I'm A Bitter Man, I Know, But Listen Honey You're No Fun Comment Count

Brian December 30th, 2013 at 11:56 AM

12/28/2013 – Michigan 14, Kansas State 31 – 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten, season mercifully over

11623692184_a34ba130a1_z[1]

we are desperate lonely and underpaid [Adam Glanzman]

If you were disinterested in a December bowl game that kicked off at 10:15 PM, don't feel bad about it. You are far from alone. Frank Clark:

"I think a lot of guys lost the will to play as a family. That's one thing you can't do in football. In football, you've got to stick in there and stay together as a family.

James Ross:

"It was our mindset from the jump, we weren't totally into it I would say. We didn't come out with a lot of energy."

For their part, the coaches didn't bother to go into the hurry-up down 18 points with 8 minutes left. As far as unconvincing attempts to look interested go, the fan is on level footing with the rest of the program.

The coaches did go up-tempo once it was 31-6, mysteriously. You've already given up. No one is going to feel better about losing by three scores to a 7-5 Big 12 team instead of four. I guess you have to send the message that You Never Give Up despite having already given up. That's the kind of program this is. We Never Give Up (we gave up).

That's as indicative of the current state of the Michigan football program as anything. Fail to live up to expectations, try to make it look good with meaningless hand-waving after things are decided. Michigan is just six… eight… sixteen… okay, thirty-five plays away from a really good season, you know, and Lloyd Carr's seniors are about to ride to the rescue.

--------------------------------------

I guess it's good that Michigan conceded from the drop that they could not run the ball whatsoever, because they were right about that. Eight tailback carries on the night, and three of those were option pitches. Michigan did not repeat their mistakes from the Penn State game.

Unfortunately, while they've learned what they cannot do they have not learned to do anything. Kansas State gave up 301 rushing yards to Oklahoma on the second to last weekend of the regular season; Michigan stared that front seven down and said "no thanks, we like end-arounds."

The most frustrating thing about this season is that any hint of progress is quickly stomped out. Michigan has a human run game against Northwestern, then gets obliterated by Iowa; they are once again human against Ohio State, then correctly assume they are helpless against Kansas State.

Meanwhile, the defense is so incompetent against a modern packaged offense that Kansas State essentially ends the game by the second quarter. Michigan had zero answers for a play that Rich Rodriguez pioneered at this very university. Here we are, talking a big game about how This Is Michigan and playing football like it's 1989, the last time This Is Michigan actually meant This Is A Consistently Elite Football Program.

Bo hovers over the program with speeches about the team the team the team, but his penchant for running quarterbacks and option football and running the damn ball has been discarded in favor of notions about a "pro style" offense that reflects the modern-day NFL in no way whatsoever. Chip Kelly's taking a team that was 4-12 last year to the playoffs with Nick Foles as his quarterback. QED.

At the beginning of the year I wondered aloud if Michigan was going to end up on the wrong side of history here, what with their failed attempt to move to the spread traumatizing them so much that they'd mutter something about Denard Robinson holding the offense back from its true form, which is apparently lots and lots of end arounds with two tackles next to each other. And sacks. Michigan's base play this year was a tackle for loss. This was our innovation.

I like the thing where the quarterback pulls up to throw late better.

------------------------------------

It'll get better. I mean, you'd think so. I know that's what everyone said about the offensive line this year. But we've detailed the various ways in which the previous coaching staff decimated this roster on both lines and the fact that Hoke has collected and retained a lot of guys who will be maturing over the next couple years. Michigan won't be ripping the redshirt off an offensive lineman midseason again.

But at some point I realized that the only thing that resembled what football used to be—fun—came when Dennis Norfleet grabbed the ball on kick returns and once when he took an end-around. He juked a guy and got nine yards and I felt a little flutter. Then the grim trudge resumed.

Maybe the reason I hold onto Denard so hard is because he's about 90% of the fun that Michigan football has provided since Bo died. As this season descended into a lifeless backwards march, I kept thinking about my uncle's exclamation during the 2008 Fandom Endurance III Northwestern game: "We do this for fun!" We did even then. There was a perverse joy in our abject stupidity. Five years on, all the diamonds have been sifted from that ash. We do this out of momentum now.

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_31[2]Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Obviously no one on the defense can acquire this, as the defense was completely disassembled. The offense… barely scraped over 200 yards thanks to a Shane Morris QB draw that went for 40. Jesus. Uh.

Well, Jeremy Gallon did break the single-season receiving record and is a cool dude, so Jeremy Gallon.

Honorable mention: Shane Morris?

Epic Double Point Standings.

3.0: Jeremy Gallon (ND, Indiana, K-State)
2.0: Devin Gardner(ND, OSU)
1.0: Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota), Frank Clark(PSU), Matt Wile (Nebraska), James Ross (Northwestern)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Nope.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.
10/12/2013: Devin Funchess shoots up the middle of the field to catch a 40 yard touchdown, staking Michigan to a ten-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. (Right?)
10/19/2013: Thomas Gordon picks off an Indiana pass to end the Hoosiers' last drive that could have taken the lead.
11/2/2013: Clock expires.
11/9/2013: Nebraska muffs a punt through no action of Michigan's.
11/16/2013: Michigan executes a clock-running last-second field goal to get the game to OT.
11/23/2013: 404 file not found
11/30/2013: Michigan forces a Hyde fumble to get back in the game.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK. Michigan, down 31-12 with two minutes or so left, runs a two-point conversion that features Jeremy Gallon taking an end around and throwing the ball to a wide open dude for the score.

First of all, you gave up already. Screw you and your two point conversion. Second, every Ohio State fan on twitter instantly said something along the lines of "oh wow that totally would have worked against us." I don't think it's possible to be more disgusted with a successful two point conversion.

[AFTER THE JUMP: stuff.]

Offense

11623319895_3cac34e55f_z[1]

Glanzman

Welp. There's not much you can do when your QB is a freshman who is liable to put the ball in a defender's chest twice consecutively when you finally do have to open things up far, far too late and your tailbacks rush eight times for 16 yards. Borges did the things he could do, implementing a screen and edge-rush attack that saw Michigan mount actual drives on their first two possessions.

Unfortunately, you can only run constraints for so long before they start getting obliterated, and once the scripted fancy new stuff was over so was the offense. The game was over once Michigan could not punch the ball in on either of their first two possessions and then punted once; down 21-6 without a prayer of a non-gimmicky offense, it was over. Gameplan took Michigan their first 120 yards, and then they had no more. On an individual game level, you can't expect much more from your offensive coordinator.

That Michigan went into this bowl game utterly convinced they could not run the ball conventionally against a not particularly good run defense is a huge failing that you can spread out to at least three different people: Rodriguez, Funk, and Borges. Rodriguez for the roster, Funk for being the position coach, and Borges for treating this rag-tag assemblage of walk-ons and freshmen like they're the Denver Broncos and expecting they could handle every run concept ever expressed by man as they were being bounced around like gas molecules.

Statistical complaint #341. It's inane that those touch passes forward that are essentially handoffs get filed as passes. Jeremy Gallon's probably happy that is the case since without those he probably does not pass Braylon Edwards for the single-season receiving record; everybody else should be shaking their fist at the NCAA scorer in the sky in a futile attempt to get stats that make sense. Scorers should be able to judge whether a play is a run or pass and credit accordingly.

One step forward, one step back. Michigan's approach to this game was mentioned above, but to reiterate: despite being forced to start a freshman quarterback Michigan assumed they were totally incapable of moving the ball on the ground. And they were.

I have no idea how this line improves enough next year for Michigan to be able to do anything after losing both tackles, who are going to be on NFL rosters next year. They can be better, but like the radioactive situation Rodriguez walked into the reclamation project here is a two-year job. (Yes, thanks in large part to Rodriguez.) Next year's line has no seniors and one junior.

God willing, Michigan goes into spring practice focused on getting this unit competent at one base running play instead of three and does not try a blizzard of different combinations during the season. That might be enough to make their running game bad. Anything more is in the realm of the fantastical.

Morris eval. Could have been worse. Hosing hoser hoses, which mitigates some freshman issues since he can rifle the ball late and not get punished because the thing gets there so fast. Has accuracy issues caused by firing every ball a hundred miles an hour and predictably put two balls in K-State defenders' chests late when Michigan was forced to try to go downfield; overall an encouraging debut. Morris's wheels are a surprising asset, as well. He is not Gardner; neither is he Navarre. He could be a Connor Shaw type QB who takes the occasional carry to mess with defenses. (Hypothetically.)

QB controversy? No. The training wheels were obvious and once taken off the punishment was immediate. Given what we've heard about practice he has Gardner's INT issues except worse, and as long as both guys improve at the same rate Gardner will still be well ahead.

Defense

11624126596_c057b470d8_z[1]

Glanzman

That was a total disaster. The season as a whole was a macrocosm of the defense in each game: pretty good for most of it, gives up one WTF touchdown midway through (Indiana), and then collapses in a heap at the end. Kansas State has an underrated offense but even so, this drive chart…

  1. 75 yard TD
  2. 60 yard TD
  3. 59 yard TD
  4. 59 yard FG miss
  5. 33 yard drive ending in fumble one play after Tyler Lockett dropped a touchdown
  6. 60 yard FG drive
  7. 39 yards, punt
  8. 7 yard TD drive
  9. EOG

…is a total and comprehensive failure. Michigan did not force a punt until there were 7 minutes left in the game and things were over. This follows a game in which Michigan gave up 393 rushing yards to OSU.

Now instead of having one solid unit that can expect to take another step forward as they age, Michigan has question marks everywhere. Mattison's reputation as salvager and hero took enormous hits over these last two games. Hooray.

Exposed. Tyler Lockett is an incredible player who was checked by essentially nobody this year; it seems like KSU decided they were going with Waters late mostly because he takes best advantage of a guy who is probably the best WR in the country. Any ideas that Blake Countess is in that league as a defensive back are now bleeding out in the gutter after Lockett ghosted in and out of Michigan's defensive backfield all night, knives at the ready.

While Raymon Taylor struggled equally, Taylor had been targeted all year and we had some grasp of how good he was already: decent, but not Lockett good. Countess had largely been avoided and made a lot of interceptions when not avoided; this was a comedown in hype and expectation level on par with that Mattison suffered.

Spread and shred. The most brutal event of the night was K-State busting a fullback up the seam for 40 yards on a version of QB Oh Noes that put Desmond Morgan in a bind: defend the QB draw or cover the fullback. With Waters not a huge threat on the ground, the answer was "cover the fullback fergodsakes"; either way the Wildcats were about to get a good chunk of yards. Morgan acted like it was a run and Kansas State was on their way to their third touchdown.

In the aftermath…

…that was my exact thought, too. K-State just looked hard to defend in ways that Michigan is not. A lot of people were griping about Michigan's decision not to double Lockett, but when you're going up against a defense that uses the QB's legs in a way that demands attention you find yourself with limited options unless you can win certain one on one battles. Michigan could not, and as in the Ohio State game once that was the case it was over. There is no hiding weak spots against these spread to run attacks, and against Tyler Lockett every member of the secondary is a weak spot.

About that line. Dominated again. Zero pass rush and after some nice stops on the first drive, K-State had a quality day on the ground. Michigan spent much of the day stunting defensive ends into double teams, and those ended up with Clark and Ojemudia and Beyer on their back as dudes darted by.

I will never understand the insane deployment of Quinton Washington this year; we're now deep into Announce Everyone Was Injured All Year time and there hasn't been a peep about Washington, who was a quality starter all last year and spent most of this one on the bench. Without him and Pipkins, this outfit was just too light to hope to hold up. Other than Willie Henry, who is a freshman who needs some technique work badly, the rest of the line is Black, Beyer, and Clark: defensive ends all.

Things should get better next year, at least, with great piles of returning players and Pipkins hopefully coming back from his ACL tear. Much rests on him. I mean, much rests on him for a team that projects to finish third in their division.

Here

Inside The Boxscore:

* Spielman said something about how he asked Mattison who his best defender was this year, and the first thing out of Mattison's mouth was "Frank Clark." Against Ohio State, Frank Clark had one tackle. Against Kansas State, Frank Clark had one tackle. When your best defender is averaging 1 tackle per game in his last two, something is wrong.

* As Ace pointed out, our two leading rushers were our QB and Tight End. Our running backs should be made to watch how K-State's little Hubert ran. I get it that the offensive line generated zero push, but eventually someone has to break a tackle or make someone miss. Our 4 RBs combined for 8 carries and 13 yards. Our offense was slightly better in not giving up so many TFLs, but that's because we rarely had the ball. K-State had 5 TFLs for a total of 13 yards lost. Hey, I'm looking for positives, no matter how small.

Best And Worst:

Worst:  The Coordinators

I’ll admit to being a bigger fan of Greg Mattison than Al Borges, so up front I want to make it clear that Al Borges called a pretty good first half of football and Mattison seemed absolutely lost in stopping a team whose passing offense was “throw to #16” and “throw to guy wide open in the middle of the field.”  Borges has no functional running game, in part, because nobody seems able to block defenders, and so he went about trying ever-ludicrous methods to move the ball on the ground and the air without putting too much pressure on Shane Morris.  These were all plays fans have seen before, but he wove in screens, end-arounds, sweeps, and easy middle-distance throws into a coherent gameplan that let UM move the ball pretty effectively on their first couple of drives.  At the very least, he came out punching despite having one hand behind his back, and for that he deserves kudos.  And in particular during that first foray into the redzone, a PI on either of Morris’s two passes to Gallon and Funchess probably would have allowed UM to score a TD and kept the game closer.  The fact the offense sputtered in the 2nd half isn’t that surprising, as WR runs and delayed screens only work so often when your base offense is churning up less than a yard a carry and your WRs are being blanketed when they aren’t dropping passes from your amped-up QB.  Borges has shown an ability to adapt somewhat these past couple of games, and next year it is going to need to be flexible because I have a hard time believing it will suddenly start running the ball under center for 4 ypc while airing the ball out with aplomb.

On the other side of the ball, this “bending” defense clearly broke in the first half, as KSU had no trouble moving up and down the field despite holding penalties putting them in some poor down-and-distances.  Taylor and Countess couldn’t keep Lockett even remotely contained, and it seemed virtually impossible for the team to bring pressure while also maintain their assignments, leading to long conversions after acres of open field just appeared.  The defense tightened up somewhat in the 2nd half, but this defense needs to make a massive step forward next year for this team to improve on their record, and it’s now been two games in a row where the defense seems flat-footed and ill-prepared against good offenses.  That needs to change, and given the youth out there (Gedeon, Thomas, and Henry seemed to get significant run) along with some improving older players like Clark and a healthy Ryan, I expect that to happen.

bronxblue brings up the 2013 == death meme, and takes issue with it since the basketball team did make the NCAA final. I would like to point out that my particular version of 2013 == death is based on the Old Yeller premise, in which our once-loved dog contracts rabies, and is therefore 100% accurate except in this version of Old Yeller the dog is a cyborg with shotgun arms and continues blasting us long after our corpse has cooled.

Comments

Jimmyisgod

December 30th, 2013 at 12:05 PM ^

Frank Clark:  "I think a lot of guys lost the will to play as a family. That's one thing you can't do in football. In football, you've got to stick in there and stay together as a family.

James Ross: "It was our mindset from the jump, we weren't totally into it I would say. We didn't come out with a lot of energy."

I was simply shocked to hear these words coming out of the mouths of Wolverines, totally unacceptable and an indictment of the coaches and the team leadership as a whole.  I can only pray that recruits ignore these statements, because that sure doesn't sound like a program I would want to play for.  Totally unacceptable!

 

 

Don

December 30th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

"I think a lot of guys lost the will to play as a family. That's one thing you can't do in football. In football, you've got to stick in there and stay together as a family... It was our mindset from the jump, we weren't totally into it I would say. We didn't come out with a lot of energy."

the thunderous, howling outrage that would have arose from the Michigan fan base would still be reverberating in our ears as we walk past Richard the Bad's now-rotting head forlornly impaled on the pike in the city square.

However, since they were spoken during the reign of St. Brady the Good, pretty much crickets.

 

 

steve sharik

December 31st, 2013 at 3:05 AM ^

I'd like to reiterate that all the great coaches of every era have teams that underachieve and have attitude problems.  Furthermore, this can be a chicken/egg situation.  Poor performance can cause attitude to deteriorate and poor attitude can lead to underachievement.  Once you have both, it takes a lot of leadership and experience to keep it from snowballing.

I urge patience.  1984 begat 1985, 1987 begat 1988, 2005 begat 2006.  Sparty had attitude problems (lack of discipline) and lost a lot of close games last year.  One year later they're a PI-happy home cooking zebra crew in South Bend away from a date with the 'Noles in the BCS title game.

dragonchild

December 30th, 2013 at 2:20 PM ^

If crickets made the noise of a hundred thousand angry fans calling for Hoke's head.  But otherwise, yeah, keep beating that drum there.

People only hear what they want to hear, I guess.  Your case is remarkable, though.  You have the special talent that can drown out the scream of a hurricane just by whistling your favorite tune.

Reader71

December 30th, 2013 at 7:32 PM ^

I think it's one single standard. That standard is wins. Coach Rod did very poorly right out of the gate and thus people disliked him. Coach Hoke did great and built up some support, and now that the team isn't winning, his support is wearing away. Same standard.

MGlobules

December 30th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

Clark's statement. But I think that even the faithful are feeling pretty doubtful about Hoke at the moment. 

It was easier to pin RR's failures on the spread, a little harder (still) to assign blame here. Although many of us go back and forth about whether Borges or Funk or both are responsible for the team's offensive woes, I've got to think that people close to the program know whether Funk is getting it done or not. Borges, too.*

My hunch is that barring a real revolt by wealthy alums, Borges has another year--the good ship Brady might even sail with him. But I'll be curious to see whether Funk is back. If he is that's close to tacit acknowledgement that he's not the problem. 

The notion that inexperience is the culprit is getting pretty threadbare, though. It's not just losing, it's getting humiliated. It's feeling really really bad after so many games.  

*My theory is like Space Coyote's that the determination to run--and the reasonable belief that we COULD run against bad and medium-bad teams early in the year--really accounts for a lot of the early carnage. And while you can lay blame for this at Borge's or Hoke's feet, you can't label that as simple incompetence. 

jmblue

December 30th, 2013 at 5:11 PM ^

To be fair, Clark didn't make those comments as an indictment of the coaching staff.  If you listen to the entire press conference, he's pretty clearly calling out his teammates.  

Now granted, you could argue that it's the coaches' job to find a way to inspire their players, but the staff can't provide all the leadership by themselves  - it has to come from the upperclassmen, too.  Going forward, Clark and the rest of the seniors-to-be need to fill that void.

 

 

Mr. Yost

December 30th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

And this is why I've lost all faith in Brady Hoke.

Love the guy, love that he loves Michigan. But I think he's tettering on a JOKE of a head coach. And only because he has his head in the sand to REAL ISSUES with his team.

I don't mind that he doesn't give a shit about offense, Rich Rod didn't give a shit about defense, that's cool. But stop with this "back to the glory days" bullshit.

We have no creativity, we're not modern college football or modern NFL, and he's got 3 guys on his offense staff that are a JOKE.

After signing day, Borges, Jackson and Funk all need to go. Without question.

There is no life coming from the coaching staff. That's because with exception to Heck, Montgomery and Manning, he hired a bunch of old guys who have no idea about innovations of TODAY.

Fire Borges - Hire Mike Sanford, a young up-and-coming coach who is currently at Stanford. He's also a west coast guy, so you don't lose those ties out west.

Ask Jackson to retire - Hire Tyrone Wheatley, an alum, great/PROVEN RB coach, new life to a position that hasn't produced since Mike Hart was at Michigan (who would be my #2 choice).

Fire Funk - Hire anyone...I'm going to say Mike Tice because he's not currently doing anything to my knowledge, but we need change on the OL, period.

I'd also fire Ferrigno, our special teams aren't anything special and we need a younger staff anyway. Hire Mike Mallory (yes, another Mallory) as the Special Teams Coordinator. TEs can split time with OL and WRs.

Sanford and Wheatley are the biggest pieces. Borges and Jackson have to go.

ThoseWhoStayUofM

December 30th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

Brady Hoke, and this staff, took one of the worst defenses in all of college football and turned it into one of the best defenses in college football in one year.  If people that can't remember what they had for breakfast this morning are idiots, what do we call the people who can't remember the utility of this coaching staff compared to its predesessor?

Some new deficiencies in this coaching staff have risen to the top and can now be identified.  Let's focus on what those deficiencies are.

1) Youth.  Brady Hoke is expertly solving this problem with multiple fantastic recruiting classes.  He has planted the seeds but it will take time for them to bear fruit.

2) The offensive line.  This problem is in part due to youth, but also due to serious flaws in coaching pholosophy at the top (Borges) as well as shuffling of players around midseason destroying line cohesion (Borges/Funk) as well as poor technique and a lack of improvement over time (Funk).  The offensive line has lost faith in their position coach, and for that reason Coach Funk must go.

3) The Defensive line.  This is almost entirely the result of youth and injury.  There are no Van Burgens on this team.  There is telent there, but this talent is not ready to bear fruit.

4) The Runningbacks.  This problem is in part due to offensive line, which is in part due to youth.  However, there are also serious technique issues.  Last year, the only RB we had that could block was Vincent Smith, the smallest player on the team.  This year, there is nobody.  Even the most experienced of players cannot block, cannot run routes, cannot do anything usefull when the ball is not in their hands.  For that reason, Coach Jackson must go.

5) The play calling and the broad offensive philosophy.  Many times the offensive play calling has been terrible.  Other times it has been genious.  Inconsistent is the word to describe it.  More importantly, our offense doesn't even get lined up in time to check the defense and make pre-snap reads and adjustments.  For that reason, replacing Borges ought to be considered.

6) The defensive backs.  The reason why we are running a bend-don't-break defense is because of the ineptitude at defensive back.  I strongly believe that Mattison would like nothing more than to run an aggressive, in your face, defensive strategy but is crippled by being forced to compensate for defensive cornerbacks who are incapable adequate play when put man-to-man on an island.  This is a problem with talent.  It is being addressed with Dymonte Thomas and Jabrill Peppers.  This will take time.

These are truly the biggest issues with the team and the proper steps that need to be taken to solve the problems.  Merely saying, "I've lost faith in the coaching staff" is a fool's statement.  I suggest you stop sounding like a fool.

matty blue

December 30th, 2013 at 2:37 PM ^

i get that fred jackson has been around for a long time, and fresh start / new approach etc. etc. etc., and ty wheatley was one of my favorite players, but what exactly are you basing the "great / proven rb coach" description on?  i know he was at eastern for a while and now he's with with the bills, but neither of those teams have exactly set the world on fire, running backs-wise.  just asking.

i would also suggest that dismissing the coaching staff as 'old' isn't really all that useful.  lots of older coaches are still very effective.  heck, most of us thought that was the case with greg mattison up until 6 weeks ago, right?

michgoblue

December 30th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

I usually HATE the posts that basically say "I think that we should fire coaches XY and Z and hire AB &C to replace them," because such posts are usually the equivalent of "just hire Saban, Harbaugh and Miles as HC, DC and OC and all will be fine."  But I really liked this comment. 

I am not 100% sold on firing Borges because the only thing that this season tells us is that he is not good at offense when he has a completely incompetent OL made up on underclassmen.  We don't know how he will do with a more experienced line.  That said, I can certainly see the argument for firing him, and if we do, Sanford would be a huge get.  The staff needs youth, which he brings, and he certainly knows how to succeed in a "Manball" offense. 

Jackson 100% needs to go.  The guy is just getting too old and is no longer effective.  We haven't had a good RB since Mike Hart.  Also, RBs struggling across the board in recognizing and picking up more complex blitzes, which is 100% on coaching.  Wheatley or Hart would both be awesome, as both would likely be great recruiters and would bring a ton of energy.

Funk - hate to say it, but I agree.  Young, inexperienced line is a huge mitigating factor, but I see MAC level teams who have lines that are yound, way less talented, but way more effective. 

Finally, yes, our special teams are a joke.  Poor blocking on returns, and absolutely shit coverage on kickoffs and punts. 

Jgruss42

December 30th, 2013 at 7:04 PM ^

Love this post.

+1 all over

IMO the goal of position coaches is to improve what you have. Sometimes that means taking somebody who is 1 star and developing into a 2 star. It does not mean making everybody a 5-star. We saw consistent mistakes all year. The UFRs on both sides of the ball revealed players making the same mistakes all year.

I think most fans understand that giving up rushing yards to OSU was going to happen and struggling to get yards on the ground vs MSU was going to happen this year. However, failing to pick up the A-gap blitz, failing to wrap up tackles, failing to hold edge contain . . . these are all technical issues. Coaches at this level need to coach technique. Were they so worried about coaching play-calling that they skipped this for the whole year?

When Hoke sees the same mistake from the same unit for several games in a row, what is his response? I really could care less about what he says in the press conference. It's his job to be supportive and boring in the presser. So his responses there dont interest me, the changes from game to game are the things that interest me. And while we would occassionally see wierd aberations (offense vs OSU), 90% of the time we simply saw the mistakes repeating themselves.

Perhaps they were teaching technique and the guys need more time. I am prepared to give him another year.  I dont think 10 wins next year is realistic, but perhaps 8 dominant wins with 4 close losses might be signs of improvement. Style points dont count . . . except when you are grading the players for fundamental levels of improvement.

Mr. Yost

December 30th, 2013 at 9:24 PM ^

...all the way down to the presser comments. You're exactly right.

What I find extremely frustrating is that we practice fundementals and harp on it nonstop, but we don't get better at them.

We're also so uninspired.

What coach do we have that is firey enough to really get into some guys and motivate them by doing more than repeating "you have to play to the level of the position."

No offense to this staff, but these kids don't know about Rick Leach, Tyrone Wheatley, Amani Toomer, etc.

Jimmyisgod

December 30th, 2013 at 2:11 PM ^

If these aren't red flags for a program I don't know what is.  The team is in disarray and there is no leadership.  I also won't mention here the rumors I think we've all heard about the potential issues in the locker room, I know they would get deleted.

There are red flags galore with this team right now, only people with blue colored glasses could miss it.  I fear it's going to get worse before changes are made.

Also, I don't know why everyone here is confident Borges is being replaces, Hoke already voiced his support for him.  This is a tough tough time to be a Wolverine fan right now, but I have faith we'll be great again and be the national power we once were.

MI Expat NY

December 30th, 2013 at 2:12 PM ^

I think there is a very, very small portion of people here that think Borges is being replaced.  I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that people think he'll be fired.  Many think he should be fired, but doubt it happens.  

MGlobules

December 30th, 2013 at 12:24 PM ^

wasted. Top drawer stuff. 

This program is in deep sh*t. The Michigan good old boy network has nearly killed it. The fact that many of the readers here are part of that network or find it appealing (whether they get what Bo was really about or not) doesn't change the fact. 

gwkrlghl

December 30th, 2013 at 12:37 PM ^

Our incestuous love affair with "Michigan Men" is not getting us anywhere, so much so that some people still find Les Miles to be a plausible candidate for head coach here. We need to ditch that and get with the times. The times where the Michigan coaching tree is bone dry and a 74 year old coach in Kansas is telling us to get with the times.

Richrod was the worst thing ever not just because of the record on the field but because it reaffirmed Michigan's hermit-like attitude to football. We branched out and tried New And Exciting Football and it went poorly. Now the whole AD and a chunk of the fans ran back into their shell and started proclaiming "See! I told you so! Only Michigan Men can coach at Michigan!"

Now we're watching ourselves be destroyed by a play that was basically invented here as we continue to dream of the glory days where people ran for 3 ypc with an NFL talent laden team and they liked it. I sure hope we enjoy 7 win seasons

Space Coyote

December 30th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

The idea that Michigan man is needed. There are advantages of understanding the culture and keeping some things constant, no doubt, but this idea that a Michigan man is the only solution is stupid.

The idea that a non-Michigan man is needed. A different scheme isn't a magic elixer. The spread isn't perfect. A non-Michigan man isn't going to come in and cure the problems with this team because he's from outside the program.

The Manball idea. Manball isn't a scheme. It isn't what Michigan runs. It isn't anything really, besides a made up crap-line that opponents of anything non-spread use to latch on a negative connotation to schemes that aren't spread. The scheme on either side of the ball isn't the issue. Going to spread isn't the fix. This idea that we are doing "dinosaur" things on both sides of the football is dumb. It's as dumb as people saying the spread won't work in the B1G. It's as dumb as people saying the 3-3-5 can't work. Any scheme can work, it's the teaching of techniques and theories that needs to be accomplished. Kill the Manball idea. Especially for a team that runs mostly from gun and only hands off to RBs about 7 times or whatever. That's not the "stubborn manball" everyone wants to make it out to be. The meme is stupid, trite, and tired.

Erik_in_Dayton

December 30th, 2013 at 12:58 PM ^

...is the most important.  I'm sure you appreciate this, but it's worth pointing out, I think, that your second and third points reference positions held largely (exclusively?) by fans on the internet.  The much more salient problem is belief of former players, alums, etc. that only someone born of two cousins both descended from Bo can be fit to lead the football team.  Now, what we here on the blog can do about that, I don't know...

Don

December 30th, 2013 at 1:04 PM ^

To me the biggest question is whether or not we have the coaching staff who can effectively teach the techniques. 2011 seemed to answer a resounding "hell yes," but the last two years, especially 2013, have cast more than a little doubt into my mind.

There are too many examples from teams all over the country of young players not only starting but excelling that is increasingly making the argument that "it's just because we're so young" look less and less credible. Is Alex Kozan really that gigantically better than any of our freshman linemen, or is there something coaching-related going on?

Space Coyote

December 30th, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^

And I've said elsewhere my feeling on youth. I think it is a major problem right now in how much and in how many spots they are relying on youth. That sort of thing will hopefully get better.

I tend to believe these guys are good at coaching the fundamentals. You don't tend to preach what you can't do, and they are always harping on technique and fundamentals as the crux of the program. I don't know if they are better at teaching experienced players once they get a base of knowledge, working with more experienced players where only time will help, are just failing in their methods, if some of the players just aren't grasping it and it won't get fixed until there is better compitition, or what the issue is. The only thing I know is it needs to improve. The teaching and learning of techniques needs to get better if this team wants to get better. If it doesn't, then changes need to be made. I'm willing to wait another year for certain coaches and another two for the Hoke regime (outside of the team falling apart next year), personally.

Space Coyote

December 30th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

Fans need to learn what they are really attacking. There is heat on certain aspects of this staff and program because of incorrect fan perception.

The heat is because there are fans that somehow watch the games and think that this is this concept of "manball" (this works on both sides of the arguments). The argument that it's an outdated system is because of fan perception. Incorrect fan perception fuels most of the debates, mud-slinging, flaming, and trolling on this blog and other blogs, and from other fan-bases aimed at the Michigan fan base. Fans are mad because Frank Clark was supposed to be better, but is that really the coaches or the media/fan hype?

"This is Michigan", "Manball", "execution", etc, are all examples of this fan percetion taking way to much from simplified ideas and concepts and not really seeing these things for what it is.

Blue2000

December 30th, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

"This is Michigan", "Manball", "execution", etc, are all examples of this fan percetion taking way to much from simplified ideas and concepts and not really seeing these things for what it is.

We hired a head coach who, prior to arriving here, had a thoroughly mediorcre record (47-50) in multiple non-BCS conferences.  When Brandon introduced Hoke, he explained that Hoke "didn't need a map to get around Ann Arbor."  Brandon clearly believed that this was a relevant consideration for the hire.  I don't want to speak for the fanbase, by my concern is that such heavy reliance upon that notion caused us to hire someone who may not have been qualified for the job.  What is the error in that perception?  Was there something else in Hoke's coaching resume beyond his prior attachment to the program that justified his hiring in 2011?

jmblue

December 30th, 2013 at 5:04 PM ^

Was there something else in Hoke's coaching resume beyond his prior attachment to the program that justified his hiring in 2011?

This is unfair. Hoke reversed a losing culture at each of his first two schools. His first few seasons at BSU were a struggle, but he won 12 games his last year there and took a SDSU team that hadn't had a winning season in a decade to nine wins his second year. His career record looks so-so if you just look at the aggregate, but from 2007-10 it was very good.

Hoke's name was getting mentioned for a few openings at the time we hired him - Minnesota was one. Certainly, the connection to Michigan put him over the top to become the front-runner after Harbaugh, but it wasn't the only factor.  Let's not make him out to be a washout like DeBord or English.  He was climbing the ladder.  (It's not unusual for schools to hire guys with a prior connection, either - witness USC hiring Kiffin and now Sarkisian.)

MGlobules

December 30th, 2013 at 5:25 PM ^

as can possibly be placed upon the matter. Re-read the piece Brian wrote when Hoke's name first came up: http://mgoblog.com/content/profiles-cronyism-brady-hoke .

My feeling was simply that Michigan could do better. But that probably had to mean that bright people sat down and did their homework and came up with someone bright, capable, and unproven. 

jmblue

December 30th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

Yeah, you've been linking that article a bunch of times.  I don't agree with all of it but don't feel like rehashing what I said earlier.  

I will say this though: Everyone thinks their school can do better.  Everyone assumes it's just a matter of writing a big enough check.   But it's actually pretty hard to hire an established coach.  Most are happy where they are.  USC announced to the world that they'd be willing to pay up to $6M a year for a new coach, and people here were in awe.  But they ended up whiffing on a bunch of guys and hired Sarkisian.  Texas thought it could get Saban, and now it's setting its sights considerably lower.  That's how it goes.

 

 

 

 

MGlobules

December 30th, 2013 at 10:35 PM ^

I'm not sure I agree with you. All these schools think they have to hit a home run when there are a lot of younger, less connected coaches out there. It's not only a good ol' boy network, it's a star system, too. And Hoke--god love him--is not an inspired coach, pure and simple. No one has EVER bothered to suggest he was. The question from even his strongest supporters has always been whether he could assemble the elements and manage Michigan back to greatness. I certainly wouldn't fire him now, but I think we're getting the answer to that question. 

Blue2000

December 30th, 2013 at 5:25 PM ^

Prior to his hiring at UM, Hoke had had three seasons above .500 (one of which was a 7-6 campaign) in 8 as a head coach.  And while his 12-1 season at BSU was impressive, I don't think those 8 seasons warranted consideration for the Michigan head coaching job.  (Nor do I understand why you'd limit the review of his coaching resume to just 2007-2010.)  Regardless of whether he was mentioned for the Minnesota job (and underwhelming comparable, to say the least), I don't believe he'd have been considered at all for the Michigan job but for his prior ties to the program.  For that reason, I don't think my initial question was unfair.   

pescadero

December 31st, 2013 at 12:47 PM ^

"Hoke reversed a losing culture"

 

Such a canard...

 

Ball St. under Bill Lynch (Hoke predecessor): 37-53, 41.1%

Ball St. under Brady Hoke: 30-39, 43.4%

Ball State all time winning percentge: 52.4%

 

Ball St. in 3 years prior to Brady Hoke:

2000: 5-6

2001: 5-6

2002: 6-6

 

Ball St. under Brady Hoke:

2003: 4-8

2004: 2-9

2005: 4-7

2006: 5-7

2007: 7-6

2008: 12-2

991GT3

December 30th, 2013 at 8:14 PM ^

had his back to the wall. He was rejected by several good coaches and he wasted time spinning his wheels trying to decide whether to let RR go. He had to hire someone quick because the pressure was building for a hire. Hoke was his last resort hire.

Hoke is a fine man. He means well and I am sure he is doing the best he can. That said, the evidence is mounting that running a big time college football program is beyond him. 

sLideshowBob

December 30th, 2013 at 8:56 PM ^

That we weren't exactly a prize when Hoke came through. Harbaugh said no thanks and we had no back up plan. RR Groban'd his way out the door. We were not a desirable place to coach and at least Hoke has us believing that we are again. Nobody is happy but there is no magic bullet. Hoke was the medicine we needed at that time. Gave us all a maize and blue hardon. His first qb recruit just started his first game ( as a freshman) and we already want blood? I wanted RR to stay, but that didn't happen. Why do we want to make the same mistake twice. If Hoke is willing to stand by his crew he will be writing his own narrative, good or bad. With all that said it would be nice to see Jackson go and Funk should get a public spanking along with his pink slip. But that is up to Brady.

Gulogulo37

December 30th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

Sure. What Borges wants to do can work. Brian doesn't disagree with that. But he argues the spread to run works better, and it's hard to disagree given the recent history of college football. Spreads have worked very well even without gobs of talent (e.g., RR at WV), but it seems Borges' offense needs everything clicking to be really dangerous. Also, Brian rips on MANBALL because Hoke and co. have explicitly disagreed with your view. They've scoffed at schemes that other teams have had lots of success with.

Space Coyote

December 30th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

I don't think the "spread to run works better". I think it can work better, if properly coached, but I think a pro-style team can work better if properly coached too. I think both have strengths and weaknesses, and those strengths and weaknesses are different, but that one is certainly better than the other I don't buy. Stanford didn't have gobs of talent and ran a pro-style scheme well. So have many teams over the years. It's just that the spread is the new trend in what is ultimately a very cyclical thing. Borges offense doesn't need everything working to be really dangerous. Hell, a decent run game or decent pass protection would potentially do the trick. It just needs things to work, like any other offense.

And I don't think Hoke and Co scoff at other schemes, I think they believe in their schemes, as any coach should. This idea that they don't get it, that they think because they don't run those schemes that they are automatically better, is just plain wrong. Yes, they came in and made proclomations to bring the fanbase together and get everyone in line, but all it was was a rallying cry, like any other thing. The reality is far from them being some dimwitted and stubborn that they will do things their way and think everything else is beneath them.

Michael

December 30th, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

I'm pretty sure the term "manball" was created as a way to describe Brady Hoke's attitude toward how "real football" should be played, and was never intended to describe a scheme or even evaluate its effectiveness. And it was coined prior to Hoke coaching a game here.

Hoke believes (or at least has stated as much) that spread offenses are not physical enough to adequately prepare a defense. As you've pointed out, however, the offense we run doesn't reflect what Hoke stated publicly upon his hire, so he's obviously flexible.

Have you ever considered the fact that the reason why so many people (me included) like the spread offense is because it's conceptually very simple? I can look at the K-State offense and tell you what's going to happen pre-snap at a pretty good success rate. I understand Rodriguez's offense.

I have to admit I have no idea what Al Borges is trying to accomplish, other than throwing a bunch of different formations at people and trying to create breakdowns in the secondary. I suppose there would be a running game involved in an ideal world but we have yet to see one that really works for reasons you've covered ad nausem.

 

TIMMMAAY

December 30th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

Have you ever considered the fact that the reason why so many people (me included) like the spread offense is because it's conceptually very simple? I can look at the K-State offense and tell you what's going to happen pre-snap at a pretty good success rate. I understand Rodriguez's offense.

There's a pretty large flaw with that reasoning. Do you see it? 

Michael

December 30th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

I could have been clearer here, but I am not making the argument that the spread offense is superior to pro-style in terms of on-the-field success, but saying that for non-experts it's not surprising to express preference for something that is more clearly understood.

If the "flaw" to which you are refering is the predictability of play calling in a run-to-spread attack, I don't think it's a flaw because the source of that predictability is the alignment of the defense and not whatever play the offense is in when they get to the LOS. Basically you can have a pretty good idea of what's about to happen when you see where the defense is the weakest. 

Space Coyote

December 30th, 2013 at 5:35 PM ^

Yes, it is something I've considered. It's something I've said about Brian and several other posters here, and it's not a bad thing or a back handed comment in any way. The spread is done more out in the open, meaning the schemes, ideas, adjustments are also more out in the open and easy to see. Understanding those things will be more fun for some people, and the ones that don't want to understand those things it doesn't really matter one way or the other.

One of the difficult things about football is learning the nuanced things, because where do you learn it besides from coaching/playing? To a degree, you can be more self-taught and understand many of the spread things that are more difficult to pick up when the offense is tightened. And I understand that completely.