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

detrocks

November 21st, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

Yeah, I was expecting 7-5.   I figured that we'd start 5-0, saw OSU, Iowa and Wisc as losses and figured that we'd win at least two out of PSU, Purdue and Illinois.  

jmblue

November 21st, 2010 at 1:59 PM ^

The record is one thing; the way we've achieved it is another.  We're 4-0 in games decided by seven points or fewer, while we have four losses by double-digit margins.  That's worrisome.  That makes us look like an average team that is fortunate to have seven wins.  How do we go from this to contending for the Big Ten championship next year?  Under normal circumstances, a year like 2011 (when we play most of our tough games at home and return 19 starters) would make us a fashionable pick to win the league.  I have a bad feeling that, once again, we're going to dial down the expectations and postpone our expected return to the elite once more.

M-Wolverine

November 21st, 2010 at 2:30 PM ^

Next year, is everyone going to predict 8-4 or 9-3 and use it to justify when we don't win 10 games?  And then say, well, in 2012 (with an IMPOSSIBLE schedule) we'll be really good.  And then pre-12, 10-2...but we can't do that, the schedule is too tough....and 2013...well, new QB....I mean, where does it end?

mackbru

November 21st, 2010 at 2:13 PM ^

There seemed to be a wide consensus that the record would be as it currently is. But many or most people (myself included) expected that we would have fared better against quality teams. As Brian basically predicted: we'll beat one or two teams we shouldn't and also lose to one or two we shouldn't.

Instead, we mucked out wins against meh teams, which is good. But the only time we closed the gap against quality teams was after they'd taken three-touchdown leads, then relaxed. (I love that some posters maintain that the losses were "closer than they seemed." They were less close than they seemed; Iowa, MSU, PSU, and Wisconsin took their feet off the gas, as teams do when leading big.) We'd kept things closer the season prior. So the record hews to expectations. And yet it doesn't.

DixieWreck

November 21st, 2010 at 2:03 PM ^

a stated our program would be undergoing a complete philosophical football overhaul of which I truly believe will put us back in the annual Big-10 Championship hunt.  Additionally I have always said that our rivals better take advantage of beating us the next 2-3 years because when year 4 and 5 roll around we will be an annual force at the National level.  The offense is here, the defense is coming, we are still on track IMO.

All in for RR  

jmblue

November 21st, 2010 at 2:13 PM ^

Of course, this raises the question: given that we were in the Big Ten championship hunt on a near-annual basis for 40 years, why was it necessary to undergo a complete philosophical overhaul? 

IMO, RR's big mistake was to come in here and to act like he was taking over for a fired coach.  When you take over for a guy that's fired, you generally want to clean house and start afresh.  But that's not what happened here.  RR was replacing a very successful coach, whose program may have needed some tweaking, but still had basically a solid foundation.  He probably should have retained more of Carr's assistants, and worked to accommodate more of Carr's players instead of adopting a my-way-or-the-highway approach that led to massive attrition.  He rolled the dice with the approach he took, and we can only hope that there will be a long-term payoff that makes the last three seasons worth it. 

mackbru

November 21st, 2010 at 4:09 PM ^

Kudos for underscoring this important but politically incorrect (here, anyway) point. Michigan had grown a little stale and boring -- virtually everyone agrees on that. We needed more speed. More ingenuity. Better conditioning. Lloyd had grown tired; he wasn't recruiting as hard.

Michigan was a good, solid house in needed of some repairs and maintenance. It didn't need to be leveled. It was a successful, stable program. It was, despite one or two off recruiting years, a magnet for the top QBs, linemen, receivers. All it needed was a smart young coach who would reinvigorate and exploit M's decided advantage over most teams. 

Instead, we hire a coach who runs a system that doesn't appeal to as many NFL-caliber players. Some, yes. But not nearly as many. Which made sense at WVU, which didn't attract blue-chips. By going to RR's model, we basically eliminated our greatest advantages. If you've got a system in place that routinely corrals NFL-quality talent, and that works for many top-10 teams, why explode that system? Why not just improve it? See: USC, Stanford, Alabama, Wisky.

But I don't blame RR for this. He does what he does. I blame Martin. He could have hired any number of fine coaches who wouldn't have needed to sink the ship in order to save it. If we'd hired a better fit for our talents -- Harbaugh just for example -- we wouldn't be having this debate, because we'd already have a quality team.

Martin's candidates: Schiano (pro-style)... Les Miles (hybrid)...Rich Rodriguez (spread). First of all: Schiano? Second: clearly the AD didn't feel that M needed to make wholesale changes; he just panicked when his first two candidates balked. And chaos bred needless instability, which continued for three disastrous years. And counting. 

 

 

TartanAlex

November 21st, 2010 at 2:08 PM ^

A good old 'un will beat a good young 'un. We know this to be the case but hope - and it really is just hope - that this young Michigan team will find ways of making a mockery of this tried and tested adage. We shouldn't be surprised when this turns out to be asking too much of them.

Obviously wins and losses matter more than anything else. But when you're building something the wins and losses aren't the only things that count. A young team - and it is much, much younger than, say, Wisconsin - is a recipe for frustration.

But, look, 2008 showed what happens when you try and play football without a QB. 2009 shows what happens when you have a true freshman QB. 2010 what happens when you have a true freshman/1st year starter secondary. Keep this in mind and the frustration remains the same but the record can't, objectively speaking, be a great surprise.

Of course it's annoying. Of course it often hurts. Of course we'd rather see more rapid and consistent improvement on both sides of the ball. Of course there have been some curious decisions and sometimes we've not helped ourselves. But let's not pretend there's been *no* progress. There has, even if it has been uneven and imperfect.

(Side note: it's unfortunate UM has missed Northwestern and Minnesota these past two years. We wouldn't be a better football team if we'd had them on the schedule but the Win-Loss record would probably look rather better. Equally: it's a shame Wisconsin, returning so few starters, slip off the schedule next season. Beating Minnesota next year won't have the same "kudos" that beating a young set of Badgers would have earned - even if victories against Wisconsin next year will be "over-valued".)

So we are where we are. And we're not the only outift having a difficult season. Look at Texas (5-6), Miami  (7-4), Notre Dame (6-5), Tennessee (5-6), USC (7-4), Penn State (7-4), Georgia (5-6), Florida (7-4).

Sure, some of those teams are better than we are. But all those mentioned are major programs who are suffering through disappointing seasons. As others have observed, college football - from top to bottom - is much more competitive than it was 40 years ago.

True, the *manner* of some of our losses has been more dispiriting than the actual fact of the losses themselves. But this doesn't mean we can't or won't make progress before next season.

"Those who stay will be champions" we like to say. And that applies to fans as well as players.

jmblue

November 21st, 2010 at 7:36 PM ^

it's unfortunate UM has missed Northwestern and Minnesota these past two years. We wouldn't be a better football team if we'd had them on the schedule but the Win-Loss record would probably look rather better.

Both of those teams won more games than we did last year.  Even this year, NW would be far from a gimme.

MQues

November 21st, 2010 at 2:27 PM ^

Ok, we've heard it all season, our secondary is young. How, exactly, does that explain Michigan being 9th in the conference in rush defense? We're tied for worst in the Big 10 with 29 (29!!!!) rushing td's allowed. The guys who contrinute in our front 7/8 go as follows (in no particular order): SR, SR, RSJR, JR, SO, SR, SR, FR, FR, RSFR, RSSO, JR. That's 8 guys who have been in the program at least 3 years. They don't know how to tackle yet? They don't understand their assignments yet? What is it? They clearly aren't young and the secondary's youth has little to no impact on their ability to stop the run. That fairly experienced group also gets little pressure on opposing quarterbacks. We sit tied for 8th in sacks. Shouldn't the more experienced front 7/8 help that young secondary out?

Stop using a young secondary to try to excuse all of our defensive issues.

TartanAlex

November 21st, 2010 at 6:27 PM ^

Fair enough. But it is, to an extent, a question of picking your poison. The secondary's youth means they have to be protected wherever possible. Inevitably that has an impact upon what you can do with the front 7.

You say "excuse". I prefer "reason" and not just because it's a less pejorative term. Of course we'd like to see more production from the linebackers (in particular). But Obi Ezeh was not likely to suddenly become a stud while Mouton is merely uber-Mouton this year.

Before the season started we knew there would be problems there. Moundros tells you that and so, alas, does the thankfully-abandoned attempt to fit Roh in at linebacker.

So we shouldn't be shocked - shocked! - that LB play has still been a problem this year. Some of that can probably be ascribed to coaching but some of it is down to talent too.

You're right that the secondary's youth can't explain everything but it is an important factor nonetheless. These problems aren't the product of any single problem (if they were it would be easier to solve them quickly) but a combination of factors which, when taken together, multiply the damage.

Nevertheless, it *is* reasonable to suppose that some, maybe most, of the defensive players will improve next season. (Some of them won't but that's a question of ceiling and the fact that not every recruit has the career we'd hope for them.)

john22

November 21st, 2010 at 2:32 PM ^

at least 8-4 with a bowl.But dude MICHIGAN will be back sonner rather then later.We have the talent,we just need to wait till next year to make a judgement on this staff!!!

ATLWolverine

November 21st, 2010 at 3:09 PM ^

with your characterization of the '07 season. While I'm not on the Fire RROD bandwagon, I'd like to set you straight on some things. I cannot abide by you bad-mouthing Lloyd Carr's last team to make your point. The Michigan I know and love is not and has never been a myth.

2007:

Yes, we lost the first two games of the season. We also subsequently won more Big Ten games in that season than RichRod has in the past three YEARS. I'm not slamming Rodriguez, I'm saying don't discount that team so glibly.

We also defeated a Heisman-winning QB and defending national champion Florida Gators team that may not have been phenomenal, but was in between 2 national titles, and is a FAR better win than any that we have even sniffed at in the past 3 years. Unless this year's 5-7 Illini juggernaut is, in your mind, a comparable win?

Senior day against OSU was brutal, but almost all of our playmakers were hobbled by injury, yet Lloyd let Henne and a few others play nonetheless, presumably because it was Senior Day.

Also: don't be a dick. Don't slam people like Henne, Hart and Carr who gave more for M football than your or I could imagine. I understand you're chastising RR haters, but you don't have to take away from our 07 team or Lloyd to do so. BTW, Lloyd won a national championship in 97, not the "70s or 80s."

jmblue

November 21st, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

It's troubling to me that so many hardcore supporters of the current staff can't seem to make their arguments without trashing Carr and his program.  Lloyd coached here 13 years, never had a losing season, never had a losing (or even .500) conference season, won at a greater rate than our school average, and won our only national title in the past 60 years.   It's just sad that people have to deflect criticism onto him, rather than acknowledge that perhaps the current staff has made some mistakes.  People get on Carr for not being more publicly supportive of RR.  Honestly, how would you feel if, after working for years to maintain a top-notch program, your successor would come in, fire all but one of your assistants, nudge some of your recruits out the door, and basically create the impression that your methods were failed?

ATLWolverine

November 21st, 2010 at 3:28 PM ^

and also, that a lot of the Moeller supporters seem to burnish their bright memories of him (and I'm not saying he wasn't a great coach) with lamentations that Lloyd Carr got the nod after his firing. It's incredible that people forget, like you said, that Lloyd Carr did one thing that Gary Moeller and even Bo never did: won a national championship.

Bo was the better coach, but the mind boggles at how people slam Carr and treat him like an ugly stepchild coach in these forums. The man brought glory to Michigan, loved his kids, won a national championship, and didn't once embarass or blemish the program. That's more than almost any coach in the country can say, and if that's not pretty much the gold standard for what a great coach is, I'm not sure what is.

Support Rodriguez, squawk for his firing, but for heavens sake leave Lloyd out of it.

Bb011

November 21st, 2010 at 4:09 PM ^

I said 7-5 at the beginning of the season. However, i thought we would have won them in a more decisive manner. There were so many games that could have gone the other way, this year could have easily looked like the others. I still think next year, if our defense becomes quite a bit better, we will be very good.

chunkums

November 21st, 2010 at 4:10 PM ^

Recap of a lot of posts in this thread:

 

I said 7-5 at the start of the year, but I'm not happy with our 7.5/8-4.  If we could have gone 7-5 without losing 5 games, then I would be happy.

chunkums

November 21st, 2010 at 4:26 PM ^

So if our offense was worse but our defense was better people would be happy?  Are we surprised about how bad this defense is?  I urge everyone on this thread to look up Brian's preseason predictions for the defense before we knew that Woolfolk, Emilien, and Turner would be gone.

Durham Blue

November 21st, 2010 at 4:55 PM ^

I predicted 8-4 with a potential for 9-3 if we got lucky and stole a game we had no business winning.  Then, when Woolfolk went down and Turner transferred, my goal was adjusted down to 6-6 with the potential to be 7-5 if a lot of things went right.  As far as I see it, the team is actually exceeding my expectations.  I thought we would beat MSU and that didn't go so well, obviously.  But then I learned afterwards that 14 of MSU's 22 starters are 4th or 5th year seniors.  I guess if I would've known that in early September I would've pegged that as a certain toss up game, leaning towards a loss.

BRCE

November 21st, 2010 at 5:06 PM ^

Expectations should have more to do with the overall record.

I was a huge RR supporter going into the season that has become lukewarm at best on him. If you would have told me that we would be 7-4 going into OSU I would have said "OK, I'll take it."

Sorry but it's been a BAD 7-4. I didn't think we were going to have a good defense, but I didn't expect to be by far the worst in the conference in almost every statistical category. I didn't expect special teams would be this bad. Every top Big Ten team we've played hasn't just beat us, they've clearly outclassed us. There is no signature win or a game where we overachieved.

 

bluewave720

November 21st, 2010 at 5:28 PM ^

by making several throw-away bets on the record (cup of coffee, host the bowl game party, etc).  However, with each bet that I made, I was clear in that I didn't actually expect to win.  I just couldn't bring myself to predict a loss to MSU.  I am in no way disappointed with our record, especially when taking into account the incredible degree of injuries we have faced.  

I know, I know, injuries are a part of the game.  But my argument for 9-3 was never that we'd get there because we were deep at every position.

A couple of weeks ago, I, along with everyone else on this board, am watching the Penn State game.  I see a true freshman, making his first career start in the safety position trying to tackle a RB who at that point in the evening, had made himself the most statistically accomplished RB to ever play for PSU.  What the hell did we think would happen? Our guy tried as hard as he could but got ran over by an experienced vet with great talent.

MQues

November 21st, 2010 at 5:35 PM ^

I see a true freshman, making his first career start in the safety position trying to tackle a RB who at that point in the evening, had made himself the most statistically accomplished RB to ever play for PSU.  What the hell did we think would happen?

 

I expected that the experienced front 7 would have made the tackle first. We are not inexperienced on the D-line or in the LB position in terms of years with the program. They should know how to tackle and fill gaps and take proper angles ect.

bluewave720

November 21st, 2010 at 7:27 PM ^

+1

Edit:  Let me elaborate (now that I have the time to, since wifey is putting toddler bluewave to bed).  That's the entire issue.  When someone misses an assignment, you hope that the "other guy" can take care of the issue.  When "the other" guy is a true freshman, you don't expect that loose end to be tied.  But I agree with you, (forgive me, but what I am understanding as your intoned point), the strength of your unit has to act as your strength if you are going to be successful.  Especially when that particular aspect does have experience, and should understand that there is no room for error.  

MQues

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:07 AM ^

Edit:  Let me elaborate (now that I have the time to, since wifey is putting toddler bluewave to bed).  That's the entire issue.  When someone misses an assignment, you hope that the "other guy" can take care of the issue.  When "the other" guy is a true freshman, you don't expect that loose end to be tied.  But I agree with you, (forgive me, but what I am understanding as your intoned point), the strength of your unit has to act as your strength if you are going to be successful.  Especially when that particular aspect does have experience, and should understand that there is no room for error.

Yep, that was basically what I was saying. You are absolutely correct that your strength needs to be just that to help cover for our glaring weakness (in this case the secondary). They haven't been good and considering they mostly consist of reasonably experienced players I blame that on coaching. That means not just GERG, but RR too. He's failed twice on DC's (for 2 different reason of course) so why exactly does anyone think he'll get it right the next time? I have no faith he will based on his track record.

tlh908

November 21st, 2010 at 6:06 PM ^

I thought initially 7 wins would be good this year, then we started out really strong and it looked like 8 to 10 wins would be possible.  I guess that is what is disappointing, we have shown flashes of being very good.  And we have shown our youth.  Next year we really need to show the good all year and youth will be less of an excuse.  

jrbulls

November 21st, 2010 at 8:17 PM ^

and everyone seems to have great points/counterpoints.

 

I think the OP is stating something very obvious, yet overlooked. He's NOT saying that people should be "happy" about 7 wins. But how can you be sooooo mad, angry, yaaarrrr, unacceptable, grumble, grrrrrrr, etc?? Especially after first realizing these same things BEFORE the season even started??

WE KNEW THAT THE DEFENSE would be troublesome.

AND THAT WAS BEFORE we lost 10, 000 db's off the roster.

If I'm dating a slut?? I'm not gonna go on a killing spree if she screws the poolboy.

I'd probably shrug & chalk it up to her actually BEING A SLUT....

*We'll be fine. Go Blue!!!

Search4Meaning

November 21st, 2010 at 8:57 PM ^

And hopefully a bowl win.

While we are on track for that, I secretly dreamt of a quality win against a Big Ten opponent.  We have one more chance for that this weekend.

7 - 5 is fine.  It is acceptable as a building block.  It is not fine as a standard.  But for now - OK.

Spoof Football

November 22nd, 2010 at 12:01 AM ^

I like how people say "We're 7-5, man, right where I thought we'd be"--if you would have been told three years ago that the coach who followed Dr Evil, Lloyd "Secret Rodriguez Hater" Carr would be struggling to make a bowl game in his third year after two putrid, sub-500 seasons, would you have said, back then, "Aww hellz yeah, but the future is so bright I need sunglassez. Sign me up fer dat!"

 

Just keep making excuses, and trying to convince yourselves this thing is working. Even the offense has been made to look pedestrian for long stretches by every good team in the Big Ten.  OH! And then tell me you'd be on board with a guy who would likely be on his THIRD DC in four years. WOOT WOOT

It's clear this hire was a mistake. The reasons? Who knows why and who knows how many (even if you concede a Secret Cabal of Saboteurs led by Lloyd Carr)--but this thing is toast, and it is time to move on.

Dave Brandon mught be a "CEO"--but sports is not any sort of normal business (just ask the GM of the Yankees)--Brandon will fire this asshole for destroying Michigan football and making it a national joke, and it will happen ten minutes after OSU hand Rodriguez and his WVU cronies their lunches next Saturday.

jamiemac

November 22nd, 2010 at 4:38 PM ^

I really dont give a shit anymore.

We looked all summer at a defense that had us all afraid we would have a third losing record in a row.

I hoped we would somehow get back to a bowl with a winning record. Somehow we did.

Expectations were low for a reason. I'm happy the season is a winning one and that kids on the team get bowl practices and a chance to improve off a winning season for the first time in a while.

But, winning breeds expectations. We're getting closer to demanding the usual expectations at Michigan, but we're not there yet. I see no reason MIchigan cant be one game better after 10 games next year. The question is, will we be in better position to compete in those final two games then than we are now.

More experienced talent on D with another offseason of mental and physical growth for everyone on the offense tells me that we can.

squints02

November 22nd, 2010 at 5:51 PM ^

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