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 9:54 AM ^

"We've got to look at everything, what we're doing, and try to fix it before this weekend."

"As coaches, we've got to try to do all we can to help with that, and we're trying, but sometimes it's not working right."

"...what we have to do right now is say okay, what can we fix right now, what can we do right now as coaches? It comes back to us as coaches. What can we do right now as coaches to help us have success right now?

Also, I'd caution people not to read too much into what happens on the sidelines. That's maybe 1% of what happens between players and coaches during a week.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:39 AM ^

Lloyd Carr was great for Michigan football. He has done and continues to represent the university well. My love for the anti-Carr is no reflection on my feelings for the man or his tenure as head football coach.

However, I love the risk-reward ratio of the new regime. I always hated punts. I love going for it on 4th down. I'd rather go for the win with a 2-point conversion down 1 with 0:01 left than play for overtime. That's just me.

I share with you all a healthy concern for where we're going. But I'm willing to suspend my judgement for a while in favour of those who know more than me (almost all of you, definitely the coaching staff and players), to see if history does, in fact, repeat itself. Will Rich Rodriguez experience the same success here that he has in the past? I think (hope!) he will. I'm willing to absorb a bit of short-term pain for what I think, in the long run, will work out very nicely.

And for that, I like seeing Denard in there. I'm ok with him making mistakes in exchange for learning and maturation. I'm ok with starting walk-ons; I like seeing them hit the field when most people told them there wasn't a chance in hell; depth is never a bad thing. I would rather see us play UCLA and Florida State, Virginia, Syracuse, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, rather than Delaware State; I don't care if we beat DSU 63-6 - I'd rather see a good game, and I think we learn more from losing to a better team than hammering a cupcake.

And one day, I really hope we see a playoff, like in every other NCAA sport, to stop encouraging teams to load up on cupcakes every year.

Finally, I respect, maybe even share, the healthy skepticism shown here lately. I'm just not sure how it's helpful.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:41 AM ^

First of all, I'd imagine those statistics (the 63/37 run-pass ratio) don't account for when Tate/Denard are sacked or scramble. There are probably more pass plays called than 37%, although I'm sure that wouldn't make a vast difference in the percentages.

Anyway, part of my complaint was that we might pass the ball 30 times but then only hand off to Brown/Minor 10 times, while Forcier carries the ball 14 times (and I think these statistics are about what happened in the MSU game). Whether it's Brown or Minor or Shaw or Smith or Grady, our running back carries should vastly outnumber Forcier's rushing attempts.

So when I see 30 passing attempts and only 10 handoffs to our starting running backs, that's "passing too much" in my opinion.


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:08 AM ^

You're right. They don't account for sacks / scrambles. But then again, they didn't account for Chad Henne's scrambles in 2004-2007 either.

I'll wait for the cymbal crash.

Okay - I think you'd be getting your wish regarding running if, as has become evident, Minor is just not going to be healthy, and Brown got crocked in practice before Iowa. All the more reason, in my mind, to start riding Shaw in anticipation of 2010.


November 3rd, 2009 at 12:30 PM ^

As I noted above, our passing totals (such as they are) are inflated by making a ton of attempts in the final stages of the ND, MSU, PSU and Illinois games, when we absolutely had to throw the ball. If you just look at our play distribution in the first three quarters of games, I'd imagine it's at least a 2-1 ratio in favor of the run. I don't think it's realistic to call for a still-more slanted distribution.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:44 AM ^

I have one problem with this diary. The writer critizes Rich Rod for not taking the "easy" 3 points and go up two scores. I don't know how RR is influenced (if at all) by what is going on around him, but he was strongly critized for not going for the win at MSU and instead, kicking the extra point and going into OT.
People, you can't have it both ways. It's fun to be a Monday morning quarterback, but none of us have any idea what it is like to be in his shoes. I am disappointed, but I am going to let him coach, because that's what he does best.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

and it does to some degree, invalidate my point. However, the decision not to go for two had kind of the same feel, a disorganized, poorly contemplated, non-decision. But your point is well taken and my response is not to challenge the merit of yours, just kind of supports mine in a strange way as well.

Maize and Blue…

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:56 AM ^

had something to do with a QB that was totally spent at that point. With no TOs to get Tate a break it was the right decision. I was sitting in the end zone 29 rows up from where the TD took place.
As for the Illinois game, if they score there Juice's day is probably done. Zook wasn't going to put the backup in at the 1/2 yard line.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:50 AM ^

My turn to rant, so forgive me...

For me, it's about that good 'ole term "Gravitas." Since RichRod's hiring, I've suspected that he just doesn't possess the gravitas that most historic Michigan coaches have had. Is it his fault? Perhaps not all of it. Did Carr have it? I'd say yes, although a good portion of it may have been inherited. But it gets to the heart of the larger issue: U of M as a superb institution and cradle of excellence on and off the field.

RR's off-field antics and on-field rants diminish the entire program, which was perennially in the top ten in the nation. Now schools like Boise State, Cincinnati, Utah and South Florida rank well ahead of us. To me, that's just incredible.

I think RichRod will struggle as a Michigan coach for as long as he's here. His philosophy is quite different, some would say inferior, from most Big Ten programs and he has an air of desperation about him that is just plain unseemly. Because of this, I suspect lackluster recruting may end up being his Achilles heel long term. Most talented student athletes want to enroll in a prominent program on the rise with a reasonable chance at a national title during their tenure. I have this sinking feeling that we'll be relegated to being an "emerging" program that won't reach critical mass under RichRod.

I fear more pain and frustration for as long as RichRod's running the show.

Of course, I hope I'm proven completely wrong. As far as my eyes can see, we'll be "emerging" and "rebuilding" for quite some time.


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:17 AM ^

There are some points here that I can't help but agree with, no matter how much I've put my fingers in my ears and hummed "la-la-la-la-la" the last 16 months. There is a disconnect with many alumni circles, but I have to say for every grumpy "this guy is the Anti-Carr" fanbase there's another who is able to take a holistic view of college football and see Utah, Cincinnati and Boise St. sit at the top of the pack and say "man this game has really changed and I want back in." I'll admit that after watching Oregon v. USC Saturday night that I'd be the first to sacrifice a 6-6 season this year and a 4 - 5 loss season in each of 2010 and 2011 to see us run something like that because it's fast and exciting, it gets your blood pumping and it wins the big games. I can't imagine seeing Carr on the sidelines rolling his fingers violently to tell his offense to get another snap off before the 3rd quarter ends to catch the defense off balance like Chip Kelly did.

That aside I think much of the criticism isn't considering the "gravitas" aspect you mention. Much of it is misguided, ill-informed and intellectually dishonest. I heard a guy on WKTA say (not a direct quote) "with this level of talent you have to win. The problem is coaching." No, no, no, no, a million times no. C'mon fans, do a little homework before attacking a guy that is doing his best to turn around a program with nothing but a few cans of leftover yams in the cupboard.


November 3rd, 2009 at 12:31 PM ^

You're kinda stretching things a bit, dont you think. I find your straw man Gravitas to be a little weak.

Maybe read both parts of the Decimated Defense to get a grip on the true state of the program now and where it was when the RR era started.

Frankly, some of those teams you listed, and many many more, have been ahead of Michigan since at least the middle of this decade.

The Michigan you have in your head is a myth, one that has not been around since the late 1990s. People have been passing the program for years. You're only recognizing this now, which is part of the problem you have with Rodriguez. I dont think this program was indeed a perennial top-10 program during this decade.

As far aa lackluster recruting, RR has brought in twice as many 5/4 star players in the 2008/2009 than in the 2006-2007 classes the preceeded him. I dont think what he is doing can be considered lackluster recruiting.

I think we should all wait until he's had a returning QB to deal with and his upperclassmen that came to play for him before deciding the merits of this gravitas bullshit you speak of.

But, hey your post sounded fancy.


November 3rd, 2009 at 9:58 AM ^

I think one of the things people were excited about was Rr's game theory. Things such as not punting inside the 40 an whatnot. But sometimes this stuff works. Heck I thought Jopa's decision to punt from the 37 vs UM was soooooo stupid. Turns out Michigan gets the ball inside the 10 panics and gets a sefety followed by a short field 1 play td drive game over.

I just think rr knows one speed. Petal too the metal. And sometes with such a shitty team you want to shorten a game, and do the safe thing. But this goes against his whole philosophy. It's Hurry all the time catch these guys off gaurd, and spread and shred them!!!! It's the not system or play calls. I think it's running frantic plays with a shitty oline and a true freshman qb.

Bando Calrissian

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:42 AM ^

If you have confidence in your punter to put it inside the 10 instead of a touchback, and you have confidence in your defense that they can stop the run and put pressure on a quarterback if need be, there is absolutely nothing wrong with punting from the 37. Nothing. Even a touchback is better than failing on 4th down and handing your opponent the ball at or near their own 40.

And lest we forget that playing for field position has worked quite well for Jim Tressel. That's how he wins so many games in such aggravatingly close fashion.


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:00 AM ^

It's the position coach who decides which player plays on a particular play and thus it was Jackson who decided to put Carlos Brown in for those goal line plays. If you noticed during the game, RR was pretty heated with Jackson after the goal line stand and you could probably assume he wanted Minor in there for more than one play.

los barcos

November 3rd, 2009 at 12:06 PM ^

i have not heard anything like this before, and judging by seemingly dictatorship approach rr takes to organizing his offense i think it would be very bizarre for him to cede personnel decisions to the position coach at such a critical juncture.

the fact that he was laying into jackson on the sidelines, to me, is not dispositive of jackson making the choice to go with brown.

has anyone else heard of this before?


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:01 AM ^

I think going for the jugular is a situational thing. In the MSU game, we had the momentum and had just marched down the field. I felt we had to go for the win.

In the Illinois game, we had just been stuffed on 3 consecutive plays. In a way, Illinois had the momentum. In that case, maybe you take 3 points and kick the ball off to a sputtering offense.

Full disclosure: At the time, I wanted us to run a play action pass on 4th down. I never really considered the FG seriously.


November 3rd, 2009 at 10:42 AM ^

I can't help but feel like the Michigan Coaching situation feels a bit too much like Republican/Democrat politics where Lloyd Carr is the staunch conservative replaced by RR who is a liberal democrat bringing hope and change. We all wanted (or I should say many of us bought into hope and change) and now any criticism of what that means or the job that is being done is immediately defended blaming the previous administration. You are very correct that these two coaches appear to be, in many ways, polar opposites.

I recall being very pissed when people abandoned Lloyd and called for his head for any mistake and rarely gave him much credit for the success. The App State game was one where I could hardly defend him (but what he did with the team after that loss deserves lots of credit) In our new world of hope and change it seems to be the opposite for RR. Any success receives adulation and hype (at one point coach of the year) and any mistakes are explained away - personnel, cupboard half empty on D, 3-DCs in two years.

steve sharik

November 3rd, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

Are you part of the team? Were you on the sidelines?

"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."

Um, how do you know this didn't take place? Simply based on the results? If you believe this, then do you believe that encouragement alone will yield success? Do you think it's possible that Lloyd ever gathered his team together, told them to gird up for something, and then the team failed anyway?

That part of your argument is ludicrous.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:45 AM ^

Two of the "could" or "should" haves were completely objectively discernible. Did we call a timeout before fourth down, no. Did we kick the field goal, no. I don't need to be on the side line to see those things. As to the third suggestion, did you see Rich Rod rally the defense or even acknoledge that more than likely his defense needed to take the field after the shock of getting stopped without scoring. No, I believe what you saw was our head coach staring blankly in bewilderment wondering why he didn't consider all of the things presented in my post. And yes, I remember many times Carr gathering his entire defense around him at crucial times in a very positive, encouraging fashion. Guess you just assume that time is spent blasting the players that are coming off the field than supporting the ones that are going on it. Don't recreate what I have said to defeat an argument I have not made in order to disregard what was actually said as unreasonable. Not classy at all.

steve sharik

November 3rd, 2009 at 12:07 PM ^

You're saying you didn't argue that the defense wasn't encouraged by *anyone*?

"Defense like 'oh shit,' NOBODY [emphasis mine] in their ear really coaching, teaching, calming, or fueling. Not Plan-B, no contingency, just panic."

Go read rivals and Doug Karsch's comments from the sidelines (where you obviously weren't and take offense for me pointing this out). Here, let me help you:
"Here's Karsch…

On Illinois' goal-line stand as the game's turning point: 'Let me just put it to you like this - at no point did I see any signs that the team had quit, even though a lot of people might be accusing them of that. I just didn't see that, heads hung low or ANYTHING [emphasis mine] like that.'"

Classy enough for you?


November 3rd, 2009 at 12:58 PM ^

that they had given up 7 points prior to the goal line stand and 31 (including an eighty something yarder three plays after)as my predicate for believing that there was some let down. But hey, if you don't believe that said event had any significant impact on the game then you are entitled to your belief.


November 3rd, 2009 at 1:12 PM ^

Perhaps I may have been restating your argument a little to fit my response. Some may find such a tactic a little annoying, perhaps lacking a certain degree of class... see posts 68 and 69. Go Blue.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:52 AM ^

You already said much of what I was going to reply. Rodriguez is not the anti-carr. He has a very different offense he runs but he still makes decisions based on how he feels the situation is going. He was very conservative at the end of the first half by not taking timeouts to give his team another offensive possession. You can cherry pick situations in games to support your point but I think if you look at the whole body of evidence your argument falls apart. They have different styles but I don't think they are opposites at all.

double blue

November 3rd, 2009 at 12:22 PM ^

what i don't get is why in four plays at the goal line we didn't try one qb sneak. there have been multiple times this year where we needed just a yard but have not called a simple qb sneak. tate was under center anyway. i know he's not a 6'5" former michigan qb, but for criminy's sake....


November 3rd, 2009 at 1:54 PM ^

I have some work to contract out to all of you who had time to read that tome of a post. The OP might be sheer brilliance, but I'd never know because I'll never read the lengthy shit.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo looooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggggggggg.