Michigan-Toledo: More Growing Pains for the Wolverines

harry jamesCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2008

If there was anything to take away from Michigan's loss to Toledo on Saturday, it would be that it cannot get much worse.

The Toledo Rockets pulled off an upset of sorts when it went into the "Big House" and outplayed Michigan. And don't let the final score fool you, fans. While the Wolverines only lost by three, it was not nearly as close as the score indicated.

If anyone thinks that all of us Buckeye fans are taking pleasure in what has occurred in Ann Arbor, you would be wrong. That is at least one Ohio State fan who is not reveling in the Wolverines' latest debacle.

As an outsider, I am even a bit bewildered by what has taken place with that team up north. To say that it is surprise would be an understatement. Anyone who saw the game a few weeks back against Wisconsin realized that there is some talent at Michigan.

Regardless of how bad Wisconsin QB, Allen Evridge, has played, Michigan made a statement. But after getting bested off their home field in consecutive weekends, it leaves one Buckeye fan left scratching his head.

Why does Rich Rodriguez insist on making Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan continue to run his spread offense?

Lloyd Carr never ran the spread or anything close to it. But the only thing that has become evident at Michigan is that no matter how ineffective the Wolverine offense looks, Rodriguez is not going to change his game plan.

Watching the offensive performance on Saturday afternoon, was like watching a high school team. It's not even just Michigan's lack of offensive attack, but the fact that a team like Toledo could shut them down, makes me sit and wonder.

I understand Rodriguez runs the spread option, and that is what he was successful with in West Virginia. But when a coach clearly does not have the athletes to run that system, it kind of makes you think.

I am not saying the Wolverines should abandon the spread completely, but I have always been taught a good coach tailors his game plan to the athletes he has.

I have been able to watch Coach Jim Tressel closely since he started his career in 2001, and he always tries to construct game plans with the type of athletic talent he has. Ohio State has had quarterbacks of different skill sets play since Tressel began with the Buckeyes.

Bellisari, Krenzel, Troy Smith, Boeckman, and now Pryor all have been different athletes who all run different offensive sets. But you rarely saw Craig Krenzel run the option, and you have rarely seen the Buckeyes in the "power I" since Pryor has been named the starter.

Do I think Michigan will be back? Sure, but how long it will take is another story. Rodriguez has tried to find the right combination, but it is clear never of his QB's can run that style of offense.

Even more perplexing is with a lack of experience on this year's squad, why toy with their collective confidence, which is very fragile? Threet and Sheridan are not Pat White. McGuffie and Grady are not Steve Slaton or Noel Devine.

Why would it be hard to line them up in the I formation and hand the ball off? Why can't Michigan come out and let Threet or Sheridan drop back to pass without seven option reads?

I'm amazed Michigan fans are putting up with the lack of adjustments that Rodriguez and company have not made.

After hitting rock bottom Saturday afternoon, it can't get much worse in Ann Arbor. But maybe Rodriguez will swallow his pride this week, and make some adjustments so his team can be competitive.

If he does not. how far will the Wolverines drop? Here's one Buckeye fan, who hopes it is not too much further.