Michigan stinks up the joint, again

Once again, Michigan walks into a big game expecting to beat a team that they perceive to have inferior talent by employing a rigid, inflexible game plan and gets popped in the mouth. Money shot from USC DE Lawrence Jackson:

"Michigan is a traditional offense and they don't hide what they do. They don't try to out-think you. They rely on their players being better than yours, and ours were better."

The infuriating thing is that Lloyd Carr is capable of outthinking and surprising his opponent. His most impressive game as a coach is the 1998 Rose Bowl against Washington State. During the entire 1997 season, QB Brian Griese had been lauded as a quarterback who doesn't make mistakes and manages the game well -- codespeak for a quarterback who sucks. Against Washington State, Michigan caught WSU completely off guard by throwing the ball deep and often, scoring on two 50-yard TD passes. Near the end of the game, Michigan used a trick play with Charles Woodson to convert a crucial 3rd-and-7.

It should be noted that passing a lot isn't the same thing as offensive creativity, as any reader of Gregg Easterbrook no doubt realizes by now. Many NFL coaches employ passing attacks but are similarly inflexible and unimaginative, unwilling to deviate from "the system" even when it is clear something new needs to be tried (think Andy Reid or Jim Mora).

Defensively, Ohio State showed that Michigan could be beaten by using multiple receivers to spread the field out. USC is one of the few teams in the country that has the talent at receiver to replicate this strategy, and it was absolutely appalling that Michigan had no effective countermeasures prepared -- blitzing, dropping extra men into coverage, whatever.

Fortunately, New Year's Day wasn't a complete loss, as Boise State scored a huge win over Oklahoma by playing aggressively and not being afraid to use all the weapons at their disposal. One can only hope that the Michigan coaches watched Boise State and learned something from them.

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