I was going to post this as a comment on another thread, but it got long enough that I decide to separate it into its own entry.
I've heard quite a bit of criticism about our playcalling against Illinois, and I think some of it is warranted - on the surface. But I think there's something that most people aren't thinking about.
As Michigan fans, we are used to competing for Big 10 titles on an annual basis. It has been a long, long time since our team was in analysis mode. What I mean by that is that this year, it's not about competing for the conference. That's a nice goal, sure, but the true aim of the coaching staff should be implementing the system that they believe will make us the most successful, and with as many freshmen as we have, that's going to take A LOT of teaching.
But back to the playcalling topic ...
Are the coaches being stubborn and running a lot of plays that probably aren't going to be successful? Sure, I don't think most of us will argue that.
But I think RR has made it more than clear that no matter how ugly it is, he's throwing us full-bore into the spread offense. He's not going to half-ass it this year and run a tiny section of the playbook, or a simplified version, in an attempt to go 8-4 instead of 6-6. We're going balls to the wall - he's finding out who can do what, what works and what doesn't, and he's not going to ignore the possibility of doing something just because it doesn't seem to fit our personnel.
I think RR knows that realistically, Threet isn't going to be successful as an option QB. So why are we seeing option pitches from him to McGuffie (two of which have resulted in fumbles)? Simple: He's finding out if Threet can prove him wrong. You might as well see if a player can do something before you dismiss it out of hand. He's already proven more effective as a runner than any of would have expected, and if RR believes that those plays are going to help the offense reach its maximum effectiveness (and obviously he does), he MUST find out if Threet can run it. Why is Shaw in as a lead blocker? Why is Moundros flaring out into the flat as a receiver? These are things that these guys have never been asked to do, at least not at the college level. Putting them in that situation isn't likely to result in anything positive - not right now, anyway. But what's the worst that can happen on that option play? We fumble, the other team recovers, and maybe it costs us a touchdown. The flipside? What if Threet shocks us all and runs the option beautifully? We've suddenly added an entirely new dimension to the offense, not just for the rest of this season, but possibly for the next four years. Again, as a coach, you find out if those guys can make those plays, because if they CAN ... well, then you're starting to figure out how to make your offense the best it can be.
If there's one thing that RR's track record demonstrates, it's that his transitions are ugly but ultimately successful. Go back and look at his first year at each school. Then look at the years right after.
Glenville College: 1-7-1 the first year, 5-5 the next, national title the fourth year. As OC at Tulane: 7-4 the first year, 12-0 the second. As OC at Clemson: 6-6 the first year, 9-3 the second. At West Virginia: 3-8 the first year, 9-4 the second, Sugar Bowl in his fourth year. There will be adjustments, but the coaches have to figure out what they have - and what those guy can do - and that takes TIME.
I'm not saying that I won't question anything we're doing strategy-wise. Like I said, there are clearly some things that have raised eyebrows, mine included. But you have to realize that each playcall, each substitution, etc., is not done in a vacuum where the only thing that matters is end result of that play, or winning that game - which is what most of us have become accustomed to. RR is thinking long-term, and there are going to be some very ugly situations and questionable (on the surface) decisions that are done with a lot more in mind than the average fan realizes.