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Has Ron English Underachieved?

This quote from the comments of the last post kind of got me thinking:

ramosa Says:

simply put, you don't promote people who underachieve. english has underachieved as the defensive coordinator, so he should NOT be promoted to head coach. the same goes for debord, who underachieved as the offensive coordinator. UM needs change.

Michigan has lost six games in two years with English as its coordinator. Those two years featured very different challenges in creating defensive schemes.

In the first year, it was all about letting his talented players make plays. Everyone who had watched the fairly complicated system Hermann used was amazed at how fast and loose all the defenders played when they were able to just play aggressively. In his second year, I felt it was all about covering up weaknesses, namely the linebackers. With both of these challenges, it seems as though Ron English has achieved, but numbers work better than feelings.

2006
OpponentScore
Ohio State42-39
USC32-18

In both of these contests, the defense gave up over 30 points, but as Tim pointed out, these teams were able to exploit the one weakness the badass defense of 2006 had. Going out on a limb, but for part of the 2007 season, the secondary was better than any time in 2006. After Leon Hall there was no one, and Adams and Englemon really stepped up this year. There is no way that Michigan could cover 4-5 receivers with at least 3 quality defenders. Most of the time, the pass rush stopped this issue before it started, but Troy Smith being the Michigan Destroying Robo-QB he is, could run around and toss darts while being harassed, and USC's offensive line played a hell of a game protecting John Booty (why do only a few players get to go by three names? I'd have liked to hear Leon Lastarza Hall). This isn't a scheme issue, but rather an"our rock their paper" sort of issue.

Michigan also dominated average to above average offenses in Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan State. I find it hard to say based on the 2006 season that Michigan's defense underachieved.

2007
OpponentScore
App. State34-32
Oregon39-7
Wisconsin37-21
Ohio St.14-3


First of all, the defense in 2007 was supposed to be merely an afterthought to the OMFG juggernaut offense that will score 75 points each game!!! A great defense from last year lost all of its impact players including one (Branch) once in a lifetime type of player. Michigan surely just needed an adequate defense in order to run the table...

So... the Horror. Michigan's defense sucked in the first half. Johnny Sears and Stevie Brown combined to smoke a bowl of suck in the first half. The defense allowed 28 points and looked like it might allow 50. Then, English realized that what was out there wasn't working, changed things up, and only allowed six points the entire second half. If people are worried about in-game adjustments, English has to be considered a pro. The defense didn't lose this game for the Wolverines. If KC Lopata was the kicker or Shaun Crable understood such complex principles as "blocking," this discussion wouldn't be happening.

Next... Oregon. Ugly, Ugly, Ugly game. The defense was completely outclassed and Oregon could have easily put up more points. Two important points though: the defense was out on the field for most of the game; also, who stopped the Dixon-led Oregon offense? USC couldn't do it and they have more NFL-caliber players than the Miami Dolphins. The lowest UO point total with Dixon was 24 (a mere 17 points north of what the Michigan offense put up). Oregon was simply the better team, and the only way a Michigan coach could have schemed a way to win that game was to go the Tonya Harding route.

On (to)... Wisconsin. This game is proof why a playoff system would kill college football. The result technically didn't matter for Michigan's future as a win over THE OSU state University of Ohio would get them to the Rose Bowl and a loss would cause all Michigan fans to simultaneously go crazy. It seemed that for the entire game, the dogs were called off. People were playing not to get hurt and to save themselves for the big dance. From what little I know about Ron English, I doubt this strategy came from him. Throw in Tyler Donovan playing the best game of his life and the fact it was at home so that Official Wisconsin RB On Probation could play, and it was a recipe for a let down.

Finally... Ohio State, again. I'm not really sure what more people could have wanted the defense to do. They were on the field almost the entire game and still held a potent Ohio St. offense to 14 points, and only one really good drive. If the offense could have done anything, ANYTHING, this game most likely would have gone the other way.

In 2007 it was supposed to be all about the offense. It seemed, more often than not, it was the defense who were the unlikely heroes of games. Ron English deserves a lot of credit for this. He took a defense with a mediocre line (Crable undisciplined, BGraham not very effective against the run, Will Johnson disappointing) and horrible linebackers and made it work to an incredible extent. They gave up a lot of points, but with the fumbled snaps, fumbles by every running back not named Mike Hart, Evil Henne interceptions and Mallet forcing throws, it's almost surprising they didn't give up more.

I guess people could say "English can prove himself in the bowl game!" I know Hercules completed his tasks, but that shouldn't be the standard you hold everyone by. Tim Tebow and the Florida offense are very good. They will score points. Auburn (designated spread option stopper) held them to 17 and next after that is Georgia who held them to 30. Both of those defenses have better personnel than Michigan. If Michigan is going to win, it's going to have to be the offense. Hopefully DeBoard isn't auditioning.

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“Has Ron English Underachieved?”

  1. Blogger Maize Says:

    Excellent analysis, Paul! Unfortunately, it will fall on deaf ears as the anti English crowd --who find him guilty by association with Carr-- will find any reason to disqualify him as a valid candidate for the HC position.

  2. Anonymous ramosa Says:

    i think your analysis is good (and note: i'm the one who posed the seminal statement). i just don't agree with you, though. UM lost four times this year--two by blow out, one versus OSU, and on versus a DI school. (and whom did we beat who was any good? illinois.) in the loses, the UM D gave up the following point totals: 34, 39, 37, and 14. i will give the D some credit in only one of those games--OSU (14 points). the other three performances may be OK for minnesota or MSU, but they're not OK for UM. we expect--and demand--more (more D, fewer points). we just can't blame the bad showings on injuries or the O being on the field too little. sorry, i have nothing against ron english, but change is needed.

  3. Anonymous Richard Says:

    Respectfully disagree with the original post. It appears to search for reasons, however incredulous, to support a pre-determined belief -- English is great -- instead of objectively analyzing his results and making an unbiased judgment. (The defense didn't lose the opener? Was it the offense/special teams that allowed 34 at home to a I-AA team?)

    English had a great first 11 games in '06, a bad finish and an unimpressive '07. We could do worse for our next HC, but hopefully we can do better.