Mailbag: Ojemudia Redshirt, Triple Option, Rodriguez At Alabama Alternate Universe

Submitted by Brian on August 8th, 2012 at 4:35 PM


1: pew pew pew  2: a man Al Borges isn't 3: an alternate universe

Ojemudia redshirt?

I think there is no way Mario O plays.  A ton of guys could be put on field before him.  Several combos could fill the WDE spot better, eg Ryan-Cam Gordon combo puts our best, or at least most experienced, backup on the field, Ryan-Avery is similar, or how about flip back Roh for a Roh-Brink/Heitzman/Wormley/Black(?) replacement.  Given how important a redshirt could be to Mario, I would think coaches will be creative.  


I agree with you philosophically. Ojemudia should get a redshirt. I get frustrated when certain players have theirs burned for what seems like no reason. I'm with you, man. But… I don't see how he doesn't get on the field if Clark's issues are severe.

The problem with the above scenarios is that they reduce Michigan's specialization by flipping guys around and they still leave Michigan an injury from putting Ojemudia on the field. Is that injury reasonably likely? Yeah. So it seems to make more sense to leave Ryan at SLB full time, where he is still getting a grasp on all the particulars, and Roh at SDE, where he needs every snap he can get to figure out how to deal with his size limitations. The immediate payoff here seems real, and given the way Michigan is recruiting they figure they will be able to insert a Taco Charlton or 2014 kid into the lineup when Ojemudia graduates without losing too much. Of course, Mattison just told everyone that he was comfortable with the idea of Ryan at WDE in practice and proclaimed his faith in Cam Gordon's ability, so what do I know?

But even with that move, you're still juggling just three players between two positions. That's not tenable. If the coaches know Clark is going to be back relatively promptly, then I can see holding Ojemudia out the first couple games and getting him the redshirt. If Clark's out until Notre Dame or later, I think you have to blood Ojemudia and worry about the consequences in the distant future.

Triple option?


This may be a non feasible idea, but why not kill two birds with one stone by creating a triple option package for Denard and company? Everyone says its really hard to prepare for Air Force, and we could prepare our defense while surprising the crap out of Alabama. Think about it, our RB, FB, QB combo are familiar with zone reads and are a lot better than any combo air force will ever have. We surprised Ohio with the inverted veer last year, and Bama's young defense won't know what hit 'em.

In addition, I can't help but think kicking and coverage teams, plus Denard's (hopefully) reduction in interceptions will make up for the fortunate 80% fumble recovery rate. The special teams will likely improve with the influx of talent and depth we are getting, or negated by rule changes. Either way its a net gain for Michigan in special teams.


Unfortunately I think we have to file that under "not feasible." Triple option is not something you can go into halfway. Hell, Michigan's speed option last year was mostly a Denard run off-tackle that had little if any chance of getting to the tailback. The one time Denard pitched it was a fumble caused when a blitzing linebacker met him after he'd taken one step playside. While it had the excellent benefit of keeping defenses honest and shooting Denard into secondaries, calling it an "option" is being generous.

Adding a true triple option and trying to get him to better understand Borges's West Coast passing attack is way too much to bite off in one fall camp. Since Borges is what he is, he's going to do what he does, and that's get Denard to throw more accurate balls that are less frequently intercepted.

The inverted veer is a different business because it's a handoff. The worst thing that happens there is you make the wrong decision and you eat some yardage. We almost saw the worst thing with the option last year, and that's the last thing an offense trying to cut down on turnovers needs.

IN RE: making up for fewer fumbles recovered. I'm not sure the special teams will be much better than last year except in the realm of punting. Gibbons is still Gibbons, kick returns just got nerfed, and it's damn hard to have an impact punt return game these days what with everyone spread-punting their way to seven gunners. Punting should be better because Hagerup will either get his foot on straight or a quick hook for the steady Wile, but we're talking a few yards a game.

The interceptions, sure. Denard's interception rate dropped over the tougher second half of the year and he should improve somewhere between noticeably and spectacularly in year two with Borges. That still leaves Michigan treading water even in the most optimistic turnover scenario, and the schedule has taken a turn for the bear-like.


pre-bama thought experiment. in december of 2006, alabama offers rich rodriguez their head coaching job. he accepts. what happens to both alabama and michigan from then on?



Well, let's start with Alabama. They struggle through an RR-at-WVU transition year probably a little bit worse than their initial 6-6 Saban year, with Star Jackson taking over for the Bama bangs QBs midseason. Jackson doesn't end up transferring to nowheresville and becomes something like Pat White but probably not as good. No one gives six hundredths of a crap about the academics of RR's incoming recruits or Rita's jaguar pants, but RR probably still makes his fatal "I don't need Casteel that badly" error. With a somewhat more secure powerbase and money-providing demons, he does not hire GERG on try #2 and cycles through one of the then-available proven SEC DCs (Jon Chavis, for example).

This plus the better fit with his recruiting makes his defense not the worst ever assembled at the school he's coaching. He gets his QB a year earlier and has considerably better talent than he inherited at Michigan. He's replacing a total loser, one of many such since Bear. He does at least okay, probably pulls off an SEC title game or two, maybe wins it once, and sees a BCS bid or two.

He's probably still at Alabama in a Pelini-esque state: decent success, the fanbase is relatively happy with him, but they'll start to sour after a subpar year and two means you're out, buddy.

Meanwhile, Michigan finds itself adrift in the middle of the Les Miles/Bill Martin boat thing without a seemingly A-list candidate willing to jump. At that point I have no idea what they do. At the time I was muttering about how Jim Grobe mutterings were just the worst. Ferentz was out, Schiano was out, Miles was out, and Tedford was seemingly uninterested. Michigan clearly had no idea where to go, whereupon Rodriguez fell into their lap.

large_826umqbs[1]If Rodriguez is not there… does it matter? I'm not sure it matters. Lloyd was not Bo but he did have an impressive winning percentage, a national title, and the continuation of a record bowl streak. Would a pro-style coach have been able to turn Threet/Sheridan/no OL/nobody at all into a bowl appearance? I don't think so. At that point you're working from behind the eight ball and you have to be really fantastic to pull yourself out of that tailspin. Would Hoke have survived that? I doubt it; at that point his resume was a bunch of .500 seasons at Ball State. Would any outsider Michigan could have acquired have managed to hang on? Maybe by another year or two.

Even if we have no clue about who takes the reins in RR's absence in 2008, we can hazard a guess at their fate: similar hammering by OSU, flameout in 3-5 years, replacement. That's the way of things whenever you replace a legend, and if Carr wasn't a legend (debatable) he was definitely the continuation of Bo. It would have taken a truly A-level coach to not bomb out with no quarterbacks and no safeties and no offensive line, and it didn't look like any were available.

In the end, both programs are probably happy with the way things turned out. Alabama's case: duh. Michigan's: Rodriguez was such a terrible fit that Michigan rejected it in three years, at which point Hoke was just plausible enough to show up and shock everyone by doing everything right for going on 18 months.


micheal honcho

August 8th, 2012 at 4:50 PM ^

I was screaming for Harbaugh as soon as I heard Lloyd's retirement was official. He was a far more unproven commodity at that point and time BUT.. His Michigan lineage along with having come from a clear family of respected coaches (Jack, Jon) got him the benefit of the doubt from me and I was ready to take the gamble even back in 07. Question is, since he was hired @ Stanford in 06 would he have left for Michigan?? I've always wondered if, since its widely rumored that Lloyd was wanting to retire as early as the end of 05 and a bonified Michigan man was tearing it up at San Diego, somebody should have been reaching out to him then.

Now, interesting is contemplating what Harbaugh's results would have been had he been hired in 07/08. Would it have mirrored Stanford?? Would we have gotten Luck? How would a Stanford like team have done in the B1G?



August 8th, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

He had a losing record through three seasons at Stanford.  He didn't win more games because he started coaching better, he recruited better players and when they became upperclassmen they were successful, even after he and his two coordinators both left.

I think he eventually would have been successful here as well, but acting like he magically makes a mediocre/poor team good is just failing to understand how football works.  With the roster issues we had, especially on defense, I imagine the timetable would have been about the same with BCS level success in year 4, just like we essentially got with Rodriguez.


August 8th, 2012 at 5:53 PM ^

That San Francisco team had been stockpiling high draft picks for a while.  Throw in a total lack of competition in the division (Seattle had won the year before with a losing record) and it was a pretty savvy pick (not to mention he's supposedly a big fan of the location).  I don't think he had to do much more than shake off a little of the crazy from Singeltary's tenure and let those talented guys grow into a team.

Similarly, if they go 4-12 this year, or at any point in his tenure, it won't be because Harbaugh suddenly forgot how to coach.


August 8th, 2012 at 6:45 PM ^

Just like with Hoke, the overall record at Stanford is very misleading. He had at least 1 win his first two years against Top 10 teams. This was when he was still using the previous guy's talent. He had more wins against teams that ended the season in the top 10 in his first year than Rodriguez had in 3 at Michigan. The two aren't even close to comparable. One maximized his talent to an unbelievable degree, the other chased it off or coached it down.


August 8th, 2012 at 10:32 PM ^

The 2008 defense wasn't necessarily deep but it was significantly better than what Hoke inherited for 2011 and the coaching staff turned that group into a Top 20 D.

Brandon Graham, Terrence Taylor, Will Johnson, Tim Jamison, Jonas Mouton, Donovan Warren and Morgan Trent all had a least one year in the system at that point......and they've all spent some time on an NFL roster.  That's not even counting a freshman Mike Martin who was able to contribute.  I doubt that many other B1G teams can make the same claim about their 2008 defenses.


August 8th, 2012 at 4:55 PM ^

I think Mallet wouldn't have transfered if we had more of a pro style offense coming in.  That would have helped the QB issue post Carr and would have made a much smoother transistion to the new coaching system.  Cupboard was still pretty bare though and would have taken a few years to be at a BCS level, IMO.

snarling wolverine

August 8th, 2012 at 8:03 PM ^

True.  Another coach may have gotten more out of that defense, which had the personnel to be better than it was.  Or at least, there might not have been that horrible change in midseason for the Purdue game.

Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong for us in 2008 did - except Sheridan's out-of-body performance against Minnesota.



August 8th, 2012 at 8:16 PM ^

duodenal ulcer explode.  I can't revisit the past.  It makes me want to cry for so many reasons. Not because this guy did that or another guy did this.  But because we were a fractured fanbase.  I am 34 years old and after my first in-person OSU/Michigan game, I game random people hugs on the field and high fived Jerame Tuman.  Two different times as I ran around the field yelling like a banshee.  I hated everything about the conversations of "Yeah! . . . well what do you know?!?!" to my fellow Michigan fans.

But, we will always have Paris, as they say.  No, the Twin Cities aren't Paris.  But that beautiful Brown Jug is.  I heart everything about it, and I thought we were going to lose it.  But Nick Sheridan, you kept that bad boy where it belongs.  

What can I say, I have always had a soft spot for criticized Wolverine QBs (winks towards John Navarre).


August 9th, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

If the incoming coach was wiling to coddle him the same way Lloyd did. No guarantee that would have happened. The only thing we can say about Boren for sure is that he was concerned for Justin Boren first and foremost. Any coach that messed with the status quo too much probably would've pushed Boren out the door, that was just his character.


August 8th, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

In addition to being a douche at the bar as a Freshman, his first choice was always Arkansas. He came here because the Ark coaches had another blue chipper his age in Mitch Mustain. Mustain left for USC, so Mallet left for his 1st choice school. I don't  think he would have stayed no matter who was coaching


August 8th, 2012 at 8:17 PM ^

It's not a given that Mallet would have gone. You never know what could have happened with the right coach in the right place. Mallet and his dad even talked about following Loefler to Tennessee or wherever he might end up. Definitely not a given that Mallet was leaving. Manningham, I grant you, certainly should have left no matter what.

snarling wolverine

August 8th, 2012 at 8:26 PM ^

Maybe I'm mistaken, but didn't Mallett pick us really early in the recruiting process, like halfway through his junior year?  Usually, guys like that are all in.  He didn't seem like a guy who chose us as a safety option.

I don't think Rodriguez had much of a chance to keep him around, but a pro-style coach might have.  I don't think we can really say what he would have done in that case.   



August 8th, 2012 at 4:59 PM ^

Common Brian.  Any idiot with half a brain can get lucky and go on a 18 month doing everything right streak.  What skill is there in that?

Now....lets say he does everything right for 23.5 months.  Now that's saying something!


August 8th, 2012 at 5:17 PM ^

Please for the love of God give me one example of a good thing he did, besides singing koombayah. What an embarrassment to a great program. He brought us out of our bowl streak, couldn't coach kids to play well, and lost our good recruits. Carr had a good class there for any scheme, and Rich Rod ran the ship aground. That idiot should have woke up and held people accountable. Pathetic! Get off Bacon's nuts!


August 8th, 2012 at 6:50 PM ^

Except when the general direction of what that coach is building is living example of the old adage: "when you are deep in a hole, stop digging". Thank heavens Brandon was dilligent enough to see that was what was happening and pulled the plug before we settled in somewhere even or below State, slightly above Ilinois. That was probably Rich's max here at Michigan if we were lucky and didn't lose every single top defensive recruit in the State to Dantonio and now Meyer.


August 8th, 2012 at 6:53 PM ^

Except when the general direction of what that coach is building is living example of the old adage: "when you are deep in a hole, stop digging". Thank heavens Brandon was dilligent enough to see that was what was happening and pulled the plug before we settled in somewhere even or below State, slightly above Ilinois. That was probably Rich's max here at Michigan if we were lucky and didn't lose every single top defensive recruit in the State to Dantonio and now Meyer.


August 8th, 2012 at 6:53 PM ^

Except when the general direction of what that coach is building is living example of the old adage: "when you are deep in a hole, stop digging". Thank heavens Brandon was dilligent enough to see that was what was happening and pulled the plug before we settled in somewhere even or below State, slightly above Ilinois. That was probably Rich's max here at Michigan if we were lucky and didn't lose every single top defensive recruit in the State to Dantonio and now Meyer.

snarling wolverine

August 8th, 2012 at 8:16 PM ^

I won't neg you, but why do you assume he'd succeed anywhere?  Rodriguez has been at two  Division I-A schools.  At one he was successful.  At the other he was not.  Why does his performance at the first school predict the future but not his performance at the second?  Don't forget that WVU is his alma mater, so he had an instant connection with the fanbase that he'll never have anywhere else.

Personally, I think he's a guy who had the perfect situation (WVU) and made a terrible mistake to leave it.  Unfortunately for him, I don't think he'll end up duplicating his WVU success.  I think he'll hang around longer at UA than U-M, but never seriously challenge USC or Oregon for conference supremacy.


matty blue

August 8th, 2012 at 5:02 PM ^

one of my favorite bo memories ever is the time we came out in the wishbone...seems like we could install a partial package and run it a dozen times vs alabama.


August 8th, 2012 at 5:07 PM ^

If we had promoted from within (Ron English or Mike Debord yikes!) could we have kept Mallett, Manningham, and Arrington?  To me that seems like a strong passing offense that could have performed at a 2007 level with a veteran defense that likely stays in the same system and doesn't become a scape goat.  I see this team getting 7 or 8 wins. 


In retrospect Mallett didn't gel with Carr's staff, Manningham wanted to get PAID, and I don't know Arrington's story. 


Things have a funny way of working themselves out.  Without RR we don't get Hoke.


August 8th, 2012 at 5:22 PM ^

The only person us hiring Rich Rodriguez didn't work out for was Rich Rodriguez, and it isn't like he's in an awful situation making millions of dollars to coach college football (or talk about it last year) either.

It's amazing how angry people still are at the guy.





August 8th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

As much as I love him, Denard has generally been poor at making reads in the run game, and he's surprisingly bad at pitching the ball.  I don't  mean this as a slam.  I think that handling the run game like Pat White did is a lot harder than people seem to appreciate. 


August 9th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

Absolutely, the triple option requires total commitment in order to run correctly. Just trying to install it as a package would not go well at all. There's a ton of decisions that have to be made in rapid order and the team has to be synced and ready to take cues from the QB. I love Denard but making the right reads in rapid succession doesn't seem to come naturally to him.


August 8th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

but RR probably still makes his fatal "I don't need Casteel that badly" error.

Wasn't the Casteel thing more due to Martin lowballing the salary, expecting the Michigan name to be the draw, than Rodriguez thinking he didn't need Casteel? I don't think the salary would have been an issue at Alabama, given what the ended up paying Saban.


August 8th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

Rodriguez wanted the new weight room, which was $1M. Martin said OK. He wanted Casteel, and Martin offered him a paycut and only a 1 year salary. Martin said that "Michigan doesn't give coordinators contracts" and that RR wasn't going to get the $1M for the weight room and as much $$ as he wanted for Casteel.

Rich took the weight room and the rest is history. (From memory, from 3 and out)


August 8th, 2012 at 5:36 PM ^

Miami is really the only other job, and it seems weird for Saban to cross town from a college job to an NFL job in the same city (though going from LSU to Bama was pretty fucking weird too).  Also not sure if the U would have opened the checkbook like Bama did.