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9:23 pm EST 41°F (5°C) in Marietta, GA
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Jesus H. Christ, can we please get the fuck rid of Lloyd Carr at Michigan? If the last six college football seasons have shown us anything, it is that Carr can’t beat Ohio State or win bowl games. This truth was reinforced once again earlier today, as Michigan took a 32-18 whipping from the University of Southern California Trojans in the 93rd Rose Bowl Game. (I know 32-18 doesn’t look like a “whipping” on its face, but the final score was a lot closer than Michigan’s play suggested — I’d say it was 32-11 with a very late Michigan touchdown against ‘SC’s second-string defense.)
The first half of the game looked good enough on the scoreboard for Michigan, as the teams went to the locker rooms tied at 3; but even then, I knew that Michigan couldn’t keep playing the way they had played in that half, or they would be in big trouble. Blue couldn’t move the ball at all on the ground, and had only limited success in the air; the only thing that kept it tied at the half was a fumble by USC quarterback John David Booty as the Trojans were near the Michigan 20-yard line and threatening to score. Up to that point, in spite of the score, ‘SC had been gaining big chunks of yardage by throwing the ball, almost at will.
The second half confirmed my fears, as the men of Troy quickly went up 19-3 with two touchdowns (one missed extra point) and a field goal in the third quarter. In much the same way that Michigan was somewhat lucky to be tied at the half, they were quite lucky to be down by only 16 points at the end of the third quarter — they probably should have been down by at least 20, if not 27. (USC failed to get in the end zone late in the third quarter with three shots from the Michigan 9, settling for a field goal to make it 19-3; add the second-quarter touchdown ‘SC may very well have had if not for the Booty fumble, and it probably would have been 30-3 at that point.) Ten of USC’s 16 third-quarter points came directly off Michigan turnovers, both of which occurred inside Michigan’s 40.
The Blue offense finally started to show a little bit of life early in the fourth quarter, taking less than two minutes to march 80 yards for a touchdown; a two-point conversion cut the Trojans’ lead to eight at 19-11. After that, though, the Trojans exposed just how weak Michigan’s secondary really is, with a 62-yard touchdown to Dwayne Jarrett; however, kicker Mario Danelo missed his second extra point of the night, leaving the score at 25-11. If there was a silver lining in this, it was that Danelo’s miss left the Trojans’ lead at 14, meaning Michigan would not need two-point conversions to tie.
Michigan’s last real gasp came with just under eight minutes left in the game, as they drove 60 yards from their own 20-yard line to USC’s. From there, two one-yard losses and an incompletion in the end zone left them with a fourth-and-12 on the Trojan 22. Steve Breaston caught Chad Henne’s underneath pass, but slipped and fell at the 15-yard line, five yards short of the first-down marker. Immediately following that, three consecutive pass plays over 20 yards, followed by a 7-yard touchdown that made the score 32-11, sealed the game for USC. As I mentioned earlier, Michigan proceeded to get a garbage-time score to make the game look closer than it really was.
What went wrong? Perhaps the better question is, what didn’t go wrong. USC coach Pete Carroll obviously saw the same things Ohio State coach Jim Tressel saw when he watched film; namely, that Michigan’s greatest defensive weakness is covering the short passing game — Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith had a field day today doing the exact same things Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez did to kill Michigan on November 18. Of course, as I know I mentioned after the OSU loss, success in the short passing game causes the safeties to pull up, and thus opens up the long ball; the Trojans made great use of this in the fourth quarter.
The offensive line put in easily its worst performance since Bump Elliott’s coaching days, allowing five sacks of Chad Henne in the first half and two more in the second half. Michigan has historically been known for its stalwart offensive line play; every coach since Bo Schembechler has made that a key point, so I don’t know where the fuck today’s (lack of) performance came from. They put in an effort most unworthy of wearing the Michigan uniform today.
Carr really ought to face a shit storm for his management of the Michigan sideline as the Trojans took a commanding lead late in the third quarter. I was only able to catch the game on ESPN Radio, but their announcing team of Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman in the booth and Todd Harris on the sidelines made several pointed comments about a dead atmosphere on our sideline — players were hanging their heads, and coaches weren’t getting in their faces or trying to make any serious adjustments. It was almost as if Lloyd Carr, offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, and defensive coordinator Ron English just couldn’t bring themselves to give a fuck about the game. That is absolutely inexcusable and unforgivable, and if for no other reason than that, Carr must go.
Of course, Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and president Mary Sue Coleman have about as much idea how to run a winning football program as Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford, whose shit-ass excuse for a junior-high team finished its season 3-13 yesterday. (More on that in a bit.) I guess Martin and Coleman see absolutely no problem in beating up on the terrible bottom half of the Big Ten, while getting our asses handed to us by top-10 programs — they’re going to let Carr rest on the laurels of “his” (read: with Gary Moeller’s recruits) 1997 national championship until he decides to let a real winner take over at the Big House. Until then, though, the Matt Millen mentality will prevail at Schembechler Hall.
Then again, I don’t think anybody can take utter brainless idiocy to the art form to which Millen has elevated it in six years as the general manager of the Detroit Lions. I shined a bright spotlight on their stupidity here on October 2, but what they did yesterday, in my opinion, even beats that. Most teams who are leading in the running for the #1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft at least have the good sense to keep on sucking and lose; the Oakland Raiders, who were in second place in that chase before yesterday, did just that.
But our Lions? Oh no, they were too stupid to do even that, beating the Dallas Cowboys by a 39-31 score and therefore handing the #1 pick to Oakland. What fucking ever. It’s not like it matters anyway, because Millen is just going to draft another wide receiver with the #2 pick, just like he did with Charles Rogers of Moo U in 2003, Roy Williams in 2004, and the unrelated Mike Williams in 2005. He’ll pass up one of the two quarterbacks (Brady Quinn or Troy Smith) the Lions could really use, just like he passed on Matt Leinart last April. To top that all off, he’ll continue to have virtually absolute job security, despite doing what he’s supposed to do exactly one-fourth of the time (the Lions are 24-72 in his six years), all thanks to that fucking joke William Clay Ford.
It’s time for me to get going to bed, as I have to make an early-morning pickup not far from here tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll have dreams of winning college and professional football teams while I sleep tonight — but that’s about all I’ll have for a while, those dreams.