Michigan sideline reporter Doug Karsch watched the Wolverines come up short in Ohio Stadium on Saturday, failing to score in the second half. He addresses that issue and others in this exclusive.
On the unhappiness of some over coaching on the offensive side of the ball: "I hear some of the same things when I talk to people all of the time. After every Lions loss, Lions fans want Scott Linehan, the offensive coordinator, fired. The Michigan State contingent at our station constantly talks about the job security of Dan Roushar, the offensive coordinator in East Lansing.
"A guy at our station is a Georgia guy. Georgia is playing in a national semifinal on Saturday, with a chance to go to the national title. He gripes weekly about Mike Bobo, the offensive coordinator at Georgia.
"This is nothing new. It's a thankless position. Plays that don't work are bad play calls. Plays that work, like the ones that score 21 points, are never Borges' good calls. Sure, there is stuff we don't understand, but you know who knows all of the information? Al Borges and Brady Hoke.
"It can't be possible that every offensive coordinator out there is an idiot, but that's what fans think. Every fan base loves to hate their offensive coordinator. It's just a fact of life. And they can't all suck."
On how hamstrung Michigan may have been by substandard offensive line play and the fact that Ohio State knew Denard Robinson could not throw: "Yeah, Ohio State seemed to have an idea about that with Denard, but if they watched warm-ups, he didn't seem to throw the ball. When I was watching, he never did.
"I'm sure they were watching him, and I don't think they expected him to throw in the first half, either. But in the first half, he went for almost 130 yards on the ground.
"I think when we look back on this team, years from now, and think about what they had offensively, we'll see they were lacking. They had one proven, elite playmaker in Denard Robinson. The rest of the guys featured some good players, but they were supporting cast kind of guys, a lot of guys who would have looked good playing next to a Braylon Edwards, being a complementary back to a Chris Perry, and some guys who would have been great depth guys. But it's not what we're used to, period.
"Yeah, I don't understand everything they did, but watch the All-Big Ten teams when they come out. Then put it into context. If they win the bowl game, they'll have won 20 games in the first two years of a transition period. I'd say the transition is going okay."
On Devin Gardner against the Buckeyes: "As that game went on, Devin Gardner wasn't seeing the open receivers as well as he was for three-and-a-half games as the starting quarterback. He is going to be very good, and Devin can make all the throws.
"Part of making all the throws is knowing where to go with the football. On Michigan's last drive, he threw late to [Roy] Roundtree, when Roundtree was sitting in a zone, wide open for two seconds before he threw it. He missed Roundtree wide open deep on the play where [Michael] Schofield held.
"He made a bad decision on the ball to [Devin] Funchess, on a play he could have had 10 to 15 yards on the ground. That's an example of the first significant pass rush he saw breaking up his rhythm as a passing quarterback. You credit Ohio State for that, and it's part of Gardner's game that has to develop.
"Those are plays that were called, that were there, that very easily could have been executed, and they weren't. On the pass to [Drew] Dileo, that could have been a big play in that game. I get the frustration with the play calling, but I saw plays that were called that maybe TV didn't show it, but there were open receivers."
On the difference from first half to second half: "I think Ohio State made some adjustments, and I don't think Michigan countered all that well. Michigan's defense was nothing short of spectacular. Given the field position they were asked to defend, to hold Ohio State to two field goals in that second half was a real win for that defense.
"On offense, they struggled with adjustments. I think a lot of what you would have seen, what you want to see, you always have to take into account, what hash mark is the ball on? What's the down and distance? What personnel does the defense have on the field? Have I tried this play before, and they showed me a look where I knew it would work?
"These are all things that go into it. It's about the bottom line, so you criticize the fact that they didn't score any points in the second half, but the play calling is far more intricate than we know. What we do know is, it didn't work. Ohio State absolutely deserves some credit, and I think there were some plays to be had that weren't made."
On his reaction to seeing an Urban Meyer team: "Well, Urban Meyer is now 1-1 against Michigan. I think Ohio State fans have every reason to be confident. Michigan will be fine. This staff will be fine.
"The world where Michigan is good and Ohio State is good is the college football world I grew up being used to. I have no problem with Urban Meyer. And I have a lot of confidence that this Michigan program is going to be a lot better. And anyone who doesn't think so, I ask, do you think the offensive line play is going to be a lot better in the coming years?
"There are some good players and some great kids on that offensive line. But what is waiting in the wings, in this freshman class and the class to come, will get them back to what I believe is a big part of winning, which is controlling the trenches and winning with veteran quarterback play.
"You can't always have a veteran quarterback, but you can always have dominant trenches. I think they're recruiting like that."
On OSU hailing former coach Jim Tressel and other observations unique to Columbus: "I'd be fascinated to know if Michigan fans would give a standing ovation to Steve Fisher. I would guess there would be a lot of mixed feelings about that. I don't know if it would be quite as unanimous as it was in Columbus.
"It's a very strange dynamic. All we need to know about that is during Notre Dame-USC, ESPN was running a crawl noting they gave him a standing ovation and he was being carried off the field. Why would they do that? They'd do it because it was very questionable.
"For me, personally, it was the toughest time I've ever had getting off that field. I got bumped and shoved more than I ever have before. I actually saw a vendor yelling at Michigan fans - a vendor. I was surprised at that.
"At halftime, when the Michigan band was booed, somebody in an Ohio State capacity turned to me and said, 'We'll file a complaint on behalf of the Michigan band, for booing the band.' I think there are some really good people down there who are trying really hard to make the culture different.
"I can't encourage Michigan fans more - don't ever do this to opposing fans. Don't ever do it. Treat them with class and respect."
On a final thought: "You know, I spent years watching Michigan-Ohio State, and I remember watching the other sideline. I remember seeing John Cooper being just as tight as could be, and Lloyd Carr being relaxed, and pumped up, and having fun.
"That was the demeanor on the Michigan sideline. I thought they were as relaxed for a big game as I'd seen them. I guess if it doesn't work out, you wonder if they should have gone the other way, but it was good to see the staff and players were really comfortable in that environment."
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