We are 7-4, What were your expectations?

Submitted by rbgoblue on November 21st, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Note: This isn't directed so much at the MGoBoard, as most of you are more rational than the subscribers to certain subscription sites.  Those boards have been a TWIS-worthy disgrace the last 24 hours.

Where were we in August, at the start of spring practices?  I felt that like most fans, I was thinking 7-5 was reasonable, and 8-4 if we stole a game or two.  Keep in mind, that was when we thought that the run defense was a strength of this team behind an all B10 caliber nose guard in Mike Martin, and while our secondary was a little thin, we had some experience in Woolfolk and Floyd at the corners and reportedly, a phenom in the making in Cam Gordon at deep safety.

Since then, our top 3 corners (Turner, Woolfolk, Floyd) have either left or had season ending injuries, our difference maker (Martin) has been ineffective playing with injuries to both ankles, our deep safety (Cam Gordon) has moved to the spur position, and we are left with a thin, beat up, MASH unit that cant get off the field.

So with one game left, where are we?  7-4 and barring a miraculous upset 7-5 heading to a bowl game.  Where did things go wrong?  Did we really expect to beat Wisconsin?  From what I've seen, the entitled Michigan fan screams, "I cant believe what RR has done to ruin my program!  We were always competitive with all the teams we played.  This is unacceptable!  RAWR"  Need we remember back to 2007, Lloyd's final season?  With a senior-laden team with at least a full year of experience at every position over this year's team, we got embarrassed in our own house by a D1AA team, dominated by Oregon, and couldn't move the ball 100 yds on senior day vs OSU.  The Michigan you knew and loved was a myth.  The 70s and 80s aren't coming back.  We are getting better and will be competitive next season, but never, regardless of who is coach, will we walk all over our entire schedule.  And so, regardless of who is coach, some will never be pleased.

Stay the course.  I trust our AD to make the right decision for the program.  We are young and getting better.  Lets let this play out and see how we fair with expectations in 2011, coming off an 8-5 season.  As always, Go Blue.

Comments

bleuadams

November 22nd, 2010 at 5:21 PM ^

Here's how I see the coaching debate:

We basically have two options:

#1) Rich Rod is brought back...IF...he agrees to letting Brandon and Moeller appoint him a new defensive coordinator, and that defensive coordinator is allowed to hire two of his own defensive assistants (because RR has proven, twice, that he is incapable of putting together a competent defensive staff).  The RR assistants lost will be Robinson, Braithwaite, and probably Tall (Gibson becomes full time special teams coach - something else we desperately need - and recruiting coordinator).  The defensive staff could potentially look something like this...Mike Trgovac (for example) DC/DL coach, "Trgovac's hire" LB coach, "Trgovac's hire" DB coach.

or

#2) Jim Harbaugh is brought in as the new head coach.

 

Arguments:

#1) For keeping RR.  His offense is great, his defense sucks.  If Harbaugh comes in, he's going to have to revamp both the offense and the defense.  If RR is kept, and a new defensive staff is brought in, only the defense needs to be revamped.  Plus, RR is under contract for another year, and his buyout is pricey.  And, of course, Harbaugh angered Lloyd and friends with his academics comments four years ago.

#2) For hiring Harbaugh (my choice).  #1) RR's offense isn't that great.  It's actually flat out SUCKED against good teams.  We were down 24-0 to Wisc, 31-10 to PSU, 35-7 to Iowa, and 31-10 to MSU.  Most of the points he's scored against good teams have been scored in garbage time (against prevent defenses).  #2) Do we really want a coach who can't be trusted to hire his own defensive assistants?  #3) Recruiting.  The real reason people were excited about hiring RR was this - his offense at WVU was so great, with 2 and 3 stars, if he comes to Michigan, and starts racking up 4 and 5 star recruits, it's going to be unstoppable.  Well, that has not happened.  Rich Rod continues to recruit like he's at WVU.  And it's sort of a catch-22 situation that might never end.  He can't land talented recruits (especially defensively) until his team starts to go to BCS games, and he can't go to BCS games until he starts to land big time recruits.  Jim Harbaugh, on the other hand, is one of the best recruiters in the entire nation and would really be able to jump start things here.  #4) MICHIGAN MAN.  RichRod simply doesn't portray Michigan values.  If Bo was still alive, he'd be slapping the sh!t out of him after all of these excuse-filled press conferences.  "We're too young, we've had too many injuries, Vince Lombardi couldn't win with this kind of talent, etc...etc...etc...".  Rich Rod has yet to man up and accept any responsibility whatsoever.  He just blames it all on his players!?  How about..."I need to do a better job recruiting, I need to do a better job preparing young players and backups, I need to do a better job putting together effective schemes, It ultimately all comes back to me."  That's exactly what Bo/Moeller/Lloyd would have said.  Never in a million years would they have blamed the players publicly.  Never in a million years should a coach blame his players like RR has done time and time again.  #5) Jim Harbaugh's just a better coach, in every aspect.  We can't think short-term here.  We need to be thinking about 5-10 years down the line.  Sure, RR might be a better coach for this team NEXT season.  But we need to be thinking long term here.  #6) Everything Harbaugh said about our academics was TRUE, and Lloyd hates everybody anyways - that's why he was asked to leave the athletic department (and I have a very reputable source that verifies that).

#7) And I'm making this seperate because it's so important - It's NOW OR NEVER FOR HARBAUGH.  He's going to be getting some major offers this off-season (NFL, Georgia, etc.).  He almost took the KANSAS job last season, for crying out loud.  He IS going to be leaving Stanford after this season.  And once he signs a major deal with a major program, he's no longer going to be interested in us.   So...if RR ends up not working out (which is very likely) and Harbaugh is no longer interested...who in the he!! are we going to hire!?  Miles/Ferentz/Schiano already turned us down.  English!?  DeBord!?  Hoke!?  Trgovac!?  These are, honestly, going to be our best options if Harbaugh's not interested.  In which case, we'll be COMPLETELY SCREWED.

Mitch Cumstein

November 21st, 2010 at 11:51 AM ^

I think the fact that we haven't been competitive against the top teams in the conference is the problem.  And our offense doesn't seem to work in the first half against these teams either, which is alarming.  So, you're right record wise, we are meeting or just below most expectations (I heard a lot of 8-4 talk, but mostly 7-5).  A game against a top level opponent still really hasn't been in question in the 2nd half.

Also, I can't find this, but I'm pretty sure RR himself said he considered improvement as making a bowl and be in the discussion for top 25 by the end of the season.  I'm not sure we're meeting his expectations right now.

coldnjl

November 21st, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

what I thought it would be, but I agree, the embaressment of the comic performances against the top teams is bad. Almost losing to UMass. The copious amounts of turnovers and bad penalties. The horrible field goal kicking situation. All of these points have me believeing that even though the W-Ls are where I thought we would be, the other factors have me thinking we are behind.

But...bc the D and the special teams are so bad, we have nowhere to go but up. Thats why I believe next year must be a 9-10 win season.

MileHighWolverine

November 21st, 2010 at 12:20 PM ^

have been bad 3 years running (Zoltan excepted, of course) and that is very disturbing for me.  It shouldn't take 3 years to find a decent FG kicker.  Of course, shitty kicking has plagued us since Carr so I guess I shouldn't be too hard on this administration for not being able to figure that one out either.

RagingBean

November 21st, 2010 at 1:35 PM ^

Phil Steele had our ST unit ranked as the 2nd best in the country at the end of last year? We had a pretty reliable kicker (11/15 IIRC), Stonum set the kickoff return yardage school record, and, of course, we had the Space Emperor. Obviously, we are nowhere near that good this year, but saying our ST has been bad since Coach Rod arrived is patently false.

SirJack

November 21st, 2010 at 3:58 PM ^

Exactly. It's more than wins and losses. I'd be happy with 7-4 if it didn't include blowouts against Wisconsin and MSU, an embarrasing loss to PSU, and "thriller" victories agains lowly Indiana and fricking UMass.

oldno.7

November 21st, 2010 at 12:16 PM ^

I think the fact that we haven't been competitive against the top teams in the conference is the problem.

Could not agree more. Sub-.300 record in the Big 10 since RR took over at the helm. Michigan has exactly ZERO wins against MSU, PSU, Iowa and, barring a miracle, OSU. My expectations at the start of RR's tenure were that Michigan would have multiple victories against against that group of teams. Is that really out of line?

rbgoblue

November 21st, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

Out of line?  No.  But look at the offense the past 2 years and tell me where you were going to find wins there?  It's fine to want to be competitive with the best.  I do too.  But when your offense is mostly freshmen and sophomores, its understandable that they wont beat a bunch of juniors and seniors on defense.

jmblue

November 21st, 2010 at 2:06 PM ^

Last year's offense wasn't great, but was it so bad that 6-7 MSU, 5-7 Purdue and 3-9 Illinois all should have beaten us?  We didn't play a brutal schedule last year,  Eight of our 12 opponents finished the year at or below .500.  We managed wins against only five of those teams and lost all the others by double-digit margins.

jmblue

November 21st, 2010 at 7:29 PM ^

And why did we start a true freshman QB?  Because both of the scholarship QBs RR inherited transferred within a year.  People act like attrition like that just happens, like the weather.  It's actually very, very uncommon to lose your starting QB to a transfer.  It happened to us twice!

As for Tate being hurt, I'm fairly certain he played all 12 games and did not require surgery.  Every year there are tons of guys that fit that definition of being "hurt." 

willis j

November 21st, 2010 at 12:46 PM ^

Yes it is out of line. The fact is that those teams were better than us those two years, and are better than us this year. You cant expect to beat teams that are better than you. But you hope to win a couple here and there. 

If the same shit happens next year? Yeah i'll be pissed off. But '08 and '09. It sucks for sure, but what did you really think was going to happen? All biased fandom aside? I mean we talked ourselves into 6-7 wins with Threet and Sheridan starting at QB. 

It all hinges on the defense. Wisconsin did the same thing that MSU did to us last year. Keep our offense off the field. 3 first half possessions is putting a lot of pressure on the Offense. But you know what, the plays were there. The WRs were open. If the players execute, then they will score. 

rbgoblue

November 21st, 2010 at 12:20 PM ^

MSU and Wisconsin were not competitive, that is a fact.  Iowa and Penn State (fair to question whether or not they are a top level opponent) were competitive late in the 4th quarter however.

As for the offense not working in the first half, keep in mind we are playing a young qb.  Denard earned just his 11th start this week.  He missed Stonum on a TD, we missed a FG, and drops killed a 3rd drive.  Thats 17 pts taken off the board by correctable mistakes.  With another year of experience, I think these mistakes should be erased.  The offense can be effective, regardless of the defense.  Remember, it was INT's stemming from inexperience that slowed us against MSU too.  We put up 31 in the first half against Illinois, however, who was considered a top B10 defense at the time.

BlockM

November 21st, 2010 at 12:30 PM ^

But if someone predicted 7-5, did they think that would include 3 point losses to Iowa, MSU, PSU, OSU, etc? How is it possible to predict that a team will lose 7 games, but at the same time expect them to be very competitive with the top-tier teams. 

If someone predicting 7-5 thought all those losses would be tossups, they should have predicted 9 or 10 wins.

M-Wolverine

November 21st, 2010 at 2:11 PM ^

Because there were too many factors....going 7-5, but beating MSU and OSU?  Going 9-3, but getting killed by OSU, MSU, and ND?  Somewhere in the middle?  And the season's not done, so it's hard to say how it will finally look.  Maybe people didn't expect us to be close to EVERY big time team we played...but we're still waiting to be close to ONE of the big time teams we played.  And I think a lot of the figuring was we'd show we could beat a good team (not yet) while probably losing to a bad team (PSU, who I still don't think is that much better than us.  To lose, ok...to get wasted...no way).

UMAmaizinBlue

November 21st, 2010 at 4:58 PM ^

My 7-5 prediction was broken down like so:

UConn - W

Notre Dame - L

UMass - W

Bowling Green - W

Indiana - W

MSU - W

Iowa - L

PSU - L

Illinois - W

Purdue - W

Wisconsin - L

OSU - L

 

Was I that far off: not really. Basically I gave ND too much credit with BK at the helm, and I didn't give MSU much credit at all (and admit it, many of you didn't either). Am I upset that I was so close (barring next week's game)? I'll always be disappointed when we aren't in a Big Ten Title race in November, but reality is a bitch. 

 

That being said, the bar is now raised for next year, and I do think that a win against MSU is a must for my sanity. I personally did not see the losses as toss-ups, except maybe for my ND prediction. I thoroughly expected to get thrashed by Wiscy, Iowa, PSU, and Iowa based on pre-season evaluations of those teams.

 

The only thing that has really REALLY hurt was the loss to PSU, but that was because of shifted expectations due to PSU being UM 2008 at QB, and the fact that we could be at 8-3 right now instead of 7-4 if we had beaten a team that we were definitely expected to beat in my book (although I guess we could be said to have beaten a team in Illinois that we weren't supposed to beat, but at the time that game seemed like a toss-up).

 

Seriously, this whole post started with a point, but it turned into a rant mostly because I'm easily distracted (I blame video games) and I don't want to write this research paper. Take it FWIW.

Muttley

November 21st, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

but we haven't come within 10 of anyone in the top half of the B10.

I agree, a good measure should be that we feel like a near-Top 25 team, if not in actuality, then at least in competitiveness due to close calls.  We're not there, and there's no reason to expect a jump to one of the B10 favorites next year.

raleighwood

November 21st, 2010 at 8:16 PM ^

"but we haven't come within 10 of anyone in the top half of the B10."

And three of those games were at home.

"and there's no reason to expect a jump to one of the B10 favorites next year."

Especially when you add Nebraska to the mix.  Also, I don't think that Michigan can keep winning the barn-burners against Notre Dame on a regular basis.  At some point, the Irish are going to take one of those games (maybe in 2011).

Soulfire21

November 22nd, 2010 at 4:10 PM ^

Iowa was pretty much running scared from Michigan -- we were 1 missed tackle from a potentially game-tying drive at 35 all.

So, yeah, that game was in question.

Even when we scored 14 points quickly to pull within 10.  Obviously couldn't finish, but still.

Yooper

November 21st, 2010 at 2:24 PM ^

There is no one associated with the program-Brandon, Rodriguez, anyone-that suggests that Michigan supporters should be satisfied with the current situation.  I fully expected significant improvement this year, and that expectation has only partially been met.

BlockM

November 21st, 2010 at 11:54 AM ^

The biggest reason, in my opinion, that people who predicted 7-5 are angry that we're right on track for that, is that they've seen some opportunities to be more competitive in the games that we lost.

Also, it's one thing to SAY five losses, and another to live through them, especially against rivals.

Once again, we're incredibly lucky to have David Brandon as our AD. He sees 7-5 for exactly what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

PurpleStuff

November 21st, 2010 at 12:21 PM ^

I also think there is a cumulative effect from the last two years (someone in this thread even mentions the overall Big10 record under Rodriguez, when yeah we all know the team sucked the last two years). 

There seems to be an overarching need to rationalize that leads to comments like "I knew the defense would be terrible but why aren't they good at tackling" or "I knew we would be a mediocre team because of our young offense and crappy defense but why aren't we beating good experienced teams or at least playing just as well as they do when we go against them." 

Crappy defenses don't tackle well.  Otherwise they would be good defenses.  Mediocre teams don't beat good teams unless the good team screws up (which doesn't happen all that often when you are Michigan, Texas, USC, etc. and get everybody's A game).  If they played just as well as the good teams, they would actually be a good team. 

These are things to keep in mind when complaining about the progress of a team that by any objective assessment is on a very positive upward trajectory, and has been ever since the implosion that was 2008.

jdcarrtax

November 21st, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

I'd love to hear an objective assessment about the very positive upward trajectory of the defense.  Does it assume that the offense will be so unstoppable as to protect the defense by keeping it on the sidelines?  Does it assume that the passage of time is the only thing needed to make our 18 year old freshmen into effective 20/21 year old upperclassmen? Does it assume GERG, Gibson, et al will coach them all into a high functioning unit?  If, on the other hand, you advocate for change among the defensive staff, does your assessment assume that the third time is the charm for Rich Rod hiring defensive coordinators and that the players will experience a seamless transition to the third DC in four years?

You recognize that our defense is in a bad place.  I'm not clear, however, why you seem so confident that it will get to a good place.  I respectfully disagree with your "very upward trajectory" assessment.  The fact that we're able to earn hard fought wins against UMass, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue and can get lots of yards and points against good teams after falling behind by three scores just doesn't feel "very upward" to me.

switch26

November 21st, 2010 at 6:18 PM ^

Regardless of what he put, in the end the amount of wins is all that matter..  Who gives a shit how we won or what happened in the game..  If next year we win 9 or 10 games that will be considered more progress cause we won more games.. 

 

At this point it doesn't matter how we win.  If we regress in wins next year, then id be worried.

PurpleStuff

November 21st, 2010 at 6:33 PM ^

There are only two or three talented/quality players in the entire junior/senior classes (classes Rodriguez did not recruit).  Namely Martin, Mouton, and Van Bergen.  The only other contributors are James Rogers (default starter at corner after never seeing the field for four years), JB Fitzgerald (back up linebacker who gets occasional serviceable PT), and three meh defensive linemen.  There is only one healthy scholarship junior/senior who plays in the secondary (where you need 4-5 guys just to field a team).  There are only enough scholarship junior/senior linebackers (4) to field a team such that if one guy isn't terribly good (and I think we can all agree that Ezeh isn't terribly good through no fault of his own) the coach is stuck with playing either a mediocre/bad player or an inexperienced player. 

All in all, the junior/senior classes on this team provide 3 quality players, three default starters who have been behind walk-ons on the depth chart as recently as last year (Ezeh, Banks, and Rogers), a couple backup d-linemen and JB Fitzgerald.  This is why our defense is terrible, as good defenses are dominated by high quality upperclassmen (see 2006 which featured 3 future pro bowlers in the senior class and 9 future draft picks, only two of whom were sophomores).

On the other hand, the freshman/sophomore class contains 8 players who have started a game this season.  Freshmen Black and Washington have also contributed on the defensive line.  Freshmen Talbott and Christian have seen the field in nickle packages.  That group doesn't even include blue-chip recruits like Furman, Robinson, Ash, and Wilkins.  It also doesn't include the incoming freshman class that has 7 defensive recruits so far.  Four of our top five tacklers right now are underclassmen.  Next year's team loses one quality player (Mouton) and may return another in Troy Woolfolk if he can come back from injury.

That group is only going to get better (as you allude to), but it is also a group that is loaded with talented players and guys already making key contributions to the team.

jdcarrtax

November 21st, 2010 at 10:09 PM ^

I can't embrace the view that the players are only going to get better.  Getting older and seeing the field don't necessarily translate into playmaking, and your mention of Ezeh as someone who never got better "through no fault of his own" is a perfect example of that.  He's an upperclassman with loads of experience who is not an effective contributor.  If someone never became an effective contributor through no fault of his own it's either because (1) he didn't possess the required skill set or (2) he wasn't adequately coached.  You know where Brian and the other moderators stand with respect to the coaching acumen of our defensive staff.  If the staff stays intact, and runs the same scheme, I don't think you can take it for granted that our defensive underclassmen will be effective playmakers when they become upperclassmen.

You also take it as a given that these talented underclassmen will still be at Michigan when they are upperclassmen.  Given that significant attrition is occurring with Rich Rod's recruits three years into the regime, I'm not comfortable believing it will suddenly stop.

Finally, you'll get some pushback around your assertion that we're "loaded" with talented  underclassmen.  I'm not ready to dismiss out of hand the comments from Spielman, Blackledge and other seasoned football analysts (and former players) regarding the drop off in defensive talent at Michigan relative to the past.

In summary, the defense needs much more than the passage of time to get better.

formerlyanonymous

November 21st, 2010 at 11:55 AM ^

FWIW, I didn't think we'd even be competitive with any of the good teams this year. Our defense was going to suck no matter what. I'm surprised our offense made such a leap.

But for those wanting to look back at predictions:

http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/look-back-preseason-expectations

I still maintain that pre-season kool-aid bias reigns supreme with some. Even with the kool-aid bias, a majority still had us at 7-5.

hausoian

November 21st, 2010 at 12:16 PM ^

So does losing to App St. and getting pwned by Oregon at home sit well with you? I mean, if you want to flaunt your MGoPoints in my face to tell me that I'm wrong then go ahead. Sadly, having a lot of points here does not mean that you're a smarter or better Michigan fan. It just means that you like to think you are.

BlockM

November 21st, 2010 at 12:25 PM ^

I'm just confused as to what point you're trying to make, not trying to belittle you. Points have nothing to do with it.

Obviously App St. and Oregon weren't good, but I don't understand where you're going with that. Are you saying that Lloyd Carr had to be fired because of those performances? Are you saying something about the current coaching staff?

bluebyyou

November 21st, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

When we lost to Oregon in 2007, Oregon was a very good team.  In fact, if I remember right, they ranked in the top five at one point until their excellent QB tore up a knee.  It was no disgrace to lose to Oregon, but we were blown out.  I thought we also sustained injuries to Henne and Hart in the Horror, but it might have been later in the season.

I was expecting 7-5, hoping for 8-4, but somehow feel that we will still not be competitive on D next year with the best teams in the B10.

willywill9

November 21st, 2010 at 12:54 PM ^

I think the point he is trying to make is that folks in this thread make it seem like this lack of recent success began with RR. I love Lloyd Carr, but 2007 was the roughest season as a fan because of all the expectations, talent etc. I think we are almost there. I wish we were more competitive in some of our losses but lets be realistic for a second. Our record shouldnt be this good considering how our D played in the middle of the season. I love every player on this roster, and appreciate the effort and sacrifices theyve made. But the D has to be better if we want to compete. 28 points should be enough to keep a game close.

steviebrownfor…

November 21st, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

look at it this way:

Carr's final season we went 8-4 in the regular season with a team full of NFL-ready upperclassmen.

This year we are 7-4, one game worse, with a team full of freshmen and sophomores.

And yet people are angry and/or surprised...