Observations on the Citrus Bowl humiliation, 17-45!

1-Our offense continues to struggle and create points for the opposing team. If our offense can't move the ball, then so be it; but don't turn the ball over and help to create points for the other team. The sad thing about our offense is that we have to plan on the other team possessing the ball 5 or 10 minutes a game more than us; this gives them a 10-30 play advantage depending on how they use this time. Tennessee had an 8:26 time advantage.

2-Navarre definitely is not our answer, not now nor in the future. We must play Brinton more and get Gutierrez here as early as possible to learn our system. Of course, what is there to learn? You hand off to Askew or Perry on 1st and 2nd down, then on 3rd and long, you pass to either receiver, the tight end or running back, whoever is open. Navarre was 21 of 39 for 240 yards and 1 TD, but also one fumble that led to a Tennessee TD and one pick that led to another Tennessee TD. Our total offense was 343 yards on 70 plays, and 6 of 16 in 3rd down conversions with 20 first downs. The problem with Navarre is he can't lead a ball-control offense, and he is not mobile or quick enough to be a threat on a scramble, a bootleg, an option, etc. He doesn't make good decisions, look off his receivers, read defensive schemes, adjust to defenses, throws into linemen or coverage and he overthrows or underthrows way too often. His up side is that given time and protection, he can throw some nice, accurate passes to open receivers, but against the toughest teams, he'll never have the time and protection nor will he have wide open receivers.

Has anyone ever seen Navarre call an audible in all the games he's played???

3-Tennessee looked good. They're sharp and executed well on both sides. They fumbled 4 times, but have recovered all of them except one plus two of ours (one play where we fumbled twice). 17-0 with 10 first downs to our zero until early in the 2nd quarter. They finished the half with 503 net yards with 22 first downs, and averaged 7 yards per play. They were 7 of 13 on 3rd down conversions. Clausen was 26 of 34 for 393 yards; Stallworth and Witten had 14 catches for 244 yards. They scored twice in every quarter except the 3rd.

4-Our defense started well, but wore down. Our corners, Howard and LeSueur are continuing to be a thorn; they simply aren't good, quality corners. Jackson is a good one! Foote played well and our defensive line made some plays. Our secondary just couldn't get the job done. June and Drake are good for run support and solid hitters, but terrible in pass coverage. The key to the game, in my opinion, was when we came back to make it 7-17, and Tennessee took the kickoff and ran right down the field like they were playing against their practice team to make it 7-24. That "statue of liberty" play on 3rd and long in their first series killed us.

5-Our offensive line couldn't handle Henderson, not even on the double teams. Their blitzes and pass rushes were solid, and we couldn't handle them. Overstreet was also a huge pass rush threat; we couldn't stop him either. Our running game was never established; we had only 103 yards on 31 rushes. They clogged up the middle well.

6-Lloyd Carr will not be fired. He does not deserve to be fired. He has a contract until 2008. He will not change any staff personnel unless one of them decides to leave to become a coach elsewhere. Much discussion has centered around our coaching, play schemes on offense and defense and yes, even our conditioning. Gittelson is as good of conditioning coach as there is nationally, and our players are in great physical shape each and every game to play for four quarters of tough, rugged smash-mouthed football. The problem in today's game is speed, mobility and yes, coaching schemes. Everybody has fast, mobile players and there are great coaches everywhere including teams in the lesser conferences. We have talent, and we get a lot out of our players thanks to Carr & staff.

6b-Our largest problem is utilization of our talent. If you watched the Oregon game, this was a prime example of utilization of talent, speed and mobility. Oregon crushed a very talented and very well-coached Big 12 champion Colorado team. Why? Harrington is fast, mobile, accurate and looks off his receivers (and he audibles). The Ducks established ball control and time of possession advantage utilizing quick, fast receivers. They used the pass to set up their running game which was also strong. Their defense completely shut down the Buffaloes running game, forcing them to beat them with the pass; they couldn't do it. The Ducks played like national champions, but won't achieve it unless Nebraska beats Miami, and I don't think that'll happen.

6c-If you heard the announcers analyze the game, another key coaching problem is clock management. Our coaches continually demonstrate poor game preparation by either not calling critical time-outs or calling unnecessary time outs. Another critical juncture in the Citrus Bowl loss was the time-out called after establishing a first and goal at the 7 after Askew's long run just prior to halftime. This gave the Volunteers a chance to re-group, and we already had an automatic time-out because of the first down. The analysts did a nice job in recognizing this mistake immediately and then articulating why it was a blatant error. Michigan could only get a field goal, they lost momentum and settled for a 10-24 halftime rather than a 14-24 halftime. It is also another example of the lack of a "killer instinct" in our coaching staff. We continually let lesser teams stay in the game against us rather than seeking a knockout blow.

6d-Another problem with our coaching philosophy (and all of these are correctable) is evident in our recruiting philosophy. We want a plethora of offensive linemen and running backs first, then, we look at linebackers second; other teams are looking at receivers and quarterbacks first. Maryland just recruited 4 quarterbacks coming off a 10 win season. Purdue loads up on receivers. Our philosophy is still grounded in the 1970s under Bo (who I'm sure is flattered), establish the run first, then throw only if necessary and throw sparingly. Is Bellotti's philosophy the same?

7-Kevin Dudley started his first game at Fullback. I'm not sure how many actual minutes he played, but he did start. Wow! Phil Brackins didn't play at all at that position in the Citrus Bowl, and hasn't played a down at fullback/H-back during the last 3 games.

8-The only other losses I can think of that resemble the humiliation would be the 1998 Syracuse loss 28-38 where we were behind by 7-38 at one point, and the 1991 Florida State game, 31-51. Both were played at Michigan stadium. The 1992 Rose Bowl loss to Washington, 14-34, was also a bad one. The 1984 Iowa loss was bad, 0-26. Of course, we have to go back to 1968 to remember the 14-50 game at Columbus. The worst loss ever for Michigan in terms of point differential came in 1935 when Minnesota shut us out, 0-40. Our 2001 season finished at 8-4, and yes, it probably was our worst team since 1984 (6-6). We lost to both our top rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State (first time since 1987), and we also lost to national contenders, Washington and Tennessee. We could have easily lost to Wisconsin and/or Iowa. Had we scheduled Penn State in November, we probably would have lost to them as well. Our high point of the season was obviously the Illinois game on September 22; it was all downhill from there after the bye week.

9-If we are to look at silver linings or positives, we can point to some decent kickoff returns, and we did have a lot of practice at receiving kickoffs in that game. We do have a strong defense returning for 2002, but our offense will only get better based upon our coaches willing to adapt to today's game and what the competition is doing. Our way of playing football must change. The work in the weight room can help our offensive linemen to be better at blocking and pass protection, but our emphasis on establishing the running game is consistently telegraphed to our opponents. They don't even need to watch our game film to know what we are going to do. On defense, I think Herrmann did a great job with the personnel he had. Tennessee was simply too fast, quick, mobile and executed their plays and game plan to perfection. We just didn't have the personnel to cover. Now, with Marlin Jackson, Quinton McCoy, W. Greg Cooper, Darnell Hood, Markus Curry and possibly Willis Barringer, we should have corners who will be able to handle the big-time passing games that teams like Miami-FL, Oregon, LSU, Tennessee, etc. come to the table with. We also need better cover linebackers, and with the addition of Earnest Shazor, Scott McClintock, Roy Manning and others, this should help. Possibly, we can move Cato June to linebacker as well because he tackles high and weighs 225 so he has linebacker size.

Here is my starting line-up for 2002:

QB-Matt Gutierrez (Brinton/Navarre/Mingery)
FB-BJ Askew (Underwood/Dudley/Sanderson/Brackins)
TB-Chris Perry (Baraka/Bracken/Rembert)
WR-Calvin Bell (Edwards/Butler/Tabb)
WR-Jason Avant (Bellamy/Massaquoi)
TE-Ben Joppru (Ealey/Dubuc/Fisher/Murphy)
RT-Demetrius Solomon (Lentz/Kolodziej)
RG-Dave Petruziello (Gaston/Henige)
C-Adam Stenavich (Christopfel/Riley)
LG-Joe Denay (Baas/Berishaj)
LT-Tony Pape (Morgan/Simelis)

DE-Anchor-Dan Rumishek (Stevens/Bihl)
DT-Shawn Lazarus (Massey/D.Spytek/Harrison)
DT-Norm Heuer (Bowman/Pearson/Watson)
DE-Rush-Shantee Orr (Woods/Kashama/Ofili)
ILB-Mike-Victor Hobson (Diggs/Wells/Harris)
ILB-Will-Scott McClintock (Kauffman/Reid)
OLB-Sam-Roy Manning or Emmanuel Casseus (J.Spytek/Sarantos)
DB-Wide-Marlin Jackson (M.Curry/Williams)
DB-Short-Quinton McCoy or Greg Cooper (Hood/Combs)
SS-Julius Curry (Drake/Shaw)
FS-Earnest Shazor (June/LeSueur)
P-Adam Findley
PK-Phil Brabbs (Nienberg/Constantine)
Punt Returns-Julius Curry, Markus Curry or Marlin Jackson
Kickoff Returns-Kelly Baraka, Marlin Jackson or Quinton McCoy

3 scholarships to go:

1-Julian Jenkins or Travis Leitko-DL (Jones/Greeson/Johnson/Biggs)
2-David Horne-RB (Wynn/Irons/Jeff Jenkins/Faulk)
3-JeJuan Rankins-WR/DB (Stovall/Breaston/Cornelius/Barringer/McCutcheon/A.Miller/Coats/Horn/Webster)
4-Chris Wilson-FB/LB (Shaw/Van Alstyne/Paul Sarantos/McFadden/Thompson/Oluigbo)
5-James Banks-Athlete/QB (Kirkland/Winston-TE)
6-Shadu Moore-OL (Landri/Jean-Gilles/Farris)