Robinson And Guildenstern Are Dead

Submitted by Brian on November 22nd, 2010 at 12:08 PM

11/20/2010 – Michigan 28, Wisconsin 48 – 7-4, 3-4 Big Ten

wisconsin-touchdown

Detroit News

During my illustrious high school quiz bowl career* I ran across a question about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the Tom Stoppard play about a couple of bit players in Hamlet. It started off "the first 47 words of this play are 'heads,'" at which point someone else rang in and answered. Later I'd find out via the miracle of DVR that the reason the first 47 words of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead are "heads" is because one of the characters flips a coin over and over again. It always comes up heads. Rosencrantz or Guildenstern—it's unclear who is who for the duration—arrives at the conclusion that they are "within un-, sub-, or supernatural forces."

This weekend I'm scanning the message board for threads to terminate with extreme prejudice when I run across something from Mgrowold about the events of Saturday's second half:

Wisconsin then proceeded to run the ball 32 out of 33 times in the second half of today's game.  As I sat in the stadium it occurred to me that if a running play was "heads" and a passing play was "tails" then the Badger's play calling went something like this: heads, heads, tails, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads and then heads.

Wikipedia describes Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as an "absurdist, existentialist tragicomedy." This is Greg Robinson rubbing a beaver on Kenny Demens's face in the midst of a game where the Michigan defense gave up 560 yards and Scott Tolzien's only incompletion was a James Rogers interception, his third in two games:

At this point the column writes itself.

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Apparently this is not literally true and now I have to put words down.

This is disappointing; you always hope if you really, really nail it in the first couple paragraphs you can watch the words appear as if by magic and then you won't have to seriously think about what happened in a game where Wisconsin punted once for the second consecutive year. Not accurate.

Obviously that was awful. Michigan had no answer to Wisconsin's series of basic "hai guys we're Wisconsin" runs. They went back to the same stupid 3-3-5 with Kenny Demens lined up two inches from his nose tackle's butt that got Michigan obliterated against Penn State. Wisconsin's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern second half was immensely, grindingly depressive but did have a secondary effect: it mostly absolved the improbably young secondary from blame. The front seven/eight aren't universally freshmen and should be able to hold a team under, I don't know, 350 yards of rushing.

I said my bit on the job status of Rodriguez and Robinson already. Michigan put up 28 that would have been 31 if not for a missed 30 yard field goal. That's on par with Wisconsin's worst performances of the year—Michigan State put up 34 but got a punt return touchdown, Iowa put up 30. The defense was the same incoherent mess it's been the whole year. It was more depressing than I expected, but at this point whatever, right?

Saturday reinforced both positions. Our defensive coordinator literally rubs small stuffed animals on people's faces. Denard Robinson broke the I-A record for rushing yards by a quarterback and is the first guy in history to have 1500 rushing yards and 2500 passing yards in the same season. Michigan is the most dichotomous team in at least the last decade of college football, and while I won't be horribly upset if Rodriguez does get the axe I still think the best thing for the next year or two is to see what happens when Denard Robinson is an upperclassman and the defense isn't starting four freshmen and three more sophomores. Michigan did manage to achieve the modest goals set before it, albeit in unimpressive fashion.

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are boyhood friends of Hamlet summoned to a castle undergoing chaos. They've got no idea what's going on, are used as pawns, stumble around cluelessly, and end up hanging by their necks until they are dead. Woefully underprepared and doomed from the start, their deaths are both unfair and unavoidable. The third act is set on the boat they take to England and their deaths; they discover the letter sent with them says to execute Hamlet, then discover the Hamlet's fateful switch.

Much of the last bit is devoted to a discussion of how the pair can be so important as to necessitate their execution. I wonder if that's how Rodriguez felt as he watched the half of his team he delegates to someone else ground into a fine dust, like Jeff Casteel had switched his defense with one that read "execute this man."

*(We were actually pretty good, the Wisconsin/Iowa of Michigan high school quiz bowl at the time. We'd own most teams we played but would consistently lose close games to Salem, CC, DCD, and a Henry Ford Harrison team that had lucked into the National Geography Bee winner. We prided ourselves on not having uniforms, at least.)

Existentialist, Absurdist, Tragicomic Non-Bullets

Jeremy Gallon special teams error limit: determined. It is ten billion. I'm obviously on the tolerant side of the scale when it comes to coaching errors (outside of obvious game theory errors, about which I have an Al Qaeda level of zealotry) but JESUS GOD RICH RODRIGUEZ WHY DID YOU LET JEREMY GALLON RETURN KICKS AND PUNTS FOR TEN GAMES.

On the bright side, Michigan's kick returns finally seemed like a net positive aside from the Gallon fumble. Which aaaaargh. The strange thing about those returns was that Wisconsin seemed to be putting them exactly where they wanted—right along one sideline—and still gave up big returns seemingly every time.

A note on how meaningless the NCAA's official kick return stats are: in one game Michigan went from a horrendous debacle to essentially average. They're 67th now. I'll ping Brian Fremeau for his fancy stats at the end of the year to see what the actual damage was in the kick return game.

Small move towards Pulaski. Hey: surprise onside kick that absolutely should have worked but for two Michigan players whiffing on opportunities to recover. Since Wisconsin was going to score anyway, the only tactical error was not doing this two additional times. Also, the last one was not a surprise but it was beautifully executed by the kicker. Maybe that's what they've been practicing all year.

If Roy Roundtree drops a sure first down the next pass will be batted skyward and intercepted 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Fact. Please stop doing this, Roy.

First half struggles. The offense didn't score in the first half due to a confluence of events. Event the second: field goal kicker durrr combined with coaching durrrr about the field goal kicker durrrrr. Event the first and many other bits: Robinson couldn't throw straight. Wisconsin shoved guys up to the LOS and dared Michigan to throw deep. Michigan threw deep. Robinson missed guys by yards and yards, including an open Vincent Smith on that third and six that eventually led to field goal durrrr.

In the second half Robinson hit a series of bombs, forced Wisconsin to back off, and Michigan went TD, TD, TD, fate induced post-Roundtree INT, TD. Again, the design of the offense is excellent and while Robinson's lack of accuracy is now an established issue this level of performance with two seniors on the field is remarkable.

God, this was awful. I hate to embed this and inflict it on the public at large, but this was awwwwwful:

I'm actually a fan of Old Hat Creative's work with Michigan's hype videos but Notre Dame fans would laugh at this treacly debacle. Athletic department: I will write sentimental stuff with 10% of the schmaltz for free. I will pay you if this is the alternative. Guh.

Things that were good. A fond farewell to drum major David Hines Jr., whose backbend will remain legendary, and various other band seniors. The MMB bounced back from a year in which they forced Carl Grapentine to say "the clown who laughs outside as he cries inside" and deployed a series of accessible halftime shows that did not involve various operas of the 19th century. The Wizard of Oz halftime was good, Lady Gaga translates to marching band in a shockingly effective fashion, and the hockey band just played the old Hockey Night in Canada theme. Thumbs up.

Bret Bielema: still a huge jerk. This isn't a surprise from a guy who saw one of his special teams scrubs attempt to injure Steve Breaston and then pretended it didn't even happen, but Bret Bielema said his team sent "a message" by chop-blocking one of Michigan's linemen on that first-half drive that didn't end in a touchdown. You know, that one.

Elsewhere

Michigan Exposures with a bunch of pictures, including the random F-15E wandering around the stadium before kickoff, a panoramic shot, and:

I should start regularly linking Mike DeSimone's comprehensive picture galleries, which collect everything shot on a game-by-game basis and act as a crutch here.

I made this facial expression at the exact same time!

Joe Stapleton says he feels sorry for Rodriguez. On RR's postgame mini-rant about the exceptional youth in the secondary:

It's an excuse and reality. As much as I would like to say it, the biggest problem with the defense isn't the abjectly awful coaching of defensive coordinator Greg Robinson (Though it certainly doesn't help — as gaudy as Wisconsin's offensive numbers were, they could have been a lot worse if the Badgers would've taken advantage of the WIDE-open middle of the field through the air). It's the youth in the secondary.

Some say, without thinking, that this is Rodriguez's fault. He should've recruited more (and better) defensive backs. Here's the thing: he had defensive backs. They all just kinda ... left. That, or they got injured.

I'm at the point where losing Vlad Emilien, no matter how not good he may have been, is a strike against you, but by in large most of the departures were ordained like a post-Roundtree drop INT. Wojo's column is along the same lines as this one.

AnnArbor.com runs a poll of their own about RR's job security; the ones run around here earlier in the year by The White Tiger are more extensive but MGoBlog actively discourages people from the militant wing of the fanbase from participating so the numbers at AA.com are probably more representative. They've got 3300 votes in with 41% saying boot him, 22% saying "one more year," and 33% saying "I support him." A very strange 2% of people took the time to vote "I don't care." That's a majority saying keep him but it's vastly short of the 81% who voted "keep him" at 7-5 in the poll around these parts. (Michigan had yet to play Illinois and Purdue when that poll was deployed.)

Across various blogs the reaction seems to be mostly "not surprised." Touch The Banner:

This is a game that I expected Michigan to lose.  Almost everyone did.  That's not to say that I wasn't frustrated by some of the things that the coaches and players did - and the offensive production in the first half was somewhat embarrassing - but ultimately, this outcome is what most educated observers foresaw.

TTB does say the constant use of Vinopal as a blitzer was stupid, which yeah. Burgeoning Wolverine Star:

Wisconsin is that good. It's not surprising, then, that Michigan struggled so mightily against an oversized, veteran unit that is unquestionably the best outfit in the Big Ten. That doesn't make Michigan's complete inability to stop the run or their general defensive incompetence any less disappointing, but it does mitigate it somewhat.

Mets Maize:

My prediction--Wisconsin 45-28--and similar ones around the blogosphere was closer than the Vegas spread (-4.5 Wisconsin). We knew we were outmatched, plain and simple. Too many things had to go our way and JJ Watt's self-tip and pick was not one of them. The disparity between Wisconsin's physicality and Michigan's, uhhh, collection of 18-year-old biceps was worlds apart. I'm sort of glad the game flew by.

The Hoover Street Rag busts out Jefferson's inaugural address in a plea for people who think one side or the other of the Rodriguez debate is full of idiots. MGoFootball peruses the board for choice bits.

Comments

denverblue

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:24 PM ^

"Denard Robinson broke the I-A record for rushing yards by a quarterback and is the first guy in history to have 1500 rushing yards and 2500 passing yards in the same season."

Mgoblue's stats show Denard at 2229 yards passing. He hasn't broken 2500 yet, though between OSU and the bowl game, he probably will.

The record I heard getting tossed around was that he was the first 1500/1500 guy, which would also make him the first 2000/1500 guy.

Crime Reporter

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:30 PM ^

The beating was expected. However, I was hoping the defense would show up on the heels of its performance at Purdue.

The maddening part for me was the coaches' stubborness to stick with that bullshit 3-3-5 even though we were getting gashed. I never saw four DL, and if there was, I missed it. Vinopal got slammed backward every time he tried to blitz.

And you're right about Roy dropping an easy first down and then the interception following on schedule.

I just really hope we show up to play Ohio State with some sort of pulse. If not, and we are beaten soundly, I will not cry if RR is replaced.

Erik_in_Dayton

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

I remain a Rodriguez supporter and I already consider this season a success, but after watching the games and hearing that WVU people have told Sam Webb that Michigan isn't doing a lot of the things that Casteel does at WVU, I can't get behind any coach who wants to run the 3-3-5, at least as it's currently being run at Michigan.  I think that you have to have three d-linemen and four LBs or four d-lineman and three LBs when you're going up against the Wisconsins of the world. 

As for blitzing Vinopal, I hoped that I was mis-seeing things during the game.  That just seems...less than wise. 

Robinson seems like a very decent guy but he needs to be replaced.  RR also needs to give the new coordinator the freedom to do what he sees fit. 

Crime Reporter

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

Vinopal was coming off the edge quite a bit, and never once, was able to get pressure. 

As for this 3-3-5, or whatever they run, I hate it. We have three undersized DL and then an additional three or four guys at the LOS who are smallish. I don't think it will work and I agree Gerg needs to go.

We need a D-coordinator who is fiery and can recruit like a Mofo. I don't think Gerg even really recruits. He's too busy playing with that damned stuffed animal.

GunnersApe

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:16 PM ^

My dream/IMHO:

Go down to TCU and study or steal away one of there up and coming D coaches and make him M's DC. 4-2-5/4-3, hell Boise St. studied it and came out the next year and beat them with it (also ran a 4-1-6 form they adapted off of it). The only D coach that should be kept is B. Tall.

The 4-2-5 seems to be the new base D for spread/pro teams, bring in another LB(4-3) for the big teams but at least there is consistency with a four man front. 3 DL should only be on the field when M is up by 20 in the 4th and are in a total prevent.

TheMadGrasser

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:51 PM ^

more evidence do we need that the 3-3-5 alignment gets gashed every game? Seriously, why the hell did they go back to this? When the O-lineman and TEs take out your 3 D-lineman and 3 LBs and your free hitters are people like Avery and Vinopal, what the hell do you expect? I don't knock the guys out there, just the coaches. Unreal.

Unless we're playing against a spread team, ditch the 3-3-5!

 

/rant

squints02

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

Hey all, I'm a huge Michigan fan and have come across a place to get 2 tickets to the ohio state game for far under face value. There are 2 tickets in Section 10C row 33. Go to iticketbid.com to at least check it out. You might be able to get them for free if you use the promo code "rivalryweek" it will give you 5 free bids. Go wolverines!

Kolesar40

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:34 PM ^

1) Why was Vincent Smith in the game on the last drive? We had our second string qb, and wrs in at that time, and given our rb situation, he should have been on the bench and Hopkins should have been in. That was a horrible decision, and I hope he is not lost for OSU.

2) Why does Stonum look/act hurt after every single tackle? They guy is extremely fragile.

3) Brian hit it on the head. It seems that immediately following a dropped pass (usually from Roy) we turn it over. Very disturbing.

4) I was clamoring for 8 in the box and give up the pass. In the 2nd half, we knew they were running, put 8 in the box and still got hammered. They could have thrown crossing routes to Toon all day had they wanted to.

5) Hard to believe we are still attempting FGs 11 games into the season. 30 yards away, in the middle of the field. The numbers will continue not to lie, and RRod has to understand that.

6) Demens might have put up Ezeh like numbers this week. Our LBs were getting sealed on the backside all day, and thus the gaping cutback lanes. All the LBs playing away from the play side were guilty of this.

7) Bielema is now my least favorite coach in the Big Ten. Tressel,and Dantonio are close behind.

8) Go Blue. Beat OSU.

Magnus

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:25 PM ^

1) Vincent Smith is the most trusted pass blocker on the team.

2) Who cares?  Stonum has rarely been injured, and the lone injury on Saturday (for which he was carted off the field) looked fairly serious.  I don't care how he looks; I care how he plays, and he played well.

7) Dantonio's still the biggest ass.  Regardless of whether Bielema runs up the score or "teaches a lesson," at least he doesn't make a habit of welcoming convicts back onto his team with open arms on the day they're released from jail.

Kolesar40

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:37 PM ^

he is the most trusted pass blocker. That does not mean he should be on the field when RRod is clearly givng second string guys some reps. Given our lack of depth, let other guys get reps, and save Smith for OSU.

I care if a guy is hurt or not. I thought he played great, but the signs that he is either hurt, or fragile is telling in a game where he ended up leaving with a serious injury. Seems like his condition was leading to a mroe serious injury.

I wont argue vehemntly on #7. I can see arguments from all sides on this one.

BlueGoM

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:31 PM ^

1 - I think Stokes and Jackson were out there at least in part due to the fact that Stonum was hurt and Hemingway kept acting like he was hurt, IIRC.

2 -  I don't know what you're talking about.   If there is WR that has proven to be fragile it is Junior Hemingway who missed most of his first 2 seasons with injuries.

3- I think (hope) Brian was being facetious.  It makes no sense that if a player A drops a pass on one play, the next play is going to be an INT regardless of what play is called.

4- we put 8 in the box?  I guess I didn't notice because it obviously never worked.

Kolesar40

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 PM ^

 

 

Agreed. But it was clear with Tate in the game, down 3 scores with 2 minutes left and 1 truisted rb, we should be preserving health. All the more if we already have 2 receivers down.

 

#2 Go back and watch the game. Stonum looks injured after each tackle. Again, it has nothing to do with how well he played, but it is obvious. My observation was not a comparison, but rather commentary on Stonum in this game. Heminway has obviously suffered more injuries.

#3 I think he was being facetious as well, but that does not discount the fact that it has happened multiple times this season. it is horrible coincidence/fate, not causation.

#4 Again go back and watch the game. We crept safeties up to the line and it made absolutely no difference.

imafreak1

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

Dude, for serious, did you see what happened to Stonum's knee on replay?

I also think Brain was kidding about the turnovers you mention in #3, unless you are seriously concerned that D-lineman catching their own deflections is some how linked to dropping passes.

glewe

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:51 PM ^

I'm not saying anything new, but Stonum got slammed into the ground not once, but twice on that play. I couldn't see from where I was sitting what exactly he had hurt, but I'm guessing it was everything. That was a serious injury.

Also, Dantonio is my least favorite, followed by Bielema. 83 points is not acceptable to put up against a lousy team. Tressel seems respectable enough from all accounts I've heard but then I haven't been paying attention for quite long enough to judge.

TCPW

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:35 PM ^

Good read except for the points.  Once again the offense racks up points in the second half with the game virtually decided. 
I was one of the 81% that said keep him at 7-5, but I am sick of the excuses.  I can no longer except this type of performance.  Yes Wisconsin is a good team, but an at home blow out on senior day???  The leadership from RR is poor at best.

msoccer10

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 PM ^

If the game was virtually decided, its only because the defense and special teams cannot be expected to contribute in any meaningful way, because we were only down ten points less than halfway through the 3rd quarter.

I was very dissappointed in our offense, because I knew we needed to keep pace with them in the first half in order to have a chance, but if we had an average defense that could keep Wisconsin to say 14 first half points, we are in a close contest until the end.

Also, don't forget, because of Gallon's fumble, Wisconsin had 6 possesions in the first half and Michigan really only had 4.

onceandfutureb…

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:37 PM ^

You've gone from "peanut butter jelly time"" to "I won't be disappointed if Rich Rod gets the axe" in three years. Mostly because you realize that in year 4, then year 5, this team, with this coach will not only not be competing for an NC, it won't be among the top 4 in the Big Ten.

Unacceptable.

Glad you're finally coming around Brian.

Now don't just meekly state it. Shout it. Make it the focal point of every post. The sooner we get RR out, the sooner the painful transition for a new coach can begin. Better to start that in 7 days then two years from now.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

Funny, we were the Michigan State of quiz bowl teams: a pretty good team that wound up third in the state thanks to getting the easy side of the bracket and one good win while the other side of the bracket destroyed itself.

Ed Shuttlesworth

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

Rod's tenure has been utterly lacking in attention to detail in everything other than his role as de facto offensive coordinator:

1.  Two DCs, both bad. 

2.  Almost unimaginably bad defensive talent.

3.  Horrific special teams, right down to 4 for 13 in field goals and a kick returner who's forced one of Michigan's most literate recent graduates, our friendly blogmaster, to resort to ALL CAPS to get his point fully across.

4.  Probation for not paying attention and organizing practice and compliance.

5.  Very poor performances coming out of the tunnel for the first half against top-half Big Ten teams.

Against all this, an offense that can move the ball against mediocre teams in both halves and against good teams in one half ... well, let's just say it pales.

We are simply non-competitive with the top four or five teams in the Big Ten.   Including LITTLE BROTHER, against whom, comparing last year and this, we've badly regressed.

bronxblue

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

How is #2 really his fault?  The team had maybe 2-3 defensive starters/significant contributors on senior day.  That's not on RR.  Yes, the recruiting on defense is his responsibility, but he also inherited a team with little depth on the defensive side. 

With #3, he recruited one of the best kickers in the country, held multiple tryouts, etc.  What else can he really do for kids who apparently can no longer kick a ball through the uprights.  Hagerup has been very good - is that his fault?  The kick returns have been atrocious and there is no reason Gallon should be back there, but I honestly don't think the returns have been a major cause of UM's struggles this year.

As for #4, do you honestly think that was RR's fault, or was it the compliance departments AND a head-hunting hack job by the local newspaper?  I mean, the NCAA basically absolved him of major responsibility, found little in the way of infractions, and continually refuted the claims made in the Freep. 

#1 and #5 I agree with to an extent, and I expect they will be factors going forward in Brandon's evaluation of the program.  But take a deep breath man.

mackbru

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

I'd say it's half his fault. Lloyd left things a little shaky on the defensive front (though not entirely so). But RR lost key recruits/transfers. A weak, young secondary needed, at the very least, depth. He hurt his cause there. And, although there seem to be a few promising young players, does anyone get the sense that many of RR's d recruits are surefire future stars? Can't be sure yet, of course. And they seem to play hard. But there aren't many young d players that make you say, "Wow! In a year or two, that kid's gonna be unstoppable!" Hope it proves otherwise, though.

 

bronxblue

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:56 PM ^

I won't disagree that RR beats some blame, but Warren left with eligibility because he was fed bad advice from scouts - I don't blame a guy for leaving if he could be drafted in the 1st/2nd round.  There is little RR can do to change a kid's mind about that, even if it turned out to be wrong.

As for the secondary, the team does have depth - it just is injured or very young.  Next year the team will have 8-9 guys with multiple game experience, and that will be huge. 

RR recruited top guys like Cissoko, Turner, Christian, etc. - guru approved kids who either never made it on campus, left for reasons beyond the coach's control, and are still very young.  Recruiting some of these kids and failing to develop them does fall on RR in part, but he had little in the way of depth when he stepped into Schmebechler Hall to protect against these types of issues.  That falls on Carr. 

Section 1

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:49 PM ^

Rod's tenure has been utterly lacking in attention to detail in everything other than his role as de facto offensive coordinator:

1.  Two DCs, both bad. 

And of course, neither of the two bad DCs (a) were Coach Rodriguez's first choice, or (b) were so clearly, obviously bad choices on paper that they were coaching malpractice to have made them.  We may yet find out what kind of defense Michigan can field under Rich Rodriguez, if Jeff Casteel becomes the new DC in the next 90 days.

2.  Almost unimaginably bad defensive talent.

Others beat me to it; that is Rich Rodriguez's fault how?  We recruited near-equal numbers of defensive and offensive recruits, with very heavy emphasis in DB's in the last two recruiting classes.

3.  Horrific special teams, right down to 4 for 13 in field goals and a kick returner who's forced one of Michigan's most literate recent graduates, our friendly blogmaster, to resort to ALL CAPS to get his point fully across.

I agree with our blogmaster.  And guess what.  Ohio State's blogmasters have been complaining for much of the year about the Buckeyes special teams.  You may be able to find some of those complaints at www.FireTressel.com.  Have a nice day.

4.  Probation for not paying attention and organizing practice and compliance.

You.  Just.  Lost.  All your bullshit are belong to us now.  Any alleged "Michigan fan" who asserts Stretchgate as any sort of a serious, credible knock on Rich Rodriguez is FAIL.  Go away.  Get out.  The Freep story was nothing more than demonstrable bullshit.  The NCAA investigation came up with nothing more than truly silly bullshit.

5.  Very poor performances coming out of the tunnel for the first half against top-half Big Ten teams.

Wait a minute here; 'first half against top-half...'  Brian said there wouldn't be any math.  Since I'm no good at fractions, and because I instead operate exclusively in whole numbers, I say this -- Rich Rodriguez runs our offense and has taken it from one of the worst units in the nation, to one of the best, with absoltuely no letup in sight, and perhaps some historic levels of achievement in the coming years.  How's that?

Against all this, an offense that can move the ball against mediocre teams in both halves and against good teams in one half ... well, let's just say it pales.

Fractions again.

We are simply non-competitive with the top four or five teams in the Big Ten.   Including LITTLE BROTHER, against whom, comparing last year and this, we've badly regressed.

You know, there are a lot of teams in the Big Ten who don't think MSU has "regressed."  Like, uh, Wisconsin.  Look, I don't like the losses to MSU.  I won't make any excuses for our losses or for Sparty's wins.  I will make the case, quite happily, that judging Rich Rodriguez by the measures that you seem to desire, I'd like him to be the guy to continue to lead our football program:

  • "Progress"?  He's made historic progress with our offense, which is what he does.
  • "Defensive coordinator"?  RR's first choice was Jeff Casteel.  I think that choice, and the past three years of defensive results at WVU, reflects very well on RR, thank you very much.  It'd be nice if we can get Casteel.
  • "NCAA violations"?  100% pure horseshit.
  • "The future of the program"?  What's your suggestion?

mgoblue0970

November 27th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

Or maybe GERG isn't a bad coach after all but (heck, both Shafer and GERG) couldn't succeed in an environment where the contradictory HC, who parrots "scheme doesn't matter", shoves a gimmick scheme down the throat of the DC. 

Perhaps it's hard to do well in an environment where the DC has no prior experience with the gimmick scheme.

Perhaps it's hard to do well in an environment where the gimmick scheme highlights the team's weaknesses.

Perhaps Shafer is doing well at 'Cuse because he doesn't have bestest buddies of the HC undermining his decisions and actually has some leeway to actually coach. 

I'm glad Shafer is doing well.  He and his family was as excited as anyone to come to Michigan.  I'm glad to see he's found a home if for just a bit.

Kilgore Trout

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:49 PM ^

I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere, but when UM scored to make it 24-6, I really don't get why they didn't go for two.  At that point, you're down three scores if you can get three tds with two point conversions.  I realize there was a ton of game to go, but to catch up from 24-0 at 7 points a chunk, you needed three stops.  Did anyone realistically think that was going to happen?  I think the best bet would have been to try to get 8 every time and hope to get two stops and get lucky and catch up.  The way it ended up playing out, it didn't matter, but I think that was a mistake on Rodriguez's part. 

Also, the continued shots at Robinson without continued acknowledgement of Rodriguez's significant responsibility for the defensive debacle just doesn't make sense to me.

Also, saying the offense kept up their end of the bargain by putting up totals equivilant to MSU and Iowa in an incomplete analysis when all of those points were scored after the game was out of reach.  This has happened three times now, it is a pattern, not an outlier. 

bluebyyou

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:05 PM ^

If I remember right, we had 100 yards total O at the end of the first half.  I am also frustrated by those who look at total yards.  I look at only one thing...wins and losses.  Nothing else matters.

How about not using the three time outs at the end of the half, when we were starting to move the ball.  What was the rationale behind that?

Let us not forget, that GERG was Rod's hire.  

zlionsfan

November 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 PM ^

one is, obviously, you need to be able to convert, or at least have an estimated chance of success greater than two times the AGH KICKER rate. 24-0 at 8 points a try requires two stops, sure, but at 6 points, it requires 4 ... counterpoint: perhaps this could have served as practice for when they really need a two-point conversion, but I don't know how much that helps. Second counterpoint: this team is probably better off trying twos than most teams in the country, given the AGH KICKER and the options the offense has, no matter how much some people seem to dislike it.

The other is the potential for a four-point swing, which is probably a significant risk on a pass play. Twos are less of a gamble in the pros, where the only results are 0 and 2, but in college, a poor decision can leave you in almost the same boat from which you were trying desperately to escape. Counterpoint: perhaps this is why you practice them, in situations where who the hell cares, so you get some results you can analyze for future use.

Conventional wisdom, also known as "coaching not to get blamed", probably suggests that you don't go for two until later in the game. Rodriguez doesn't strike me as the type to stick to "the chart", so I'm guessing that it was Reason #2 ...

CompleteLunacy

November 22nd, 2010 at 2:14 PM ^

because UM actually gained momentum, why risk ruining it with only a chance at an extra 2 points? If our kickers were unreliable on extra points, then you have a point...but as it stands, even with our great offense, hitting a two point conversion on 3 straight touchdowns would be very unlikely. 

And momentum on this young team is paramount. Remember, they did go on to immediately score 7 more points after that first TD. (And 7 more after that...though Wisco had scored again, of course). 

Kilgore Trout

November 22nd, 2010 at 3:33 PM ^

You have a point with the momentum thing.  Not getting it would defintiely be a downturn of the momentum.  It's a decent point.

"hitting a two point conversion on 3 straight touchdowns would be very unlikely. "

True, but was it less likely than getting the required three stops on that day against that team?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm not saying going for two was a great option, but I think, all things considered, it was a better option. 

evenyoubrutus

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:59 PM ^

In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets

Here's to you, Julius.  Your friends betrayed you, but they truly thought what they were doing was tenable justice.

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more

-Brutus

wolverine1987

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:59 PM ^

scores roughly the same against Wisconsin's defense as MSU/Iowa? Isn't our only claim to fame this year that despite awful defense we have an awesome offense? Where is it against any good team? Where? And why do we, by Denard's own words, "come out flat" in the first half, on senior day and against the #7 team in the country? What is the explanation for that? Argh. Sorry, but I can only say coaching.