Rich Rodriguez staring with fire in his eyes after Illinois goes up 45-38, meanwhile GERG picks his nose.
Rich Rodriguez staring with fire in his eyes after Illinois goes up 45-38, meanwhile GERG picks his nose.
Now the defensive breakdown may say differently but I thought Cam Gordon was huge for us this week. Numerous times I watched him contain plays that have been missed for a good portion of the year. He already has the seek and destroy mentality of a linebacker and looks good on blitzes. He is a constant ball of celebratory energy and the biggest bonus is we keep him out of deep coverage.
One of the better accomplishments for Gerg's time at UofM has to be the way he took Stevie Brown an abortion at safety and made him into acceptable/good linebacker. Are we seeing a similar path for Cam Gordon? If so, can he keep it up for the rest of the season.
Wojo, as usual brings the sanity in his column today on the state of Michigan's program and the defensive development:
Again, Wojo actually uses sourced quotes (not "my peeps tell me", or "Michigan power brokers who refuse to go on record say") and backs up his opinions.
- yes, personnel problems exist
- yes, Greg Robinson is doing a poor job, but changing DC's midseason isn't a magic wand to cure the problems
- RR believes he's buying time to restock the defense with an offense that's winning games at Oregon and Auburn
- Ultimately, if RR can't get to a bowl game after 12 opportunities to win one game over two years to get bowl eligible, then he deserves to be fired. (and you know what, putting it that way, I agree)
Agree or disagree, it's always nice to read Wojo who outside of funny picks columns on Fridays, generally looks at an issue rationally and lays out his arguments, staying away from red herrings, ad hominems, and "I'm smarter than the coach" type writing. Good job, Fat Man.
After reading a variety of things about the reasons for the horrific FAIL in defensive coaching, and, most of all, after watching dismal performance after dismal performance this year, I've noticed one common theme in the defense's problems -- consistently bad decision-making by almost everyone on defense. Defensive linemen and linebackers don't fill the correct gaps; linebackers overrun the play (often, this is a variation of the first problem); defensive backs aren't in the correct zone or decide to cover the less dangerous receiver in their zone; defensive backs and linebackers take bad pursuit angles. Etc.
I find it endlessly frustrating to watch the same mental mistakes made over and over again, by the same players and, even more disturbingly, by different players. It's one thing if Obi Ezeh is a really bad decision-maker. But the bad-decision disease seems to be spreading to the whole defense.
Although GERG bears a lot of the responsibility --probably most of it -- I don't think it's all his fault. I think Rich Rodriguez has shown an insufficient tolerance for bad decision-making. In some respects, this is the principal flaw in his coaching at Michigan.
It's not just bad defensive decision-making that hurts the team. Other parts of the team are infected. Look at Jeremy Gallon. He has made bad decisions from the beginning of the season on kick returns, but he's put out there again and again. Players on both sidess of the ball make the same kinds of dumb penalties week after week. The kicker puts two consecutive kickoffs out of bounds at crucuial times.
I know the team is young and that young players make mistakes. But should they always be making the same ones over and over again? It would be one thing if the defense was thwarted by poor decisions on backside contain one week and by poor decisions about zone drops in another week. But the team keeps making the same bad decisions over and over.
This kind of problem is really attributable to the head coach. He could make it clear that he won't tolerate stupid mistakes made over and over again. But I have not heard anything from Rodriguez along those lines. He just seems to keep blaming his team's inexperience. And he allows his coordinators and position coaches to put the same guys in the same situations where they've made bad decisions before -- and then they keep making them. I'm sure that the coaches are telling the players about how to make the correct decisions. But the message does not seem to be getting through. Only the head coach can really do anything about making sure that his coaches are communicating effectively.
If this really is a flaw of Rodriguez's, firing GERG or even the entire defensive staff is not going to solve it. I like Michigan's offense. I think there are few coaches who could have seen the potential in Denard Robinson as a quarterback and then brought that potential out of him, with spectacular results. I want Rodriguez to succeed. But I'm really starting to wonder if he can -- especially if he's not doing enough to prevent bad decision-making by his coaches and players.
I am watching ball this afternoon and have seen both Michigan State and Auburn use 3-3-5 D at one point or another against their opponents. Not all of the time. Nor do I claim that anyone on either team declares himself a disciple of anything. Just taking note, and wondering what all the damned ruckus is about on the part of some of our fan base about said defensive scheme.
I am currently split between the fire Gerg camp and the youth is to blame camp. The thing I've been pondering is if Gerg was to be fired after the season, are their any other DC's out there who have experience running the 3-3-5. It seems to be with the personel we have recruited the past few seasons we are to thin on the DL and have to many hybird safteys to run another system. So my question is if Gerg gets canned, who would be the primary canidates to be the new DC?
I have to admit to being a GERG fan after he coached my youngest son at the M Football Camp a couple summers ago (sentimental fool that I am). He was terrific to Evan and all the other kids.
Nonetheless, I have been perplexed by M linebacker play -- tentative, out of position, overrunning, but most of all, caught in the wash. Watching M LBs, they seem to initiate play from 3 or fewer yards behind the LOS. Watching other teams (and M teams past), you see them most often position themselves 4-5 yards back on anything other than 3rd and long. The difference is, what, 30-60% more distance? More decision time, more distance to get downhill momentum, more opportunity for angles to the ball, more distance and space for an OL (slower and less agile) to cover, and, importantly, a lot less wash.
Being over half a hundred years old, my own high school experience is probably less than relevant, but I do have vivid memories of my coach yelling, "Move back, dumbass!" more than a few times after I buggered up a play for any of the reasons mentioned above.
Any opinions from the more learned amongst us?
I would like to focus on the future of Michigan's defense without blaming anyone (i.e. Carr, RichRod, Shafer, GERG, Bill Martin, etc.) for why it's so bad this year. I would simply like to look forward and ask:
Is Rich Rodriguez (with or without Greg Robinson) capable of fielding a competent defense next year? By competent, I mean lower than 60th in the nation in total defense).
I've been a big supporter of RR and have spent countless hours defending him to relatives and friends that don't want to hear any of it. I keep telling them to wait and be patient. Today, one of these friends asked if I thought the defense would be even decent next year. I didn't have an answer.
Any thoughts? Will Woolfolk make enough of a difference? Is there an underclassman likely to make a big improvement next year? To fill in for Mouton? Are there any OMG shirtless defensive recruits seriously considering UM? I'd like to offer comforting news to the doubters, but it's hard to do when it seems like the D could actually be worse next year.
There has been much angst and hair-pulling on the board over the performance of Michigan's defense, and particularly, the commitment to the 3-3-5 stack scheme. I happen to be one of those who thinks this scheme is in place largely to make do with current personnel and to cover the inexperience in our secondary. Gerg, from my perspective, is doing a fine job, and our defense is doing as well as they can. They know they aren't the same caliber as a typical Michigan defense, but they're not throwing in the towel.
I find it wickedly delicious that we are likely committed to Gerg and the 3-3-5 for at least a couple more years. Why? Largely because of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" meme. Specifically, I think that with a 8 - 4 record or better, you don't change things. In a sense, because of the Shafer flameout, Gerg will be given more time. (if Gerg was the first DC, you could contemplate a change. As the 2nd under RR, he gets a longer leash, as to release him would be for RR to admit failure.) You simply can't change the DC again. Whether you like the 3-3-5 and Gerg, going to a 4th DC would be disastrous. Also, because of the lack of emphasis on recruiting defense adequately, and because of the Demar and Cissoko and Turner and Emilien flameouts, none of which Gerg can be blamed for, it is likely he will be given several years to get skilled athletes in place, before he is judged.
This, for someone like myself who thinks the 3-3-5 is a good scheme, and Gerg is a good DC, is just fine. But it must be schadenfreude for those who love Michigan yet dislike Gerg. Like him or not, I don't think he's going anywhere, anytime soon.
Someone who taped the game, look around the 12/13 min mark of the 4th Q.. Michigan is lined up in a pretty standard looking 3-3-5 stack with Patterson at the nose. He drops into a short zone and Frazer, looking for the quick slant, hits him in the chest with the ball. Sounds a lot like this, from the MSP Preview Issue at p.79:
When defenses began zone-blitzing in earnest, however, the quarterback's hot reads were suddenly all wrong: instead of throwing a slant away from the man defender for a big play, the ball could land in the chest of a zone defender who had dropped from the interior or flowed from the opposite side.
However, the same article in MSP notes:
But, as previously indicated, one of the most attractive features of the 3-3-5 is the ability to use zone blitzes without having to drop a defensive lineman into coverage, unlike a traditional 4-3.
The thing is, as I sat there watching from sec. 44 with a perfect view of it, I don't remember thinking "blitz" on this play. So someone with the tape, go back and look and answer me these questions three, 'ere the other side ye see:
1. Was there a blitz on?
2. Was Patterson actually dropping into an underneath zone or did he just see a big lineman in front of him and think, "yeah, this isn't happening, maybe I'll just hang out"?
3. If no on (1) and yes on the first part of two (2), then what in Sam Hill is GERG up to? Because it's creative, and me likey.