Air Force Recap: Remnants Of RichRod

Submitted by Ace on September 8th, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In a game that felt like something out of the Rodriguez era, Michigan showed that while there's great promise for the future, the flaws exposed by Alabama are very real.

The Wolverines edged Air Force, 31-25, and the outcome wasn't decided until Jake Ryan batted down Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz's fourth-down throw with 1:28 remaining. Denard Robinson accounted for all but seven yards of the team's total offense. The defense ceded 417 total yards—290 on the ground—and failed to keep contain all afternoon.

Sound familiar?

It wasn't all bad, however. Robinson was masterful, completing 14-of-25 passes for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception—one that deflected off the hands of Vincent Smith—while rushing for 218 yards and another pair of touchdowns on 20 carries. True freshman Devin Funchess emerged as a viable threat at tight end, becoming the first Michigan TE to eclipse 100 receiving yards in a game since Jerame Tuman. Devin Gardner looked like a wide receiver, hauling in five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown while running crisper routes.

The offense lived and died with Denard, as Fitzgerald Toussaint found little room to run—seven yards on eight carries, to be exact. The offensive line failed to get a push against Air Force's undersized D-line, doing little to ease concerns from last week's debacle. By the second half, Al Borges had essentially given up on generating yards the traditional way, and he was justified in doing so.

Defensively, Michigan looked ill-equipped to stop the Falcon triple-option attack. The defensive line spent much of the day on their stomachs, unable to evade chop blocks or get any sort of push. Kenny Demens looked positively Ezeh-esque, letting blockers get into him again and again before being pulled in favor of true freshman Joe Bolden. Jake Ryan was all over the field, recording a career-high 12 tackles, but sometimes "all over" can be a bad thing—keeping contain was an issue. The final Air Force touchdown came when Desmond Morgan overpursued. The defensive backs struggled against the run as well, failing to shed blocks and come up to take the pitch.

When the defense needed a big play, odds are it came from an underclassman. Ryan continually redeemed his poorer efforts with critical stops, including two pass breakups on the final Air Force drive. Bolden replaced Demens and displayed the aggressive, instinctual play that made him a high school All-American. Fellow freshman linebacker James Ross spelled Morgan late and acquitted himself well after struggling in his debut against Alabama. Several other freshmen made appearances during the game's biggest moments, including Ondre Pipkins and Mario Ojemudia.

Last season's 11-2 record belied the myriad issues Brady Hoke faced upon taking over in Ann Arbor. After two games in 2012, those issues are at the forefront for the Wolverines. The lack of depth on the offensive line means Michigan must move ahead with the current unit—despite its ineffectiveness in the run game—unless they want to insert a true freshman. The defensive tackles will be a sore spot all year; the players expected to relieve that problem are freshmen or not even on campus yet. The offense still leans heavily on Denard, whose style doesn't always mesh well with the offensive philosophy of Borges.

The Wolverines came away with a victory, a fact that cannot be overlooked, especially against a team with a difficult style to prepare for in a week's time. Denard will still make magic with his feet—his touchdown runs were both exhilarating—and perhaps his arm as well—he looks much-improved from last year even if the numbers don't necessarily bear that out. The future looks bright, too, thanks to the major contributions from a number of young players already gaining crucial experience.

The overwhelming feeling in the aftermath, however, is that this team is still two years away from competing on a national level, the only level of success that matters at Michigan. Today's game had Rich Rodriguez's fingerprints all over it; as we know, that's a smudge that isn't easily wiped away.


coastal blue

September 9th, 2012 at 4:31 PM ^

Actually, I'd love to get in on whatever it is you load yourself up with. You know, the substance that gives you the confidence to brush aside losing to Appalachian State with the 2007 Michigan roster while being furious over losing to the Big Ten champs while starting a gaggle (gaggle!) of freshmen and sophomores and former wide recievers in the 2010 secondary...then turning around and not understanding how having experienced starters in the secondary might help explain their improvement, instead attributing it solely to "coaching". Truly powerful stuff. Get me in touch with your guy!

But honestly, by having this back and forth with you, I feel like I'm doing some good charity work. You don't understand when you're wrong (99% of the time) probably due to the fact you're clearly a step slow intellectually, but just by arguing with you, it gives you the feeling that you're right, because you don't understand logic or reason. 

I suspect you are older than me, but whenever we engage on here, it feels like I'm speaking to a child. Which is sad. For you. (Trying to spell it out for you...*fingers crossed*).


September 10th, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^


Because that's how your every post comes someone emotionally unhinged and foaming at the mouth.  I'm really getting concerned for you...because you seem to live a world of complete fantasy where you make up stuff completely to back your arguments that justify your anger. (That's been pointed out to you numerous times by numerous posters)  Look, I'm sorry you feel the need to compensate for your really small penis, but don't take it out on me or the board.

coastal blue

September 10th, 2012 at 7:50 PM ^

Honestly, when I think of who you are, all I can think of is some elder loser who tries to be funny on the internet because he thinks it makes him seem cool, but fails miserably every single time. 

The only person I've truly seen get emotional on this board is you, which really happened anytime last year you felt that the coaching change wasn't acknowledged as the reason for success. Or anytime Lloyd faced an iota of criticism. You were pretty much a 13 year old girl going through her first break-up, all sobs and soaked tissues, which isn't really an attractive feature for an older, probably somewhat creepy looking, man such as yourself. 

BTW, I wanted to include this for you:

Its a mail-order bride site. I know you've probably looked into it, but just in case...

Given that you spend most of your time on here - probably due to your lack of real world social skills and the fact that, if you are anything like you are on here, no one could possibly find your company worthwhile - I think it might be worth your time to look into it. 

It may even give you someone to watch the games with! You know, you could talk to a real, live person about Michigan football!

Despite our differences, I wish you all the best, as I do most people I pity. 



September 10th, 2012 at 10:15 PM ^

And probably has never seen a girl naked before without the Internet. I mean dude, you're the one who knew what that website was. Just sayin'. As the guy who only comes on here to antagonize other people (look at the others you flamed in this thread) I'd say you have more social issues than anyone. All that anger. Just figure you're compensating for something other than being wrong all the time.

And don't worry, I don't pity you. I don't pity people who choose to be stupid lying assholes.

coastal blue

September 10th, 2012 at 10:27 PM ^

You're so cool man. 

"dude", "Just sayin'", "girl (seriously, should someone in their mid-forties be talking more about women? Or are you one of those lonely weirdos who calls sex hotlines to talk to 18 year old girls?)" 

But hey, Oh Great Impotent One (In both mind and, well, you know), keep trading online insults with someone whose probably twenty years younger than you. Speaks volumes more about you than it does about me. 

(BTW, for someone whose entire social life is based online, I would have thought you would have understood how Google works. I guess you really are just a total idiot)


September 10th, 2012 at 11:27 PM ^

I hope you're interested in girls. The fact that you apparently want to see your mom naked is just creepy. But I understand you're desperate.

And life? At least it took me a couple hours to find your response. Took you all of twelve minutes to reply to mine. If I have no life, what does that say about my stalker? I mean, not that "I'm an online idiot so it doesn't speak well of you to argue with me at your age, because I'm young and that excuses me for being stupid" wasn't a good argument by you...but it wasn't.

But I'm sorry I hit a nerve with the "tiny penis" remark. I'm sure your "woman" will tell you it doesn't long as you pay her the rest when you're done.


September 8th, 2012 at 9:31 PM ^

is with big Al. How do we go from not rushing Denard at all last wek to giv him almost every carry today. Where is the balance. Also, am I the only one who thinks that we need to get Norfleet the ball on offense. I thin Denard + Norfleet =night mares for defenses



September 9th, 2012 at 12:07 AM ^

Hoke's honeymoon is over. He's going to find out who his real fans are very soon.

That sounds like the rant of someone who bet on Michigan and got burned.

Today's game shouldn't have surprised people too much. Triple-option teams are hard to defend. They rack up yards on everyone. Georgia Southern ran for 300 yards on Alabama (!) last year using this offense. The only thing about today that really concerned me was our OL. It's definitely a work in progress.


September 9th, 2012 at 8:42 AM ^

You could not be more mistaken. My predicted score was 28-23, and:

"It will be ugly, sloppy, uninspiring. We will have multiple turnovers, including in the red zone. AF will have the ball very late in the game with a chance for a go-ahead score, but our D will finally squelch them."

I was far closer to the final score, and margin, than the vast majority of predictions here, and the only thing I was really off on was the number of turnovers we'd have.

I'm not thinking that you or anybody else here should remember any of my comments, but I've been a big fan of Hoke since shortly after his hiring, and will continue to be. My comment about the end of the honeymoon was directed at the bandwagoners (which every school has) who turn on a coach at the first sign of trouble. After the conclusion of 2011 and up to the Alabama game, Hoke and Gret Mattison got nothing but high-flown praise for their stellar coaching abilities, and after AF some are openly questioning the DL coaching. We'll surely pound UMass, but if we lose in South Bend there will be people loudly jumping off the bandwagon, both in the media and among the fanbase.


September 9th, 2012 at 10:02 AM ^

I think you've put the cart well in front of the horse here. People turned on RR pretty quickly because of 3-9 and a feeling that we had no chance to beat anyone with a pulse. I mean, when you beat MINNESOTA and it's thought to be an upset... That's not the case here. There might be some bitching, but, hell, Lloyd had people bitching in years we went to the Rose Bowl. 


September 8th, 2012 at 9:36 PM ^

I actually think Ace nailed it right on the head, with this post.  We are terribly thin on both the O-Line and D-Line, and it is going to be a problem all year long...and next year too.  That's not Ace taking a shot at RR, that's just a simple fact.  Our future looks bright, but it's going to be a frustrating next couple of years, as we watch talented young players grow up right before our eyes.  Part of that learning process, unfortunately, is going to include some mistakes, along with some spectacular plays.

coastal blue

September 8th, 2012 at 9:52 PM ^

Will it though?

We're going to have a large, talented group of sophomores going into next year on the Oline.

If Lewan stays, we'll at least return he and Schofield as a base and with guys like Kalis and Magnuson getting a year of S&C, I think we'll be alright. And who even knows about Miller and Bryant, if they stay healthy, perhaps they can slide right in as juniors. 

On the D-Line:

5-star sophomore Pipkins, who will have had a year of experience under his belt

4-star junior Beyer who will have had significant experience.

Freakish athlete Frank Clark who will have had significant experience

Jibreel Black, whose had his moments, will be a senior.

Guys like Brink, Ash, Wilkens and Washington will all have been in Mattison's system for a few years and should be able to provide some depth. And that's not even counting guys like Wormley, Strobel and Ojemudia who could surprise the way that Ryan did last year. 

We'll struggle at times next year, but I dont think it will be nearly as dire as people think, specifically due to the fact that so many of these guys are going to be ahead of the normal sophomore/junior curve. 




September 8th, 2012 at 10:03 PM ^

with the young players having another year of some playing experience and strength and conditioning under their belts.  I think next year won't be as bad as this year, in terms of depth on both lines, but I am concerned when we play an Air Force team who is very undersized on the lines and yet we still can't get much of a consistent push.  I can't believe our star RB could only muster 7 yards for the entire game...against a bunch of tiny D-Linemen.

Blue boy johnson

September 8th, 2012 at 10:09 PM ^

IMO, unlikely Lewan returns. If he is a projected first round NFL pick, he should probably go.

If Lewan goes pro, M only returns 7 scholarship O-lineman;

Erik Magnuson OL FR
Ben Braden OL FR
Kyle Kalis OL FR
Blake Bars OL FR
Jack Miller OL RS FR
Chris Bryant OL RS FR
Michael Schofield OL RS JR

M will return 13 scholarship D-lineman:

Matthew Godin DE FR
Willie Henry DT FR
Ondre Pipkins DT FR
Mario Ojemudia DE FR
Tom Strobel DE FR
Chris Wormley DE FR
Keith Heitzman DE RS FR
Brennen Beyer DE SO
Frank Clark DE SO
Richard Ash DT RS SO
Kenny Wilkins DT RS SO
Jibreel Black DT JR
Quinton Washington DT RS JR



September 8th, 2012 at 9:42 PM ^

Crappy run blocking makes it harder to establish a ground game.  There have been few to no holes the last two weeks.  (Denard's designed runs are different.  An extra blocker.)  Norfleet? A true freshman who's played in two games?  Are people that quick to give up on Toussaint and Rawls?  My god, sometimes people on here sound impulsive kids: "Hoke, I want an oompa loompa NOOOWWWW."

By the way: what's the word on Cam Gordon?  I've heard nothing about him lately.


September 8th, 2012 at 9:51 PM ^

Alright, I'll say it.... What a punk.  If another D Lineman played a crappy game, then proceeded to throw a cheap ass helmet at the head of a defenseless Denard, we would be 100% all over the guy.  Moreover, this almost cost us the game and was blatant.  Given how crappy our D Line played, I don't think we'd miss a beat if he was suspended for a game after that crap.

snarling wolverine

September 9th, 2012 at 12:33 AM ^

I don't think anyone (at least, any fair-minded person) is saying that Rodriguez had zero recruiting success.  Obviously, Denard is a major point in his favor.  But on the whole, those 2008-11 classes aren't as strong as typical Michigan classes are, and it's a problem for us right now.  We played 12 (!) true freshmen against Alabama.  You're not going to beat (or even hang with) a top 5 team very often when you play that many.



September 8th, 2012 at 10:14 PM ^

I read this and thought, "wow, this is a very unbiased piece by Brian"....then realized he didn't write it....

Funny how a game like this can bring back the emotions of the Rodriguez era.


September 8th, 2012 at 10:21 PM ^

Raise your hand if you work, go to school, give 200% in the weight room, and perform mostly for people that you don't knows entertainment ..... Exactly.

Ya'll criticize these young men TOO MUCH! Its just a game damn it. You want to sit there and harp on a young man that's given more to his cause than you could ever think of? Shame on you. You couldn't walk a hundred feet in those 100 or so student athletes shoes. Nothing but a bunch of bandwagon fans and arm chair quarterback sissys.

Don't criticize, thank them. They put every ounce of effort they could into the last to games... and for what? for you to bitch because you didn't like the outcome? I'm throwing a penalty flag. 15 yards automatic first down for poor character.

Man up and think before you blast someone for something you never done.


Waters Demos

September 8th, 2012 at 11:15 PM ^

Those who have read my stuff in the past know that I'm notoriously horrific and careless with my grammar.

Notwithstanding that, this guys [plural not possessive] grammar looks fine to me.  And [nobody who knows anything about grammar would start a sentence with a conjunction] I daresay that his writing is raw, sincere, and strikes that nerve in all of us that knows truth when it sees it [also - note my use of ambiguous pronouns - my opinion is meaningless].

You go bad-grammar-guy - I thought you're post was grat - I couldn't of write it bebtter myself; but i'm a looser and a moran.  i mean what else do you need to no other then i pretened to like limbizkit when i wuz in eight grade.  Indeedy. 


September 8th, 2012 at 11:31 PM ^

Awesome stuff. To add to your post, it's a website.... I just don't care enough to put the effort in to appease nit pickers. Call me crazy, whatever. By the way, Mr. Hart, I am fully capable of writing grammatically correct. I just like to antagonize people of your nature. You know..... Trolls.


September 8th, 2012 at 10:38 PM ^

Whatever the single game record low for points in a UFR is, Desmond Morgan will shatter it. They were picking on him all day. Not to make him a scapegoat or anything, but it was pretty noticeable.


September 8th, 2012 at 10:58 PM ^

I was most upset with how the coaching staff handled the last 2 minutes of the 1st half and then the 3rd down pass attempt that Devin dropped. I thought this was a problem last year in a game or two as well. Hoke has to do a better job in scoring and maximizing plays in the last 2 minutes. Also, the play after a questionable call needs to be a quicker, hurry up play (even though Devin did drop the ball).