Ridiculous wallpaper part 7. Via user monuMental and his ridiculous talents:
How could this possibly happen? So when people say things along the lines of "could we really have the worst defensive talent in the Big Ten" and I say "yes," no one believes me. This is usually because one sophomore four star in the starting lineup at a particular position looks like talent and two fifth-year-senior three stars do not. Here's the Iowa two-deep on defense:
There are 22 players. Five of them are underclassmen, only one of those a starter. Nine are seniors, and this is minus a senior starting linebacker who would shove a freshman out the door. Michigan's starting lineup has as many sophomores (Floyd, Kovacs, Roh) and freshmen (Gordon, Gordon) as the entire Iowa two-deep, and where Iowa has seniors backed by seniors or sophomores backed by juniors in many places Michigan has freshmen, freshmen, and more freshmen. This is why it's impossible to tell anything about Greg Robinson yet. You could take an established genius and give him this roster and the results would be, oh, I don't know… somewhat depressing:
|Pass Efficiency Defense||92||139.01|
|Tackles For Loss||66||5.83|
That's not Michigan. It's USC. USC's secondary:
- Senior CB Shareece Wright, a top 50 recruit
- Freshman CB Nickell Robey, a top 250 recruit
- Sophomore S Jawanza Starling, a top 250 recruit
- Sophomore S TJ McDonald, a top 50 recruit
This is a "talented" secondary. It is also awful because it has one upperclassman; they're trying to bolster things by moving freshman and starting WR Robert Woods to nickelback. That sounds familiar except in Michigan's case it's a guy who should be a linebacker moving from wide receiver and being forced to start instead of being Courtney Avery.
Michigan does not have near that amount of recruiting mojo, nor does it have the veteran consistency of Iowa. Yes, if Michigan is not more experienced and less awful next year it's time to focus the firey finger of blame entirely on Rich Rodriguez. Not quite yet, though.
Parachute in. While everyone was looking at that guy in the parachute he was looking at us:
AIM FOR THE YELLOW.
Alabama-rama. Some final thoughts on the Alabama game, but first Dave Brandon:
"I just thought it was a terrific opportunity for our team, our coaches and our fans," Brandon said. "But we got the numbers right, we worked really hard to make sure there was plentiful availability of tickets, because we wanted to get that right for our fans. We hope to think of this as a preseason bowl trip where we can bring lots of people and really make it a special Labor Day weekend."
Booting the Notre Dame game is not an option, so Michigan will go on the road to face Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Alabama (sort of) in the same season. Have fun, senior Denard. Anyway, thoughts:
- I am almost certain the reason introducing a middleman is preferable to a home-and-home are the messed up TV contracts. If Michigan plays a home and home with Alabama they split the extra TV money with the rest of the conference. It sounds like by doing this neutral site thing they are getting the financial windfall all to themselves. If you dislike this trend—and as a guy who would rather travel to Tuscaloosa than Dallas, I do—the only solution is to let teams keep all the profits from their nonconference games to themselves.
- As to why it's in an irrelevant place like Dallas: when ND started its "barnstorming" games it quickly discovered it couldn't play anyone in a relevant location because TV contracts prohibit anyone from playing a neutral site game in their conference's geographical footprint unless that game is going to be on the appropriate network. The result was ND-Washington State in Texas.
- This will be the biggest nonconference game played against anyone other than Notre Dame in…a very long time. Maybe the 1996 Colorado game? Michigan accidentally played a 13-0 Utah team in 2008 but in terms of pregame hype that pales in comparison. Washington was #9, IIRC, so Alabama will outstrip that.
Etc.: Hockey has a critical road test against UNH this weekend. People are still projecting us for New Year's Day. The Daily takes a look at college amateurism and whether it can or should go away. BWS picture pages the Webb TD.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Iowa|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||3:30 Eastern, October 16th 2010|
|THE LINE||Iowa -3|
|TELEVISION||ABC/ESPN reverse mirror (map)|
Sunny, around 60
0% chance of rain
Run Offense vs. Iowa
Michigan's rushing offense failed to find the big play against Michigan State despite being a step from it a half-dozen times; down two or three scores for most of the second half they abandoned the run. The numbers came down from the stratosphere, but they weren't shut down, or close to it. Michigan's performance to date against BCS opponents:
Indiana's terrible and UConn a major disappointment. Michigan did about what Wisconsin did against MSU and obliterated a Notre Dame rush defense that's not great but seems at least decent. They've played the #6, 14, and 25 rushing offenses in the country plus three other BCS teams and are still keeping their head above water in the rankings. They're tied for 56th in YPC, 0.02 behind Penn State. Even if you take out Denard's 87-yarder, Michigan averaged 5.0 YPC against Notre Dame.
So, yes, Michigan is pretty good at running the ball this year. They are about as good at running it as Iowa is at stopping it. The Hawkeyes are currently #2 in rushing D, #4 in total D, and #1 in scoring D. Their results against BCS opponents:
Though the Hawkeyes have been unyielding the only team they've played that can run even a little bit is ISU, the nation's 63rd-best rush offense thanks to a demolition job on Texas Tech. Arizona is 92nd and passed the ball almost 70% of the time in their first two Pac-10 games. And the debacle that is Penn State's offense is 85th; Illinois just held them to 65 yards.
The jury is still out. While their numbers are strong enough to suggest they're better than, say, Michigan's rush defense they could be on par with MSU or Notre Dame. (Arguing against this: even accounting for strength of opposition the Iowa rush defense is 3rd nationally in the Mathlete's PAN metrics.) Last year Iowa was 34th in rush defense and gave up 205 yards to Michigan at 4.7 yards a pop.
This year they return the entire line but lose two of the three linebackers. MLB Jeff Tarpinian was not on the depth chart earlier this week due to a Minor-like assortment of injuries but could give it a go; if he can't his replacement is either a fifth year senior who hasn't played much in his career or a freshman. Meanwhile Michigan has changed quarterbacks (massive upgrade), replaced Minor with a platoon of Shaw and Smith (significant downgrade), and added Taylor Lewan, David Molk, and Patrick Omameh to the offensive line (significant upgrade). You'd think Michigan could at least match last year's performance with an eye towards another YPC.
Schemes will be a major complicating factor. I'll be interested to see what, if anything, Iowa does to adjust to the Denard Robinson show. Last year they sat two safeties back and let Denard run his QB lead draw over and over again on his late touchdown drive. Iowa was protecting a two score lead and had not spent time preparing for the Denard offense, so adjustments and aggression were thin on the ground.
This year Iowa knows what they're getting in Denard, and they've had a bye week to work on defending him. Will they sit back like Michigan State did and hope to stiffen in the redzone, or will they start running scrape exchanges and blitzing? I'm guessing Iowa—which loves playing a simple base D well—will start with the former and move to the latter if it's not working.
Key Matchup: Michigan coaches finding ways to option the ball into Denard's hands. DR's the best running back Michigan has but Iowa will be solid enough to handle or keep down most plays that are conventional QB runs; they can bend but not break well enough to put Michigan behind in the race to 30 points. Big plays are probably going to come from Denard on plays where the guy containing is containing the RB. As a bonus, optioning off one of Iowa's defenders means not having to block someone on that defensive line.
Think Oregon and Illinois: midline and veer.
Pass Offense vs. Iowa
Tyler jimmer-jammin' Sash
Denard's grim day against Michigan State combines with the terrible interception against Iowa last year to dampen expectations. Despite those unfortunate events, however, Robinson is still 12th in passer efficiency. Iowa's defense is better (10th) but here they've had the luxury of taking on the 106th, 110th, and 115th most efficient passing attacks nationally. In their one game against a quarterback capable of doing something other than soiling himself, Nick Foles was 28 of 39 for 303 yards. That's a healthy 7.8 YPC.
Relevancy? Slight. Foles is a pocket bomber. Denard is a magic elf reliant on breathtakingly wide open receivers and a healthy dose of screenage for his numbers. There is some slight relevancy, though. The Mathlete has the Iowa pass defense at 0, average nationally.
FWIW, last year Forcier and the receivers imploded in this game; this was probably his shoulder injury's apex.
Here the interesting bit is how much pressure Iowa gets on Denard. Their vaunted defensive line has not racked up a ton of sacks—they're middle of the pack—and Michigan opponents have been cautious with their rush except in obvious passing situations. Iowa figures to rush four most of the day as they play zone and contain; straight dropback passes will be rare and depend heavily on freshman Taylor Lewan and journeyman Perry Dorrestein facing down a challenge an order of magnitude greater than any they've faced before. A dollar says that Robinson finds himself under seige from the Iowa DL when Michigan is off schedule and cannot mount a credible threat to run.
When Michigan is on schedule things will be in Michigan's favor because of the run threat. Still, Iowa will be far less vulnerable to Michigan's mega play action game than opponents to date. They have a two-deep system, they have veteran safeties made of grit and mandibles, they have film of the stuff Michigan's done for huge touchdowns. If they can avoid bringing down a safety to combat the run, Denard's numbers will be efficient but not amazing.
Key Matchup: Denard's deep accuracy versus Whatever That Was. If Michigan's going to win they're going to have to take advantage of an open receiver downfield or three. His close-range accuracy is probably going to be fine; the past couple weeks he's missed a lot of guys deep.
Run Defense vs. Iowa
Hopes that the run defense was significantly better than the pass defense went out the window during a dispiriting day against Michigan State. After holding up well in the first quarter a series of zone stretches broke it either very big or sort of big throughout the rest of the game, leaving Michigan with truly ugly numbers:
Michigan's hung on against their other three BCS opponents but I'd be remiss if I failed to mention two different UMass backs nearing 100 yards; Michigan's defense is terrible in all phases.
So it's time for changes. Michigan coaches have promised to take the enigmatic Kenny Demens out of mothballs in the hope that he can be less of a spectator than Obi Ezeh. Only the enigmatic Kenny Demens can tell you whether or not he will be, and he only speaks an ancient Sanskrit dialect.
As far as Iowa goes, Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God is two tendons away from being as wroth as Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God, which is wroth indeed. Jewel Hampton tore his ACL for the second consecutive year and Brandon Wegher went on a vision quest, leaving Adam Robinson the only scholarship non-freshman available. You probably remember Robinson from last year's game; he was the guy who played more in the second half and had 70 yards on ten carries. Yay!
Iowa's two games against Arizona and Penn State had outcomes between mediocre and terrible. Iowa tailbacks had 36 yards on 17 carries against Arizona; Robinson managed 95 on 28 carries against Penn State. They did obliterate Iowa State but Michigan's rush defense is 55th, not 102nd. Penn State is sort of a good comparison here. They're 51st after giving up buckets of yards to Illinois and Alabama; the Illinois game found the Nittany Lions injury-wracked.
Michigan will probably be worse than PSU was, but if it's not by much—say 120 yards on 4 YPC instead of 3.4—that will be a win for the beleaguered defense and should result in a number of real live stops. Robinson is significantly smaller than the MSU guys and won't be able to drag piles as far or stay up when Cam Gordon delivers the shoulder block from hell. He's still pretty good, though, and will do damage.
Key Matchup: Kenny Demens versus Whatever The Hell It Is That's Been Keeping Him On The Bench. I'm rooting for disgust at Michigan's talent identification so hard this weekend.
Pass Defense vs. Iowa
All right, fine, more of this "detail" you're always clamoring for: Stanzi is back. He is the Stanzi of last year minus the free seven points handed out to each team before the start of the contest (the pick six against Arizona wasn't his fault). He is full of America, and he is third in passer efficiency. Given a tough situation down many, many points on the road he led Iowa most of the way back against a good pass defense and finished 18 of 33 for 278 yards. Michigan does not have a good pass defense.
The closest comparable to Stanzi on the schedule is the guy Michigan just played: Kirk Cousins. Cousins isn't a superhero but he's a veteran guy with good accuracy and a good deep ball. Michigan may be less susceptible to play action since the Iowa ground game doesn't figure to be as potent and the freshmen corners won't be given one-on-one coverage deep with James Rogers back, but when Stanzi drops back to pass bad things will happen. He was robotic against Penn State early, when Iowa ran out to the two touchdown lead they nursed through the second half.
Michigan's best hope here is getting to Stanzi. Iowa's last-ditch bid to re-tie the Arizona game ended with four straight sacks (one was erased by penalty) and Iowa's average in that department despite passing only 40% of the time. A scenario where Martin, Roh, and Van Bergen make regular trips to the Stanzi Rib Motel is possible.
If that is not the scenario that transpires, Stanzi's going over 300 yards and we'll all start gnawing whatever is handy. Table. Blanket. Whiskey bottle. Misplaced baby.
Key Matchup: Cam Gordon versus big long touchdowns. He must bounce back or we dead.
Michigan is still not good. One positive: Will Hagerup is moving away from his freshman jitters and Michigan has achieved mediocrity in net punting despite getting one blocked. Kick and punt returns are still poor; kickoffs are still poor; field goal kicking is a wasteland.
Iowa has a significant advantage in returns, but their special teams were the primary reason they lost to Arizona. They had a punt blocked and allowed a kickoff return TD. Their punter is great but thanks to that block they're well below average in net punting; their kicker is a freshman who is 2/3 on the year.
When there are punts Iowa has a slight advantage because their return situation has been better and their punter more consistent; kickoffs are probably another small Iowa advantage since Michigan can't get them deep; field goals bleeeergghgh.
Key Matchup: STOP KICKING THE DAMN BALL
- Shaw is not healthy and getting the majority of the carries.
- Taylor Lewan's quick start is brought to a crashing halt by Clayborn and Co.
- Um… defense stuff.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Kenny Demens is some kind of crazy gamer who hates practice.
- Iowa does not adapt to the spread.
- Crazy new package is crazy new and good and they've got something for the second half.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 7 (Baseline 5; +1 for Hey This Is Basically Michigan State Again, –1 for But That Game Coulda Shoulda Woulda Been Competitive Without Denard's Very Bad Day, +1 for Denard's Very Bad Day, –1 for Vague Unsupportable Feeling That Iowa's Defense Is Quaintly Outdated Re: Spread, +1 for Stanzibombs Away, +1 for Arizona Won By Doing Crazy Special Teams Things And Our Only Equivalent Is Missing A Field Goal Spectacularly)
Desperate need to win level: 8 (Baseline 5; +1 for Must Kill 2009 == 2010 Meme Please, +1 for Would Put Rodriguez Well En Route To Sticking Around To Kill People With Denard The Next Two Years, –1 for Would Be A Totally Understandable Loss, +1 for But Man Don't We Need A Crazy Upset, +1 for Bowl Eligible, Baby)
Loss will cause me to... spend two weeks putting everyone who says "2009 == 2010" on my naughty list.
Win will cause me to... buy tickets to every bowl game with a Big Ten tie-in.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
IME, the game hinges on how effectively Michigan can run the ball against an intimidating-looking defense that's a paper tiger on… uh… paper. Iowa State and Arizona both threw the ball most of the time; Penn State is incompetent. They haven't faced a running spread team this year; last year a significantly weakened Michigan team put up 200 rushing yards. It is possible that Michigan comes out with a bunch of new stuff and gashes Iowa by optioning off that DL and getting to a questionable situation at middle linebacker. Iowa could just be an okay rush defense and Michigan could be the hot ninja stuff we've all been watching.
I don't think that's the case. Though the Hawkeyes will give up yards and points they won't give up enough to combat what should be another frustrating day defensively, where the defense looks competent for stretches here and there in between crippling big plays. Stanzi and company against this secondary is going to be trouble.
Michigan's best bet on D is for the run defense to be considerably better against Robinson than it was against Michigan State and for Iowa's coaches to run or die trying. Then maybe the Iowa offensive line will be porous and the receivers have an off day.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Michigan win, but I'm not expecting it. Special teams are the final dagger. Michigan will probably have to be +1 in TO margin to win.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Hopkins: six carries.
- Kenny Demens is way more aggressive than Ezeh, resulting in a couple plays where Adam Robinson is stuffed and at least one 20-yard gain directly attributable to him. Ezeh still gets most of the playing time.
- Robinson's accuracy bounces back significantly.
- Iowa, 34-28.
SON OF A. I should have read this message board post before I posted the game column. Here's some car vandalism from the weekend that would have been a perfect insert:
This is what happens when you drop your vandalism major.
Thanks, Les. The Les Miles misery machine managed to bump Michigan below the fold in TWIS…
…so thanks for that. The Michigan section is devoid of anything like dong-punching, but only thanks to this guy and his rageohol:
This is not me. I was in the stadium one row behind an adorable child. I swear it.
Penn State implosion explanation, implications. How did Illinois run for almost 300 yards against Penn State's normally tough defense? It was the second string D:
- Linebacker Gerald Hodges: Missed his fourth game with a hairline fracture but has begun running.
- Defensive end Jack Crawford: Foot injury, spent game on crutches on the sideline, might need surgery, Paterno said.
- Linebacker Mike Mauti: Missed game with a high ankle sprain.
- Linebacker Bani Gbadyu: Knee injury.
- [Ed: these two are my additions.] Defensive end Sean Stanley: suspended for violations of team rules.
- Cornerback Derrick Thomas: suspended for violations of team rules.
- Defensive end Eric Latimore: Sustained wrist injury on first play, could be out for an extended period.
- Defensive back Nick Sukay: Possible torn pectoral muscle, also could be out for a while.
- Defensive end Pete Massaro: Treated for dehydration symptoms and played with an injured left quadriceps.
- Defensive back Andrew Dailey: Sustained possible stinger on helmet-to-helmet hit in second half.
- Defensive tackle Jordan Hill: Aggravated previous ankle injury.
That's eleven guys from the two-deep, all of whom have seen significant playing time. Michigan plays Penn State in three weeks. It sounds like Sukay, Latimore, and Crawford will definitely be out. Mauti and Hodges could be out, too, and who knows what's with Stanley and Thomas. If it's serious enough for them to miss two games it's 50-50 they'll miss four.
While that sucks for PSU that opens the ever-widening window of opportunity Michigan has in Happy Valley. That will be a critical game for Rich Rodriguez unless Michigan pulls off the upset against Iowa, in which case it will only be a very important game.
The vault. MGoVideo has put a bunch of old newsreels from the 50s and 60s on the tubes. I linked one on the sidebar yesterday that didn't end so well. None of them actually end that well, though, since they're reels from the 50s, when Michigan was no good. The best I can do is a 6-2-1 Michigan keeping the Brown Jug in 1949:
Other hat-laden newsreels covering:
- The 1951 Minnesota game, a 54-27 win over a turrible Gopher team.
- Football yearbooks in 1957 (5-3-1, losses to very good MSU and OSU teams), 1958 (2-6-1 bler), 1959 (4-5), and 1965 (4-6).
Newsreels only covered mediocre to terrible Michigan teams, evidently.
While we're idling in the 40s and 50s, a reader sent along this 1947 Time article on Crisler's Mad Magicians that sounds strikingly similar to what's going on around these parts sixty years later:
Michigan's 1947 Wolverines are a good bet to be the second team in Michigan's history to play in Pasadena's Tournament of Roses. They have been rated the nation's best. They are as unlike Fielding ("Hurry-Up") Yost's old-time Michigan teams as modern design can make them. There are no roughcast iron men on Michigan's 1947 squad. It is a collection of chrome-plated, hand-tooled specialists. Some never get a chance to make a tackle, others never throw a block. Usually none stays in a game long enough to work up as much sweat as the radio announcer, who tries to keep track of them as they trot on & off.
Michigan's shrewd Coach Fritz Crisler has taken advantage of the unlimited substitution rule. In the first four games of the season, Crisler's team used everyone but the water boy, and averaged 55 points a game.
The way they did it was something to behold. Lacking brawn, they have to be nimble. And jack-nimble is what they are —and as well-drilled as the Rockettes.
And if they had sports talk radio back then someone would call in to grouse about how this team is soft and doesn't compare to what all they had in dickety-two when Michigan beat back the Kaiser and called it a day. It's crazy that Crisler invented platooning—that anyone had to say "hey, now, maybe I should get people off the field from time to time." Also he said this:
"Confound it, if you want to be sensational, bounce the ball, turn a somersault, then pick it up and run."
This is exactly what Rodriguez says to Mike Cox.
Also, things were slightly more relaxed in 1947 when it came to everything. 24 year-old star Robert Chappius is described as such:
At the Phi Delt house, where he is president for the second year, he is a sharp bridge player and a whizz at cribbage. His card sense helps augment his G.I. allotment and the $50 a month he gets from his dad, who is an executive in a Toledo, O., porcelain-products company. On the practice field, Chappuis is very "coachable," which is exceptional in a senior. Chappuis learns easily, just as he does in the classroom, where he makes a C-plus average seemingly without ever opening a book.
Gambling! C+ averages despite never opening books! Coachable despite being a senior! In 1947 anything short of stabbing a man was good, and even that might be okay if the guy seemed German.
Iowa injury bits. Starting MLB Jeff Tarpinian is questionable. He played a little bit early in the Penn State game but left with an assortment of stingers, sending senior Troy Johnson into the lineup. Johnson got a "minor" concussion and was replaced by freshman James Morris.
So who is it this week? The Hawkeye depth chart lists Johnson first and Morris second—no Tarpinian. Everyone else save the battered tailback corps, now Adam Robinson and some freshmen, should be ready to go.
Firin' talk moratorium notification. This was inevitably going to happen after the first loss and it has happened so a note to emailers and whoever else: I'm not going to speculate on whether or not Rodriguez should or will be fired when there are six important data points coming up in the next month and a half.
Etc.: MGoUser tomcat sits next to TX LB recruit Kellen Jones on his flight home from Houston, reports back that he's a nice guy serious about academics. More MSU postgame from Dreaded Judgment and Genuinely Sarcastic; the latter is seriously overheated. I'm not sure what the Hoover Street Rag is talking about in theirs.
Dropped passes: "We were frustrated, but it happens. Unfortunately it happened in a pretty big ballgame." They'll catch some extra balls this week, and avoid it happening again. "There's nothing that happened on Saturday that's not fixable." Even the best players drop the ball sometimes.
The offense has high expectations for each week, and had more mistakes Saturday than they've probably had for the rest of the year. "We had to make some changes, and unfortunately some of those changes didn't work."
Denard was poised, but got caught in a couple situations he's not used to being in. He spoke up in the locker room after the game, and got a message across to the whole team. Said that the team had to work to avoid feeling that way again. "In his eyes, you could just see it. He's hungry."
Iowa's a great team with a great defense. "We've gotta be ready for it and we are."
"We're 5-1, not 1-5. Even though we lost to a pretty good Michigan State team in a rivalry, we've gotta move on."
"Sometimes when you're winning and everything's going perfect, we don't see the things we need to work on."
"I feel like we were doing pretty well early in the game, and they switched up some looks on us." Michigan adjusted, but wasn't able to execute as well. Being unable to get the pass game going hurt as well. "If we executed the way that we should have, it would have been more favorable on our side."
Team had grown accustomed to 500 yards of offense every week. They learned they can't just expect it, they have to work for it.
The team should respond well coming off a loss. "It's going to be something to grow from."
Iowa defense - "They have a talented front four. They have a talented defense overall." Big, strong guys on the front. "They're a sound defense. They won't throw a lot of different things at you, but they're really good at what they do."
Denard "was clearly upset after the game. We all were." He told the team that it's going to be unacceptable for them to play that poorly again.
Resolve going into this week's game. "It's a learning experience." They'll recuperate and go into the week with the same focus as last week.
"Losing is losing. Every game for us is a big game." Trying to prove that they can accomplish their goals despite setbacks.
Leaders - seniors all have to step up. "There's some things I could have done better myself."
It was hard coming in as a young guy, the freshmen this year will get it soon enough. "You just gotta bring them up to speed. The game's gonna go how the game goes." Seniors need to help keep them up to speed on the field. Off the field, they lead by example in the weight room, etc.
"We have the players to defend anybody that we play. It just comes down to execution and keeping a clear focus."
"We aren't blind to the fact that we have some glaring weaknesses, but we're working hard to get on those."
Ryan Van Bergen
"We just didn't play gap-sound football" against the run. Guys were trying to make plays in the wrong gaps.
Hard for the young guys to come in without seniors to teach them the ropes in the secondary. "I think that as they grow, the defense is gonna get better and better." That improvement can happen from week-to-week. Once a couple different guys "click," the defense should be good.
In the locker room after the game, Coach Rod said that one loss can't deter the team from their goals. There's a lot of season left. "We still have a lot of opportunities to prove ourselves as a good team."
Fewer injuries than last year, losing Molk was a big deal. The losses started snowballing. This year, the seniors have made the underclassmen understand that there can't be a letdown.
Molk and Schilling, Roundtree, Denard are offensive leaders. All three D linemen, Jonas and Obi "try their best." And Craig. J.T. Floyd and Jordan Kovacs are the leaders at DB.
"I'm very confident in the gameplan." They knew what Michigan State was going to run, and that's what made it so disappointing, because they knew what was coming. "We were prepared for it all week, and unfortunately we just didn't get it done when it came time."
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
Mike Martin and David Molk sprained ankles [Ed: PANIC!!!!], but both both should be fine [Ed: Cease PANIC]. Martavious Odoms broke his foot, no word on how long he's out other than "extended." James Rogers's injury against MSU was just cramps.
Carvin Johnson was a bit physically limited this past week, and his knee brace has been a hindrance. He'll be a bit better this week. "I don't know when he can take that brace off - I'm sure he wants to take it off today - but the trainers and doctors will determine that.
Shaw was still a little less than 100% against MSU. He should be 100% this week.
Toussaint - Won't be able to play this week. Rotator cuff injury, doesn't need surgery but does need rest. "I don't think it's mental at all. It's just bad luck." Reminds him of Brandon Minor.
Teaching Moments - "Probably we have a lot more teaching moments than I'd like, for sure, out of that ballgame." Team was just off in execution. State had something to do with that, but some were their own mistakes. D - "Our young guys are gonna make mistakes, but we've gotta get better fundamentally." Need to remember fundamentals, not just game prep, etc.
Didn't think there were more designed handoffs than there were earlier in the year. "They were playing us a certain way in the beginning, so there were probably more runs for the backs."
Dropped passes, a couple missed reads from Denard. Can't do that against a good opponent. More dropped passes in that game than there probably was the rest of the season.
Did MSU try new things to confuse Denard? "No. Not that I've seen and that we saw on film."
MSU D - "They've got good players; they played well. They moved their front some and they brought their safeties down. I thought they tackled pretty well and broke on the ball well."
Great support at the University, friends, family, colleagues. "Everybody wants the same thing here," and nobody's happy with a loss. "We lost to Michigan State, what, you wanna hang me off the building now? I mean, there might be a few people who want to do that, but that's the same people that probably wanted to do that after the first five games too, they just weren't saying it publicly."
After Denard's picks, RR talked to him about what he saw, and he got on the phone to coach Magee - but they do that on good plays as well.
"We didn't execute as well. They had something to do with that and we had something to do with that as well." Moving the ball on the ground.
Mixing up defensive personnel - "In the secondary, our only change is more freshmen playing... ready or not, here they are." Mike Jones would have played a lot at linebacker if he wasn't out for the season. "We'll see what happens this week in practice" as far as personnel changes at linebacker - need more production.
Denard very competitive, may have been pressing too much. "This is his first year as a starter... in all reality, he should be a redshirt freshman but he he had to play some last year. We're not going to panic." He's made tremendous strides from last year, and he'll be even better in the next couple years.
Younger guys typically aren't team leaders, but Denard is one still. "I'm not overly concerned with guys taking charge in the locker room and all that." Only need to worry about weak leadership when effort and focus wane, which hasn't been an issue.
Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery, and Terrence Talbott would be redshirting if there were enough numbers: "No question." They've been forced into duty this year and are growing up. "To play this many true freshmen on defense at this level, it doesn't happen very often."
"Some of the issues we have aren't gonna get solved overnight. We've just gotta minimize them the best we can, so we can still win ballgames."
Talent issues on D - "We're not as talented maybe as we'd like to be or we're gonna be." It's not just about recruiting, but also development - 4-5 true freshmen in the secondary, plus Carvin Johnson, Jibreel Black. They haven't had a chance to be developed yet. "Our development part with them and development of them in the weight room, and the development of them learning the system in college football and everything that goes on with that" can't happen until spring.
Team is resolved after a loss - their focus has been good, they'll be resilient and move forward instead of dwelling. Sometimes younger guys can move on quicker. No new leaders develop after a loss like this. "I'm not too much worried about that. I'm worried about them fixing what we need to fix and executing better."
"We've gotta be able to be patient." Don't want to press too much if they aren't having immediate success on offense. Need to remember to take care of the ball and make better decisions. "You've gotta be more decisive in your execution, and not try to force things."
Talks with defensive coaches about schemes, and a bit of fundamentals. "I'm obviously a lot more involved with the offense." Doesn't want to get spread too thin with all three phases of the ball. The coaches are frustrated that they aren't making the progress they want, but there are little signs of improvement.
Scheme has been simplified as much as possible to help the young guys. "If you're too simple, they'll find a way to go against you." You have to be more multiple. Iowa is one of the few teams that's able to beat you using mostly one defensive scheme.
Recruiting class to develop needs "We feel that's going really well." Particularly on defense: "This recruiting class will help us get those numbers... to that end." There's another 9-10-11 spots in the recruiting class, looking at positions where they're lacking depth.
Recruiting - Last couple classes were negatively impacted by drama around the program, but the coaches did a great job. "There's a lot of negative recruiting that goes on - and we've got a great thing to sell - but you've still got to fight it and our coaches have done a good job."
Doesn't want his coaches to fight fire with fire in negative recruiting "I'd rather just sell all the good things we have here." Will compare things like schemes, but doesn't talk negatively about other institutions. "It's not as bad in our league, in the Big Ten, than it is in other leagues."
"Sometimes you have a guy that comes into your program and he's on scholarship and maybe he didn't turn out to be as good or able to play at the level you want, but he does everything else right. You're not gonna boot him off your team for that reason."
Iowa has a veteran D, they have had two weeks to get ready for M. They're a great defense. "Their front four is as good as anybody's in the country." They'll occasionally blitz, but they don't need to in order to get pressure.
"Big physical team, Stanzi's an experienced guy, they've got some really explosive wide receivers. They're very good, and I think they're a top ten team in the country."
"We've got two really good tight ends in Webb and Koger. They're experienced guys." They've been playing well. "Their toughest challenge [blocking] comes this week" against Adrian Clayborn and the rest of Iowa's front.
In addition to game prep, the bye week will be used a lot to work fundamentals, particularly with young guys. This will be a normal week of game prep for Iowa.
Will watch film of last year's game against Iowa. Iowa has had two weeks to prepare though, and gotten a head start on preparation.
Will Iowa's run game mean more 4-man fronts? "We've got the ability to do that. We've done that a bit in every game." The key is to still be able to get off blocks, no matter how many linemen you have.