Thursday, June 26, 2008

General concerns of the new regime

The change in the football regime at U of M has brought with it many positives: it's ousted a dusty outdated philosophy and consistently underproductive scheme, enhanced its strength and conditioning (eee...), and has brought with it a general change in attitude that will be in line with Michigan's winning tradition. To help bolster these changes, Michigan has also invested much dinero in brand spanking new (read: recruit-pulling) facilities: stadium renovations, new practice facilities, blank check to Barwis-ize the weight room, etc... These changes, hopefully, will produce stronger, faster more disciplined and motivated teams who can compete for a national championship (and beat Ohio State) annually. I, for one, am a believer and I'm extremely excited to see the new face of Michigan football.

A few concerns, however, with the New Michigan:

1) Uh... defense?

Michigan has long been known, especially during the Bo era, for its punishing defenses. Bringing in the offensive wizard (hat and snake oil) has done wonders for our offensive recruiting (8 of 12 recruits so far are offensive players). However there has been little noise at the position widely considered to be the heart of the defense: linebacker/DE. Good linebackers/DE's are a necessity against run-heavy teams of which there are a plethora in the Big Ten (Ohio State, Wisconsin). The only linebacker/defensive end the RR era has recruited is one undersized three star guy named Jordan Barnes. What gives Rich? Where are the Lamarr Woodley's and the David Harris's? Are we going to try and simply out-offense your opponents the way you did at WVU? I don't recall your teams being particularly strong on D. Who is Scott Shafer? Why aren't we focused on recruiting these EXTREMELY important positions of ILB, OLB and DE? Being a defensive-minded guy myself, I'm disappointed not to see more urgency on that recruiting front from the U of M coaching staff.

2) Character Issues

Another pivotal facet of Lloyd-era teams that the RR teams in past seem to lack is the emphasis on character and personal integrity. Like Bo, Grandpa Lloyd's overarching goal was to turn boys into men; to use football to teach the lessons of life. Let's take a look at two famous West Virginia NFLers who were under RR as of late: Pacman Jones and Chris Henry. Not to say that Lloyd's teams didn't have their problems, but at least he reacted, even if he let guys like Manningham (marijuana... 2x), Adrian Arrington (girlfriend choker), and Carson Butler (freshman puncher extraordinaire) back on the team. Coach Rod's emphasis on character building... doesn't really seem to exist. With coaches like Randy Shannon taking steps to clean up dirty programs, are we sacrificing our integrity to win? Are we becoming on the level with programs like (gulp) Ohio State? This is my greatest fear, that Michigan's tradition of winning with integrity will be replaced with simply winning.

3) Weather

Michigan is cold. Michigan is wet. What is the first thing to go in the snow/rain? Speed. What usually wins in the rain? Power. What is RR's offense predicated on? Speed. Uh oh.

These are my concerns with our new hillbilly coach's program. Let's just hope none of them come to fruition.