The Usual

Submitted by Brian on November 29th, 2010 at 12:07 PM

11/27/2010 – Michigan 7, Ohio State 37 – 7-5, 3-5 Big Ten


Detroit News

The Ohio State game has the power to make whatever happens in it seem like Michigan's season in microcosm, and so the overriding theme of the 2010 season is looking up at the scoreboard at halftime to see Michigan on pace for about 500 yards and about twenty points. Michigan had 238 yards and seven points this time around and instead of a competitive game we got the usual.

The last couple weeks the "loss will cause me to" bit has been "repeat I expected 7-5." That kind of mantra to keep your boiling rage under control has been necessary and less than effective as Michigan has fallen behind massively against good opponents and shown little ability to get up, causing the chattering class to rush to their keyboards so they can point out the lack of progress after Saturday. In the Game-as-microcosm sense, it's true. Last year Michigan was an opponent that got Tresselballed to death. This year they weren't good enough to pose the vague threat. They made Tresselball into things like 98 yard touchdown runs (save an iffy holding call after ninety of those yards) and 85 yard kickoff return TDs.

In the larger scheme it's not. In the nonconference Michigan traded Eastern Michigan for UConn, who may have lost to Temple but is also a game away from the Big East title, and traded home for road against Notre Dame. The conference record of the two teams not on their Big Ten schedule (excluding the game between the two) is 4-10. Last year it was 7-7. They got two more wins. Last year their average yardage differential excluding the Baby Seal U game was –57 yards. Even if you hack out this year's most lopsided game against Bowling Green—something that's not fair to the 2010 team because of the schedule upgrade—this year they're +18. That's a huge swing.

And yet. Today even the most insanely patient Michigan fan feels zo unzatisfied.

This is the point where some sort of post from the summer that took a cold-eyed look at what Michigan had and what it would have in 2011 and set a baseline—what's that? It's Some Sort of Post From The Summer's music!

I know it's my role as the crazy fan blogger to demand the head of the coach when he fails to live up to my crazy expectations, but if we're seriously talking about an 8-4 regular season "not being enough" for Rodriguez to get a year four Michigan should have just fired him already. If this ends up being an 8-4 team the Mathlete's luck chart will have Michigan considerably on the happy side of the ledger. …

"This is still Michigan" is demonstrably false. Even in year three this remains a desperately young team with major holes in the secondary and no upperclass quarterbacks. Rodriguez's responsibility for the state of the state of the roster is limited to the absence of Terrelle Pryor, or any marginally acceptable option at quarterback from his first two months on the job, and a couple of would-be-sophomores Rodriguez did not add to the end of his first full recruiting class. You can wave your hands and say "Michigan! Rabble rabble rabble!" all you want but if you dressed these guys up like Generic State University people would expect them to go .500. …

My personal measuring stick for Rodriguez: yardage parity and a winning record. I would be displeased with 7-6 but willing to grit my teeth and give Rodriguez a shot in 2011, when he will return both specialists, every starter on offense save Steve Schilling and all but three starters on defense. That will seem exceptionally kind to many, I know, but literally no coach in the country could take the leftovers after Mallett's transfer and do anything other than flail as Rodriguez has.

2008 was a complete waste. To me, this is year two for Rodriguez, and 2011 is when I expect rubber to meet road.

That was before Troy Woolfolk blew up and Vlad Emilien and Justin Turner lit out. (While not having Emilien around is grating apparently Michigan just came up craps with Turner, who is heavily rumored to be out at West Virginia and headed DII; since this was a guy with an OSU offer it was not apparent this would happen.)

There are arguments that 7-5 is not good enough because this was the most unsatisfying 7-5 possible, and, yes, it was. Michigan's record in close games is 3-0, 4-0 if you want to count the Purdue game (UMass does not register since it featured an unrecovered onside kick). They fell behind massively in every loss and never had a chance to drive for even a tie in the second half of any. I've said before that if Rodriguez is broomed and Harbaugh installed here my reaction will be "meh" quickly followed by "what about Denard?" Because this is Michigan football Rodriguez will take Clemson to the BCS four times, but even that certainty doesn't dull the shine on Harbaugh.

But it's pretty hard for me to go back to what I thought before the season, see what it is, see what we got, and think Rodriguez didn't put himself in position for Put Up Or Shut Up 2011. Barely.

Non-Bullets of Something Or Other

Well, that was horrible. Awful refereeing plagued that game. There were the two inexplicable OSU personal fouls after TDs—the first I thought was for the dive but that was a legit dive with two guys coming at him—the iffy penalty on the 98-yarder, a terrible holding call on Steve Schilling, and a non-review of what seemed clearly like a non-interception followed immediately by a review of an OSU non-fumble that screwed Michigan both incompetent and competent.

Also, Michigan got called for "encroachment" before the snap, on offense. Can that even happen? WTF?

Well, that was horrible. Darryl Stonum emo 2010:


Well, that was horrible. Mmmm Seth Brokhuizen rugby punt. Kicker Nick Sheridan? Kicker Nick Sheridan. Not his fault he's seeing the field. Save us Justin Meram. Anyone.

Well, that was horrible. Michigan got what seemed like its first procedure penalties of the year from someone other than Taylor Lewan when Je'Ron Stokes and Jeremy Jackson picked up five-yard penalties. Jackson's wiped out a 30-yard gain and led to Michigan's only three and out of the first half.

Well, that was horrible. At least we won the "don't look retarded" game. 2-0, baby!

Well, that was horrible. Further adventures in hating Michigan fans:


Anyone from the student body is invited to say something to Koger's face, by the way. He apologized, but probably shouldn't have.

Well, that was horrible. God… Roy Roundtree… not all of those were easy, but… arrrrrrgh.

BONUS psychoanalysis note: since everyone does it I might as well offer a protip so the evaluations are less annoying. If you're going to respond to something I say by discovering the way in which my brain is broken, you should say "excessively skeptical of using emotion in decisions and too fond of numbers."

Wind-down, offseason, bowl, etc. note: I am burned out. I'm not making any promises about UFRing this game. I might, I might not. This week is going to be relatively light and then we'll start talking about bowl stuff and whatnot, with an eye towards what will or will not happen with Rodriguez. I'll have something up this afternoon about what I've got, which isn't definitive at all but exists.



November 29th, 2010 at 1:38 PM ^



Tresselball is not an insult, it's a description of Tressel's proclivity for defensively dominant, grind it out on the ground games.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

Tressel is successful, but I'm not sure that he's a good coach in terms of playcalling, Xs and Os, etc.  I think most of us remember this evisceration of Tressel's offensive design by Chris Brown of Smart Football.  When I watch Ohio State (and I'm not claiming any competency in football whatsoever) I often wonder what Tressel is trying to accomplish with a specific play.  Tressel wins by recruiting Ohio hard and playing conservatively.  That works against most teams in college football, but will get you killed against most aggressive, equally-matched elite teams.  Tressel is 5-4 in bowl games.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:09 PM ^

Tressel is conservative.  However, in 9 bowl appearances, he has already matched Bo's bowl game wins.

Also: From "Deconstructing: the grisly demise of Tressel-ball"

I'm convinced the situation in Columbus is nearly hopeless. 

Another conference title, domination over Michigan and another year with double digit wins says otherwise.  Hopeless, my ass.

Tressel is an outstanding football coach and his teams have increased their stranglehold on The Game during his tenure.  I don't see it slowing down anytime soon.

Zone Left

November 29th, 2010 at 2:49 PM ^

I don't think the intent was to pick on Tressel.  Basically, Tresselball is a euphamism for having a far superior OSU team squat on the ball and try to minimize high-variance plays to ensure a win. 

Tresselball means really good defense, special teams, and safe offense.  None of those are bad things--unless you're playing them.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

i'm a RR supporter and i'm almost willing to have harbaugh come in just to make the horribly overvocal minority stfu. seriously. some users on here seem to think it's their job to go in every thread and attack any post that seems satisfied with the season.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

I know what you mean, and I kind of feel the same way.  It's one of those "perception is reality" things where if Harbaugh comes in and we are seen in a positive light by alumni, fans and the media, then things will just get better.  I feel like if JH came in, recruiting would get a boost just from the positive glow we would get from everyone. 

Would Harbaugh win more?  That's the thing, I really don't know.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:59 PM ^

And I absolutely agree with you.  If we win 9 or 10 games, the perception will change.  But it will be close to 12 whole months until the end of next season, so if we win 10 games, we won't know about it for a while.  That means the remainder of this recruiting cycle and bulk of the next one as well.  So even if we win our first 5 games next fall, or 6 of our first 7, people will still claim that it will be the same as the last two years. 

So by quickly, I assume you mean in only one year, but a full year can be a long time.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:34 PM ^

I agree with you that perception is temporary and can change quickly.  We saw that over the course of the season.  Coming in, RR was on the hot seat, and after the 5 win start and the Denard for Heisman hype, all of the crap fell away.  Lose 5 of last 7 and the perception shifts right back.

But, at some point, perceptions become harder to change and more temporary.  For example, if we start out 5-0 next year, does anyone doubt that the media will talk non-stop about our prior 2 hot starts and collapses in B10 play?  It would literally take until week 7 of next season (MSU) for perception to change.

Here is the problem with that:  What about this recruiting season?  RR's last two classes - once you remove those that didn't stick around for whatever reason), were not good.  Not really his fault - hard to recruit after a 3-9 or 5-7 season, but impossible to recruit against the negative recruiting of other coaches telling kids that they are crazy to commit to RR since he will be gone in a year anyway.  If I were a top kid coming out right now, with no ties to a particular school, and I could go to stable Wisco, OSU, Nebraska, even MSU or Iowa, I am not so sure that I would come to Michigan (putting aside my personal view that Ann Arbor is the greatest place on earth).  So, with him on the hot seat, you can plan for another inadequate recruiting class. 

Personally, I just don't think that RR can turn things around here.  Can he win, yes.  But after his terrible start, I am not sure that he is the guy to bring the fanbase back together and reignite the excitement in our program.  


November 29th, 2010 at 3:07 PM ^


Even if the past couple recruiting classes have been a little down, they've still been far more highly regarded than say Iowa's or Wisconsin's and this one is too. Making a coaching changed based on the marginal effect it's likely to have on one year's recruiting class is insane.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

I think what has me so upset is the lack of in-season progress.  We knew that the offense would have to play nearly perfectly to ensure a win (or competitive loss).  However, the defense seemed to be as bad in Game 1 as Game 12 (I know, I know, youth, experience, etc.).  I didn't expect to go from 'inexperienced D' to the Steel Curtain but it would have been nice to see the defense become 'average' by the tOSU game.  I was delighted to see that the DBs figured out how to intercept a few passes (Rogers & Kovacs).  That bodes well for the future.  I have to think that the defensive staff is gone or should be gone.  However, I don't think that RR should be let go.  But, then again........... I just don't know.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

I think our defense improved over the season.  You can't expect too much improvement over 2 months, but OSU's first 2 drives were 3-and-outs, and I don't think we could have done that at the beginning of the season. 

Sure, we gave up a lot of points at the end of the season, but keep in mind that we never turned the ball over in the first half, and we turned it over like crazy in the second half.  That's on the offense, not the defense, so that makes a few of the games look worse than they were. 

Keep in mind that healthy Mike Martin was a monster, and non-healthy Mike Martin was anywhere from less monsterly to on the sideline. 


November 29th, 2010 at 2:00 PM ^

Your memory seems kind of foggy. I seem to recall UConn only scoring 10 points, and that Michigan's defense played pretty well.

Also, the injuries to Mike Jones, Carvin Johnson and Brandon Herron caused quite a bit of shuffling of personnel.

Add those guys back healthy, add in Furman, Wilkins, Ash, Talbott, Crawford, Beyer, maybe Zettel, Marvin Robinson, a couple guys not yet committed, and bring back 9 returning starters on defense, as well as JT Floyd and Troy Woolfolk. The 2011 defense will be demonstrably better. Book it.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:39 PM ^

My point is this:

Not all 7-5's are equal. If we're 7-5 and competitive in all of our games I would feel a lot better than I do today.

We're 7-5 and have been blown out in five games (MSU, IA, PSU, WI OSU). THAT's my problem.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:21 PM ^

The problem is how we got to 7-5.

Much like last year, we swept our OOC snacky-cakes and Indiana.  And, unlike last year, we beat Purdue and Illinois.  One thing to note - yes, we won 7 games, but we barely beat Indiana, went to three overtimes to beat Illinois, barely beat Purdue (!!), needed a last minute drive to beat ND (who, at the time, was playing about as bad as any team in the country, and was playing its back-up and 3rd string QB) and barely beat 1-AA UMass. 

Contrast those barely wins against the drubbing that we took from Iowa, MSU, PSU's practice squad, Wisco (31 runs and 1 freeking throw in the 2nd half) and OSU, and the 7-5 record doesn't feel like improvement. 

Trader Jack

November 29th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

We did not "barely" beat Purdue. I was at that game & it was nowhere near as close as the score. There was no point in which I was even romotely concerned that Purdue would win. With the state their offense is in, they had no chance.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:44 PM ^

Is RRod actually on a hot seat or do we just want to put him on one? Look I'm just as unhappy with our defense and turnovers as the next guy - but why do we make a story when there is no story. The real story is how does Michigan improve, what our chances are in a bowl game, and what improvements people make in the off-season/recruiting. The Rich Ridriguez hot seat has no basis outside of an angry fan base.

People always called for Lloyd Carr's head the moment we lost our first road game. Yea we always ended in a New Year's Bowl but that didn't stop the fan base from hating on Carr almost like they do against RRod. Difference is RRod isn't a 'Michigan man' so he has less people supporting him in my opinion and we aren't winning. Does anyone besides me think Carr's retirement wasn't coincidental but moreso at a time when the cupboard was drying up?

Mary Sue has said that three years isn't long enough for a coach to turn things around. David Brandon has never given any type of hint that RRod is even on the hot seat much less possibly fired. Where's the story from people who make decisions? Why do we make up a hot seat when there's no evidence of one?

Let's look at the real scenario here. We're 7-5 and lost to three teams who finished 11-1, another who beat/almost beat those three (Iowa) and thanks to our defense lost to Penn State. Not the season I like but not one that suggests impending doom either. We've seen big improvements each season and, since we started from putrid & awful, we've got more climbing to do.

Let's just look forward to our first bowl game in 3 years, extra practices for our young team, and towards a better defense and less mistake-prone offense. I don't think we're that far don't give up hope and don't leave our new Michigan Man out to dry when it looks like he finally has the foundation he needs.

Final note I found RRod's beaten down demeanor after the OSU game somewhat encouraging. It showed me that he understands the rivalry - something I was not convinced of last year.


November 29th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

Yea but saying it at this time suggests to me that a thorough evaluation is yet to be done and there was no vote of confidence given. I'd suspect that, if he supported him and wanted to evaluate things per protocol before making it official then he'd either stay quiet or give a word of confidence. He may be trying to quiet the fan base down but I just find it peculiar.

Steve Levy Sucks

November 29th, 2010 at 1:45 PM ^

One of the several things I like about your writing style is that your 'mood' and 'feelings' come through in your writings.  This was a classic example.  Reading it almost felt like I was sitting there next to you feeling the exam same thing, but not in a gay kind of way, not that there is anything wrong with that.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:56 PM ^

was not only a microcosm for the year, but it really illustrated the depths to which this program has fallen. We literally, could not field a punt, or fg team, and our kickoff team was a disaster (kicking and tackling). The University of Michigan could not put a punt, or fg team on the field. It is that simple.

Other notes:

  • Roundtree was awful. Had a very good year, but the drops mounted as the year went on.
  • Denard didn't go back in because RRod said "He likes to hold the ball in his left hand while running, and he didnt think he could do that". While I am sure the injury was legit, why is he allowed to carry it in his left, when that is the inside hand? This is not like his shoe strings, where he likes to do it, and it doesn't hurt the team. His fumbles can be avoided and I am not sure why it is not being coached into him (maybe it is, and he can't break the habit).
  • Our running game is non-existant with Tate in the ballgame. Much like last year, when we could not pass with Denard in the game, this year we can't run with Tate in the game. We were able to put up a lot of yards because OSU had to honor both with Denard. Once they can drop 7 and know their front 4 can stop the run, its a different story.
  • 2 3-and-outs to start the game, and we do nothing with it. We don't do any of the little things well. Earl Bruce said it best after the game : "They man-handled us in the first quarter on both sides of the ball. The Michigan teams I know would have had us down 14-0" - Whatever, it's Earl Bruce, but there is some truth in it.

Nothing ground-breaking, but worth mentioning. I am on the fence whether RRod should go or not.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:04 PM ^

Just a hypothesis regarding Denard, but perhaps he prefers to carry the ball in his left hand because he's a right handed passer, and he's trying to avoid hits to his throwing arm.

No inside info, just e-speculation.


November 29th, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

and his preference to carry in his left hand only.  Emmit Smith was right handed but primarily carried the ball in his left hand.  It's just a preference and if he does not feel comfortable carrying the ball in his right, so be it.

Tim Waymen

November 29th, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

I will not blame the game's outcome on the refs.

For one thing, none of us can say with certainty that UM would have won if not for a few bad calls.  The awful bullshit calls against us early on negated big plays and were deflating.  That took the wind out of a team that was up against a very good OSU defense.  And the non-interception?  How could they not review that?  That killed UM's momentum for the 3rd quarter.

We got some bad calls in our favor, to be fair, but a bunch of those occurred later when OSU already had the game.  It's absurd to blame the blowout on officiating but some terrible calls, particularly the WTF encroachment penalty, just killed our momentum.  A young team can pull off great things but is more likely to be affected by momentum shifts than a more experienced unit with greater composure.

Chances are that even in the alternate universe in which that annoying skinny old referee (whom I hate yet seems to officiate every primetime Big 10 game) doesn't call encroachment, perhaps the game is a little closer for a bit longer but OSU still runs away with the game.  Whatever the case, the awful Big 10 officiating has to stop.  It's infuriating in key moments and just downright embarrassing to our league.  It's got to stop.