Ouimet Puts Things In Perspective

Former Michigan staffer <b>Mark Ouimet</b> wraps up the Rose and looks ahead.<br><br> Why did Michigan lose? <br><br> What is the answer for Michigan, for next year?<br><br> And putting things in perspective.<br>


Why did Michigan lose?

Third down conversions. Texas was 12 of 17. Michigan failed to contain the quarterback. Even on passing downs Vincent Young was able to create opportunities in the middle of the field ... up the middle through the A and B gaps. And he ran some option as well.

I said before the game that the key to defensing Texas was to contain Young. Any time you give a quarterback 192 yards on the ground, you're going to have trouble.

The Texas tight ends had a huge day of course. They ran simple routes: drags, outs, curls.

Michigan was fortunate they were 2-0 in turnovers, and that their kickoff returns gave them great field position. That is what kept them in the game. In fact if you give Michigan those turnovers and kickoff returns, plus their effective passing offense, you'd think Michigan would have won.

But it was Young's feet and the Texas tight ends who beat Michigan.

The mobile quarterback gave Michigan trouble all year, and it's not going away. OSU/MSU/Texas ... the quarterback's feet brings a dilemma.

So what is the answer for Michigan, for next year?

The problem is not the spread offense ... it's stopping a mobile quarterback. That's what Michigan has to work on stopping. You can go back to Northwestern game when I was there ... mobile quarterbacks have always given Michigan trouble.

If you look at Prescott Burgess' interception against Texas, they played that one well. Otherwise against spread offenses, linebackers dropping against pass protection has been an area of difficulty for Michigan. For the linebackers it's a matter of speed, plus knowing where you are and where you're supposed to be.

Michigan's middle linebackers have to step forward. Burgess has to step up now ... he's our best physical talent there. If you look at Michigan just a few years back, they had Dhani Jones, Ian Gold and Sam Sword ... two of them are in the NFL. They have to get some NFL talent out there at linebacker ... someone who can run a quarterback down. That's Burgess, and, for speed, maybe Chris Graham.

And how do you fix poor tackling? Well, how do you fix anything? Either recruit different/better players, or, if your players are good enough, you practice it better. Which of those it is for Michigan -- that's for the coaches to decide.

Lamarr Woodley also played well in the game, as a defensive end ... which points to going back to a 4-3 in the future with him down.

But when you line up in 4-3, effective teams don't just rush the four linemen every play .... they switch up, sometimes drop the linemen and rush the linebackers. They have schemes and packages that mix it up. And they have pass coverage packages that confuse the quarterback.

And finally, putting things in perspective:

Michigan won a Big Ten Championship with a freshman quarterback and tailback. And they finished 9-3 which is as good or better than most would have predicted with two rookies at key positions. It may have surprised people, however, that the offense, not the defense, led the team late in the season. But it's not really surprising. In Scott Loeffler Michigan has one one of the brighest quarterback coaches in the business and one of the brightest young coaches - period. And Andy Moeller is in the same catagory as offensive line coach. Fred Jackson has been excellent for many years. And Terry Malone as coordinator does an excellent job with creating cohesion amongst the offensive coaching corps, so there is togetherness. Plus Malone is open to new things -- he's out studying other teams all the time and changing when it's called for.

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