The Anti-Carr

Submitted by ijohnb on November 3rd, 2009 at 8:13 AM

Many posts that I have seen (and written) since the Penn State game have hammered Rich Rod for the team's poor performance. However, I have noticed with myself and others that there is a distinct lack of specifics in terms of what the criticism is directed at. His playcalling? The way he communicates and motivates (or his possible lack of ability to)? His defensive hirings and/or schemes? What is it exactly that many are objecting to. The seeming inability to answer this question may be the disconnect between hardcore RR supporters and those that are and have questioned the hiring from the beginning. For those that place a lot of blame on many of this teams failures kind of fall back to a general "blame the coach" without really disecting any specific aspect of his coaching.

I was and have been guilty of this, but not due to lack of knowledge or simply using Rich Rod as a scapegoat, but instead to an inability to really put my finger on what it was the has disturbed me about this coach. Then yesterday I saw the term "anti-Carr" used in several variations on this Blog. It got me thinking. Rich Rod is truly the anti-Carr, the exact opposite of Lloyd Carr in almost every way as a ooach.

Trust me, there were many aspects of Lloyd Carr that I did not like, and many things that I questioned. However, there was a certain self-control to the way that Carr coached that was comforting and assuring. True, many times the same qualities may have resulted in unreasonable restraint, sometimes costing the team an opportunity to really put an opponent away and/or a game out of reach. When it came to taking risks, Carr always defaulted to shying away from "confrontation," he would (sometimes too often) "live to fight another day." However, many times Carr's restraint, in my opinion, saved Michigan's ass in certain circumstances where making the opposite decision could have had catastrphic results. Now, take Rich Rod, the exact opposite is true. RR defaults to the risk. He often does so seemingly without so much as a passing thought regarding what the catastrophic results could be. In doing so, Michigan seems to often be left without a Plan B or a contingency play, whatever you want to label it. Take the goal line stand against Illinois:

After third down. Were stopped. Fourth and Goal. We have a 13-7 lead on a down and out team. A six point lead, a one possession game. We have an offense very susceptible to mistake, a defense with a really fragile mindset and very limited talent. Also, an Illinois team that would have been killed by a touchdown, however, through first, second, and third down, you could feel their intensity picking up, the crowd gradually taking notice. I remember the days of Lloyd and can assure you that one of the following would have happenned. 1) A field goal, a two possession game, neither team is completely deflated, both have acheived some form of success, and both live to fight another day, Michigan with a distinct advantage on the score board, 2) A time out before fourth down with adequete contemplation given to the fourth and goal try, many times with player input received and computed, and a DECISION being made as to its prudence, or 3) number 2 happens and we get stopped, Lloyd would have gathered his defense and truly told them, in fact yelled at them, their importance at that time. Not in an angry or panicked way, but in a "this is it, what are we made of" kind of way.

As it stands today, none of that took place. We went to the line of scrimmage, rushing to get our personell on the field, a decision never really being made, no real recognition or at least no acknowledgment as to how crucial the moment was. Just an angry and confused look on Rich Rod's face and a real sense of deflation after were stopped. Defense like "oh shit," nobody in their ear really coaching, teaching, calming, or fueling. Not Plan-B, no contingency, just panic.

I'm not really that upset that we got stopped on the goal line just in and of itself, and I am not saying that we should have kicked a field goal, but I can say that I am a little disturbed that none of numbers 1-3 listed above took place. If this take on things was posted to Rich Rod, he would probably not even understand the question, he defaults to the risk, that appears to be the way he was built. Much in the same way that Lloyd Carr did not understand the question that was posed to him by the ABC reporter as to taking a knee at halftime of the M v. OSU game in 2003-2004 (Which was the other extreme-I am not denying that was problematic in the exact opposite way) It doesn't enter Rich Rod's mind that something may not work or what the consequences of failure at particular times may be, at least it doesn't look that way.

That is one problem that I have that the goal line stand illustrated in one catch all scenario. Does Rich Rod believe that deliberation = weakness? Or that living to fight another day = surrender. If he does, is that a problem? Does this team (and this coach) often seem desperate in circumstances that don't warrent desperation?

There were a lot of things about Lloyd Carr that I did not like and many decisions that I did not concur with. But I am not sure if I wanted the "Anti-Carr," not to this degree. Are there those out there who share this sentiment? I'd like to know.



November 3rd, 2009 at 8:24 AM ^

I'm a Rodriguez supporter, but these are some issues I have with him:

1. Substitutions. For example, why not put Minor or Grady in there on 1st-and-goal against Illinois? If Minor was healthy enough to run on 4th down, he was healthy enough to run on 1st or 2nd or 3rd.

2. Designed runs for Forcier. Forcier isn't a talented runner. He is a talented scrambler. Calling running plays for him is ceding a big play that might happen with the ball in someone else's hands.

3. Insistence on playing Denard at QB. Denard should NEVER be allowed to pass downfield again this season. Bubble screens or quick hitches or sprint-outs? Maybe. But that kid can't stand in the pocket and read a defense. No way.

4. Insistence on throwing the ball. The strength of this offense is in its running game. Minor, Brown, Shaw, Grady, etc. should be fed the ball. Going 5-wide with a mediocre offensive line and a fidgety freshman QB is ridiculous. Play with a tight end and run up the middle. Run the stretch play. Run from the I-formation and get some play action passes.

There are more, but I have to get some work done.


November 3rd, 2009 at 8:37 AM ^

2. Designed runs for Forcier. Forcier isn't a talented runner. He is a talented scrambler. Calling running plays for him is ceding a big play that might happen with the ball in someone else's hands.

I believe it was the third quarter right after Illinois scored to go up 14-13 and it was third and 3 or so. The call was a qb sweep with Tate and of course he didn't get it. This was really one of the first times the playcalling confused me. It just seemed like absolutely the wrong call with the wrong personnel. You want to run that sweep with Denard? Go for it but with Forcier seemed a little odd.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:43 AM ^

If you will remember, Illinois had 12 men on the field for that play because we snapped the ball so quickly. I am not saying that 12th man had any bearing on the outcome of the play or that the 12th man somehow made it a good call by RichRod, but if the refs had called it we would have gotten the 1st down regardless. I was actually wondering, because the play looked so hurried, if Tate took it upon himself to sneak it (because he saw the guy still on the field) or if QB sneak is a play we can call and get up to the line quickly to try and catch the other team off-guard.


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:56 AM ^

There was also a post that talked about how he yells at his players and coaches on the sidelines. I had a varsity coach once who would yell at and pull players whenever they did anything wrong. Since people played scared they played tight and cautious and the team got worse as the season went on.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:21 AM ^

If Minor is healthy enough to go in flat cold for a fourth down run, why cant he just be a the goalline specialist from the get go on the possession?

I thought in the PSU, running designed runs for Tate really cost us a couple drive. Once we got to about midfield, then back to back designed runs with Tate got stuff. Blocking was Carlos Brown. Isnt a designed QB run with Forcicer and Brown blocking basially our second string on that play. I cant justify putting DRob in for possessions, but why not just go ahead and bring him in for those plays if you're calling a designed QB run?

I think we have balance vis a vis run and pass....but there are certain times during the game, where we should just run the ball, simply to manage the game. Rodriguez wont do that. He's not the game manager type. I dont know ifs that a beef as much as a reality.

Needing three scores, with a third score being a FG, and then passing said FG up. Not for nothing, but kicking a FG in that spot opened the door for Braylon Fest 2004.

Showing a lack of confidence in the team at the end of the first half. Then, all of suddent having it there at the goaline. I dont know, kinda a mixed message.

Like I said in my infamous diary, I think Rodriguez reaction after that fateful sequence was very Mike Davis at IU-like. Just to repeat: that is not a good thing.

Jim Harbaugh S…

November 3rd, 2009 at 12:31 PM ^

the decision not to go for a FG was baffling to me.

You needed three scores, you take one in that instance to extend your chances of winning.

Madden has had a similar take on this when teams are down 10 points, you don't need the TD yet, you take the FG.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:52 AM ^

In response to #1.

While I may be wrong, I don't think RR makes all the substitutions for the position groups. Being the head coach, it is his resposibility ultimately, but the position coaches put in the specific players. I think that's why you saw RR and Jackson in a somewhat heated debate after that series. I could be wrong though...

Jim Harbaugh S…

November 3rd, 2009 at 12:28 PM ^

I couldn't agree more about point #4.

It has seem like in a few games the run was working well and then all of a sudden the offense got pass happy which meant 3 and outs.

I understand that there needs to be some unpredictability in the play calling, but when the run is working stick with it.

As for point #1 - I can live with Carlos getting two cracks at the end zone, but it was pretty obvious he wasn't going to get in at that point. Why give him the third shot at it? I would have liked to see Grady get a touch there.

Maize and Blue…

November 3rd, 2009 at 8:27 AM ^

is that Carlos Brown is not a power back. Therefore, I didn't like the choice of him being the tailback in the I at the goal line. I would have preferred Minor in Brown's spot or the combination of Moundros and Grady. Personally, after getting stuffed on the first two downs I would have went back to spread formation as that is our base offense.
I always considered Lloyd an 8-4 coach and believe that if RR is given the time to get the roster replenished 8-4 will be a bad year. That being said, if he doesn't start winning some conference games I'm not sure he will afforded that time.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

would keep him there, but winning more than 1 conference game per year would really help, wouldn't it?

The mythologizing of Lloyd as this amazing coach and Michigan as a program of constant glory is giving me pains. He was an 8-4 coach, he got lucky with Gary Moeller's seniors, and he was competitive for Big-10 championships but that was it. The expectations with RR is that his high-point will be B10 favorite and NC competitor


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:11 AM ^

False. In 8 of 13 years UM had 3 or fewer losses.

1995 9-4-0 5-3-0
1996 8-4-0 5-3-0
1997 12-0-0 8-0-0
1998 10-3-0 7-1-0
1999 10-2-0 6-2-0
2000 9-3-0 6-2-0
2001 8-4-0 6-2-0
2002 10-3-0 6-2-0
2003 10-3-0 7-1-0
2004 9-3-0 7-1-0
2005 7-5-0 5-3-0
2006 11-2-0 7-1-0
2007 9-4-0 6-2-0

Totals: 122-40
Average: 9.38 wins, 3.08 losses


November 3rd, 2009 at 12:58 PM ^


I think part of the lingering perceptions of Coach Carr is that a few of his teams seemed to have the pieces in place to contend only to struggle and drop games that fans couldn't explain. Consequently a 9-3 season, for example, would feel much worse than it was.

Averaging more than 9 wins a year over 13 or 14 year span and doing it with a lot of integrity is yeoman's work, especially in the days of reduced scholarships and the subsequent parity its brought to the college game. Only a handful of coaches over that period have better records than Coach Carr, but that's not good enough for some folks. I too felt the disappointment of seasons that seemed like underachievement. But this isn't systemic to Michigan. Ask Oklahoma fans about recent years. Ask Clemson fans. Ask Florida State fans. Miami fans. Tennessee fans. Washington fans. Notre Dame fans. Hell, even ask USC fans about the one game every year Pete Carroll reminds them of Paul Hackett.

All fans have high hopes (which is great), but many have unrealistic expectations. And as evidenced by "he was an 8-4 coach" crowd, some have slightly exaggerated memories.


November 3rd, 2009 at 8:51 AM ^

that Carlos Brown scored from the 2 yard line going over the right side of the offense in the first quarter, rather easily at that. I don't think it's ridiculous that you would go back to that play in the third. Now after it was stuffed, I think you start thinking about switching it up but I had no problem with the first down given what had gone on in the game beforehand.

North Star

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:00 AM ^

Hard to 2nd guess using Brown on first or second down given the results to tha point in the game - we'd been running the ball very effectively, including in the red zone up to that point. But after being stuffed twice, probably should have changed the approach - whether Minor in the game, QB sneak or a bootleg.

As to going for the FG, our defense allowed less than 100 yards in the first half - probably a reasonable assumption that we'd stop the Illini and get the ball back in decent field position.

It's easy to 2nd guess when you know the result.

The disturbing thing for me is not the play calling or game decision making - rather, it is the lack of mental toughness M shows - I understand lack of depth, holes at a number of positions and frosh QB, but there is a tenacity and toughness that is just not there.

This doesn't show up in 40 times and recruiting rankings. It is a direct result of coaching - creating the team culture. For whatever reason, M is really struggling to develop a team personality. Like most M fans I'm hopeful it emerges (and soon).


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:14 AM ^

You're completely right that it's easy to second guess, but there's a game theory logic that says you should kick the FG there. By giving the team a two score lead, you've eliminated the possibility that one defensive mistake will cost you the lead. And as we've seen, this is a defense that plays well at times but is horribly susceptible to glaring mistakes.

RR gets the logic of when you should be aggressive and it's worked out very well. I'm confident we'll rarely see punts from the 34 in a close game any more. And that's a good thing. But there are also times when there's a logic to taking points, especially when you can increase score gaps. It's these situations where his aggressiveness may be counter-productive.


November 3rd, 2009 at 8:43 AM ^

4. Insistence on throwing the ball. The strength of this offense is in its running game. Minor, Brown, Shaw, Grady, etc. should be fed the ball. Going 5-wide with a mediocre offensive line and a fidgety freshman QB is ridiculous. Play with a tight end and run up the middle. Run the stretch play. Run from the I-formation and get some play action passes.

I'm wondering if this is for recruiting purposes. Maybe he's made some promises/comments that we will be a balanced offense and not just a spread n shred running team. I too agree we are incredibly successful running it, but there has to be a reason we throw as much as we do. Since I don't see reasons on the field for doing this, I'm thinking the reasons are for the recruiting trail


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:09 AM ^

To this point in the 2009 season, Michigan has rushed the ball:

387 times.

To this point in the 2009 season, Michigan has passed the ball:

232 times.

That's a 63 / 37 run-pass ratio.

To give you some perspective, here are the run/pass numbers since 2004:

2004: 415 passes, 481 rushes. 54/46 run-pass.
2005: 409, 499. 55/45 run-pass.
2006: 331, 535. 62/38 run-pass.
2007: 423, 540. 56/44 run-pass.
2008: 338, 453. 57/43 run-pass.

Michigan is running more than it has in any year where I had quick access to statistics. Yes, they could rush more, but it's a lot easier and more effective to run when the safeties have to account for wide receivers and tight ends.

Also, having a starting running back whose ankle isn't made out of balsa wood would help the running game. Despite Minor's issues, this team is averaging 4.8 yards per rush this year. That's very good.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:10 AM ^

But two things to add: one, the raw numbers don't show the number of called pass plays that have ended up as runs due to sacks/scrambles. These plays may be accounting for a higher percentage of runs this year than in years past, I don't know.

Two, Tate and Denard have accounted for about 36% of our runs this year, which seems high to me. Maybe someone with the stats handy can say whether this is about the same as the QB percentage at WVU under RR, though.

EDIT: just looked up WVU stats from 05-07. QBs accounted for about 29%, 33%, and 39% of the team runs in those years respectively, so I think what we're seeing is probably part of the design of the offense.


November 3rd, 2009 at 12:31 PM ^

But by the same token, our passing totals this year are somewhat inflated by the large number of attempts we made in the final stages of the ND, MSU, PSU and Illinois games, when we were forced to pass because of time constraints. If you look at our run-pass ratio in just the first three quarters of games, I'd imagine it's 2-1 or greater.

Arizona Blue

November 3rd, 2009 at 9:39 AM ^

I don't want to be an M GO Asshole but the fact that you are suggesting that our team's play calling is influenced by its recruiting efforts is probably one of the most ludicrous things I have ever read on this site. With all the pressure on this team and the coaching staff, I seriously doubt that Rich Rod would sacrifice a game-plan that gives us the best chance of winning for a game plan which appeases offensive recruits. What are u smoking? Last time i checked winning football games was the best recruiting tool a coach can have. Ask Florida, LSU, USC, and dare I say TOSU. I think they would tend to agree.


November 3rd, 2009 at 8:53 AM ^

RR is here and I support him, plain and simple. I might not always understand why he makes a certain decision , good or bad, but that is why he is the coach and all I coach is a pee-wee league. I love Carr but he is not our coach anymore and I feel a sense of obligation to back whoever is at the time through all trials and tribulations.

Fuzzy Dunlop

November 3rd, 2009 at 9:24 AM ^

I support Rich Rod too, as does the original poster, I'm sure. No one here is calling for his head. But if supporting him means that we cannot question or discuss specific plays, or be at all critical of the team or the coaches' decisionmaking, what is the point of this message board?


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:53 AM ^

You misunderstood my post. I wasn't condemning anyones argument or opinion or right to make a point. The op asked if anyone else felt this way and I simply stated my position. I quit questioning calls of my favorite teams a while back (I am a Raiders fan, so I'm sure you understand) because there is quite a few other ways I could envision a lot of the plays during Mich games going just as all of us do but if I dwell on it then all I do is get irate and it ruins my day. See , now its too late! I'm pissed again! Fuck beans !

Fuzzy Dunlop

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:18 AM ^

I understand. As a Raiders fan, you've been so beaten down that you just want to curl into a fetal position murmuring "it'll be ok, it'll be ok, it'll be ok." I can respect that.

In all seriousness, the Raiders are one of the few professional teams that you can completely abandon and no one will think less of you.


November 3rd, 2009 at 8:53 AM ^

If Rodriguez is throwing the ball just to get good recruits, then that would piss me off even more, because I feel like he's perhaps sacrificed a win or two because of the failure to stick with the running game. It doesn't make much sense to miss out on a bowl game in order to...get better recruits.

Blue Durham

November 3rd, 2009 at 8:54 AM ^

play was that the defense was late (they just got lined up when Illinois snapped the ball) and unprepared to take the field, after the play was reviewed for a couple of minutes!

At the least I would have figured Gerg would have used the time to get the D (mentally) ready on the contingency that Michigan did not score.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:03 AM ^

I don't think running Brown at the goal line in and of itself is the problem, or insistence on throwing because any successful team needs to throw the ball to win. As to Tate running, Rich Rod's offense is not a secret, the QB is going to be called upon the run the ball, period.

But we were first and goal from the one, with a six point lead after just breaking an 80 yarder. Why were we the team panicking? Why was the defense disorganized? Why did we not use a timeout to discuss the matter further? Why were the merits of a two possession lead never considered or discussed? I guess that is my point, I am beginning to believe it is not an "X's and O's" problem, but maybe something more encompassing.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:15 AM ^

Michigan wasn't panicking, they didn't execute. There is a difference. Further, you have no idea whether "the merits of a two possession lead" were considered or discussed. I imagine the coach decided going for it was better than kicking the FG.

Everyone needs to stop trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Michigan is young and the coaches made some decisions they'd like to change back. Emotion means a lot in football. So does having 2 starting walk-ons on your defense, and safeties that have "tackling angle" problems (gee, remember Stevie Brown's issues?)

I know you're getting at Rich Rod's coaching ability. Let it go. The guy is building the program. He's 21 games into building the team back from what Misopogon has amply shown had a monstrous chasm in defensive talent. Given what they have to work with, with walk-ons all over the depth chart, a TRUE FRESHMAN quarterback, and the star senior RBs perpetually injured, I think it's pretty darn cool that this team is 5-4 and having a better season than teams like Florida State, Nebraska and Georgia. It bodes incredibly well for the future.


Arizona Blue

November 3rd, 2009 at 9:48 AM ^

at this point in the season, Florida State, Nebraska, and Georgia would smear the blood of our team all up and down the field. Given our current play, we are not even in the same league (both actually and metaphorically) as these teams. Nebraska is 5-3 in the Big 12, Georgia is 4-4 with loses to LSU, Tennessee, Florida, and Oklahoma State, and Florida State is 4-4. If we negate the JV team we played this year We are also 4-4 with wins over Western, Eastern, ND, and Indiana. Explain your logic please.


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:04 AM ^

My logic is that I'm pretty sure that any rational Michigan fan in August, 2009 would have accepted the Wolverines being 5-4 after 9 games, as part of the team's rational progression from 2008 and as the youngest team in Division I-A.

In 2008, Florida State finished 9-4 and probably thought a similar or better record was possible. They are 4-4 right now, and have a win over Jacksonville State, so, using your theory of discounting certain wins, they're really 3-4.

In 2008, Nebraska finished 9-4 and probably expected to be better than 4-4 at this point. 2 of their wins are over Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, so according to your theory, they are really 2-4.

In 2008, Georgia finished 10-3, and probably expected to be better than 4-4 at this point.

All three teams I mentioned had at least 9 wins last year and probably expected to build on those records. Michigan has equaled or bettered each of them to this point, except for Nebraska, who plays Oklahoma on Saturday.

Given the arcs of these three teams, Florida State, Nebraska and Georgia are underachieving. On the other hand, Michigan is exactly where we thought they'd be, as a majority of posters said in August. Therefore, Michigan is having a better season. That's my logic.

Arizona Blue

November 3rd, 2009 at 11:32 AM ^

Your rebuttal concerning Nebraska is flawed. Both Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette are division 1-A teams. They belong to the Sunbelt Conference (The MAC equivalent of the South.) They are not 1-AA opponents so Nebraska's record remains a legitimate 4-4. I will agree with you that many husker fans expected to be better but the fact remains that they are 4-4 and 2-2 in the Big 12.

your rebuttal concerning Georgia is even more flawed and borders on insanity. No one, not even dog fans, thought that Georgia would improve on their record last year. Do you even watch football outside of the Big Ten? How does losing the first overall pick in the NFL Draft (Stafford), a pre-season all american running back and first rounder (Moreno), their best receiver (Massaquoi 2rd rounder) and their best defensive lineman and corner (Corvery Irvin and Asher Allen 3rd round NFL draft.) scream for 09 improvement. Georgia's record is what probably every sane rational person assumed their record would be.

Anyways....the fact of the matter is each of these teams: Nebraska, Florida State, and Georgia would beat the current Michigan team into submission. Although I love Michigan football more than anything on God's green earth I am a realist and not delusional about our teams performance thus far.


November 3rd, 2009 at 2:07 PM ^

It's tough to posit (though not necessarily untrue) that Nebraska, Florida St. and Georgia would beat the current Michigan team into submission, and certainly not a "fact of the matter."

Michigan > Notre Dame > Washington > USC.

While clearly not to be taken seriously, the illustration above suggests that certain teams match up well enough to avoid a pulverizing.

Thus far this season, I haven't seen enough from Nebraska, Georgia, or Florida St. to confirm that Michigan would be outmatched.

Nebraska looked pretty suspect in their loss to Iowa State; Georgia was manhandled by a middling Tennessee squad 45-19; and Florida St. was only able to put up 7 points in a loss to South Florida (fewer points than the 0-9 powerhouse that is Western Kentucky managed against the same South Florida team).

I'm not sure there is enough to declare that these teams would beat Michigan into submission as a matter of fact.

Fuzzy Dunlop

November 3rd, 2009 at 9:21 AM ^

But the point is, we don't have a good line, and we know it. So if you know your line isn't going to blow the defense backwards, you don't put your finesse guy in on the goal line. You put in someone who can create that yard all by himself, even if the line doesn't open a hole.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:37 AM ^

From RichRod's 11/2 press conference:

Asked Monday if he thought he'd win quickly, he gave a terse response: "Not after I got here."

I remember once Lloyd being asked what phase of the football program most needed improvement. His immediate response? "Coaching."

Enough said.