Mailbag, Part Deux!

Mailbag, Part Deux! Comment Count

Brian November 5th, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Super mailbag week because the mails, they come in. Side note: I try to be good about answering most of the emails that hit the inbox. This has been untenable over the last week. If you sent something and didn't get a response, try again after the Ohio State game.

At some point expectations of Rodriguez's success at Michigan can't be based solely on his performance at WV and other places. Aren't we getting to the point where we can base expectations of his success at Michigan on his results at Michigan?

Several coaches who were successful at non-power conference schools have been unsuccessful at power conference schools. Dennis Franchione and Dan Hawkins come to mind along with Billy Gillespie and Matt Daugherty in basketball. What have we seen based on what has happened at Michigan that would allow us to place RichRod closer to the Urban Meyer/Mack Brown path than the Franchione/Hawkins path?

Well, I think you're seeing the first serious discontent leak into non-lunatics after the Illinois game. As I said in the game column, that was a game-changer. If Michigan beats Purdue and then goes on to take either of the last two games of the year, the Illinois game melts away and Michigan fans go into the offseason fairly content presuming a decent bowl performance, but the performance of the team to date says this is not a  likely outcome.

I don't think we're to the point where Rodriguez's performance at Michigan is the only factor to take into account; when you're thrashing around with freshmen quarterbacks and walk-on safeties in year two, things that happen on the field are not necessarily all your doing.

The only relevant conversation to have here is "at what point is it reasonable to let an under-performing Rich Rodriguez go?" Anyone who says "now" is an idiot. I usually mince words to play nice here but I'm exasperated: if you think Rich Rodriguez should be fired before next season you wear floaties when you go swimming and enjoy Ow My Balls(!).

Not that the emailer thinks this. But I have talked to people who do.

A follow up to the last mailbag's "Woodley or Graham" question:


I saw in the most recent mailbag that a reader addressed the Graham v. Woodley topic. I'd thought about that about 3 weeks ago and checked out the UFR's. Here they are:

Woodley 2009 - 11 games (bowl game wasn't UFR'ed), +85 (total)
Graham 2009 - through 8 games, +84

Soooo, yeah. Numbers point strongly toward Graham having a better senior season.


Graham picked up a +8 in the last game, too, though it should be pointed out that I've given him +6 for punt blocks. Defense-only contributions have not quite obliterated Woodley as thoroughly. Also, Woodley lived in the era before half-points and may have gotten shorted a few times. Graham doesn't pick up many half-points, though, he mostly eats rocks and breathes fire and picks up +2 or +3. It's splitting hairs between the two defensive ends on the All-Decade team, but IME Graham is #1.

And a follow-up to the Michigan Drinking Song Q:

Hi Brian,
  The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club has recorded all of the Michigan Songs. There is actually a hardcover Michigan Songbook that every incoming Glee Club singer receives. If Andy goes to the Glee Club official site he can contact the glee club to find out which cd has the specific Michigan song he wants, if in fact the song in question is a Michigan song. Hope this helps.

Sean Panikkar

On Tate scrambling:

As the season has gone on, I’ve noticed that Tate hasn’t been scrambling around a lot like he used to. this is probably because the of the coaches, but is it possible that that’s just the kind of quarterback he is? It might mean having to deal with some of those stupid grounding penalties and terrible Favre throws, but that’s what he was doing early in the year, and his stats have been regressing. Just something to keep in mind?

I think this is more about the defenses Tate is going up against than anything else. Early in the year when Tate hadn't done anything of note, teams weren't emphasizing rush lane maintenance more than you normally would. After Notre Dame, every team on the schedule knows the importance of keeping Tate in the pocket and as a result opportunities to get the edge have been rare. Another factor: Molk's loss has hurt the pass protection so badly that Forcier often has a second guy in his face when the first guy comes and just has to run around and die instead of run around and kill.

Forcier's got to diversify his game so that the scrambling is a portion of his game, not the whole. It's too easy to cover half the field and too risky to look at one read and take off. But mostly he's just got to get better protection, and recognize when he's got that protection better.

On whatever that was:

Hi Brian,

Long time reader, first time emailer.  I was at the game this weekend at have two questions for you. 

Why does Juice Williams play so well against Michigan and so poorly against the rest of the world?  My two thoughts are coaching and terrible linebacker play, and I want to believe it is mainly the terrible linebacker play. 

From what I saw, you are correct. Both of the last two years Michigan blew assignments with regularity, and when that happens against Illinois you get Juice running through your secondary. Illinois is the team that punishes you most for those sort of errors because their offense is designed to read a bunch of guys post-snap on every run play. There are a lot of opportunities for unblocked guys to screw up mentally against Illinois, many more so than a typical Iowa offense will provide you.

Why is our red zone offense so bad?  It seems as though we could move the ball at will until we got inside the 20, and then we were helpless.  Is poor red zone play a common symptom for spread offenses?  Is it poor coaching/playcalling?  My take is that the main issue might be that our lack of a big play WR makes it tough to call plays in the red zone and makes us more predictable.  Thoughts?  Have you seen any data on how spread offenses do in the red zone in general?  It seems to me that a spread offenses with some great WRs would be scary in the red zone. 

Paul Gustafson, Class of '04

That question requires more research than I can do for an in-season mailbag—maybe after the season—but I didn't think the redzone issues were particularly acute until the Illinois game and most of those were turnovers, which Michigan makes all over the field and don't indicate anything more than Michigan turns the ball over a ton, which is a problem but is also another show.

A rough estimate: Olesnavage has attempted six field goals from within 40 yards. For a slightly shady definition of red zone—which is arbitrary anyway—that's six failed attempts at touchdowns. Add in the goal-line stand against Illinois and you've got seven trips in eight games that didn't work out for reasons other than turnovers. Okay, maybe that goal-line stand should count triple, but the point is that Michigan hasn't been failing to punch in an inordinate number of touchdown opportunities except when they've turned the ball over, which has been all the time. I don't think redzone turnovers are much different than other sorts of turnovers.

And for anyone who wants to see a worse, if potentially more entertaining, football game than Saturday's:

Hey Brian,

My name is Jordan Klein. I am an avid follower of your blog as well a staff writer for The Michigan Every Three Weekly humor publication. We are having our annual football game against our arch-rivals, The infamous Michigan Daily, this sunday Nov. 8th at Noon at Elbel Field. We thought that since you were a part of the E3W in its infancy we cordially invite you to come witness the Fighting Threes take down those who think they pass as writers at The Daily! Tempers will be flaring and things will get dirty. There promises to be Dong-knocking and Eye-gouging aplenty in what is shaping up to be the most intriguing matchup of the weekend! We are trying to get a decent sized crowd out for the game so we hope you can join in watching a game Michigan can't possibly lose!
Jordan Klein and the rest of the E3W Staff  

I mention this mostly because I have a beef with the E3W, which ditched the long-running "Daily + 1 Years Of Something Funny" tagline and the dumb joke staff box pictures this year for no apparent reason. You do know that the tagline and staff box pictures got people into the New Yorker, right? And the Onion? That was their entire CV: "One Hundred And Eleven Years Of Capuchin Monkey Herpes Vaccination Riots." Bam. Job.