I Learned How To Put Myself In A Box A Long Time Ago

Submitted by Brian on September 8th, 2014 at 12:18 PM

9/6/2014 – Michigan 0, Notre Dame 31 – 1-1

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[Bryan Fuller]

I set a new record for earliest departure from a Michigan game Saturday: 10 minutes and change, besting the 2007 Oregon game that I left with about six minutes left. And I feel… okay, I guess.

Ace and I did the podcast Sunday and it's actually kind of good. This is a far cry from previous podcasts in the aftermath of doom. The Alabama one was barely worth recording, and we knew it at the time. This one runs down the suck but there's a jaunty air and no one seems like they're taking the bar exam after a 72-hour bender.

We are used to it. And hey, man, Michigan outgained Notre Dame. I know we lost 31-0 but that was nowhere near as emasculating as that aforementioned Oregon game or the 2008 Ohio State game in which Brandon Minor was the only Michigan player who looked like he was in college instead of high school or last year's Michigan State game in which Michigan acquired –48 rushing yards. Or maybe it was but we can't tell because our football testicles have been ground away by the sandpaper of the last seven years and all we feel is increasing smoothness.

Yeah.

Yeah man.

Oh man. This feels really smooth.

I can't even remember why I didn't want this bit between my legs to be so flat you could try to set a land speed record over it.

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

I don't know, man. You only have one thing to base predictions of the future on: the past. And the past suggested that Blake Countess was a pretty good cornerback who couldn't cope with Tyler Lockett. It didn't look like that on Saturday night. It looked like Tony Gibson was in town again.

Notre Dame built its unassailable lead on a series of man press-type coverages on which ND would break to the inside unmolested without a Michigan cornerback even there to tackle on the catch. That is a recipe for disaster. With Raymon Taylor knocked out and Channing Stribling burned just like Countess was on his first play, Michigan had no choice but to throw Countess out there again. He promptly ended up yards away from Will Fuller on the fade all the inside stuff had set Michigan up for.

Countess had six interceptions as part of a pretty good pass defense a year ago and while that was a passive zone thing you kind of figure that guys capable of doing that will be capable at man coverage.

That was emphatically disproven on Saturday, throwing the entire offseason into question. The deck chair shuffling of defensive coaches touted as the path forward now looks ludicrous.

If

  1. you're going to give your defense an extreme makeover based on pressure and man-to-man coverage and
  2. you rearrange your coaching staff so that your new cornerbacks coach is a guy who has never played or coached the position before and
  3. then your corners are a complete fiasco in their first real test, then

people are going to think that's a bad idea man.

By all accounts Roy Manning is a terrific recruiter and enthusiastic, dedicated coach. He's just not a secondary coach. That kind of random insertion at position X is something lower-level (like, DII) schools do because of limited resources. Michigan found itself in that position because…

I don't actually know. That was not a rhetorical pause.

Best as I can figure, Hoke loathes firing anyone. For most of last year it was expected that Borges would return because those were the vibes the program was emanating, and the about-face there still has conspiracy theorists asserting that Brandon made him make the switch. Approximately 80% of emails to me this offseason were some variant of FIRE DARRELL FUNK FERGODSAKES, and it's hard to imagine many programs sticking with the offensive line coach after that.

Meanwhile Hoke's standoffishness with everyone outside the program is increasing daily. Everyone inside the velvet rope is golden. Everyone on the outside is garbage. The bunker mentality is suddenly warranted, at least.

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

Getting blown out 31-0 by Notre Dame is a gamechanging event. You can feel it in the nonsense decisions Hoke made in the second half. Michigan played turtle ball that saw Michigan run 35 seconds off the clock between snaps in the middle of the third quarter; they left Funchess and Gardner in the game deep into the fourth quarter. Let's look like we're trying without actually doing so. Make it look good for the boss.

Gardner ended up taking a lethal cheap shot on the final snap, and no one in a winged helmet seemed to notice or care. That was eerily reminiscent of the hockey team a couple years ago when Mac Bennett was the recipient of a dirty hit at the end of a 5-1 blowout at the hands of lowly BGSU. No one responded, and it was obvious they were cooked.

Hoke talks about toughness constantly, but when asked to defend their quarterback they walked away, to a man. Maybe that's Taylor Lewan's fault too.

This program has a real knack for blaming the people who aren't around anymore for its current failings. Let's detail those real quick: Michigan is 3-7 in their last ten games with wins over Indiana, Northwestern in three overtimes, and Appalachian State. Brady Hoke was 16-4 with Denard Robinson as his starting quarterback and is 11-9 since, excluding the Nebraska game he went out of. Michigan has one road win over a team with a winning record, that over 7-6 Illinois in 2011. The trajectory is not good.

This is a breaking point. Either Michigan comes to Jesus, or they break. It was at this moment that Michigan hockey turned to Andrew Copp, a freshman, because it was clear no one else had any of that leadership stuff, and charged towards respectability. They ended up short, but it was better than that BGSU game in which they couldn't muster a third-period shot until 15 minutes in.

There's time yet to salvage something, Lloyd Carr-style, but little reason to believe such a thing is possible. One thing's certain: we are running out of people to blame other than the ones in charge.

Highlights

From the ND perspective, not that there's any other possible:

MGoVideo has the Michigan version of events.

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_31[2]Brady Hoke Epic Double Points Of The Week. Devin Funchess (#1) was real good at catching the ball, especially that one time they targeted him downfield at the end of the third quarter.

#2 Willie Henry was a key component of a run defense that held Notre Dame to 72 yards, sacks and whatnot excluded.

#3 Ryan Glasgow was also a key component of that run D.

Honorable mention:

Epic Double Point Standings.

6: Devin Funchess (#1, APP, #1 ND)
2: Devin Gardner (#2, APP), Willie Henry (#2 ND)
1: Ryan Glasgow (#3, ND)
0.5: Kyle Kalis (T3, APP), Ben Braden (T3, APP)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week.

For the single individual best moment.

Nothing.

Honorable mention: Nothing.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

AppSt: Derrick Green rumbles for 60 yards.
ND: Nothing.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK. Other than everything it has to be the fourth-and-three conversion on which Countess was nowhere to be found. That led to an ND touchdown that opened the margin to two touchdowns.

Honorable mention: Matt Wile misses two field goals to end longish drives and put Michigan in a hole. Gardner has Chesson wide open 20 yards downfield in front of his face, holds the ball, and gets annihilated, fumbling. Countess torched on a fade.

PREVIOUS EPBs

AppSt: Devin Gardner dares to throw an incomplete pass.
ND: Countess nowhere to be found on fourth and three.

[After the JUMP: things. probably!]

Offense

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[Fuller]

My perceptions of things are going to be warped. I have old-timey seats for home games and watch a lot of road games on TV, so I'm not used to the all-22-ish view endzone seats high up provide and don't feel particularly confident about evaluating anything line-related.

The thing about sitting there is that the field seems so unbelievably enormous and uncoverable, especially when there are two spreads going at each other.

Yup, spread. Michigan spent probably 80% of its night in a shotgun and with three wide or thereabouts. The personnel was often 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB; the tight ends acted as WRs maybe 40% of the time. And that seemed like the best option.

I'm still not sure how Michigan rushed for like two yards a carry; it felt like the line was actually opening up some holes. Speaking of…

Offensive line stuff. It also didn't feel like Gardner was under siege that much. There were a couple of inexplicable events where Sheldon Day (of all people) was left alone, but when they actually blocked guys the kind of pressure they were allowing was gentle pocket pushing that should have given Gardner enough time to get something done. He did not.

From my vantage point he looked confused; even aside from the turnovers—the fumble was truly boggling—he just did not get rid of the ball in a timely fashion. And the fumble was boggling. That pocket was fine; he had to move around a little but then had all day and a wide open Chesson right down the pipe. He ignored him.

TEMPO, TEMPO, TEMPO. I give up. IIRC, Gardner's first interception came on a play where Michigan got to the line late and had to snap or die, giving him little time to look at what the defense was providing and no time for the OL to identify a blitz off the corner that caused him to throw a ball to no one in a winged helmet. Then they were getting the play off with four seconds left on the clock in the third quarter. Michigan managed the clock worse than a team that burned all its first half timeouts in the first 12 minutes of the game.

This is not an offensive coordinator thing. This is a program thing. It is never going to be any better with Hoke in Ann Arbor.

Honeymoon: over. Despite the overall sensible shape of the offense, the swing away from Borges-ball was so severe that Michigan's first downfield shot at a 5'9" corner with Devin Funchess happened 45 minutes in. I'm flabbergasted by that. This wasn't throwing deep balls at Junior Hemingway in a trash tornado with Denard Robinson as your QB. It was an obviously good matchup for you featuring a height difference of at least a half-foot. It should have been tried on just about every drive.

Maybe I'll see a ton more pressure on Gardner that I thought existed watching the game live.

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so unbelievably tiny [Fuller]

Norfleet: extant. Dennis Norfleet was an unexpected focus of the offense in the first half; on the play above he caught up to a looping ball from Gardner for the world's shortest over-the-shoulder catch. Aside from one bubble screen he had no shot on, he was effective and productive. He even took a handoff for about ten yards. Hooray.

Speaking of that bubble: that kind of overplay is ripe for a riposte; Michigan never went back to it for the bubble-fake-to-slant-or-post thing.

Defense

The recovery. Jourdan Lewis was forced into a lot of playing time and suffered for it early. On ND's first touchdown drive he was the recipient of a couple of pass interference calls. This was one:

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[Bryan Fuller]

That was unnecessary panic. Check the sideline: the wide receiver is leaping into it. Lewis played that route about perfectly and freaked out when he'd already defeated the route.

But the run defense was great! Seriously, it was great. ND rushed for about 75 yards, sacks and whatnot excluded. ND's tailbacks each had a long of six yards and they only got as far as that because it felt like the linebackers were missing tackles on Cam McDaniel. On any other planet on any other day that is a foundation for victory. That is a win against a veteran offensive line and some good backs—Bryant in particular looked hard to bring down in ways that Michigan's backs are not.

No Peppers was bad. Delonte Hollowell got worked over in the slot, incapable of sticking with the slot receivers either inside or out. I wholeheartedly reject any idea that Michigan doesn't have enough talent or that injuries played a major factor when Notre Dame is down four starters, including their top WR; at this spot the dropoff was severe and understandable. Probably anyway, we haven't exactly seen Peppers play much.

Clark did have some impact. He was spinning around the left tackle with regularity, but Golson was mobile enough to get out of the way. Michigan didn't get enough contribution from a second guy to get Golson on the ground, and the guy is great on the move. They had one third and long conversion where he was flushed and put it on a guy's numbers 20 yards downfield and the coverage was actually tight. That one was just a tip of the hat.

Miscellaneous

Firing guy stuff. For the record, firing someone before the end of the regular season is a pointless exercise in self-immolation. I shouldn't have to say that, you're probably thinking, but I got a lot of emails and tweets about shoving Hoke out of the airplane on the way home. And, hey, Michigan could rip off a bunch of wins in a crappy conference and then this game is just a weird ND stadium juju thing. Information is good and we're about to get a lot more of it.

I do think this game changes the way an 8-4 season might be looked at, especially if it's followed by hamblastings at Michigan State (likely) and Ohio State (maybe not so likely). I don't know about everyone's dimestore psychological readings of Dave Brandon, a man who says "I could care less." Most assert that he won't admit he was wrong and will hold on to Hoke, but soft ticket demand threatens to undermine the only thing Brandon defenders have in their pocket: the annual budget's revenue line. Since Brandon defenders include Brandon, a move might happen as the guy attempts to save himself.

Of course, the prospect of another Brandon-led coaching search terrifies. You can deep-six an athletic director whenever you want. That would be the canary in the coal mine here.

The nicest thing about South Bend: going to a rivalry game without feeling like you may be assaulted at any time for wearing the wrong colors. I have been to Notre Dame five times and literally the worst thing that's happened to me is that a small child said "good game, mister" after Michigan lost 25-23 during the Navarre era. That will be the all-time record. I've gone to games that have nothing to do with Michigan wearing M gear and gotten more guff than I have in South Bend.

Weird that the same fanbase has the worst internet fans in the world, but you have to keep in mind that anyone talking about something on the internet is by definition part of the fringe—IIRC stats say 90% of people just read.

Here

Inside The Box Score:

Both teams had 8 TFLs. Notre Dame was able to overcome theirs. That may be because our defense only picked up 31 yards on our 8 TFLs, while they gained 52 yards.
* Only three of our 8 TFLs given up occurred in the first half, so I don't think you can blame them for the 21-0 deficit. That's a positive, right?
* Of the 8, only 2 were accrued by the running backs. For all the complaining about the offensive line, at least we're getting a stalemate or better in the running game. The problem is in the passing game where blockers are inexplicably leaving interior defensive lineman free to get to the QB, and the QB is not utilizing his pressure relief valves, i.e., the running backs. Joe Kerridge had 1 reception for 4 yards, and that's it for the RBs. When a team is blitzing consistently, the screen game or the quick dumpoff must be utilized. Joe Kerridge had 1 reception for 4 yards, and that's it for the RBs. Yes, that merits repeating because I thought we were done with that crap when Borges left.

Best And Worst:

Meh:  Pressure?

Honestly, I'm not sure what happened out there in terms of pressure from the defensive line.  You look at the box score and see some TFLs, 1 sack and a couple of QB hits and it looks like another disappointing outing for a unit that just can't seem to get to the QB against quality offensive lines.  And yet, ND was held to around 2.5 yards a carry on 28 non-QB runs, and Golson was definitely getting the ball out quickly to slow down the rush.  It still seems like it's a line of good players without a true playmaker, and in this scheme you need a line that can create havoc so that your corners and LBs are being forced to keep up with receivers for extended periods of time.  I know people want to treat this as another sign of hype being exposed, but I'm just not sure yet.

Elsewhere

Nussmeier gets the worst nut from the HSR:

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Might have to figure out what –1 is for State. Touch The Banner:

This offensive line isn't as bad as last year. Center Jack Miller was repeatedly shoved back into Devin Gardner's grill, and that's a problem. But not every team has a Jarron Jones. Mason Cole and Erik Magnuson had several communication issues on the left side, but that comes with the territory of starting a true freshman left tackle. Regardless of the numbers, I thought the offensive line looked closer to the one that opened up huge holes against Appalachian State than the one that soured the taste in our mouths in 2013. Michigan is not a team that can wear teams down by running the ball, but they should be able to run the ball enough to keep most defenses off balance.

The shutout streak is over. Sap issues no decals. The Mood:

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Comments

MGlobules

September 8th, 2014 at 12:44 PM ^

to the press needs to be retired. It undermines your carefully cultivated image as a nice guy, for one thing, when--sadly--you may not have too many more legs to stand on. This is one of the reasons why you look for intelligence and people skills in a coach. 

And a little playful deception regarding injuries is one thing, but what we're getting is unnecessarily obfuscatory--worse--contradictory.  

BornInA2

September 8th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

I *couldn't* care less about the staff's friendliness to the press, or which questions they choose to answer. College football isn't there so reporters can get whatever question they ask answered.

And, if you want a decent answer, ask a decent question: What does this team have do to win these games? Is a lazy question with an obvious answer: Play better.

And getting the team to do *that*, not providing fodder for reporters, is the job of the staff.

MGlobules

September 8th, 2014 at 12:57 PM ^

may not care. But believe me, the people who run the university should--quite a lot who are looking on DO. People who have supported Hoke are now turning on him, and the insularity is part of the reason. 

 

Reader71

September 8th, 2014 at 4:27 PM ^

Consider the players. If their coach is always deflecting the blame off of them and never telling people about their injuries and basically cultivating an "us against them" mentality, the players will appreciate that and it will bring them closer to the coach and to each other.

The only people Brady Hoke has to answer to are those 115 kids, the staff in Schembechler Hall, and Dave Brandon. Everything else is immaterial.

Lloyd Carr is about the nicest man you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. He was a terrible prick to the press. His players would die for him. A lot of the press actually liked him, because he won and because he was nice to them as people, just not as members of the press.

aiglick

September 8th, 2014 at 4:48 PM ^

You and I disagree on this point. The fans also matter. At an individual level no we don't matter but as a collective who have generally supported this team through thick and thin and have booed very little despite sloppy play deserve some appreciation and respect.

You want to bet the experience would be different if less than 80,000 people show up to the stadium and we look like Miami. Our fan base in general has been pretty loyal and yes we are an essential part of the experience as a collective.

This also counts the hundreds of thousands of loyal fans who tune in to the games every week.

I'm not saying we deserve a trophy but we are an integral part of the Michigan experience.

Reader71

September 8th, 2014 at 8:00 PM ^

It's not that fans are unimportant. It's that the mood of the fans does not and should not have any impact on the day to day operation of the football program. When the coaching situation is solid and the coach acts as a shield, the players don't even know what we're thinking. And that's how it should be. They should be focused on football and school.

The best way to keep fans happy is by winning. That's also the goal of every player, coach, trainer, equipment man, secretary, and custodian in the building. The rest is all ancillary. It's all just procedure; how the coach thinks he can help his team win. He should not change his philosophy because the fans don't like it.

ReegsShannon

September 8th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

Gonna have to disagree with Notre Dame having the nicest fans. I left the game as soon as the clock hit zero at the end of that int return. I sat in the ND student section with a friend from ND and some friends from Michigan. I got out of the stadium way before anyone else in the section and was standing out of the way waiting for my friends to get out. While I was waiting there, three different girls (none of which were together. all of these were separate instances) ran up to me (about a foot from me each time) and yelled fuck you in my face.

 

So yeah, fuck Notre Dame.

BornInA2

September 8th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

This seems to be another "The play wasn't as lopsided as the score would indicate" statement?

Admittedly, the score is what ultimately counts, and I'm not quite to the "running around like my hair is on fire/the season is DOOMED" stage yet, myself.

The biggest coaching concern I have over this game was the bafflingly conservative play calling, especially in the 2nd half when we're down 3, 4, 5 scores. Please, PLEASE throw down the field, WAY down the field on 3rd and 9. Do NOT, under any circumstances, try to run the ball up the middle AGAIN. Because heylookie, it didn't work on 2nd down. Or 1st down, or last possession, or...hey, do you think they're onto us?

dragonchild

September 8th, 2014 at 1:03 PM ^

I know this site has an allergy to speculative injuries but I'm recalling issues Denard had when he was secretly nursing a staph infection.  His play was awful, Fort Schembechler stayed mum and then in hindsight everything made sense.  Hoke just called it a "boo-boo".  Denard later called it "a deal".

Funchess can win jump balls against any DB on ND's squad. . . when they went to him late, he was unstoppable until he got injured.  And while the pocket was never perfect, it's not like Gardner was on his back.  Where the hell was the dragon?

I think Gardner was hiding an arm injury because not only did his balls seem inaccurate, they didn't have the same zip.  They had high trajectories and often fell short.  My memory is about as reliable as I forget these days, but IIRC one of his late interceptions the DB didn't jump the route so much as react to it; it seemed like the ball took forever to get there.  That would also explain why he was staring at Chesson 20 yards downfield, tucked it and fumbled.  He didn't throw downfield because he couldn't.  They didn't try until they started taking serious risks late that unfortunately backfired, but they had to try something.

mgoBrad

September 8th, 2014 at 1:11 PM ^

He also threw a rope on a far-hash out route which had the announcers salivating. I think it has much more to do with Devin's vision (i.e staring down receivers, not seeing others that are wide-open) and his mortal fear of getting obliterated once the line allows even a teensy-bit of pressure.

dragonchild

September 8th, 2014 at 1:52 PM ^

Obviously he could throw, otherwise he woudn't have been out there.  And anyone can SPARTAAA for a play.  But overall, something was off and I felt it went beyond just feeling pressure.  The pressure led to bad decisions, but he was also flat-out making bad throws, with more arc and less velocity at that.  Nuss' plays require precise timing and it seemed the throws were consistently late and/or short, allowing ND's secondary to make plays on the ball.  He was throwing with more power & accuracy on a broken foot.

I dunno, I'd have to UFR the game to get a better idea but I really can't bring myself to watch that game twice.

jaydubya

September 8th, 2014 at 12:47 PM ^

... needs an opportunity to start. Any QB will dominate App St. But after watching Devin's performance against ND, as well as much of last year, I'm convinced we're at a disadvantage with Devin at the helm against *good teams*.

ish

September 8th, 2014 at 1:08 PM ^

i'm not in the shane morris camp.  but the logic of playing him is becoming more reasonable.  if it's clear that this team isn't going anywhere and will suck regardless of whether gardner or morris plays, then why not play morris who could use the practice for next year?

Rutherford Foxtrot

September 8th, 2014 at 1:21 PM ^

FWIW, weren't most of the other 10 guys on the field with Morris in the ASU game from the second unit? Curious to see how he looks with some weapons, mainly Funchess, in there. At least giving him a shot is starting to seem reasonable.

I hate to be that guy that calls for a QB change after game 2, but man this loss hurts.

Magnus

September 8th, 2014 at 2:18 PM ^

Personally, I think Gardner's interceptions were a result of him pressing to make a play. So yes and no. I don't expect a quarterback to be down 21-0 or 28-0 or 31-0 in the second half and not take some gambles. You have to gamble. Were they the right plays? Obviously not. But if they worked, they would have been the right plays. Brett Favre made a career out of doing stuff like that. It's one of the things you have to live with if you're not going to be able to run the ball, score on defense, or stop an opponent's offense.

aplatypus

September 8th, 2014 at 2:36 PM ^

as a far less expert opinion than you or Coyote, though. 

But at this point, and I'd wait at least 1 more full game before really saying we should do this, Gardner is a redshirt senior. Yeah he had the wierd year at WR thing, but he was a QB before that and has had 2.5ish years since as a QB. He still has his mind made up on drop back most of the time it seems, he rarely ever makes a progression and when he does it's slow, he forces the ball mroe than needed, he still panics in the pocket well before necessary a lot, and when things get tough he tries to go hero ball and makes even more mistakes. 

 

He has shown at times incredible physical tools and loads of potential, every one knows how hard he works and all that, but he just doesn't seem to be a very good quarterback - at least on the mental aspect during a game. Notre Dame may have been an anomaly, but if he doesn't look world's different in the next couple weeks, how is putting Shane out there to build for next year a significant drop down if any? 

Magnus

September 8th, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

I never said he was horrible.

But in a game when Michigan is up 52-14, there's no need to gamble on a throw like that. That shows a lack of maturity, in my opinion. It was his turn to play, and by golly, he wanted to throw it, regardless of what the defense gave him. He's not horrible. He's just immature (as a passer, not as a person).

MGlobules

September 8th, 2014 at 2:23 PM ^

we all need to stop dignifying them with responses. But--just so some of you people get it--NONE of us wish Shane anything but the best, cryingoutloud. He's our future QB. But ANYONE is going to look shaky in there under current circumstances. Can people please at least acknowledge that Gardner has broken passing RECORDS under these trying circumstances? Re-read Brian's post, and look at the circumstances under which he made those errors Saturday. Then--please--rest it!

jaydubya

September 8th, 2014 at 2:56 PM ^

You think Brian was justifying Gardner's performance?  I suggest you re-read.

"It also didn't feel like Gardner was under siege that much. There were a couple of inexplicable events where Sheldon Day (of all people) was left alone, but when they actually blocked guys the kind of pressure they were allowing was gentle pocket pushing that should have given Gardner enough time to get something done. He did not.

From my vantage point he looked confused; even aside from the turnovers—the fumble was truly boggling—he just did not get rid of the ball in a timely fashion. And the fumble was boggling. That pocket was fine; he had to move around a little but then had all day and a wide open Chesson right down the pipe. He ignored him."

4roses

September 8th, 2014 at 12:48 PM ^

And on a completely "unrelated to anything important" note - anyone else think that pic of Norfleet was photoshopped??? Jeebus, dude is small or that ND LB trailing is a monster!

Blue2000

September 8th, 2014 at 12:49 PM ^

Re: tempo, Brian wrote: "This is not an offensive coordinator thing. This is a program thing. It is never going to be any better with Hoke in Ann Arbor."

My knowledge of the intracacies of playcalling is woefully limited, but could someone smarter expound on this for me?  Is it possible that Nuss would want the offense to be moving faster, and Hoke would be holding them back?  Is there a reason he'd insist on a slower tempo in the face of his OC wanted to do otherwise?  And is that likely, given his lack of other involvement with the offense (which I thought was the case)?

In any event, sigh.  

ST3

September 8th, 2014 at 3:00 PM ^

One thing you hear about defending the spread is to keep it off the field so your defense can rest, but we're two-deep at most defensive positions. I don't think we need to slow-tempo to help the defense. If a hurry up is necessary, they should go hurry up. I'm more worried that Hoke kept the tempo slow to limit the embarrassment.

harperic

September 8th, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

If Hoke's overarching strategy is "Pro Style" and damn the torpedos, I imagine Nuss will do as told and design the offense like that.

We don't know how involved Hoke is in the offense, and it's possible he's more involved than we think.

MGlobules

September 8th, 2014 at 1:55 PM ^

his demeanor, even when very flustered, is not to react, not to be made to react. It's limited, maybe mildly effective, but the furthest thing from "I am a canny tiger and when you f up or afford me the slightest advantage I am going to eat you." Ultimately, it's numbing. 

The team's sclerotic pace reflects the coach's limitations. 

Magnum P.I.

September 8th, 2014 at 10:05 PM ^

Hoke has been abundantly clear from the beginning that he wanted to increase time of possession to give his defense a break. You do that by running the ball and using the entire play clock.

http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/time-possession-comparison-2011-2010

Our slow offense is a big reason why our tempo-unadjusted defensive numbers (e.g., yards per game) look as good as they do every year under Hoke.

markusr2007

September 8th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

Nussmeier should already know Gardner's tendencies and weaknesses/errors from 2 years of QB film.  Nuss can help him out here.  Devin Gardner is fragile, man. Very fragile.

Gardner is a like a race horse that gets easily spooked and instinctually starts bolting and spinning around. Most of the time this behavior results in a sack, a fumble, an INT or a blocking penalty by some OL desperately trying to help. It's fucking disasterous.

The kid, bless his maize and blue fedora, is trying to do too much and too frequently holds on to the ball too damn long. Period.

"One-two-three-THROW! or RUN IT FORWARD!"

It would be nice if at "THROW" he could dump it off to a tiny speed merchant like Norfleet.

 

 

markusr2007

September 8th, 2014 at 1:32 PM ^

He definitely can be. He has a Howitzer arm, can make all the throws on a line, and is genuinely terrifying when he's on.

But his mental game is still severely lacking. For a 5th year senior quarterback, it still seems remarkably easy for defenses to rattle him into the wrong behaviors that have been no doubt screamed and cussed about in the film room.

He's just not been coached well/correctly about what to do when protections break down. 

Hours of 2012 and 2013 game film should have made these tendencies obvious to Nussmeier, who is a true QB coach in every sense.  It may take time to undo what Gardner "learned" incorrectly, and teach him correct courses of action without extinguishing his positive improvisation skills completely. 

 

funkywolve

September 8th, 2014 at 1:41 PM ^

now that the season has started they don't really have a lot of time to work with Gardner.  They only get something like 20 hours a week with the players.  Part of that is going to be film study, part of that is going to be putting in the game plan for the next game and part is going to be working on new plays to expand the playbook.  It doesn't leave a lot of time for the coaches to work with Gardner on breaking old habits.  At this point in his career and this season, he is what he is.

MGlobules

September 8th, 2014 at 2:26 PM ^

that I'm getting used to it. Had some calm conversation with my wife after the game when I realized that my beautiful ten-year-old daughter had been trying to get my attention all game; I kept saying, "Sorry, honey, I waited all week for this, and I'm going to watch it." Afterward, I apologized to her and made some plans for an outing next Saturday afternoon. 

When people stop caring--caring as intensely as some of us have--Brandon is in trouble. The students started voting with their feet a year ago. I'm inclined to take my fandom a little easier, at least until things improve. 

Everyone Murders

September 8th, 2014 at 12:55 PM ^

I'm not a football coach, but it seems to me as an avid fan that Golson played lights out all evening long.  I can't recall him making a terrible decision, and I've not seen him play better.

One thing that will help moving forward is that we won't see many opposing QB performances like that for the balance of the season.  Golson's performance coupled with our DB injuries was the story of the game from my perspective.