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Monday, January 03, 2005

Ok. After some deliberation I have decided to not kill myself. So let's talk about the Rose Bowl.

First off, the timeouts. I had no problem with Lloyd's decision to not use them. Texas was willing to settle for a 38 yard field goal with an inconsistent kicker from one of the hash marks. If we made it clear that we were angling for time to respond, Texas would have attempted to get a first down. And they would have put it in Vince Young's hands on a rollout. How do you like your chances there? I was torn. That decision could have gone either way. For truly egregious clock management, check Iowa's final drive against LSU.

The thought that made me the sickest afterward: those two awful holding calls on Michigan's first drive of the game turned what would have been first and ten at the 15 into a punt. That's at least three and possibly seven points gone because of a weak, weak call on Gonzalez and an absolute joke of a call on Baas.

No, wait. The event that made me want to vomit most was Pat Massey somehow letting Vince Young escape a sure sack and run for a touchdown on third and goal from the ten. A close third is the third down on which Henne managed to overthrow Gonzalez by about ten yards even though he was insanely wide open.

So how much of our fourth straight defensive collapse was the responsibility of the defense, how much was the responsibility of the defensive coordinator, and how much was just Vince Young, the hotness? Two of VY's TD runs were made after he escaped the clutches of a defensive lineman and went from Pocket Passing Clark Kent into Downfield Running Superman, so who's responsible? Well... mostly VY. Once he broke contain and was loose against guys playing man coverage, it was deep trouble. But those touchdowns broke Hermann's willingness to play tight man and we spent lots of the second half in the horrible zone defense that manages to drop six or seven and cover no one.

We basically shut down Cedric Benson. Young blew up for 192 yard rushing, but this is where we lost the game:

Passing Att-Cmp-Int Yds TD Long Sck
YOUNG, Vince 28-16-1 180 1 27 1

Vince Young was actually pretty good as Pocket Passing Clark Kent. But how many of those completions were 15 yard lobs to a TE or a WR with absolutely no one in the vicinity? Young made a number of accurate throws, but not one of those throws was a hard one. He took what was given him, and we gave him everything. Torn between defending his running and defending his passing, we defended neither.

How much more talent can you have on a defense? I count four obvious first or second-round picks (Shazor, Jackson, Woodley, Watson). It's likely that most of the rest of the defense will get drafted. Pierre Woods, Prescott Burgess, Ryan Mundy, and Pat Massey were all top-100 recruits. It's unlikely that Michigan will ever have better athletes on defense. They just didn't make plays.

This is not a new trend. Look at the points given up by Michigan in their bowl games AW (after Woodson): 31 to Arkansas, 34 to Alabama, 28 to Auburn, 45 to Tennessee, 30 to Florida, 28 to USC, 38 to Texas. Not once has Michigan held an opponent to fewer than four touchdowns. Seven straight years. It's a miracle Michigan won four of those games.

I think it's crass and rude to call for a coach's job. But. But I don't think it's ever going to get any better. Jim Herrmann's defense is holding Michigan back. Michigan has gone through a carousel of offensive coordinators until finding one who seems right for the job in Terry Malone. Herrmann must go.


TheMile said...

Great summary; I agree with everything. Massey's missed sack has made me swear loudly at the TV each of the four times I've seen it replayed.

One Michigan mistake I think you missed was on our last possession:

After (another) great return by Breaston and three straight solid runs by Hart, it's 3rd and 2 at the Texas 25, about 3 minutes left. It's about a 42 yard field goal from here.

Our best possession receiver is out.
We've got a superb fullback.
We've got the Remington award winner at center.
Our star receiver has a propensity to drop short, easy passes.
Our tailback is running very well this quarter.
We need to bleed the clock.


We get that first down, give it to Hart three more times, and not even Vince Young would've had enough time to score.

Gah. On the whole, I like how Malone coached the offense. That flea flicker was a brilliant call, even though Henne overthrew it.

My question is this: If Hermann gets fired, was it worth the loss? I say yes.

Anonymous said...

You're right, I wanted to see Hart get the ball again on that third and two. It's really third and 1.5... we go for the sneak if it's close enough.