Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Morning - I've Calmed Down....

I see that I got your attention.  Yes, that’s one of the first times I think I’ve “lost” it after a fairly sizable victory, but I am not getting on the student athletes as some of you have stated, among other things.  Yes I was angry and I kind of had a “Mike Valenti” rant….But here’s the thing:

…So, in order to better understand my frustration and address some of the feedback, I figured I’d do a quick review of e-mail and texts because people that read the blog are still “comments” section challenged and I don’t respond to e-mails and texts at all times:

Don’t tell me you were one of the people booing….

Yes, I booed.  I paid good money for season tickets and, ergo, I’ve paid for the right to do that.  BUT MY BOOS WERE NOT DIRECTED AT THE ATHLETES!

I would never boo a college athlete that’s busting his hump for 25-30 hours a week to play any sport.  But the coaching situation is horrendous and the stretch in the 2nd quarter that I commented on left the fans who were there incredibly frustrated.  Call it a long overdue release of emotion by a lot of people.

I can’t believe you don’t think Gardener is a major part of the problem.  Shane looked good.  Why not give him a shot in a game that doesn’t matter as much as the B1G games matter?

The most popular guy on the team is the 2nd string QB when the starting QB doesn’t look as sharp as he should or doesn’t look as good as he did last season/game/whatever and the offense isn’t producing.   Gardener is a 5th year Senior.  Sooner or later, that will pay a dividend.  Trust me.  You don’t want Shane Morris out there making Soph mistakes in critical games…Unless Devin really starts crapping the bed.  Then, kiss the season good-bye, but firing Hoke becomes a little more challenging if you throw Shane in and he’s bad because Shane’s mistakes will be more about him and less about Hoke.

Not that this compares, but I’ve coached kids from kindergarten on up through 8th grade.  And there’s one thing I’ve learned:  As a coach, you see a lot more than the fans/parents because you’ve been working with these kids a lot more during the week in non-game settings.  You get to see all the little things they are doing  right and wrong and you have to, at times, bust your butt as a coach to get them to un-learn the dumb things they are doing in order to teach them the proper techniques. 

What’s interesting, at least to me, is that once you get the kids that you know will respond well and are “coachable”, there’s actually a lot you can do with them as a coach in certain sports where tactics and strategy, ball control or clock management, for example, is at stake.  Basketball, even at the younger level, has some strategy to it.  When we were playing better teams, I encouraged my girls to WAIT FOR THE BEST SHOT AND WORK THE OFFENSE.  When we were playing inferior teams, we were trying to score and score often. 

In soft ball, I also watched an upper level coach take a bunch of ball busters…er, hitters, that weren’t the “fleetest of foot” and tried to turn them into bunters “Because you have to be able to play small-ball at this level!”  Well, yeah, but guess what?  I took those same ball busters the next season and let them swing away most of the time and we went undefeated and pretty deep in the play-offs….

Where am I going with this?  Devin, I believe, will respond well to coaching once he has the new system under his belt.  We need to give him some time and it will come.  BUT THE COACHES ALSO have a responsibility to not force square pegs into round holes and coach to the players ability vs. driving a “We’re going to run the ball because we’re Michigan” down the players throats…That never works and I hope this coaching staff learned that with Denard.  Al Borges hated having to do the things Denard did well, but once he accepted it, Michigan’s offense in 2011 excelled.  I mean, if you can get a cat to do this…..

‘Nuff said.

Do you really think Michigan should fire Hoke and who are they going to get?  Like you said, Harbaugh’s not coming….

Well, I may have been a little short sighted with my “Fire Hoke” rant on Monday.  But everyone else on the internet and in the blogosphere seems to agree with me.  

While I agree that firing someone may not be the best or only solution, and it “seems” like Hoke is trying to do the right things and get the right pieces of the puzzle in place, there have been multiple problems.  But he’s trying to do it right.  I do believe that.  It just might all be over his head, that's all.   Putting it simply, its Strategy AND Tactics.  He’s not doing either very well right now and other are people seeing it.  And the tactics should be easy to fix.

Tactics:  if he corrects these things in the short term, he will at least demonstrate a capacity for change and managing the College Game today:

1.    Get rid of the huddle.  Watch any college game.  No one is using it, or some teams use but seldomly.
2.    Please put on a headset.  Your coaches are seeing things all the time and you can add insight to the game situation (via your vast experience) if you’re staying current with what the people upstairs are seeing. And you can chime in with critical info if needed.
3.    LEARN TO MANAGE A GAME CLOCK!  Saturday was not Hoke’s first issue with managing time outs and field position. 
4.    Snap the ball with at least 15 or more seconds on the play clock if you’re “behind” on the score, or not up by a comfortable amount.  At the domers, Michigan was still using up extraordinary amounts of time in the 2nd half with no sense of urgency.

That’s a short list.  There’s more….

Strategy:  Hoke talks about winning, but is it talk?  I mean, there should be a plan and the BS you here about “”We’re taking it a week at a time” is just that – BS.  There should be a plan for each practice, game, and the overall season, which, again, I’m sure there is, but does it have the depth it needs to achieve your goals?  There’s practice management, game management, and season management.  Hoke showed VERY POOR DECISION MAKING with respect to the season by leaving Gardener and Funchess in on the last, futile drive of the domer game, long after any goals Michigan had for that game went down the tubes….  Again, almost a fire-able offense.  And if he’s making dumb decisions in that regard…well, I’m not entirely sure he has a clue about managing the season strategy any better.  So, I need to see vast improvement there as well.

About that replacement:  As I stated in last Friday’s entry, there’s a list of coaches I would trade with right now.  But we all know that good head coaches aren’t going ANYWHERE and bad ones are readily available, but who wants a bad one?  My thinking at this point is to put together what you want on paper and go from there.  In other words, “What is the profile of the last 10 National Champs?”  And before you just say, “Bama and the SEC”, which aren’t bad answers, I’d put together a matrix of each of the head coaches, coordinators and anyone else that’s been around those programs and starting asking around as to who might have what it takes to be a “Head Coach”.  But, no, I really don’t want to start thinking about this now….not again.  

I would advise that you watch this weekend’s coach on the opposite sideline who I actually shaded in green  (On the Coach Swap Matrix) but has been having some issues as of late.  Kyle Whittingham’s Utah Utes have been the victim of injuries the last couple of seasons, but before that, he was producing some very good teams in Utah (granted – they were WAC then), one that in fact went undefeated and beat Alabama in a Sugar Bowl.  He’s now juggling a PAC12 schedule and needs to get the program personnel and players up to that speed – and keep them healthy, but he’s proven he can do it….Just sayin’.  It'll be very interesting if Utah wins Saturday....Very Interesting indeed...

Where does that leave Michigan?  Who knows, man…Who Knows…

 Dave Brandone - Asleep Style....

….But I am more depressed and this stopped being fun a while ago.  Not the blogging part…but Michigan Football is not as much fun as it used to be.  It seems like I apologize for the lousy excuse of performance on the field or have to deal with crap from just about everyone…It’s almost easier to not admit to being a Michigan fan in the fall.  I’m seriously identifying more with the Hoops team and coaching staff more and more….Even the crowd energy level for the Miami game (that everyone knew was a cupcake) was less than what it usually is.  The AD better take a good look around and realize that by being the “Fun Police” in the student section and forcing “fun down our throats” at higher ticket prices with PSL’s to boot….well, expect to see a lot more of this….

Miami At Kick-Off

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