The Sea Wants To Take Me

Submitted by Brian on November 16th, 2009 at 11:14 AM

11/14/2009 – Michigan 24, Wisconsin 45 – 5-6, 1-6 Big Ten

henri-the-otter-of-ennuHenri says post away

Well, I finally broke: I've checked out emotionally. This happened last year, too, and the game columns from the on were pleas for something else to do and grim, brief recaps of the latest indignity. It's progress of a sort that it took eleven games for the team to TKO any interest in what might happen the rest of this year, but it's not a fun sort of progress.

A serious thematic analysis of the Wisconsin game is pointless. Michigan's defense is exactly as horrifying as it's been all year. Everyone wants to fight each other in the liveblog. When the MGoPosse assembled to record this week's podcast, Paul said "at least we didn't muff a punt" and I responded "they didn't punt." (It turns out they did punt once in the first half, and Junior Hemingway misjudged a short one, almost fumbling it.)

Today I'll go on the radio and say the exact same things I've been saying all season to people who say the exact same things they've been saying all season. Here I could either repeat the assertion that firing Rodriguez after two years is idiotic or the description of what this season turned into in the third quarter of the Illinois game. Nothing has changed, and there's nothing to say when the team is turning in uncompetitive loss after uncompetitive loss.

There is an increased chance that sometime today I will read or hear something that cause my entire body to crumple and my head to thump audibly on the desk. So I guess that's different. Not different: for the second straight year the Ohio State week is only welcome because after it there won't be this unpleasant thing that happens every Saturday. The Notre Dame game seems like another decade.


  • Surprised that Mouton and Ezeh got the whole game after their backups played at least as well as they did against Purdue. I guess there were huge busts by both Fitzgerald and Leach, but… um… right.
  • Seriously: after Wisconsin completed their sixth or seventh big gain over the middle because Ezeh and Mouton were hugely out of position on zone drops, I was begging for the backups. No dice. The prospect of starting these guys next year is not fun.
  • I'm betting the adjustment Wisconsin made to their running game was to start doubling defensive linemen for real and leaving the linebackers to their own devices, or down-blocking them on their slants and getting outside where the linebackers are on their own. Michigan was shooting into the backfield a ton early.
  • Poor Brandon Graham: if Michigan would just cover anyone for two seconds he would have an incredible number of sacks this year. It wasn't Graham who had the most frustrating non-sack on Saturday, though. Stevie Brown came free up the middle on a third and five in the third quarter and Tolzien nailed a wide open tight end for a first down. That turned into the drive Wisconsin used to go up three scores, salting the game away.
  • Vincent Smith is now your tentative leader for the starting tailback job next year, though that title figures to be a ceremonial one in a sea of options. I know Shaw's had the occasional nagging injury but I think he's just beat him out, fair and square. My favorite play from Smith was the screen he took past three or four defenders in the first half. He was one desperate hand-wave by a Wisconsin safety away from a touchdown a long run that looks like it should be touchdown but disappointingly ends short of it. He's got skills. There was one out that was incomplete that anyone else on the team would have caught by virtue of being bigger than a marmot, though.
  • Brandon Smith seemed pretty mediocre on the edge. I know he didn't make any of the huge, obvious mistakes that Mike Williams did, but Wisconsin isn't the sort of team that puts you in the backfield unblocked to make a huge, obvious mistake. I bet a lot of the outside running Wisconsin did will be on Smith somehow.
  • I did think Wisconsin was the grabbiest line Michigan's played against all year. Wisconsin's first drive saw Graham held twice on long completions, and while they got a number of calls later they just love getting their hands outside the shoulder pads. Default disclaimer whenever officiating as mentioned: would not have changed outcome of the game, would merely have led to more second-and-twenty conversions. Maybe I should thank the refs for mitigating the damage I would have done to my forehead and the sidewalk if I watched another guy wide open over the middle.



November 16th, 2009 at 11:49 AM ^

I LOVE it when my twins see someone in line at the grocery store with an OSU jersey on and say " Is that the bad team daddy?" I love the excitement that builds up inside me leading up to kickoff. And as poorly as the linebackers are..I LOVE MICHIGAN FOOTBALL. Don't panic, we will get better.


November 16th, 2009 at 11:51 AM ^

I knew I had reached my breaking point when I found myself watching much more of the MSU-Purdue game in the second half. After the int on the deep ball to Stonum, I knew it was over. I'd still flip back every couple minutes hoping to see some sign of a comeback only to see Clay pounding away yet again.

I just don't understand the consistent dropoffs on either side of the ball after halftime. Are we just being worn down by bigger stronger Olines/Dlines? Are our schemes too simplistic and teams have us figured out by the second half (this seems to be the view over at GBMW according to the most recent post)?


November 16th, 2009 at 11:51 AM ^

I remember being emotionally checked in to Michigan football. Then we stopped being able to play defense, then we REALLY stopped being able to play defense, then this happened.


Basketball it is. At least that team is likable. Watching suck on the level this defense has provided is just soul-crushing until you're numb. I refuse to believe our linebacking corp could be any worse. What's frustrating is it's highlighted by how good our d-line can be at times. It's letting the team down.

It's their fault. When they sit there in the locker room, their teammates don't say it, but they're letting their teammates down because they're not playing well enough. That might be because they just aren't naturally good enough at football, or it could be a coaching thing, but they're letting their team down, and much less so us as fans down, the university is being let down, and it just sucks. God. The safeties too. It hurts because this could be a mediocre to average football team, showing progress year to year, and they just suck. Damn it.

Also we do stupid things like get roughing the kicker penalties. Sigh.


November 16th, 2009 at 11:55 AM ^

Most M fans were like "OMG, he has totally regressed, what the F is his problem, blah, blah, blah." Okay, you're talking about a starting CB on the 7-2 Bengals. The kid is GOOD. His coaches frickin SUCKED.

And yes, I know that M has nowhere near enough talent on defense this year. I know that Jesus Himself could not make this a good defense. Okay, that is my preface. BUT...

It's January 2009. You are Rich Rodriguez. You have the choice between Greg Robinson and Mike Trgovac. Robinson hasn't done squat since the 90's. Trgovac just voluntarily resigned from the Carolina Panthers. His defenses have averaged being the FIFTH BEST in the NFL over his tenure there in THIS decade. Listen, I really hope GERG works out. I really, really do. And again, I AM NOT SAYING Trgovac would've been able to do squat with the depleted group of kids this year, either.

But...huh? Isn't hiring Trgovac the obvious choice there?

(Don't neg-bang, dudes. I'm just trying to cope.)


November 16th, 2009 at 12:05 PM ^

I think he's only the D-Line Coach for the Packers right now. So he might not be making an insane amount of money. My question is that he resigned from the Panthers and then went back to being a D-Line coach in Greenbay. Maybe he left the Panthers because of office politics, or maybe he just likes being a D-Line coach and not a DC.

I'd love to hire him in as our new D-Line Coach and consider him a potential DC in waiting if Robinson doesn't do well. As for Robinson, I'm not sure if he is the problem or talent is the problem yet.

matty blue

November 16th, 2009 at 2:22 PM ^

two things:
1) you can make the case that trent's coaches turned him from a converted wideout into an nfl corner. is it really possible for someone like that to "regress?" i'm not so sure.
2) there's some internal inconsistency in your trgovac vs. robinson argument...if we take as a given that trgovac couldn't do anything with this group, are we so sure that robinson has done poorly? i'm not arguing with your point, necessarily, or disagreeing with your opinion on trgovac. just wondering if robinson's grade should be "incomplete" for the time being...


November 16th, 2009 at 11:54 AM ^

In a completely unrelated note, did anyone see Dorrestein's "The Punisher" tattoo? I couldn't stop laughing when I saw it because I just don't consider anybody on our O-line to be someone who delivers any form of punishment to anyone other than our RBs, Tate and Denard.


November 16th, 2009 at 12:00 PM ^

They made progress this year. Scoring 11 or 12 more PPG than last year. That is tangible, real improvement. Omahmeh looks promising. And they redshirted 3 highly touted freshmen O-linemen. And Molk will be back next year. I fully expect the offense to be even better next year.

But the defense. God help us. It is downright demoralizing.


November 16th, 2009 at 12:01 PM ^

I'm over the moral victories with so & so played better, the team improved in this facet, etc. Fact is we are a bad team and our record shows it. We have 5 wins but let's check the list of what teams they are - a mediocre ND team followed by tomato cans in Indiana, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Deleware State that I honestly believe Inkster would dismantle. We lose Graham who has been the ONLY player to show up on defense every single week and play his ass off for 4 quarters. Don't get me wrong, I still love Michigan, will go to the games, and hope for the best outcome but gone are the days when I go in with confidence thinking we can compete with anyone. Next year will be no different and everyone will be calling for RR's head and then where are we? A new coach with players that don't fit HIS system and yet again we start all over? No thanks. I don't have it in me for 5-6 years of this rather than 2-3 years. 2011 is the year I think we see the change but will people give RR the chance? I sure hope so.

Maize and Blue…

November 16th, 2009 at 12:14 PM ^

Desmond Howard brought up a great point Saturday...out of the 120+ players, 85 or so are sophomores or freshman eligibility wise. The team plays well for a half and then cannot handle the adjustments (read adversity) that the opponent gives them. This will come with time, as a young team matures, if the fanbase and administration will allow it to happen. If not, they are then in a rebuilding continuum...and then god help us all!


November 16th, 2009 at 12:43 PM ^

this is a great point, except by now they should be prepared for how the opponent will adapt into. Wisonsin was just stupid in the first half and then remembered what all of us knew already and that was to throw the ball before Graham can get to you and you will have great success.

And why can't we stop a running QB still? that's my biggest complaint and the first thin I though when he was hired was that we'd now be able to stop a spread/option qb because we play against it everyday. No we can't even stop a slow pocket QB from running on us


November 16th, 2009 at 12:28 PM ^

this whole needs his players thing is crap, this is the University of Michigan, not Troy, the players that are here are supposed to be talented players who played various schemes in high school and should be able to adapt to what RR wants to do within 18 months(especially with all the extra practice).

"Needing to give a coach a chance to get his own players in" is something losing coaches say, you don't hear Brian Kelly complaining about getting his own players, you hear it from Weiss and RichRod.

Last year it was "no quarterback" and this year it's a "freshman qd" next year he'll have Gardner win the job and it'll still be a freshman qb holding us back.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt last year, and had positive hopes this year, but sooner or later he has to take the credit for the team being bad and not just the talent level he was left with.

His player shuffles and decisions have been baffling and flat out don't make sense. We used 2 qbs early and he used them well, using Denard as a change of pace worked great against the MAC and Notre Dame and then he completely abandoned the strategy ever since.

I could go on all day with it, but i'll just say i'm not willing to start over yet, but it's put up or shut up time in year 3. I'm sick of being the laughing stock of all these MSU and OSU fans.


November 16th, 2009 at 2:01 PM ^

To be fair, Kelly benefited from a decent base left over by Dantonio in Cincy, especially on defense, as well as Tony Pike on offense.

And please stop glossing over things like "no/freshman QB" or "decimated defense with virtually no depth" as useless excuses. I could link to numerous posts that show teams, not just UM, that have suffered because of depth issues, but it would be an exercise in futility.

And as for the MSU/OSU fans, just let it go. Who cares if they make fun of your team for a couple of years. Ragging is part of the deal, and if you cannot handle it when people rib you, you probably shouldn't dish it out either.


November 16th, 2009 at 7:23 PM ^

Dude, look at Michigan's junior and senior classes... outside of graham and warren, most of these guys wouldn't even start at Troy. You can't compare Weiss to Richrod either... Weiss took over a program that recruited players that fit his offense. Richrod's offense is night and day from the Carr offense. The offensive line on Richrod's offense is the hardest line to adapt, and we didn't even start out with guys who would have been anything above 3 star recruits if we were running the old offense. Gee, I wonder, do you think maybe it has anything to do with us going 7-5 in 2005 under Carr?


November 16th, 2009 at 12:18 PM ^

Like everyone else here, six of the last seven Saturdays have really, really sucked. This year has been crushing. There's little left inside anymore - Purdue took that away. I'm not looking forward to the outcome next Saturday, but

I got to spend seven weekends in Ann Arbor with my son who recently graduated and is now in grad school at Michigan. Singing Hail to the Victors for the last five years with my son always makes my day.

I shared the Notre Dame win with my wife and 110,000+ other fans.

I tailgated every weekend, rain or shine, with a lot of great Umich students.

I finally heard a really loud Big House.

Next year will be here sooner than we think, and we have some great hoops and ice time in our future.

It WILL get better. GO BLUE!

Son Of Zoltan

November 16th, 2009 at 12:50 PM ^

I can take losing. I can take rebuilding, transitioning, whatever you call it. I think RR is the right choice and will succeed. What bothers me is how emotionally checked out I am- it's horrifying. I now can watch the game, get frustrated, but be better 10 minutes after it's over. Either I'm growing up, or my brain is doing that whole 'in shock' saving me from myself thing. Still though, I do love me some TForce scramblin'.

It has to get better, right? Right?

Maize Rage

November 16th, 2009 at 1:11 PM ^

NO… please don’t break Brian
You were great on WTKA yesterday and I cannot wait to hear you on tonight. College football is such an emotional game where anything can happen; I really think we have a shot on Saturday.


November 16th, 2009 at 1:28 PM ^

What was with calling the timeouts at the end of the game? That was as classless as Dantonio doing it at the end of last year's Penn State game when they were getting killed. I hope this kind of petty act isn't a sign of things to come.


November 16th, 2009 at 1:57 PM ^

Rodriguez was doing it with minutes left on the clock for the purpose of coaching his players through a realistic 2-minute drill, even if it doesn't determine the outcome. Dantonio was doing it with seconds left on the clock, just to be a jerk.

I guess that sounds like homerism, but whatever. I see a clear difference.