This Month in MGoBlog History: November 2008 - Let's Try the 3-3-5

Submitted by Maize.Blue Wagner on November 12th, 2018 at 11:08 PM


October 2008

November 1 - Saturday

On November 1, Purdue beat Michigan 48-42. Brief Highlights.

Open thread: Purdue.

November 3 - Monday

Game column: Purdue. This was the game where ‘M’ decided to switch defensive philosophies.

Michigan's bizarre decision to adopt a 3-3-5 stack that, as far as I know, Shafer has never run before. Michigan proceeded to give up 48 points and 559 yards to a 2-6 team starting its third-string quarterback. Said quarterback was a running back three weeks ago.

A script based off of The Big Lebowski? But involving Brian and Bill Martin.

November 4 - Tuesday

Recap of the weekend hockey games.

Justin Boren was Rich Rodriguez for Halloween.

Tuesday Recruitin’. Tate Forcier and Shavodrick Beaver are #s 2 and 3 in ESPN’s recent list of top dual threat QBs. MD RB Tavon Austin cancelled his scheduled visit.

November 5 - Wednesday

Blogpoll ballot week 10.

Blogpoll week 10.

Unverified Voracity Finds the Saddest Thing. That would be reporters who come up with articles about college cheerleaders so that they can get their pictures taken with said group.

Steven Threet suffered a concussion at the end of the Purdue game, so he is very questionable.

Things projected to be more fun than the Minnesota game:

  • last night's John McCain victory rally

  • being mauled by a lion

  • eating six whole tilapia raw

  • Henry Kissinger

November 6 - Thursday

Picture Pages - a bad scoop.

Picture Pages - a good scoop.

UFR: Offense vs. Purdue.

What does it mean for 2009?

If Ferrara can emerge into a potential contributor next year that gives the line another option, and at this point they need all the options they can get.

Minor will be the starting running back next year unless he cruising Ann Arbor with Carlos Brown, seeking out black cats and walking under ladders and breaking mirrors.

Threet increasingly looks like a guy who will struggle to keep his job next year.


November 7 - Friday

Picture Pages - open all day (that is Purdue receivers)

Pictures Pages - Boiler up, man (Purdue’s man coverage looks much better than what ‘M’ ran)

UFR: Defense vs. Purdue. Brandon Graham had a 7.5, but Obi Ezeh had a -4.5 and Harrison and Cissoko each had a -4.

Game Preview: Minnesota.

Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:



  • Minnesota, 23-15.

November 8 - Saturday

Open Thread: Minnesota

Michigan beat Minnesota 29-6. WH highlights.

The second-ever instance of Muppets is for the third and final victory of the season.  

November 10 - Monday

Game column: Minnesota.

To be fair, if you had collected everyone on the planet who thought Nick Sheridan would lead Michigan to victory over a 7-2 team, no matter how fraudulent, and put them in a room that room would contain Nick Sheridan's mother, that one guy on the message board with the annoying, unkillable optimism, and a bushman who speaks one of those clicky languages and erroneously believes there to be free sandwiches because of a mindboggling linguistic coincidence.

Unverified Voracity is Experienced. College hockey realignment is on the way. It’s not the beginning of the Big 10 yet, but the demise of the College Hockey America conference.

MGoStore is having problems.

November 11 - Tuesday

Lots of RB injuries for both ‘M’ and Northwestern for the upcoming game.

Tuesday Recruitin’. FL S Vlad Emilien and OK DT Pearlie Graves have committed. Also, the first mention of current Tennessee commit WR Je’Ron Stokes.

Mailbag. Should Scott Safer be on the sideline instead of in the booth? Craig Ross sends in his Yards Per Play numbers (not good). Maybe 5-7 is still possible? At least losing might mean that other teams will look past ‘M’ on the schedule?

November 12 - Wednesday

Blogpoll ballot week 11.

Blogpoll poll week 11.

UFR: Defense vs. Minnesota. Morgan Trent (!) was the highest with an +8.5. Jonas Mounton came in as low man with a -3.5.

Nick Sheridan will start against Northwestern.

November 13 - Thursday

UFR: Offense vs. Minnesota.

Second Mailbag of the week. Maybe this season really hasn’t been that bad? Rodriguez isn’t going to get forced out, is he? Does anyone have a copy Bo’s “The Team” speech?

Hello: Brendan Gibbons.

November 14 - Friday

Picture Pages: Bubble Screen Professor.

Senior day haikus. Here are some good ones:

Jason Gingell

No one blames you, man

we all know Crable messed up

if that helps any. No?

Ohene Opong-Owusu

Did you know  your name,

Ohene Opong-Owu-

su, doesn't fit here?

Austin Panter

You'll be a footnote

"First M JUCO in ten years"

So congrats I guess

Unverified Voracity Drops Its Gs. The basketball team has started 2-0.

UMHoops points out that getting your ass kicked on the boards is a sure sign you're being coached by John Beilein, and with Michigan down to two potential post guys (Ben Cronin exists, I guess, but most people expect little from him this year), neither of whom is exactly Ben Wallace, that tendency is going to be there all year. Michigan is going to be a zone team, period, and will get murdered on the boards. They'll try to make it up with turnovers.

Game preview: Northwestern.

Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • Sheridan takes a major step back.

  • Zoltan is the difference.

  • Michigan, 17-13.

November 15 - Saturday

Northwestern beat Michigan 21-14. Highlights.

Open Thread: Northwestern.

November 17 - Monday

Game column: Northwestern.

If you were there, and stayed there, and did not move from your seat until Nick Sheridan's final pass sailed out of bounds, you have completed the final challenge. This is the worst it can ever be: an awful team that does things specifically intended to hurt you playing a meaningless game against Northwestern in weather not fit for man nor beast. With multiple infuriating million-year-long media timeouts in the fourth quarter. That they lose.

Not sure on this post. I think the site went down.

Mailbag. How to encourage students to fill their section? Former WVU player says Rodriguez will win a national title in a couple years. No video of the Bo speech. Rodriguez needs to answer some questions. Why did certain plays start over others? What was Threet’s injury? Can we criticize Rodriguez and not want him fired?

Blogpollt ballot Week 12.

November 18 - Tuesday

Tuesday Recriutin’. Lots of new wideout offers have gone out, including the aforementioned Stokes and LA WR Kenny Bell.

Start panicking: Sam McGuffie along with Artis Chambers and Zion Babb are all strongly rumored to be leaving the team. Only Babb is official so far.

Unverified PANIC OH GOD PANIC. Losing Chambers might be the biggest problem. There are lots of RBs on the team, but bodies are needed in the secondary.

November 19 - Wednesday

Rodriguez to fans: Get a life! At least that’s what the media says.

Blogpoll ballot week 12.

Unverified Voracity Plays Whack-A-Media. The Daily interviews Brian for an article and compares his work to the work of a beat writer. Brian prefers not to write formula articles based off of press conference quotes.

DT Jason Kates has left the team.

Blogpoll week 12.

Hello: Pearlie Graves

November 20 - Thursday coming today.

UFR: Offense vs. Northwestern.

The McGuffie situation is still unknown. He decided not to play in the Northwestern game because of...something. The question is, will that something also keep him from rejoining the team next season.

Unverified Voracity Enjoys MSG. The basketball team will play UCLA tonight. It’s not expected to go well, but at least it will provide an idea of what the team is going to look like this season.

November 21 - Friday

And the basketball team wins! So muppets #3.

Yesterday the basketball team beat #4 UCLA; tomorrow the football team plays OSU, so...maybe another miracle? Also, this post provides some interesting background to the beginning of MGoBlog.

UFR: Defense vs. Northwestern. A strangely strong day from the defense, especially the front six. Graham led everyone with +10, and the lowest was Trent with only a -2.

Game preview: Ohio State.

Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • This looks almost identical to last year's game.

  • At some point the week after I lose it and fisk someone.

  • Ohio State, 17-3.

The news on McGuffie changed and now it looks like he is back practicing and maybe won’t leave the team. Also, the seasons has been wearing on the bloggers too, and now they are fighting.

Injury updates: Threet and Schilling won’t play, but Minor and McGuffie will.

November 22 - Saturday

Ohio State beat Michigan 42-7. Highlights.

Open thread: Ohio State.

November 24 - Monday

Game column: Ohio State.

Because I have to tell you, the state of the program right now is not good. 19 scholarship defenders return. Not on the two-deep. On the roster. In all likelihood, a freshman will start at quarterback next year and the skill position players will be mostly underclassmen. Michigan should obviously be better next year. They probably aren't going to be good.

Hello: Vlad Emilien.

Brandon Graham will return! Also, McGuffie probably suffered three concussions throughout the season.

November 25 - Tuesday

Up until the OSU game, ‘M’ actually had a better yards per play on the ground than in 2007. That changed after Ohio State.

Tuesday Recruitin’. ‘M’ is going after AZ OL Taylor Lewan, and he is interested. Also, they should get an official from FL QB Denard Robinson.

Unverified Voracity Sleuths Redshirts. Gary Danielson is talking about the spread again. He says it is dead and that Michigan will be the last major program to switch to it.

November 26 - Wednesday

Blogpoll ballot week 13.

Blogpoll week 13.

One of the raging questions of the Rodriguez years: how much talent was there on team (cupboard being empty, etc)? Brian takes stab at answering it.

Mailbag. How will a new ESPN contract with CFB change the BCS going forward? How will early enrollees affect the rest of recruiting? Should Rodriguez fill all open scholarships, even if it means taking borderline recruits? And a final anecdote about a Bo speech from 1975.

Unverified Voracity Says Seeya. Andy Reid says it takes a WR three years to get comfortable in his offense. Patience is an important virtue for a football program.




November 13th, 2018 at 6:33 AM ^

If you didn’t click the “another miracle” link, stop reading the comments now and go do that. You will thank me. 

I had not started reading the blog yet 10 years ago. There is a lot of good stuff I missed. Reading through the blog history 1 month at a time, it’s easy to understand how Brian built up his following.


November 13th, 2018 at 12:25 PM ^

Excellent stuff.

I have two thoughts:

1. Reading the "Sunk Costs" post and following the link therein to the defense of RR running RR's offense as opposed to Debord's old offense is interesting. I can get snarky when people draw broad conclusions by supplying evidence that does not really understand the problem. I believe one of the problems with that is that by failing to understand the problem, you open yourself up to repeat it.

Mike Rosenberg loathed RR. Even before the practice hour thing came up he was ripping RR for running the offense that RR had used to build WVU into a power. Rosenberg felt that RR was a fool for using that offense when the talent on the roster was assembled to run Mike Debord's offense (and, of course, because he thought the Debord/Carr offense was actually superior). Brian, of course, shredded this idea with basic facts, including analyses of the absolutely pitiful talent on the roster and the fact that the 2007 team, with lots of talent, was also mediocre.

But the general idea that many at Michigan had, that RR's offense was "unnatural," precipitated a fundamental misunderstanding of RRs problems. RR didn't fail because he ran the spread offense and used zone blocking. He failed because he did not pair his offensive coaching acumen with wise leadership of the program, particularly in his management of the defense and its staff.

As a result of this misunderstanding, many people (crucially including Dave Brandon) believed that many of Michigan's problems would be solved by hiring a coach whose offensive style was more like "Michigan" was supposed to be. "Manball" became a thing. Hoke spoke, probably following the prompting of Brandon, of how he was going to run power.

The result? Michigan never ran power well in Hoke's tenure. The program had a brief rise and then cratered again. Hoke was a Michigan Man and he ran power, unlike RR; however, he was, just like RR, unable to manage the program and unable to see the problems created by the staff he retained. In the critical ways he was just enough like RR to sink the program.

Because people were angry and falsely assumed they knew why things were bad under RR, they hired a man with weaknesses in the same crucial areas.

Now we have Harbaugh. He runs almost entirely from the gun. He runs zone stretches and zone read options. He runs RPOs. There are big stretches where Michigan's offense looks hauntingly similar to RR's. It wasn't the offense at all.

2. That OSU game was depressing; it was also a huge week for me, as I spent the weekend in Minnesota candidating to be an assistant at the church I now pastor. I saw very little of that football game and, for obvious reasons, don't regret that I missed most of it. The rest of life was much better than what happened on the football field. The team is better now, but life is still a blessing.

Maize.Blue Wagner

November 13th, 2018 at 10:45 PM ^

Yeah, well said. It just comes down to winning. I think people like to grasp on to something to complain about. I always thought it was ridiculous how upset people got about Hoke wearing short sleeves or clapping or not wearing a headset. Probably there was a correlation between all that and not running a stellar program and then not winning, but if he had won, those would have been seen as a signature style that set him apart, "look at our guy winning big games in late November...with no sleeves!" If Rodriguez had won, those who truly didn't like his offense would have faded away, instead it became an easy target of criticism. 

Also, I agree it's interesting to go through these past games and remember personal history. My wife and I were married in August 2008, so these games are memorable as far as where we were and what we were doing. I only have a vague memory of the OSU game though. I think I was watching, but also desperately trying to find something to distract myself. 


November 15th, 2018 at 5:58 PM ^

Good post. RR's offense wasn't the problem. Scoring fast is great, but it also puts the defense on the field a lot, and if it can't stop the other team.....

Running the program was definitely a problem for RR. Greg Rob I think might have been playing the "adult in the room" role, which probably both detracted from his ability to build it, and made it harder to make a change there.

Hoke and the headset was a symptom of a real problem. He didn't just struggle to run the program, he struggle to coach the team in-game. And besides Mattison, he never attracted the level of assistants that were Brandon's excuse for hiring an underqualified coach.

As an exercise for the reader, think of another example were incompentent leadership resulted in chaos, not in talented staff saving the day.

MGo Banana

November 14th, 2018 at 10:15 AM ^

Far out man, I love the Big Lebowski bit ending with a Motor City Bowl rejection letter, and still think about it to this day. Probably because it's the post where I realized Mgoblog spoke my language and should be my go-to source for UM what-have-you. Thank you for this blast from the past.

One nitpick, should Brandt have been replaced with Jim Brandstatter? Seems perfect to me.