The Rodriguez Record Developing Defensive Talent at UM

Submitted by PurpleStuff on November 17th, 2009 at 5:08 PM
After a few long board posts on the current and future talent level of the Michigan football team, I figured this is as good a time as any to make my first foray into the world of diaries.  Though short on awesome MS Paint, hopefully this post is long on useful information.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that this is a talent deficient team, especially on defense, people continue to gripe that the coaches must be doing something wrong because "we certainly have more talent than Illinois or Purdue" (which is of course completely untrue, as I document in the "current" board post linked above).  Rodriguez has also takent heat (or it has just been assumed) that he is "not a defensive coach."  So I decided to look player by player at what this team is working with on defense and just how well Rodriguez and his staff have developed players to give us some indication of what to expect when this staff is finally competing with a full deck.  The results are encouraging and eye opening.  I divided the players by Rivals star-rating to give some sense of what our realistic expectation levels for these players should be and I excluded any freshmen who haven't seen extensive game action to this point.

5-Star Players

Brandon Graham: In two years playing under Rodriguez, Graham has tallied 18.5 sacks and 41 TFL to go with 4 forced fumbles, two blocked kicks, and a defensive TD.  He will almost certainly be an early (if not first) round NFL Draft pick.

Donovan Warren: As a Junior playing in his 2nd season under Rodriguez, Warren leads the team with 4 INT's, as many as any Michigan DB since Todd Howard in 2000.  He projects to be a mid-to-high round NFL Draft pick (in part depending on whether or not he decides to leave school early).

Summary: The two non-freshman blue-chip prospects on the defensive roster have played as well as can be expected of any prospect.  Both are high level college football players who will play on Sundays.

4-Star Players

Stevie Brown: Signed as a safety, where he played his first three years at Michigan to much fan groaning, Rodriguez and his staff moved Brown to a more comfortable outside linebacker position where he has developed into a competent starter and the team's leading tackler during his senior season.

Adam Patterson: Patterson, a RS Junior, has struggled much of his career at Michigan and has spent much of this season behind a walk-on on the d-line depth chart.

Jonas Mouton: Signed as a safety, RS Junior Jonas Mouton continues to struggle with the mental aspect of the game in his second season as a starting inside linebacker and was benched in favor of RS Sophomore JB Fitzgerald during the Purdue game.

Mike Martin: A true Sophomore signed by Rodriguez, Martin is in his second year as a starting DT, where he is one of the best young players at the position in the country, despite playing out of position and being forced to eat double-teams due to roster limitations.  He will almost certainly be a four year starter on the defensive line.

Ryan Van Bergen: RVB has recorded 5 sacks and 4 PBU's in this his RS Sophomore season (both good for second on the team).  He will almost certainly be a three year starter on the defensive line.

JB Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald has started in one game at linebacker in this his Sophomore season after getting the nod over the much more experienced Jonas Mouton.  In that game he recorded 5 tackles including 2 TFL against Purdue.

Mike Williams: A RS Sophomore recruited as a nickle/fifth defensive back, Williams has struggled in his first year seeing extensive playing time as a starting safety.  He was forced into action this year because he is the only safety on scholarship in the Sophomore, Junior, or Senior classes.

Craig Roh: Roh has started every game this season as a true Freshman on the defensive line, recording 2 sacks, 7.5 TFL, and an interception.  He will almost certainly be a four year starter on the defensive line.

Summary: Out of eight players (one of whom is a true freshman), four are very solid contributors already (of whom three are underclassmen on the defensive line).  Two are sophomores who have either seen limited action so far (Fitzgerald) or have struggled after being thrust prematurely into the starting lineup (Williams).  If any one of Mouton, Fitzgerald, or Williams develop into solid contributors in their remaining years at UM, this staff will be batting well over 50% in turning 4-star recruits into high quality defensive players by the time they graduate.

3-Star Players
Troy Woolfolk has been a competent starter at CB after a mid-season position switch from safety (where he had been playing out of position due to roster limitations at that position). 

Sagesse, Banks, Watson and Herron provide solid if unspectacular depth along the defensive line.  All are behind productive and more heavily recruited players on the depth chart so should not be expected to crack the starting lineup.

Obi Ezeh has struggled as a veteran starter at linebacker and was benched in favor of walk-on Kevin Leach during games against Purdue and Illinois.

Summary: Of the two guys in a position to be asked to start, one has played admirably and one has struggled despite extensive playing experience. 

Walk-Ons
Jordan Kovacs, a RS Freshman coming off knee surgery, is third on the team with 66 tackles including 4.5 TFL.  He has also forced two fumbles (tied for the team lead with Brandon Graham) and intercepted a pass (tied for 2nd on the team).

Kevin Leach, a RS Sophomore, has seen extensive action at linebacker in two games (essentially playing starter minutes) and recorded 36 tackles on the season to go along with a sack and an interception.

Simmons, Van Slyke and Heininger have occupied spots on the two-deep throughout much of the season.

Summary: When forced to throw non-scholarship players out there, this staff has gotten a lot out of their less talented players.

What Now?
Click on the "future talent" board post I linked to earlier.  Compare that defensive depth chart with the current one that has only 16 non-freshmen on scholarship.  If current rates of development (which are still skewed against the current staff because of the youth of this team) hold true, Michigan should have a very good defense in just a couple of years.

For those who still want to criticize the coaching staff, I challenge you to find one example of a team with a more depleted depth chart that had success, or a coach with a better track record for developing the talent at his disposal.

Comments

NOLA Wolverine

November 17th, 2009 at 5:13 PM ^

Kirk Ferentz, Brian Kelly (He's been at more places than just Cincy), Jim Harbaugh. They improved their teams fast. They are better at working with the talent at their disposal than Rodriguez, its not an indictment on him too much, he just needs to be in his comfort zone to succeed.

PurpleStuff

November 17th, 2009 at 5:18 PM ^

Show me the roster they inherited, and the rate at which they developed prospects into good players. I'm talking about what coaches actually do, not what you want the results on the field to be. Rodriguez inherited less talent than Kelly (six drafted players off last year's UC team compared to two at UM) and hasn't had the same time to build his team as Harbaugh and Ferentz have.

SysMark

November 17th, 2009 at 8:27 PM ^

...for that. They either weren't screaming as loud as we are now during Iowa's year two under Ferentz or we just couldn't hear them. I'm sure plenty wanted his head. It will happen with RR. Remember it is also a radically different scheme, not just a coaching change.

jg2112

November 17th, 2009 at 9:20 PM ^

I think there are different expectations as to how the football programs at Iowa and Michigan perform. That has been formed by, frankly, Michigan's quite excellent record over its history.

So the past two years have been stunning. The coaching change hasn't helped things - if Lloyd had gone 3-9 and maybe 6-6, I'm not sure there would be so much navel-gazing. Perhaps there would.

Regardless, this is what Michigan has to deal with, and once the roster is more mature and filled out with 85 scholarship players, as opposed to 70, results will be more in line with what Michigan fans are accustomed to. E-fact.

harmon40

November 21st, 2009 at 5:51 PM ^

Imagine yourself in Steven Threet's shoes last year. "OK kid, I know you're a freshman, and you don't know or fit the offense. I also know that your main running back and receivers are also freshmen, and that we have only one returning offensive lineman. It's also true that no one here has played in this offense...but anyway, here's the ball, now go out and win for us!"

We must remember: it was the great coaches and players that made the helmet famous, not the other way around.

HeismanPose

November 17th, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

Ferentz @ Iowa:
1999: 1-10
2000: 3-9

Harbaugh @ Stanford:
2007: 4-8
2008: 5-7

Kelly did turn around Cincinati pretty fast, I will give you that. That is a huge outlier, though. It usually takes a coach 3-4 years to effect change.

Edit: you would have been much better off using Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel and Nick Saban as your examples.

harmon40

November 21st, 2009 at 5:47 PM ^

Urban Meyer took over a team that already ran something very similar to his offense, and Zook was considered a good recruiter--no apples to oranges change was needed, and the pond was already stocked.

Jim Tressel followed John Cooper. OSU fans can hate him for his failures against Michigan, but Cooper was very successful, especially at recruiting. Again, no apples to oranges change, and pond was already stocked.

The USC and LSU cases I'm not familiar with...

ATrain32

November 17th, 2009 at 6:51 PM ^

The RR comfort zone idea seems to be a reasonable idea to consider, but you don't support your ideas with facts or details.

For instance, did you actually look at the rosters Ferentz, Kelly and Harbaugh inherited and evaluate the development of the players? I'm interested in how you support these blanket assertions.

1. 'They improved their teams fast.' (This is different than saying they are successful coaches).
2. 'They are better at working with the talent at their disposal than Rodriguez...... '

more please.

jsquigg

November 17th, 2009 at 5:39 PM ^

Look man, no one is saying we don't lack defensive talent. With that said, what does one learn from this diary, other than it seems that your thesis is: Don't blame Richrod for our lack of execution because we are at a severe talent defense.
Unfortunately, your argument doesn't hold up well when comparing our defense to just about anyone. I am unable and unwilling to give the coaching a pass on this. Things will get better but Rodriguez will be the first to tell you that the coaches deserve a good deal of the blame for what's going on.
To be honest, I haven't seen a defense look worse against competent competition of late except maybe USC (which is really weird). I think I'd still take USC's defense though.

PurpleStuff

November 17th, 2009 at 6:14 PM ^

This illustrates that Rodriguez and staff are actually getting a lot out of the talent that they have available to them. If the staff performs at the same level when they have more talent at their disposal (as will inevitably be the case in the not so distant future), the defense will be very good.

Feel free to actually compare our depth chart with "just about anyone." If you find one example of a team in a similar situation in terms of depth/talent/experience that is outperforming our defense, I would be happy to hear about it. Until then, stop whining about the coaches when the cause for all of our problems is abundantly apparent to anyone who knows anything about college football.

EDIT: By comparison, that USC defense you mentioned (which is still struggling because they are very young in the front seven) has 18 non-freshmen who were four or five star recruits. Michigan has only 9. They have zero walk-ons in the two-deep. Michigan has 5.

ATrain32

November 17th, 2009 at 6:35 PM ^

Well stated Purplestuff.

Actually, I did learn something from your diary. I like your ideas because you examined an underlying platitude that people have been throwing about.. "it has to be a problem with the coaching". While this is a reasonable stance to consider, I think many people are emotionally frustrated with the D's play and simply looking to assign blame rather than think about it.

To be honest, you got my attention with your handling of the topic. One of RR's pluses coming into M job was that he got the most of the talent tree he had at WVU. One thread dangling out there was why that developing talent didn't seem to be happening here at M.

Your analysis digs a little deeper than most people have been willing to consider and actually suggests RR/staff are doing better than people give them credit for on D! I think some 'bottom line' people will never likely concede this point because they just see Michigan's name brand next to awful statistics. However, you make a effective case that things are better than they appear in the papers.

Thank you for the thoughtful evaluation.

raleighwood

November 17th, 2009 at 9:56 PM ^

"This illustrates that Rodriguez and staff are actually getting a lot out of the talent that they have available to them."

I just find it hard to say that they are getting "a lot" out of the talent when 2008 and 2009 will end up being the two statistically worst defensive teams in Michigan history.

Michigan is giving an average of 35 points per game to Big Ten teams and ND. 279 points in eight games.

Conversely, MAC teams have played 13 games against Big Ten competiton this year giving up a total of 408 points. That's an average of 31 points per game.

While I realize that this isn't exactly a scientific rationale, it looks to me that Michigan's defense is worse than an average MAC team. All that while starting two veteran five star recruits (and NFL prospects) and healthy mix of upper class three and four star recruits (Mouton, Woolfolk, Ezeh, Brown...) along with a couple of walk-ons. MAC teams don't have this level of overall talent but they are getting similar/better results.

I don't deny that Michigan's defense will get better in the coming years. It can't get worse, right? I just don't think it's necessarily fair (or accurate) to think that Michigan is getting the most out of the talent available.

PurpleStuff

November 17th, 2009 at 11:20 PM ^

Please, someone show me a defense doing more with less. Show me the roster, show me the star rankings, and show me the depth chart. Just once, somebody take the time to do the research before spouting platitudes that have nothing to do with the reality of constructing a college football team.

The individual players on this roster are being developed at an admirable rate. There just aren't enough of them to field a good defense. Most MAC teams probably have enough scholarship players in their sophomore, junior and senior classes to field a defense. This Michigan team does not (Williams is the only safety).

One weak link can destroy a defense. We have seven scholarship players who aren't freshmen to play seven spots in the back seven. Rodriguez and staff would have to turn every single one of them into high end players (which no staff in the history of football has ever done) while also effectively moving Stevie Brown back to safety if they wanted to field a good defense.

ATrain32

November 17th, 2009 at 6:21 PM ^

Most telling line....

"I am unable and unwilling to give the coaching a pass on this."

but the second line of interest is...

"Unfortunately, your argument doesn't hold up well when comparing our defense to just about anyone."

Could you please back that up with actual argumentation beyond hyperbole and vague reference to RR words.

Other than I just disagree with the OP, what is the thinking behind your point?

Seth

November 17th, 2009 at 6:28 PM ^

Thanks for putting this together.

I love the expectation vs. performance way of doing this. I've been working on a very long (and still not up to snuff) diary that does this for Michigan's teams as far back as I can reasonably do it.

I'd really like to see how this compares with player development under Lloyd.

The early returns from my roster study looked pretty ugly, but I have nothing else to compare it to.

One thing that has thrown me off a bit is, as you pointed out, some players seem to have reached potential under RR that they were not reaching under Carr. Stevie Brown, specifically. Ryan Mundy (because I have to calculate his eventual worth in his overall talent assessment, which was, ultimately, determined under Rich Rod at WVa.) is, strangely, another.

On the other hand, Ezeh and Mouton seem to have regressed under Rodriguez.

teldar

November 17th, 2009 at 7:15 PM ^

is who was the LB coach under Carr? Was it someone who was respected? Did they go with English to EMU?

It certainly 'sounds' like Hopson isn't getting it done. The same with the secondary coach. However, this is the same secondary coach who got quite a bit out of R. Mundy.

PurpleStuff

November 17th, 2009 at 7:29 PM ^

Mouton didn't really play much as a RS freshman in Carr's last year, so to say he's regressed since the Rodriguez takeover doesn't make sense (though he did play better last year than this year). Ezeh did play as a RS freshman and earned freshman all-american honors (though considering he is a Butkus semi-finalist this year maybe we should take that with a grain of salt). I never thought, "wow that guy is going to be really good," but he and Mouton both seem to be lost this year. They weren't great last year, but they weren't this bad either. My hope is that the three coordinators in three years thing has taken its toll and that both see a big senior year surge like Harris and Burgess had.

I still find it hard to blame Hopson though when only two guys at a two-player position are upperclassmen (and only three aren't freshmen) and those two guys just don't happen to be very good. No coach turns every player he gets into a quality contributor and that is what we are essentially asking him to do. That combined with the mitigating coordinator circumstances makes me reserve judgment on Hopson as a coach so far.

colin

November 17th, 2009 at 9:04 PM ^

who's watched Obi as much as I have, thanks to the HTTV '08 article (where I compared David Harris' '06 to Obi in '07). I don't think Obi has regressed and I've always expressed a lot of doubt that he'd be any good. He's just a low 3 star flier who's been forced into action thanks to attrition.

markusr2007

November 17th, 2009 at 6:36 PM ^

Great post!

RR's time at WVU is also interesting to consider on this question. It'd be good to do more detailed research some of the player development there.

Entering 2001, WVU's 3-8 season, RR inherited only 4 offensive starters (2 more than UM had in '08). But on defense he had a ridiculous number of players returning, like 9, including star LB Grant Wiley, 3 of the 4 down lineman and the entire secondary. They should have struggled offensively that year, but 3-8? "No freaking way!" they'd have said. But that's exactly what happened.

When you look at RR's defenses at WVU between 2001-2007, the ppg (scoring defense) and ypg (total defense) of each team progressively improved every year, with the exception of 2003 (year 3) when then had only 5 returning starters and 2006.

This scoring and total defensive improvement was achieved despite having similarly high early tenure player attrition numbers (graduation/departures) as RR witnessed at Michigan.

IME the progressive defensive improvement at WVU under RR can be attributed mainly to competency and consistency at the defensive coordinator position. Jeff Casteel came in 2001 from UTEP and never looked back. Casteel has been a lifer as WVU DC ever since. Other defensive assistant genius was sprinkled in there during the 2001-2007 run, including Todd Graham (now HC at Tulsa, a former WVU LB coach).

There were some great defensive players at WVU during this period like LB James Davis, LB Grant Wiley, SS Shawn Hackett, Rover Angel Estrada, DT David Upchurch and DE Kevin Freeman, among many others.

Overall, RR's defenses between 2001 and 2008 have averaged giving up 23 ppg game and being 44th ranked nationally in scoring defense. They typically give up about 348 ypg and are ranked 47th nationally in total defense.

Not impressive by Michigan standards, one might say, right?

LC's teams between 1999-2007 gave up only 19 ppg on average and finished ranked 21st nationally against the score on average. They also gave up typically 327 yards ypg and finished ranked 30th nationally. This is part where pitchfork holders say "YEAH! AND THE Big10 > BigEast ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!"

My questions are:

1.) How well does Greg Robinson matche up to what Jeff Casteel accomplished. I think Robinson can do better given time.

2.) Does Greg Robinson, like Jeff Casteel, have the authority to bring in the right assistant defensive coaches that fit HIS philosophy, not the HC's? The way RR organized things was to ensure GERG fit RR's own hand-picked assistants. This happens on occasion, but I'm not sure it yields the right results. Getting along is important (just don't watch any game tapes of Bo, Bill M, Jerry H and Lloyd Carr. It's all yelling), but not meeting the team objectives is way worse. If he does have the authority, then Robinson might wish to go shopping for some more promising and proven defensive assistant coaches in the future.

teldar

November 17th, 2009 at 7:19 PM ^

are something that has somewhat concerned me from day one. When I heard that Schafer was going to have to use RR's asst defensive coached. I would love to see Gerg getting his own defensive assistants. Don't know if it's what's causing issues, but if the LB and DB coaches change, we'll have an idea of what Gerg thought was part of the problem.

ajscipione

November 17th, 2009 at 8:39 PM ^

Thanks, great post with lots of good info. I just hope RR gets enough time to work his majic like I believe he can. The media and knee-jerk reaction fans need to cut RR some slack.

AdverseVillain77

November 17th, 2009 at 9:31 PM ^

It is great to see people take time and effort out of their day in order to make the board more informative, whether or not I agree with their conclusions. I do agree with your conclusion though.

PurpleStuff

November 17th, 2009 at 11:41 PM ^

Please point out the walk-ons throughout these teams' depth charts. Please show me where they have 16 players who aren't freshmen on defense. Brian Kelly inherited a team at Cincinnati that had six players drafted after his first season. Michigan may not have six players drafted off the 2008, 2009, and 2010 teams combined.

Look at the actual roster of these teams before you spout this moronic stuff. Back up your position with facts (not just "those teams are playing well now and they aren't as famous as Michigan") or else shut up.

EDIT: And by the way, Stanford's defense gives up 5.9 yards per play. Michigan gives up 5.7 yards per play. The only thing keeping their total defense numbers below ours is their ball control offense.

jokewood

November 17th, 2009 at 10:52 PM ^

is where I see player development on defense.

Graham is playing like an All-American. Martin and Van Bergen are on track to being great by the time they leave. Banks and Sagesse are mid-level talents who have developed into competent back-ups. Campbell is still extremely raw but has shown improvement throughout the year.

Patterson is a bust, but a 100% success rate is unrealistic.

victors2000

November 18th, 2009 at 8:22 AM ^

He does appear to be on the fast track to success, but if we did hire him he wouldn't magically have the team back to winning 8 or 9 games a season just like that. There is a genuine talent deficiency here, not to mention that the players here fit Coach Rod's system not his. Coach Harbaugh would have to recruit his people, there would be defections, and what if his DC didn't come along as Coach Rodriguez's DC didn't? We would be following in the footsteps of Notre Dame and fall from glory for a whole decade instead of just a few years.
I believe the darkest days of the program are behind it. I didn't expect the 'gutting' that took place while coach Rod installed his offense, and in hindsight it is understandable how the defense has floundered given the change in DC's that has occurred, but now that there has been a complete recruiting class under the program's belt, a slight foundation built with more guys on the way, the program is on it's way back to the top. Why restart another 'gutting'? I believe the man we have at the top will get the job done, let's keep the faith.

At least for another year. :P

3rdGenerationBlue

November 18th, 2009 at 8:39 AM ^

Thanks for the detailed post PurpleStuff - it helps put rational thought to the current situation. After reading it I am more optimistic about the potential improvements for Michigan's defense. That said, it is going to be difficult to replace BG and Warren (if he leaves) - Brown's replacement will also have big shoes to fill. As unfortunate as it may be it will probably take until 2011 for the defense to have enough talent, experience and depth to compete with top ranked teams. The real question is will the offense be more successful in the second half of games next year to keep enough pressure off the defense. Independent of all our well reasoned analysis and gnashing of teeth (depending on your perspective) RR and the entire coaching staff need to get Michigan to a bowl game next year.

cfaller96

November 18th, 2009 at 9:18 AM ^

For those who still want to criticize the coaching staff, I challenge you to find one example of a team with a more depleted depth chart that had success...

That's just it, that's the core of the disagreement. A lot of M fans absolutely refuse to admit how bad the depth chart on defense is. They're willing to admit that M is a little "down" talentwise, but they absolutely refuse to believe that M is right now regularly operating at a talent deficiency against most of the Big Ten. That's just unpossible to them, and so they reject it out of hand without looking at the facts.

Faith-based reasoning exists in the sports world too, so if you can figure out a way to get people to abandon it, let me know.

harmon40

November 21st, 2009 at 4:54 PM ^

Maybe this is why when RichRod came in he said something to the effect of, "Winged helmets don't get you first downs."

Look, we're spoiled. There is probably no fan base in the world, in any sport, in any culture, that can handle consistent success of their team over years and years without developing something like an ignorant sense of entitlement (as well as maybe a bordering-on-unhealthy emotional investment in their team's success, I know that's true for me).

The fact is that most of us, even alums, don't have any idea what it really takes to build and maintain a program over time. We would know even less about what it takes to come into a less-than-ideal situation (i.e., talent deficiency) and get it turned around.

RichRod's staff is dealing with real-world challenges that must be dealt with in real-world ways. Short-term, that means game-planning to cover your deficiencies as best you can. Long-term, it means trying to reduce and eliminate your deficiencies.

This does take time.

They can recruit the right players, but there's nothing they can do to make their bodies grow faster, or download game experience and maturity into the brains like in The Matrix.

I absolutely believe that the RichRod regime needs another 2 years before we can really evaluate it.

I can just imagine the following turn of events though:

1. RichRod and staff are ejected before they have a chance to coach a fully loaded team

2. The next regime succeeds when RichRod's recruits mature

3. An army of crowing morons endlessly repeats, "Coach X sure gets a lot more out of those guys than RichRod ever did..."

Rasmus

November 18th, 2009 at 9:32 AM ^

is you don't overstate the value of the Rivals rankings. You seem to take them for what they are, a very rough estimate. They are the best we have, but here's Theo Epstein on the business of predicting future performance:

"... Virtually any trade you make is a crapshoot. When things don't work out, people like to give us a hard time. That's their right, and I would do the same thing as a fan. But reality is that we're not shooting for perfection. In baseball, we're shooting to shift the odds of being right from maybe 50-50 to 55-45. Because we're in the business of predicting future human performance. You simply can't do that. What we try to do is put thorough processes in place with really good people and stick to our organizational ideals and try to shift the odds from 50-50 to 55-45. ..."

[Boston Globe]

And that's within major league baseball, where they are rating players' performances against consistent levels of competition, with reams of data. Nothing like high school sports, where the levels of competition are so widely disparate. I'd be very curious to know where Epstein places the odds of drafting a player out of high school that will be successful even within the minor leagues. An out-of-my-ass guess would be maybe a 20 percent chance of being right, with the better organizations getting 25 percent?

Now, NCAA football does not have a draft. Michigan makes offers to players they think they have a shot at getting. So it's a completely different dynamic. But my point is that the odds of a Rivals ranking being right are somewhere in that neighborhood. In short, recruiting is a "crapshoot," and that's where coaching and "organizational ideals" come into it. Programs that are consistently successful aren't that way just because they get better talent. They do, but all coaches have to deal with a majority of players who don't turn out to be as predicted (in both directions). How well they cope with that reality is what separates the great coaches from the merely good ones.

PTS

November 18th, 2009 at 10:21 AM ^

You could see it last year with the offense that the plays were there to be had they just idd not have the talent to make them, this year they have the tallent and are making some of them. The same is true with the D the plays are there but there is not the talent to make them. If you start a walk on safty and linebacker you can't complain about some busted plays...there is a reason why they are walkons.

Blue in Seattle

November 18th, 2009 at 1:17 PM ^

That statement,

"But I hated it when my Univ of Wisconsin freidn referred to us as 'The Baby Seal' of football teams."

explains why there are still people blindly saying "Coach Rodriguez has not progressed."

They should complete it with, "Coach Rodgriguez has not progressed to the point where I can brag that I'm a Michigan Fan."

We all enjoy wins, we especially enjoy wins over Notre Dame, MSU and OSU,

In my bottom line bragging book, Coach Rodgriguez has already progressed over last year. To be clear, More total Wins, and at least one "Marqee" win (over no marqee wins last year)

Not that I don't want more.

Sorry that this calls you out Blue Fan, specifically, but that's the liability of a post

Oh,and to PurpleStuff, an excellent diary. You made your point very well, supported it in a way that promoted discussion of facts, and most of all was unique on it's topic. Instead of adding to the pile of analysis on the raw talent it looked at the aspect of development from the present coaching staff.

Ive been sitti…

November 18th, 2009 at 2:31 PM ^

Attrition and inexperience are the excuses that apologists are making for the defense being terrible this year.
Last year Shafer and transition problems were the excuses.
What are the excuses going to be next year?
Better defensive coaches would have produced a better defense, this year and last year. Morgan Trent is having a break out season with the Bengals. The coaching staff last year transformed him from a multiyear starter to someone who made virtually no plays. Ezeh and Mouton have been getting worse week after week.

cfaller96

November 19th, 2009 at 12:51 PM ^

Please show us all the evidence to support your assertion that "better defensive coaches would have produced a better defense, this year and last year."

Look at the depth chart. Then, look at how many coordinators M has had in the last 5 years. If you're not willing to cut the coaches some slack when they literally don't have the players (please look at the safety depth chart again), then I don't think there's anything RichRod can do that will satisfy you. Please go root for Texas or Florida or something.

When the weather becomes fair again here at M, I'm sure we'll see you again.

Ive been sitti…

November 19th, 2009 at 1:40 PM ^

I was willing to accept 7-5 last year and this year, which is two games below where Michigan has been historically, that's plenty of slack.

8-16(3-13 in the big ten) even with all the attrition and inexperience on defense isn't good enough and is underachieving. To recap RichRod has lost to Toledo at home and twice to below .500 Purdue and Illinois.

I'm not a fair weather fan, I literally sat through the Penn St. game this year,Northwestern game last year and the Purdue game in 1995. I've had season tickets for 25 years and plan to have them for 50 more, win or lose.

Jim Herrmann did very well his first year as defensive coordinator. One theory at the time was that he had an advantage because the other teams didn't know his tendencies.

If you want to find excuses it's not that hard to find them. Excuses are for losers.

The only explanation for not putting some, if not most, of the blame for the horrific defensive performance the last two seasons on the coaching the last two seasons is blind loyalty.

DMadCat

November 21st, 2009 at 9:07 AM ^

Jesus f'ing GD christ I'm sick of hearing this kind of BS.

What do you think? You think having this fucking team basically DECIMATED prior to RR's first season shouldn't be a reason to have a down season or two?! Do you think ANY of Carr's recruits were worth two shits? Any of the ones that left when it got too hard or the ones who stayed because they were LUCKY to have landed a spot on a Michigan football team and now they'd actually get to play?! Did you forget that it was CARR's team and CARR's recruits that lost to fucking App State and Toledo during a season where we fielded SENIORS at QB and RB and most of the lines?!

And you fucking losers come to these boards and these blogs and you rant about how we should be a better team, we should be as great as we've always been because somehow goddamn brand new freshman, playing their first fucking college games, and sophomores, many of whom wouldn't even be on the field during a typical Michigan season, trying to pick up the broken pieces of a decimated team must somehow be more capable than they are simply because they don the winged helmet.

And so it must be these fucking coaches and their rotten schemes. Or maybe, just maybe, its the fucking fans... these fucking so called Michigan fans... the ones I thought I knew... the ones I've always been so proud of because no matter what we always reacted with class and grace and never stooped so low as an OSU clown, or an MSU troll.

But now I come and I read this blog and these posts and this nonsense and bullshit about how terrible we are and how much worse we look at the end of the season and I ask myself if these "people" could possibly be Michigan fans... if they can possibly be watching the same games I am and if so, how the fuck can they be so shortsighted and stupid?

You people have no idea what it means to be a Michigan fan. You whine and throw tantrums like the OSU asshats I'm surrounded by. They're laughing down here at how everyone up north is calling for Rodriguez to be fired. Speculating at fucking Harbaugh taking over as head coach amidst their alternating worship of and whining about their own coach, calling for his head and other stupid shit.

You can't root for Michigan and root against your own coaches. Not in his second year, not in his thirteenth year. Our guy came from West Virginia and he's heard the hype. He claims he gets it but we don't think so. Why should he with IDIOTS calling for his firing after two seasons with no players and a completely new scheme? If getting it means enduring idiots with no brains screaming "win or you're fired!" then there's nothing to get.

You want "him" to get it? You want him to build a winner? Then you as fans... you as Yost... you as Chrisler and the great winged helmets... you as Schembechler and great Ten Year War... you as THE TEAM get behind him and raise him up to the height he never knew was possible. You do what only the fans at Michigan can do for a head coach. You don't just root for him at Michigan. You don't just sit on the fence and wait to decide if you like this guy. Because Michigan is not just about winning. Michigan is more than that and until YOU make it more than that winning will not come. You get behind him and his coaches and his players and you don't just root for him as head coach at Michigan, YOU MAKE HIM MICHIGAN. Only then will he truly "get it" and only then will you get it.

And if you just can't, then fuck you. Fuck you for being fat and lazy and stupid. Go join fucking Boren because on today of all days IF YOU'RE NOT WITH US, YOU'RE AGAINST US.

Those who stay will be champions.