Praise for RR from a critic: me

Submitted by michgoblue on November 7th, 2010 at 8:39 AM

Over the last few weeks, I have become increasingly frustrated with this team, and by extension, RR.  I have been amongst the most vocul posters calling for his head and saying that a change was needed for us to regain our place amongst the college football elite.  Those who have defended RR over this season pointed to our improved offense as a reason to stay the course.  I have argued repeatedly that the offense was a mirage that faded against better defenses.

Yesterday's game - and not just the fact that we won (although it sure was nice) showed me that I may have been wrong.  Not only was our offense dynamic, effective and exciting, but it was diverse.  We mixed zone option runs, designed QB runs, short passes, slants and a hell of a downfield game with regularity.  Our offensive playcalling was nothing short of amazing.  I imagnie that when Brian UFR's the offense, we will see our greatest +# for RPS to date.  Simply put, we looked as good on offense as Oregon. 

I see the potential.  DEnard will get better.  He just earned another 16 winter practices - something that Michigan QBs have not had in 2 years.  The already dominant line will get better.  The receivers will stay great.  And, next year, we should see one of our RBs step up and become a feature back.  Hopkins looks like the man, but there are many options.  By next season, we should be able to hang 30 on jst about anyone.

Even more importantly, watching the triple over time, I saw a team that didn't give up and player their asses off for each other and for their coach.  RR has done a great job of building a "team" in the Bo sense of the word. 

No, RR is still far from perfect.  And ultimately, we do not know whether he will be the right guy to lead Michigan all the weay back.  Sometimes it is just not possible to overcome a bad start.  And then there is the defense.  But, even I - one of RR's vocal critics of late - must concede (happily) that there is a strong case for keeping him.  If Brandon is looking for improvement, this game should give him something to think about, because last year we would have folded midway through the fourth.

Great game, coach. 



Webber's Pimp

November 7th, 2010 at 8:51 AM ^

It takes a real man to admit when he was wrong. And make no mistake you were wrong my friend. Very happy for RRod and the players. I'm also saddened by all these so-called Michigan fans who we're hoping Michigan would lose yesterday. Honestly arguing w/ these fans is exhausting. It's amazing these people can't get over their hatred of Rodriguez. Nevermind the fact we hung 67 points on a pretty good defense yesterday (a defense that held OSU to 24 points btw).  Whether you iike RRod or not the fact is his offensive system works! We are witnessing offensive production of historic proportions. The O is prolific and RRod has us close to turning the corner. To all the haters out there go peddle your garbage elsewhere...


November 7th, 2010 at 8:57 AM ^

Well I was definitely never one of those fans rooting against the team.  Frankly, I can't see how anyone could do that and call themselves a fan.

I guess for me, it was never a question of liking or hating RR - I always liked the guy and I strongly supported him for the first two years.  My only question was whether or not he was the right guy to go forward with.  I still have my doubts, but I can certainly see the pro-RR side based on the potential that we are seeing.  On balance, I would like to see RR stay, but to also see a new DC brought in with his own staff.

Old School Wolverine

November 7th, 2010 at 9:40 AM ^

The OP wasn't wrong if he was thinking about the defense.   There is no question Rodriguez offense is perhaps the best, most innovative, in the nation. But its as if all attention for three years was on this, while the defense suffered. As happy as you are about the offense, you should be polar opposite for the defense right now, and in fact, by bigger factor.

I don't know the logistics of it or possibility, but if we can somehow replace the entire defense coaching staff with Michigan coach family tree guys,  from the DC down to the positional coaches, then I'd be happy. Guys like the OP are guarding our long tradition of great defenses more than on the offensive side of 3 yards and cloud of dust. Moeller didn't play that way, neither did Carr, and everyone was fine.  ITS THE DEFENSE. The OP wasn't wrong in this regard, and you should vehemently agree with him.

Here is to hoping the discussions start now, renewing our tradition on the defensive side of the ball next season, with all new young coaches from the Michigan family tree. Start bringing back Corwin Brown as DB coach, Kurt Mallory as special teams coach, etc.  (both were friends of mine in undergrad by the way)


November 7th, 2010 at 10:07 AM ^

As happy as you are about the offense, you should be polar opposite for the defense right now, and in fact, by bigger factor.

I completely disagree.  The defense gave 110% on every down yesterday.  Several young kids stepped up and made big plays and overall they looked much improved from a week ago.  We have also finally found ourselves a decent middle linebacker.  With 22 of 24 starters returning, the future is very bright on both sides of the ball.


November 7th, 2010 at 10:13 AM ^

without commenting on all facets of the defensive play - certainly there were some negatives- but the stops that were made really impressed me. Many times in critical situations the defense came up big. Over and over and over. In a game that seemed might just go on forever or until they finally wilted, the defense slammed the door on the two-point conversion and won the game. In terms of good plays, I was very pleased with the defense, who just last week seemed incapable of making one.


November 7th, 2010 at 11:42 AM ^

I truthfully am wondering where you get any of your conclusions from. They gave up a staggering 561 yards against a freshman qb. The opponent avg over 5 yards a carry. They sold out on misdirection all day, and fell for the same play twice. To say they got a few stops against an inexperienced qb is not something that should be lauded as them coming up big, it should be called typical

Kilgore Trout

November 7th, 2010 at 10:47 AM ^

On the plus, Illinois was 6-16 on third down.  That is a significant (and probably game changing) difference from the 10-16 that Penn State got.

But, the 9.1 yards per pass and 5.2 yards per rush were more than they gave up to Penn State.  The 5.2 was actually the second highest of the season (after MSU).  I won't argue that they looked better to the eye test and that those third down stops were big, but they are still severely lacking.  


November 7th, 2010 at 11:29 AM ^

As much as I love this site for it's obsession with stats and their ability to predict outcomes and back up arguments - it is not all about the numbers.

The team played well enough yesterday to win.  Offense and defense.  That is all that matters in the end.  A win is a win is a win.  It doesn't matter how many yards per play the defense gave up on runs or passes or special teams kick offs and returns or field position.  At the end of the day it is about making plays that determine wins and losses.  

Nobody should care that UM had tons of yards against MSU and Iowa and PSU.  The team didn't make the plays needed to win in those games.  That changed yesterday.

Look, I don't think that anyone is disputing the fact that the defense has a long way to go.  This is not news. Forget the eye test, forget about defenses lacking - the team had just enough yesterday to win and that is all that matters.

Kilgore Trout

November 7th, 2010 at 11:38 AM ^

Look, I don't think that anyone is disputing the fact that the defense has a long way to go.  This is not news. Forget the eye test, forget about defenses lacking - the team had just enough yesterday to win and that is all that matters.

I think this sums up the entire situation pretty well.  The defense has a long way to go and they had enough to win yesterday, and that's all that matters.  Whether or not games like yesterday are a long term formula for success is another question...

Nobody should care that UM had tons of yards against MSU and Iowa and PSU. 

Exactly.  I guess I got kind of sick of all the talk that the Iowa outcome wasn't a big deal because UM gained so many yards.

This got a little bit away from what I was trying to say to cbus earlier.  My main issue with what he said was the implication that we shouldn't be seriously worried about the defense because they gave 110%.  I just don't think it's that simple.  


November 7th, 2010 at 11:43 AM ^

My main issue with what he said was the implication that we shouldn't be seriously worried about the defense because they gave 110%.  I just don't think it's that simple.  

Maybe you need to go back and read my entire post again.


November 7th, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

Whether or not games like yesterday are a long term formula for success is another question...

Probably not. :-)

I guess I got kind of sick of all the talk that the Iowa outcome wasn't a big deal because UM gained so many yards.

Gawd, me too!  If the yardage numbers are so great, than the turnovers that caused the loss are just as big, if not bigger because they led to a loss.

IMO, all the prognostication, analysis, predicting and pontification is fun, but it's about what happens on the field that matters.  That's what makes sports so exciting.  You just never know what's going to happen until it unfolds on the field.  The players and coaches didn't really think about the score and history of scoring so many points or setting receiving records during the game.  They are thinking about making the next play so that they can have more points than the other team at the end of the game.

For me, the long term plan for success is winning games.  As long as the team continues to get better and do this the right way, I'm happy.


November 7th, 2010 at 7:44 PM ^

There were threads on here questioning this teams heart, it's drive to win.  I think that was answered Saturday.  Back up quarterback, LONG afternoon for the defense, etc - this team did not fold.  

That's progress - and the win was icing on the cake.

(I won't shoot you Fletch)

Brother Mouzone

November 9th, 2010 at 7:07 AM ^

I guess the starting field position and the number of possessions because of turnovers etc don't factor into the discussion at all.

Better personnel on the field?   Better execution  - open filed tackles etc.  Better intangibles


I say yes.

Old School Wolverine

November 7th, 2010 at 11:47 AM ^

are you kidding me?  you have become a spartan fan, blinded by the recent win. im happy about the win but am not deluded about how the defense is. if they lost, you'd be singing a far different tune.  stay levelheaded here.  never in michigan history has the D played like this. never before has the offense, either.   and in case you didnt notice, harbaugh's team also scored 42 pts in regulation yesterday, but with a great D. 

if you want michigan to return to greatness, you must realize how bad the D is right now, along with how good the offense is.


November 7th, 2010 at 7:48 PM ^

NO ONE is "happy" about the defense.  

No one.

But we do recognize effort and heart when we see it, and it was on display Saturday at the Big House.  There is SO much work to do on defense...

(And don't call us Spartans.  That is so very disrespectful.  If you want to make a point, refrain from name calling.)


November 7th, 2010 at 11:51 AM ^

we have to be the youngest D out there. We have 3 seniors and 2 freshman starting, OSU has 7 seniors and 1 freshman starting. Our last great Defense had 7 seniors, 3 juniors and 1 freshman starting. Out guys are just to young to be great right now, but they never quit anytime this year, they have heart and they work hard and will be very good in 2012 for our championship run.


November 7th, 2010 at 12:01 PM ^

No it isn't. Please stop the bullshit. Our 2 best coaches in the history of the program were not Michigan Men. You know who was a Michigan Man....the guy who resigned for drunk driving. Michigan Man is ridiculous and we should all banish it from our vocabulary.


November 7th, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

And how does one become a "Michigan Man"?  Don Canham had to go "outside the family" when he hired Bo because Bump Elliott wasn't getting the job done. Bo sure wasn't a "Michigan Man" until he came here.  Hell, he invented the term when Bill Frieder took the ASU job. All it meant then was someone who would be loyal to Michigan. And frankly, we have that now.

Zone Left

November 7th, 2010 at 8:46 AM ^

The biggest case for dismissal is the staff's inability to manage the roster.  The defense simply shouldn't be this thin and there shouldn't be multiple freshman starters.  I'm on the fence--if they win seven, then they've demonstrated improvement and get a make or break year in 2011, but if not, then it's time to clean house.

I just don't see the defense clawing back to respectability any time soon, and the team isn't going to be competitive with OSU (or even MSU) if the staff can't field at least a mid-level defense.

I'm not sure what to do at this point besides hope for the best and probably can the whole defensive staff after the bowl game ends.


November 7th, 2010 at 8:52 AM ^

Year 5 is really where most coaches get judged, and I think the defense will be fine by then.  When schools fire coaches after 3-4 years they can go a far way in ruining not only their team but their reputation and ability to attract top coaches.

And I think there is hope for a somewhat average defense next year which should give us at least a 9 win season which will be right on the 2 win per year improvement RR's done since he got here.

Zone Left

November 7th, 2010 at 9:01 AM ^

I think an average defense would be demonstrate some fantastic coaching by whoever is on the defensive staff.  The secondary and linebackers are still going to be paper-thin and really young, and the team doesn't have anyone that can play man  with really good receivers.  Woolfolk and now Floyd (sigh) coming back at 100% isn't a foregone conclusion, and unless that JUCO guy from USC that Brian wants transfers in, there won't be a real free-safety in the secondary either.

I'm hoping, but I think it's going to be rough.


November 7th, 2010 at 9:08 AM ^

I thought that Demens is going to be solid to good, and possibly a stud next year in the middle.  He really had a great game outside of a few misreads.

Vinopal showed some speed and was in the right place on a good amount of plays and should be solid.

Avery was burned but wasnt out of position and he was making tackles that he couldnt before.  He will be a better corner than JT Floyd.

I think we make big strides next year as long as the coaching is right and we don't face retarded attrition like we did this year.


November 7th, 2010 at 10:54 AM ^

Was Avery ever really burned? I know he got beat on at least one long pass play when he was one-on-one with the receiver. On that play though he was in pretty good step with the receiver and missed the PBU by about an inch. I feel like it was more a great throw by Scheelhaas than poor coverage. I can't recall any other massive breakdowns by Avery or by the secondary in general. Those wheel routes that went for long touchdowns are more on the linebackers than anybody.


November 7th, 2010 at 9:18 AM ^

In age these kids are young but the in game experience these kids are receiving right now is invaluable. This defense will make strides into next year just like the offense did for this year. It's not like these kids are horrible, they just don't know what to look for yet or where to be. Did you think last year's offense was capable of putting up an average of 38.7 points per game let alone 67? So why think it is impossible for the D to make strides in improvement?


November 7th, 2010 at 9:31 AM ^

The distance from where we are to average defense is not so far given that the young players are getting real playing time. Ask Illinois how long it took to turn around a defense...

...when next you think about giving RichRod "one year" think about the 45 points (that should have been 60 without 4 turnovers offensively) that his offense put up on a formerly credible (#11 nationally in scoring) defense. Face it, the guy's system works and even a passable defense is going to produce a lot of wins.

If I was Nick Saban I'd start hoping 2012 doesn't come too soon.


November 7th, 2010 at 10:08 AM ^

2008: 291 ypg and 20 ppg

2010: 536 ypg and 39 ppg

Our defense this year is struggling for the same reason the offense did in 2008, a near universal lack of experienced talent.  Plenty of people thought Rodriguez sucked as an offensive coach that first year and even this post shows just how pervasive the doubts were about his offense (refusing to believe the overwhelming signs of improvement/success were anything more than a mirage).

And our defensive situation is probably better than our offensive situation was in 2008.  We've already recruited the roster that is going to turn it around (I think it just takes a little longer for defensive players to develop since they have to react to what someone else is doing rather than just going out and playing their game, which is why you see more freshman WR/RB than you do LB/S). 

Just look at the roster in the freshman/sophomore classes.  Black, Roh, Demens, Avery, Kovacs, Gordon (X2), Vinopal, and Johnson have all already played and shown signs that they will be good players as they mature/develop.  Talbott and Christian are only going to see more of the field to show what they can do.  Washington is just getting his feet wet on that side of the ball but has loads of promise.  This doesn't even mention the blue-chip guys like Ash, Furman, and Robinson who are still waiting in the wings.  And even this list leaves out a bunch of guys.  And this list doesn't include any of the guys we're recruiting going forward.  No matter who is put in charge of the defense, they are going to get loads better next year and be a top notch unit by 2012.


November 7th, 2010 at 12:07 PM ^

Serious question:

Do you think Gerg, if kept, would likely have a better defense bringing back 9 starters, a handful of which are freshmen and sophomores?

The defense will get better next year simply because nearly the entire team will be getting a year older.


November 8th, 2010 at 8:47 PM ^

as it would be impossible to be worse - for a lot of reasons, youth being one of them. 

But I also think he doesn't have enough respect to be able to call his own shots as DC and that is what we need more than anything right now.  We need a proven guy to fend of RRod and attract big time recruits.  And then there is his questionable ability to evaluate talent and make in game changes - when RRod is taking over the huddle and your players are pleading for changes that even the least informed fan can see a mile away, there is a problem.

Blue since birth

November 8th, 2010 at 1:23 AM ^

All of this "OFF WITH GERG'S HEAD" bullshit seems awfully familiar... Not sure why that is.


PurpleStuff nailed it.

... And yes... If a new DC comes in next year "he'll" improve the D... Probably to a very similar level that it'll improve if Robinson stays.

Some people couldn't put 2 and 2 together if it was tattooed on their fucking forehead.


... Sorry, it might be the headache talking.


November 7th, 2010 at 9:26 AM ^

An average defense next year is like the best case scenario.  I'd be friggin ecstatic if we pulled that off.  If we can field an average B10 defense in 2012, for Denard's senior year, it could be a special year.


November 7th, 2010 at 9:28 AM ^

Agree completely.  Firing coaches after 3 years can set off a brutal downward spiral.  Next year the defense will be closer to average.  Demens and Avery are obvious upgrades.  Demens plays like a real ML - instinctive reads and good tackling all over the field.  Avery was in the right place more often than not and was aggressive.  He got burned on that long TD but was not out of position.

I will say this for the Gerg.  The blitz on the last place was the right call, and a gutsy one.  You can see on the replay a receiver coming open in the left end zone.  A little more time and they likely would have had the 2pts.  Whatever his faults may be he knew when to pull the trigger on the call that ended the game.

Great day to be a Wolverine.


November 7th, 2010 at 11:08 AM ^

It's not the current staff vs perfection, it's the current staff vs what you can replace it with.  I think Harbaugh would be fine but it would be a painful 3-4 years at first.  I don't believe we can find a better staff that what we have right now.  

This transition stuff usually isn't smooth.  Look at ND, look at GT right now after a good start. For all you know we might get Brian Ellerby part 2.  THIS ISN'T A ZERO SUM GAME.


November 7th, 2010 at 11:32 AM ^

"Harbaugh would be fine"

Well, isn't that really the problem. I would agree that Harbaugh would be "fine"; the problem with moving in that direction is that you already have an offense that is beyond exceptional and will become, quite remarkably, better. In a year we'll see posts on the board criticizing the playcalling and questioning why RichRod didn't score 50 against an overmatched ND defense. 

All we need is the defense to become passable (and review of PurpleStuff's above post is reasonable in seeing how that's possible) and you're destroying teams. Should the defense become dominant...well, it might take until DG is starting for that.


November 7th, 2010 at 11:49 AM ^

This is dead on.  There is no point breaking the insanely good offense for a maybe 50-50 shot at having a defense better than it would have been over the next two years.

This game didn't answer the GERG question, but I think it answered the RR question emphatically for at least one more year.


November 7th, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

when presented with the opportunity to end the game, that young defense took the play from their coaches, trusted one another, and destroyed an experienced qb playing behind an experienced line. No, they were not perfect before, but when it was on the line, they were perfect. I suspect that a line was crossed as well, time will tell.