Observations on the disappointing
loss to the Irish, 23-25!
1-Navarre has shown he can come
back, and that is good, but he didn't show that he can win the
big game; he was 19 of 42 for 230 yards and 1TD/1 game-ending
pick. He overthrew receivers, threw behind receivers and underthrew
receivers; in between, he has had passes tipped. Overall, it was
not a good day for him. He only produced 15 first downs and 4
third down conversions in 25:59 of possession time (8 minutes
less than the Irish). We only had 321 net yards, and a killer
4 turnovers. This is not the sign of a good quarterback nor a
good offense. We couldn't do it when the game was on the line.
2-Our defense caused 4 turnovers
and 6 sacks, but it is not a good defense. Hobson, Diggs and Kaufman
were getting blocked big time. It was a good move to put Reid
in; he is much faster and quicker and had a sack. Drake had two
sacks, Rumishek and Hobson had our other sacks; Hobson led in
tackles with 10. Our defense had not shown we can stop the meager
Irish offense, but we have created 3 turnovers to keep us in the
game. They have two long drives on us, and dominated time of possession.
Their total offense had 311 yards with 157 net yards rushing,
3 rushing touchdowns (although one was questionable) and 16 first
downs. Ryan Grant had 132 yards in 28 carries, and we had too
many missed tackles to count.
3-Our kicking game improved in the
second half by converting on a field goal and causing a turnover.
They also responded with a field goal so we had no real advantage.
Our punt blocking unit has shown nothing this year; obviously
we miss Marquis Walker here. Our kickoff team is mediocre. Finley
is punting well, but our punt return coverage is pathetic.
4-Our offensive line looked bad
early, and improved on the pass blocking as the game ensued; Stenavich
replaced Morgan after the safety! We couldn't block well enough
to establish the running game against the Irish so we had 91 net
rushing yards in 26 attempts, including three fumbles. Our longest
running play was 13 yards, and we fumbled on it. We won't be able
to beat Ohio State in Columbus with this type of effort, and we'll
probably lose at least two other games with performances like
5-They had 4 red zone opportunities
and 20 points; we had four red zone opportunities and 16 points.
This is why teams win and lose games, and why teams are considered
good or bad. It was obvious who came to play today. They had two
big plays of 47 and 41 yards; both led to TDs; we only had one
big play of 38 yards which led to 1 TD.
6-Turnovers! We could have won if
we'd capitalize on their turnovers and not committed the ones
we did, but again we haven't shown we are a good team and couldn't
maintain a turnover advantage.
7-Penalties! We have 10 penalties
for 88 yards and many of these have kept Irish drives alive. The
personal foul on Charles Drake was a killer. They have 8 penalties
for 57 yards, but theirs weren't as costly.
8-We don't have any "big play"
guys on offense like a Marquis Walker or David Terrell. Both Edwards
and Butler are good, but not nearly Terrell-Walker caliber (at
least not yet). Edwards had 4 catches for 95 yards, and Joppru
had 7 catches for 80 yards and a TD. Why do our receivers always
fall down when they catch the ball? It is obvious that they have
to lean back, leap or dive for Navarre's ridiculous throws. Bellamy
and Askew have certainly not stepped up as seniors; everybody
can see our screen pass to Askew because we telegraph it.
9-I have been very critical of our
linebacker play in all three games so far, but this game also
shows an obvious weakness from our safeties. They are good in
run support, but absolutely terrible on cover. Julius Curry looks
really bad and Charles Drake simply looks bad. Cato June is definitely
weak in cover.
So let's review why we lost,
and why the Irish won:
1-Their offense took advantage of
red zone opportunities, and most of all they established a running
game and we didn't do either. As a result, they had a 4 point
advantage plus 8 minutes of time of possession.
2-There was no turnover advantage
for us although for most of the game, we were ahead in turnovers.
They took advantage of their turnovers and we didn't.
3-They had a better quarterback,
Holiday outplayed Navarre and came up with big plays while Navarre
didn't. He was only 8 of 17 for 154 yards, but he was more effective
and withstood the 6 sacks, hurries and blitz package we threw
at him. Most of all, he led their team back to a lead after we
came back to take the lead 17-16. He led them to 10 points including
the game winning field goal after Perry's fumble.
Players of the Game
Freshmen who played
Observations on the first half
with the Irish, 7-16!
1-Our worst fear has come true:
Navarre hasn't shown he can beat good teams in big games. So far,
Navarre is 6 of 13 for 58 yards and no TDs/picks. He has overthrown
receivers, and we have only 2 first downs with two third down
conversions in 7:53 of possession time. If it weren't for Irish
turnovers, we'd be down 0-23. Navarre is a terrible ball possession
quarterback. The only thing you can say he did well was take a
knee at the end of the half, and recover a fumble on a snap.
2-Our kicking game is sickening!
We have a 27 yard field goal blocked, a chip shot and we take
a roughing the punter penalty that almost leads to an Irish touchdown
after our defense stops their offense for a 3 & out. Another
penalty on the return starts us at the 6 and we take a safety
on the hold by Morgan in the end zone. On the bright side, Finley
is doing a good job punting, and our kickoff coverage and returns
3-Our defense has caused 4 turnovers
and 3 sacks, but started terribly on the first drive. Hobson and
Kaufman were getting blocked big time. It was a good move to put
Reid in; he is much faster and quicker and has a sack. Rumishek
and Hobson have our other sacks and Hobson leads in tackles with
5. Our defense had not shown we can stop the meager Irish offense,
but we have created 3 turnovers to save our butts. They have two
long drives on us, and dominated time of possession (22:07 to
7:53) and total offense with 195 yards with 117 net yards rushing
and 11 first downs. Hobson does have 11 tackles and one sack,
but overall this is not a good defense. Ryan Grant has 86 yards
in 14 carries, and we have too many missed tackles to count.
4-Our offensive line looks bad!
We can't block well enough to establish the running game against
good teams like the Irish so we have 8 net rushing yards in 8
attempts. Our pass blocking was o.k. early, but looks bad now.
We have 73 yards in total offense. We can't run block nor can
we pass block; this doesn't bode well for the Big Ten, Ohio State
and Michigan State games.
5-They have had 3 red zone opportunities
and 14 points; they probably would have had 21 if it weren't for
a fumble at the one when Grant was about to go in. We have had
one red zone opportunity and came up dry. This is why teams win
and lose games, and why teams are considered good or bad. It is
obvious who is and isn't so far in this one.
6-Turnovers! We could be on top
if we could have capitalized on their turnovers and not committed
the ones we did, but again we haven't shown we are a good team
and can't maintain a turnover advantage.
7-Penalties! We have 6 penalties
for 68 yards and many of these have kept Irish drives alive. They
have 5 penalties for 40 yards, but theirs weren't as costly.
8-I think the only way we have a
chance in this game is if we take the opening kickoff and drive
for a TD to make it 14-16; otherwise, it looks like an Irish win.
Their defense is tough; our offense is weak, and our defense won't
be able to outscore their offense.
Michigan Football team observations
after 3 games:
1-Our defense had 9 of 11 returning
starters back from a team who tied a school record in sacks. Unfortunately,
it is not a good defense. It has given up 29 points to Washington
and 25 points to Notre Dame, and in each game this defense couldn't
hold the lead. The linebacking is weak; Diggs is not a good Mike-Inside
Linebacker (replacing Brackins) and Kaufman is nowhere near a
good as Foote who was our defensive leader last year. Our safeties
are great in run support, but like Holiday did today in his long
pass to Jenkins; they are suspect in cover because they cheat
up to play the run. Our defensive line is only above average,
it is not rock solid like a lot of us had banked on. All four
can be blocked in running and passing situations. They were possibly
compared with our 1997 defense prior to this year, but in reality
they are really weak. This defense misses tackles in the backfield,
on the line and in the secondary. We probably are missing 20-30
tackles a game.
Many of us are perplexed because
we thought that our defense would keep us in every game, and hold
offenses to under 20 a game until our offense matured. We also
thought we'd have strong play from our experienced safeties, and
more sacks from our defensive line especially Shantee Orr. We
were also excited about the possibility of seeing Pierre Woods
sacking quarterbacks; it simply hasn't happened. Other teams are
ready for us, and our defense is not as talented as we'd like
I don't know why Hermann doesn't
move Hobson to Mike-Linebacker replacing Diggs and move June from
Free Safety to Sam-Outside Linebacker. He can keep Curry, Drake
and Shazor rotating at safety. I think Jon Shaw should also be
given more playing time, too. Our cornerbacks are doing a good
job, but they can't compensate for weak linebackers and weak safeties.
We need more team speed on defense, and better tackling; I don't
see why we don't bring in faster people into the linebacking positions,
and the faster people would be Cato June.
2-John Navarre has improved at quarterback.
He is more mobile and he has worked hard to improve; he deserves
a lot of credit for his effort and his attitude. Unfortunately,
he simply doesn't have the talent for this position to win big
games and score enough points. It would be wise to play both Matt
Gutierrez and Spencer Brinton this year, and adding Sam Kellar
next year would bring the competition for 2003 to 4 quarterbacks
for the start of the year. Navarre has a strong arm, but no mobility.
He locks in on receivers, and his accuracy is inconsistent.
3-We don't have great leadership
on this team offensively or defensively. Who is our offensive
leader? Today, it was Ben Joppru! On defense? Hobson? Jackson?
We don't have great senior leadership on this team. The offensive
line is all underclass as is our receivers. Askew and Bellamy
aren't producing any senior offensive leadership. On defense,
Lazarus, Rumishek, Hobson, June and Drake simply aren't getting
it done. They haven't put the brakes on the Huskies or the Irish.
4-Our offensive line has improved.
Stenavich came in today and did a nice job replacing Morgan. Lentz
is also doing a nice job along with Pape on the right side. Baas
and Pearson are also coming along. Is this a great offensive line?
No, it has potential, but this is not a line that is blowing people
off the line. It is protecting Navarre pretty well, but not well
enough to win big games like this. Carr has been talking about
the "great depth" we have on offensive line with Solomon,
Lentz, Stenavich, Denay and Cristopfel; unfortunately, our starters
aren't getting the job done.
5-We sure miss Hayden Epstein! It's
hard to admit, but Brabbs and Neinberg are a poor substitute.
Our punt blocking unit isn't nearly as good as last year. Finley
is doing a nice job, but his hang time probably isn't as good
as Epstein's. Our special teams are nowhere near as good as last
year, and last year they were pretty good. We won games last year
with our special teams; this year, we'll be lucky if we don't
lose games because of special teams. I don't know why we are not
considering playing Steve Breaston on kickoff returns. I can see
why he wants a more sure-handed upper class punt returner like
Curry, but in exhibition games we should look at a talented returner
6-Many of us complain about how
predictable our offense is. Well, if we can predict what will
happen, think about sophisticated defensive coordinators and their
staff. This is one reason why teams like Notre Dame are so successful
in stopping our attack. We've all been saying these things for
years, but Carr and staff refuse to change their philosophy. There
really is no change with our new offensive coordinator, and we
can't expect there to be any change because he is only carrying
out the same philosophy that Carr wants: conservative, grind-it-out,
ball possession old-time Bo Schembechler football! It is amazing
recruits like Matt Gutierrez, Sam Kellar, Drew Henson and Tom
Brady even consider coming here. I suppose they do because we
also recruit some tremendous talent with David Terrell, Marquis
Walker, Anthony Thomas, etc. Well, currently we have neither a
great quarterback nor pro-quality backs or receivers to compensate
for an antique coaching philosophy. We can't get the job done
offensively with the combination of current talent plus current
coaching philosophy in my opinion.
Think of this in term of team balance
and recruiting philosophy! We have 15 offensive linemen which
is nearly 18% of our entire scholarship team; we simply strive
every year to run the ball 200+ yards every game. Are we achieving
this? You all know the answer, and our stubborn coaching staff
refuses to believe that this philosophy won't work; they can't
see that other coaching staff's are capitalizing on their stubborness.
I'm sure there are coaches at the college and professional level
that simply chuckle every time they watch us play because we are
so stubborn in our offensive philosophy. Well, most of our fan
base is no longer chuckling; we are beyond frustration.
7-Our defensive philosophy is nearly
as stubborn. We refuse to recruit defensive linemen; we recruit
linebackers instead and beef them up to compete against offensive
linemen. Lazarus and Orr came to Michigan as linebackers; Rumishek
and Heuer came as defensive ends. Watson and Harrison are the
only true defensive linemen we have signed in three years. We
are similar in our philosophy on recruiting kickers; Rivas is
the first kicker we've signed since Epstein other than Finley.
Prior to that, I can only remember Cory Sargent(South Lyon) and
Nate DeLong(Wyandotte) (i.e. in our "back" yard); everybody
else is a walk-on.