Parachute Check

Submitted by Brian on September 20th, 2010 at 11:28 AM

9/17/2010 – Michigan 42, UMass 37 – 3-0 

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Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com

Well… at least it wasn't as grim as it looked a with about a minute before halftime, when my head was in my hands and I could feel the cave feces covering my body as I wished for a merciful death. Maybe an albino salamander would crawl down my throat or something. Then the offense did a large number of very fast things and the defense managed to stop the UMass offense like once or twice and then they managed to not quite blow it at the end.

And so here we are. If you ever wanted to know what it would have been like if Michigan had made that field goal at the end of The Horror you have your answer: not at all good but approximately a trillion times better than the alternative. The stanktastic defensive performance was exactly what Michigan fans feared was going to happen after every defensive back within hailing distance of the two deep exploded, except worse. I kind of expected Wisconsin might put up 37 points on a series of long, grinding drives. Not so much a team that launched a stirring comeback to nip William & Mary.

That combined with the pratfall by UConn against Temple and Notre Dame's admittedly delicious overtime punking leaves an uncomfortable taste in the mouth. Last year around this time I was surveying the outlook after Michigan got significantly outgained by Indiana but escaped by the skin of their teeth. The game column was sarcastically titled "The Soaring Majesty!":

Since we didn't [lose], we should all just breathe a sigh of relief, recalibrate expectations back down a little bit, and move on. Michigan's not at a point where any win against any Big Ten team is one to freak out about. The freshmen quarterbacks remain freshmen and it's becoming clear that the defense has about the same raw talent level that last year's offense had. The only thing keeping them from plunging off a deep, dark cliff is the fact that no position on defense is as singularly important as quarterback is on offense.

Michigan didn't win a game against a non-seal opponent the rest of the year. It was this much fun: no fun.

This is the point where I take a finger, insert it into the collar of my shirt, and make an uncomfortable facial expression David Letterman has mastered and is impossible to Google. (What do you type, "Letterman shirt uncomfortable"? "Letterman neck trick"?)Just imagine you're wearing a tie and your boss has called you into his office during a period of right-sizing and you're a big vaudeville buff. It's like that.

It's like that because of the following facts:

  • Jonathan Hernandez had 114 yards on 26 carries with a long of 15.
  • John Griffin had 96 yards on 17 carries with a long of 19.
  • Kyle Havens went 22 of 29 for 222 yards with a long of 19.

That is a complete demolition at the hands of a I-AA team without even blowing it big. UMass got two short fields when Michigan had a punt blocked and Cam Gordon fumbled an interception, but even dropping those out of the equation UMass drives went FG, punt, TD, punt, TD, fumble, punt, TD, INT; both of the short field drives started around the 25 and ended in Michigan's endzone. And at no point did they get a cheap touchdown due to a secondary implosion. They just ground down the field as if Michigan was the I-AA team. Given the level of competition, it's probably the worst defensive performance of the Rodriguez era, and that's saying something. If not for the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game we'd be reaching back to Bump's days to find something worse. The parallels to last year are scary.

I can tell you to look at the yardage and feel better, which still works for me to some extent. Michigan still didn't outgain a BCS opponent until the Purdue game in 2009 and they have a demolition of UConn to their name. I can tell you to look at what Purdue and Indiana and Illinois are doing and count to seven that way and then rely on someone else (MSU? Iowa? Penn State?) getting Denarded for the eighth win that would officially exceed expectations, and that helps too. I can point to Iowa's 2009 season, which started out with a one-point win over Northern Iowa in which the Hawkeyes were outgained and had to block two(!) field goals on consecutive plays to avoid the killer upset. Four games later Iowa survived 24-21 against Arkansas State; they ended the year by whipping Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

All of these things say football is weird and last weekend was probably an aberration and Michigan's defense will be bad but probably not that bad. But it's hard to shake the feeling of deja vu. We jumped out of a plane and went WOOOOOO because everything is fast and fun and now we're trying to ignore the feeling that the parachute might have transferred to West Virginia. Again.

But at least there's Denard, right? Right. The silver lining to all of this is that he's going to have insane stats because Michigan's got no choice. That's the ticket.

NON-BULLETS

Pulaski time. This has been kicking around message boards and my head since I was annoyed that Michigan threw the ball on third and six early in the game and then whiffed another field goal: given the situation, should Michigan emulate that Arkansas high school team that never, ever punts? Consider:

  • The offense is pretty awesome, making a successful fourth-down conversion worth more points than it would be if it was still 2008.
  • The defense is pretty terrible, making the loss of field position from an unsuccessful conversion less of an issue than it would be with a defense more likely to stop the opponent. A good defense is more likely to get you the ball back approximately where you booted it from; Michigan's is likely to get you the ball back via kickoff.
  • Will Hagerup spent the ND game shanking balls into the stands and dropped a snap against UMass, getting his punt blocked.
  • The field goal kickers are 1 of 4 and Rodriguez is openly pleading for any student, clueless or not, to try out.

So… yeah. When the Mathlete did a study with his enormous database of plays he concluded that 1) your defense has no impact on the decision (something I disagree with) and 2) that if your offense is good the light is almost always green:

4th-down-good-offense

Maybe some of the Mathlete's assumptions are wrong there (he gives an across-the-board 10% increase in conversion percentage) but even an average offense should be going on fourth and medium anywhere near midfield; Michigan is looking considerably better than average.

I'm hoping Rodriguez starts playing with going on fourth down in mind. If anyone was ever going to test the limits of Romer-ian game theory it would be this Michigan team. It's NCAA '11 time.

Probably no need to get alarmed for next week at least. Bowling Green is 1-2 with losses to Tulsa and Troy with a win coming last week over Marshall. In that game, Marshall's QB chucked four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. MGoUser BGwolverine13 has some information on their season to date. It sounds like the starting quarterback will sit out this week after suffering a concussion, which is doubly bad for BG since their rushing offense is currently 111th nationally at 2.7 YPC.

Is it sad that we're talking about this? Yes.

Yeah, pretty much.

What happened? Michigan's first two opponents went down to defeat over the weekend, too, seriously damaging their value when it comes to projecting the future. You probably know what went down in the MSU-ND game, but UConn losing to Temple 30-16 hurts.

How did that happen? Well, the Huskies did outgain Temple by 34 yards. (WOO!) They went from 16-14 up to 27-16 down via a fumble return touchdown and a four-yard touchdown drive after a big punt return. Zach Frazer appears to be pure awful (4.8 YPA) and their defense grim in all phases. Temple RB Bernard Pierce had 169 yards on 26 carries and his long was just 38; UConn is not good.

Meanwhile, the ND-MSU game was as dead even as you would expect an overtime game to be. Michigan State ended up outgaining ND 477-461, with the final 29 yards for MSU coming on the trick play that's going to make TWIS so fun this afternoon. Notre Dame's defense was thoroughly gashed by land and sea, giving up 203 yards on 43 carries and allowing Kirk Cousins to complete 23 of 33 passes. ND ran Armando Allen just 13 times despite the fact he is very good and was picking up 5.5 yards a crack; Dayne Crist was 32 of 55 for a bunch of yards, one INT, and 4 TDs. The teams had 13 possessions each.

Conclusion? Michigan State is about Michigan's equal and the game will be a shootout nailbiter.

Goals met? On defense obviously none. On special teams obviously none. Jeremy Gallon is on a streak of five straight terrible decisions on difficult punts to field and should either be replaced or given a return buddy who hangs out ten yards in front of him and fields the crappy ones.

On offense, we did see the healthy and productive return of Junior Hemingway. Taylor Lewan got in and was reportedly mauling people, which okay I-AA team but still that's an encouraging sign when your freshman tackle gets in to replace a guy who's played well so far. And Michael Shaw put up some of those yard things that Denard always gets. We did not get to see Cox, Toussaint, or Hopkins, unfortunately. (Toussaint may still be injured. He dressed but was only participating in some drills before the game.)

The one important thing that Michigan seemed to establish is the existence of a Denard deep ball. UMass was playing tight man coverage most of the day and Denard went deep twice to beat it, hitting Kelvin Grady on a deep seam and Stonum on a fly route. Both balls were well thrown. If you add that to the rest of the stuff Denard can do, hoo boy.

A note on the interception: he had Roundtree open for a touchdown but did the same thing he did against ND where he threw the ball on a line, allowing a safety to come underneath it and deflect it to the guy running a step or two behind Roundtree.

Lloyd-ballin' it note. Hated the third and one iso to Vincent Smith, though not getting it wasn't Smith's fault since there was an unblocked guy tearing in from the edge. But the whole advantage of having a running quarterback is that you get that extra blocker, which seems most useful on third and one. Michigan should have a version of Gator Heavy where Koger, Webb, and whichever RB they think is the best blocker line up to the same side of the formation and they just Tebow their way forward.

ELSEWHERE

Michigan Exposures has photo galleries from the pregame and game. You are also implored to check out UMGoBlog's gallery. MVictors catches Scooter Vaughn in a moment of extreme Scooterdom.

Mas mealer:

The Hoover Street Rag tries to maintain calm:

Now, all of the said, consider, if you will, where a Michigan fan might be standing right now.  Since September 1, 2007, you have seen your team play 40 games.  In that time span as of this weekend, you have seen your team win as many games as they have lost.  Twenty Saturdays up, twenty Saturdays down.  Twenty times happy, twenty times sad.  You have seen hope crushed in the waking moments of a new rising sun.  You have seen hope's corpse taken out back and burned repeatedly.  You've seen redemption come from unlikely sources.  You've seen a cold night in Champaign.  You've seen a darn near miracle in Orlando.  You've seen a comeback like nothing you've seen before in Ann Arbor.  You've seen another quarterback in orange and blue leave flame trails behind him like a time-traveling DeLorean.  You've seen a walk-on save the Jug.  You've seen a freshman led an unlikely comeback in a shootout.  You've seen all hope die on four chances from the one.  You've seen an invasion of red into the Big House.  You've seen a sophomore do things we only thought that other teams did to Michigan.  You've seen 20 wins and 20 losses. 
So maybe this is why Saturday's performance doesn't bother me.  It was a win.  The gap between "survives upset bid" or "gets a scare from an FCS school" and losing is a chasm visible from space.  We've been on the other side of that chasm, or perhaps more accurately at the bottom of it. 
Maize & Go Blue also says remain calm. Remain, maintain, calm. Britain stands alone.
 

"We were terrible on defense," Roh said. "We just didn't look like we were prepared to play and we didn't make adjustments during the game.

"I promise you'll not see another game like that from us again."

From Roh's lips to Tebow's ears.

Comments

imdeng

September 20th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

I am not only calm, I continue to be hopeful about the future. Before you call me delusional, consider the following:

1. Defense is a situation of being as weak as the weakest link - currently our weakest link is the RFr Position Switch Starter SS. He has made mistakes - but that have mostly been because of over-enthusiasm (going for the interception, trying to take INT to the house) rather than incompetence. This is coachable and will improve with experience.

2. Although we got gashed on runs and short passes, we did not give up big plays. With our offense the way it is, we do not need to shut down other teams, we just need to ensure that other teams score only through long (as in number of plays) drives - which increases the chance of them making mistakes (INTs, Fumbles, Drops) and the drives stalling. We have successfully done this except for two plays in the ND game (for which - see point 1 above)

3. The special teams (FGs, Kickoffs, Punting) is being handled by RFr and True Fr. Gibbons has a huge leg but is inaccurate right now - this is likely to improve with experience. Hagerup has wowed everybody in practice and it is a matter of time before he translates the success on the field.

 

So - in conclusion - the sky has not fallen yet. So keep calm - and if you believe my rational above (I certainly do) - then continue to hold hope afloat. We will know much more about this team after the Indiana and MSU game.

wolverine1987

September 20th, 2010 at 1:43 PM ^

the defense is even a small bit better than last year. Compared to last year IME UCONN is better than Western but not by much, UMASS is better than EMU--but not equal to a mid level BCS conference team, and ND is similar, perhaps less good because of Clausen leaving. Last week's game was simply awful and throws out any positives from UCONN, as did their loss to Temple. We have two elements on the team that are clearly, inarguably improved from last year, and one element is dilithium. We're less impressive at RB, better on the o-line, equal at WR, less good on the d-line, equal at LB (Arguable) and less good at DB.

IME there is not much different than last year except Denard. Importantly, that doesn't mean we can't go to 8 wins--Denard is that good, and I believe that tunrover margin will improve along with the team attitude. That can get us to 8. But I do not think any longer that it is out of the question that we top out at 6. 

Six Zero

September 20th, 2010 at 12:35 PM ^

I would not want to face the eyebrows next week.  Roh may very well go Mola Ram on Bowling Green and literally rip that backup QB's beating heart from his chest.

An angry and embarassed defense should play much better this week than the overconfident and content one that showed up Saturday.

MGrad

September 20th, 2010 at 12:34 PM ^

I think that the game provides a great learning moment for the defense and kicking game.  Better to be afforded this opportunity to grow as a team in victory than in defeat once the Big 10 season starts.  Let's hope that the shock factor is humbling and motivating all at once.

danross

September 20th, 2010 at 12:39 PM ^

The collective prediction was 7-5, with a better offense, challenging kicking game and a crater on defense. Right now, that looks about accurate.

With 25% of the season gone, the offense appears better than expected and we have a leading Heisman contender. We are trending toward at least a top 5 Big Ten offense at season's end, which would be a great leap from the 10th best offense in the B11 last year (conference games only). It appears that our staff already has the guys in place to be scary good on offense next year, and certainly impressive this year.

As much as it would be great to get Dee Hart (please come, Dee), it is time to start getting more excited about Hello: Defense posts. We just aren't going to beat the likes of Nebraska and Ohio State next year without the kind of improvement we are seeing in the offense.

One encouraging thing - in all 3 games, the defense has come up with turnovers at key points in the game, allowing our offense to put the pedal down. Couldn't say that last year. That is something to hang your hat on (or your parachute).

los barcos

September 20th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

was preseason expectations and factored in that we were likely to go 1-1 in the first 2 games.  assuming we go into big ten play 4-0, a 7-5 record gives us yet ANOTHER losing record in the big 10 (3-5) and was only good enough for 8th place last year (minny).  it also means, chances are, we lose to the big dogs of the conference - osu, msu, wiscy, iowa, and psu. 

robpollard

September 20th, 2010 at 2:47 PM ^

Iowa won the Orange Bowl last year, and 3 other New Year's Day bowl games (Outback and Citrus) this decade.  Wisky has won 3 Rose Bowls in the last 16 years.

MSU's last bowl win was the Silicon Valley Classic in 2001.

Bowl games aren't everything, but those two teams have pretty regularly achieved Jan 1 (or later) bowl game status based on their regular seasons and performed pretty well once they've gotten there.

They're not OSU and PSU as top-ten all-time ten teams, but if you're talking about teams that regularly battle for the Big 10 championship and nat'l prestige, Iowa and Wisky are far more like OSU and PSU, than State.

danross

September 20th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

Your math works of course, although perhaps we are splitting hairs a bit. MSU and ND look interchangeable to me as teams go. We look (this year) to be on par with both, and still can beat MSU to go 2-0 against ND/MSU. Maybe that gets us to 8-4 (4-4), which would have exceeded our lowered expectations.

Regardless, if we do lose to MSU and fulfill the 7-5 prediction, I think we agree that 7-5 is not where we want to be in any case whether we are 4-4 or 3-5 in the Big 10.

M-Wolverine

September 20th, 2010 at 2:30 PM ^

A "big dog"....if they beat us a THIRD time in a row (which is what the 7-5 that he was commenting on would probably require), they are a big dog. To us, anyway. Again, I would REALLY suggest we not lose that game.

robpollard

September 20th, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

...and if we lose to the Illini or Purdue this year (for the third time in a row), does that make them a big dog?

He said, "Big dogs of the conference."  With our cratering the last two years, that's clearly four teams: OSU, PSU, Iowa and Wisky, i.e., the four teams in the Big Ten with a nat'l profile.

The MSU game, at this point, is a pick 'em.  The Illini and Purdue games are ones we should, but by no means are assured to win.  Just b/c we've stunk these past two years, and are basically barely above mediocre this year, doesn't mean we should inflate opponents into more than they are.

pukhog19

September 20th, 2010 at 12:41 PM ^

Brian said something that I have been thinking all season.  We should never punt the ball whenever we are on the opponents side of the field.  I have to imagine that almost any of our opponents will be able to make it back to the 50-yard line at almost a 50% clip even if we punt it down to their 10-yard line.  So why ever punt.  If you game plan always going for it on 4th down in that situation, then you can call a larger variety of plays in 3rd down and over 5+ yards.  Also, with how explosive our offense is, if you do pick up the 1st down, we will score the majority of the time.  I haven't examined the numbers, but I bet we have scored on an extremely high-percentage of drives that weren't submarined by penalties (and I wouldn't be surprised if maybe we would have scored on more of those if we had just planned on going for it on 4th down).

And finally, to me, it's like the how other teams talk about defending Denard cliche.  The best way to prevent Denard from hurting you is by keeping Denard on the sideline.  The best way to keep the inexperienced, depleted Michigan defense from hurting us is by keeping them on the sideline.  Even if you only make 50% of those 4th downs, that's still half as many drives that the other team has a chance to take advantage of our defense.

South Bend Wolverine

September 20th, 2010 at 12:54 PM ^

Ugh, you had me right up until the "keep the offense on the sideline" thing.  In football, just like in basketball, you can't keep the other team from getting the ball the way you can in hockey or soccer.  No matter how long your drive is, they still get the ball next.  It's not about somehow getting more drives or making the opponent have fewer - the closest you can come to doing that is turnovers, I guess.  It's about maximizing the effect of your own drive (going for it) versus minimizing the danger of the other team's drive (trying to punt the ball deep).  You need to evaluate, by the numbers, if maximizing your own opportunity will outweigh the benefit of minimizing the danger.  But you can't keep the other team from having drives or whatever.

pukhog19

September 20th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

I completely agree with you, but that's exactly what the cliche means.  Make sure you try as hard as you can to maximize the time you have possession of the ball.  Sure you will eventually have to give the ball back to the other team, but you can effect the conditions to which you give the ball back.  If a team only passes, I guarantee there will be more possessions in a game.  If your defense sucks, that's a bad thing.  Along the same lines, if you always go for it on 4th down, you're still going to give the ball back the other team, it's just that you are more likely to give the ball back after scoring yourself more.  Sure sometimes you'll give the ball back to them in better field position than they would have got if you had punted because you didn't make the 4th down conversion.  But when your defense is bad enough to the point where it probably doesn't matter, then try to maximize the amount of possessions you score points, and not play for field position.

HeismanPose

September 20th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

First of all, if we're good enough to beat ND on the road then we're good enough to win 7-8 games this year.  They clearly won't all be easy, but that should give us some comfort.  A lot of good teams have scares like this.  No need to panic.

 

The really disheartening thing about this game was the defense's inability to stop the run.  Considering the state of our secondary, I understand giving up 800 yards on short passes and "keeping everything in front of you".  I actually think that is a viable strategy.  Forcing a team to throw leads to sacks, dropped passes, interceptions, etc.  We can win that way.  In fact, we had this game shorn up - got an interception up 18 with under 10 minutes to play.  If Gordon just holds onto that ball, we win by at least 11, probably 18 or 25 and everything is fine.

 

But giving up 5-7 yards/rush was really alarming.  2 sacks through 3 games is really alarming.  If it's the scheme, then GERG needs to work shit out asap.

caup

September 20th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

They weren't filling their gaps correctly, or were WAY too slow filling them.

Obi Ezeh was the worst at this.

And Mouton, Roh, and Kovacs made their fair share of mistakes and lost contain.

Silver lining?  Martin was great again.  Don't let ANYONE in that locker room talk shit to that guy about his effort on Saturday.  In fact, the rest of the defense should be APOLOGIZING to Martin for not bringing the same level of intensity and focus that Martin displayed.

readyourguard

September 20th, 2010 at 1:35 PM ^

This.

As much as it pains me to say, Mouton slept through this game (as did a few others).  I saw a lot of lazy attempts at arm tackles and being out of position.  I totally believe this defense underestimated UMass' ability and took the approach of, "whatever.....we have Denard."

On the opposite side of the coin, Mike Martin played ferociously the entire game.  I hope he got into some of his teammate's asses after the film session.

jmblue

September 20th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

1.  We're actually 1 for 5 on field goals (1-2 vs UConn, 0-2 vs. ND, 0-1 vs. UMass).  Ugh

2.  Denard actually completed three deep balls - the third being to Hemingway.

Ziff72

September 20th, 2010 at 1:06 PM ^

I think football may cause Brian's brain to explode.  Brian was an engineer well schooled at the University of Michigan.  He sees that x+y= z and that comforts him because he is smart and that makes sense.  Engineers like things that make sense, football does not make sense.  

It doesn't make sense that Iowa should have lost to Northern Iowa, Arkansas St. and Indiana, but was able to beat Penn St., obliterate Georgia Tech or challenge Ohio St with a back up qb.   That doesn't compute.   At the end of the year go look at the worst team in nation and find a team with 1 win, then play "telephone" and I'm pretty sure you can extrapolate using logic that UMass should be favored over Alabama.

Last year Ohio St was humiliated by Purdue,  Pryor was deemed a bust and calls for a move to WR seemed logical at the time...yet they somehow beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl.  I don't have the schedule in front of me, but I'm sure Purdue lost to someone who was terrible who then lost ot someone else who was terrible and so on.     You get the point. 

We're not going to give up 724 yds rushing to Wisconsin.  Contrary to popular belief most of these coaches have been around the block and know a thing or two, they will make adjustments.

One of the best examples of this was a couple years back when Indianapolis had the most horrific rushing defense in the league, everyone was predicting a 1st rd loss to KC who was coming in with big bad Larry Johnson who had been piling up rushing yards.  It was predicted to be a blood bath and their only chance was for Peyton to keep up.  I don't think Larry Johnson ran for 40yds that game and the Colts blasted them into next week on their way to the Super Bowl.

Hang in there guys, it's never as bad as it seems.

M-Wolverine

September 20th, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

The reason sometimes my eyes glaze over on these long computations explaining football here (not just Brian, but many a diary) is that x + y = z doesn't always work for these things containing "human beings".  Because x = 19 year old kid y = psychology under pressure with some (A + B + C) thrown in of location, health, fans, weather and such. Football isn't an equation, as much as the engineer would like to see it. It's more Chaos Theory.

J.Swift

September 20th, 2010 at 1:42 PM ^

Three games in, only glimpses of Big Will:  extra goal line beef on a touchdown run, special teams.  Explanation on this Board:  he's not in playing shape, he's not ready, give the kid time.

I say put him on the D-line right smack in the center.  Let him learn by doing.  Let him play himself into shape.  Think of the run-clogging that wide body adds, with Martin and Roh and / or Banks / Sagesse?  I don't care if he makes the 3 3 5 into a 4 3 4-- and I hope other share this view.  Why?  League plays starts real soon.  We need Beef on the line. 

Hey--he/s a 4/5 star recruit.  He's showed up out of shape two years running.  Our defense will need fresh bodies in a very short time, once the big boys show up to play.  Get Will in the game!  Get him in there early and often.  Hey, if we start to get some pressure on the quarterback, imagine what that will do for his confidence.  And imagine what it will do for the team.

funkywolve

September 20th, 2010 at 2:11 PM ^

What amazes me is that here we are for the 3rd year in a row having issues with punt returns.  I realize that it's not the easiest thing in the world to do, but what are the odds that 3 years in a row you have a team which has serious issues just fielding the punt?

mendrygal

September 20th, 2010 at 2:16 PM ^

Over the 50 is 4 down territory.  I've been begging for it since the 2nd quarter of the ND game.  Does anyone have a good excuse as to why I can't get any Hopkins on 3rd and 1?  Or any other time except his 1 yard TD against ND, a situation he was created in a lab for?  There's got to be a reason, I just can't think of one.

tspoon

September 20th, 2010 at 2:34 PM ^

I'm hoping it was a bit more Ed Reed "I'm hurt dawg!" than Tebow tears ... but either way we definitely could use Roh to just go off from this point on.  He is the highest-ceiling game changer among our D starters.

Big Boutros

September 20th, 2010 at 2:37 PM ^

The consternation is valid; we only know what we see. But if we see Bowling Green stagger away from Ann Arbor with 3 points and 8 yards or summat I think we should allow ourselves to exhale.

Big "if," I know.

StephenRKass

September 20th, 2010 at 2:44 PM ^

I'm very optimistic about the defense, this year and next, for several reasons.

  1. They know the offense can bail them out, to some degree.
  2. They are getting huge amounts of experience.
  3. We have Brandon Herron and Carvin Robinson coming back. I believe that both will make a huge difference. With Herron on the line, Roh can do much more damage. And Carvin will only help the secondary. Also, with Herron and Roh working in tandem, it gives receivers much less time to get open.
  4. I believe that the "upside" for Cam Gordon, in particular, is much higher than for a more experienced player. I don't know how to express this, but a "raw" player has a much higher ceiling, where a more experienced and polished player may be good, but have much less of an upside. For instance, our CB Rogers is doing well, but I don't think he will improve as much as Gordon. By analogy, Tate came in much more polished than Denard, but Denard had much, much more upside, which is now beginning to be realized. The kind of plays where Gordon got burned at ND should decrease. Anyone think he will continue to backpedal? Take awful angles on pursuit?
  5. With Gerg working with the LB corps, things have solidified in a huge way. Who predicted that Mouton would be this good?
  6. For next year, we will have Troy Woolfolk returning, along with new recruits, and a yet more solid offense.

The one downside is our lack of depth. We have none . . . and have to hope and pray that all our starters stay healthy for the D.

I still believe that 7 - 5 or 8 - 4 is a very reasonable goal. DB will keep RR with 7-5. Maybe even with 6-6, although I don't want that. And I think that the 2011 season is where we really see RR's team in full bloom.

trueblueintexas

September 20th, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

Could someone please explain what defensive scheme would require a LB to run as fast as they can towards the line and run into a OL who is blocking the DE?  And I'm not talking about being surprised by a pulling OL or TE.  Straight up blocking and the LB runs straight into a lineman without even trying to make a play on the ball carrier.  I believe this "technique" is what also causes our LB to jump on anything that looks like a run allowing TE's to be wide open on the opposite side of the flow of offense. 

Meth

September 20th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

I was not home to watch the game (or else my home would have been destroyed) and I was  able to keep up with the action via Twitter.  I was able to watch the game later on DVR.  I am very happy with the win, but I am not sure I could have handled watching it live.  I was in attendance for "The Horror" and, luckily, we came out on top this time.  There is still a lot of optimism for this year, but our defense is what we thought it was (in my Dennis Green voice).  

 

On a side note, I was at the UT-Florida game.  I have been to several college football games and dealt with opposing fans.  I can honestly say that Gator Nation is by far the most arrogant, douchey, dick head fans that I have ever seen.  I was truly embarrassed for them and they was able to ruin the game day experience.  I just wanted to get that off my chest.  Thanks for letting me vent.  Ha