Another nice win as Michigan pulls away in the second half to take down Ron English and the EMU Eagles.  Tip of the hat to English whose squad put together a gutty first half and played hard throughout.   It’s easy to forget about the giant holes in our defensive line when guys are sprinting for touchdowns right and left (or north and south I guess), but it remains a concern. 

Miscellanea:

QB Depth:  As Tate Forcier lay flat on the ground with his face in the turf, visions of sugar plums and roses (which remain on the far right of the possible season outcome continuum) got a bit blurred.  Denard’s two poor passes over the middle show he’s not ready to be the quarterback of this team and that’s not a shock.  Big things could happen with Forcier at the helm but if he goes down and Robinson is inserted, we become a better team than 2008 but not much more.

Speed:  There are many reasons to be giddy about this season, but we’re seeing that promise of speed with three demonstrations that are on par with any burst we’ve seen in years, maybe since Steve Breaston in the 2005 Rose Bowl.  Consider (I’m going to collect these like when fans put up K’s at baseball games):

  • Robinson’s fumble-turned-touchdown run against Western.
  • Stoneum’s kick-off return against Notre Dame, when he was 100% gone well before he reach midfield.
  • And now add Carlos Brown’s 90 yard jaunt yesterday.

Punt option:  This prompted a rare in-game post, but I’d love to see Rodriguez consider dropping in the punt roll-out option with Mesko once again especially on those fourth and short situations.  I hated that thing at first but with Zoltan back there handling it I’m completely comfortable after watching how it was employed last season.   And speaking of special teams, if you wondering how the Wolverines didn’t get a piece of this punt, this will only help a little bit (from the M photostore):

block

The Delany Film Festival:  Boy, I completely agree with Rodriguez on his disappointment with the Big Ten’s decision to step in suspend Mouton.  And it’s a personal slight against Rodriguez, suggesting he’s not imposing proper discipline on his players.  That punch was nothing.  At best, this deserved a discussion after the game with Mouton and maybe some M stadium steps—but that should be left to Michigan to decide.  That said…

…someone needs to tell Rodriguez to suspend the Delany Film Festival.  He was embarrassed by the commissioner and that was wrong, but to start a public campaign to challenge the Big Ten by poring over game films to find players behaving badly?  I didn’t hear the quote first hand, I assume Rodriguez wasn’t joking about this.  The right thing to do would be to have a conversation with Delany to understand why the Big Ten did what they did, share his disappointment and then quietly move on.  He did speak with Delany but that’s not exactly how it went.  If Rich Rod is behind this, one of his trusted inner circle guys needs to tap the Emperor on the shoulder and tell him to direct that energy elsewhere.  Where is that going?  Michigan finds tape of player X kicking player Y, suggests the Big Ten suspends player X, Conference takes no action, Michigan cries hypocrisy, rinse, repeat?  Drop it.

Square Dancing?  Colde English?  Nice to see former Michigan coach Ron English and Rodriguez share a nice embrace at midfield and exchange pleasantries after their hard-fought battle (via AnnArbor.com and the great Lon Horwedel):

shake 
Yikes.  OK, so read what you want but select one of the below:

      a) English is still pissed about not getting a good look from Rodriguez for the defensive coordinator position last year, especially after RR went with an outsider.

      b) There really is a Coach Carr camp that doesn’t like Rodriguez

      c) English was pissed that Denard Robinson tossed a bomb later in the fourth quarter up four touchdowns

     d) English was pissed that guys like Graham and Warren were still in the game with 5 minutes to go

     e) All of the above.

Elsewhere:

  • Michigan State/Notre Dame:  I’m still trying to gauge what kind of teams Notre Dame and MSU have right now, but what a game in South Bend.  Cousins’ interception was awful and awfully inexplicable considering the game he managed all day (other than when Dantonio put Nichol in, which I don’t understand).  I was impressed with State and I love Blair White.  I see the October 3 game as a toss up right now, maybe slight edge to the Spartans.  All in all, not a bad outcome for Michigan fans: one rival loses, and the other loses their best player.
  • Bad Booth:  One thing I can’t get over is the not-TD catch by Floyd where he broke his collarbone.  I’m not sure what the bigger crime is to the replay officials:  not asking for a replay in the first place (umm, on a frickin’ play in the endzone, is that one we should look at….?) or, after Weis challenged, not seeing that Floyd easily made the catch and had one, probably two feet in bounds.  AT BEST – the replay guys punted saying the didn’t have conclusive evidence that he had enough control, but that’s really a thin argument given what NBC showed.  Why do I care?  That’s incompetence man.  Delany should suspend those guys for the season.  Or punch them.  Or make them run steps with Mouton.
  • Carroll.  Dude, fool me four times, but come on with the love affair of Pete Carroll and his uber-laid back teams, and towel-snapping Friday walkthroughs, and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle blah, blah blah.   He’s now lost to below average UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington teams in the past few years yet all we do is paint Carroll like a god, often wearing a thong.  Bill Plaschke in the LA Times took a few shots and added this observation, lol:

    The path got longer afterward, when several USC players were seen loudly examining stat sheets in the locker room, never a good sign after a team loss.

26 Comments

  1. “Carroll. Dude, fool me four times, but come on with the love affair of Pete Carroll and his uber-laid back teams, and towel-snapping Friday walkthroughs, and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle blah, blah blah. He’s now lost to below average UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington teams in the past few years yet all we do is paint Carroll like a god, often wearing a thong.”

    Greg,

    First: Oregon State has beaten USC twice since 2003: in 2006, when Oregon State finished with 10 wins, and last season in 2008, when Oregon State finished with 9 wins. These were not “below average” Oregon State teams.

    Second: Let’s put it this way…If Rich Rodriguez decides to retire in the offseason and Carroll wants to come take over the Michigan job next season, I’ll take the seven straight 11 win+ seasons, the 6-1 record in BCS bowls (including 4 Rose Bowl wins), the 1.5 National Championships, a 25 game winning streak, and seven straight seasons finishing in the AP Top 5 at years end…even if that means stomaching the occasional loss to a mediocre Big Ten team in the process, and even if that means (gasp) rock music, Snopp Dogg, and towel snapping, oh noes.

    You can’t just choose 4 games and say his reputation as one of the best, if not the best college coach in the country is seriously under question. If that’s the metric you want to use, I’ve got 6 other games to interrogate:

    2003 Orange Bowl: USC 38, Iowa 17
    2004 Rose Bowl: USC 28, Michigan 14
    2005 Orange Bow: USC 55, Oklahoma 19
    2007 Rose Bowl: USC 32, Michigan 18
    2008 Rose Bowl: USC 49, Illinois 17
    2009 Rose Bowl: USC 38, Penn St. 24

    Yes, the losses to Stanford, UCLA, and Washington are part of that Carroll legacy, but we have all this other data to look at too, like 6 BCS wins in the last 7 years, and that data points far more to “coaching god” than not, snapping towels and rock music aside.

  2. Greg (MVictors)

    Non-MVictors Greg. Who’s saying Carroll hasn’t done an amazing job with USC? The players he’s brought in are incredible and of course they’ve won a bunch of huge games. But he gets no criticism at least out this way for these major blunders. I appreciate as much as anyone the challenge in running the schedule, even the Pac 10 schedule, but he gets no seemingly no grief for well, anything. Reggie Bush stuff, these brutal losses – come on. All I’m saying is he deserves a few shots especially with all that talent. And the first comment I get comes right back and rolls out the resume with everything just short of the thong photoshop. I envy Pete Carroll.

    Carroll would admit this if he hasn’t – there is a problem somewhere in the preparation for these smaller stage games.

  3. formerlyanonymous

    UDub. Bowl winner this year. Book it.

    I was high on them coming out of last year. They have some talent and I think they can get to the 6 win plateau. Even win a bowl against another 6-6 level team.

  4. @Greg (MVictors)

    In the 5 seasons prior to 2009, Carroll’s record is 55 – 5. I’d LOVE for Michigan to have those preparation problems. I’d LOVE for Michigan to have that lack of focus. I don’t see how such a record deserves such grief as you say! Especially if a 2 loss LSU team can win it all.

  5. It’s one thing to have a slip-up and then lose a big game proving you’re probably not as good as advertised. But there’s been no better big-game team than Southern Cal this decade. If there was a playoff they could easily have 6 titles this decade. And Steve Sarkisian is a wizard.

  6. Greg (MVictors)

    Yes, great record and he’s attracted by far the most talent to USC. At what point do this slip-ups matter? Lew, agreed he’d have more than one national championship (and the AP vote trophy) if we had a playoff but this is the system we’ve got. I’d love to have that record here in Ann Arbor but I also know he’d be catching some heat if this kept happening.

  7. Non-MVictors Greg

    “there is a problem somewhere in the preparation for these smaller stage games.”

    What’s his career record in these ‘small stage games’?

    By my count, since 2003, he’s got exactly ONE loss to a team that finished under .500 — Stanford (2007).

    UCLA went 7-6 in 2006.

    As I said in my last comment, the 2 Oregon State losses were to very good Oregon State teams (9 and 10 win teams, respectively). How much can you blame a coach for losing games to 9+ win teams?

    So let’s be generous: Stanford was a bad loss. We’ll count UCLA, and we’ll assume Washington will finish poorly and also count as a bad loss.

    That’s 3 “bad” losses since 2003. Can any coach in the country claim less “bad losses” than Carroll in that time?

    If not, on what basis are we saying he has a problem in these types of games?

    This is exactly the kind of talk-radio-esque analysis blogs are supposed to be better at. Greg MVictors, please LOOK AT THE DATA before claiming Carroll has a problem in these types of games. It frankly makes no sense and has no empirical evidence to support it.

  8. Greg (MVictors)

    NMVG- Another characteristic of talk radio is quickly assuming everything is a zero sum argument, in this case suggesting someone making a point is either with Carroll or not. Of course Carroll has done great things at USC. And as far as empirical evidence, that’s always nice but how well does it measure how strong a team should be vis a vis an opponent, even vs. your powerhouse Oregon State teams of a few years ago? USC should have won those games but yes it’s unrealistic to win all of your games even with SC’s talent, but a pattern has developed that deserves some discussion and a few questions even for BSD Pete.

  9. Non-MVictors Greg

    “but a pattern has developed”

    Has it? That’s MVictor Greg’s argument, but it’s pretty clearly not true.

  10. Non-MVictors Greg

    “and as far as empirical evidence, that’s always nice”

    It’s not just ‘nice’, that’s the VERY CRUX of the discussion. mgoblog does an EXCELLENT job of respecting the data and not just making proclamations and assuming he’s true. He takes those guesses and runs them against the data; it’s what separates him from the also-rans.

  11. Greg (MVictors)

    NMVG – Ok, I’ll ask Brian to explain why the team with the most talent in football keeps losing games it shouldn’t (maybe he’ll do a new thong photoshop).

    Maybe I need to add a forum widget on this site? I’m a little surprised no one’s jumped to the defense of RR in his jihad against Delany?

  12. They’ve had 6 losses over the 5 seasons prior to this one — they also lost to Texas in the BSC title game in 2006 so I guess that shoots my argument about having 6 national titles if there was a playoff. And yes, they’ve lost a few games that they probably should not have lost, but to say they should be 58-3 or 57-4 instead of 55-6 over the past 5 seasons…. I sure hope the average USC fan doesn’t feel that way. Who would they get to top that? The real problem is that these losses usually cost USC a shot at the national title because they play in a league that doesn’t get any respect so they’re magnified to a much greater degree than, say, Florida losing last year to Ole Miss and still playing in the title game.

  13. > I’m a little surprised no one’s jumped to the defense of RR in his jihad against Delany?

    RR acting like a brat is not defensible. Perhaps why there hasn’t more discussion about it is the notion that Carroll’s ahem, “slip ups” matter as much as you or Plaschke thinks they do when compared to his BCS wins, his conference titles, or his astronomical winning percentage is curious at best. That could be trumping taking shots at RR.

    I don’t understand this whole argument… if you think the data doesn’t matter, what should be the basis for giving Carroll “grief” then? That he’s underperformed in 4 games? But if the root of the argument is performance, I don’t see how one can selectively pick on 4 loses versus 55 wins. If we’re talking about performance, it’s a package and you cannot throw the entire body of work out. If you think the commenters are being so dense or obtuse and missing your point all together, what other coach is doing it better on the field right now?

    It’s probably a stretch but some may suggest Chris Peterson belongs in such a discussion. But even for his success against BCS schools, the game against Oklahoma, etc., Boise State still turns in a stinker every now and again.

    If we keep going down this road, do we give Bob Stoops grief too? How about Urban Meyer for losing to Michigan in bowl game? His 2 national championships don’t matter right??? The data is only for people like Brian Cook and his clones… overall, Florida should have never lost to Michigan right?

    • Greg (MVictors)

      Who said data doesn’t matter (or suggest anyone was obtuse or dense)? If I read the comments correctly, Carroll deserves no grief in these upset losses because a) they’re all not really bad upsets (see not MV Greg’s point about OSU’s 9 big wins), and/or b) his record otherwise is so unbelievable compared to anyone and/or c) everyone else loses occasionally so why should Carroll catch heat.

      They’ve lost to unranked teams in four straight seasons and few argue they’ve got the most talented team over this stretch. That doesn’t raise an eyebrow? (And Chris, you don’t think Stoops has caught heat over the past few years?)

  14. I don’t think Greg has any problems with data analysis. I think his point is that Carroll’s laid-back attitude might have something to do with the few inexplicable losses that this otherwise dominant team has suffered over the past few seasons. That’s a fair point. On the flip-side, the laid-back attitude probably has a lot to do with how successful they’ve been.

  15. @Greg (MVictors)
    Greg, I thought you were discounting data with “and as far as empirical evidence, that’s always nice but how well does it measure how strong a team should be vis a vis an opponent”… the last end of that clause is subjective and exactly what using data is supposed to avoid.

    Yes, Stoops has caught some heat… for losing championship games. Again, darn, I wish Michigan had that problem.

    As far as Carroll’s laid back attitude, I’ve seen in it in person on Fridays. Whether or not it contributes to 4 bad losses over 5+ years is pretty inconsequential to me considering the 55 wins that went along with it. I can also tell you I use the same approach now with my team… I kick their butt at the beginning of the week and then by the last practice, we play the same games as USC — like when they scrimmage but you can only walk instead of run or only allowing a couple of steps and then you have to do something with the ball. Slowing the game down like that seems to improve the attention to detail, increases creativity and decision making, and then by Saturday, they’re ready to go at warp speed. Also, have we played down to the competition in the past, yep… show me a team that doesn’t!

    But every coach and every team has their own personality; the good ones know how to adjust based upon those variables. Now, if you want to approach the discussion from that angle, that seems more cogent to me. But as I said in my first post, I really don’t understand the need to give Carrol “grief” considering his entire body of work. Good gawd, do you realize we’re actually debating the performance of someone with a winning percentage well over .900?!?!?!

    > They’ve lost to unranked teams in four straight seasons and few argue they’ve got the
    > most talented team over this stretch. That doesn’t raise an eyebrow?

    For goons like Plaschke, he poses such questions to stir the pot which in turns drives ratings. So I understand his take. But to answer your question, No… and why does it have to?

  16. “> They’ve lost to unranked teams in four straight seasons and few argue they’ve got the
    > most talented team over this stretch. That doesn’t raise an eyebrow?”

    Why would it, when it comes with 4 straight Rose Bowl wins, conf championships, top 5 rankings at year end, etc?

    Oh, oops, there’s his resume again. There’s that pesky data getting in the way again.

    This is the argument you can’t lose: either you’re a hopeless Carroll-in-a-thong worshipper, or you agree there are “raised eyebrows” about all these troubling losses on the small stage.

    There’s the other alternative: Pete Carroll is one of the best, if not the best coach in the country, and but football has a natural variance (I know, I know, there’s another statistic laden word, not suitable for talk radio) that allows less talented teams to triumph sometimes over better teams. This isn’t fantasizing about Carroll in a thong, it’s just the reality of modern day college football with scholarship limits and the like.

    In a perfect world inhabited by talk radio hosts and apparently some bloggers, the best teams never ever lose to lesser talent, and if they do, its indicative of some coaching problem, some motivational tactic gone wrong, too much towel snapping and rock music and snoop dogg and back patting and laid back attitude.

    In the real world inhabited by the rest of us, even the best teams lose inferior teams sometimes. That’s reality. The best a fan can do is actually go out and look beyond our fantasies of teams that never play down to our opponents, and go out and ACTUALLY INTERROGATE THE DATA.

    If you bother to do this, MVictors Greg, you’ll discover that we actually have all this data that shows even amongst the best teams over the past 7 or 8 years, Pete Carroll coached USC teams lose less to inferior teams than everyone else.

  17. All the top coaches have blights every now and then — Bob Stoops blew a big game @ Colorado against a bad Colorado team, Urban Meyer’s lost to a mediocre South Carolina team. Even our own RR, as you might remember, blew a shot at the National Title game against the Wannastache at Pitt and lost to South Florida two of his final three years at WVU, IIRC. Pete Carroll doesn’t lose these kinds of games any more than those guys, guys generally regarded as the best in their profession, AND Carroll gives USC Rose Bowl wins, walks into the Horseshoe and pulls out a victory in a tough atmosphere on a Saturday night.

    Why would an occasional poor performance against a Stanford or a Washington cause any kind of meaningful question of what kind of coach Carroll is? Because of rock music, the laid back attitude, the towels snapping?

  18. I only point this out because I’ve seen the name misspelled on a previous post as well: It’s Stonum, not Stonem. Sorry to be a prick.

    • Greg (MVictors)

      Funny that I have no problem navigating the one ‘m’ in hemingway and the one ‘t’ in mathews but struggle on the ‘u’ in Stonum. Probably because I kind of want it to be ‘stone ’em.’

  19. Re: Bad Booth

    It was the correct call. If you watch the entire motion of the catch, which includes falling to the ground with the defender, Floyd does not maintain possession when hitting the ground. Possession is not immediate in the end zone and the receiver must maintain possession throughout their catching motion which includes falling to the ground if you’re going that way. Floyd was falling to the ground as he caught the ball. And yes, he did get two feet in, but then subsequently lost possession on the way to the ground. By rule, that’s an incomplete pass. Officials on the field and in the replay booth got it right.

    • Greg (MVictors)

      Chris – I read your explanation but still struggle with that. It looked to me (maybe I need to see it again) but he had the ball all the way until he hit the ground. Thought the DB ripped it from him on the ground? Either way, this was very close – why didn’t the booth ask for a replay?

  20. You suggested adding widget earlier… maybe an enhanced user account system… there are two Gregs and two Chris’ now posting to this thread.

  21. I would rather lose the “Big Games” (ie Ohio State) then annually lose a game in which your a HUGE favorite, this is 4 years in a row losing a game in which you were a 17-45 point favorite, simply unacceptable and regardless of what Carroll/USC has accomplished the last 10+ years they should of had so much more if they didn’t choke every year to a average/poor team. (seriously 4 years in a row , that’s worse than losing to Appalachian State)

  22. @Greg (MVictors)

    Touche… mine will be RosenbergSux then! :)

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