Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wolverines Blogging: The Bloom is Off the Rose

I've shed the sackcloth and finished rending my hair. The songs of lament no longer tumble from my lips. My mourning ended for a season, a team, with such promise gone to waste. Now I'm just pissed.

Yeah, yesterday's game was brutal to watch. It wasn't that Michigan lost it's that they looked so bad while doing it. A measly three points. Forty odd yards for heart. Henne coming in and out of the game and obviously not playing at full speed. It was the sort of day where the long pass went up in the air and you just knew the receiver was going to be a step behind, a yard too late, their route a half second off, and the ball was going to thud to the ground. This wasn't just the fourth loss in as many years it was the worst offensive performance out of the Wolverines against the Buckeyes since the inception of the forward pass (Well, okay, really before Bo's arrival and the Ten Years War. Sometime in the 60s, anyway, but still...).

And the thing is, Michigan could have had the game. The Buckeyes were struggling early. With the weather. With the crowd. With the emotion. And the Wolverines were flying. But they couldn't put points on the board. Just got one early field goal and couldn't do anything past that despite turnovers and opportunities handed to them by their opponents. And, then, as the game wore on the line wore down. The UofM linesmen were shoved around by OSU like they were tackling dummies. Like they were playing against Northwestern. That's not supposed to happen. The big advantage of teams like Michigan and Ohio State isn't at the skilled positions, it's in the trenches. That's where they edge when it comes to recruiting and training pays off – with the big uglies who push people around. But, yesterday, it looked like the Buckeyes were playing on another level.

Plus, they got outcoached. As the game went on it became apparent that the Wolverines didn't have a chance. That try as they might they weren't going to pull even or even ahead. OSU made the right calls, the right changes, down the stretch while the Wolverines wouldn't or couldn't. Too timid, too conservative, too late to open up the playbook and too ineffectual once they did. As one of my friends said, watching the game, “I thought coach Carr was supposed to retire after the game. Not during it.”

I did, too, actually. The way the talking heads were chattering heading into the game, I half expected Carr to ride off into the sunset immediately after the game, carried aloft by a wave of fawning admirers down Hoover to Schembechler Hall. There to be entombed within his office, a living sarcophagus, for the rest of his days. Or, you know, he'd have just announced right after the game. He didn't. Instead, it sounds like he's going to declare his retirement during his weekly press conference on Monday.

And, I hate to say it with all that Carr has given the university over the years but maybe it is time. I don't want to say the game has passed him by but, perhaps, what Michigan needs to get to that next level – to competing for the national title on the basis of results and not reputation year in and year out – is another coach. One who would do everything he could to keep a game like yesterday's from unfolding the way it did.

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