The Soaring Majesty! Comment Count

Brian September 28th, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Editor's note: sorry this is late. I thought I'd published this around 11 AM, but evidently I didn't hit the button.

9/26/2009 – Michigan 36, Indiana 33 – 4-0, 1-0 Big Ten

boubacar-cissoko-smoked-by-indiana martavious-odoms-game-winner-indiana 

Tate Forcier dropped back to throw and Martavious Odoms broke open and Forcier lofted it. I swear to you that on an overcast, steel-gray day a sliver of light slipped through the clouds to linger on the object's parabolic, causing its rain-slicked surface to glitter as it reached its apex. It started to come back down, and Odoms slowed fractionally, allowing the Indiana safety—

Aw, hell. Indiana? No offense to a program the evidently warranted more respect than Vegas or this here blog offered in the run-up to the game, but passages of soaring majesty get ruined when a Hoosier is mentioned. Since Wangler-to-Carter, when Indiana was 8-4, moments of glory against Indiana only come in one form: oh thank God we didn't lose to Indiana.*

So, yeah: thank God we didn't lose to Indiana.

Since we didn't, 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.

A couple may be as undermanned, though. Indiana's potentially-crushing, one-play, 85-yard riposte to Tate Forcier's first attempt at fourth quarter heroics exposed the secondary's talent deficiency in a way even starker than Michigan fans were treated to against Notre Dame. At least when Michael Floyd and Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen were running wild you could point to torched opponents past and recruiting rankings and drooling NFL scouts. Seeing an Indiana freshman zip past not only the walk-on safety gamely pretending he doesn't run a 4.8 but the scholarship, potentially-starting cornerback not named Donovan Warren was alarming. If JT Floyd is going to play corner in the Big Ten he's going to do it ten yards off the line of scrimmage.

This is how bad it is: I'm not even mad at Floyd when a player gets vastly open or he commits a silly, unnecessary pass interference penalty. I'm mad at Tyrone Willingham, metaphorically. It's inconceivable that Michigan would find itself in this situation. There is exactly one junior and no seniors at both safety and cornerback. The 2007 class provides three of the four starters and has lost Artis Chambers. 2006 saw the only two defensive back commitments (Brown and Mouton) move to linebacker. The 2005 class was Brandon Harrison (decent but did not redshirt), Johnny Sears, and Chris Richards.  The recruiting malpractice everyone saw on the offensive line last year returned with a vengeance. Hell, even the 2008 class is looking like a disappointment: Brandon Smith is a linebacker; Cissoko and Floyd have been the weak link on a defense that's played three walk-ons extensively. Very little of that is Rodriguez's doing.**

The parallels between this year's secondary and last year's offensive line, on and off the field, are striking, and it's not like linebackers not named Stevie Brown are helping out much. Michigan's recruiting was wildly deficient in more than one area and will be an anchor going forward, basically until such time as the roster is full and the creaky last few Carr classes are no longer weighing down the top of the roster.

We should forestall complaining about Robinson and Tony Gibson and even Jay Hopson, who I've complained about personally, if somewhat obliquely, because there are excellent reasons why their units are performing poorly that have nothing to do with whether or not they can coach. Gibson was the guy who turned Ryan Mundy from a guy with an uncomplimentary stat (Yards After Mundy) named after him into an NFL draft pick. West Virginia's pass efficiency defense in the final few years of Rodriguez's time there: 28th, 63rd, 30th, 20th. There's plenty of evidence that Rodriguez isn't dealing with morons here, and plenty that suggests late-era Carr recruiting was. I'm stashing the torches and pitchforks away, hoping that the rest of the season follows a trajectory similar to that of the offense last year: baby steps towards respectability in the midst of crippling talent deficiency, followed by a second year of growth.

As always, this should be okay. It takes time to dig out from all the reasons 3-9 occurs.

*(The Hoosiers have had a few respectable teams in the intervening years, but Michigan either blew them out, lost to them (once), or missed them. Closest thing to a close win against a respectable team was '91, when Indiana was 7-4-1 and M won 24-16.)

**(Smith and Floyd did commit to Michigan after Rodriguez was named head coach but those players were widely considered locks for months before the coaching transition took place. And please note the criticism here is not necessarily of Smith (or Mouton or Brown) but the recruiting practices that failed to take their likely moves to linebacker into account. Floyd, for his part, might be a functional safety if he wasn't needed at corner.)


  • You know, I was sort of coming around to the piped in music but no more. I should never have said anything negative about the band, I take it all back, I believe the piped-in music to be an abomination, and curse anyone who voted in favor of said abomination during this site's earlier poll. The end of the first half was close to my idea of hell, with the evil homunculus responsible for the ear-piercing noise pollution blasting something stupid in-between every play. During the video review, I found myself so enraged at the piped in music that I fruitlessly gave the bird to the idiot playing Bob Seger at painful volume. I went to a concert later that night and the volume level there was considerably less ear-damaging.

    It's just unpleasant to hear a probably-terrible song at volume levels 130% of what the speaker system can actually handle. Turn it down. Turn it off. Stop alienating the people who really care about Michigan's traditions and stop catering to the folk who can't distinguish Michigan Stadium from an ECHL arena. It does not help anything.

    In fact, it actively stops cheers. The students were chanting "Go Blue" at each other during one point and the evil homunculus played over it. The evil homunculus plays AC/DC over what used to be a bass drum pounding out a beat to which the stadium chanted "Let's Go Blue." It has gone from somewhat tolerable to Michigan State in four weeks, and must be destroyed. I'm disappointed but not entirely surprised that the marketing wing of the Michigan athletic department would be so deaf to tradition. Mostly, I'm appalled. Piped-in music is a disaster and should be stopped immediately. (Note: MVictors mentioned it too, though Greg's not as ready to draw and quarter people. That is because he is soft. I am the Dwead Piwate Woberts, I have come for your souls.)

  • Didn't expect the official site to out a guy on the 85-yard Indiana touchdown but here you go:
    On Indiana's 85-yard touchdown run to take the lead in the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen came off the field distraught after a blown assignment. He was taken aside by defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and then sat on the team bench with his head sagging. "You flush it and you come back and play," Robinson yelled down the line. "You don't need to be a hero."

    As I recall it I watched a 215 pound Indiana tailback outrun not only a walk-on safety (depressing that guy has to play but understandable) but a scholarship cornerback; if Van Bergen had problems he wasn't the only one. Also, Van Bergen was the backside defensive tackle… it's hard to imagine what his assignment was that could have prevented Indiana from running outside the other OT.

  • Interception or not, why the hell did Indiana throw at Donovan Warren? Why the hell would anyone throw at Donovan Warren the rest of the year? Opponents have now lost two close games because they threw at Donovan Warren. Sooner or later they will stop doing this, I think.
  • Related:
    After the game, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson confirmed that Cissoko’s absence was a coach’s decision. “Yeah, it was,” Robinson said. “I thought, J.T., at first, was a little nervous but as the game wore on he grew more and more comfortable and did a good job, really held his own.”

    I thought that Cissoko had gotten pulled because he had picked up an injury. He did come out for a play or two earlier, and when an Indiana receiver ran straight past him without so much as a head fake I figured it was a hamstring pull or something. Apparently not. Er. That's not good. I'd rather there was some explanation for Cissoko getting smoked other than… well… you know. Not being good at football.

  • Attn: Tate. Plz stop doing this plz:
    (caption) Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier throws a pass into the turf as he is sacked by Indiana defensive end Greg Middleton in the first half. Forcier was sacked on two consecutive plays by Middleton. ***  The Michigan Wolverines came from behind twice to beat the Indiana Hoosiers 36-33 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Photos taken on Saturday, September 26, 2009.  ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )
    It reminds me of Ryan Mallett and makes me want to die a little. Please continue all of your other activities except running around in the pocket too much.


Maize 'n' Brew has some Zapruder-quality "I took pictures of my TV" stills of the aforementioned Warren interception. They make a decent case the call was correct, if spectacularly close and improbable. I'm waiting for the HD video before I make any proclamation either way.

MVictors notes that Justin Turner isn't even in the section of the bench that contains backup sorts; he's a long way from playing.

Doctor Saturday notes that Michigan and Notre Dame aren't exactly establishing themselves dominant powers in the wake of their entertaining week two matchup:

the question after Indiana's 467-yard, 33-point barrage Saturday is "Who isn't going to put up huge yards on the Wolverines?" The Hoosiers -- dead last in the Big Ten in every significant offensive aspect last year -- went on long marches and hit big plays alike (an 85-yard touchdown run and a 56-yard completion to set up another score) and might have been on their way to more points if the officials had seen Donovan Warren's clinching interception differently on IU's final drive. The Wolverines are 89th nationally in total defense and 92nd against the pass, slightly worse than last year's numbers for the year and significantly worse than their 2-2 start in September. There is no comparison between the offenses, but the progress of the Michigan D (or lack thereof) puts a real crimp in the prospective rise in the Big Ten. The fact is, resetting expectations after the first month, neither of these teams has put much separation between preseason expectations and their prospects for the season.

It's hard to dispute; even if Michigan's offense is ahead of preseason projections I don't think anyone had them giving up almost 500 yards to Indiana on defense. Michigan may be slightly ahead of what seemed like a universal 7-5 preseason consensus, but it's mostly because they've turned one coin-flip game in their favor and the Big Ten has looked slightly more moribund than even their recent standards.

Mike DiSimone has his weekly comprehensive picture roundup.



September 28th, 2009 at 12:56 PM ^

I didn't make it to the Indiana game but I was at the previous three. I noticed with each sequential game that the music was getting louder, more often and more bothersome.

I liked the music against WMU. It pumped up the crowd and people seemed to enjoy it. But I think they're starting to go overboard. Keep it simple--two or three songs throughout the game at a reasonable volume. No one wants to hear speakers cracking.


September 28th, 2009 at 12:56 PM ^

I think the final straw was the play after the touchdown when he was in the middle of the field for some reason or another and they had no contain to the sideline.

If it was just physical it would be one thing. How about the option plays, isnt there supposed to be a corner out there in some kind of run support, even if its down the field if they break it?


September 28th, 2009 at 1:27 PM ^

He is getting picked on and is stressed out in the game ( leading to even more bad decisions).

Give him time, once he breaks out of the funk, he will be serviceable.It is not like the B10 is chock full of Calvin Johnson's. If he fixes his mental issues , he will be decent.

I wouldn't be too hard on JT Floyd either. It is amazing how much faster you can run when you are not so nervous that you constantly feel like puking. He will be a good but probably not great corner by his Junior year.


September 29th, 2009 at 10:54 AM ^

On both of the scoring Triple-Option plays for Indiana, Cissoko was lined up INSIDE of the Will linebacker.

On the first one (the long one), Cissoko was still calling out assignments when the play started. He immediately backed up a bit, but I think he lost sight of his man.

On the other Triple-Option score, Boubacar was again lined up inside and shading the running back, and it was he who was filling the hole of the fullback option.

There was some kind of schematic deficiency that IU exploited, which put Cissoko horribly out of position.

On the other hand, getting beat for the long pass in a footrace was embarrassing. If there isn't something physical messing with him, then perhaps we have overestimated his speed. He was awesome in Camp footage as a high schooler in keeping up with the top-rated receivers. But that extra gear has yet to show up in play.


September 28th, 2009 at 12:59 PM ^

It's interesting that Turner and Vlad not only aren't seeing any time in the secondary, but also that they haven't seen anytime on special teams either.

RS juniors and seniors are a key component of most elite level teams. Carr's maddening decisions to burn redshirts carelessly might be being taken to the opposite extreme by RR.

IMO that's the side to error on. Like RR said, he'll have to decide if those guys can contribute enough to make burn the RS, because he's got seniors he needs to be accountable to. On the other hand, if playing those guys can't result in any more wins, then they sure as hell better be redshirted.

Cissoko was apparently seen moping around the bench area after his benching. Well, I can't really blame him. Some are taking this to suggest an attitude problem. I'm taking it to suggest that he sucks, he knows it and so do the coaches. No reason to think he has serious mental problems at this point.

This team needs to get Mike Williams healthy ASAP. Kovacs is terrible slow, and although he may be a good tackler and have good instincts you can only hide 4.8 speed from a secondary guy for so long before it burns you. And we saw that.

As for JT, he did ok, certainly no worse than Cissoko. He too should not be playing but it is what it is.

My roomate and I both agreed that this defense is comprised of two or three NFL players and 8 or 9 guys that might not be starting any other good to average D1 defense. Guys like Kovacs, Floyd, Cissoko, Roh, Ezeh, Mouton, and Van Bergen just are either too young or too bad to count on for much.

I still think 9 wins is possible. It seems wierd, but this week's game with state might be the difference between struggling to get to 7 wins and winning 9 easily.


September 28th, 2009 at 12:59 PM ^

This team will win and lose with the offense, period. If the offense struggles, the team will struggle. Therefore, get as many points as possible and do what you can to be the "last man with the ball" in every game. Please do not ask this defense to make a stop to win a game.

I'm at ease with this situation. RichRod is familiar and comfortable with leaning on the offense to win games, and this is yet another reason why I'm glad he's at the helm. Does anyone honestly believe that Lloyd could pull off wins by repeatedly driving for the winning score in the last 3 minutes of the game?


September 28th, 2009 at 2:12 PM ^

First, my point about Lloyd is that as far as I can remember, he never made decisions in close games that essentially put the victory in the offense's hands. In close games he always preferred to put it on the defense. For example, on 4th and 3 or less on the opponent's side of the field, Lloyd would either punt or kick a field goal. That was just who Lloyd was, and for the most part this was good and only became a problem if he didn't have a good enough defense to make a stop.

Second, I don't think Lloyd has ever matched what RichRod has done on offense. After 4 games, this offense has yet to be held under 31 points. I can't think of a time when Lloyd did that (maybe 2000?). It's one thing to come from behind and score, say, 17 points to win, but it's an entirely different proposition to come from behind and score, say, 38. I don't believe it was in Lloyd's skillset to come from behind in a shootout.

Third, you shouldn't include last year. That was a different team and thus required different strategies. This year it is all about getting wins by scoring in the 30s AND being the last to score. That's happened twice three times now in four games. I don't know if Lloyd has ever done that, nor do I think Lloyd would have ever wanted to do that.

I do not mean to trash Lloyd, I'm simply pointing out the contrasts between the two coaches. In this situation (i.e. with a functional offense and an extremely uncertain and somewhat untalented defense), RichRod is IME a much more qualified and experienced coach and will be able to maximize the win total. To be fair, last year was probably the reverse.

(Obviously, I'm simply floating my gut feelings and suspicions, so it's entirely possible that the numbers and stats will make me look like an idiot. But I'm too lazy to look that stuff up, so you instead must suffer through my ignorance.)


September 28th, 2009 at 3:01 PM ^

"he never made decisions in close games that essentially put the victory in the offense's hands."
Don't you remember his final game?

Lloyd used late game offensive heroics plenty. You wanted to see one such stretch. How about the final season of LLoyd's career. His last game is the best example. An offensive shootout against Florida. That same year we beat MSU with two late game touchdowns and also that same year we beat NW 28-16 on two late touchdowns. For a 16 game stretch you could count the OSU game of 2006 that we lost where Lloyd opened up the offense and didn't just let our defense try to win the game. That is four of his last 15 games where he didn't just expect defense to win.

Second, our offense under Rodriguez this year is averaging 37.5 ppg. Lloyd' team averaged 35.5 ppg the first four of 2006 season and two of those games were in the forties.

Lloyd was a defensive coach first. Rodriguez is an offensive coach first, but they both are just trying to score more points than the opponent and will do whatever they can to achieve that goal. What we should be hoping for is balance, with both great D and O. I think Rodriguez's offense will be wildly successful and that he is a better offensive coach than Lloyd, without a doubt. I just get testy when I see anyone say that Lloyd wouldn't or couldn't do something to help us win.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:51 PM ^

Don't you remember his final game?

You mean the game where it was 4th and 1 at the Florida twentysomething with Michigan up by 3 and the offense having already scored 30+ points, and the defense having given up 30+ points, and Lloyd kicks the field goal to, uh, remain up by one score? Yeah, I remember that game- it was yet another example of Lloyd putting it on the defense to win the game. I don't see how this disproves my assertion that Lloyd always wanted to put close games in the hands of the defense, and always liked to punt or kick the field goal on the opponent's side of the field.

One other note about that Florida game was how universal the reaction among fans and bloggers was "where has this been all along?" To pretend that the Florida shootout was typical of Lloydball is laughable. Please stop.

Second, our offense under Rodriguez this year is averaging 37.5 ppg. Lloyd' team averaged 35.5 ppg the first four of 2006 season and two of those games were in the forties.

So with many years of recruiting and building under his belt and oodles of talent at his disposal, Lloyd was not able to match RichRod in his second year in which he is still piecing his offense together. Oh, and to top it off Lloyd wasn't ever able to open the first four games of the season where the minimum scored was 31 points. And that was the best you could come up with. I'm sorry, this disproves what I said how?

You seem to think that I'm trashing Lloyd, but I'm not. I'm simply pointing out that he had weaknesses (just like RichRod has weaknesses) in his game strategies. Every coach has a comfort zone, a philosophy on how to win games. Lloyd's comfort zone was good defense and great running, and he played as if he had that all the time (even when he didn't, like in 2000 or 2005).

If the personnel on the team demands the coach go outside his comfort zone, however, then chances are he will not be as good as a coach that is used to that. RichRod is far more used to having to win shootouts, and thus will be more capable of coaching a team that is functional on offense and undermanned on defense. In contrast, I imagine with last year's moderately competent defense and hopeless offense Lloyd would have scratched out 3-4 more wins than RichRod and have gotten to a bowl. In other words, last year put RichRod out of his comfort zone and Lloyd would have been better.

I don't understand why this is such a big deal to you. M's defense is not very good this year, and the offense seems to be pretty effective. That is not a blueprint for Lloyd's favored way of winning, but it's certainly well within RichRod's comfort zone. Nobody's saying Lloyd is shit, just that he's not cut out for this situation as well as RichRod is.


September 28th, 2009 at 4:46 PM ^

First, let me say that I think I get what you are saying. Rodriguez is a great offensive coach and he is better suited to get wins out of this team (ie good offense, weak defense) than if we had a great D but no offense. Totally agree. Also, Rodriguez is more likely to go for it on fourth down and bet on his offense than Lloyd, who is more likely to punt and trust his defense. That is probably true but partly because Lloyd enjoyed teams with good defenses.

In answer to your original question "Does anyone honestly believe that Lloyd could pull off wins by repeatedly driving for the winning score in the last 3 minutes of the game?"
I say yes and look to 2006 as a clear example and feel like there are other times in his past that also show this. I also remember times when Lloyd went for it on fourth down when we really needed it, but I am not going to go searching any more data bases.


September 28th, 2009 at 5:52 PM ^

In answer to your original question "Does anyone honestly believe that Lloyd could pull off wins by repeatedly driving for the winning score in the last 3 minutes of the game?"
I say yes and look to 2006 as a clear example and feel like there are other times in his past that also show this.

I'm looking at the 2006 season, and I don't see multiple wins due to the offense driving for the winning score in the last 3 minutes of the game. In fact, I don't see a single instance of that in the 2006 season- what games are you looking at? Keep in mind, Ohio State was a loss, so there was no "winning score" there. Also, there was no "drive for the winning score in the last 3 minutes" against CMU, ND, MSU, Ball State, or Indiana (the only times the offense scored 31 or more points). In fact, I think the only time the offense found itself down for any extended period of time was against OSU and USC, both losses.

As far as I can see, there is not a single instance of the 2006 offense driving for the winning score in the last 3 minutes of the game, let alone multiple instances, and that offense did not average in the 30s. It also had NFL talent all over the place, too.

Look, you can't have it both ways- you can't concede that Lloyd was not really an enthusiast of offensive wizardry, but then at the same time imply that his offenses were just as good as RichRod's. It doesn't work like that. Lloyd focused on winning through the defense, and when that didn't work he didn't have anything to fall back on. This year's team would have been a nightmare for him to try and win with.


September 28th, 2009 at 9:10 PM ^

In my previous example, I pointed out three games in 2007 that we won with late offensive heroics Florida(4:12 left took the lead, 2:39 added field goal), the MSU game (2:28 left) and the Northwestern game (we scored three touchdowns in the final 20 minutes after scoring only one until that point).

No where in my argument did I say that Lloyd's offenses are as good as Rodriguez's. I just don't feel as comfortable as you do trying to simply outscore our opponents. I also think that Lloyd had some good offenses, especially when he let them loose, which wasn't often. But it happened enough that I remember 1 second left verses Penn State, 21 points against Minnesota, and Braylonfest.

I was also trying to point out that our point totals this year aren't much higher Lloyd's teams early in the year against patsies.

I agree the offense has taken a huge leap forward and will only get better. I just hope Rodriguez can put together a defense that allows him to win a national championship like Lloyd did.


September 29th, 2009 at 5:16 PM ^

I think it's interesting that you want to pull out recent squads by Lloyd when looking at his offense. That makes you sound young.

2000 and 2003 were awesome offenses loaded with talent that piled on the yards and points. Those would be the best examples IME. 2003 had the ridonkulous comeback at Minnesota, and the 2000 offense just seemed to score at will. 1999 wasn't bad, as it had a 10 point 4th quarter comeback at Penn State. 2007 had the MSU comeback and the bowl comeback against Florida, that's true.

No doubt, Lloyd could put together a great offense. I just don't think his last few years were good examples of that. The Hart-Henne-Manningham years were not his best offensive years, and that's easy to forget. Interestingly, one thing I didn't see looking back over the Lloyd years was: A) repeated instances of coming back to win (gets back to my "comfort" point), and B) many instances of coming back to win in the final minutes when the opponent has scored more than 30- 2003 Minnesota and the 2007 Cap One Bowl seem to be the only examples. There seemed to be a limit to how much offensive fireworks Lloyd wanted in a game, and if the game went beyond that, it seems he had trouble adjusting to it.

Yes, it is true that "offense wins games and defense wins championships," meaning that M isn't winning any championships this year. Yeah, co-signed on that. But...we knew that before the season began, didn't we? Have patience. The entire team and program is under construction, and not all the pieces are in place yet. We don't really know much about the defensive coaches yet, because the "talent" they have just isn't there. That's tough for us fans to acknowledge, but it is the reality nonetheless.

Have patience and in the meantime ENJOY THE EXPLOSIONS AND BOMBS AND TOUCHDOWNS AND TURNOVERS AND FRESHMAN AND OH MY. M's not going undefeated, but this team will be FUN to watch, I guarantee it.


September 28th, 2009 at 1:03 PM ^

Thank you for seeing the light on the RAWK music. It really sucks. Even during the ND game, it got in the way of the crowd, generally having people hold back on their cheering to hear what was being piped in. And the stupid attempt to play the damn music right to the point of the other offense getting under center is bush league.

Fix the Band. Move them to the portion of the student section in the endzone and be done with this terrible experiment. On a positive note, it was nice having the alumni band at the game to remember what it is like to have a Michigan Marching Band in attendance.

I would suggest that the next time the AD needs to schedule a patsy from D-1AA**, to schedule a traditionally black university and give them some extra funds to ensure that their band attends the game. This is an aspect of college football I have never seen in person but have been highly impressed with on TV, and it might remind people what a college marching band is capable of.

** The idea of scheduling D-1AA teams is appalling, but if it has to happen, let's get something more out of it.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:30 PM ^

Delaware St. is, in fact, an HBCU. They play in the MEAC. Don't know if they're bringing their marching band, or if they are even known for it as much as the southern HBCUs, but I guess it's possible you could get to see a "drumline" type performance.


September 28th, 2009 at 1:06 PM ^

There are times and places for it. When the crowd is completely out of it (see the 85 yard td run) piped-in music=GOOD. It does help but I agree with pretty much everything else. They definitely played it too much during the reviews and it definitely got very annoying.


September 28th, 2009 at 1:07 PM ^

Word from VanBergen himself (through rivals) was that he made a defensive check and changed the play for the defense and that this somehow put U of M in a bad position that lead to the touchdown, although I agree that watching Floyd miss the RB was disturbing. I said before the year that he wasn't a UM caliber db and got reamed for it. Maybe a move to safety would work, at least for next year, especially since we don't seem to have any safeties lined up in recruiting (assuming Marvin Robinson moves to linebacker).


September 28th, 2009 at 1:40 PM ^

Just watching it on TV followed by the replay, it looked like they motioned the H-back and our defense did not react at all. They then ran behind him and we looked totally outnumbered at the point of attack (basically two blocks sprung the back into the secondary). That explains the first 30-40 yards of the play while Floyd and Kovacs not being very good explains the rest (not really blaming them, though, since they really shouldn't be put in this position to begin with and are merely the victims of our lack of depth).

Rocking Chair

September 28th, 2009 at 1:27 PM ^

Perhaps it was because VanBergen waited until the last second to make the wrong call but the defense was still hopping all around when the ball was snapped. Given the dearth of experience and talent on defense, they can't afford to lose focus.

Just before IU came up to the line several defensive players were still waving their arms to ask the crowd for more noise. While I think that's a great interaction at the right time and place, like on a kickoff when everyone knows their assignment, this was neither. It was time to get serious, pay attention and bear down. The students know what to do when the opponent has the ball on the 15 yard line at the north end.

Leave the cheerleading to the cheerleaders and concentrate on stopping the offense. You ain't good enough--yet--to do both.


September 28th, 2009 at 2:31 PM ^

I agree with this completely. A few games ago (ND, I think) Donovan Warren was lined up right in front of me waving to the student section, and only turned to look at the offense a few seconds before the snap. The play came his way and his coverage was bad for a larger gain than was necessary. Not necessarily cause-and-effect, there, but the lack of focus certainly doesn't help.

In this weekend's game, Cissoko was motioning his arms in the referee's incomplete signal after a pass breakup in the first half, but it wasn't his coverage that stopped the play, it was a bad throw/bad catch. I think M needs to be told to calm down on some of this arrogance and focus more on the upcoming play until the team can be more consistent.


September 28th, 2009 at 1:11 PM ^

When Seger came on I turned toward the pressbox and booed with my thumbs down. The music was okay in a few specific instances against ND, but other than that it has been horrible.


September 28th, 2009 at 1:12 PM ^

I have a hard time blaming Carr's coaching staff for failing to anticipate Stevie Brown's move to LB 5 years after they recruited him, and Brandon Smith playing one entire season at S, failing, and being moved to LB. Clearly, Carr's people weren't the only people who thought Smith could play S, or else RR's staff wouldn't have tried him there.


September 28th, 2009 at 1:19 PM ^

The problem is not recruiting top flight safeties (EVER and have them staying there). Our defensive recruiting was quite pathetic. Name me one position on the defensive side where we recruited well (I'll stop myself and say DT and that's it).

The problem is that our #1 cornerback was Morgan Trent a mediocre at best WR turned CB who was just fast.

We used to recruit, Charles Woodson, Leon Hall, Ty Law.

Yes Warren was good but that was an anomaly among the piss poor recruiting that was our DB (for several years we had to deal with left-overs, seconds and plan-b recruits. This does not make a defensive backfield of Michigan's caliber)


September 28th, 2009 at 1:50 PM ^

1. Cissoko was not a 5* corner (and he's incredibly short)
2. Those amazing guys are YOUNG where are the juniors? Where are the seniors?
3. What safeties? Stevie Brown? Vlad (he's a freshman).

In sum the problem isn't with the current freshmen/soph's it's the lack of upper-classmen


2005 class (RS Seniors): Harrison (4*) gone, Sears (3*) transferred not good
2006 class (Seniors): Stevie Brown (4*) eventually moved to LB as was a liability at S, Mouton (4*) immediately moved to LB because of lack of talent there by Carr
2007 class (Junior): Warren (5*) good lockdown corner, Woolfork (3*) current starter, Williams (4*) starter,
2008 class (soph): Cissoko (4*) tiny, Smith (4*) moved to LB
2009 class (true freshmen) should not be counted on to add depth/start


September 28th, 2009 at 1:51 PM ^

We can all see that Cissoko is not a 5* talent at this point. Obviously, his speed helped him a great deal in high school. The speed gap is a little smaller at this level and he is now going to be forced to play a more technically sound game at the CB position.

Floyd had his issues as well, but I see more upside to his career than that of Cissoko's.


September 28th, 2009 at 2:03 PM ^

He was a 4* (#4 CB) on Rivals and a 5* (#3 CB) on scout (who gives out 5* like it's candy) and to ESPN was the #24 CB???

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September 28th, 2009 at 2:59 PM ^

The recruiting problem is that speed seems to be Carr's main metric for recruiting talent in the secondary. Morgan Trent for example was a four star, and billed as the second fastest guy on the team (after SuperMario) yet we all know how Trent turned out.

Carr for whatever reason couldn't figure out what truly made a lockdown corner and just seemed to recruit fast players when all else failed.

As for judging players off of Rivals *s or what not, are you serious? Those rankings at best show raw athletic ability, they do little to show things like the ability to read film, learn systems or the like. They're a fun little metric, but the real metric is on the field and the performance there speaks for itself.

In many areas Carr did have great recruiting (we're awash with talented RBs) but he was horrid in other areas.


September 28th, 2009 at 2:03 PM ^

We were in Taylor May's top 3.
We were Justin King's 2nd choice.

The players we did land at Safety moved, Brown and Mouton, moved to LB. I'd say that overall CB/LB/S recruiting dropped savagely at the end of Lloyd's tenure, at least enough to not be able to survive average attrition. Kind of like OL dropped big after the Schilling/Boren/Zirbel class, but Molk and Huyge are now stepping up, so who knows.

Michigan has historically had one good corner, one young not so good corner, and then meh safeties. Any other scenario is bullshit.

Ty Law and young Woodson.
Woodson and ??
Marlin Jackson and young Leon Hall
Hall and Curry/Trent/LeSeur
Trent and Warren
Warren and Cissoko

Honestly, Warren / Cissoko / Turner / Cullen(pending) would be the best 4 years of CB recruiting in a while, and Carr was responsible for 2 of those. If Cissoko was performing a bit better, we're not having this conversation about cornerbacks.

As for safeties, well, I have no freaking idea. I blame English's plan of "have Ed Reed at safety" here.


September 28th, 2009 at 2:15 PM ^

We finished 2nd for many top level players throughout Lloyd's last few years:

As you mentioned:
Justin King
Taylor Mays

Dionte Allen
Rojo (yes I know he's playing WR and yes I'm much happier that we got D-War imagine where we'd be with Rojo and not D-war)
Darrin Walls

The list of whiffs goes on and on and on

You can not miss out on this many high level guys and take that many plan-b types of guys and expect to be competent in that position.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:12 PM ^

Charles Woodson and Andre Weathers with James Whitley as the nickel, I believe.

ShockFX, this goes against the trend you noticed since all members of this secondary played in the NFL, not to mention setting a record for pass defense in the NCAA. Weathers was drafted by the NYG, Whitley replaced Dre Bly as the starter when he left STL for the Lions, Marcus Ray made the Raiders roster for a few years (when they were decent to good) and Tommy Hendricks finally became something other than a practice squad player when he moved to LB for the Dolphins.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:20 PM ^

Good point. Basically, a NFL quality CB and a to be NFL quality understudy works really well against offenses that line up 2 WRs. Against 3/4 WR looks, this doesn't work, and it definitely breaks down when the 2nd CB doesn't live up to the hype (Cissoko).

CB is a pretty demanding position for underclassman to play, correct? Hopefully with the influx of DBs RR has recruited this won't be a big issue in a couple years.