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11/02/2008 - 7:26pm We match up well with OSU? 

We match up well with OSU?  They run the same offense as the three teams that hung 45+ points on us.  And since when have our blitzes ever worked?

11/02/2008 - 2:10pm I have nothing but the utmost

I have nothing but the utmost respect for the players who sacrifice their bodies and have to be full-time students as well, with no financial compensation beyond their scholarship. I don't feel nearly as sorry for the grown men who are paid extremely well to coach a child's game, especially when the results are extremely poor. I will grant the offensive coaches a pass because of the circumstances, but I won't be as charitable on the D. I don't believe that our defensive staff is the optimal one for this program, so why should I blindly support them? If the posts above are correct, the players are drawing the same conclusions.

11/02/2008 - 2:03pm Last year's D wasn't great,

Last year's D wasn't great, but it was respectable. It gave up 21.4 points per game against a pretty tough schedule. (I don't consider giving up 35 points to Florida and Tebow to be that bad.) This year's D, with much more experience, is giving up 30.9 ppg. Next year we'll lose basically all of our good defensive players. Anyone who sees us improving defensively next year is operating on blind faith.

RichRod is NOT a defensive guy, by his own admission. His DC is by far the most critical of his assistants. Right now the early returns on Shafer are very, very discouraging.

11/02/2008 - 1:55pm We need to redo the ND

We need to redo the ND contract and put in some breaks in the series, like we had in 1995-96 and 2000-01.  Playing them every year is really limiting what we can do with the rest of the schedule, given that seven home games is apparently a financial necessity. 

11/02/2008 - 1:47pm I love Odoms, but calling

I love Odoms, but calling him "Breaston with hands," I don't quite agree with.  Did Breaston ever muff a punt?  I remember him regularly getting clocked by opposing gunners while somehow managing to hang on. 

But anyway, it's really good to see the special teams giving the offense shorter fields to work with.  In many games, our O has had consistently bad field position, which has not done it any favors. 

And Minor is clearly coming into his own.  He's not just running with authority, he's also showing improved vision and is hitting the correct hole more than he used to.  

As for Threet, I think he's gutting it out on a bad arm.  He had more zip on the ball earlier.   

11/02/2008 - 1:34pm Does it really benefit a

Does it really benefit a weak offense to play passively on D and repeatedly concede first-down yardage, even if it doesn't give up huge plays?  One could argue that a weak offense really would benefit from a defense that is designed to make big plays itself and force turnovers and 3 and outs, to give the offense better field position to work with.  As it is, we force very few 3 and outs, and when we do manage to force a punt, we're regularly backed up very deep in our own territory.  We also force very few turnovers (especially interceptions). 

Regardless of whether it makes sense in theory, in actual games our defensive schemes result in our opponents repeatedly going on long, clock-eating drives that regularly end in points (or else short drives that also end in points), and opposing QBs consistently having career days.  Anyone think the Purdue kid will perform anywhere near that level the rest of the season?

11/02/2008 - 1:15pm Last year the defense was

Last year the defense was lousy, gave up the 2nd most points (1 point short of 2004) in Michigan history, but was bailed out by an NFL laden offense. 

Don't look at total points surrendered.  The 13-game schedule has only been in place for a couple of years, so that skews the data.  Last year's D gave up 21.4 points per game, which is respectable for a young unit that faced a pretty difficult schedule.  Several of Carr's teams surrendered more ppg, as did Gary Moeller's final team. 

This year, with far more experience than we had a year ago, we are surrendering 30.9 ppg, by far the worst in school history.  And even that hideous average is kept down by our two MAC opponents.  Take them away and everyone else is scoring 37 ppg against us.  You cannot tell me that you "saw this coming."  We have the Big Ten's worst defense right now.  I don't remember anyone stating before the year that the D would be anything but a strength.

Are you really going to argue that the loss of Crable, Englemon and Adams was THIS crippling that it outweighed the gains that should have been made from having everyone else back a year older?

11/02/2008 - 1:04pm Much like the offense this

Much like the offense this year, the defensive unit next season has to lean on either freshmen or first time contributers on the field. Unlike, their counterparts on O this year, however, this can be looked at as a positive.

Wishful thinking.  Next year we're going to miss our DL bigtime.  Martin's a stud, but he's going to be double-teamed all year.

11/02/2008 - 12:52pm While there is reason to

While there is reason to believe that the offense will get better in the coming years, anyone who believes the D will dramatically improve is acting on blind faith. We won't be this experienced again on D for a few years, and this defensive coaching staff hasn't exactly distinguished itself. Next year, without the studs on the DL, could be worse.

11/02/2008 - 12:49pm Chitown: and the scary thing

Chitown: and the scary thing is, we suck worse this year.  We have given up as many rush TDs even though we didn't face Rashard Mendenhall or Oregon's running game, we haven't yet faced Beanie Wells, and we won't get the chance to face Tim Tebow.  And the run defense is the supposedly the STRENGTH of this year's D!

11/02/2008 - 12:40pm  that's good. These other 80

 that's good. These other 80 DC's - who are they playing ? How good is their offense? Do they have anything better than a rag tag O-line and a QB with half an arm? It's easy to compile good defensive STATISTICS if your D is never on the field. I agree that there is a problem, but a defensive ranking means shit. See: UM 2006.

Given that there are only 120 teams in I-A, it's kind of hard to imagine that two-thirds of them could be fielding defenses that are "never on the field."  Anyway, that #81 ranking was actually before the Purdue game.  Following that not-so-stellar performance, there probably are even more teams whose defenses are outperforming ours. 

But hey, at least we're not dead last in the country.  Yippie!  Give Shafer a raise!

11/02/2008 - 12:29pm Our rush D last year wasn't

Our rush D last year wasn't great, it's true, but it wasn't a total sieve.  In 13 games, it surrendered 17 rush TDs.  This year, in nine games, we've surrendered . . . 17 rush TDs.  (I won't even get into the ghastly pass defense numbers.)

11/02/2008 - 12:11pm You know how everyone love

You know how everyone love to bash the last 11 years of Michigan Safeties? How the best group we had was last year's "not shitty" tandem of Adams and Englemon? Guess who presided over all those 4 and 5 star safeties who sucked?

And the answer is:

Teryl Austin (1999-2002)

Ron English (2003-06)

Vance Bedford (2007)


11/02/2008 - 12:08pm Bedford's a great coach. 

Bedford's a great coach.  Last year we were 8th in the country (!) in pass defense.  This year?  Uh, not quite as high.  Last January, Florida saw firsthand what our DBs could do under his coaching and nabbed Bedford as soon as he became available.   

11/02/2008 - 12:00pm People, enough with the

People, enough with the straw man arguments.  It's possible to love Michigan football and still be concerned about what you see on Saturdays.  Watching us field one of the nation's worst defenses is unreal.  I can't accept that Scott Shafer is getting the most out of these guys, especially given that eight of them started on last year's defense which was considerably more competent than this.  I think he has lost his guys.  I don't see the same kind of fire out there that we had when English was our DC.  I want Shafer replaced because I think it's in our program's best interests, not because I'm a "fair-weather fan." (If I were a fair-weather fan, I wouldn't be paying attention to the team by this point.)

Anyway, here's a question I've been meaning to ask of the WLA guys: why is it OK to harshly criticize one of our players (Brandon Minor), but the coaching staff is off-limits?  I'm pretty sure Minor isn't getting paid six (or seven) figures to perform every week.

11/02/2008 - 1:29am Uh, one instance of a poor

Uh, one instance of a poor scheme?  What team have you been watching all season?  We were ranked 81st in the country in total D before the Purdue game. 

11/02/2008 - 1:26am Henning's article is too

Henning's article is too focused on offense.  I don't think there's that much else our staff could have done to improve it, all things considered, other than commit to Threet as our #1 QB before the season started.

But on defense, he can't get a pass - not when a veteran unit deteriorates into the worst D in school history.  His decision to hire Shafer is looking extremely suspect.  With a DC who could have delivered merely an average Big Ten performance, instead of the conference's worst, we could have pulled out a couple of extra wins, and would still have a shot at a bowl right now.

11/02/2008 - 12:35am And of course, Purdue's

And of course, Purdue's 3rd-string QB is every bit as good as Graham Harrell, and is a lock to join him as a Heisman finalist this December.  The parallels are endless!

11/01/2008 - 11:44pm Please then, go ahead and

Please then, go ahead and tell me who is better. 

Uh, how about any of the EIGHTY DCs in I-A who had higher-ranked defenses than Michigan's going into today?  (And after today, there might be 90.)  I'd gladly take back Ron English, or Corwin Brown, or even promote Hopson (who was DC at Southern Miss) to the job. 

Mstier, you act like Shafer is some tenured professor who deserves to keep his job just because he's currently in it.  The guy's driven our D off a cliff.  This is on pace to be our worst defense in school history - by a mile.  And this is with eight returning starters!  I can't imagine how ugly it could get next year if Shafer's still around.  

Really, does anyone think Shafer commands the same respect among the players that English got? 

11/01/2008 - 11:10pm We returned eight of 11

We returned eight of 11 starters, and all three new starters saw considerable game action last year.  The loss of three players does not explain our defense completely dropping off a cliff the way it has.  Last year we were eighth in the country in pass defense.  This year we've made every QB we face (even a 3rd-stringer on a terrible Purdue team) look like a stud. 

Exactly what is it about Shafer that inspires such blind loyalty in people?  He never worked with RR before this season.  Before this year he had three years of DC experience - at Western Michigan and Stanford.  He's never coordinated anything resembling a highly-ranked defense.  Only one of the four teams he's coordinated has recorded a winning record.  Stanford's D is currently performing much better than it did under Shafer.  Michigan, meanwhile, is experiencing its worst defensive season in school history.  The evidence strongly suggests that Shafer is not a top-notch DC, regardless of what the "coaching fraternity" thinks about him.  (Right now, I'm sure he's REAL popular among the rest of the Big Ten, in the same way that we loved John Cooper.) 

11/01/2008 - 10:49pm Read some of coach Simmons

Read some of coach Simmons stuff on his web site regarding the defense and Shafer. I still think Shafer deserves more than one year. He had a defensive line to work with, not much in the way of LB's and DB's.

I'm sorry, but Simmons just isn't an objective analyst.  He's afraid to criticize coaches for anything.  Every call is "great" in his mind. 

11/01/2008 - 10:28pm The "clock"

The clock starts either when the player plays his/her first game or attends his/her first college class, whichever comes first.  So for winter or spring sports, the clock starts on the first day of fall classes (assuming the player attends).

11/01/2008 - 10:18pm Most of these guys are from

Most of these guys are from the over-rated defense that got beat by Appalachian State last year, the left over players from the "feel good" era of Coach Carr.  

The D that finished 8th in the country in pass efficiency defense?  Last year's D started terribly, but after the first two weeks of the season, it came around and became a pretty solid unit.  How it degenerated into the Big Ten's worst defense is something that some folks on the staff have to be held accountable for.


11/01/2008 - 10:06pm I don't know, but I'm not

I don't know, but I'm not down on the offense right now.  Purdue's D has actually had a pretty good season.  They only gave up 20 points to PSU, 9 to OSU (7 came on a punt return) and 17 to Minnesota.  (They did get shredded by NW.  I don't know what happened there.)  For us to score 35 offensive points is pretty good. 

I think the offense is definitely making strides, even with Threet being inconsistent and possibly not entirely healthy.  Right now I am far more worried about the other side of the ball.

11/01/2008 - 9:56pm Two things:1. Bragging

Two things:

1. Bragging about your occupation = a turn-off to other posters.

 2. When a defense, which had been reasonably competent the year before, returns eight starters and then, despite remaining very healthy, degenerates into one of the worst in I-A (the stats don't lie), it can be reasonably inferred that it is not being properly coached. Players are supposed to improve with experience, not drastically fall off. I think it's safe to say that NO ONE expected this defense to give up 35+ points five times, and 45+ points three times.  And there's still three games to go!  Given these facts, it's pretty tough to accept that Shafer is the absolute best guy we can find for that position.


11/01/2008 - 8:15pm Did you see the tackling? Is

Did you see the tackling? Is that Shafer's fault?

Uh . . . yes?  The entire D staff is accountable to him.  If the positional coaches aren't working enough on tackling (which may be the case, given that all three units are poor at it), he should get on them about it.  It's comical how you guys act like Shafer has next to no influence on the play of the defense.  If that's the case, then why have a DC in the first place?

11/01/2008 - 7:57pm Dude, we're 2-7, and fielding

Dude, we're 2-7, and fielding literally the worst defense in school history.  Stop ridiculing people for coming to the understandable conclusion that our new DC might not be the best man for the job.  

11/01/2008 - 6:45pm I love how it's never the

I love how it's never the coaches' fault when an experienced defense, nine games into the season, still can't tackle.  I guess the players should be teaching themselves?

11/01/2008 - 6:35pm All things considered, this

All things considered, this game may have been the worst single defensive performance in school history.  2000 Northwestern has generally held that "distinction" up to now, but I'd have to say this was worse.  2000 NW actually was a good team.  They also didn't play a 3rd-string, converted RB at QB. 

11/01/2008 - 6:01pm When they leave the program

When they leave the program then judge Shafer.

What the hell has this guy ever done as a coach to have earned that kind of a free pass?  He's been DC at a crap MAC program for two years, DC at a terrible Pac-10 program for one year, and DC of now-terrible Michigan for one year.  He doesn't deserve a long rope.  A year ago we seemed halfway competent on D for most of the season.  We returned eight starters, and now we're Detroit Lion bad?  Shafer was a gamble when we hired him, and it's blowing up in our face.

11/01/2008 - 4:34pm Our DBs aren't that great,

Our DBs aren't that great, but I don't think our defensive schemes give them much of a chance to make plays.   It's tough to get INTs when you're in a defense that concedes first-down yardage every 3rd down.   If it's 3rd and 8, our corners will typically give a 10-yard cushion and backpedal at the snap.  The QB quickly makes the read and (since our 3-man rush rarely is a factor) quickly gets it to him before our DB can recover and break up the pass. 

11/01/2008 - 4:21pm The obsession with TOP, I

The obsession with TOP, I think, is a holdover from the old days when everyone ran the ball 80-90% of the time, so TOP was usually correlated with the number of plays the defense was actually on the field. Now that teams throw the ball much more, it's become much less useful. Since pass plays take less time off the clock than running plays, teams that throw a lot don't necessarily have great TOP, but they often do end up running a lot of total plays.

11/01/2008 - 4:13pm SS likes man press coverage? 

SS likes man press coverage?  Is there any evidence to back that claim up?  We sure aren't using it much this season. 

11/01/2008 - 4:06pm It's silly and dangerous to

It's silly and dangerous to plow through a coach in just one year, especially when that year is one of transition all across the program.

We are talking about an assistant coach here.  There's a big, big difference between firing a head coach and firing an assistant.  Changing one assistant does not bring that much instability.  Minnesota canned its DC last year - one year after a head coaching change - and they sure don't regret it.


11/01/2008 - 4:00pm There is an incredible

There is an incredible amount of stupid oozing from this thread.

I love how the standard retort to any kind of criticism of the coaching is "you're stupid."

Okay Ryan, maybe we are stupid.  Would you please enlighten us, then as to why we should be happy with a defensive coordinator whose unit is surrendering 31 points per game (37 ppg if you toss out the two MAC opponents)? 

Look, I like Rich Rod, but he's a human being.  He'll make some mistakes.  Hiring Shafer is looking like one right now. 

11/01/2008 - 3:36pm This game seals it.  We

This game seals it.  We played a 2-6 team without its starting QB, and gave up 48 points.  I don't know how anyone can defend this guy as our DC.  We're on pace to shatter every school record for defensive futility - and this with a D that returned eight starters. 

I don't care if we lose a recruit or two.  Dump Shafer and hire someone with a better track record than just two years in the MAC and one at a Pac-10 cellar dweller.

10/28/2008 - 6:42pm I'm seriously disgusted with

I'm seriously disgusted with the amount of negativity a single crummy football season brings to our "fanbase".  What are you assclowns doing for the program right now?  You think recruits want to come to a team where they have no idea who will be coaching them?

I don't know what recruits want or don't want, but personally, if we had the opportunity to clearly upgrade our coaching staff, I'd be perfectly happy letting a few recruits go.  I'll make that trade any day.   

10/27/2008 - 6:10pm Well, it would be true to

Well, it would be true to history.  In the last 50 years or so, every first-year coach in the UM-MSU series has lost (except 1995, when two of them went head-to-head).  But over the same time, every first-year coach in UM-OSU has won, except John Cooper (and he came very close to pulling the upset). 


10/26/2008 - 1:01pm Another reply

I agree with GMHW. Scoring D is pretty much meaningless. But our defense is constantly being given short fields to defend and only breaking down on long plays. Take away plays that are 50+ yards and there really isn't much yardarge or scoring going on.

Don't care about scoring defense? Fine, look at total D - we're 8th in the conference overall and 11th when only Big Ten games are considered. Are we really the least-talented defense in the conference?

As for Shafer "turning around Stanford" - he was there one year.  Before that he was working for a middle-of-the-pack MAC program. It's not unreasonable to wonder if he's really the best guy we can get, given that we are on pace to set school records - the bad kind - in points and yardage given up.

10/26/2008 - 12:47pm Quick correction

Let it go, everyone is entitled to a bad season, unfortunately ours was 33 years ago, so everyone that has been quiet for all those years has recently found a voice.

Actually, it was 41 years ago. From 1968-74, we had a winning record every year, but because of a dumb Big Ten rule that forbade conference teams from going to any bowl other than the Rose Bowl, we missed bowl games several of those years.

10/26/2008 - 12:41pm We could probably have more

We could probably have more success just rushing four if we would play man coverage on 3rd and long. That would presumably force the WRs to take more time to get open than right now, when all they have to do is run to an open space in the zone. There have been a LOT of plays this season where our DL was about a half-second too slow getting to the QB.

10/26/2008 - 12:32pm He is actually rehabbing a

He is actually rehabbing a severe ankle injury right now and even getting to class for him has been hell, as the football program can't provide him with transportation without it being considered as an "unfair benefit to student athletes." 

Really?  The NCAA just sucks sometimes. 

10/26/2008 - 12:26pm Shafer was taking credit for

Shafer was taking credit for this players' mistakes. He cannot tackle Juice from the box when the LBs bite on the run up the gut or Benn when the DBs continuously leave him wide open. Give the coaching staff some time to get some players who can play their systems.

So we have worse defensive personnel than Minnesota (which held Illinois to 20 points), Wisconsin (held Ill to 17 pts) or even Louisiana-Monroe (20 points)?

Purdue held PSU to 20 points.  Do we have that much worse personnel than them?

Iowa held MSU to 16 points.  Are we that much less-talented than them?

In six games against non-MAC opposition, we are giving up 35.2 points per game.  It's one thing to say that our offense isn't capable of performing better than it is, but it's just ridiculous to say the same about the defense. 

10/26/2008 - 1:41am I think the guy's weird and

I think the guy's weird and probably an asshole, but honestly I don't see too much to take offense from in those comments. 

10/26/2008 - 1:15am GMHW - do you think we have

GMHW - do you think we have some of the worst defensive talent in the Big Ten? We're not just bad by Michigan standards, we're bad period. We entered today 8th in the Big Ten in total defense and 10th in scoring defense. (In conference play only, we were 11th in total D and 10th in scoring D.) Those stats will not improve after today's performance.

Given that our DL is pretty stacked with future NFL talent, our talent in the LB corps and secondary would have to be off-the-charts horrific for this just to be a personnel issue.

10/26/2008 - 12:56am I would describe Shaun King

I would describe Shaun King and Woody Dantzler as more than just "option quarterbacks, who run first, throw a safe pass if necessary."  Those two racked up huge passing numbers.

10/25/2008 - 11:43pm A DC who is growing on me is

A DC who is growing on me is Corwin Brown at ND. He's called some strange defenses against us (causing Brian to joke that he might be a mole) but on the whole his D has looked pretty solid, and it seems pretty sound on fundamentals. I imagine he'd jump at the chance to come back here.

10/25/2008 - 11:22pm It's not just big plays.  We

It's not just big plays.  We let that Toledo guy catch 20 passes.  Basically, our defense is bad until the other team gets within FG range, and then we sometimes make stops.  We don't force many 3-and-outs.

10/25/2008 - 10:54pm I don't know, but going into

I don't know, but going into the year I certainly didn't expect us to be giving up almost 29 points per game (and that stat gets considerably uglier if the two MAC opponents are not included).  We currently have one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten, statistically speaking.  I don't think anyone saw that coming, and it's not something that's easily explained.  Are teams like Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue really more talented on defense than we are?

10/25/2008 - 10:34pm Arrington was almost

Arrington was almost certainly gone all along.  There were rumors to that effect all season.  Insiders would say things like "Mario is 99% gone and Adrian is 85%" or whatever, even before Lloyd retired.

The one guy who presumably would still be here is Boren.  He would've helped, although the line still would have been problematic.  The one other positive Lloyd might have brought is that he probably would have committed to Threet over Sheridan right off the bat, allowing Threet more practice reps with the first team in the preseason.  Threet consequently might have looked sharper to start the year, and maybe we'd have beaten Utah.  But beyond that, I doubt the season would have turned out much differently. 

Having said that, I am upset about our defense.  45 points to Illinois?  46 to PSU?  35 to MSU?   I acknowledge that the D was bad at times last year as well, so I'm not saying Lloyd would have fixed it.  But it's just mind-boggling how bad our tackling is, and how poor we are at getting off the field when it's 3rd and long.  I believe in RichRod, but my faith in Shafer is weak right now.