|Devin Gardner (image via MLive)|
Coaching tip #1: Stop punting. If you're down by 25 points in the fourth quarter and you have a 4th-and-3, it doesn't really matter where you are on the field. You don't punt. Brady Hoke punts, though.
Coaching tip #2: Recover the onside kick. After scoring a touchdown to narrow the score to 28-11, Michigan elected to onside kick. Matt Wile kicked a pretty decent onside attempt, but Michigan's players barely seemed aware of where the ball was going. Their heads were down and looking at the Spartans' return team. Granted, you usually have guys designated to take out the returners and guys designated to get the ball, but everyone needs to be aware of the ball's location. Nobody was even close to challenging MSU wide receiver Tony Lippett for the ball.
Coaching tip #3: Stop calling so many timeouts. The number of timeouts Michigan wastes because of disorganization is mind-boggling. They wasted two early timeouts in the second half yesterday, which meant they only had one remaining late in the game when MSU was running down the clock. It really isn't that difficult to get the right people on the field and get them lined up properly. If you have so many problems with it, then you're either not coaching it properly or you're making personnel changes/formations/play calls too complicated.
Let your play do the talking. For some stupid reason, Michigan junior linebacker Joe Bolden stabbed a stake into the "S" in the middle of the field before the game. Much like Rich Rodriguez's homage to Josh Groban, it was a completely tone-deaf move by Bolden. Michigan is in the middle of a stretch of being dominated by the Spartans. They don't need to be incited further. When I was watching the game, it seemed like Bolden was the target of quite a bit of extra pushing, shoving, extracurricular activity, etc. in the pile. Once this news came out after the game, it didn't surprise me. And you know what? I don't blame the Spartans. Good for them. They were defending their own turf, and they were letting Bolden know that he was a moron for that move. Even going back to Mike Hart's "little brother" comments after the 2007 game, I hate it when players and coaches think their words are more important than their actions on the field.
Mark Dantonio is a pompous tool. He and Bret Bielema are the two coaches I hate most in college football. Dantonio commented going into halftime that running back Josh Langford "had to score twice" and "It doesn't get better than that" after the original touchdown run was ruled down at the half-yard line. Just play the game and don't be a smart-ass, especially when you're wrong.
Spartan fans are special. After MSU backup linebacker Chris Frey was ejected for targeting Amara Darboh on a punt return, Frey proceeded to get a standing ovation on his way to the tunnel. Only in East Lansing does one get a standing ovation for nearly decapitating an opposing player.
The wide receivers are ew. For a few years, I thought wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski had the best track record of player performance. He was a guy who developed Junior Hemingway into a clutch receiver, Jeremy Gallon into a record-setter, and several other guys in an upward direction. Then 2014 came along. Michigan dropped at least five catchable passes in this game, including 3 by #1 jersey wearer Devin Funchess and redshirt sophomore Amara Darboh. Funchess lacks concentration, drops too many passes, and doesn't seem to have broken a single tackle since the Appalachian State game. Meanwhile, Darboh runs crappy routes on a weekly basis and gets zero separation. No offensive position group is playing well, so I can't blame everything on the receivers, but Devin Gardner is getting no help.
Speaking of Devin Gardner, can anyone say "Notre Dame 2013"? The guy looked as clueless as he did 1.5 years ago. His mechanics are consistently screwed up, like they were on the R.J. Williamson pick-six that he floated in the middle of the field. And he consistently makes terrible decisions, like the shovel pass to no one that was intercepted by linebacker Taiwain Jones. Unfortunately, Gardner is the best quarterback on Michigan's roster. He finished the game 13/28 for 121 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He also carried the ball 4 times for -18 yards.
Why Shane Morris for one snap? Late in the game, Gardner was yanked for one play. Hoke said in the post-game press conference that the coaches were going to make a change, but then they thought better of it because Gardner is a senior. Morris threw one incomplete corner route before being pulled. That just shows once again that the coaches are clueless and indecisive. You have an MSU possession to decide who your quarterback is going to be on the next drive, you decide on the backup, and in the 25 seconds it takes for him to run a play, you change your mind.