Iowa 24, Michigan 21

Submitted by Ace on November 23rd, 2013 at 4:04 PM

I started writing this post at Heiko's apartment before my laptop battery mercifully bailed out, giving me a few minutes to think on the drive home. Time heals all wounds, they say; this wasn't nearly enough time.

Michigan got an early gift when Jake Ryan's crushing hit on Iowa QB Jake Rudock on a play-action rollout—sound familiar?—led to a fluttering pass that Brennen Beyer intercepted and took back seven yards for a touchdown. The defense came away with two other interceptions in the game; Blake Countess baiting Rudock for his second pick led directly to the second Wolverine touchdown, a two-yard pass to A.J. Williams that Iowa had completely dead to rights until Devin Gardner comically stiff-armed Tanner Miller to the ground in the backfield.

Left to its own devices, the Michigan offense could muster just one more score in the game, a nine-yard pass to Jeremy Gallon to give them a 21-7 halftime lead.

The Wolverines finished with 158 yards on 57 plays (2.8 ypp); the Greg Davis-coached Iowa offense managed to tally 407 yards (5.5 ypp) despite freezing temperatures and a howling wind. At one point in the second half, Al Borges called for back-to-back reverses—the first one worked; the second predictably failed miserably. Iowa adjusted to Michigan's fake-bubble-based run game and that was all she wrote; the defense, down both starting linebackers by the end of the game, couldn't stop the inevitable comeback.

Eight three-and-outs. Eight.

Gardner fumbled on a draw play on Michigan's final offensive possession, their first turnover of the game; it was unfortunate, to be sure, but at this point it's pretty tough to blame the guy:

I watch him play and feel no anger, just sadness. Michigan is left with no reasonable option but to put him out there despite the fact that he's obviously not close to the same player he was last year or at the start of this season, clearly hurt, and being put in a position in which few—if any—quarterbacks could succeed. Gardner gives this team the best chance to win; he's also battered, skittish, and quite possibly flat-out injured.

Crazy things happen in football, which is why we keep watching. It'll take something beyond any reasonable expectation of crazy for Michigan to even stay competitive in The Game on Saturday.



November 23rd, 2013 at 7:44 PM ^

Dude. He's fucking terrible. Maybe if he could have convinced Casteel to come with. But it's the same deal as Hoke. Gives a shit about one side of the ball only.

The spread worked great against the best teams in the B1G! I mean it's better than what's happening right now, but was equally worthless. We were getting blown out with RR. Now it's a FG or so.

Class of 1817

November 23rd, 2013 at 11:34 PM ^

I can't believe how short some of the memories here are.

If people think Arizona's win today is indicative of a mistake in firing Rich Rodriguez, may I point you to RRod's win against a top ten Wisconsin team in his fourth game at M? A single win doesn't build a program.

Look, I don't think Hoke or Borges are blameless here, but as a Michigan supporter, I think everyone needs to stay sane, face some truths, and stop looking back at things like RRod.

You might as well be pointing to Moeller's firing or the botched Miles hiring as Things That Got Us Into This.

The reality is:

1) The offense is a mess.

2) The QB and OL positions have had deep regressions since last year and over the course of this year. That comes down to coaching. We don't know if that is Funk, Borges, or Hoke; a combo of all 3, and if so, what the %s would be.

3) Sometimes good plays are called. Sometimes good execution happens. However, what is happening more often than not is a lousy playcall or poor execution. These things affect one another. Again, this comes down to the coaches, but we really don't know where the problem is.

Something bad is happening; and it's not just the playcalling. It's also not just poor execution. It's both. I really hope the coahces figure out where the biggest problem is, because this OL looks lost...and that hasn't been as blindingly true as it has been under Funk in the past. The offensive production is worse than it has been under Borges in the past. It doesn't completely make sense that suddenly they have become awful coaches.

We're experiencing the worst kind of perfect storm which, unfortunately, may be much more complicated than firing a coach or two.



November 24th, 2013 at 9:57 AM ^

I don't think this is looking back and saying we should have kept him. I think it's pointing to the Michigan establishment of yokels who praise MANBALL as the only true way to play football and saying "you're wrong." I loved RR and had faith in him but the most devastating thing about his firing wasn't that he got fired. It's that our schematic thinking regressed and we abandoned all progress as far as innovation on the football field is concerned. We were trying to go back to the "good ole days" of three yards and a cloud of dust rather than saying how can we move forward. Say what you will about RR's lack of success at Michigan but he will succeed at Arizona. He'll probably win a Rose Bowl before us. And it will be much deserved egg in the face of all the haters who abandoned the program when he held the reins because they didn't like him personally or considered his innovative style of play witchcraft.


November 24th, 2013 at 1:43 AM ^

He did convince Casteel to come. The problem was Michigan wouldn't fork over the cash to pay him. RR was not set up to succeed at Michigan. DB forked over cash to get Hoke a "solid" staff but we didn't do that for RR. Arizona did and now they're reaping the benefits. Zona is going to be a favorite to win their division next season if KaDeem Carey comes back.


November 24th, 2013 at 3:38 AM ^

You're darn right RR wasn't set up to succeed. In fact, Carr set him up to fail. Remember how Carr said he would OK any player's transfer request? Talk about bare cupboard. RR's first year was a choice at QB between Threet and Sheridan. Hoke had a choice of Robinson or Gardner -- big difference! Even then, RR managed some exciting offense in that first year.

RR is at a deservedly better place and doing well -- after only two years, btw. Kudos to Arizona's program for doing things the right way in replacing their former coach. There are a lot of lessons Michigan could learn from their example (but won't, of course.)

Crime Reporter

November 23rd, 2013 at 6:47 PM ^

Yet, I never got mad once, even when Borges insisted on calling runs during our last drive. The fumble was the icing.

At this point, I have checked out. I don't even care anymore and I plan on skipping the game next Saturday to spend time with my wife. Until there are significant staff moves I can't support the product on the field. The team is soft and plays with no confidence. There is no leadership.

I'm out.


November 23rd, 2013 at 7:46 PM ^

I'm just as disappointed and frustrated about this season as anyone... But this whole "sky is falling" attitude that the majority of our fan base has adopted is getting to be a bit much. This team currently sits at 7-4, and they could very easily be 5-7... But what everyone seems to be overlooking the fact that we could just as easily be 10-1. Penn St, Nebraska and Iowa all came down to the very last possession, with instances against Penn St and Nebraska have chances both offensively and defensively to win the game on 4th down. Hoke and Co. pulled out their fair share of these games improbably in 2011 and "Hoke poops gold" was born... Now that the law of averages are starting to balance out against a young and inexperienced team, it's "Fire EVERYONE! Start from scratch and take another 3-4 years of futility to rebuild again!" There are a lot of factors that have caused the type of season we have had, and yes, coaching is one of them... But it's not the ONLY factor. Injuries and depth have hurt tremendously yet again... 2012 we lose Stonum and Countess for the season. This season we lost Darboh and Jake Ryan for a good portion of the season... Yes, I realize most teams have to deal with some type of attrition... But it's not always such important pieces, and guess what? Those teams are national title contenders either! Blake and Jake were our best two defensive playmakers as Sophomore's, and I'd argue as Freshman as well... Being without one or the other for most of the past 2 seasons is extremely tough when we've struggled in that area to begin with (DB's, Front 7)... A LB might not be so important, if it weren't for the fact that our front 4 was made up of a rag tag group of misfits last year, and 2 true Freshman this year... And yet and still, Mattison has made us a top 20 D for the past two seasons. Shut down D? Nope... But one that makes far more plays and keeps us in ball games when the offense is shit. When Rich was at the helm we scored 50-60 against cupcakes, and got beaten by 2-3 scores + when his offense faultered. Which it did quite often. Another thing Hoke and Co have not done since taking over that Rich did 66% of the time... And that's have losing seasons and miss bowl games! People want to whine and cry that he was installing his system and that it was part of "the process"... Well what are Hoke and his staff doing??? They're also forced with the prospect of forcing square pegs into round holes (Dev, Taylor, Jeremy, Fitz. All recruited for the spread.)... But they didn't make us an absolute laughing stock in the process... Next season Hoke with have an entire Oline of his guys with some much needed experience... And we will be much more talented at skill positions... And that top 20 defense??? It's going to be returning an awful lot of starters and mixing in an awful lot of talented guys like Dymonte and Jabrill... If Hoke and Co continue to put up a mediocre showing in that year... Then yes, his seat should get hot... And I am already in agreement that Borges, Funk and probably Jackson need to go anyway at the end of this season, along with hiring an actual QB coach. Not just having your inadequate OC multitask when he's not doing the one thing he specializes in well.


November 23rd, 2013 at 7:07 PM ^

funny how announcers many times credited the Iowa defense for the stops when it should be the inept Michigan offense as well as the play calling, calling the same play twice when it worked for moderate gain on first attempt just to get stuffed for tfl on second attempt.


November 23rd, 2013 at 7:23 PM ^

I have digested the loss and am feeling more rationale. With a cooler head I still feel that this team is timid and poorly prepared. Yes the score was close, but Iowa physically manhandled this team and had a much better game plan on both sides. Had they not shot themselves in the foot so much in the first half the spread would have bigger. There were sparks on both sides of the ball, however, no position group was able to finish. This may be the worst offense in Michigan history, but the challenge is bigger than that alone. Coaching and player changes are required to fix it. Overall defense is serviceable, but with some big holes , special teams marginal. I suppose Brandon could give Hoke one more year, but staff, game planning and attitude change has to occur to move forward.


November 23rd, 2013 at 7:35 PM ^

I went to ohio state, and my friends don't even give me shit after Michigan loses anymore. Its like theyre not even worth making fun of. They aren't even giving me crap about how they're going to kick our ass next week. Nothing, they know what's going to happen, I know what's going to happen, and that's all there is.


November 23rd, 2013 at 10:55 PM ^

This is a GREAT reason to keep our staff intact. We don't want to rue the day three years down the line when our former staff beats a famous team. Borges leads Kentucky over Alabama. Hoke leads Appalachian State to a win over Ohio. Karma!

You see how stupid this is, no?


November 23rd, 2013 at 8:44 PM ^

OK, maybe not. We're looking a liitle too much like Chip Diller just before he gets flattened in Animal House..

But, I've been following the Wolverines since well before most of you were born. Hell, since before most of your parents were born.  Trust me, I've seen worse. Far worse. And for far longer than the three recent years that will not be mentioned. Hell, if we counted National Championships like the Sparties do, we'd count 1964 as a national championship year!  

Chip Diller

The sunnel come up Tomorrow!!!!!



November 23rd, 2013 at 8:53 PM ^

How the hell did this coaching staff take a group of talented athletes and turn them into an offense this dysfunctional, plodding, and hamhanded. It's unconscionable. They've squandered the lives of these kids in the name of Manball, whatever that means.

All the blather about youth and changing schemes is now just that. Other than Mattison, I have seen absolutely nothing to give me any confidence that this coaching regime has a clue what they're doing.

Brandon owes it to the players to clean house and bring in a staff that can get the job done.

You Only Live Twice

November 23rd, 2013 at 9:28 PM ^

We absolutely cannot recycle another coaching staff after 3 years.

Like it or not, RR had some big time vindication today with what he did to the #5 team.


I will not debate the coaching conclusions that so many people are confident of reaching.  I will say that if we continue down this path.... dissension, blaming, firing, etc... that will ensure mediocrity for generations more than anything.  Be prepared to hang out with Hoke another 2 years and know that if we don't, there is not a human being who will come here for however many millions.  Why would they?  Stop dreaming and let's help who we have.  We did not do right by RichRod, a good coach.  For the record, I think Carr was a good coach, i think Moeller was a good coach, i think if Bo were alive he would find some way of getting Michigan fans to unite instead of spreading bile through the internet. 

Lose a game, have a losing season, fine, the world will not end.  Support the coaching staff so they eventually get where we hope they will be, forget about instant gratification.  Hoke had some lucky breaks his first season, now he is not getting them.  Our opponents live to see Michigan arrogance brought down a peg and now we have nothing to be arrogant about.  That is where true learning can take place. 


November 23rd, 2013 at 9:58 PM ^

I'm all for giving him one more year as long as he gets rid of Funk and Borges. What does he have to lose?

Hoke has exactly 1 league championship in his 11 years as a head coach. He's NOT a proven winner. His qualifications were a former dline coach at Michigan and One great season at Ball St. And he was able to convince DB that he really, really loved Michigan. Loved manball, and would bring back something known as "Michigan" football.


November 24th, 2013 at 3:41 PM ^

What's not coherent? This staff at best will bring us back to mediocrity. If Hoke doesn't fire Borges he himself should be fired plain and simple. You are just prolonging a tailspin by keeping the current staff intact. RR showed progress. I actually agree that he should have had 1 more year. Al Borges is a complete moron who single-handed my costs this team games. If you can't see that then you are a complete moron. Fans like you, blindly loyal, are the reason we are in this mess.


November 24th, 2013 at 3:48 PM ^

Not the whole reason. But a part if it. Business-like attitudes are what is needed to succeed. No production and you're fired. Borges doesn't have it. I don't really think hoke adds much to to the table in terms of x's and o's so if he doesn't regulate his coordinators he's of little use.

Mpfnfu Ford

November 23rd, 2013 at 9:54 PM ^

Firing Rich Rod after only three years was a collossal mistake, especially with the timing of the way he was fired. He should have been given a 4th year on a short leash a la Lane Kiffin and if he couldn't fix it in year 4, let go with Brandon having a full season to find his replacement. If that would have happened, Michigan wouldn't have ended up with an unproven sub-.500 coach with a career in the little leagues of college football.

And since we've all seen where 3 and Out gets Michigan, anyone talking about doing the same thing to Hoke is certifiable. This is the bed that was made. Maybe he'll hire a better OC and get it going in the right direction, maybe not. But a coach oughta get enough time to coach his own seniors. 

Now, anyone still defending Borges is just a zealot for his brand of football and won't change their mind despite any evidence you give him. The game passed him by and he was put out to pasture in '07 and should have stayed there eating oats or whatever. A good OC would have put the team in position to win at least 10 games this season with this schedule. The Michigan State and Ohio State games might not have gone well due to the youth on the line, but we wouldn't be talking about losses to sorry teams like Penn State and near misses against the worst teams in FBS football. 

Hoke's a CEO coach, and that means you got to fire people who suck at their job. A CEO coach who won't fire anyone is just a buffoon who could be replaced by a guy with a stats degree.


November 23rd, 2013 at 10:07 PM ^

Remember when Pinkell was one of the top candidates with RichRod??? Well since Missouri is poised to do A&M's season one better this year, without their star QB no less... Starting to look like he might've been a decent hire instead of RR.... And the growing pains might've been less severe allowing him to make it through year 3.


November 23rd, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

         is a nice narrative.  It's familar tto us and comforting.  One guy is playing great and the coaches and his teammates are failing him.  Except it's not really true.  He's playing hard and perhaps playing hurt (though I haven't heard any verified reports on that).  But he's not playing well.  He's playing pretty poorly.  Lots of guys (A.J. Williams and Fitz have had injuries this season) are playing hard through injury.  Funk, who people just brutally ream around here, just lost his father.   Gardner is performing every bit as bad as they are, and tet nobody seems to give them a martyrs narrative.  I'm not hating on him, I don't think he's terrible or anything like that.  But stop forcing this story on us.

Kevin Holtsberry

November 23rd, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

I get the anger I really do. It has been maddening to watch this offense implode and become a laughing stock incapable of winning a game that is practically handed to them (Iowa, Penn State) or get manhanled and not respond (MSU, Nebraska). The defense has played their hearts out even as they eventually give up the game late.

But this nuke the coaches from orbit and start over mindset is more madness. Continuity in coaching and players is critical in football. An offense has to become second nature, players have to gel, repition breeds success, etc. i am not syaing Borges is the answer on offense or I would be upset if we brought in someone new but we can't clean house.

Just a few plays and a few games can change a seson very easily.  Especially when you are talking sophmores in college. This year we just haven't found a way to make those plays. Missed field goals against Penn State ruined a nice second half. Today a number of dropped passes killed drives and momentum (Funchess in particular).  Things just are not clicking.

Everybody is talking about how Michigan State is in better shape than we are but have you forgotten last year? They lost a bunch of close games. Andin 2009 they lost 7 games. They have built a tought defense and found their offense. They used to have a reputation of not being able to win close games but this year they have been solid.

Yes, the offense looks lost but an inability to block, a lack of identity and critical dropped passes will do that to you.

There is no silver bullet that will magically make this team a contender. It will take time and development. Firing Hoke and starting over would be a disaster. We need to make some changes but wholesale change because the season went south is not the answer.


November 23rd, 2013 at 11:37 PM ^

UM has WON some close games this year (Akron, UConn, NW-ern) that they probably deserved to lose.  They have also lost some close games (NEB, PSU, Iowa) that weren't really close.  

If UM had the "we lost a bunch of close games and otherwise we'd be good" season that MSU had last year, then UM's record would be 4-7 right now and Ann Arbor would have literally experienced spontaneous cumbustion and blown to pieces!  Now it's simply boiling.......


November 23rd, 2013 at 11:51 PM ^

Programs that are progressing show signs of just that--progress. This team is going backwards and getting worse each season. I just do not have any hope that Hoke and Co. will ever take the program anywhere but the middle of the pack. Keeping him longer is just prolonging the agony. Get a top-shelf guy in here who has a proven track record of success.


November 24th, 2013 at 3:44 AM ^

It's not wrong to fire a coach after three years and NO IMPROVEMENT to show for it. In fact, it's insane not to. Sure it's not good to fire a coaching staff every three years. After the second time, you consider firing the AD as well. That's how the winning programs do it.


November 23rd, 2013 at 10:48 PM ^

There are a bunch of leaks on the USS 134 but the biggest is the play of the O line. Play calling may be suspect but what plays will work if you can't block or at least slow down wrong colored jerseys any better than we do?  Can't move the ball, can't score, can't keep the defense of the field. It really does taint everything and maybe the worse thing is what it has done to DG's health, confidence and development as a QB.  Granted, he has his own issues at times with his decision making but the lack of solid line play has not helped his cause or anybody trying to rush thru holes that are rarely where they are supposed to be.

It is down right weird seeing those beautiful winged helmets not winning the line of scrimage like I have seen for so many years!

There are other holes but fix this one and this ship will sail better.