The "Barwis factor"-- we tried to warn people not to go overboard with thinking that Barwis alone would make this team a success. As stated, most college football teams have quality S&C programs. Michigan was behind the other top teams that have been using more advanced techniques. Barwis simply gets Michigan to their level. I do think Barwis had a factor in last week’s game against Utah and this week against Miami. Against Utah, we played much better in the second half, and seemed to be in better shape than them.
The Miami game Saturday was a time of possession disaster. Michigan’s defense was on the field for almost a whole quarter longer than the Redhawks’ defense. Michigan will play hard for four quarters in every game, but Barwis cannot game plan and execute for the kids. Time of possession is not as key a factor in Rodriguez’s scheme as past coaching staffs, but the offense needs to progress to the point where they can at least grind out some first downs even if they don’t score, especially late in the game.
Some posters have questioned the amount of injuries and asked if Barwis is that effective. First, keep in mind that in his clinic he talked about preventing injuries, but the ligament and sprain type injuries are harder to avoid. He also said you cannot prevent all of them and can only help kids play harder and longer while hoping to prevent injuries. Our opinion is Barwis’ key role is "player development". This has been lacking at Michigan in recent years, as younger players and depth were not developed well under the last coaching staff.
It is too early to say either that Barwis has had a profound effect, or that he has had no impact. The players will get faster and stronger. It is probably too early as well to feel the full impact of the new strength and conditioning approach; we will see better results in the coming years. It cannot be disputed, however, that the kids are in great shape, and seem to still be stronger and just as fast at the end of the game as they are in the beginning.
Marcus Witherspoon was one of the most impressive freshmen during summer workouts and drills. He is a significant loss. I simply disagree with almost everyone on how his academic situation was handled. Where were all the people inside the “Fort" who are supposed to keep Coach Rod up to date with these types of situations? It seems like they have dropped the ball numerous times in the past six months. Why are these people still there? Coach Rod had better clean house and get some people in there who are committed to his chances for success, and to Michigan football and its’ student athletes or these situations will continue.
Witherspoon and his parents deserve their share of the blame, but so what? Once he went back to New Jersey, why didn’t anyone at Michigan call him daily, every other day or weekly? Marcus and his family needed to know why Michigan was making the decisions they were. Witherspoon had signed his letter of intent. There were no rules in terms of contact. While the major responsibility for academic qualifying does lie with Marcus and his family, the modern world of college recruiting is that the universities must reach out to the athletes; there’s always another recruiter who will step in. Michigan dropped the ball on this one and there is no other way of looking at it.
Michigan is a large university with a supposedly great academic support staff. How did this staff, led by Sherri Acho, fail to keep Witherspoon and his family informed of clearinghouse issues? The Witherspoons can not be the only family unaware of all the clearinghouse issues. We feel universities like Michigan owe it to their recruits to help them avoid situations like being sent home just before fall camp breaks to catch up on credits. There is a big difference between a 17 year old person and his family, who may not understand all the qualifying issues, and a major university that is a member of the governing body that enacts and enforces the qualifying rules.
Some have speculated that Michigan may not have wanted Witherspoon, that he might not have ever played a down for the Wolverines. We do not buy that. We felt he was the best linebacker recruit in several years. J.B. Fitzgerald, another New Jersey linebacker recruit and one who is making great strides, has even said that Witherspoon was a better player than himself.
On the general state of things early in the season:
The limited ability of our quarterbacks is not an excuse for the dreadful offensive play of the first two games. There is plenty of talent, and we are tired of hearing that the talent on hand is not capable of winning. In the past, everyone would have blamed the coaches. Now, it is the players’ fault. Even when people talk about new starters and freshmen, they still blame the players. It may not be that Michigan has elite talent, but we feel the talent is better than most teams on Michigan’s schedule.
Our biggest fear of the Rodriguez hire was that every Michigan fan and Rodriguez thought a turnaround might be a matter of tossing the switch. Do Michigan fans and Coach Rod himself believe that he is such a good coach that a return to greatness would be immediate and automatic? After watching the Utah tape, we feel the play calling did not give this team the best chance to win; we saw NO offensive adjustments in the second half.
We do not feel that recruiting is addressing team needs such as defensive line, offensive line and depth, but it is early in the process and we look to be at least under consideration from several top prospects. Michigan’s depth chart and on field weaknesses that are plain to see present these prospects with an opportunity to come in and compete for playing time right away. However, even with our depth chart, and the Michigan brand, we are being out-recruited by Ohio State, LSU, USC, Notre Dame and others at this point. And they are out-recruiting us at positions they are deep at as well. If we want to compete with the elite programs, this needs to change. And it is not a good thing to see three prominent names of Michigan recruits or commits, such as Witherspoon, Kevin Newsome and Will Campbell fall out.
We feel Rodriguez can begin making his statements by adding some elite prospects and winning recruiting battles with the programs we see ourselves as being on the level of. We feel that many are soothing themselves with the arguments that Rodriguez needs “his” type of player. But talent is talent and talent wins. That is why all the teams go after the guys with all the stars. And don’t think that Barwis can develop the less talented players to levels of greatness comparable to that of other elite programs. They all have a Barwis, and they are giving their Barwis talent to work with. We must match that.
One last point:
The athletic department would do well to hire someone who has a sports oriented marketing background. There have been a number of PR hits since Coach Rod was hired. The West Virginia buyout was an ugly mess. The Braylon Edwards jersey deal should have never happened, especially with the number of people in the athletic department who should have been familiar with it! There were issues with players leaving, including the very prominent and nasty departure of Justin Boren, who lashed out, and whether true or false, his words rang loud and clear to the media and to other recruits and coaches at the high school level. We can make light of the language issue as well, but to many that became a real concern. Coaches, kids and families see all of these things.
Someone needs to take control and make sure that Michigan becomes better at PR and marketing this great program. A Saturday night game might be a good play. UM should jazz up the spring game, with a festival-like atmosphere with activities for fans to enjoy. There used to be events such as a garage sale, a 5K walk/run, and baseball and softball games to go along with the spring game. How many times have we heard a recruit mention a spring game at another university with 50,000 to 80,000 people attending and it being a fantastic experience? There must be a reason the other schools do it and we should look into making the spring game a big-time event.
written by CoachBt, MaizeMan and ErocWolverine