Beware History

Submitted by Blazefire on May 16th, 2012 at 12:04 AM

This isn't exactly an exhaustively researched report, but there has been nothing in the diaries lately, and I thought I'd bring up a foreboding bit of Michigan history for you all. As we prepare to enter the 2012 season, I got just a minor sense of foreboding thinking of a few parallels to another well known season.

The year is 2006. Michigan football rebounds from an extremely disappointing 7-5 2005 campaign that sees losses to OSU and the bowl game to have a breakout year. The juniors on the team finally seem to gel completely and Michigan storms to an 11-2 record, including playing one of the most epic games in one of the most storied rivalries ever.

The following season, the pundits say, if there were ever a Michigan team that was primed to make a big run, it was the 2007 Wolverines. A truly gifted senior QB entering his 4th year of starting, who looks poised to make that leap to true stardom. A lockdown left tackle clearly produced by the NFL's most crack genetic engineers. A tailback that had emerged from a rash of injuries the previous season to prove a star, and a defense that had lost a few pieces but had improved so vastly from the seaon before that an upward trajectory could only be expected to continue.

Of course, we all know how that went.


Consider the 2011 Wolverines. Fresh off an extremely disappointing 7-5 campaign that sees losses to OSU and in the bowl game, the Wolverines put together a breakout year. The team seems to gel and Michigan storms to an 11-2 season including playing in one of the most epic games in one of the most storied rivalries ever.

For the 2012 season, Michigan will feature a truly gifted senior QB entering his 4th year of starting. He seems primed to make the leap from extremely talented to true stardom. Michigan features a lockdown left tackle seemingly produced by the NFL's most crack genetic engineers. We even have a tailback that emerged from a rash of injuries last season to prove a star, and a defense that made a stratospheric leap that bodes extremely well for the future.

Now, I'm not saying that Michigan 2012 is Michigan 2007. These teams are extremely different. But, it is the middle of the off season, and with Hoke heading things up, it's all sunshine and lollipops. What fun is that? Maybe it's good to be a little scared?



May 16th, 2012 at 12:21 AM ^

I'm sure you realize this, but injuries were a major problem in 2007. It was something like Henne, Hart, and Long didn't play a full game together until the Florida game. Lets hope we stay healthy in 2012. 

Picktown GoBlue

May 16th, 2012 at 12:28 AM ^

3rd year of starting at QB (Denard started one game as a freshman, but it was as a running back).  He played in all 12 games, but wasn't the starting or even primary QB in any of them.  Maybe not enough to break the parallel universe, but I'll try.


May 16th, 2012 at 12:37 AM ^

Injuries yes, but everybody thought "we had everybody back" because of Henne, Hart and Long.

A lot of people overlooked the fact that we lost: David Harris, Alan Branch, LaMarr Woodley, Leon Hall, Prescott Burgess on Defense and Breaston and Bihl on Offense.  There's seven key starters lost even before injuries.


May 16th, 2012 at 3:16 AM ^

It's amazing every year sports writers start talking about teams that did well last year and project them to do well this upcoming year but forget who they are losing.

Last year, I sent out emails to a bunch of sports writers who did preseason picks that had Ohio State either winning or finishing second and getting to the title game in the Big Ten. I explained to them how that was not going to happen with the amount of talent they lost the previous year and that everyone was focusing too much on just the Tatgate players.

The same thing happened the previous year where Florida lost a ton of talent to the draft yet people still predicted them to win the SEC East.

I haven't looked at Michigan close enough yet to see if they are headed down that same path but unless injuries happen I doubt it. I'm not as worried about the receivers as everyone else is I think Roundtree and Gallon will have good years but I am worried about the D Line. I feel this is where having Hoke especially comes in handy since that's his area he's most comfortable coaching and I feel better with the LBs and secondary all coming back.

Of course a Denard or Fitz injury changes my perspective a bit. Rawls I think can fill in nicely for Fitz he would be my #2 back but I think we're all worried if Denard goes out.

Decatur Jack

May 16th, 2012 at 3:50 AM ^

is that no one is giving Michigan a chance.

These days it seems like the only people who give Michigan any credit are Michigan fans.

Everyone and their grandmother is predicting a loss to Alabama in the season opener. Jesse Palmer said on ESPN that Michigan is "0-1 today." And of course the Big Ten preview automatically assumes that Urban Meyer is hot shit and the Wolverines will of course be underdogs against the Buckeyes. I mean, sometimes I'm like, "Didn't we just win eleven games and a BCS bowl?"

I guess it's ironic because during the Rodriguez years everybody was giving Michigan the benefit of the doubt and assumed RR's teams would gel, and of course that didn't happen. Now Michigan has a legitimately good team that practices fundamentals on defense and yet somehow they have no chance against Bama and OSU?

Michigan State and Ohio State both have more question marks in their rosters than does Michigan, yet both are called the best teams in the Big Ten. An injured Andrew Maxwell is going to be better than Kirk Cousins? And who exactly is Ohio State's starter at running back? Or wide receiver?

Look, I'm not saying that Michigan is going to whip Bama on its way to a perfect 12-0 season, but I do think it's important to remind everybody that this is college football and anything can happen. I don't think the game against Alabama is a foregone conclusion.


May 16th, 2012 at 10:43 AM ^

So, my favorite part about that ESPN Top-20 preview for Michigan was Jesse Palmer ripping Denard for being an awful passer. It's not like Jesse Palmer was truly that gifted a QB himself. Palmer's average QB rating while in college was 134. Denard, who arguably had a worse year passing last year than the previous had a QB rating of 139.7, so....calling the kettle black my friend.

Jesse needs to get over himself. You were on the bachelor, bro! You've lost all credibility.


Ali G Bomaye

May 16th, 2012 at 11:55 AM ^

Jesse Palmer certainly is a douche, and (since he works for ESPN) is almost surely trying to stir up controversy, but I don't understand how his career stats affect his ability to analyze other QBs.  Are you saying that commentators should only be allowed to criticize those who are worse players than the commentators were?  One of my favorite college football analysts is our own Brian Cook, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't belong on the same field as anyone he covers.


May 16th, 2012 at 12:56 PM ^ I'm saying his over-the-top mockery of Denard's abilities are ridiculous, especially given his own football statistics (which, despite his repeated chest-beating about his football career, were not very good), which was my main point.

Let me put it this way: it's one thing to properly critique (a la Brian), which I would have appreciated if he had done that. It's another to make it sound like Denard simply bumbles his way through our entire offense, which is what Palmer did.

I find it ridiculous that Palmer thinks his experience as QB (which he is always quick to bring up) at any level makes him an authority on the position in terms of technique or whatever, when  1. he was decent at best at the position in question (as i already discussed) and  2. never applies any useful critique to any of his statements (he simply states numbers: 'oh denard had 15 INTS huurrr hurrr hurr *flails arm wildly*') when he's supposedly an 'analyst'.


Ali G Bomaye

May 16th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

Your second point is dead-on, and I think is a valid criticism of ESPN in general.  They've become almost entirely about context-less highlights and manufactured controversy, at the expense of any real analysis.  Now ESPN's m.o. is to have someone shout a controversial opinion ("Denard is terrible"), have someone else shout the opposite opinion, and then shout abstract and intangible qualities/faults of the player in question at each other for 30 seconds until they move on to the next topic.  Palmer's personality - loud, jock-ish, and unintellectual - is perfect for these scenes.

I agree that Palmer is a narcissistic jackass, but I think that's a separate problem from his inability to logically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a given player.


May 16th, 2012 at 10:24 PM ^

and the '07 offense had more weapons than any during Carr's regime so something is not adding up here.  DR is going into the season as probably the best the BIG has to offer this year, but that's based on production. Henne was a master from Day one whereas Denard, even through his Jr. season was making some freshman like mistakes. His production is inarguable, but so too are his tendencies to throw into a crowd and refusal to plant his back foot on too many occasions. 

None of us are able to look into the crystal ball at this time of the year, but I think what Al does more than any other person, and his decision on how he's going to use DR, based on how far along DR has come, will be the greatest determinant in next season's success.  If we see a repeat of the offense we saw in the bowl game, even though we won it, expect disaster. If, on the other hand, Al concedes the fact that it's best to have this kid run when he sees the first down marker rather than expect the river to bail him out on every hand, well Palmer might look he has some common sense.

And yes, even though Kirk never beat UM, Palmer like him has the requisite experience to analyze his position. He was coached at the top level and although he might not have been great, he is aware of the difference between a qb doing things correctly and the opposite. If he goes on record as saying Denard does not produce, well that's a totally different story.   


May 16th, 2012 at 6:34 AM ^

There's a difference between 2012 and 2007 ... Hoke.

Hoke is in his second year as HC and is firing on all cylinders.

Michigan may not win 11 or 12 this year.  But I doubt very much there'll be any sense of entitlement on this team.  I doubt very much Hoke will permit any talk of any game being a sure thing.


May 16th, 2012 at 10:12 AM ^

emphasized more than anything, I feel.

We have a ballsy, hungry head coach this time around, not one who's coasting to retirement. We have a DC who doesn't know even know what a prevent D is and an OC (and HC) who don't sit on 3 point leads early in the third quarter.

The talent was probably a little higher in '07 but the coaching and "hunger" are vastly superior this time around. I'm not predicting 12-0 either but I'd be shocked if it was a tire fire like '07.

Also yes, the '07 injury bug helped not at all.


May 16th, 2012 at 11:14 PM ^

Have you met the guy?  Have you been recruited by him, or seen him coaching?  Or, for the math guys out there, what's his sample size...1 season, right?

I do think he's a good coach, but I think you're putting the cart before the horse when you say he's a better coach than Lloyd, or more hungry, or whatever.

Oh, and you also imply that Lloyd was not hungry his last years.  I call BS. 


May 17th, 2012 at 7:42 AM ^

Argument by assertion.  You say that the opion of someone else is BS and your justification for disagreement is that you disagree. 

The points of lbpeley are persuasive, because he gives reasons.  Your rebuttal is unpersuasive, because you offer nothing but naked opinion.

Section 1

May 16th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

A completely different energy level, starting from the Head Football Coach on down.  We aren't being led by a lame-duck Lloyd Carr.

And we assuredly won't start 2012 with a loss to Appalachian State, nor an even more embarassing humiliation (hard as that is to imagine) against Oregon, the nation's number one sleeper team.

Our 2012 regular season could be as disappointing as 2007, and it could happen the same way, if Denard Robinson, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Taylor Lewan (see; Henne, Hart, Long) all suffer injuries.  But coincidence is not cause.


May 17th, 2012 at 1:01 AM ^

You mean our last coach to win a Big Ten Championship or a National Championship?  Let us be a bit more careful about how we whine about Lloyd.  His 2005 team, when he was not a "lame duck", was a lot worse than the 2007 version that finished 9-4 with a bowl win..... 

The change in Lloyd came after the death of Schembechler which was followed by us losing our last two 2006 games vs OSU and USC, and that was followed by the 2007 opening losses to Appie State and Oregon.  It was not losing to Oregon that was embarrassing, rather it was by how much we lost and how bad we looked losing to them.






May 16th, 2012 at 9:25 AM ^

Just cause it happened once doesn't make it a pattern.  It's not bad too kick it around in the off-season. I mean, what else is there to do? But I'm not too worried yet.  That may change as the season gets closer and my paranoia level ratchets up.


May 16th, 2012 at 10:08 AM ^

No way this team has lost perspective. The "those who stayed" class is history, but these guys still have a lot to prove.

Another huge difference is the opening opponent. Although, thinking about it, in fact they are both the previous year's champion... Ha ha!


May 16th, 2012 at 11:53 AM ^

if "the biggest upset in sports history" were to happen again, Michigan would be the winning team this time around. So I can't help but hope that history repeats itself. I wonder what 2-word phrase would be used to describe that level of jubilation; the best thing I can think of is "The Day Muppets Crashed MGoBlog."


May 16th, 2012 at 1:53 PM ^

regression to the mean.


You need to research the record of the subsequent season for any team going 11-2.  A decline in the win pct is likley to occur merely by chance (regression to the mean).  The increase in SOS makes it even more likely.


May 17th, 2012 at 12:53 AM ^

Is one long 2012 season prediction thread where everyone gets to put up their prediction for the season and we all get to go and look back at how we all did at the end of the season.

Real question is the regression to the mean question, not to try and find another year like last year because I really don't think we have had a comparable year to last year in terms of coaching changes since probably 1969.

List out all 12 games and tell us who you think wins and Michigan's overall records.....