Disgraceful, embarrassing, pathetic are just some of the words to describe Michigan’s 29-6 blowout loss to Little Brother Michigan State Saturday afternoon.
But any adjective chosen to try to put into terms what the Wolverines did in East Lansing may be a total understatement.
Michigan for the most part looked lethargic, confused and out of place on offense to the tune of -48 (yeah… no typos there) rushing yards and just 168 all purpose yards. Other than that the Wolverines were just 2 for 13 on third down efficiency while managing just 12 first downs the entire game.
Meanwhile on defense the game plan seemed to be working in the first half holding the Spartans to 13 points while weathering the storm (figuratively and literally) heading into the break. However dealing with a short field and constant three-and-outs from the offense the Greg Mattison defense simply ran out of gas in the end.
So where do you direct the blame for yet another loss to the Spartans?
You can’t look that much further beyond Brady Hoke and his coaching staff.
Sure the players need to be better on the field, no question however it’s not like the coaching staff didn’t have adequate time to prepare themselves for what Michigan State had to offer. Yes, Michigan State does have an elite defense, something I’m sure anyone is comfortable saying at this point but coming off a bye week there’s no excuse for the Michigan to be so unprepared.
Again when it came to the offense the Wolverines were decimated at the line of scrimmage, Devin Gardner (who remarkably threw just one interception) had zero time in the pocket while Al Borges had Fitz Toussaint blocking Shilique Calhoun on more than one occasion. Not to mention even though the defense gets some sort of pass this week you couldn’t help but notice how bad the team looked in the pass rush hardly getting any pressure on Connor Cook.
And even though Brady Hoke has done better than the Rich Rod regime, you cannot help but have some of the same criticisms towards this current coaching staff. Namely what Hoke hasn’t been able to do against rival teams.
Brady Hoke doesn’t have quite the nonsensical losses against teams he has no business losing to like Toledo or a 25 point blowout loss to Illinois. But he is in real danger of having a losing record against rival teams in his first three years at the helm of Michigan.
Brady Hoke's presser yesterday … yikes. Forever blaming execution and not answering questions. Don't miss this: http://t.co/OSn73qmMhg
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) November 4, 2013
Thus far the anticipated Hoke era has gone 4-4 against rival teams after Saturday’s loss to Michigan State. With Ohio State still on the docket at the end of the season there’s a good chance that Hoke goes below .500 at 4-5 in his first three seasons against those rival teams in Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State. Of course that would be somewhat synonymous with what Rich Rodriguez did in his first three years against rivals managing just a 2-7 record.
And speaking of Rich Rodriguez it seems like one of the favorite go-to excuses for Michigan fans and the drawbacks to this season is still having Rich Rod’s recruits still on the team. Yet Michigan’s best players for the most part remain to be the Rich Rod recruits especially on offense such as Taylor Lewan, Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon. But with that said where’s some of the development in the underclassmen? Aside from Devin Funchess, Frank Clark and Blake Countess many of the recruits have been a non-factor on the field, at least when it comes to overtaking some of those Rich Rod hold overs.
Mark Dantonio with the Spartans has essentially been able to do less with more. Why can’t Brady Hoke do more with more? Michigan fans continuing to blame Rich Rod for this current team’s struggles is like a Lions fan continually blaming Matt Millen. Move on.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not screaming for the head of Brady Hoke or at all suggesting that the team would be better off still with Rich Rod running the team. Rodriguez showed zero ability to coach in the Big Ten and seemed to have no interest what-so-ever fixing the defense and embracing rivalries.
And that’s what it’s going to come down to for Brady Hoke and this regime. What they can do against namely conference rivals in the Spartans and Buckeyes since Notre Dame is now out of the picture. Furthermore beating those two teams during the course of the season could also certainly dictate whether or not the team is playing for a Big Ten Championship at the end of the season.
Of course a victory over Ohio State in a couple of weeks would definitely be a good step in righting that ship. A loss though would make that hot seat just a little hotter for Hoke and company once next season begins.