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Posted on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Off week comes at right time for Michigan football team, but even Vince Lombardi might not help Wolverines defense

By Pete Bigelow

This Saturday, Rich Rodriguez plans to watch some film with his coaches, maybe catch some games from around the Big Ten and attend his son Rhett’s youth football game -- if there’s one on the schedule.

“I love having an open date,” Rodriguez said.

For the first time in two years, the Michigan football team has an off week on its schedule, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the banged-up Wolverines.


Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez walks off the field following Saturday's 38-28 loss to Iowa. Rodriguez said he will spend next Saturday watching film, catching some Big Ten action and maybe attending his son Rhett's youth football game.

Lon Horwedel |

David Molk and Mike Martin, anchors of their offensive and defensive lines, respectively, missed most of Saturday’s 38-28 loss to Iowa with ankle injuries.

Quarterback Denard Robinson missed a little less than half of the game after aggravating a preexisting shoulder injury Rodriguez described as a “rotator cuff kind of sprain.”

If there was a hypothetical game this upcoming Saturday, Rodriguez said he felt like Robinson would be ready to play, and said that Molk and Martin should be healthy by the time the Wolverines face Penn State on Oct. 30.

But he’s glad no decisions are necessary.

The Wolverines (5-2 overall, 1-2 Big Ten), enter the break on a two-game slide. The team won’t practice Monday or Tuesday, but will resume its normal schedule Wednesday.

When the Wolverines return, they’ll focus on fundamentals, particularly on defense. Rodriguez said he’s more disappointed in the defenders’ ability to get off blocks than missed tackles. But he cautioned that team’s struggles aren’t relegated to the defense.

“Certainly, our defense has gotten its share of criticism because we haven’t played well or consistently all year,” he said. “Our turnovers the past couple of games (on offense). Our special teams have not been outstanding. We haven’t kicked well. So there’s a lot of things to get better at.”

But the defense, which has allowed an average of 441 yards per game -- the worst in the Big Ten and 105th out of 120 FBS teams -- will certainly be a bye-week focal point.

Rodriguez said he and his coaches would take a three-pronged approach, dividing up their efforts into things the unit’s doing well, things it’s doing poorly and then filtering that list into things that are realistically correctable this season.

In his line of the day, Rodriguez said, “Vince Lombardi could come in and not fix some of the problems on defense,” in the short-term.

That wasn't a knock on his defense or his coaches. The comment came in the context of discussing the seven of true freshmen who have seen extensive playing time on defense this season.

“The only way to get experience is to get experience,” he said. “How can we limit those dangerous freshmen moments?”

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at (734) 623-2551, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Sun, Oct 24, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

Bo Pellini? What did I win??? LOL!


Thu, Oct 21, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

Show me one coach on the list who changed from a pro-style offense to a spread. Or vise-versa.


Wed, Oct 20, 2010 : 9:24 p.m.

Davetgc You should post this on a more current article. Hard to believe only 5 coaches still around for a 3rd season have a worse win %. Not acceptable!

Sean T.

Wed, Oct 20, 2010 : 5:33 p.m.

Davetgc, Reading that is really disappointing.


Wed, Oct 20, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

Here is a comparison of NCAA Division I Head Football Coaches hired in the past three years with their records and winning percentages:

3 And Out

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 4:58 p.m.

leather coach: It is a FACT that 1/4 of Rich Rod's last recruiting class did not qualify and could not make it to campus. He had players in the previous 2 classes that did not qualify. That indicates that RR goes after kids without prequalifying them first.... and that wastes both time in recruiting and most importantly SCHOLARSHIPS. What part of that do you not understand? I am not talking about players currently on the roster (as you conveinantly tried to toss in there to support your weak argument). Im talking about RECRUITING. If 1/4 of your class can not even make it through admissions and bounce out before ever attending UM>..then that is a huge problem... You cant build depth and a good team that way. and you know it... and you know it.....


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 11:48 a.m.

Sounds like "All in for Michigan" Bye week 34 UM 17 Try not to mention Vince and Ram Rob in the same sentence!


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 9:21 a.m.

Why us everyone reading so far into this comment. All he is saying is that it is an experience issue, not a coaching issue. The coaches job is to put the players in the position to make a play. It is on the players to make that play. Missed takles are on the players. They are there to make plays. Denard or Tate making a bad pass. Getting the players open are on the coaches. Denard's first two interceptions in the State game were bad throws. The player was open. In the Iowa game he had a wide open check down receiver but threw it deep into triple coverage. These are experience issues. Not coaching issues. The Michigan fan sence of entitlement is pathetic. Show some adversity and stop whinning.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

The AD should be reading those stuff. Enough is enough! Rich Rod has to go!


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

boy, i hope his players don't read that quote. seriously, knowing your head coach thinks there's no hope for you??


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 7:17 a.m.

@johnnya2 What about him? I have not forgotten. He got into trouble when he was 15, a freshamn in high school playing with a ton of seniors and juniors. you do stupid crap to "fit in" he has admitted this and cleaned up his act the past couple years and busted his ass to get back on track academically (albeit still a bit shady in this area but that is not atypical of his school system as a whole). and even if thats not enough for you. he didnt get admitted because of it. he is poised to enroll at louisville in january to play next season and has been trouble free now for a few years. it would be interesting to see what would happen if you take this "troubled kid" and put him in with a group of kids that are doing the right things and have their heads on straight. I am happy for the kid despite his not being admitted to UM. He has changed as a person to better himself. saw he was headed down the wrong track and did something about it. Unfortunately he had already done too much for the admissions office at UM to accept him. thats my take on Demar Dorsey.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 6:54 a.m.

I'm guessing a living coach would have a better chanced than Vince.

Pete Warburton

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 6:08 a.m.

The experiment is over....


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 5:47 a.m.

Very unfortunate and ill-timed comments. Says that RR has abdicated his responsibility to field a competitive defense and that he and his staff have no clue about how to remedy current problems. This, in spite of his players' insistence that everything is "fixable." Sad state of affairs for a once-proud program. Hoping for 7-5... but not optimistic.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 12:15 a.m.

@leathercouch How about Demar Dorsey? Oh how quickly they forget. If a grown up in admissions had not stopped the train wreck, we would have this clown on the team.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 10:28 p.m.

I concur, bring back Gary Moeller. If we fired every U of M employee for having a couple libations and telling someone they have nice eyes there would be a lot of pink slips going around. So much for the so called tolerance of the "U".


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 10:08 p.m.

3 and out... I stopped reading after you blasted rich rod on takin kids with academic issues. Clearly you have not been pay attention to the kids he HAS brought in and he does recruit. Outside of a handful of guys last season according to rivals and scout michigan has the 3rd highest gpa average (3.4) of incoming recruits for those that reported only illinois and northwestern top that. so yea a couple dont meet the criteria. that happens at every school every year. but to say he is recruiting trouble players and kids with academic issues is pure garbage. in his time here there have been 3 issues kevin grady whom was inherited cissoko who was dismissed from team before he got into the most of his legal troubles (thogh that doesnt stop people from smearing rodriguez every time his name pops up) and justin feagin who also got kicked off the team. but im sure the rest of your rambling about richrod being a horrible coach has a ton of merit and credibility. ill get to it later.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 10:03 p.m.

Hey! Join me in the new cheer for the defense:. We're #1(05) We're #1(05). Everybody!. We're #1(05) We're #1(05)


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 9:22 p.m.

Geez, I was just getting over being angry and then this Vince Lombardi quote. I appreciate the rants it has produced. I try to give this guy a chance, support the program, etc., but then he says stuff like this. I despise the lack of accountability. If he wants his team to have leaders he needs to provide the example. Sheez. And from what I can see in the defensive development scheme, expect more freshman moments next year too which should not happen in a coaches fourth year.

3 And Out

Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 8:45 p.m.

yes Lombardi was offensive but his teams played disciplined football and tackled at D21s new avatar...


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 8:32 p.m.

lombardi was an offensive guru.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

I seen enough Of RR program, Everything is worst but The QB's. Please it's Time for a Change. I believe in 2nd chance's where is Gary Moeller???, I know he is a coach in NFL. RR doesn't get it!!!Waste of Time to Talk about RR hasn't done much Right, Look at Ryan Mallet who he let walk Away, along with other Players,some his own he brought in!!! He needs to watch Bo's speech on "THE TEAM"

3 And Out

Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 6:52 p.m.

Lol HeartbreakM.... "Flight Com Rich cant hold it..she's breaking up, she's breaking up..... Michigan football... a program barely alive...Gentlemen, we can rebuild him....we have the technology...we have the capability to make the world's first bionic team...Jim Harbaugh will lead that team....better, stronger, faster...."


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 6:38 p.m.

3 and out right on the money!! RR dos not know how find a D coach and let's s his friendship with coaches get in the way of business. Also insists this 335 defense down dCoordinators throats. Whatever


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 5:41 p.m.

Hey 3 and Out: Nice reference to lee Majors!! I just chuckled. Of course our 6 million dollar man is surely not doing much bionic coaching out there!!


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 5:29 p.m.

1. Vince Lombardi could compile a better record DEAD than RRod has done at UM thus far. Dave Brandon, give his heirs a call. I will take that over Rich any day. 2. I love having an open date, Rodriguez said. THIS statement alone is reason enough to fire Rich Rod. It shows his fear. If I just got my ass handed to me, I would want to be competing as soon as possible. Not RR. He wants to hide behind the no chance for losing this week 3. The only way to get experience is to get experience, really? Miek Hart, Chad Henne, Jake Long, Charles Woodson, Rick Leach, The idea that freshman can not play football is an idea given by coaches who can not coach. They will get better, but if a player can play, he can play. Imagine this defense with a year more experience? Returning starters on bad teams is NOT a good thing. When RR had a veteran defense in his first season how did they do?

3 And Out

Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:48 p.m.

btw...Macabre +1 on your comment about Rich Rod once again deflecting the blame that should be squarely on his own shoulders.

3 And Out

Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

Disgree with this headline Pete...because it implies that the defensive problems are not Rich Rod's fault... Well who is responsible for this terrible defense? GERG? Lloyd Carr (as some crazy internet "fans" are still laying blame on)? No...of course not. This bad defense, as the past 2 seasons of BAD defense are all 100% on Rich Rodriguez. We could break down the numbers....but why waste our time with it. Rich Rod has recruited poorly for a defense to compete in the Big Ten. 1/4 of his last class bounced out due to not qualifying...well that is on Rich Rod. Dont take kids with shakey academic situations your leg work first and offer kids that can actually make it on campus. What about size and stength needed to compete defensively in the Big Ten. Rich seems to think that he can recruit 200LB LBs or 230LB defensive linemen and that his boy Barwis will buff them up and strengthen them up to compete? Well it is not happening. Other than Mike Martin and possibly RVB...this team is very very weak on the interior line and also small, slow and weak at LB....where is that Barwis advantage and his Pet Wolves effect? Never happened in 2.5 years....probably all hype. His coaches have done a poor job of coaching positionally, where is Will Campbell? Why can't JT Floyd defense a simple slant pattern without getting his jock faked out? Why are the free safeties so terrible and LBs not reading their keys? And the schemes....oh yeah, Rich canned Scott Shafer after messing him up and forcing him to tinker constantly with his scheme to eventually playing a weird hybrid 3-3-5 vs. Purdue in 08 and getting roasted by a Tailback playing Quarterback for Purdue!!!! And that was with 7 returning starters from Carr's last defense, several of whom are now playing on Sundays in the NFL (Brown, Trent, Graham etc etc).... But Shafer was Fall Guy I....will GERG be Fall Guy II? What would Lee Majors say about that? Well its not on GERG when you force him to use YOUR position coaches (eh Gibby and Tall)....and your weak hybrid 335 (not the Gibson Guitar 335 but the terrible Gibson DB coach 335) hybrid scheme that only works in small weak conferences to the East where basketball scores are the norm...? Rich Rod hired these coaches. Rich Rod has final say on the defensive scheme. No Pete.... Vince Lombardi WOULD fix this defense...and most importantly, he would have never allowed it to happen in the first place. BTW, Tom Landry was the defensive coordinator for the NYG when Vince Lombardi coached the offense and he would have never allowed this to happen either. Mentioning RR in the same breath as either of these men is a crime on defensive football everywhere. Rant over. Go Blue!


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:44 p.m.

I think Michigan's revolving door at the defensive coordinator position (3 coaches in 4 years) has been a big problem. And I'm beginning to think the current guy (Robinson) is not right for the job either. Too many fundamental errors EVERY game even for freshmen and sophomores. I'd also like to see him lead his troops better by standing up after games and facing the media like some of his defensive players have to do. It's really sad to see Michigan's proud defensive tradition reduced to this. It's hard to convince good recruits that we have a strong defensive tradition when we're almost dead last in the FBS. No credibility there. The fact is, our defense has been slipping for some years. As late as 2006 we had a really good unit with a bunch of future NFL players. But the reality was the quality and quantity of younger Defensive players was already drying up at that point. There started to be a huge amount of attrition at defensive linemen and d-backs especially. But, recruiting at linebacker has been bad for some years. It's been so bad we have to convert players from other positions just to fill the 2-deep. Until we fix the defense, this team will not reach a winning Big Ten record, that's the reality.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:40 p.m.

Vince Lombardi would say thanks to Lloyd Carr for not leaving the cupboard bare and would have had winning seasons from 2008 to present. RR, what a freaking unbelievable thing to say about Vince, wow, you have no common sense nor common decency at all.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:35 p.m.

AD Brandon, do the right thing by firing RR asap and hiring someone else.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:31 p.m.

Next thing RR will say that Bo or even Woody cannot hold RR's mini-jockstrap.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:28 p.m.

Nothing's new that RR is still making excuses!


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

Geez Rich, why don't you just say, "The whole team is not doing well". The defense, special teams, offense, your coaching. Plain and simple. Tim Brewster lost his job at Minnesota on Sunday, for having a 6-21 record in the Big Ten. Does anyone know what Rich's record in the Big Ten is? Answer: 4-15, 2 of those wins against who? Indiana. Wow Rich, impressive resume. Been a Michigan fan for over 30 years, season ticket holder for 29 years. Michigan is a program that stands for excellence, on and off the field. I am frustrated as could be on the direction of this program and where it is heading. There's no improvement, and I am tired of Rich Rodriguez stating about the youth of his players. Really Rich, I am getting tired of that excuse week in and week out. The defense is just plain terrible, they don't have any fundamentals, and as coaches, you are supposed to make sure they have the fundamentals to perform. This is MICHIGAN!! Standard of excellence. I tell my middle school students to take responsibility for their actions, it's time for you to take some Rich. Stop making excuses. I will be at every game, supporting the Wolverines through thick and thin, but if this pattern continues again for a third year, it's time to go.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4:12 p.m.

rich rod needs to go time for a new leader.passing the buck isnt acceptable.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 4 p.m.

The Lombardi quote illustrates the Rodriguez philosophy perfectly: take credit for everything that goes well and never accept responsibility for personal failure. Lombardi would have relegated Rodriguez to water boy within the first week of spring practice. Rodriguez is paid millions to turn these athletes into football players. We ask a lot of him, but, then again, we shouldn't pay that kind of money for a glorified water boy.


Mon, Oct 18, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

Somehow, I think that Vince might have UM's defense playing a little better. He might also be coaching the special teams up somewhat.