Sunday, September 7, 2014

Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0

Oh, how I long for a "pocket."
What just happened? I found this question reverberating around in my head from the second quarter onward. The scoreboard - whether it said 31-0 or 37-0 at the end - was not reflective of what this Michigan team can do, and it was not reflective of Notre Dame. Notre Dame has some good players, and so does Michigan. Notre Dame has some good coaches, and so does Michigan. Notre Dame was missing some people, and so was Michigan. Are Notre Dame's coaches, starters, and backups 31 points superior to Michigan's? Well, yeah, I guess they are. But I have no idea why. Michigan had 289 total yards to Notre Dame's 280. It wasn't that the Fighting Irish totally destroyed Michigan's offense, or that their offense ripped up the Wolverines' defense. They just made plays when they needed to make plays, a trait absent from Michigan for the last couple years.

This is where I jump on Doug Nussmeier. When it comes to play calling, I don't think Nussmeier helped quarterback Devin Gardner at all on Saturday night. Notre Dame realized early on - probably as early as last year - that if they blitzed relentlessly, they could either get to Gardner or at least pressure him into bad throws or mistakes. Instead of pulling out plays to ease the pressure, Nussmeier basically said, "At least one receiver is going to beat his one-on-one matchup, so you'd better find him with Jarron Jones or Sheldon Day in your face." Al Borges and Vincent Smith perfected the throwback screen. Al Borges and Jeremy Gallon perfected the throwback tunnel screen. Borges loved to run lead draws. Nussmeier's way of slowing down the rush was to run zone read play action. When the bubbles and quick throws stopped working, he never seemed to take the next step to ward off the blitz. I would have liked to see more sprintouts, half rolls, tunnel screens, etc. He just thought the offensive line would magically stop the overload blitzes. Michigan moved the ball in chunks because they won one-on-one matchups - Devin Funchess vs. Cody Riggs, Dennis Norfleet vs. Jaylon Smith, etc. - but this isn't Alabama, where he can count on his offensive linemen winning one-on-one matchups. I was afraid that, at some point, Nussmeier would fall victim to thinking that he could just count on being bigger, faster, and stronger than the opponent. I hope he came to realize the errors in that thought process in the aftermath of this game.

This offensive line isn't as bad as last year. Center Jack Miller was repeatedly shoved back into Devin Gardner's grill, and that's a problem. But not every team has a Jarron Jones. Mason Cole and Erik Magnuson had several communication issues on the left side, but that comes with the territory of starting a true freshman left tackle. Regardless of the numbers, I thought the offensive line looked closer to the one that opened up huge holes against Appalachian State than the one that soured the taste in our mouths in 2013. Michigan is not a team that can wear teams down by running the ball, but they should be able to run the ball enough to keep most defenses off balance.

Blake Countess looks uncomfortable. I don't think Countess is a wussy corner like Deion Sanders, but Countess does look awkward in press coverage. He is not physical at the line of scrimmage, and because he lets receivers get free releases, he's opening up his hips too quickly. That style does not jive with what we're seeing at the other corner in the form of Raymon Taylor/Jourdan Lewis. If Countess can't play press man like defensive coordinator Greg Mattison wants this year, then perhaps he should move into the slot, where his ability to bait quarterbacks would be more useful.

So much for that wealth of cornerbacks. One place I thought Michigan had the advantage going into this game was at corner, where Michigan's experienced and/or talented guys could win out against some inexperienced - but still talented - wideouts. Then I saw that Jabrill Peppers was on the sideline with his bum ankle, replaced by the lesser talented Delonte Hollowell. Then after the first defensive series, starter Raymon Taylor went to the locker room with an injury and never returned to the game. Just like that, Michigan was missing two of its top three corners. Hollowell was picked on repeatedly by Notre Dame. Jourdan Lewis picked up two pass interference penalties, at least one of which was highly questionable. The next guy in was Channing Stribling, who still looks a half-beat too slow for playing football against the big boys. I thought the numbers were leaning toward Michigan, with five Notre Dame academic fraud suspects off the field and a starting safety missing due to injury. However, those absences quickly started to even out with Peppers, Taylor, and tight end Jake Butt standing on the sideline.

But the linebackers looked good. After being unimpressive last week against Appalachian State, I thought starting linebackers Jake Ryan (11 tackles) and Joe Bolden (10 tackles) looked markedly better last night. They were reacting quicker, and they held a solid crew of running backs to 25 carries for 61 yards.

The refereeing was bad. The second pass interference penalty on Jourdan Lewis was hogwash, and it appears that Michigan is a step late in wanting to be all hands-on with their corners. That's soooo  2013. Somehow, Devin Funchess got hit early on a crossing route that resulted in an incomplete pass, but the officials kept their hankies in their pockets. There was also no reason for Notre Dame's Corey Robinson to be ruled down on the three-yard line when Stribling tackled him on a skinny post; the ball should have been placed at the 6" line. You can't blame the refs for a 31-point loss, but they certainly didn't help Michigan find any success early.

The announcing was bad. I hate hate hate watching games on NBC, because it's always a Notre Dame slurpfest. And while there weren't a lot of good things to say about Michigan last night, I don't remember color guy Mike Mayock saying many nice things about Michigan players. He said NFL scouts "love" Jake Ryan, and he complimented Devin Funchess's ability to be big. Otherwise, he fawned over Everett Golson, Cam McDaniel, Greg Bryant, Jaylon Smith, Jarron Jones, Sheldon Day, Cody Riggs, Will Fuller's speed (though not his hands), and even Notre Dame's quarterbacks coach. Thank goodness that by the time Michigan plays Notre Dame again in the distant future - the year 2000 - Mayock won't be around anymore.

Turnovers don't exist. Michigan has zero takeaways in two games.

I don't know where this team goes from here. This seems like a game that could make or break some teams. I don't think anyone was under the illusion that Michigan was going to win a national championship this year, but the shutout could fracture a locker room and make some people question whether this unit is going anywhere. Again, I look at how Michigan moved the ball at times, and I think it might just be an unhappy coincidence that the Wolverines didn't string together enough plays to create a couple scores. Notre Dame has a high-powered offense, and I predicted that they would score 31 points. We all knew they could march down the field and score. Michigan needs to regroup and get healthy next week against Miami, and moving forward, Nussmeier needs to open up his playbook against blitzing defenses to keep them out of Gardner's face.

45 comments:

  1. Wow....that was abysmal to watch. One long night for Michigan and their fans.

    I really thought that the pay calling was very basic and nothing too fancy. I too would like Nuss to open the playbook and get a little more creative than he did last night. Although we did simply have an execution problem. 100 yds rushing isn't spectacular, but based on 2013 I would take it all night against ND. They seemed to run more to the left last night then they did against App St and I am not sure Glasgow was an upgrade over Kalis.

    I said from the start of the season that Countess is not a good fit for press coverage defense. He is a cushion guy and loves to play prevent defense. The DB's suddenly forgot how to play physical at the LOS and were chasing to catch up. We played our 2012 & 2013 bend-but-don't-break defense and it was terrible. The defensive line had very little push and when they did get into the backfield they forgot why they were there. Golson would simply spin and be back in business. They were worried the entire game about getting beat by his legs and his arm is what beat them. LB play looked solid, Jake Ryan settled into his position last night. Mattison botched this one and yes I get we were running our non-starters.

    The officiating was terrible and terrible for both teams. I've seen HS officials do better.

    Gardner was exactly like I was worried he would be. He doesn't like to be in the pocket. He feels pressure way before it is there and quits looking at the field way too early. His muscle memory is full of bad habits that severely limit his future potential. His mechanics are simply poor and that darn shot put throw is as bad as it gets. Unfortunately he is the furthest along (not sure by how much) and his athletic ability gives him the edge with our young offensive line.

    This game in my opinion should probably get Hoke fired. I am not so sure I wouldn't have gone the route of Lane Kiffin last night. To the untrained eye this showed the average sports fan why ND ended the rivalry, because they are far superior to us.....not really.

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    1. 4-7 in your last 10 games under Brandon gets you a contract extension!

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    2. You can't fire Hoke mid-season, even if he deserves it. There's no suitable replacement. Nussmeier has been there for only two games, and his offense was the one that scored zero points. Mattison doesn't want to be a head coach. We've got Hoke for at least this year.

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    3. youre right countess has never been good press man CB. not many guys on their roster can really blanket legit athletic WRs from bump position - lewis and peppers have the elite athleticism to run with most WRs but theyre both raw and still learning how to play the position at higher level against good competition. a guy like hollowell who has not been good enough for snaps on this roster his entire career never had a chance sticking with those quick dudes on ND from the slot or even outside (and countess and likely taylor have similar issues).

      bw 3 step schemes and golston buying time with his legs given UMs non-existent ability to win 1 vs1 matchups at DL and pressure QBs, those particular level DBs had no chance last night. even UMs blitzes could not get there in time often enough (combo bw NDs pretty solid OL and scheme and UMs lack of overall team speed) - just recipe for disaster.

      i was also disappointed in nussmeiers lack of adjustments - however im still not sold how much any OC can put on gardners plate given his lack of development, obvious confidence issues, and his total inability to progress past his primary read and survey the field when hes uncomfortable in less than ideal circumstances.

      why do they recruit 6'3" and taller receivers yet still never run simple slant passes? if they cannot take the top off of Ds, nor beat defenders in space more often than not (obviously other than funchess whos prob all american), nor leverage their defenders properly to run slants (possibly most basic yet devastating route) then whats the point? might as well target 5'11" burners like baylor, oregon, etc to at least give yourself a chance at YAC.

      very frustrating overall. and id say miller and glasgow starting again at C and NT only to perform just as poorly 2 weeks in a row is most frustrating and really highlights hokes man crush and infatuation with "competitive" "physical" "assignment-sound" "effort" players who somehow earn starting snaps on tuesdays yet never make plays (and frequently hurt the team)

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  2. Reading this synopsis you seem to forget Mich just got throttled (again), embarrassed on the national stage by a lesser opponent.
    Points you failed to make....
    Michigan was shutout for the first time in 376 games, the longest streak in NCAA history.
    Brian Kelly said. “It feels great that we're the first team in the history of Notre Dame football to shut out a Michigan team.
    This was the worst defeat ever for Michigan against Notre Dame!!!
    Gardner totally fell apart. He started to force the ball, just like he’s done in the past, throwing three interceptions and he fumbled the ball twice!
    A long season?
    That’s exactly what this is looking like.
    Time to end the Hoke experiment.. Fire Him Now!


    Kicker Matt Wile missed a pair of field goals, which means he has missed three kicks in the last two games.

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    1. If anyone has the home addresses of Hoke and Brandon, it would be really funny to send moving trucks and plant a for sale sign in their yards tomorrow morning.

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    2. @ Anonymous 9:37 a.m.

      No, that wouldn't be funny. That would make you an asshole.

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  3. Can we now please end the love fest for Mattison. I have said and will continue to say he is Overrated!! He might have been a decent coordinator at one time.. that time is not now however!

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  4. "Notre Dame has some good coaches, and so does Michigan."

    I ask this legitimately and without snark - who are Michigan's good coaches? I'm willing to give Nussmeier an "incomplete" at this point because the sample size is so small, but who else on our coaching staff inspires any sort of confidence based upon current competency? Mattison's defense in 2011 was spectacular, but it's been regressing ever since. And Hoke is Hoke. He's done very little since that first season to demonstrate that he's anything but in way over his head.

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    1. Nussmeier is a good coach. Jeff Hecklinski is a good coach. Greg Mattison is a pretty good coach. Fred Jackson is a good coach. I think Curt Mallory and Roy Manning are pretty good coaches, too. I'm not sold on Darrell Funk, Mark Smith, Dan Ferrigno, or Brady Hoke.

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  5. Moving the Utah game into the solid Loss column. Have them 6 - 6 now. Beyond terrible.

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  6. I think this is the most fair levelheaded take on the game in the aftermath. The team missed their opportunities during the start of the game and then it just completely got away from them.

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  7. What was your impression on Gardner. I know you said Nuss didn't help him, but I saw a lot of bad decisions on his part. I know at times he was rushed, but it did seem he rushed too much. I also question if he is focusing on certain receivers too much.

    I still think he has to be the quarterback this year. I hope he steps up and shows more of his good games from last year.

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    1. Gardner was sharp until he got a bit rattled late and started trying to win the game by himself. Sometimes he can take over, but most of the time, he's at his best when he's got some help.

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    2. My impression of Gardner was that he looked pretty darn good in the first half. When Michigan got down big, he looked like he was starting to force things. I can't really say that I blame him a ton for trying to do "too much." Nobody else was making plays, and he's one of the two dynamic athletes on the offense (along with Funchess). Obviously, he needs to make better decisions, but that's precisely why offensive line play is so important. If you hit quarterbacks enough, they start to get skittish.

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    3. It seems like he focuses on one receiver too much and possibly doesn't progress through reads. There were stretches were he only threw to Funchess. And then when Funchess went out in the end, he threw three straight passes to Chesson. Maybe it's confirmation bias, but with his laser focus on Gallon last year, it seems like he doesn't scan the field well. Maybe he is too concerned with sacks that he doesn't feel like he has time. Dunno.

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  8. This game just make me sad. I had invested hope in Michigan being at least competitive against teams like Notre Dame. Even a loss last night would have been okay if Michigan played well and it was just really close and the ball bounced ND's way to give them the W.

    But as you say, where this team goes from here is a complete mystery. Against teams like Utah and Miami they simply *must* win, and do so in a pretty convincing style. I think the MSU game because *the* litmus test ... it's on the road, but it's not a long road trip. If Michigan gets dominated by MSU then I think Hoke's days are numbered. If Michigan plays very good football and keeps it close, then Hoke gets a reprieve, W or L.

    In short ... going forward ... it's all about HOW they play the games. Any more of last night's play opens up coaching spots.

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    1. Don, MSU is the best team UM will face all year. You are kidding yourselves if its a litmus test. I hope its not a Bobby Williams type score in reverse.

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  9. The OL is worse. Run-blocking is improved, thanks to some semblance of consistency, but pass-blocking noticeably inferior. Say what you want about Lewan, but he kept his guy off the QB and Schofield was solid too. The interior is the same guys (save for the inexplicable retrial of Jack Miller.) and they aren't much better. Brian at Mgoblog theorized that pass-blocking would improve by virtue of TE and RB, but Williams is the same and I don't see anyone really better than Toussaint. They're using Kerridge to try to mitigate the damage, and I'm not sure that's the answer either.

    On Nussmeir - you have to pick: Simplicity or Creativity -- you can't have it all. We got creativity last year and it won us some games but it stilted the growth of the OL. It was a band-aid. Hopefully, what Nussmeir is doing has a long term-payoff. HOPEFULLY. Nussmeir is far less proven than Michigan fans have been making him out to be, and he's never had this much responsibility before.

    I think Thunder is right to point out that the game felt a little better than the scoreboard indicated, but we did learn a few things. Namely; neither Gardner nor the defense are elite. The hope was their play could carry the team through it's other weaknesses, but it appears not. Two, the OL is a problem, just as it was last year. The fix was supposed to be Nussmeir's infusion of simplicity but that magic wand is a fiction, or at best, a long-term solution.

    We have no choice but to be patient.

    So, that's our hope. Keep getting better and improving. Dodge upsets and maybe pull one off against MSU or OSU. The season is not lost and last night's embarrassment does not doom this team...but we're now firmly in the danger. Utah, Maryland, Indiana - these are game we can lose.

    Also, anyone calling for Hoke's firing right now is just flat-out an idiot. I know that's a jerkoff thing to say, but seriously. These are the same people who wanted to fire Rich Rod, and then will want to fire whoever Hoke's replacement is, and the guy after that. The same people who think Chip Kelly grows on trees or that elite NFL coaches want to come to middling Big Ten programs.

    College programs have success through continuity, not catching lightning in a bottle. Hoke is our guy, we have to ride with him. Unless Harbaugh has a change of heart, and why a guy who has made 3 NFC championships would I don't know, there aren't better options out there. And even if there are, improvement takes time. Michigan risks totally cratering as a program if another rough transition is undertaken.

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    1. I don't think a tunnel screen or throwback screen is too difficult to add to the repertoire. You don't need to add new formations, and screens don't require complicated blocking rules. Tunnel screens ought to be in the playbook for just about any offense.

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    2. I don't think that calling for Hoke to be removed right now is as wacko as you think. Furthermore, not everyone calling for Hoke was calling for RR to be canned. RR should have been forced to find a defensive coordinator or been relegated to offensive coordinator, but his pride got in the way. Thus he was let go. RR early losses were embarasing, but understandable given the talent and major change in scheme. Hoke has egg all over his face and it is getting worse the longer it goes. He was flat out handed an ass whooping by Brian Kelly last night. Both teams have recruited similar caliber players the last few years and the only real difference was the coaching. Michigan obviously had a gameplan last night and they were gonna stick to it no matter the outcome, and it showed. Dave Brandon has shown patience with Hoke and the football program, but at some point he needs to do the right thing and look out for the long term future. Heck, call two loss Lloyd and offer the interim gig to him....I agree Nuss isn't ready and Mattison doesn't want it. Games like last night are gonna kill any brand image we have left, especially when it happens to inferior opponents.

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    3. @Nick. It is wacko. You can not find a quality replacement at this point in the year. Nobody you want is available. It'd be Borges types right. Good luck with that. Furthermore, if you DID name someone who is both good and sitting on their ass currently -- they're not going to fix things that quickly. You're just asking for a 3-win season.

      I love Lloyd, but he's not going to come in and wave a magic wand that turns Cole and Braden into Long and Jansen.

      You have to wait till the end of the season unless there are some off the field problems. That's when the legitimate candidates are going to be available to talk.

      I suspect 99% of people who want Hoke gone wanted Rodriguez gone too.

      I don't see how Brandon has shown patience. There is no way he was even on the warm seat until the end of last season, and even then they almost beat OSU. And Borges got canned (rumor has it, at Brandon's behest.)

      I agree with your critiques of Hoke mostly, but firing the guy now is just self-defeating. If he has a terrible year, you fire him the day after OSU and get your new guy in line fast. Before that does you no good.

      I think Michigan (Brandon) made a mistake firing Rodriguez so quickly. I think Rodriguez had A LOT to do with the success in 2011. The Hoke trajectory has been negative, but that's because he was hired in part to put 2008 behind us. Hoke could have run a pro-style offense in 2011 and gotten a 3-5 win year, and we probably would have been better off for it in 2014. But they chose to ease the transition in, and by that I mean EXTEND the transition. Paying for it now.

      But...there's a lot of season left too. A quality 10-3 year is not out of the question. Let's not make too much out of one game.

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  10. I've been a Michigan fan for 30 years. When I first read this post by thunder it was almost funny. It was the thing I kept saying out loud last night. " What just happened?" This is just as embarrassing as the RR years. I remember times when no one did this to Michigan. No one. We never missed a bowl game. We were never under investigation by the NCAA. We were MICHIGAN! I usually don't post here but I would like to know "what the he'll happened" and howwe can get back to the football program that made me love college football.

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    1. "We were never under investigation by the NCAA."

      You know that was mostly bull$h1t, right?

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  11. It's rare for me to entirely agree with a post-game recap, but I think I am in complete agreement with your assessment, especially the first paragraph. Last night thinking about the game, I struggled to find anything that we were atrocious with or anything Notre Dame was great at. The exceptions being turnover margin and our CBs lack of jamming at the line. Both points you hit on. Were we even close to generating a turnover last night? Frustrating.

    FWIW, I did see Jake Butt in the game for at least a couple snaps.

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    1. Yes. I think that should have read Desmond Morgan.

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  12. What does everyone think of getting rid of Hoke at the end of the season if Michigan continues like this, and replacing him with Les Miles? I know some may say it looks unlikely, but Brandon may do it just to save his ass.

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    1. Miles' coaching acumen is not why that program is doing well. I'd rather UofM opened up a satellite campus in LA and joined the SEC than bring Miles north. The dirty stuff he got away with at OK State and is getting away with at LSU - not going to fly at Michigan.

      Anyway, why would any SEC coach make his own life more difficult by signing on to coach at Michigan? Our only hope (if you want to cheer for Hoke/Michigan to fail this year, that is) is Harbaugh getting disgruntled with NFL life and choosing to come 'home'.

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    2. I hope Michigan goes 14-1, but I'm looking at the reality of the situation. Yes I hope Michigan goes in and beats State in EL, I hope they beat OSU in front of the home crowd. Miles loves Michigan and even said he wants his kid to come here. I believe he also said he would never of had the success he has had if it weren't for Bo. I'd love to have him and Cam Cameron controlling Michigan. Hoke is just not the correct fit for a major college football team. Looking at the games left I see Michigan likely finishing 7-5/8-4, which is completely unacceptable, and will likely land them third in their division.

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    3. Well, hopefully Michigan doesn't continue to play like this. But even if they do, I'm not interested in Les Miles. He's a wacko.

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    4. Anonymous 5:12 P.M.:

      Cam Cameron is, to put it mildly, a poor cultural fit with Ann Arbor. He has the same hobbies as Bill McCartney, if you catch my drift. That sort of thing will fly better in Louisiana than Ann Arbor.

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    5. I personally think Les Miles is hilarious, and I couldn't care less what Lloyd Carr thinks of him. Michigan appears to have been a coaching graveyard recently though. Look at Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, two proven coaches before hand, and once coming to Michigan do not work out. As much as Miles would be a great hire for Michigan, it may forever ruin his coaching career.

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    6. Les Miles would be a bad fit imo. There's a difference between coaching in a redneck-infested and unintellectual place like Baton Rouge and Ann Arbor. He just doesn't have the character it seems.

      I don't think we can win a lot with Brady Hoke anymore. If we can get Harbaugh, though he burned down a quite of few bridges with his sassy marks about Michigan's general studies degree, would be a good fit. I am willing to forgive him for that, and people should too. He is a proven coach who can take Michigan to the next level. If the 49ers thing doesn't work out, he might think about coming back to Ann Arbor with 4~5 millions a year deal. And remember, Brady Hoke has the cupboard stocked with talent. Harbaugh would take off almost immediately. If he can get that dumpster fire of a program at Stanford to that level, he can fix Michigan immediately.

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    7. I'm with anonymous. I think Miles would be a good fit at Michigan, he is consistently successful and even has a national championship ring to his credit in the most competitive conference in all of college football.


      I'm also very impressed with Cam Cameron's college coordinating background, and think he'd be the best of Borges, Nussmeier and him. Also, not to mention Les being the defensive specialist he is, how about John Chavis? It'd be a lethal combination with the two of them.



      Suduri is right that Michigan is not lacking talent, but I'm going to disagree with him on Harbaugh. Harbaugh not only made those comments about Michigan, but he is way too polarizing. He starts way too many fights, is immature, and not a good presence on the sideline. We already have Urban Meyer, we don't need Harbaugh to be added to the Big Ten.


      Les is on the same level as Harbaugh in my opinion, and next year Michigan will be extremely experienced in every position. Look at the OL, we'll likely start two RS SR's, two RS JR's, and a SO. That's crazy to think at how experienced our OL will be, and it would be perfectly set up for Miles and Grimes to use, not to be wasted on Hoke and Funk.


      The only reason I can agree with keeping Hoke would be if this team does 9-3 or better, and looks consistently better as the season goes on. 8-4, especially with this schedule should easily get Hoke fired. The alumni base and donors will not keep Hoke for a fifth season, and I assume 2015 will be very frustrating if Hoke is retained, knowing that there's all of this talent, and seeing the Michigan team still end up going between 7-5 and 9-3. I would be highly in favor of hiring Miles, if like I said, Michigan does worse than 9-3 and doesn't show consistent improvement. But here's to Michigan winning the rest of their games and looking elite.

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    8. I just don't see Hoke getting it done. Not with DG. They want to be like Alabama or should I say the old Michigan , but their QB doesn't have it. DG would have been good at OSU. If we give Hoke a couple of more years, we will probably be ok. But, Hoke is stuck on his ways.
      I keep hearing guys with Michigan link. Tired of that. There are other colleges that are as good as Michigan academically. Let us make someone with a proven record the highest paid and let them groom someone to be their successor. I wish Carr would have done that, but his guys aren't that good.
      Hoke is a good guy, but you need to be a little tough and mean these days to win football games. Or we have to get lucky like MSU. Otherwise, we should focus on being very good academically and Ivy league style team and not worry too much about football.
      In the end, I am not sure what I would do. It seems to me that it starts with the top and it goes back to DB and his hiring process. We wanted a nice guy and we got one. Occasional Sugar bowl, with a great family atmosphere is what we will get and we should be happy with it.

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  13. Honestly think as much as I hate to say it - Mattison may be too long in the tooth for this stuff anymore. So ND is demonstrating that Gholson isn't going to run much, and he is not going for 5-7 drop depth that much. Ok - if a team is going to 3-step drop and slant you to Kentucky then aren't there a few things you can do? (rhetorical). Also to some extent is the defense taking on Mattison's demeanor ? No one, and I mean no one on the field seems emotional or willing to get everyone wound-up before,during,after a play when the going is tough. I was very, very, close and believe me it wasn't happening. To be fair the Offense not scoring is causing them a lot of stress but there is something about the psyche of the D that seems "off". I do have a word for coach Nuss... "screens". Saw a bucket load in the scrimmage.

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    1. We scored zero points. Zero points. Our defense was not the problem.

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    2. Yeah, and we gave up 31, too. I am also thinking maybe Mattison's time has passed. The defense is not getting up to that elite level. And DL -- makes no plays.

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  14. Magnus,

    Thanks for the long post so quickly after game. As alwasy you provide a technical perspective, when I am purely emotional.

    Went to the game with my son yesterday and have not watched game yet. Hard to see everything from the stands, but I can tell you the DB's were not good. Countess did not play well. Your comments backed up what I thought I saw. ND could get 6 yards on a pass play every play. There was not tight coverage. They played tight, but got juked easily. I felt on the first PI on lewis he just needed to turn his head?

    Anyways, many bloggers have posted about Mattison, but I am beginning to wonder myself. great recruiter and technically sound, but has the game passed him by? We have no organic pass rush, Frank Clark is above average, but that is it. Where in the hell is pressure from a DT or the other end? If you put a TE over Clark, forget about a pass rush with out a blitz. This is Mattison's defense, I don't think D. hand would have solved it, where in the heck is the pass rush?

    Finally, I made this comment on Mgoblog too, but I sat next to an old time ND fan. Said he saw every M/ND game in South Bend since they resumed. Nice guy. Early in the 3rd he made two comments. 1. He has never seen a more lethargic effort by a M team. They just seemed down. 2. We never went hurry up, down 21 in middle of third and we were letting the play clock run down?

    Interesting comments, especially the first. I can tell you that the game was so boring. Just no exciting plays. Kicking did not help. The punters and kickers game out 6 minutes before the team and were practicing. There was competition in the kicking depart. Plus our punting yesterday was horrible

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    1. I thought Michigan actually got a decent pass rush a few times. It's just that Golson was always able to escape it and/or find a receiver. And the fact that there were always receivers open goes back to Peppers and Taylor being out of the game.

      As for the ND fan's perspective, I don't know if I would use the term "lethargic." They didn't seem to lack effort or energy, in my opinion. I can't put my finger on it, but like I said above, they just didn't make any plays to separate themselves.

      We went hurry-up for a couple snaps, but not for long. I think it might just be too early to go hurry-up with a new offensive coordinator, a young offensive line, and some young guys at TE, RB, etc. Nussmeier doesn't seem to fully trust the offense right now.

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    2. I agree with you. Earlier in the game, when Taylor was in, we were definitely confusing them. It seemed to change, as soon as Taylor went out. Thunder, in your opinion, do you see another DB that can play the press coverage that they want to play? I was reading on MGoBlog and one of the comments explained the issues we were having. It sounds like, and obvious to an amateur's eye, we are playing a scheme that doesn't fit our personnel. Is it too early to tell?

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  15. Your take is exactly how I felt about the game. I actually didn't see it live and watched it off DVR about 2 hours after kickoff. I tried to avoid any news about it, but I had a feeling we were down a good amount.

    So I quickly flew through the game and ignored all the NBC Notre Dame hype segments (made it easier to stomach). It didn't feel like Notre Dame was dominating until late in the third quarter when Gardner started pressing and they ratcheted up the blitz. Even though the first half score was ominous, it didn't seem insurmountable if we just started scoring in the 2nd half. The linebackers felt solid, we contained Golson and the run game. It just seemed we were a step slow in the backfield and just got beat by a few throws.

    The score was dominating, but I didn't feel like we got dominated. When Funchess made that catch over the DB for our only throw downfield it just seemed so easy. Do more of that. Yet it didn't happen and I think it was because Gardner just didn't have the time to look downfield. Without a wide angle we will never know what the coverage actually looked like.

    It's a tough game to swallow, but it is only a game. Life doesn't stop and we all move on. Still bummed the series is over as it was a great inter-family rivalry for me, but so happy I won't be compelled to watch another NBC broadcast of a ND game.

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  16. Anyone who's a golf fan would have already known the announcing would be terrilble as soon as Dan fucking Hicks was hired. Dan Hicks is absolutely insufferable if any golf tournament has Tiger Woods in it on a Sunday, and he's just replacing Woods with ND football.

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  17. Can we really put this much blame on Nuss? We're not talking about him putting too much responsibility on a redshirt freshman, he's a 5th year senior.

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  18. We want the wrong Harbaugh! Go get John.

    But we can't look at Haden-Kiffin as an example. Hoke is a great guy, says the right things, perfect PR, loves Michigan, players love him, recruits phenomenally well. He ain't getting fired mid-season.

    If the season plays out at .500, he'll be gone though. If Nuss can get more flash on offense (we were decent in the 1st half), run up some scores, he might even get consideration.

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