Lack of depth, high variance offense, lots of reasons get tossed out for the condition of our team. So let’s take a moment to look at history:
|Coach||School||B10 Record First Three Years|
|Kirk Ferentz||Iowa||7-17 (ED: WOW)|
|Danny Hope||Purdue||6-5 (Note: only in second year)|
I’m going to say we end this season 7-5. Giving us wins over Illinois and Purdue. I’m going to be generous because even with that generosity RR comes in at: 6-18 in three years of B10 play.
Guess where that puts you on that chart? Tied with Tim Brewster and ahead of Indiana by one win. Drop the Illinois game and you’re tied with Bill Lynch at the very bottom of the pile. High variance. Lack of depth. Every single B10 coach faced a myriad of problems and with the exception of Tressel they had an inferior brand and facilities. Yet every single coach, barring Lynch, did better in their first three years than RR. Fire Rich Rodriguez.
[Edit: Went back and did some more coaches.]
|Coach||School||B10 Record First Three Years|
|Jon L Smith||MSU||11-13|
|Terry Hoeppner||IND||4-12 Only coached two seasons|
I’m watching the Walking Dead right now, but I’ll try to figure up a response after that. As for maintaining Carr’s offense, I make no claim my actions were good ideas. I’m not an HC after all. Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut.
I’ll simply say this. In my view I look at those two tables and I have a hard time seeing how everyone but Ron Turner, Terry Hoeppner, Tim Brewster, Bill Lynch and Barry Alvarez inherited programs in worse shape than Michigan in 2008. Alavrez is the only name on that list that went on to have success, so far as least.
Also I moved these charts to the top and you can stop reading here as some people have deemed my other ramblings worthless. Just let the data speak for itself. Or read on if you are so inclined....
Ladies and Gentleman of MGoBlog: We’ve all read the posts calling for patience. Talking about the youth of the team, how bare the cupboard is and the need to let RR build depth before we judge him. Today I am going to do my best to prove those claims are false. Well no false is too strong of a word, there is definitely a lot of truth to them. However I maintain they are overstated and the way in which RR has handled the depth he did inherit provides sufficient grounds to judge him.
Let’s begin with the offense. Our memories of 3 and 9 focus around two quarterbacks running around in terror. Both lacked the legs to be effective mobile quarterbacks and the arms to pass off as an efficient passing game. Threet and Sheridan were synonyms for Three and Out. We watched them run around, we shook our heads and said “Well you have to have the right personnel for RR’s offense to work.” This is definitely true considering the impact Tate and Denard have made. Yet some of us also found ourselves asking “Why aren’t we running Carr’s offense?”
Threet was basically the second coming of John Navarre. Projected to live and care free life on the depth chart. Navarre plugged into our offense and worked. Taking us to #4 in his senior year and our last win over tOSU. Today at ASU Threet has 137.56 passer rating, 62% completion rate and 14 TDs to 13 INTs. The situation RR came into was one where he had access to Carr on a daily basis and likely Carr’s playbook. Imagine the result of having spent his first offseason working with Threet and on Threet’s mechanics (Threet was prone to overthrowing at Michigan). Imagine for a moment an offense with Threet as a QB with a rating of say 100 and the ability to at least sustain a drive for a few minutes and let the defense rest.
That at least is an offense capable of scoring more than 10 against Toledo in the Big House (we lost 13-10). We didn’t get that though. We started “installing” the spread. 3 and 9 was the sacrifice RR needed to “install” an offense that was good for 5 and 7 the next year, with 4 of those wins coming against non B10 teams.
Also keep in mind no system has really involved so much as we relied on Tate’s abilities for 5 and 7 and Denard’s abilities this year. We don’t have a consistently dominant running game or even an offense that is really consistent in B10 play. We tend to go through periods of being flat followed by a scoring frenzy that starts in the 3rd or 4th quarter when Denard hits the “Extra Dilithium” button and becomes a one man army. So think about 3 and 9 and ask “Did we really gain anything from that sacrifice?”
Now on to defense. Our cupboard was not bear on the defense. When we faced Wisconsin we turned the ball over three times on our side of the field. Schafer’s defense comes out and holds Wisconsin, a ranked team, to two FGs and one blocked FG. That’s a good defense. Start three times on our side of the 50 and only let them get 6 points. Go back and watch those games. The defense was always solid until the offense went 3 and out five times in a row and left a worn out defense in poor field position. Then the hurting began.
Or until the Purdue game. The game when Richrod went to our 4-3 defense. A defense recruited by Lloyd Carr, a primarily 4-3 coach, and led by Schafer who ran the 4-3 at Stanford. A defense that had spent not just the previous summer but all its time at Michigan drilling for the 4-3. A defense that basically won the Wisconsin game for us with their saves and takeaways. Right before Purdue RR ordered a switch to a 3-3-5. Purdue put 48 on us.
Injuries, players leaving to go to the NFL or to go back home. Yes those things happen. However RR did not walk into a threadbare program. He definitely walked into an under strength program that had issues (DB recruiting comes to mind). Yet he proceeded to weaken it further. He made no attempts to keep the Carr systems in place while he brought his own players up to speed. Instead he burned everything to the ground and look at where we stand today.
Think about it. Year One he threw the Carr offense out the window and left two pocket style QBs to run in terror (well attempt to run from) LBs and DTs. He clearly had designs on a 3-3-5 defense from day one, as evidenced by the Purdue switch and numerous reports that Schafer felt RR was meddling too much with the defense. RR has no depth in the program because he opted to destroy it.
Think about the kind of player Carr would recruit for defense. A kid who looked good in the 4-3. This meant that kid likely played on a 4-3 in HS and possibly even further back. Yet RR walked in the week before the Purdue game, a week where he had 20 hours of allowable practice time and said “You know that defense you’ve been running since you were 14? Forget it we’re going 3-3-5.” End result, Purdue puts 48 on us. The same Purdue team that only managed 21 against Minnesota and MSU that year. Central held them to 32.
The “we lack depth” argument is not a free pass for RR. We didn’t have to lack depth. Schafer managed to field a functional defense. Lloyd Carr was just down the hall from RR and there was no reason the offense couldn’t have been tailored to play to the strengths of the Carr era recruits while the RR era recruits redshirted, learned his system and built depth. Instead we started doing a total conversion in year one and what little depth we had was forced into a system that it was ill suited for.
As it stands today rumors swirl about the fate of the DC. We have an offense that has an amazing athlete at QB, yet the offense goes flat for extended periods of time. On 10 points in the first half against PSU despite having a week to prepare and some of PSU’s better defensive players being out of the game. Last week against Iowa we scored 7 points in the first three quarters. A 21-point surge in the fourth made the final score look somewhat close, but 45 minutes and 7 points.