Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We've been here before

This would have been up yesterday, but I spent the entire day driving back from Chicago on a MegaBus which said it had WiFi but definitely did not have WiFi.
Michigan 21 - Ohio 26
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

And so it finally, unmercifully, comes to an end. After two years of miserable playcalling, shoddy quarterback play, and more turnovers than you can shake a stick at, Michigan can finally say goodbye to Denard Robinson, he going out exactly the way he played: turning the ball over on a crucial drive. Al Borges will take the blame for the playcalling in this game, but he's not the one giving the ball away on three second-half drives. He's not the dual-threat senior quarterback that in his third year as a starter doesn't know how to protect the ball. But he is the one that's telling the Buckeyes exactly what's going to happen just by the personnel on the field.

I can understand Borges' thinking on playcalls in this game. I spent most of the weekend playing darts at various bars around Chicago. When you're an amateur playing another amateur in Cricket, there's a very specific strategy you should employ to ensure the best possible results: aim for the bullseye. The logic shows that with natural variance and drift on your shots, you're just a likely to hit one of the six other numbers you're supposed to, reducing rounds that you don't mark at all and optimizing your ability to get lucky. I don't throw this way despite my status as Amateur. If you're relying on noise, you'll never truly get better; push yourself to do the hard stuff and eventually it'll come naturally.

Unfortunately for Michigan, Denard and Devin on the field at the same time is not noise as Borges likely thinks of it (trick plays that are just as likely to get you zero yards as 60). Against OSU, Borges was throwing at the triple 20 over and over again and kept hitting triple 1. If you can hit your spot every time (say, running under-center power on third and three), there's no problem attacking that spot repeatedly, but Borges needs to accept that the status of his offensive line and running backs is not such that you can confidently rely on. Take the yards where you can get them and play your best strategy.

It was hard to watch this game and see Michigan's players just continually beaten, both physically and mentally. Stephen Hopkins was abhorrent and played perhaps the worst game I've ever seen from a fullback. The offensive line was tossed around like ragdolls. Michigan's corners completely unable to guard anyone and JT Floyd getting turned around like he did against Penn State two years ago. At times, this was men against boys, something I had thought was extinct after how well the team had played the last two years.

So now there's a bowl game left, but it feels like a punishment more than a reward. I don't want to watch this football team play another game. I'm tired of seeing the offensive line lost and unfit to play with the elite. I'm tired of Denard Robinson. I'm tired of JT Floyd. I'm tired of not having a viable running back on the roster. We're officially ushering a new era after this season: Borges will get his passing-capable QB, Hoke gets his offensive line of fridges with feet, the secondary rids itself of its most inadequate piece, and the more time that passes, the further we get from Rich Rodriguez's recruiting disasters.

2013 will hold better things for a Michigan team that was probably a lot better than its record showed. Having even a remedial offense coupled with an all-world defense is the way that LSU and Notre Dame and Alabama have won national championships in the recent past. They were bolstered by an excellent running game, the likes of which Michigan can't match, but perhaps the new offensive linemen will be a revelation. I'm excited for the future of this team, but I'm tired of where they've stalled this season.

Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

  • Lawdy lord, the defense. This defense rules. I cannot wait to see them in the future. They bend-don't-break'ed an offense that if you're bending, you're typically breaking. Jake Ryan's ability to stay with Braxton Miller's jukes in space is a revelation. Have fun on Sunday's sweet prince.
  • Howeva, the defensive line was struggling to hold up against double teams the way they had in previous weeks. That allowed OSU offensive linemen to release to the second level and seal off Michigan's linebackers. That ended poorly for Michigan and well for Carlos Hyde.
  • The Wolverine defense will get way better without JT Floyd, though. His weakness as a cover corner significantly limits Mattison's schemes. Next year we should see the defense take another step up when Mattison feels confident leaving Countess and Taylor out on islands.
  • No seriously, Stephen Hopkins was horrible. How he isn't smart enough to play fullback, I'll never know.
  • Devin finally came back down to earth. One of the main reasons is that the OSU defensive line play gap-sound and didn't allow him to break the pocket much. Gardner had no where to run on drop backs, something that they clearly gameplanned for.
  • Speaking of stopping QB scrambles: I hate rushing only two defensive linemen on third-and-long. That never seems to work. It allows the opposing quarterbacks to sit in the pocket and receivers to find holes in the zone defense which always develop with enough time. I think I remember Michigan doing this twice and neither time did it provide any results. Mattison, stick with your gut: blitz from one side of the field and force a scramble into your zone defenders like you've done all year.


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