Monday, November 24, 2008


Wow, somebody actually reads this crap and cares enough to send me an email. Actually, it's just my brother in Texas, weighing in on the season we just completed. but he makes some good points and it's worth reprinting here.

I had a few thoughts about the Michigan season:
- A#1 - How can we still be fumbling on special teams by the end of the year after suffering through fiascoes like the ND game? I don't care how fast they are, Odoms and Cissoko shouldn't still have been taking kicks.

How very Lloyd Carr of you. People always complained that Carr was risk adverse, that he would always sacrifice play making ability for sure handedness. That being said, I think I agree with this, after the ND game we should taken Odoms out of the punt returner role.

-With the limited offensive tools Michigan had, how come Rodriguez didn't play field position ball. Lets remember there are two aspects to the offense he normally runs - one the play design, and two the game plan. A big part of that game plan seems to be a fast paced offense. What I don't understand is how, with one of the best punters in the nation and a fair run defense, Rodriguez couldn't have made the obvious choice to slow his offense down and try and win low scoring games. It doesn't mean giving up his "system" because you can still run alot of the same plays. It just means teaching players 3-4 yard gains are good. and c'mon - in basketball the inferior team
always tries to keep it slow and low, so they can shorten the game from 40 mins to a 4 min game.

Again, there is a certain amount of truth to what you say. However one thing to remember is that the zone read, and the zone stretch are just one part of the RRod offense. The bubble screen is another key part, and our QBs proved all year they couldn't execute this simple throw with precision. This seriously hampered our ability to be consistent on offense. I don't think we could have sustained an all rushing offense against good teams without at least a threat of the pass.

-We have at least three incredible running backs. I wonder how we would have done with a wishbone all year, lol

Incredible? That's a little strong I think. We have four good, but injury prone running backs, who may have some potential for future growth. If we ever could have gotten them all healthy at once, we might have been able to run some more two running back sets. However, the wishbone requires a bruising, run-away beer truck type, and we just didn't have that (no Kevin Grady wasn't really an option) Besides, I don't think it's wise for a coach to try and run an offense they are not familiar with. That's an invitation to disaster (see Notre Dame, start of 07 season)

-Our quarterback situation is atrocious. Like I said, maybe Faegin from the wishbone? This and the fumbling seem like our two biggest season killers

True, true. In retrospect, expecting so much out of this season when we knew we had a walk-on starting at QB was probably foolishly optimistic.

-Rodriguez clearly designs some very good offensive plays. However there seems to be an attitude of taking as many shots as possible at a low success rate, as opposed to a more traditional approach of fewer, higher quality plays.

I think you are dead wrong on this. One of the beauties of Rodriguez's system is that it takes a number of key ideas and applies in them in slightly different ways to make them more effective. I think that's why we ran the ball so well against Penn State, even though they knew we couldn't pass the ball worth a crap. We slightly changed the blocking on our zone stretch, and it confused them for about a quarter and a half.

My problem with the offensive play calling, if I have any, is that it seemed to me at times we didn't adjust to things the defense was doing. Perhaps that was a function of limited capability of our players, but it seems like some halftime adjustments could have helped tremendously in some games.

But of course, the bigger issue here is that the real reason we didn't make a bowl was the defense. Statistically this was one of the worst defenses in Michigan history. With something like 8 returning starters. We played too much 3-3-5. We couldn't tackle. We had safties and Line backers who don't understand basic geometry and how it applies to pursuit of ball carriers. If our defense had been comparable to last year, we would be 6-6 right now, preparing to watch our boys in Ford Field against CMU or Ball State.

-Don't know who to blame here, probably not Rodriguez though, but what makes a great college program is continuity. Not just among coaches, but among players too. I bet a larger percentage of Detroit Lions players/staff were involved with the Lions the year before than Michigan players/personnel were with UM the previous year.

Uh, that's why its called a transition. If we wanted the same people around, we should have hired Brady Hoke or Mike Debord.

-I think it's easy to underestimate, from the outside, how hard it is to control and turn around a team that's doing so poorly. This gives me hope for next year and makes me worry a bit less about our later losses. Just a bit though.

But, that could also be a reason why next year will be tough - because they are still trying to erase this year's bad momentum.

-OSU is not really that good. Way better than us, but still.

By OSU standards, no. But most programs in the country would kill to end an off year in a BCS bowl game.

-Next year will be better, and we will make a bowl game. But we won't be in the hunt till we have a special QB. I can't wait till next year when all the talk about Michigan will be about our trio of awesome running backs!

Wish I could be as optimistic as you. I think our offense will be substantially improved by year end, but our defense may take a huge step back, if that's possible, especially if Brandon Graham leaves for the league. My expectations for next year are the same as they were this year: just make a bowl! That scares me.