Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Woes Bowl

[Presented by $#!++y - football, that is...]

Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly feel like an idiot for dragging out the pitchforks and torches after Michigan was left out of the BCS championship game.

The Nelson Muntz-like "HA-has" emanating from Columbus, Gainesville and Los Angeles would've kept me up most of the night, if I hadn't already tired myself out from grinding my teeth and nearly smashing anything and everything with a block "M" on it.

I think I'm old enough now to consider myself a "long-time" Michigan football fan, and that giant turd the Wolverines left in Pasadena yesterday might have been the worst performance I've ever seen from the maize-and-blue. Especially considering the circumstances and expectations leading up to the Rose Bowl.

One of the best teams in the country? Deserving to play Ohio State for the national championship over Florida? Are you #@$%ing kidding me?

Unfortunately, Michigan's gotten their collective asses kicked in bowl games before. The two poundings that immediately come to my mind are the 1992 Rose Bowl against Washington and the 2002 Capital One Bowl vs. Tennessee. They were completely overmatched in those games, with the players looking slow and sloppy, and the coaching staff embarrassingly outwitted.

But I'm not sure either of those games were as bad as this.

Michigan looked like a team that sat back for five weeks and got pudgy and soft, feasting on all of the adoration and outrage that had been expressed on their behalf. Despite all of the talk from the players beforehand about wanting to prove they were the best and becoming the second team in school history to win 12 games, they acted as if their case had already been made, so why bother showing up to play USC?

And I've defended Lloyd Carr for years to naysayers, but you have to pin this one right on the coaching staff. (Yes, Brent Musberger - here comes one of those bloggers.) Did they not come up with anything new during the past five weeks? I suppose when you're going into your bowl game with an 11-1 record and the belief that you should be playing for the national championship, you don't have to do anything differently.

Meanwhile, the coaches across the field looked like happy-go-jumpy football geniuses on the other sideline, intent on showing that the loss to UCLA was a total aberration.

And most importantly, after both teams just kept banging heads against one another, like rams on a mountaintop, Pete Carroll and his staff gave up on trying to run the ball and decided to attack a Michigan secondary that didn't have the talent or the game plan to match USC's receivers.

Is it possible that Leon Hall and Willis Barringer heard what Keyshawn Johnson said about Dwayne Jarrett not being ready for the NFL, and decided to help the guy out? Sure looked that way. Awfully generous of those young men, but maybe the Rose Bowl wasn't the best time for that kind of philanthropy.

I tend to roll my eyes whenever fans or sports talk radio hosts complain that adjustments weren't made at halftime, because that's just often used as a catch-all phrase to hide behind when you really can't point out a problem. But that seems entirely appropriate in criticizing Michigan's approach in the second half yesterday. It's like the coaches had no idea what else to do once it was obvious that their game plan wasn't going to work. "$#!+, fellas - That's all we got. What do we do now?!" They truly let their players down yesterday, especially on offense.

I'm not a big fan of Bob Davie's work on ABC (especially back in the days he was paired with Mark Jones on ESPN and they seemed to call every play "a jailbreak screen"), but he made the outcome seem pretty clear when talking about the big flaw in the zone running game. If the scheme isn't working, you're in trouble. You're either running left or running right. There aren't many adjustments that can be made. You can't suddenly draw up some counters, draws, or toss plays.

Oops! Heh-heh. Yeah, about that... I'm sure Mike Hart and his 47 yards rushing would be happy to confirm that for all of us.

By the way, does Michigan's passing game have the same sort of limitations? Because they didn't seem to change much against that USC pass rush. No three-step drops. No quick slants or seam patterns. No changes in pass protections. The best work Michigan did against the blitz was when the Trojans decided to stop blitzing and go into a prevent scheme.

And now something that looked so promising, perhaps a fresh direction for the University of Michigan football program, goes from the new hotness to old and busted in less than two months. Three straight years with losses to Ohio State and a bowl opponent. Four consecutive bowl losses. And it all looks so same 'ol, same 'ol.

If Lloyd Carr earned a free pass and some goodwill from starting the season 11-0, he may just have burned that up, whether it's deserved or not. And Ron English can probably put any resumes he'd been sending out for head coaching positions back on the shelf. Hopefully, he's on the phone right now, buttering up some new defensive backs. Or drawing up some schemes that can defend the deep pass.

August is a long way away, right? I might need until then to bleach the memory of this debacle out of my eyes and mouth. That was truly revolting. And I'm not sure I've ever said that about a Michigan team after a loss.

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4 Comments:

  • At January 02, 2007 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    From a USC fan -- does the phrase "Take Florida and the points on the 8th" have any validity? Since Ohi St. is playing Florida, another SEC team should go down the drain, but it might be closer than the experts project.

     
  • At January 03, 2007 3:55 AM, Blogger twins15 said…

    Yeah, Lloyd Carr was not good. Pete Carroll absolutely destroyed him in the coaching for that game.

     
  • At January 03, 2007 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've been a LLLloyd supporter but even I have had enough. It wasn't just the gameplan that was missing but the lack of emotion and urgency that the team lacked and that is on the coach. I know they will not fire him this year but if he doesn't beat the OSU next year and win a bowl game, Cooper...er...Lloyd has to go.

    -hitman

     
  • At January 03, 2007 7:47 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Hitman, as soon as we turned the Rose Bowl on, one of the people I was watching with said Michigan looked lethargic running onto the field.

    At the time, I thought it was a ridiculous statement. How can you tell such a thing? But apparently, she saw something that the rest of us didn't.

     

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