MGoPodcast 1.8: Delaware State Non-Preview

So we called up extremely famous Delaware State blogger No One and had a great conversation about the Hornets that unfortunately failed to record because it didn't exist. But Tim and I do talk about the Iowa game and Jamiemac of Just Cover stops by to talk about the Big Ten and the completely hypothetical Delaware State line, which is hypothetically 35.5 and Jamie would definitely take if it was 34, because he is a degenerate.

Download podcast!



October 15th, 2009 at 4:28 PM ^

I grew up going to University of Delaware games, and have never seen the (football) Hornets. They played their home opener last week in front of under 4,000 people, a fairly average crowd for them. This is REALLY an embarrassment. The University of Delaware never even scheduled Delaware State until this year; word has it that the legislature made them.


October 15th, 2009 at 5:20 PM ^

Am I the only one not overlooking this game?

After witnessing App St and Toledo, we could be playing a high school team and I still wouldn't laugh at them.

I predict the score will be 42-0 Meeeech, BUT STILL let's not cause the football gods to smite us for our arrogance...


October 15th, 2009 at 5:50 PM ^

I am hoping that Denard gets the start and plays 3 quarters and then lets Sheridan take over. It would be nice to get Tate an extra week of rest for the head and shoulder and not risk another ding. It would also be nice to see all of the back ups get significant playing time.
I worry about injury in a game that isn't close. Especially when guys are getting hurt doing chest bumps.


October 15th, 2009 at 6:15 PM ^

The "rest Tate" meme is getting annoying. Tate is the starter, if healthy he needs to play and get some more reps. He is not going to become a better QB by sitting on the bench.

Hopefully, the game is such that Tate plays 2 quarters and can sit the rest of the time. However, benching him for the entire game is ridiculous.


October 15th, 2009 at 6:36 PM ^

That's all fine and dandy unless he gets hurt even worse. This is a guy who didn't practice this week (at least, not through Wednesday, I believe). In what appears to be a game that UM should win by (apparently) 9 miles, it makes more sense to have Tate rest.

If we are going to continue playing 2 QB's this year, it's clear which QB needs more quality game experience right now.

Denard getting quality PT > Tate becoming a better QB with more reps


October 15th, 2009 at 6:56 PM ^

I just don't think a Freshman is going to be able to come back from being benched at the end of an important road game, benched for a full game (even if it is injury related), and jump right into the PSU game with ultimate swagger that puts Michigan in a position to win.

I don't think Tate runs a ton this week, or has any bootleg opportunities to be blind sided - obviously you play it safe.

Tate or no Tate, DRob gets his reps this week regardless. Benching Tate would get Denard only a few more reps and get Sheridan a lot more. I still think you play Tate, at least for the first half.

J. Lichty

October 16th, 2009 at 9:54 AM ^

Poor Delaware State.

I was in Tallahassee this week for work, and in additiion to the expected FSU trappings, there was a sign up in the hotel with the Florida A and M Football Schedule, which included the battle against "Delaware State Blue Hens"

Cripes, not even Del State's own divisional foes know who they are.


October 16th, 2009 at 12:02 PM ^

The decision to put in Denard Robinson in the 4th quarter is/was completely indefensible and stating otherwise (as Brian and Tim do in the podcast) is tantamount to arguing that it was a "defensible" decision to invade Iraq in order to neutralize their "vast stockpile of WMD" (in strength of argument, not in gravity of the mistake, obviously). While Saddam Hussein "might eventually have" developed these weapons, they simply did not exist and therefore could not justify a full blown invasion and occupation. Similarly, though Denard Robinson might someday be a QB who can lead a game winning drive with 1:25 left and no timeouts, he is undeniably not at that point right now (reasoning explained below). As I see it, there are only two ways to justify this decision: 1. This decision would give Michigan a better chance to win in that game at that time than the alternative or 2. That it was the best move for developing our young players.

The problem is that, 1. Rodriguez's decision gave us the smallest possible chance to win and 2. simultaneously destroyed the confidence of BOTH quarterbacks as Rodriguez put Robinson in a situation he could not possibly succeed in (the kid has a 30%... let me repeat 30%.. completion pct. with 0 td's and 3 INTs on the year) while showing Tate Forcier that the coaching staff doesn't have the balls to stick with a kid when he isn't having a good game (which is obviously the thing you want to do to a true freshman who was clearly having confidence issues in a tough road game).

If you can seriously argue that a running quarterback who completes 30% of his passes is the best choice to run a last minute drive with 1:25 left and no timeouts, maybe you two really are the mindless homers you were alleged to be during the practice scandal this fall. If you think Denard being put into a situation that he had almost no chance of succeeding in (and in which he ultimately failed misrably) was good for his confidence, you must be morons or have never played organized sports. Similarly, if you think taking out Tate Forcier, who is supposed to be your starting QB, yelling at him and reducing him to a scared true freshman who isn't sure his coaches are going to stick with him is good, I would wonder whether you might be short a chromosome (or, again, have never played organized sports and therefore by ignorance don't understand the effect that has on a kid).

So, please, go on talking (or refusing to talk, whatever your personal choice may be) about what appears to be an emotional, irrational, indefensible coaching blunder that is the functional equivalent of Yakety Sax Notre Dame circa 2008 (a series of repeated, unforced errors), like it is some sort of high level coaching move. Unfortunately, it is nothing of the sort, and sugar-coating this hickish, half-brained attempted at willing true freshmen to read defenses like seniors via excoriation will only serve to allow Rodriguez to make a mistake like this again. All this served to do was seriously damage two of our most important players for the rest of the season.

I'll always remember a quote by Mac Brown in an interview before the National championship game against USC (a game Vince Young singlehandedly won for Texas under any definition of that word). He was asked when was the turning point for Vince Young (who, as many don't remember, had very tough freshman and sophomore seasons where he could never seem to win against OU and was always getting knocked off by someone who had no business being in the game with UT) and Mac replied, "the turning point was when we as a coaching staff stopped tearing him down for his mistakes and started supporting him through them."

Rodriguez last week killed the confidence of both of his quarterbacks, tore both of their competitive psyches to shreds; a mistake he/UM are going to pay for that the rest of the year unless Denard and Tate are extraordinarily mentally tough. Here's hoping they both are and that sometime soon Rodriguez learns to stop making emotional decisions at critical moments during games. Let the hate replies begin.


October 16th, 2009 at 12:53 PM ^

If you think Denard being put into a situation that he had almost no chance of succeeding in (and in which he ultimately failed misrably) was good for his confidence, you must be morons or have never played organized sports.

If you need to have never played organized sports to make this decision, then why did Rich Rodriguez, who I'm sure played more organized sports than you, make it?


October 16th, 2009 at 1:17 PM ^

Your comparison to invading Iraq is pure garbage, so I will refrain from addressing it. In fact, most of your argument boils down to armchair psychology, armchair coaching and demonstrates why analyzing a decision in a vacuum is both misleading and lazy.

Up until Denard’s interception, Tate was 8/19 (42.1%) with 1 INT and 94 yards (11.8 ypc). The passing game was not working well. The running game, on the other hand, had been doing quite well with 200+ yards on the ground at a pace of 4.3 ypa. Denard had just finished an 11 play, 59 yard drive for a touchdown to put Michigan within a field goal of winning. He was, up until the interception, 3/3 with no interceptions and 30 yards (10.0 ypc), along with 49 yards rushing at a pace of 5.4 ypa (Tate had 26 net yards for 3.3 ypc all game). The only problem was that Denard made a freshman mistake and threw the interception to end the game, kind of like Tate did just a week earlier.

So with a freshman quarterback who is a talented passer but was not throwing particularly well for the night (and who makes freshman mistakes), a running game that was working, another freshman quarterback who is a talented runner and had previously led a TD drive (and who also makes freshman mistakes), you want to second guess the coach as to who should go in for the final drive for a field goal? I’m not saying the decision was right. I’m not saying it was wrong. I’m saying it was a coaching decision that was made with the best information and judgment available; information and judgment that is a helluva lot better that you or I had at the time.

But the thing that I find most astounding about your unsupported, nonsensical rant, is your accusation against Brian and Tim as not having played in any organized sport, thereby invalidating their defense of Rodriguez’s decision. Yet the person who actually made the decision that they are defending has been involved in organized sports for decades.

So, please, go on talking. You sound more foolish with every word.


October 16th, 2009 at 4:21 PM ^

Obviously, the comparison to invading Iraq was tongue in cheek. My heartfelt condolences to all those at WLA for making specious and disingenuous comparisons with otherwise serious and tragic circumstances that are, at best, tangentially related.

The comparison was meant to play on the meme here and on other Michigan sites that we don't "know" what was going on down there on the field, just as we didn't "know" everything the CIA, President, etc. did in the lead-up going into Iraq. IMO, incomplete knowledge is not an excuse for failing to analyze with the information you have. I don't disagree that Rodriguez had more complete information than I do, I just fail to see how any of that information would impact the only two reasons I can think of for putting in Robinson at that time in the game: 1. to give us a better shot at winning that game or 2. to develop young players in the best manner possible.

As for your argument:

Denard Robinson has shown absolutely nothing this year to imply that he could lead a drive 57-83 yards (FG-TD range) with 1:25 remaining and no timeouts to win a game. He is a running quarterback. An exciting athlete with an extremely limited slice of the playbook at his disposal and exceedingly questionable decision-making skills (see specifically EMU). In short, he is the exact opposite of the person you would want leading a clinching drive with limited time remaining, no way to stop the clock, and a significant amount of distance to cover. This was not Western Michigan. He is the most likely to get flustered under time pressure (since he has, up until this point, never had to deal with it) and it is also worth noting that, although the previous drive ended well, Rodriguez couldn't get Robinson into hurry up mode despite what appeared to be significant verbal cajoling.

But what could possibly make me say that this decision was "indefensible"? Maybe Robinson's 30% completion percentage coming into the game or his sparkling 0-2 TD/INT ratio. Maybe the fact that he has completed one pass of over 15 yards all year, or maybe that even in this very game on the 12 play drive you claim qualifies him for this, he passed it exactly twice, both on rollouts for distances of barely 7 yards each (discounting YAC). It is worth noting that on both of those plays, he barely had to read the defense as he was (from my memory, I may be wrong) throwing to the flag near the sidelines (possibly a drag, again, I cant remember) as he rolled into them. This is something you can teach a running back to do with a few weeks of practice, as we saw with Darren McFadden circa 2007. It is very difficult to turn that kind of passing aptitude into 55-80 yards (or however many it was) in 90-ish seconds unless there is a serious breakdown in tackling, a skill set which Iowa is particularly apt at. It also strains belief that someone who could not pass downfield effectively against EMU or anyone but Indiana will suddenly learn to do so against Iowa.

On the other hand, the other option is Tate Forcier who has lead three game winning or tying drives in almost this exact same situation. Last week, on the road at Michigan State Forcier had 128 or so passing yards going into those final two drives. This week 98. Both times his completion pct. was below 50. Blah, blah I can cite a mountain of stats that don't really prove anything, blah; I'm not saying he would have done the same thing, I'm simply arguing that there is no way Denard Robinson gives us a better chance to win on that drive, in that situation than Forcier. Could Denard Robinson lead M on a 5-10 play 3:00-5:00 drive of indeterminate length? Absolutely. Did anyone in their right mind think Denard Robinson could lead M on an 50-80 yard drive in 1:25 with no timeouts? I would hope that everyone here saw that interception coming down the pipeline about 1:25 before it happened. At some point, someone was bound to get tackled inbounds and, because of this, Robinson would panic just like Forcier might, but without sufficient knowledge of the offense and relevant experience to compensate.

In all honesty, however, everything I've written above is not my main problem with that decision. The W/L really isn't important. What is important is that Rodriguez seriously damaged the confidence of the kid who was, until that point, his starting QB without having any short term benefit (such as a chance at winning) to justify it. Often fans don't take into consideration what getting pulled from a game like that does to a player's psyche, especially young guys, especially QBs. Also, do you think throwing the ball right to a safety really helped Denard Robinson's confidence? Maybe you can make the argument that just being in there did help him, but I don't buy that. IMO, you don't ask players to do something you are substantially sure they are going to fail at. This, I thought, was a lesson we should have taken from the Carr Era.

It looks good to the media and fans to pull someone when things aren't going well and, sure, it increases the level of competition, but it also sends a message that you can/will get removed from the game if you aren't performing. That might seem logical, but it can create a toxic atmosphere on a team where its players can be too afraid to take chances for fear of retribution. Ask anyone who has worked in a major US law firm (i.e. Skadden) about how constantly harping on the failures of your young talent can lead to high attrition rates and depleted morale.

The most successful businessmen, coaches, teachers, or insert leadership position here do not have employees, players or students that are afraid of them and/or failure; they are instead relentless in teaching the technique of their trade while encouraging those under them to take risks and operate without the fear of retribution for every mistake.

Thus, my argument here is that destroying a kid's confidence so that you can put another kid in a situation he can't possibly succeed in is inexcusable and ignorant. It reeks of the mentality of a high school coach who wants to "make a point" to his team (i.e. engage in a petty power play intended to punish a kid for making mistakes that weren't the result of his inattention or even volition). If you want to defend a coach for such a decision, be my guest, but I don't think that is a sustainable or desirable strategy long-term.