ANN ARBOR MI - NOVEMBER 20: James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks for running room while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on November 20 2010 in Ann Arbor Michigan. Wisconson won the game 48-28. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That, in a nutshell, wraps up the Michigan defensive coaching staff this year. Insanity.
Going into Saturday I wasn't a confident man. In all honesty there really wasn't a reason for me to be confident. Wisconsin hung 83 points on an Indiana team that Michigan could only manage 42 against. Michigan barely scraped by a Purdue team that was buried alive by Michigan's next opponent, Ohio State, in a 49 to Nothing white washing. How is that relevant? You might recall Wisconsin threw Ohio State into a wood chipper a few weeks back.
So I wasn't expecting miracles.
But for some reason a lot of people were. Maybe it was because it was "Wisconsin." A school that Michigan has historically tortured. Whether it was Ron Dayne, Barry Alvarez, or the 2008 edition of the Badgers, Michigan over the years has seemed to take perverse delight in pushing Wisconsin football seasons down an elevator shaft. So perhaps that ingrained feeling of a season torching upset win over Wisconsin is where this bizarre confidence emerged from. Because it certainly didn't emerge from watching Michigan play in it's previous 10 games.
Perhaps Einstein's definition of insanity is just as applicable to the fans as the coaches. How anyone could've predicted a different result than the 48-28 buttwhuppin' Wisconsin delivered on Saturday isn't just beyond me. It's insane.
If you look back at any of Michigan's losses this year the story is basically the same. Allow me to summarize:
Offense is inept early. The Defense gamely stops a couple of drives before getting snow plowed by a potent running game. Michigan is down 20 at the half. The Wolverines mount a small comeback but get buried under missed tackles, blow assignments and offensive mistakes and turnovers. Crucial player _______ suffered a season/career/life threatening injury. Media calls for blood because the defense that everyone knew sucked didn't suddenly transform into a planet destroying monster for no apparent reason. Rodriguez looks at sky and wonders what he has to sacrifice to appease Kuthu's wrath before walking into the Sarlac Pit of reporters who've already typed their postgame stories and are looking for a quote with which to complete their 1200 word Rodriguez lynching.
This isn't a good team. It's a good offense and a scarily young and bad defense. It's a 7-5 team, as just about everyone predicted at the start of the season. It's a team that's blown it's chances for upsets, squeaked by bad teams, and made itself bowl elligble despite starting a first year quarterback, a committee at tailback, and a middle school in its secondary.
Was Michigan particularly well coached on Saturday? No. Not really. But did it really matter? Wisconsin outweighed Michigan by a Volkswagen on the offensive line and possessed upperclassmen at every position. Michigan was in a 3-3-5 because Mike Martin was hurt and they simply didn't have enough bodies at defensive line to start in a 4-3. Obi Ezehwas your fourth lineman. Because he had to be. The result was 357 rushing yards on 58 attempts. I don't care what kind of wizard you are on defense, you can't make up for that type of size difference and that type of experience differential. Wisconsin shredded OSU and Iowa's vaunted defenses, so expecting Michigan's defense to somehow stop them may well have been the very height of insanity.
Wisconsin was the exact type of team Michigan simply isn't capable of matching up against at this point in its rebuilding. Its large, physical, and ground based. They run to set up the run. They basically play exactly like Michigan used to under Carr. Here's what we do. Stop it if you can. Oh, you can't? That's too bad because we don't have any other play in our playbook. Now die.
On offense, Denard Robinson continued to show that something is wrong with his shoulder. He was inaccurate throughout the game, missing wide open receivers or doing his best John Navarre impersonation by throwing passes into the line. Wisconsin challenged Denard to beat them in the air. He couldn't. The result was zero points at half time. Sure there should've been a point or two on the board, but Wisconsin played Michigan the way they should've, and Michigan couldn't do anything to change the terms of the engagement but keep throwing the ball until Denard's shoulder finally warmed up. Such is life.
Irrespective, it was still a loss. And an ugly one at that. But this is the team Michigan has fielded all season. It is young. It is inexperienced. It has the potential to be great, though that potential will likely remain unrealized until 2011. It is what it is.
To expect otherwise might be considered insane.