Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dead Coach Walking?

It's not possible to overstate just how incredibly bad the Michigan defense played the night before Halloween. A team that was averaging 109 yards rushing per game got 109 in the first half. A team that had been averaging 344 yards of total offense got 435. A team that had been out gained by 80 yards by the hapless Minnesota Golden Gophers out gained the vaunted Michigan offense. A team that had been averaging 20 points per game, scored 41 and ended the game by taking a knee inside the Michigan five-yard line. And they did this with a third-string walk-on QB and a patchwork offensive line, and without the aid of any turnovers.
This offensive explosion from a team that has one of the worst offenses in the league, when healthy, came on the heels of a series of position moves during the bye week that were eerily similar to the changes in the defense made before the Purdue game in 2008, when Michigan played a 3-3-5 for the first time all year and a backup running back turned QB torched Michigan for a bazillion yards and more points than Purdue had scored all year. Just like that game, the Michigan defenders looked lost, and constantly out of position. It was a coaching failure of the highest order. It has become clear the Rich Rod knows only slightly more about defense than I do, and doesn't have the faintest clue how to go about teaching it to young players. Which is really a shame, considering he knows more about the spread offense than anyone coaching today. We have the worst defense in the league, and the best offense.

So was this game the tipping point for Rich Rod? Depends on who you ask. Some were ready to get rid of him when he quoted the Lion King at his opening press conference. For some it was the loss to Toledo. For the first time, I think, more than 50% of the fanbase think its time for a change. For me it was the MSU loss this year, although it took until this game for me to accept it. Although I recognize the beauty of his offense and know that if he stays we will have an Oregon like offense if not next year than the year after it, I can't get past the lack of any defensive fundamentals, the poor personnel decisions (Marell Evans anyone?), and the complete tailspin they've gone in for three straight years. There is still time to turn this season around, but we've seen no evidence that Rich Rod's teams are capable of that.

Other random thoughts:
-Mark Dantonio showed his true stripes (win-at-all-costs), I'm glad the mainstream media is finally picking up on that. Hey Mark, if you want to be a father figure to these kids (your words, not mine), try acting like a father. If you tell a kid the consequences of bad behavior is a certain punishment, and then you don't follow through with the punishment when they do that bad behavior, they learn not to listen to you, or believe you when you tell them there will be dire consequences if they mess up.
-How the hell did Texas beat Nebraska?
-All of a sudden, West Virginia has fallen off the map. I wonder if they might be willing to take Rich Rod back? Maybe we could work out a sign and trade.
-That Iowa collapse against Wisconsin last week is looking like it might be the pivotal game in the Big Ten race this year. Iowa looked very good against MSU and has a decent chance of beating OSU in two weeks. But even if they run the table, if Wisconsin also runs the table, they are out of luck for the Rose Bowl.
-Tulsa? Seriously, Tulsa?!? Is this why you decided to stay an independent?
-The story about the Notre Dame student killed while filming football practice is tragic, and his tweets were especially haunting. This accident is gonna cost the university a ton of money, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of heat comes on Brian Kelly because of it.
-The Cal scoring streak continued, blows out teams at home, gets blown out on the road - they lost at Oregon State 35-7. They travel to Washington State, so a continuation of the trend would be quite shocking. They close the season with home games against Oregon, Stanford, and Washington.