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College Football 2014: Week 4 Recap
Saturday, 2014 September 27 - 9:22 am
Michigan collapses in flames; N.C. State wins comfortably.

Michigan 10, Utah 26.
Ugh. And ugh. There was very little that went right for the Michigan offense last week. The lone touchdown that Michigan scored was by the defense. Really, Michigan wasted a heroic effort by the defense... "inept" would probably be the best term for what we saw from the offense.

Much like the Notre Dame game, Michigan seemed to have no answer against blitzes. I don't know if the problem is the game plan, the playbook, or the players' inability to execute certain things, but where the hell are the screens and quick passes to punish the defense's aggressiveness? I wish I had more insight into Nussmeier's thought processes; without better evidence, it's hard not to attribute the offense's troubles to a problem with the offensive scheme. Yes, Michigan has young players; but the offense is operating at the level of a mid-grade MAC team right now, and that's not acceptable. And for god's sake, let's get rid of the waggle play-action pass; to my recollection, it works maybe one out of five times we've tried it. Putting Devin Gardner under center and having him turn his back against blitzing defenders is just asking for trouble.

And speaking of Devin Gardner, perhaps he is an issue after all. He would have been a superstar in a spread offense; in a pro-style offense, he seems to have trouble with his reads. Some of his interceptions were thrown directly into the chest of the defender. And yes, he's under pressure a lot of the time because the offensive line is having trouble with pass protection. But a lot of the time, he locks on to his primary receiver, or he takes too long with his reads.

I don't know if Shane Morris is the answer. He's rumored to get the start this week against Minnesota. He's shown a tendency to panic under pressure. Maybe the coaches feel he just needs more game-time experience. It would be a shame for Gardner's career to end on the bench, though. Maybe he'll go back to WR?

Meanwhile, the defense is starting to look spectacular. Aside from a couple of coverage busts leading to big plays, the defense was rock solid. I'll take a couple of big plays if the flip side is 81 yards rushing at 2.2 YPC.

The game was delayed in the fourth quarter due to rain and lightning; when the game resumed, all the Michigan fans had left and the team had to endure the humiliation of playing in front of a few hundred Utah fans in an otherwise-empty stadium. Frankly, on the current trajectory, this is what the far-off future looks like for Michigan... inept performance, empty seats (thanks Dave Brandon), and an utter lack of hope.

So what's next for Michigan? A season-salvaging conference campaign? It seems unlikely that we'll beat the likes of Michigan State and Ohio State at this rate, but who knows, maybe the offensive line will finally gel and Shane Morris will prove to be the salvation. Or perhaps a coaching change is in the works. As much as I hate to have another coaching transition, I have to say that I'm a bit fed up with Brady Hoke's obstinacy against things like up-tempo play, shield punt formations, and other modern football concepts. This is exactly the reason we all hated OC Mike Debord in the Lloyd Carr days, and that's what led to the Rich Rodriguez hire. Have we not learned?

The coaching candidate landscape is murky. There are rumors that Jim Harbaugh's job is in jeopardy with the San Francisco 49ers. His brother John is rumored to be on the outs with the Baltimore Ravens. And maybe old Les Miles (old, as in 60 years old) will still give Michigan a shot; LSU fans are grumbling after LSU's loss to Mississippi State last week, and Miles might be tempted to ride out the sunset of his career as the guy who saved Michigan football.

More likely, though, is another bungled search that ends with Michigan plucking some unproven mid-major coach just because of his Michigan ties. And we probably won't hang on to Greg Mattison if Hoke departs. So, ugh. I'm scared of the idea.

Many of my friends who were once rabid Michigan fans are now just meh about the team. I'm close to joining them. Sigh. At least there's still basketball.

N.C. State 42, Presbyterian 0.
It was Presbyterian. I think their team only had twelve-year-olds on it. Come on, N.C. State... schedule some real opponents.

Notable Games
#1 Florida State held off #22 Clemson 23-17, despite having suspended superstar Jameis Winston for the game.

#2 Oregon had trouble with Washington State, escaping with a 38-31 win.

#3 Alabama beat Florida 42-21. Florida looked like they'd make a game of it early thanks to turnovers, but Alabama pulled away in the third quarter.

#4 Oklahoma beat West Virginia 45-33.

#5 Auburn beat #20 Kansas State 20-14.

As I mentioned above, #8 LSU lost to Mississippi State 34-29. Mississippi State is a dangerous team and Dan Mullen is an excellent coach; don't be surprised to see them make some noise in the SEC. And then don't be surprised if Mullen ends up coaching Florida next year.

Indiana shocked #18 Missouri 31-27. Wow; that's quite a feather in the cap for the Big Ten, knocking off a ranked SEC team. The Big Ten actually had a pretty good day; the only team to lose was (sigh) Michigan.

#21 BYU beat Virginia 41-33.

#24 Nebraska beat Miami FL 41-31.

Iowa beat Pitt 24-20.

Maryland beat Syracuse 34-20.

East Carolina crushed North Carolina 70-41. ECU now has solid wins against VT and UNC, and only lost a close game to South Carolina; they might be for real. They have a soft schedule the rest of the year and could end up 11-1.

Arizona beat Cal 49-45 on a spectacular last-second Hail Mary. Arizona had 627 yards of offense. (Sigh.)
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