shut down. when you score 36 points against purdue, you should be able to win the game. the offense has had its hiccups, for sure, but in general, its been good enough to win most games. thats richrod's forte, that's looking fine.
my problem is with his defense. his hiring of scott schaffer. his hiring of greg robinson. woolfolk said something to the effect of "none of us (on defense) have any idea what's going on out there!?" that sounds like its a coaching problem. it sounds like robinson is making things too complicated. i mean, obviously, this team is very, very thin in the secondary. but aside from that, there is a good amount of talent.
NT: Martin - 4 star recruit.
DT: VanBergen - 4 star recruit.
DE: Graham - 5 star recruit.
Q: Roh - 4 star recruit.
...the dline has plenty of talent...not even mentioning 5-star will campbell.
MLB: Ezeh...frosh all-american.
WLB: Mouton - 4/5 star recruit.
SLB: Brown - 4 star recruit.
...these guys are all very talented...but they're making mental mistakes and getting replaced by walk-ons. that's bad coaching.
SS: Kovacs - walk-on.
FS: Williams - 4 star recruit.
CB: Warren - 5 star recruit.
CB: Woolfolk - 3 star recruit.
...kovacs is a walk-on, but why isn't emilien or jt turner playing!? have the coaches not been able to get them ready!? williams sucks, but is it because of physical limititations, or mental mistakes!? i think the latter...and i think its the coaching staff's fault.
Sure, it may have been a mistake. We'll see. Comments (off-the-cuff):
* For most people, the style of offense wasn't the main issue with the old regime. Rather, it was the DUH-bored predictability. How often did they run when a young receiver was sent in the game? (This is often cited by critics of Lloyd.) How many times did the running play go in the same direction as the FB pre-snap bunny hop? Remember the remarks of the USC defenders after that Rose Bowl debacle? Lots of "We knew what they were going to do."
* You mentioned the lack of talent. I'd like to ask the gallery (as I did elsewhere on this 'blog) how many future NFLers there are in the '05, '06, and '07 groups that are still at UM. It may be that Illinois in Purdue have an equal amount or fewer at the same level, but the point is that UM can't currently out-talent its foes as it used to in the BoMoCarr years.
i like how alot of your critiques of lloyd are the same of critiques of rr
darryl clark: "we knew what the defense was going to do"
offense: running the same 3 zone read, quick screen, and half back pitches throughout the game.
as predictable as lloyd was i can tell you rr is the same. its first down run, if its aloss then second and third down pass. not to mention if drob is in the game its two runs, a holding penalty, and a long throw (int) on third down.
I'd counter (seriously) with something along the lines of "RR's offense is constrained by a lack of talent and inexperience."
You make some good points, I think it would be more accurate to look at lloyd's first 5 years in comparison rather then '03 to '07.
I think you could argue that between Moeller leaving more talent on the team and the transition being much smoother between both the coaching staff and the offensive and defensive systems you cannot compare Lloyds first few years to Rich Rod's. To me, finding an accurate comparison for Lloyds first few years could come from a program that put in a designated head coach in waiting such as Oregon. The transition would be a little more similar to what Lloyd went through although not a direct match.
Mallett was leaving no matter who the coach was after Mustain transferred to USC.
The defense would have roughly the same cast of characters.
The outcome would be slightly better, but the future would be more dismal.
If Lloyd stayed two more years, where would we be Feb. 1?? Think about that.
Thanks for not jumping down my throat, that's nice to see. Too address your points.
Mallett, I think you're probably right. I do think that Threet would have been functional for a year or two until the next blue chip came in.
Can't argue the defensive comment. There's no real defending what went on there. My only hope would be that a ball control offense last year would have mimimized the exposure of last year's team and avoided some of the psyche / confidence problems that may exist with some of the holdovers.
The future thing really is the whole point of this. I just am not as convinced as some that going the route of a coach in waiting under Carr would have been a dismal future. Someone needed to get in his head to choose the right coach in waiting though, and I don't have a lot of confidence that would have happened (I'm thinking Loefler, but I know there are issues with that).
My guess, if Lloyd stayed the last two years, on Feb 1 we'd be coming off an 8-4 and 9-3 season with an Alamo and Outback bowl. We'd be pissed, but it'd be nothing like this.
So essentially we're taking a risk for long-term success with short-term heartache vs short-term mediocrity with long-term... mediocrity. Given Rodriquez's track record, that's a risk I'm willing to take. You may differ, however, and that is fine. Listening to apologists on both sides I still feel that the arguments for Rodriguez carry significantly more weight than those against him.
Thus, essentially, we should all continue to support the team and wait to see how these next few years unfold before the winner of this debate will be decided, because it isn't going to happen any time soon.
I think you're almost right on with what we're risking. I take exception with your definition of mediocrity. The goals I keep hearing for Rodriguez are Big Ten titles, BCS bowls and occasional sniffs of national championships. In my mind, that is not an improvement, it's the same thing that happened between '97 and '07. If you're saying we'll be in the NC game once every five years and win a fair share of those, then we're talking.
we honest to god in the NC hunt in those 10 years? I can only remember '06.
I'll take that. We had, I think, 10 wins or more 5 times during that time. How good does that look right now?
Can RR get there? Maybe. I hope so. And even if he can't get to 10 wins in 2 or 3 years from now, but can get to 8 or 9 and have the team playing at a high leven and then consistently win at a high level, then he will be fine. I that can be maintained for 10 years he will be revered.
What I am really worried about is that if doesn't make it to 8 or 9 wins by 2011, he'll be gone. Which, he would probably deserve to be.
One of the attractions to RR, and the other coaches that got a serious look (still don't think Les was ever considered by Bill Martin) is that the guys were young. If we can start winning with RR, we've got a long stretch of winning ahead, cause he going to coach for another 15 years minimum.
but did you see how bad the offense was last year? Sheridan/Threet weren't good any way you slice it. We still have to replace Manningham, Arrington, Hart, and Long.
Last year I think would have been a 6-6 7-5 year if we didn't have to go through the total rebuilding project. At that point, do you honestly think Lloyd's going to stay after a 6-6 year?
In the short term, yes this sucks donkey dick. But our ceiling is still a TON higher than Michigan teams of the past, where we topped out at 9-3 with a few head scratching losses because our offense was so conservative or our D can't defend a spread.
I hope your right about the ceiling. Only time will tell. As for last year, Sheridan is probably fourth string if Lloyd stays (behind Threet, the guy that decommited to Iowa, and Coner), so he never sees the field. I stand by my statement that Threet is functional in a tradional pro-style offense. That being said, 7-5 is still realistic.
I'm right too. Who knows at this point. IMO we needed a big change to become none complacent and sink to the middle of the big ten. RR has a proven track record and I hope it works out. But I won't question the decision to hire the best coach available until we give him an honest to god chance to get his players in and a chance to develop them.
I'm not sure about this year, but last year I think we'd have been in a pinch even with Lloyd around. Threet was not ready to be a starting QB last year. He just wasn't there in his mental and physical development. His level of play was comparable to John Navarre's when he was a freshman (filling in for Henson in 2000), only we didn't have guys the caliber of Thomas at RB, Terrell and Walker at WR, and Hutch, Backus, Brandt et al. on the OL. Unless the defense would have performed massively better under Carr/English, I think it would have been tough to do much better than 6-6. We were just really down, talent-wise.
Stuff like this is the #1 reason why I wish we wouldn't have lost the game. Cause I knew all this crap talk would continue.
We're still half-way through year two. Rodriguez still only has one full recuriting class under his belt, and you fully admit that we are extremely depleted talent wise right now.
So team with little talent and lots of youth = bad/inconsistent team 9 out of 10 times.
Am I happy we've performed so poorly? Of course not, no Michigan fan is. But I've already seen the improvement on the offensive side of the ball and how dangerous we already are, and that's only going to get better. We all knew we were EXTREMELY thin on the defensive side of the ball, and when a few of the starters turned out to be lame ducks, we really had nothing better to fill in the holes. Other teams know this and attack it.
The coaching staff deserves blame, no doubt about it. But no I don't think this was a huge mistake, and in a few years everyone else will realize the same thing too.
I really don't think my OP is or was intended to be crap talk. It's just an honest analysis and rundown of what I'm thinking and what I think are fair questions to ask. I'm as invested in this team (emotionally and financially) as anyone out there and I hope you're right about this working out.
I posted a couple of weeks ago that the RR tale is showing many signs of a tragic ending. I LOVE Michigan football, but I do not believe that Rodriguez is going to work here. If 5-7 this year, do not be surprized if the powers that be provide, lets say, some "additional assistance" to the NCAA is finding some "just serious enough" violations in their investigation to cut the cord. Such a post here is cause for a thrashing I know, but I think Michigan is in preservation mode. The question at this point is not how long until we contend for a NC, but how long until Michigan is not even a viable school for a top recruit to consider. I would gladly trade another two year "transition" period right now if M brought in a new regime right now for the long term damage that I believe will result from the extension of this experiment any longer. And the worst take on things that is constantly repeated: RR's track record. He had a couple of good teams at WV, we get it. He made Tulane not terrible for a couple of years, great. This is a different animal. I can promise that I do not hate RR, I don't think he is terrible coach, and I do not want this transition to fail, it just looks like it already has.
If Lloyd had stayed and coached last year and this year, would he be 8-14 in the last 22 games? If the answer is no[...]
I think you fail to address what happens if you think that yes, Michigan would have had that same record. There are very few players that I think we would have kept, Boren and a couple of non-contributors. That's just my opinion, but it's not like we'd ever really know anyway.
I still think Mallett was gone, so it's not like our QB situation over the last two years would be any better. After that, most of our upperclassmen players now would be the same players starting for Lloyd. That doesn't really make me feel too excited about this year.
As far as the offense last year, I'm not certain Threet would have been that much more awesome in a pro offense. He'd be a little bit better, but how much behind that OL? I'm not sure I see them being maybe one win better.
But this is one of those things we'll never know. We'll never know if Lloyd left because he saw the next few years being a decline for Michigan. We'll never know how well he would have done if he stayed.
The only thing we do know is that there was a dearth of talent in his last few recruiting classes, and what talent there was or might have been, for the most part, didn't stick it out for one reason or another. We know that is what's hurting us the most.
But I think the answer is no.
As you said, there's no way to know. BUT, if we're guessing, I say that if Lloyd stays, Mallett leaves, Arrington and Boren stay, and Mitchell and Ciulla come back for fifth years. We don't screw around with McGuffie and Shaw at the beginning of last season, so Minor is the workhorse (of course he'd get hurt...) and Threet is functional (remember, it would be his second year in the system) in the ball control, pro-style offense. The defense doesn't get put in all of those awful situations and they do much better with their senior leadership and their third season in English's system. Worst case scenario, they win the Toledo, Purdue, and Northwestern games to get 6-6 and part of me thinks they have a fighting chance in the Utah, Notre Dame, and Michigan State games. Juice would have lit up English's defense.
The variables get too high to predict this season, but I think they at least beat Purdue to be 6-4 right now. So no, that isn't awesome, but it's not 8-14.
And yes, I realize now that I've thought about it a little more, I'm contradicting my record predictions in my response above.
Yeah, like I said, I could see us as 4-8 team last year under Carr. I don't think Mitchell or Ciulla (wasn't Ciulla actually hurt?) would have stayed. As far as McGuffie, I doubt he would have as well, but I'm not sure I would write it off as quickly. Minor and Brown were bad at reading the zone blocking and both fumbled quite often.
But as we agree, we'd never know the final outcome. I'd give us the Toledo game, but I'm not sure I'd give us anything else. So yeah, six, one half a dozen, another.
We don't screw around with McGuffie and Shaw at the beginning of last season, so Minor is the workhorse (of course he'd get hurt...) and Threet is functional (remember, it would be his second year in the system) in the ball control, pro-style offense.
Minor didn't play much in the first half of last season because he had a serious wrist injury. It's not that the coaches didn't know he was the best option; they just weren't sure his wrist would allow him to hold onto the ball.
As for Threet, he showed real issues with his accuracy and decision-making last year that I don't think had all that much to do with the system. He looked like a typical RS frosh QB - confused and raw. Note that our young QBs under Carr (Henne aside) generally looked pretty bad, even when they had excellent talent around them. It takes time to learn that position.
If Lloyd was still HC, we'd be Wisconsin. Not good enough to win the B10 title, maybe good enough to go to a 2nd tier bowl and maybe win it occasionally, but slowly moving to the median of the B10. Even this year I predict that the B10 champion loses the Rose Bowl and the B10 has another losing bowl record. B10 teams can beat the hell out of each other, but lose outside of the conference to good teams.
The choice was slow pain or fast pain. We've chosen the latter and now it remains to be seen how long the pain lasts. I'm still of the mindset we took 1 step back to make 2 steps forward. I have also been quite open to criticize the lack of player development which is the job of position coaches, not the HC.
they all came with him! It is RR's responsibility for player improvement year to year. Week to week, I think you're right, he's not reaponsible for why Boubacar was decent one week and awful the next (or pick your db of choice not named Donovan Warren).
before and really haven't felt compelled to retort. But, you know what, the above is just riduculous. I mean, really, seriously. And that's not necessarily an indictment on RR. I don't think there is a single person in the entire world who would legitmately believe that Lloyd would have been 3-9 last year or have won a single game in the big 10 this year. That's laughable.
There are a lot of reasons for that. First and foremost a wholesale transition. Second major attrition, including the highest rated qb recruit (Mallett) and a competent dropback qb Threet (who was misused by Rodriguez).
I haven't really said this before on this site, but we hear a lot from RR's staff about not having players, having the wrong linebackers to cover man to man, etc. etc. I have yet to hear RR say, "You know what, we didn't have the player to run X scheme, maybe we should've run the Y scheme."
More importantly, cause I can live with the failure to adapt to personnel only 2 years into a wholesale transition, but I sure would like to see the coaching staff assign some blame to themselves for a change -- for instance not kicking a field goal down 8. That decision likely cost us the game.
I haven't really said this before on this site, but we hear a lot from RR's staff about not having players, having the wrong linebackers to cover man to man, etc. etc. I have yet to hear RR say, "You know what, we didn't have the player to run X scheme, maybe we should've run the Y scheme."
I think that's fair.
First of all, the point of hiring Rodriguez was to implement his schemes. It's been more painful than we expected, but at the same time we're getting what we asked for.
Secondly, and more importantly, I think that with the dearth of talent on our team, especially our defense, its very difficult to implement any scheme, especially as we have only two competent members of the secondary and neither is a safety.
As was already said, this is fair. However, what schemes would work better than the current one? I think the "power running" game with Minor has worked relatively well, but beyond that we're just not set up talent wise to have any other schemes work more efficiently.
On offense, we have an o-line that's just plain not good with Molk out. Forcier had pressure almost every down today when he was dropping back/rolling out. We've got some good receivers and some very good running backs, but we still have a true freshman QB to get the ball to them.
On defense, we could run whatever scheme we want and it wouldn't matter. Unless the scheme you're talking about involves cloning Graham and Warren and just putting 11 of them out there.
Accepting that RR might possibly never enjoy his usual level of success here is a tough pill to swallow, and it's something we need to prepare ourselves for a bit, but there's definitely still PLENTY of time to turn things around.
"I haven't really said this before on this site, but we hear a lot from RR's staff about not having players, having the wrong linebackers to cover man to man, etc. etc. I have yet to hear RR say, "You know what, we didn't have the player to run X scheme, maybe we should've run the Y scheme." "
I actually think RR has adapted scheme to personnel very well and this is eomthing he should be credited for and isn't.
Example: Our defensive scheme is highly suited to our personnel. We just have very subpar personnel, but the scheme is adapted to it.
Example on Offense: The power running game we've seen this year.
to the personnel, you'd probably run a little more "I" formation, wouldn't you? Yeah, the few times we've run a power game, it has worked well. We drove for a td against State using it earlier this year, and then never went to back to it the remainder of the game.
On defense, if you are possibly suggesting that playing man coverage with a middle linebacker like Obeh on the sideline playing bump and run against a running back on an island is adapting to personnel you have, then there's no way anyone who understands football can reply to that.
I think it's entirely possible that Lloyd could've gone 3-9 last year. I don't think it's impossible that he'd have zero wins in the big ten this year.
These are bad teams we're talking about. They're going to be bad because the players are mostly bad. Wait a year or two, and the players will be better. Then get on the internet and spew.
this is beyond revisionist history to think lloyd would have gone 3-9 last year. that would have meant he lost to toledo and nw.
It's just as much 'revisionist history' to say Lloyd would have done better than 3-9 last year, which is what many are saying.
To suggest he would have done markedly better is delusional and ignoring the realities of the situation.
Plus, WildcatBlue didn't say Lloyd *would* have gone 3-9 last year, he suggested it would have been a possibility, which, yeah, it would have been a possibility.
Mallet and Minor and Brown would likley be competing for the big 10 championship this year. Hell, we almost beat Iowa with out there with what we've got. People need to open their eyes. You hate Lloyd Carr's "conservatism", fine. You think he was a tired out old man, fine.
I don't think there is a chance we wouldn't be competing for a big 10 championship both last and this year. You may disagree.
The point is that when RR was brought in and refused to adapt his style of coaching to the players on team, this result (or close to it) is not a surpise. That's why he gets 4 years minimum.
My problem is not the refusal to adapt even, it's things like poor clock management (which actually seems to be gettting a little better), not knowing that you've got to take point on 4th and 10, and doing something, anything, to chew up some clock when y0ur defense was just on the field for 6 minutes, instead of running 3 hurry up plays so you can punt the ball back to them (which I consider game management).
You are not smart.....at all....if you think this team would be in the hunt for a B10 title this year had they retained Mallett. It's stupid because Mallett was gone regardless. It's stupid because Minor and Brown, while good, are perpetually hurt even in a scheme that gives them 15 carries a game max. If we put aside the above and assume those guys are healthy and Mallett is here....HAVE YOU SEEN OUR GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING DEFENSE THIS YEAR? To say adding one guy (on fucking OFFENSE no less) makes this team a B10 title-worthy team is probably the dumbest thing I've read on here in quite a while.
"if you think this team would be in the hunt for a B10 title this year had they retained Mallett. It's stupid because Mallett was gone regardless."
FTR, I said he'd be a probably a game better, and gave him the Toledo game. So 4-8 or 5-7. I still think we would have been a horrible team last year, and a bad team this year, regardless of coach.
this is beyond revisionist history to think lloyd would have gone 3-9 last year. that would have meant he lost to toledo and nw.
I don't know about Toledo (I do think we'd have won the game as it is if Threet hadn't gotten knocked out), but Carr often had trouble against Northwestern, and given that last year's NW team went 9-4, it's not that big a stretch to consider that he might have dropped that game, too.
I generally agree with your theory. Michigan was a ~.730 team going into this. The only way that this will be successful marriage is to be better than that on the other side of all this.
The transition seems to have been a little ill-conceived from the beginning. We know that Bill Martin went after Greg Schiano and we think that he inquired about Les Miles. That's an indication that his initial idea wasn't to look for a complete overhaul.
When those coaches didn't work out and WVU had the Pittsburgh meltdown, RR was the biggest name coach out there. Martin felt that he needed to make a big hire and the rest is history.
I agree that we're too far into this to turn back now. RR will certainly get to coach year three (and most likely year four due to a buy out clause). I think that anything beyond that will be based on how confident the administration is that we'll start seeing > .730 dividends. Only time will tell.
Incidentally, Schiano's 2006 season seems to have been the exception, rather than the rule. He has been coaching acceptably at Rutgers since (but not well enough, I think, to stop people from grumbling about having built a beautiful new stadium for a just-above-average team).
Martin went for someone with a track record of success at every level. There's no guarantee that any new coach will pay off, but Rodriguez was a relatively safe bet. The only safer bet would have been someone with a track record of success at Michigan's level, and coaches like that are few and far between. Miles was more or less our only shot at someone like that, and we all know what happened there.
Rodriguez's teams won two major bowl games in 7 seasons at WVU. Carr won two in 13 years at Michigan (one in which ever player at RS sophomore level or higher had been recruited by Gary Moeller, and another where his quarterback, Tom Brady, had also been recruited by Moeller).
Rodriguez had success above Michigan's level at freaking West Virginia. When the roster improves in a few years, he will fuck shit up at Michigan.
When I said "Michigan's level," what I meant was "traditional recruiting powerhouse."
Which is not to take away from what you said. I agree with you, my friend, and I look forward to the day when your prophecy comes true.
the capital one bowl against florida wasnt a big game. i mean, its looking like the last bowl game we would have gone to in 2 years...
RR won one major bowl game at WVU (against UGA). He wasn't on the sidelines against Oklahoma so you can't really give him credit for that win. Yes, he assembled that team, you just don't know what the outcome would have been if RR had been calling the shots (not to mention the inherent emotion of WVU playing in that game after losing their coach).
Also, I'm pretty sure that Lloyd Carr was on Gary's Moeller's staff and might have had a little something to do with the recruiting classes that were landed during that regime. Assistant coaches do recruit, right?
Besides that, Tom Brady landed in Michigan's lap. His high school coaches sent tapes to Michigan, it's not like Gary Moeller "discovered" him all on his own.
I like last years recruiting class and with a lb and some corners/safety help this class should also be pretty good but it won't matter if the coaching doesn't improve. And that starts with richrod.I hope gerg continues to take on more responsibility because i think hopson is a mistake (and probably gibson too). A little tweaking within the coaches probably wouldn't hurt.
changing, tweaking, whatevering coaches. Bullshit. Let these guys coach. RR will either dig his own grave, or dig out from beneath the one that's half shoveled in. I don't want to hear any more excuses from the staff after next year. He's got two more years to show us something positive. That's it.
The toughest decision he's going to have to make is whether to start Tate or Gardner next year. If he doesn't win at least 8 in 2011, he should probably go. So, do you start the yet another freshman next year hoping he increases the rushing offense? Or, do you go with the passer and hope that the defense improves?
i'm legitimately curious what people think we, as michigan, should expect as an average michigan team over say the next ten years? 2 losses/season? better than that? because then you're getting into Fla, USC territory
there aren't too many Urban Meyers or Pete Carroll's out there that have year-in and out elite teams. there just aren't. it's a little greedy to hope for that out of RR, but i think there were many of us who dreamed that might be the case.
maybe this should make us reevaluate whether RR can possibly be that type of coach with elite teams (averaging 2 losses a season). but if he were to hang around for 10 years, can't we at least presume his baseline is 4-loss teams? i mean, we've all admitted there's a perfect storm of extenuating circumstances right now, and we're still looking at a 6 or 7 loss type team. so aren't 4-loss type teams a reasonable worst-case scenario for RR, with the occasional BCS-level team?
so let's say you hired schiano or debord (shudder), and you got your 4-loss team this season (maybe even last season). well great, we didn't have to go through the pain. but what's the ceiling? those coaches are even less likely than RR to have elite teams year in and year out. so if you hired someone who didn't mandate a sea change in philosophy, 10 years from now you're still close to the worst case scenario with RR, maybe one more win/year better. what have you lost by hiring RR? so he's not the homerun hire you'd hoped for, he's still not much worse, if at all, than the alternatives.
in short, the upside is so much greater than the alternatives, and the downside is about the same.
I don't think we can assume that his baseline / downside is a four loss season. Until we see something even close to that as an upside, we just making a leap of faith.
how this was so egregious as to be negbanged. like it wasnt his opinion or anything.
Very well said.
I agree 100%.
I don't think anyone else would have done much better than RR these past 2 years, but, over the long-term, the ceiling with those people is much lower than it is w/ RR.
So, the question is, is the tradeoff worth it of having slightly less sucky (record-wise), but still sucky, teams over the past 2 years under a different coach, but a much lower ceiling of long-term achievement than RR provides? Or, is it better to, with RR, have a similar baseline long-term, really suck for the first 2 years, but, have also have the possibility of exceeding the baseline, excelling, and becoming a national powerhouse? In that trade off, I'm all in for RR!
When evaluating Rodriguez, we should evaluate him on an absolute scale, not a relative scale. This means that we should generate expectations based on what we think were a reasonable set of scenarios for a coach with his system taking control of the team in 2008.
You evaluate Rodriguez on a relative scale. This is more suited to determining whether it was logical to hire him, which is immaterial as we are deep into the transitional period and thus firing him would be counterproductive unless he is underperforming a legitimate set of initial expectations.
We should not blame Rodriguez for being hired. We should only blame him for things that he does wrong.
You evaluate Rodriguez on a relative scale. This is more suited to determining whether it was logical to hire him
Exactly. That was the approach of this exercise. I stick by my thought that we're too far into this to change course now, I am just saying it's not so obvious to me as it is to some that UM is on the right course.
I misunderstood your intent. Stupid of me (it hasn't been a good day in that regard, or in any other for that matter).
As to your original post, I do think that a philosophical change was necessary. A spread offense is clearly more effective than a traditional offense, which can be determined just by looking at the trends over the past 10-15 years. Teams like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas have been dominant offensively by running versions of the spread offense combined with good talent. Meanwhile, as more and more teams adopt spread offenses, the need to defend them further arises. And one thing that is clear from the Carr era is that Michigan was incapable of doing so.
Perhaps we didn't need to make so drastic a shift in philosophy as we did by hiring Rodriguez, but the need was clearly there. At any rate, we'll know where we stand much better in the next 1-2 years, at which point we will better be able to say whether our recent struggles were worth it.
Personally, I'm not very upset about this loss. The offense played well, and it would have gone to OT if all of the extra points were made. Roundtree had a breakout game and Minor had his best game of the year. Stonum is a great kick returner. Most importantly, Forcier played well enough to win. We kill the defense after every game, but the offense was supposed to carry this team, and for the first time in a while it did so (not counting Del. St.) The defense is bad. I think it will get better with depth and more familiarity with the scheme. The offense returns a lot of major players and there is a lot of depth at the offensive positions where there will be attrition. Patience is needed. I have no doubt other coaches could have been more successful, especially ones that runs a traditional offense. However, we have already made the transition, and it would be stupid to bail out now, just when things start to click.
Looking at what Purdue and Illinois did to us fills me with dread for opponents that are actually good.
Our offense performed well, but they went up against a very mediocre defense. They will now go up against some very good defenses, and will likely have a much harder time of it.
I sure would be interested to see what goes into GERG's formulation of a defensive gameplan. With so many holes to try to fill, it would be interesting to go through his thought process.
"Gee, I'd like to have Warren snuggle up to a WR, but shit if he gets burned we know Kovacs/Wiliams can't make a play so it would be 6. But, damn, if I play Warren 10 yards off the ball, then its 2nd and 4 all day long. I'd like to blitz, but we never get to the QB so what's the point?"
Personally, I'd rather see us pressing the WRs and being physical against them at the LOS. And, I'd like to see some creative blitz packages using Roh, S.Brown and Mouton. Afterall, isn't that the point of the 3-4? You're not supposed to know where the pressure is coming from? This defense bleeds to death the whole game and gives up 30+ points. Why not try to make some momentum changing plays with pressure? Isn't there SOMETHING GERG can hang his hat on to disguise some of the holes?
That's one of the reasons Notre Dame didn't kill us. Unfortunately, offenses have seen the game field and have since adapted by spreading the field with more receivers and throwing quick passes that gain 8-10 yards a piece, unless the safeties are out of position in which case they gain a whole lot more. Basically, when there's weakness at every position group outside the defensive line, competent teams will be able to pick us apart as long as they don't run the ball every play.
Also, since the ND game, Woolfolk has been moved to CB to replace the departed Cissoko, which has weakened the safety position.
a 4-3 under as a base set.
Ok, I'll bite. Your post is well-thought out, perceptive, and articulately asks some valid questions.
OP, addressing your post paragraph by paragraph:
Re. Paragraph 1, and a conformist/defensive mindset on this blog:
I can see how you'd think that but I disagree with that assessment. I think what some people percieve as a backlash against RR criticism is simply due to the fact that most RR critics on this board (and everywhere) are posting knee-jerk, emotional reactions that really are just rants about the fact that we're losing, with RR playing the part of the lightning rod, since he's the head coach, a visible target, and has been the source of visible changes on our team that coincided with a dramatic change in our win/loss record. Our offense now looks different, our new coach talks funny, he carries himself in a way that's different from Lloyd, he's not a "Michigan Man".... and we're also now losing!! The easy conclusion to jump to is that this is RR is the cause. However, correlation does not necessarily imply causation, although people rarely take this into account in their reasoning. And I really do think that's how many people's minds are working with this, because there's been a distinct lack of articulately stated, well-reasoned, logical arguments from the RR critics, it's usually just a whiny rant. These types of missives are often ridiculed and negged here, however the distinction should be made that the reason these are ridiculed and negged is NOT because they are anti-RR but because they lack well-reasoned and clearly stated arguments on why exactly RR is the cause of our woes.
This goes hand-in-hand with the percieved defensiveness, and "apologist tactics". The fact is, many on the board that have come to RR's defense have taken the time to digest (and in many cases produce themselves) the in-depth, thorough research and statistical analysis that 90% of the overall fan base either isn't aware of or doesn't care about and doesn't take into account as they evaluate the team, and RR. We, the fans on this board, are the exception, not the norm in regards to this. I think people posting all the stats and charts, while it might come across as defensive, is merely a desire to help others in the fanbase get a clear sense of the bigger picture, and why we're seeing what we're seeing, so that an elite and innovative coach doesn't get run out of town on a rail. Because that stuff is absolutely significant as to why we're seeing the results we are. More on that below.
Re. paragraph 2 - I don't think people aren't questioning whether it will work out. Many RR supporters are starting to question. I, personally, am confident he will turn things around if he gets the time and the legitimate chance to do so.
But just as many people are also starting - and I believe prematuraly - to conclude that RR will *not* pan out.
Both camps - those who don't question that this will work out, and those who have concluded it won't - are mistaken in their assertions because the bottom line - and this is key in the whole debate - is that there simply is no solid basis yet on which to reasonably evaluate RR and to take a side either way with certainty. Once again, more on that below, rather, right here:
Re. paragraph 3: You say this:
"The cupboard was bare. I don't dispute the numbers that we've seen in the diaries, they are pretty bad."
In other words, you acknowledge the *fact* that the cupboard really is bare, but then you immediately follow that up with this:
"But I think before resting your hat completely on this theory you have to ask yourself the following question."
The cupboard was bare as you yourself acknowledge, so, how can you then turn around and allege that this is a mere theory? You continue:
"If Lloyd had stayed and coached last year and this year, would he be 8-14 in the last 22 games? If the answer is no, then a significant amount of the blame for that has to fall on Rodriguez."
That's a *big* if
Furthermore, so our evaluation of RR should be predicated on comparing the realities of this current team with a hypothetical extended Carr regimae over the past couple years?
That's not a reasonable criterion for evaluation because it's a fiction, a construction of the imagination. But, however we would imagine the teams of this season and last under Carr, certain realities about the team would remain unchanged - for example the paper-thin defense, which you acknowledge is a major problem, and which Carr is in large part responsible for.
And the defense is killing us.
For example today. The offense played well, in spite of its youth, putting up 36 points. When the offense puts up 36 and you lose, that's on the defense.
For another example, Iowa. We put up 28 points. 6 of them were from Warren, yes, but our offense, while not great, still did good enough in that game that we should have won. Take away just one of the many flagrant defensive errors in that game, for example their TE being wide open leading to 2 of their touchdowns, and we win that game. The fact that we didn't once again, is on the defense.
If those 2 games end differently, we're 7-3 instead of 5-5, and those 2 losses are on the defense.
Carr coaching this team would not have changed the defense.
In paragraph 3 you then elaborate on a standard based on the performance of the last 5 Carr years. Ok, that's reasonable, and concrete. I can accept that. Long-term, I thik it's a reasonable standard.
But you then proceed to contrast the numbers derived from Carr's last 5 years with RR's first 2 years, illustrating how RR comes up short. But once again, measuring RRs first 2 years to that standard implies that Carr would have been able to maintain that standard himself, or another coach would have been able to match it! The notion that Carr or another coach would have done better these past 2 years is a hypothetical one, and highly dubious.
Like I said, long-term, that's a reasonable standard. But concluding that becasue RR didn't meet that standard in his first 2 years - when it's likely no one (even Carr, who inspired those standards) would have been able to - that RR's a bad coach and hiring him was a mistake is completely absurd. Knowing what you know about our horrifying situation on defense, our relative inexperience on offense - including 2 freshman quarterbacks who as far as I'm concerned are overachieving at times (Where's RR's credit for that?) - as well as the injuries we've had (e.g. Brown, Minor, and perhaps most significantly Molk), can you really, truly, honestly say that any other coach besides RR would have been able to do significantly better with those circumstances?
Carr certainly wouldn't have continued to maintain the Carr inspired standards, and were he still here, people would likely be calling for his head right now just as they're doing with RR. I think Carr was a very good coach, and his legacy should be honored, but the problems we're seeing right now in 2008 and 2009 started under Carr in 2007. The lack of depth on D, lack of execution, underachieving... App. St. anyone?
People act like RR got here and we suddenly started sucking, but that trajectory began in 2007 - under Carr - when we started geting worse, hit rock bottom in 2008, and has started to improve in 2009 under RR. If anything, the progress from 2008 to 2009 indicates that RR has started to improve the trajectory of suckitude that the team embarked on under Carr, and is steering the ship in the right direction.
So, to answer your question, yes, I think we would have been 8-14, give or take a game or 2, under Carr for the past 2 years. But, in the end, a hypothetical Carr team is exactly that, a hypothetical, and is thus not a very good basis on which to evaluate RR. Using the late-era Carr metrics to evaluate the first 2 years of RR isn't reasonable because Carr himself likely wouldn't have maintained those numbers the past 2 years - nor would have anyone else. With RR, I think we'll get there eventually. If, after year 5, he's not there or very close to being there, then yeah, fire him. But questioning whether he was a good hire after year 2, making that evaluation based on the Carr standards, when it's very likely Carr himself wouldn't have maintained those standards, is crazy.
Regarding your paragraph 4 - You raise excellent, fantastic questions and observations regarding system and philosophy that I think are very useful in helping to crystalize some of the issues at hand in the "Is RR a good hire?" debate.
You say, "Another point rests with the entire assumption that a philosophical change was necessary."
We need terms at this point. That is, what exactly is meant when we refer to "philosophical" changes.
I think the debate is often muddled by the fact that there's actually more than one philosophical/systemic aspect on which Lloyd and RR differ. For the sake of current discussion, let's name 2:
1) Offensive scheme. This one is straightforward. Lloyd ran the pro-style, RR runs the spread.
2) What I will call "coaching ethos." This is perhaps an overly simplistic or reductionistic term, maybe even a misnomer. But for the sake of this discussion, what I mean by this is in a sense the core values that motivate and inform the coach's vision for the program and approach to running things day-to-day. In regards to this, we could say, broadly, that the Carr regime was characterized by tradition, conservatism, and playing it safe. RR's coaching ethos, OTOH is characterized by innovation, pragmatism, and risk-taking. These values informed how each man coaches on many levels, from hiring of personnel, to recruiting, to gameplan/strategy, to playcalling.
With that framework in mind, let's now revisit your implicit question, "Was a philosophical change necessary?"
In regards to number 1, offensive scheme: No. A philosophical change was not necessary. As you point out, there are coaches who run the pro-style offense successfully.
In regards to number 2, "coaching ethos", I think the answer is a resounding "YES! A philosophical change was absolutely necessary!" I think most would agree with this. The program was beginning to stagnate under Lloyd. The lack of innovation, the total aversion to risk-taking in playcalling, the cronyism - keeping around subpar coordinators and settling for mediocrity, letting the S&C program stagnate, to name a few things.... Those are not the decisions of an elite, top 5 coach. In that respect, a change in philosophy was necessary.
The problem with your criticism in your 4th paragraph is it conflates these 2 aspects of the philosophical shift, as if the Carr-esque coaching ethos goes hand in hand with a pro-style offense, and the RR-esque coaching ethos goes hand in hand with the spread.
This conflation is ironic because you cite a coach that defies it, Pete Carroll, who runs a pro-style offense, like Lloyd did, but I would argue aspires to the same or at least simiilar values as RR (and other coaching elites - Miles, Stoops, Meyer, Paul Johnson, Brian Kelly, Chip Kelly, et al) relative to his coaching ethos.
When Michigan did it's coaching search, I think we were trying to get a coach that had that coaching ethos, which we got in RR. I don't think we were specifically looking to get someone that runs the spread as far as offensive scheme though, but in RR, we just so happened to get that as well. A side effect of getting RR was getting the scheme change. Adapting to that likely did affect us on offense last year, so, projecting RRs year 1 and 2 numbers (which were affected by that change in scheme) as a reliable indication of his prospects of long-term success is inherently flawed, because the change in scheme was a temporary setback which won't be repeated. But even if Pete Carroll were our coach in '08, running a pro-style offense, the same system Lloyd ran, providing some level of continuity, do you really think Threetsharidamnit! would have produced better results under a pro-style system than they did under RR's spread?
So, it's not like we were out there looking to find a coach that ran the spread, we were looking for a coach who could help us make the leap from being a consistently above average team, to a perennial MNC contender, but in RR, we also got the spread, which just added another factor to the perfect storm of the past 2 seasons.
Regarding your final paragraph, you state:
"I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you aren't even considering the fact that this all might have been a huge mistake."
Has it not gone as well as hoped? Absolutely. But there's also no evidence that leads me to reasonably consider that hiring RR was a huge mistake. At least not at this point in time. And that is entirely the point - with the abysmal defense, which is not RR's fault, there's simply not enough of a basis on which to evaluate RR in a definitive fashion, with certainty, whether the conclusions one draws are positive or negative. Yet, many persist in doing so.
In conclusion and summary, things are inconclusive at this point. Definitive pronouncements, whether they be, "RR sucks!" or "RR is the savior!" are unfounded right now. That being said, there is considerable, legitimate reason for optismism, because:
1) The defense isn't his fault. No coach would have been able to do much better with it over the past 2 years. Until he has enough time to get the chance to turn it around, the D shouldn't be held against him.
2) He has an established track record of excellence. The man knows how to coach and how to build a program. He didn't suddenly forget all this when he got to Ann Arbor.
3) In spite of inexperience on offense, he's managed to turn it around significantly from year 1 to year 2. For the personnel we have this year, running a relatively new system, with inexperience and injuries, the offense really has performed pretty well. RR should get some credit for running the offense well and developing talent, and this should be a sign of hope that eventually he'll be able to turn the defense around from its current abysmal state.
The woes of the past 2 years are demonstrably accounted for by mitigating factors (mainly the D) beyond RR's control and that no coach would have fared any better with, and he's an excellent coach, and most importantly there are no clearly stated, solid arguments that any RR critics have demonstrated on why, given patience by us the fans, and time by the University, he won't take us to the promised land.
It's not that I won't consider "the fact that this all might have been a huge mistake," it's that RR's critics to this point have presented no compelling arguments as to why I should think that.
This was probably the most thought out board post ever. It deserves at least a +20. Because of that, I won't express a few nit-picks on it and leave it to those who would argue against you.
In conclusion and summary, things are inconclusive at this point. Definitive pronouncements, whether they be, "RR sucks!" or "RR is the savior!" are unfounded right now. That being said, there is considerable, legitimate reason for optismism
Also, Nice use of "conflation."