|Michigan's season rougher than Rodriguez expected|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 13 October 2008 11:15|
The Wolverines (2-4, 1-1) have their worst record through six games since 1967, which was also their last losing season.
College football's winningest program is in danger of losing eight games for the first time in school history, surpassing the seven setbacks it had in 1962, 1936 and '34. Also in jeopardy is Michigan's streak of 33 straight bowl games, the longest one going in the country right now.
Many cut Rodriguez slack when Michigan opened the season with a loss to Utah and went on to get beat at Notre Dame and by Illinois.
But Saturday's setback to Toledo, a lackluster Mid-American Conference team, has led to a lot of questions about how Rodriguez is managing the rebuilding season.
here, the last eight, nine months. There's nothing wrong with that.''
Michigan hired Rodriguez away from West Virginia, where he built his alma mater into a Big East power, in December after Lloyd Carr announced he was retiring.
The Wolverines were always likely to struggle on offense this season because they lost stars such as Jake Long, Chad Henne and Mike Hart to the NFL while quarterback Ryan Mallett and offensive lineman Steve Boren chose to transfer in part because they didn't want to play for Rodriguez.
But Michigan has been worse on offense than expected, averaging a Big Ten-low 19 points, and an experienced defense has given up 25 points a game to rank ninth in the conference.
Rodriguez said he was more upset and angry with his players when he addressed them Sunday night compared to previous team meetings, but insisted his mindset and philosophies will not change.
``It starts with me and the coaches. We got to stay the course,'' he said. ``It's easy to waver. I know there's a lot of people disappointed, a lot of fans disappointed. We've got great fans. We've got a great university. We've got great tradition. They're used to winning a lot of games. That's a good thing.
``I believe in what we're doing. I believe in where we're doing it at. I also believe in our players.''
Offensive tackle Stephen Schilling said the feeling is mutual.
d. ``I think we've all bought in throughout the summer and through camp. We believe that it will work. We just maybe have to employ a little bit more patience than we thought.''
The Wolverines' convictions will be tested this month, traveling to play undefeated and third-ranked Penn State on Saturday and returning next week to play No. 20 Michigan State at home.
The Nittany Lions are averaging a Big Ten-best 45 points a game and are giving up just 11, barely trailing Iowa for the best scoring defense in the conference.
Rodriguez said quarterback Steven Threet (elbow) and backup running back Brandon Minor (ribs) are questionable to play at Penn State while receiver and kick returner Martavious Odoms, defensive end Brandon Graham and cornerback Donovan Warren are expected to play after missing the Toledo game with injuries.
``It's an unusual place to be, being a 24-point underdog,'' defensive end Terrance Taylor said when a reporter told him what the gambling line was on the game. ``It makes you angry.''
Schilling said the Wolverines have developed an us-against-the-world bond.
``We've had that mentality the whole time, especially with a lot of doubters this whole offseason, especially now after losing four of our first six games,'' Schilling said. ``What matters to us is the guys in the locker room, the coaching staff.
``It is kind of us against everybody else. We're out to prove that this is working.''