The Big Picture

Submitted by ijohnb on November 11th, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Losing the forest for the trees is easy to do when you are intense fan of a particular sports team.  At any given point, your expectations change based on real or perceived strengths or inadequacies after particuarly uplifting or depressing moments.  The offensive line issues were abundantly clear during the Notre Dame game, but Devin Gardner looking like a nice balance of Peyton Manning and Bo Jackson made it easy to ignore a factor that was certainly going to be a legitimate issue going forward.  Saturday, while the offense looked as bad as the Bad News Bears pre-Kelly Leak, several developments on defense were promising, Charlton played meaningful minutes and looked the part, Stribbling and Thomas at least saw action and avoided the Gypsy.  In addition, while the current theme is "Green has not been impressive," and ackowledging the he is a hot mess in blitz pick up, he did go up the middle a couple times for decent early down pick ups and actually FELL FORWARD, a concept last seen in these parts since Minor Rage was roaming the backfield.                                                                           My point is this, at the beginning of this season, I think the consensus was 9-3 or 8-4.  A young team with some growing pains that would show flashes of impressive play at times but that would also struggle with consistency at key positions.  Lewan's return made us giddy about the prospects of the offensive line, but somewhere in the mix we as a fan base lost sight of how important offensive line cohesion is in both the running game and pass protection.  This offensive line is so young and inexperienced at this point that it took until the middle of the season to even identify the kinks, much less solve them.  You can point to pre-season preparation, but until you put a freshman in a key spot at a key moment you really don't know what the hell you have.  Much of the dismay since the Notre Dame game has been due to the performance in the Notre Dame game as a primary reason for the immediately optimism that followed.  However, if you look closer at that game you will see that 1)Notre Dame just lost to Pitt after a heart-stopping battle with Navy and 2)the primary issues that have plagued us since the Notre Dame Game were painfully evident in the Notre Dame Game.                                                                                                                       Now, criticism is fair when there is one particular aspect of the team where progress is tangibly lacking.  The offensive game plan for the last two weeks has been staggeringly bad and Borges deserves blame.  There is no question that his seat is very, very warm and I also think there is little doubt that he is now officially on the clock.  WIth that established, I don't think that there is any need to break the thread record with Fire Borges material.  We got it, loud and clear.  Just keep in mind that nobody thought this was a championship team at the beginning of the year, and that there has been promising signs.  This is not a "dumpster fire," it is a work in progress.  This is where fandom is tested.  We got the Wildcats this weekend.  Let's get this one and get this season back.  Lot of football to be played.  Go Blue.


I dumped the Dope

November 11th, 2013 at 8:59 AM ^

D. Green looks a lot more badass with the standard issue all-black cleats.  The white toed ones he had somehow gave him away to all 110,000.  He looks a lot more like a large human ready to grind you (the opposing D) into powder.

I think he had a couple of 3 yard gains, which was about the high peak for designed RB runs.

What worries me is nobody is going to respect us the rest of the season.  Its officially on 120 minutes of film that if you load up the box, blitz like mad hyenas and jam the receivers at the line we crumble into a pile of negative yards.  Until we can prove that we have a scheme to beat that meme, then we're stuck in a FOR...NEXT...loop...



November 11th, 2013 at 8:52 AM ^

MGoBoard fact # 2.  When a person's immediate instinct is to insult or degrade something before consideration he belongs on RCMB and is the worst kind of troll.  Hit M-Live Lionsfan.  Your response is a very good example of what is wrong with the Board.


November 11th, 2013 at 10:00 AM ^

My point is this, at the beginning of this season, I think the consensus was 9-3 or 8-4.

I'll just leave this here

Most people on this board were predicting 10 wins, and beating MSU among other things. There's another thread that was ripping Phil Steele for predicting a Gator Bowl berth.

Also, how is this thread any different than the one below it? "Things are fine, the season isn't over yet"


November 11th, 2013 at 8:52 AM ^

Spot on.  We are now seeing that the win over ND was not as impressive as we thought.  We also see that we were not playing down to the competition against Akron and UConn.  Until we some semblance of an offensive line, things won't get better.  The D can hold us in games but the playcalling has to work around the O Line deficiencies without getting Devin killed.


November 11th, 2013 at 9:00 AM ^

Difference is they got the bounces, we didn't.  We are not very good and our record reflects what we really are.  Youth is a tiring excuse when you see other programs with youth having success.  The program needs to be reviewed after the season.  Man ball sounds great, but when you can't do it, you need to adjust.  That is the biggest problem I have is that this coaching staff seems to have dug themselves into the ground so deep that they are unwavering to change because they do not want to hear the "I told you so's".


November 11th, 2013 at 9:16 AM ^

When you start freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and former walk-on redshirt sophomores across the middle of your online, it's not a recipe for success. That my friend is youth and inexperience. There's no two ways about the fact that our line has been a major issue all year. I'm not saying other programs don't start young players on the online and succeed. I'm saying that any coach will avoid starting that many young players on the online if at all possible. They will try to protect that young player with upperclassmen. Unfortunately, that plan was tried and the players we hoped would step up have not gotten it done.


November 11th, 2013 at 9:32 AM ^

We have the same level of offensive line play that Notre Dame had the year they went 3-9.  I suffered through that season watching a soft o-line get gashed in pass protection and rush for negative yards. Our defense and Gardner are the main reasons we aren't as awful as that Notre Dame team, but the offensive line play has been identical.   


November 11th, 2013 at 9:05 AM ^

4 or even a 5 loss season if it had started with a loss to ND and then steadly improved through out the year.  The fact is that no part of this is improving. None.  The worst part is that players are not developing.  No player on this team is substantially better than last year and many are worse.

Whatever you want to say about Bo or Carr, their teams generally improved through time and players got better.  The same can be said about Dantonio and MSU.


November 11th, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

I am not sure about the rest. Butt is a freshman.  Chesson did not play. Clark has shown flashes but is not subtantially better than his freshman year.  Ross and Wilson could be marginally better.  The last player that made a big leap was Ryan.  


November 11th, 2013 at 9:12 AM ^

There are some more conservative types that thought 8-4 or 9-3 was most likely, myself included.  But, I don't think that was anywhere near the consensus.  I saw a heck of a lot of folks thinking 10-2 or 11-1 was likely.  Now maybe that was the younger/newer board members, but they may very well be the majority.  


The problem right now is that everyone knows our weaknesses and we need to find a way to handle it.  People are going to blitz us 2 out of every 3 downs up the middle and we need an answer to that.  I'm not sure our opponents would have done that pre-MSU.  I'm also not sure with this glaring weakness exposed we can beat Iowa or NW any longer.  And, I know we can't beat OSU.  I'm more confident we lose out than win 2 of 3.  We may win one game, but I'm not even too confident in that.  We haven't made adjustments yet so it's hard to think we all of a sudden will now.  


November 11th, 2013 at 9:14 AM ^

Am I the only one confused by theD Green critisism (or at least dissapointment)? Sure, he hasn't looked great is pass pro, but rarely is a true frshman ever. This is especially exposed when opposing teams best pass rushers blast through the line. Even experienced backs wouldn't look great in that situation. I honostly think he has shown suprising quickness for his size, and has been hitting holes just as well if not slightly better than Fitz. If he can shed a little weight in off season (a la Montee Ball), he could could be really good if the line can improve just a touch.



November 11th, 2013 at 9:49 AM ^

It's pretty difficult to judge the backs in the context of our O-line. Sure, Green hasn't been getting tons of yards. But who has? And like you said, blitz pick-up is often a learned skill that freshman need some time to perfect. Especially true with a shaky interior o-line getting blitzed over and over.


November 11th, 2013 at 9:44 AM ^

I am not able to start my own new thread, but I believe this fits here just as well.  My issue is not with Hoke as the Coach.   Sure, there are things I wish he did more of and less of.  I could care less if he wears a headset and don't care whether he wears short sleeves or long sleeves.  I just want him to take responsibility for this team a little more and let people of know of his displeasure (I would assume he is displeased).  I ran across the following quote when reading an article on the Vanderbilt - Florida game.  Note, by sharing this quote, I do not claim that I wish we had Muschamp as our coach, I just want Hoke to take responsibility while righting the ship.

"I’m a competitor. I don’t like losing. I certainly don’t like the product we are putting on the field, and that’s my responsibility. I take full credit for that," he said. "When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s not good, it’s not good, and it hasn’t been good. And that’s on me. We’ll make the decisions to move forward that we need to do to help this football team in the latter part of the season as we move forward. That’s my plan. I’m not asking for anybody to be happy. I’m not asking anybody to give a pass." - Will Muschamp, 11/9/13 after loss to Vanderbilt


November 11th, 2013 at 10:05 AM ^

Who cares what coaches say at press conferences? Florida still sucks. Saying "the right things" and continuing to suck does nothing.

There are plenty of reasons to criticize the coaches. What they say at pressers shouldn't be anywhere near the top of the list.


November 11th, 2013 at 11:20 AM ^

A lot of people care about what they say at their press conference.  People are going to be upset at the results regardless.   I would say Hoke, his staff and the players are much more upset than any fan.  But, if he would have made a comment like Muschamp did, I would feel better about it than the usual nothing response from Hoke.  Let the fans know how much they care and what he is going to do.  It may settle some fan's disappointment.  I know it would mine.


November 11th, 2013 at 11:24 AM ^

Unfortunately, I had that happiness crushed.  Vandy had already won their noon game prior to Michigan taking the field.  The other bummer is the more Vandy wins these games, the less of a chance of James Franklin coaching for Vanderbilt next year.  However, I can't blame the guy for going after money and a bigger program.  A bowl game is the highest it will get for Vanderbilt.  No matter how much better their program is doing and how many top recruits they get, they will never compete week to week in the SEC.  Stanford has done it, NW has showed they can, but in the SEC, it is just unfair to compete with Bama, LSU, etc and how they treat recruiting and their football.  So is life.  I wish Vandy was brought into the B1G rather than Maryland or Rutgers, but I understand the Nashville TV market doesn't quite compare to NYC or DC.

rob f

November 11th, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^

on today's main page, you'll see Hoke (in so many words) taking responsibility, too.  Also did it in the post-game conference.  But we don't need words right now; instead, we need results.  I'll be in Chicago this Saturday along with many of the rest of MGoBlogdom.  We'll see then if accepting responsibility as Head Coach is merely lip service or a clear signal Hoke is ready to act upon it and fix things he actually has control or influence over.


November 11th, 2013 at 11:39 AM ^

Hoke's "I need to coach better" hardly feels genuine.  It's comes off more like the I'm a hero and will take a bullet for the team because I don't let the media shit on student athletes, then a genuine acknowlegement of how shitty the coaching and development are this year.  Evidence?  Saying you like the play calling and we just need to execute better.  I really don't believe he is that big a buffoon.

French West Indian

November 11th, 2013 at 9:56 AM ^

In a big picture context, I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan suffers through 20 years of mediocrity as a result of the sadistic 2-day firing of Rodriguez (well, actually for general treatment of Rodriguez...but the firing was an embarrassing spectacle).   F'in karma.


November 11th, 2013 at 11:33 AM ^

Here is the "big picture."  First, an ex-coach gutted the team due to a petty personal agenda and was allowed to do so from an office in Schembechler Hall.  Then, the AD scuttled the rebuilding process after three years, just as progress was being made, and sacrificed another year of recruiting.

The MANBALL mandate had a "PS:" five more years of rebuilding because they had to recruit for a different scheme.

Now, Brady Hoke, Al Borges, and Gary Mattison are paying for everyone else's sins.  And "Michigan fans" are dangerously close to driving recruits away with their lack of support for the program.

When you are playing 20th century offense while nearly everyone else is playing 21st century offense, you need the personnel to back it up.  Bama is a great example of this.  

So, let's say Al Borges was fired.  Who would get better results under the MANBALL mandate?  He is still going to have an AD handcuffing him to an archaic offense.  

It is going to take the full five years that Bo Schembechler insisted that it takes to install a program on an depleted team.  Let's see if MANBALL works in 2015.  If it doesn't, then take the handcuffs off of the OC and bring the team into the 21st century.

As for those who wanted the return of "Michigan Football" and criticized RR's teams for "lacking toughness," you now have a tough team playing MANBALL and you have no excuse for bitching.  

Be careful what you ask for next time.  Or, you could just have patience and wait until this staff has some seniors that they recruited on their own without salvaging someone else's recruits.  

It's sad that a significant portion of a fanbase that prides itself on intellect and being better than "those other fanbases" is acting just like everyone else when the going gets tough.

The team deserves better.






November 11th, 2013 at 11:45 AM ^

is a great guy. Don't totally disagree, but RR's defenses were beyond apology, even from a guy who was fed up with "Michigan Man" football.  As for Manball, I agree we are not built to run it right now, but I also have a hard time believing the team would be playing this poorly if Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles, Nick Saban or another elite coach was developing and game planning with the same cast. 


November 11th, 2013 at 11:41 AM ^

The consensus may have been 8-4 or 9-3, but no one ever in a million years thought we'd see back-to-back games with negative rushing yards and collapses on offense like we've seen.

It's not the losses, it's the way we've lost.

I have lost all faith in this staff, from the top down. 


November 11th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

8-4 with close/reasonable losses, while painful, is way different than 8-4 via beat downs (MSU, likely OSU), inexplicable losses (PSU and Nebraska) and back-to-back negative rushing yardage games (MSU & NE). And 8-4 isn't even a guaranteed thing with road games to Iowa and NW.

This fan base should be furious with the results we've seen lately. It's amazing the difference being "accepted" by a fan base makes for a coach. Hardly a peep from Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork.

Then again, the bar isn't all that high. Sure Carr got the MNC in 1997, but in those 12 years his average won/loss record: 9-3.