Tuesday, November 17, 2009

40th anniversary of greatest M/OSU game ever played

In this historic rivalry, there have been many classic games but arguably the greatest game of them all was 1969 when Michigan defeated #1 Ohio State 24-12.

Click here for a picture gallery of the 1969 game. Go Blue!

*Video put together by none other than WolverineHistorian.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The dog ate our practice logs*

The dog ate our practice logs* (a line taken from the boys over at UMGoBlue.com). Here is the Freep article on the topic. Here is a link to the AP article by Larry Lage on the Big Ten Network site. Lastly, here is the Detroit News article on the issue of the logs. Kind of hard for Coach Rod to indignantly declare compliance with the rules when he did not maintain records of his team's activities. Go Blue!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Coach Rod has led Michigan to LAST PLACE in the Big 10

With two conference games remaining (against Wisconsin and OSU), Michigan (5-5, 1-5) is sitting in a tie for last place in the Big 10. Columnist Lynn Henning of The Detroit News analyzed Michigan's stunning fall from grace in the article, "U-M's lack of success under under Rich Rodriguez is mystifying." After 40 consecutive seasons (1968-2007) without a losing record, Coach Rod led Michigan to a dismal 3-9 record in 2008. The Wolverines are mired in last place in the conference this season and if the Wolverines fail to win one of their final two games then Michigan will finish as low as 10th place for the first time since 1934. To avoid this ignominious fate, Michigan will need to dig deep and find a way to win against the Badgers and/or the Buckeyes in the coming weeks. Go Blue!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Game Management

Coach Rod's weekly press conference is tomorrow (Monday) at 11:00 a.m. at which time he will have to face another series of tough questions about why Michigan has lost five (5) consecutive Big 10 conference games. At the postgame press conference, Coach Rod invoked his common refrain that "We're not good enough to make big mistakes and beat anybody on our schedule." Coach Rod is always very quick to point out that the problems stem from lack of execution by the players (see Purdue's successful onside kick) lest anyone think of blaming him or his staff.

Coach Rod is right, however, about the need to avoid big mistakes. Michigan's talent level leaves little margin for error as it is battling for victory with the schools on its schedule. In the 10 games the Wolverines have played this season, four of its games have been decided by 4 points or fewer and a 5th game (vs. MSU) went into overtime. Michigan is 2-3 in those close contests. In the close games, where the teams are evenly matched and the contest is going down-to-the-wire, the difference between winning and losing rests on the coaching.

Game management is a critical component of a team's ability to succeed in a close game. Coaching staffs spend days in the off-season preparing for every imaginable scenario so that they will be ready to make a decision in the heat of the moment when the time comes in a game. Earlier in the season, Coach Rod faced an interesting "game management" decision. Against MSU, the Wolverines scored with 2 seconds remaining and were down by one. The question was whether to kick the PAT and go to overtime or to try and win it outright on the two-point conversion. Coach Rod never hesitated as he called for the PAT unit which converted the extra-point and sent the game into overtime. Although a case could have been made for going for two, no one really seriously questioned the decisive move made by Coach Rod.

In the Purdue game, however, Coach Rod made a game management decision that the Wolverines could ill afford. Trailing 38-30 with just under 5 minutes remaining in the game, Michigan faced a 4th and 10 from the Purdue 20. A field goal attempt by Jason Olesnavage (9-11 on the season) would have been approximately 37 yards. Olesnavage had already hit a 51-yarder earlier in the game but he had also missed a 48-yarder and an extra-point during the game. Eschewing the truism that "you always take the points", Coach Rod decided to go for it on fourth down despite the long yardage needed for a first down. Michigan failed to convert and turned the ball over on downs. When Michigan got the ball back and scored with just over 2 minutes to go, it had to go for two to try and tie the game. If they had the points from the field goal that Coach Rod decided to forego, the Wolverines (theoretically) would have had the lead. Instead, they went for two and failed to convert and ulimately lost by that margin.

Coach Rod is right when he says that Michigan is not good enough to make big mistakes and beat anybody. Coach Rod's game mis-management decision was a major misstep that put the Wolverines in a hole out of which they could not climb. Hopefully, when Coach Rod evaulates what went wrong, he will look in a mirror. The Wolverines need him to make better game management decisions in the future. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Coach Rod during the Purdue game (11-7-09) by David Guralnick/The Detroit News.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Beat OSU Bust

The U of M Club of Downriver is throwing their annual "Beat Ohio State Bust" on Monday, November 16, 2009 @ 6:00 p.m. This year's featured speaker is none other than "The Angel of the Big House" Angelique Chengelis who will be available to autograph copies of her new book "100 Things Michigan Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die". Tickets for the event are $15 if you pre-order. Go Blue!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Gut-check time

There are three games to go and the Wolverines (5-4) need to rally in order to qualify for a bowl game. Coach Rod has his work cut for him as the Wolverines have been in a downward spiral as they have lost their last four (4) Big 10 conference games (MSU, Iowa, Penn State and Illinois). There is a faction of the fan base calling for Coach Rod's job. Some are even hoping that the NCAA finds that the Michigan Football program committed a major violation as a result of the investigation started as a consequence of the Free Press story. If the NCAA determines a major violation occurred then Michigan can terminate Coach Rod's contract without paying any severance compensation. (See sections 2.04, 4.02, and 4.03 of Coach Rod's contract here in .pdf format). However, the focus of the Wolverine fans should be on finishing the last quarter of the season strong. The Wolverines are about to embark on the crucial last quarter of the season as they take on Purdue, Wisconsin (away), and Ohio State in the next three weeks. Just like entering the fourth quarter of a close home game, the Wolverines will need the support of the fans to help rally them as they try to pull it out. The Wolverines need at least at least one and would like at least two wins in the final stretch of the regular season so they can get a decent bowl berth.

The team is currently reeling after its devastating loss to Illinois where the Fighting Illini hung 31 unanswered points on the Wolverines in sending Michigan to a 38-13 defeat. Coach Rod is known as a "X's and O's" coach (although you wouldn't know it sometimes by watching Michigan play) and inspiring the team is not his forte. Coach Schembechler and Coach Carr were absolute masters at getting the most out of their players. In 2007, Michigan lost to FCS school Appalachian State and then the Wolverines were absolutely demolished the following week by Oregon. Nevertheless, Coach Carr was able to rally his demoralized team and they ran off 8 straight victories. Coach Rod needs to likewise find a way to rally his demoralized team who have had a rough go of it in the Big 10 over the last 4 conference contests. It's gut-check time. Three games to go. Bowl game on the line. Go Blue!