Has there really been improvement from 09 to 10?

Submitted by ChalmersE on November 23rd, 2010 at 8:59 AM
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Let me preface this post by stating that I have been a big Rodriguez booster from the time he was hired.  However, I must admit my support has wavered  and I am now approaching ambivalence on the issue of whether he should be rehired.  That said, one of the things that Brandon said he looks at is progress on and off the field.  I'm not sure whether any of us know what's up off the field -- other than we've put the NCAA and Freep allegations behind (for the most part) -- but on the field, I'm not sure whether there's been any progress from last year to this point.  Yes, Michigan will finish the regular season at 7-5 or 8-4 and that is indeed progress when compared to 5-7.  Also there is no doubt the offense is dynamic and exciting, and there's no telling what the numbers would be if the defense was even barely adequate.  That, of course, brings us to the defense.  It's hard to believe, but it's actually worse than last year.  I know there are excuses including Woolfolk's injuries, but they're just excuses.  That brings us to comparison of game results.  I've essentially broken things down into three categories: better result, same result and worse result.  Let's take a look. 

Better result:  Connecticut over Western (because of the quality of opponent.  UCONN, believe it or not could still win the Big LEast.);  Purdue (although some might quibble, since we could have won last year and needed a late TD to secure this year -- against a team that was clearly worse than the 09 version).

Same result:  Notre Dame (last second winning drive); Indiana (ditto -- arguably worse but I'll call the same);  UMass-Del State ; Bowling Green-EMU; Illinois (we should have won last year, without a bounce to Hemingway, we lose this year).

Worse result:  MSU (we were one play from winning last year on the road); Iowa (we had the ball with a chance to win on the road); Penn State (the result was similar, but we were playing a team with more injuries than we had); Wisconsin (at least were competitive in the first half last year -- on the road).

Thus, one can make a case that the team overall is performing the same as last year.  What does this mean?  Perhaps nothing, but Dave Brandon has said he looks for progress in making his decisions.  Absent a win over OSU, has there truly been progress?



November 23rd, 2010 at 10:41 AM ^

Whoa, where did that come from? I am trying to avoid putting up tl;dr posts.

But FTR, I personally think there has been a huge improvement from 09 to 10. As far as I'm concerned, given our win in 09 vs BabySeal U, our real record could easily have been 4 - 8, not 5 - 7. Conversely, with one or two more bodies in the secondary in 2010, we could easily have won another game or two, and be sitting right now at 8 - 3 or even 9 - 2. I think there has been a huge improvement, and I want RR to stay. Shoot, I actually still am one of the rare ones who doesn't want to scapegoat Gerg and cut him loose.


November 23rd, 2010 at 10:55 AM ^

With a halfway decent defense, this year's team would have been very competitive, and everyone knew this year's defense was going to be even worse than last year's defense, especially after Woolfolk went down before the first game.  In addition, Martin and Floyd have been hurt for the last half of the season.  We have no one on defense from Carr’s 2006 recruiting class, 1 mediocre player (Mouton) not beaten out by a freshman from Carr’s 2007 recruiting class 2 good players from Carr’s and RR’s joint 2008 recruiting class (RVB and Martin) and 8 from RR’s recruiting classes in 2009 and 2010.  These days, we are usually playing 4 sophomores and 4 freshmen.  I believe the D will improve next year and agree with you that we should keep both RR and Gerg.  Let's see what people can do when they have starters who have had that extra year of experience, training and physical development.  For the most part, the teams that are successful do not undergo extensive staffing changes.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:02 AM ^

I have the same attitude toward our coaching right now. I don't care what happens. But we have improved (just not as much as  I hoped on the defensive side of the ball). Our offense is much better than last year's. Eventually our D will get better.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:04 AM ^

Illinois game last year: team quits and we get trucked by 25. We only score 13 points.

Illinois game this year: team never quits, we WIN the game and score 67 points.

Yes, totally the same result!!!

Listen, if you're going to try to sell me a load of crap, just title your post "Here, I took a shit in this shoebox, take a look!" so I don't have to waste 2 minutes of my life.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:21 AM ^

Add to that how superior 2010 Illinois is to 2009 Illinois.  2010 was a rough year to have a young team in the Big 10 with Wisconsin, Iowa, MSU, and OSU growing stronger than the previous year.  They all lost very few players.


November 23rd, 2010 at 10:51 AM ^

I could use it this weekend in Columbus.  I shall use it for either self defense or a cloaking method by rubbing it all over my body and thus becoming invisible to the nostrils of the natives. 


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:05 AM ^

your generalizations about "better, same, worse" do not trump the tangible improvements in record, offensive production, team chemistry, etc...

injuries to starting upperclassmen will have tangible results in the production of a team, no matter what side of the ball.  for Michigan to have improved, made progress, the way they have, through the injuries and attrition, shows further that progress has been made...

His Dudeness

November 23rd, 2010 at 9:06 AM ^

I don't know if losing 8-10 guys in one defensive unit in one year is an excuse.

Woolfolk, Warren, Turner, Dorsey, Vlad, Floyd, Witty, Cissoko, Williams, Van Slyke.

That really isn't so much an excuse as it is a reason. That's 10 guys we thought we would have and don't in one position unit on the defense. 10 guys!!!


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:49 AM ^

When did these young men play for the Wolverines, again? I must have forgotten them making it though the clearinghouse and admissions, training camp, and out onto the field. 

You cannot include players who never made it into the school when talking about players that have been lost. It just doesn't work. 

And I'll only give you .5  on Cissoko because we didn't lose him during the offseason or during this year either. His flameout was all last year and I don't know how much worse we were without him. All he seemed to do most plays was tackle after the catch was made and/or showboat if the pass was not complete.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:54 AM ^

Yea this is a great post.  Why?  Because it isn't a fucking excuse like every other cry baby michigan fan i see post how there is no EXCUSE that the team's defense is poor.


No it isn't an excuse it is REALITY..  We had so many kids transfer or not care,  on top of all the injuries.


What more do you want?  It is the same thing RR said in his presser after the wisconsin game.  Go find a team out there that has ever been forced to start that many freshman because of all the crap this team has tried to endure..  Jesus i feel so bad that most of our freshman have to be forced out there, but that is the reality of our defense situation and we will be a better team for it going forward.


November 23rd, 2010 at 10:02 AM ^

His Dudeness Abides.

Had the stars aligned properly for Michigan’s defensive backfield, (a) Donovan Warren, Troy Woolfolk and Boubacar Cissoko who were starters in 2009 would have been back and better this year; (b) academics would not have doomed the chances of Adrian Witty and Demar Dorsey to challenge for starting positions this year; and (c) injuries to Vlad Emilien (who apparently never fully recovered from a high school injury), Mike Williams, Jared Van Slyke and J. T. Floyd either would have been avoided or would have healed quickly, and Justin Turner’s conditioning and development would have progressed to the point where his pre-Michigan ratings were justified, so that the defensive backfield would not have been deprived of ten players who would have been starters, key reserves and good special teams players in 2010. Of those ten players, only four (Woolfolk, Floyd, Williams and Van Slyke) would be expected back in 2011.  May their stars shine next season.


November 23rd, 2010 at 3:57 PM ^

Woolfolk, Warren, Turner, Dorsey, Vlad, Floyd, Witty, Cissoko, Williams, Van Slyke.

That really isn't so much an excuse as it is a reason. That's 10 guys we thought we would have and don't in one position unit on the defense.

OK, let's hold on a minute. 

Dorsey and Witty were academically-marginal guys that the staff chose to recruit.  They did not have to.  If you recruit a guy who isn't qualified as of the fall, you run the risk of never getting him on campus.  Personally, I'd prefer that we focus more of players who are definitely qualified.

Cissoko hasn't been on the team since September 2009.  We've had time to recover from his loss.  Unfortunately, one of the guys we targeted to replace him was Dorsey.

Turner and Vlad transferred.  It's not like they got hurt.  They could still be here, contributing to the defense.  Either the staff should have never recruited them in the first place, or they should have done something differently to prevent them from becoming so discouraged that they left - whatever the case, the staff screwed up somewhere.

Warren went pro.  This was not a surprise.  This was something the staff should have been prepared for.  Unfortunately, it seems it put its eggs in the baskets of players (Turner, Dorsey, et al) that it shouldn't have.

Van Slyke is a walk-on who was never expected to be a serious contributor. 

I'll grant you that Woolfolk, Williams and Floyd's injuries were a bad break.  But three injuries isn't that out of the ordinary.  It alone doesn't explain our defensive problems.  Besides, Floyd played in the first eight games of the season and was hardly a difference-maker.  Williams had been moved to spur, a position where we've done okay.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:11 AM ^

We have not improved.  OK, offense has improved yes.  Defense has regressed.  Special Teams have stayed as bad as the previous two years.  The record has improved.  But really, the program has not improved, IMO.  There is no evidence (yet) that next year will produce another improvement.  But this is my opinion on improvement.

Progress?  I think it is safe to say there has been no forward progress in the program.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:54 AM ^

Because much of the argument for improvement next year is based on the assumption that the defense will improve.

Just because we return players doesn't automatically mean there will be improvement. Sure, experience helps, but our two most experienced defenders have at often times been the most maddening and inconsitent (or even incomeptent::::Ezeh) players.

I don't think we can assume that the d will be better. Rodriguez and his defensive staff have a poor track record of developing defensive talent outside of BG, and often players have digressed.

Of course it is easy to say the offense will improve again, because hopefully turnovers will be reduced and special teams will grow... but again, at Michigan, Rod's teams have been terrible in both those categories.

Hopefully I am just being cynical, but I don't think we can just assume we'll get better. Believe me, I hope Rod's the guy, but I just don't know.

Maize and Blue…

November 23rd, 2010 at 11:11 AM ^

before the current staff got here his name was toast as in burnt all the time.

Think back to your HS days.  How would you have fared as a freshman playing varsity?  Oh yeah, surround yourself with other freshman and sophomore and think again.  The problem is that besides Martin (playing on bad ankles), RVB, and Mouton when good Mouton shows up where are the upperclassman that should be here?


November 23rd, 2010 at 11:08 AM ^

What evidence is there that we will be better next year?  Just because it is another year?  Because we beat mighty Connecticut instead of Western Michigan?  That we beat UMass despite their best offensive week of the year?  That we scored in the second half against Wiscy when we were down?  That we almost got a couple onside kicks?

The offense has improved overall, but remains a turnover machine.  Even though it obviously gets all the attention every week and has one of the best football players in the country holding the ball every down.

The defense has gotten worse every year.  The talent will improve, but the scheme is frustratingly ineffective and, again, there is a lack of evidence that the scheme will (ever) work.

It is frustrating.  I am frustrated and sad to say that have no faith that the proper adjustments and focus will be applied to improve this team beyond offense.  I would like to see evidence.  A pattern.  A progression.  I have hardly seen any of that.


November 23rd, 2010 at 12:02 PM ^

And yet, despite those issues you raise, the team still managed two more wins this year. Look, no one's saying things are crystal clear with this team, and it is disheartening to see the same turnover monster over and over again...but you can't just look at one aspect of the game and conclude "NO PROGRESS. NO HOPE." You have to look at the bigger picture.


November 23rd, 2010 at 6:44 PM ^

"What evidence is there that we will be better next year?"

Quarterbacks: We return everyone.

Offensive Line: We return 4 of 5 starters and will have more depth.

Wide Recievers: We return everyone.

Running Backs: We return everyone.

Special Teams: We return everyone.

Defensive Line: We only lose 1 starter and add depth.

Linebackers: We lose Mouton and Ezeh as contributors, but might even have more depth next year (We'll start to see guys like Jake Ryan).

Secondary: We lose Rogers, everyone else including Woolfolk will be back plus new freshman.


Our offense is ranked #5 nationally and we are younger than everyone above us.  Defensively, we have some talented guys...experience will get us closer to average.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:11 AM ^

Two more wins and possibly four more wins than last year counts as "progress." 

This team improved one increment: they became better than the group including Illinois and Purdue.  Wiscy was a nightmare matchup for this team, much like Oregon was for the 2007 team.  Consequently, many people are overreacting to this loss and are using it to support the old, tired agrument that the team "isn't progressing."

Next year, we should see the progress become more tangible.  Still, I am sure that even if this team starts 7-0 with a victory over MSU, there will be people saying, "yeah, but they still aren't showing progress."


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:23 AM ^

Improvement != Where we want to be. Some people seem to be confusing those two things. Just because we're not championship caliber yet doesn't mean there hasn't been improvement.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:13 AM ^

I'll ignore the statistical improvements on offense, and the utter youthitude of the defense, and simply focus on the premise of your question:

Better result: . . .  Purdue (although some might quibble, since we could have won last year and needed a late TD to secure this year -- against a team that was clearly worse than the 09 version).

No quibbling.  Win > Loss.

Same Result . . .  Illinois (we should have won last year, without a bounce to Hemingway, we lose this year).

Seriously? 2 point win = 25 point loss?  Your math gives me a sad.

Worse Result: . . . Wisconsin (at least were competitive in the first half last year -- on the road).

How is a 20 point loss worse than a 21 point loss? 


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:51 AM ^

I read through so many of these posts, realizing that the original premise is stupid or poorly supported, looking for something to make me smile.  " Your math gives me a sad."  This sentence restores my faith in the comedic genuis that lies beneath the surface of so many of the long-time posters, I enjoyed it very much.  Thank you, Sir.  +1.

El Jefe

November 23rd, 2010 at 9:13 AM ^

I find it odd how many of you make jokes when someone tries to make a point against Rodriguez or his staff.  I've been reading the board for about 4 months before I decided to join up.  I did so I could make sure I was being respectful and true to the Michigan fans with saying the politically correct statements on here.

I just don't understand why so many of you are quick to make insulting comments to the people that question change.  I myself supported Rich from day 1 and took alot of heat from friends and family for doing so.  I've been in the trenches standing by our current coach, but really, why can't someone come to their senses if they believe a change needs to be made?


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:24 AM ^

Questions about the coaching staff are legit, and should be asked without fear of point- and ridicule-based retribution.

However, if you start a posts asking "Has there been improvement," and you include (and subsequently ignore) this information:

Yes, Michigan will finish the regular season at 7-5 or 8-4 and that is indeed progress when compared to 5-7.  Also there is no doubt the offense is dynamic and exciting, and there's no telling what the numbers would be if the defense was even barely adequate.

...and your only supporting "we didn't really improve" evidence is an analysis that treats a win over Illinois as the same as being blown out by Illinois... then yeah, the OP is gonna be raked over the coals a bit.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:26 AM ^

the points the OP is trying to make are laughable. I lean towards giving RR another year to get a little more grease between the gears, but I still expect DB to consider all of his options and do what he thinks is best, which I'll likely support. But to say losses last year are equal to wins this year is ridiculous.

Greg McMurtry

November 23rd, 2010 at 9:29 AM ^

Was questioning whether progress has actually been made and comes to the conclusion that 2 more wins and a bowl game is not progress. Is the defense worse? Yes. Do I agree with all of the decisions this coaching staff has made? No. But clearly progress has been made and others are showing that using facts. Whether you are happy with 7-4 or not going into The Game is your opinion, but it's pretty laughable to insinuate that progress has not been made over the 2009 season, therefore come with some better content or face the ridicule.

El Jeffe

November 23rd, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

I would just like to point out that any resemblance of El Jefe to El Jeffe is coincidental.

As to the substance of your post, it simply isn't the case that people can't make reasonable critiques of our coaching staff and not get negged. It's the shit like "have we improved really? I mean, I know our offense is a lot better and our record is better, but have we improved?" that gives people a sad and causes them to reach for the neg button, and in my case, a bottle and a revolver.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:16 AM ^

The defense is a mess.  I don't think anybody here is going to argue that.  The starting corners are down to a guy who would be a wide reciever had things gone more smoothly, and a frosh who should probably be redshirting.  Vinopal is probably the same case at deep safety.  The best defensive player has been gutting through two injured ankles.

I'm not trying to make excuses for the coaching staff, but to put this two game improvement into context.  Progress is being made.  If it's enough for you is not up for me to say, but I feel it is offbase to say this is the same as last year.


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:20 AM ^

I think coming to any judgment on improvement or the lack there of based upon comparative results from last year to this year is largely irrelevant.  Just becuase UM came within a few plays of beating MSU last season doesn't mean this team fell off or hasn't improved because of this years loss at home. 

You judge a program no Ws and Ls.  So Michigan is improved.  When you play a team like Wisconsin, who will graduate 19 starters or something, you cannot expect great execution and a W from a team that is fielding about 19 freshman and sophomore starters. 


November 23rd, 2010 at 9:43 AM ^

Hooray for straw-man arguments!

Look, nobody is saying we should be throwing a parade for beating two middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams. The whole point is improvement, and it is entirely reasonable to count going from losing to winning an improvement--regardless of opponent.