2009 M Football- The education of Rich Rodriguez

Dear Rich,

Just wanted to take a few minutes to share some thoughts on the recent flap with the Detroit Free Press and give a few recommendations and how to move forward.

First let me say that I’m a big fan.  After your messy departure from West Virginia I wasn’t sure what to make of you.  But after meeting you a few times and seeing how you run practice a few things are clear:

1.  Your offense will soom be tearing up the Big Ten like Jim Brandstatter tearing through a complimentary buffet.

2.  QBs are an endangered species in your offense- you better stock up…

And now on to some things you can work on.

Great idea banning media from practice.

You can’t trust them!

Well, except for me.

Next up press conferences.

Rich 99% of the time you rock in press conferences.  Seriously, you’re funny self depracating, and knowledgeable.

It’s that other 1% we need to work on.

Trouble began when you announced the dismissal of Justin Feagan.  You obviously wanted to move on to another subject but that pesky media just kept hammering you until you sheepishy asked if it was alright move on and keep the day positive.

Now I don’t know how things rolled for you at West Virginia but whenever you ask the media here to move on from something a strange transformation happens.  Their eyes glaze over and they start having visions of Pulitzer prizes and movie deals.  All kinds of crazy ideas  ideas of linking Michigan football to the wall .

Go Blue!

Michigan Football 2009: Forcier, Stonum, Mathews, and Minor-M 38 ND 34

By Andy Andersen

In what was one of the most exciting games in the modern Wolverine/Irish football series, Forcier, Stonum, Mathews and Minor played major roles in a 38-34 victory. Michigan finally prevailed at least partly and maybe mostly due to the outstanding performances of the quartet mentioned in the title above.  Other games in the series have been close and featured outstanding performances, but this one was exciting alpha to omega, featuring two outstandingly productive offenses, and defenses with just enough stops at critical junctures to keep it close, to keep it interesting, to keep it winnable.

It is hard to say the Wolverine defense was outstanding, although at the end of the game they stopped ND enough to enable victory before and after the Tate/Mathews pass/catch that put the Wolverines up for good. An outstanding Stevie Brown hit put the ball on the turf, and when recovered, gave M?s offense good field position to begin one scoring drive.  The defense played hard and never quit, but yielding a total of 590 yards meant it had some problems.

Even so, the eighteenth ranked Irish are a talented, and experienced team.  Their  improving QB Jimmy Clausen and outstanding receivers had M’s CBs for lunch, racking up 336-yards passing, and 3 TDs, but M?s CBs had enough break ups to win.  With an effort and production like ND?s, one wouldn?t expect to lose.  ND receivers Floyd and Tate are extraordinary.  Their lines are huge. Notre Dame rushed for 154-yards missing Aldridge, their best back.  But all that turned out to be a losing combination, as the Wolverines were capable of putting on an offensive show of their own.


Tate Forcier and the offense countered with outstanding poise and ability in only his second game wearing the winged helmet. He was 23 of 33 for 240 yards and 2 TDs, and rushed 13 times for 70-yards, and a 31-yard dash up the middle for a TD to kept the Wolverines in the game on fourth and three.  He made some mistakes, but always recovered (even after an untimely drive killing fumble and an interception), and played with more poise than can be realistically expected of a skinny freshman.  He simply produced all that was needed to defeat a talented Notre Dame contingent when it was needed.  The kid is a winner.  He is going to get nothing but better with experience.

Tate took the majority of the snaps at OQ, but Denard Robinson contributed with a few runs.  He has to throw the ball now and then so they do not crowd him all the time on his runs.  Once they had Denard in the gun and Tate split left but the play failed.  Tate also had a very decent quick kick that did not fail and was very effective. His quick kick traveled 50-yards and gave Michigan critically needed field position.


Darryl Stonum ran a kick off back 94-yards for a TD in the first quarter, and  he collared Tate?s pooch punt at about the ND 3-yard line.  I had no idea he was that fast.  The run back gave the Blue a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, and ratcheted up the crowd enthusiasm to deafening peaks.  He also had several key catches, left the game dinged, but not before he had caught 4 for 54-yards.

Greg Matthews did not gain much yardage corralling many punts, but dropped none, and had an outstanding leaping pass reception.  He collared 5 passes for 68-yards and caught one TD, with a long reception of 40-yards.  He managed the winning TD with seconds left on a 5-yard Forcier pass.  I remember about 11 seconds on the clock when the play ended, later that was reduced to 9 seconds as ND took the subsequent snap.

At a critical juncture, a wide open Greg did not look for a Tate pass when he was in route, but appeared to be looking to block. The interception happened at a critical junction, ending a drive late in the game. Fortunately for both Greg and us, he snagged the game winner later.  Vindicated!

That Brandon Minor is Michigan’s most effective running back when healthy was demonstrated Saturday.  He had 16 carries for 106-yards, a TD with a run of 32-yards.

They would not have won without his runs.

While the above players made the most visible contributions to whacking ND, this is still a team sport, and the rest of the team presented great effort, too, did not fall apart under pressure, and also showed great team unity.


1st quarter:

Brandon Minor opened the scoring on a two yard run, after  a 79-yard drive featuring a 40-yard Mathews reception.  Olesnavage hit all the afternoon?s EPs and it was M 7, ND 0.

ND answered with a FG.  M 7, ND 3 and it seemed Michigan was going to prevail easily.
After all ND’s opening game drive, while impressive had stalled, and they missed that FG.  Now ND could only respond with a made FG, and Darryl Stonum rocketed up the middle for 94 yards.  Old mo was ours.  Hey, this was fun.  M 14, ND 3.

2nd quarter

ND began to move the ball at will, dominated the statistics, and soon registered  2 TDs to take a 17 to 14 lead.  It seemed they would prevail. There were dominating offensively and would not be stopped.   They then hit a FG to make it ND 20 M 14, and it was looking like last year was coming back.

M finished the scoring for the half, on as Olesnavage hit a FG for 39-yards.  The half ended M 17, ND 20.

Many felt we would see just how good Rodriguez was in answering the  question as to whether they could adjust at the half and hang in there?  Or, overwhelmed, would they quit.

3rd quarter

And indeed they did hang in there, producing a nice drive but failing to score, fumbling, stalling and missing on an Olesnavage FG attempt once again.
Jonas Mouton recovered a fumble caused by Stevie Brown and M’s offense was quickly in business again.  Tate produced a 5 play, 26-yard drive and a TD on a three-yard pass to Koger.  M 24, ND 20.

4th quarter

Tate Forcier expanded M’s lead to 11 again on a 31-yard run up the middle to cap a 6-play, 64-yard drive.  A beautiful run, and the crowd went nuts. M 31, ND 20.

The euphoria didn?t last long as ND produced a pair of scoring dives, with ND hitting a pass, (the 2-point conversion failed) and then scored a TD on a run (two point conversion good).  Now it is getting more desperate all the time.  No more lead.  And it was getting  late in the game with M 31, ND 34.

But no nerves Forcier went to work as this team produced a stunning victory against a ranked opponent, marching on a nine play 58-yard TD drive that was outstanding in its effectiveness.  Tate?s 5-yard completion to Greg Mathews for what proved to be the winning score brought a joyous pandemonium to the crowd the likes of which has seldom been seen.  M 38, ND 34.


ND used up the 9 seconds remaining and M had prevailed.  The pass to Mathews was preceeded by an 18-yard strike to LaTerryal Savoy that put them on the 5.  Another vindication as Savoy earlier in the drive has one bounce of his chest in the end zone.

This was an outstanding victory over an experienced and talented ND team with a great passing game.  The scene in the old stadium was electric and loud all game, the weather beautiful, Michigan well coached (I’ll leave the dissection of Charlie to the Golden Domers), and the weather perfect.  What more could you expect for your 65 dollars?  This game has to be among the top M/ND games ever played for continuous excitement
Although I talk to some, mainly old-timers, that don’t like the stadium renovations they have improved the beauty and comfort of the venue.  May I say again that it is LOUDER!

It is beginning to seem that Michigan is developing well and may end up being a force in the Big Ten by the end of the season, if things fall their way.  But before that we have Eastern Michigan.  Can you appreciate how badly Coach English wants to down the Wolverines?  They played well against Northwestern.  Toledo and Appalachian State taught there is no such thing as a gimmee.  One more win will match last year?s total wins.

The one Notre Dame fan I talked to after the game said he was from Pittsburg, and blasted Rich Rodriguez, saying he wouldn?t work out at Michigan.  I reminded him that it seemed today that he was working out very well indeed.  End of conversation.

Do you think Michigan State fans woke up today with a Chip on their shoulder?   And how many Bucks got a headache that won?t quit this morning?  Ah, the pleasures of schadenfreude.

This was a great weekend of Michigan Football!

Go Blue!

2008 Michigan Football- The Undiscovered Country


Every offseason I spend time watching and re-watching games from the past Michigan football season.


While preparing for the Capital One Bowl, the realization hit me that none of what I was watching has any bearing on the future of Michigan football.


Every coach except for one is gone next season.


On offense, it should come as no surprise that receivers Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington have departed for the NFL.  QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart, and OL Jake Long have exhausted their eligibility.  QB heir apparent Ryan Mallett, who filled in this season when Henne was injured, has decided to transfer rather than try and fit his skills into the spread offense.


It is completely possible that along with a new offensive philosophy we may see different starters at every position the next time a Wolverine QB snaps the ball.


And while I’m excited about the potential of the spread offense,  Michigan fans are facing the great unknown.


Even Michigan Stadium will be vastly different as the largest renovation in its history has begun.


Ground has been broken on the new indoor practice facility and football weight room has been cleared out in preparation for new equipment.


Forget everything you’ve come to know about Michigan football.


Between the coaching change and facility upgrades we are oberving on the greatest periods of change in the history of Michigan football.


Are you ready?

Rich Rodriguez- The Walls Come Tumbling Down…


Things would have very different if Michigan had beaten Ohio State and won the national championship last season.


Things might have been different if Michigan hadn’t lost to Appalachian State this season.


Things might have been different if Mike Hart and Chad Henne hadn’t been injured for most of this season.


But things have worked out for the best.


The last three seasons Michigan has a 26-11 record.  For many teams that would be acceptable- but not in Ann Arbor.


We’ve seen traditional powers Notre Dame and Nebraska tarnish their tradition.  We’ve seen Ohio State become the dominant power in the Big Ten.


This trend coupled with the retirement of Head Coach Lloyd Carr has created something of a crisis situation in Ann Arbor.


It’s time for a change.


Rich Rodriguez represents a seismic shift in the firmament in Michigan Football.


And Rodriguez will need to show results immediately.


There are a lot of people in the Michigan family who are still irked that Les Miles won’t be the next coach in Ann Arbor.


There are other people who aren’t happy that most of Lloyd’s staff has been let go.


Rodriguez will also be making more money than other coach the history of Michigan football.


He had a good record in West Virginia but Michigan fans only care about what he does here in Ann Arbor.


I wonder if Rich Rodriguez is having second thoughts.