Saturday, September 29, 2007

Michigan Defeats Northwestern But Lloyd Carr Still Makes No Sense

The University of Michigan football team just completed a victory over the Northwestern Wildcats. Yet, there should be no joy in Ann Arbor tonight. No celebrations. The Wildcats, who were blown off the field last week, losing 58-7 to Ohio State gave Michigan all they could handle and then some, leading by nine at into the half, and holding that lead until a fourth quarter collapse, which in fairness to Michigan, was helped along by three straight turnovers the defense forced. Yes, the final score was 28-16, which looks like a quality win, but the score is nowhere near indicative of how close Michigan came to disaster. Again.

Despite the big margin of victory, why couldn't Michigan look stronger against an obviously weaker and inferior opponent? Most of the blame belongs to Lloyd Carr. I know Carr gets a lot of heat, more than he should, and I have always defended him in the past(until this season anyway). But, today, I lost faith in Carr's ability to make the decisions needed to set the program in the right direction, and it all is based on Carr's handling of his quarterback situation.

Senior Chad Henne, after looking awful the first two weeks of the season (both losses) missed the past two weeks with a knee injury. True freshman Ryan Mallett has stepped in, and while looking like he's in a bit over his head (at times), he has made a lot of quality throws, and has led Michigan to two victories. This week, Henne was medically cleared to play and the question was, who was Michigan's quarterback. For at least a half, it appeared even Lloyd Carr didn't know the answer.

Henne started the game, looked very sharp, drove Michigan down the field, and the team started off with a quick 7-0 lead. All looked good. Then, inexplicably, Henne was removed from the game. Mallett came in. And did nothing. Drive after drive. Nothing. Suddenly, a 7-0 lead was a 16-7 deficit, and Mallett was still having problems moving the football. Was Henne hurt? No. Apparently, this was Carr's brilliant gameplan. An effort to "ease" Henne back into action.

What a disastrous decision which should have cost Michigan the football game. Either Henne was healthy enough to play, or he wasn't. If he's healthy, he should play the whole game. If he's not, then Mallett should play the whole game. Having Henne play one successful series then watch the rest of the half, while his team fell further and further behind, was ridiculous. Thankfully, Carr came to his senses at halftime, Henne played the entire second half, and he led Michigan to a come-from-behind victory. The whole quarterback rotation was truly mystifying and even now, after the game, I still don't completely understand it.

And, why can't Michigan get a kicker who can, you know, kick? Jason Gingell may be a good guy, and a good teammate, but he's a horrendous field goal kicker. He missed two more today, including a chip-shot 26-yard attempt. 26 yards ! At some point, Carr has to make a change there, and has to start recruiting top kickers to this school. Ever since my freshman year and Hayden Epstein graduated, we've had nobody (with all due apologies to the mediocre but better-than-anybody-else-we've-had Garrett Rivas). How many years do we have to suffer through this before we recruit somebody that can kick?

So, bottom line, despite the negativity of this post, and the inexplainable decisions by Coach Carr, Michigan did win, and continue their march towards the Big Ten Title and another Rose Bowl Birth. Hopefully we look a bit better next week against Eastern Michigan, but I'm not holding my breath.

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KatieG said...

My brother asked me after the game - when's the last time you actually felt confident that our kicker would "sure-thing" a field goal?

After a silent reflection...i chose Remy Hamilton. Who left Michigan more than a decade ago.

Scott Warheit said...

Yeah, the kicking game has been amazing throughout my seven years at Michigan. Why can't we recruit a top kicker? Especially when we know it's such a big problem and consistently has been a problem?

Hamilton's the best name I could come up with too. Epstein had a great leg, but wasn't accurate, and nobody before or since has been any better.



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