[ed: sent after PSU game. Eric Upchurch photo @ right.]
Something that has been gnawing at me for a while is what we have really reached Hoke’s ceiling in terms of coaching? I wonder if only a generational player like Robinson was able to change that the past two years. I don’t doubt Hoke is a terrific person that will be able to recruit due to his personality, I just don’t know that there is depth regarding football strategy as well which is required to be elite. I otherwise just can’t explain such a discombobulated state going into a third year of a coaching staff even with a younger o-line.
I don't agree with that premise. It looks like Hoke is bringing in a large number of NFL talents on both sides of the ball and if those guys do work out, the philosophy of the staff will be in line with what Michigan can do. Hoke is working with a decimated senior/redshirt junior class that provided his team Gardner, Ryan, Black, and zero other starters. The class after that one was constructed during the chaotic final days of the Rodriguez administration and suffered further when Hoke was given only three weeks to add ten guys.
There is no comparison between those two classes—which should be the heart of the team—and what Michigan will begin to have when the 2012 and 2013 classes, which have lost one of their 52 members so far.
This is not the ceiling. Michigan loses Quinton Washington, Courtney Avery, and Thomas Gordon after the year, and no one else from their two deep (if Cam Gordon is now the third-string SAM.) They bring in Jabrill Peppers and probably DaShawn Hand, either or both of whom could be generational players. They can go from a good defense to an elite one. On offense… I don't know, man. I'm on the Art Briles side of the fence…
"We do not try to go to the body to set up the knockout shot," Briles said at a recent coaching clinic. "We try to score on every snap."
…and some of the stuff they've tried to do with personnel ill-suited to do it sets your teeth on edge. Once they have those guys in place, though, things should be smoother, if somewhat old fashioned.
This 8-4 lookin' Gator Bowl outfit is not the ceiling. The minimum reasonable expectation for that is "not able to beat Urban Meyer much."
[After THE JUMP: maybe the D wasn't that bad? (It was.) And linemen running amok.]
Defense mitigation attempt.
Mattison DOES NOT APPROVE [Bryan Fuller]
Much like with the offense versus some of the crappier performances this year I'm trying to wrap my head around what happened with the D on Saturday. Something I wonder about is whether we would have a totally different opinion of the game with a few small differences:
- If Taylor actually completes the Pick-6
- If Stribling intercepts instead of giving up a bomb
- If Michigan's offense gets the FG without being blocked or Gallon doesn't drop the crossing route in space that could have been another 50 yards.
- Fitz doesn't hand them the ball inside the 20 on his fumble.
My thinking is that the D still struggled giving up yards, but that's been their plan all year. What if they had four turnovers instead of just two and the scoreboard read that Michigan was up by 3+ scores thanks to the pick-6, the FG, and possibly another long Gallon run?
You know - after typing this email I think you're right- we can't learn anything from this game. It all comes down to MSU in two weeks on both sides of the ball.
If is a big if for all of those things to happen, and Michigan scored on the drive featuring the Gallon dig route drop anyway. The pick six Taylor did not make should be added to our pile of knowledge about him*, and ditto the Stribling yoink. The Taylor play was also followed by Indiana completing a 33-yard pass that Wilson took a bad angle on. Right now we have a guy who's in position to MAKE PLAYS but who does not, another guy who runs hot and cold, and a safety who's pretty good but still just a sophomore. All of these things are based on the events that actually happened
Yeah, there were some swingy things that went against Michigan. I still have to sadly reject your premise. There are times when it's not as bad as it looks in terms of points and yards (see: defense vs Penn State); here it was that bad. It may have been worse, as Taylor was beat over the top late on the Gordon INT that Sudfeld left way short and Roberson's dislocated thumb probably caused him to massively overthrow an open guy. The mitigating factors above are offset by exacerbating ones.
I will say that the stress Indiana puts on opponents was something Michigan was obviously unprepared for. This is bad—they are unprepared—but also good since no one left on the schedule is quite Indiana in the tempo department. The problems seemed more like a mental thing than a physical thing when Stribling wasn't getting outmuscled for a ball.
*[In the aftermath of the Penn State game there were some comments that the tackle over stuff was met with something other than a flamethrower after the Minnesota game, so it should not be flamethrowered after PSU, when we got a lot more data on it that demanded a flamethrower. Weird take.]
This play clearly looks like “ineligible receiver downfield” on Lewan. I feel like the Rich Rod offenses got away with this all of the time. Do refs not emphasize this anymore? Is this an unfair advantage to spread teams? It seems like it should be an easy call and I think IU did get called for it. Any thoughts on this?
Marc – Cincinnati
Refs generally give the offensive line a two or three yard buffer zone, which is enough for these packaged plays to come out without drawing flags as long as the throw is made immediately. If you remember, earlier in the year Lewan latched onto a defender and drove him downfield, drawing a flag that a lot of people thought was surprising. Hoke:
"He had taken the guy about 5-7 yards," Hoke said. "But he's got to remember (the play) was a 69 Naked, the ball is getting thrown."
5-7 yards implies that buffer zone.
These days things are pretty fuzzy in that department. Last year Air Force had two(!) offensive linemen release 5-6 yards downfield with one of them actually cut-blocking Kenny Demens…
…and didn't get called for it. It's time to make that a point of emphasis with the refs.