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.


Moe Greene

November 29th, 2010 at 12:15 PM ^

I'll gladly donate all my MGoPoints and the organ of your choice for just forgetting about the UFR for this one.

Always one of my fave things to read, but none of us have enough Tums in the house for that level of cosmic suffering.


November 29th, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

not that it matters...

but on the kickoff return, i thought there was a clear block in the back at about OSU's 40.  and one that mattered (i.e., had there not been a block in the back, he probably gets tackled).


November 29th, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

It's still very significant.  Yes, we probably still would've lost.  But, if that TD return doesn't happen, we're maybe in the game in the 2nd half, don't lose as badly, and the subsequent shitstorm that happened either doesn't happen or isn't as bad.

I think what's really pissed people off isn't that we lost - which was pretty much expected - but that we lost in such horrible, humiliating fashion.  


November 29th, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

But we have soccer!  Elite Eight this Saturday!  Justin Meram!  Soony Saad!  Big Ten Champs!  Happiness!  Joy!  Winning!

Ok, I tried.  What a shitty last month, but really am looking forward to Saturday's soccer game!


November 29th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

I've asked Koger for his address.  My plan is to meet him face to face, mano-a-mano, then get on the bus to Ashleys or the Jug and buy him whatever beer or whiskey he wants.


November 29th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

Kevin Koger shouldn't have apologized.  He might have felt like he was forced to because he didn't want to receive backlash for his comments on twitter.  I bet you he didn't mean the apology though. 

It could have been worse, there was this kid who looked like he was 10 years old who commented on someone's post on Roy Roundtree's facebook page exclaiming that Rich Rodriguez needs to be let go and he's running the program into the ground. 

Frustration is high but how dumb can you be commenting on a player's page, ripping on his coach whom he most likely respects?  I understand why the players are mad at the fanbase.  I bet no one would say anything to Mike Martin's face, by the way.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:44 PM ^

of your recent posts, I probably know the answer, but please clarify: do you mean some former players appreciated his apology as it's beneath Michigan football to be bothered by nettlesome naysayers, or do you mean that some former M players are also some of the naysayers to whom his apology was directed?

If the former, I will grant you that perspective.  If the latter, then I would think it beneath a Michigan fan to seek cover behind anyone else, including former M players, for publicly and anonymously criticizing the effort and quality of a Michigan student-athlete individually or collectively as a team.  That would be so, how does one say it, oh yes: "buckeye."


November 29th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

I've asked Koger for his address.  My plan is to meet him face to face, mano-a-mano, then get on the bus to Ashleys or the Jug and buy him whatever beer or whiskey he wants.


November 29th, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

but thanks for having the gumption and moxie to persevere through the darker November days in relatively good humor.  Those of us who write frequently to a broad audience have a special appreciation for your determination to bring us what we crave while balancing realism, optimism, the contemplation that it all might end and that would be OK, and so many other overwhelming emotions.

You are the man.

His Dudeness

November 29th, 2010 at 12:32 PM ^

I watched the game at a local sports bar with my brother and his friends.

I was very pleased going into halftime. I texted my friend: "This is the absolute best case scenario."

The kick-off return TD to start the half (or close to it) turned me into a slightly raging person.

The ref incompetence "no review cost us a drive, review cost us a turnover" sent me into a hand waiving, swear at the top of my lungs in front of little kids insanity that I didn't fully recover from until sometime in the early evening hours Sunday. I totally lost my mind. I remember shots, many shots. I remember a strip club (or Grand Rapids' best attempt at one), I remember sitting alone at a bar I would never go to in a million years if I were sober. I remember telling some random outside of a bar that I thought he was a great guy and I almost teared up. I remember saying horrible things to many many people along the way and I remember waking up in my bed Sunday afternoon and still hating everything.

Maybe it will be different next year and maybe it won't. I definitely I care too much quite possibley because I know far too much. Gone are the days that I turn on the tv for the first game of the year and expect dominance from guys whos last names I don't know how to pronouce. Here are the days that I asked months before he even saw the field if it was Omam-eh or Omam-ee. I wish I could go back, but I can't. Whatever happens in the coming months I will still be here cheering on whomever our coach happens to be and whomever chooses to stay and play for Michigan.

His Dudeness

November 29th, 2010 at 12:44 PM ^

If I am wrong I blame being completely wrecked, but I thought it was 7-17 at half then they returned the kick to start the second half making it 7-24. At the half we had been dominating in many areas outside of the score (LOL-insanity). If I recall we were driving and losing it on failed fourth downs or turnovers and our D was, you know, actually a D for a while in the first half.


November 29th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

It was 24-7 going into the half, but that pick by Kovacs got me all worked up.  I actually thought there'd be a chance to return it.. but no success.  Going into the 2nd Quarter I was pleased... then poop hit the fan.

I made the rookie mistake of watching the game at a friends house in athens, with a bunch of SEC loving big ten hating Georgia fans.  (Well really just one guy in particular, who exclaimed "Turn this big ten, michigan bull shit off".  I called him a huge d-bag... then realized it didn't matter... sorry, going off on a steam blowing tangent.


November 29th, 2010 at 12:51 PM ^

With the exception that I managed to feel as lost as you through Sunday without being a drinker, I feel exactly like you do.

I fondly recall, as a sophomore, the day I showed up at Michigan Stadium for the 1st game of the year against Northwestern and some skinny little smart-ass who had the audacity to wear jersey #1 was among those warming up.  The 1st time he touched the ball in his career, he returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown and the crowd instantly dubbed him "AC" for the way he electrified us all.  We just showed up and cheered.  No internet.  No recruiting buzz.  No TV time-outs.  The games always started at 1pm and we were back in our dorms before 3:30.  You were worried we'd drop in the rankings if we didn't win by 40 points.

But we can't go back.  Someday, however, we WILL be MICHIGAN again.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:56 PM ^

I was very pleased going into halftime. I texted my friend: "This is the absolute best case scenario."

We trailed 24-7 at the half, and it could have been worse if not for a goal line interception by Kovacs.  This represented the best-case scenario for you?  We really have become OSU's little brother.

His Dudeness

November 29th, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

Apologies Jim. My timing was off. I believe I texted my friend somewhere in the middle of the second quarter. Our D was playing very well considering and the O was driving on nearly every opportunity. It did look optimistic for a while in the first half. If you can't see the slightest positives with this team then shame on you.


November 29th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

At some point in every conversation, there's nothing left to say.  That's where we are now, not much changed that was unexpected.  Perhaps slight variations from the script, but the plot advanced as many of us expected based on the data we had.  Now we potentially light out for Jacksonville to play Florida in the battle of "Who hates their coordinator more?"

The one realization I had over the weekend was as bad as the defense has been, isn't the fastest correction that Michigan could make would be a massive overhaul on special teams? 

  • A punter and a backup punter (Tate, seriously, would this have been a bad idea given the nature of the Hagerup suspension)
  • A kicker that can kick short to medium range field goals and that is getting instruction in kicking to improve on a weekly basis?
  • A kick return game that can win field position, hold on to the ball, and cause the other team to be stuck with poor field position and potential fumbles?
  • The possibility of Beamer ball style blocks?

I'm not an expert and I am willing to concede that there are a lot of moving parts here, but given the specific ways things fell apart on Saturday, maybe?

Zone Left

November 29th, 2010 at 12:39 PM ^

If Rodriguez isn't at least somewhat responsible for the shocking lack of depth on defense, when is he? Each of the departures is easily explainable (let's not get into them, okay), but at some point the cumulative effect points to an inability to effectively manage and motivate a pretty sizable portion of his roster.

My impression is that he's got a solid group of guys that are seriously "all-in," such as Martin, Robinson, Lewan, Roh, etc and another, smaller group that is very "all-out" which is still significantly larger than the disgruntled group at most big-time programs.  I've said it before, but I'd have guessed the starting secondary this year would be Dorsey, Woolfolk, Turner, Emelien, and Kovacs.  We all know the story, but not having 60% of them even on the roster maybe points to something larger than the sum of three guys leaving.

On a lighter note, anyone think  Brian was doing this the last couple weeks?

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...


November 29th, 2010 at 1:04 PM ^

Dorsey didn't leave, he didn't get in.  Given the fact that he didn't get in at Louisville either, I think it's legitimate to question why Dorsey was being recruited in the first place, but his failure to gain admission can't be blamed on RR.

I don't know what Turner's deal is, but it would seem he either lacks the skill or the dedication to play football at this level.  Unless there were warning signs, I find it hard to blame RR here either.

As for Emilien, no sugarcoat, his loss hurts.  There were rumors that he never quite recovered from his knee injury in high school, but I guess the jury's still out.  It will hurt all the more if he turns out to be a competent safety


November 29th, 2010 at 1:13 PM ^

Am I the only person who saw Emilien make Roundtree look like Carl Lewis at the spring game?  The guy could not run any more.  Maybe he will get better, but as of the start of this season he hadn't healed.  He was behind Van Slyke and Kovacs on the depth chart in addition to any of the freshmen who ended up playing this year. 

Vlad Emilien was never going to help the team this year.  He may heal up over time and be a decent player, but at this point we have plenty of good young safeties on the roster.  His departure hurts in the same way Threet's does in that it simply provides fodder for the "what if this guy hadn't left and why did RR run him off" speculation by those who wanted the coach gone in the first place or who simply aren't paying close attention to the team.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

are we still assigning blame to the depth issue at DB?  how about this

1/3 -  is Lloyd's fault for poor recruiting his last 2 years

1/3 - is RRs fault for going after long shots like Vlad (don't blame him here) and Dorsey (i do blame him here)

1/3 - is bad luck - injuries and not knowing Turner and Booboo would be silly busts

the main problem is that all these issues affected the same area of D.  which is more bad luck.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:57 PM ^

-Lloyd is a Michigan treasure emeritus now.  He had some serious glory days, while I agree he's probably 1/3 culpable, we can't really fire him at this point.

-I can't blame RR for Emilien (he stuck by his offer even when Vlad was injured, which OSU did not - perhaps justifiably, but we all thought it a bit low at the time) or Dorsey (if he'd gained entry to Louisville or some other FBS school and we found out that RR had passed on him, how angry would the masses be today? that makes this a lose/lose situation for RR so I guess I'm glad he gave Demar a shot).

-The bad luck, though, should absolutely be called on the carpet by Brandon.  It's just inexcusable at this point.


November 29th, 2010 at 2:59 PM ^

Here's why I don't blame RR for Dorsey.  First, many other programs were taking the same risk on him that we were, so the consensus was that he was worth the gamble, but more importantly, since we snagged him at the last second, he didn't take a spot someone else would have taken.  From what I understand, we preferred Sean Parker, but he chose Washington.  So we filled that spot with Dorsey.  There weren't many other guys looking to jump on board at that time, and if we didn't get Dorsey that spot would have likely not been filled. 


November 29th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

I also think the meant "where is he now," but FWIW I think the issue wasn't necessarily that his grades were "changed," (which to me implies some kind of cheating that I don't think is fair to allege) but that the tutoring/mentoring program he was in - that actually acted as his academic courses - was not up to snuff with NCAA standards.

Not actually sure what he is up to. The only thing I could really find was this:, but it provides noting definitive. He is not on Fort Scott's roster.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

I agree with your post for the most part.  Maybe you can put Dorsey on RR, but there were other major programs waiting to accept his LOI last year, including FSU and USC.  We were not the only team that felt he was worth the gamble.  Also, it's likely that had we not taken Dorsey, that spot would have been empty, putting in the same spot, just without the let down.  Sean Parker had decided to go to Washington, not because of Dorsey.

Turner is a bust, flat out.  He couldn't make it happen here, and now he's playing D2 ball.  Come on.

Emilien, great guy, but before he left he was 3rd on the depth chart behind a RS freshman position switcher and a walk-on.  Could we have used him?  Maybe.  But he wasn't going to make much of a difference for us, and the injury is likely to blame, not RR. 

Zone Left

November 29th, 2010 at 1:44 PM ^

I think it's a matter of perspective.  Like I said, every departure has a plausible reason, and kids leave every program at numbers that are probably too high given the support network available.

Dorsey and Turner, from my understanding, were both academic casualties (Turner was apparently an academic casualty at WVU as well).  Dorsey's whole saga really pissed me off in that the staff should have done its research to ensure a kid who bounced around that much and completed an alternative degree would be admitted.  Turner's sucked less, but the staff needs to keep players in class and eligible.  To me, both are ultimately management failures and I'll bet a dollar that Rodriguez would say the same thing--and probably did in very profane terms several times about both situations.

With Emelien, you've got to do almost anything to keep a relatively, for this defense, experienced guy on board in your position of greatest need. 

Just my opinion.


November 29th, 2010 at 3:06 PM ^

Yeah, I guess we just disagree.  People get upset about losing Vlad because of his Rivals profile, but if a lower rated sophomore who was 3rd on the depth chart behind a freshman and a walk-on hit the road, no one would care.  Vlad never looked good at Michigan, not in practices, not in spring games, never.  Seems like a good kid, but never showed that he could play good football.

Justin Turner is now playing Division 2 football.  Are you seriously going to say that's because RR couldn't manage him properly?  Come on.

Dorsey is the one most in gray area.  Had we passed on another good player to take Dorsey, I'd be more upset.  But I don't think we did.  We had one spot left in the class and we took a flyer, and lost.  Big deal.  It's not like we had another 4 star CB that we turned down to take Dorsey.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

We are bad on defense because we don't have quality juniors/seniors on the defensive roster (we only have three).  When the guys from your two recruiting classes can't be any older than sophomores, it is still too early to blame you for lack of depth/talent in the junior/senior class. 

This team has plenty of good freshmen/sophomores (they already make up more than half our starting lineup) throughout the defense even with the departures of a couple players who were not going to play (Emilien has a busted leg and was behind two walk-ons while we've seen the dramatic fall Turner's career has taken).  Guys who know they aren't going to play often transfer.  It happens at every program.  It just gets put under the microscope because people are desperate for an explanation that is more complicated than the simple reality that the roster imploded three years ago and it just takes time to get back from that.

You can argue about why 3-9 happened (though at this point it has been beaten to death) but once it did we all should have known this was going to take a little time.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:22 PM ^

What Vlad did do was take up a scholarship that could have gone to a more talented player then. Sure, it could now, but it'll be another freshman. Isn't there some concern that the high rates guys seem to be the ones (on D, anyway) busting out? Because impact young guys have been nonexistent.
<br>Which brings up the other point - do you really see a lot of talent on the D? They'll get better because they're young, for sure...but is it possible the majority of them are young AND just not that good? So you'll see an upswing by aging, but will these seniors on D be OSU's senior class this year? Heck, MSU's? My worry isn't that young guys will always be young...but that guys with limited talent can't be coached to have more talent.


November 29th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

To your first point - are you saying we shouldn't have recruited Vlad at all?  Sure, he had an injury, but he never dropped from a 4 star on Rivals and many other big programs wanted him despite his injury.

Yes, I see talent on defense.  Craig Roh and Jibreel Black have talent at DE.  When those 2 are upperclassmen, they will be very good.  Kenny Demens has talent at MLB, and he's only started what, 5 games?  Cam Gordon, Marvin Robinson, and Carvin Johnson have talent.  All three are freshmen, still growing, and still figuring out their best positions, but they are certainly talented football players.  Courtney Avery is a good football player.  He's not the next Woodson, but looked good for a true freshman, and could have a very good next couple years.  All of these guys I mentioned are sophomores at the oldest.

Bottom line, many of the OSU upperclassmen weren't forced into starting duty as freshmen.  They got the opportunity to redshirt, or play behind talented guys for a couple years.  Luckily, some of our talent on D is getting the chance to do that as well, and when guys like Furman, Wilkins, Terry Talbott, Richard Ash, and Jake Ryan see the field, they'll be ready to come in and complement the guys I mentioned above.