The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Update 9/8: Linked to articles on NC OL Travis Bond, MD LB Jelani Jenkins, SC DE Sam Montgomery, OH RB commit Fitzgerald Toussaint, NC LB Hawatha Bell, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, CA QB commit Tate Forcier, FL S Jonathan Scott, VA OL Morgan Moses, NJ WR Nyshier Olivier, FL WR Jeremy Gallon, MD DE Jason Ankrah, MI S Thomas Gordon. Moved MI DT Will Campbell from committed.
Removed SC RB David Sims(Kentucky), AR CB Darius Winston(dropped us).
Some links from Varsity Blue.
RUN FOR YOUR LIVES. Chaos briefly erupted in the streets when OMG shirtless defensive tackle recruit Will Campbell announced he would decommit. Shades of Newsome without the almost-equally-appealing backup plan, cue the rending of garments and curses lodged at a God who isn’t listening, &c.
Listen to me now and believe me later: I don’t think this is a huge deal, as Campbell has been in touch with the Michigan recruiting sites in the aftermath—Newsome, on the other hand, was totally unreachable—and currently has Michigan in a top three($, IIH) that includes two schools—LSU and Miami or USC—he’s never been to. He visited for Michigan’s game against Miami and said this:
"I'm still looking at Michigan," he said. "I'm just opening up all my options right now, looking around. … I’m still strong with Michigan," he added.
The situation as it stands is obviously less desirable than it was a week ago; Michigan still sounds like the solid leader.
Meanwhile, Campbell’s Cass Tech teammate Thomas Gordon has been impressive in his first couple games this fall. Gordon plays quarterback for the Technicians* but projects to safety in college; schools have been waiting to see him in game action. Michigan State just dropped an offer on him; so has Michigan. Gordon will probably take a week or two to render a final decision; that decision is very likely to be Michigan. Humorous side note: Rodriguez apparently nicknamed Gordon “prison abs” during his time at Michigan’s camp.
*(Yes, the Cass Tech Technicians is kind of a Troy Trojans of Troy (We’re From Troy!) sort of nickname, but… hey, football team named “Technicians.”)
Back in the game. A number of ex-Michigan recruits return to the board and make me question the whole idea of removing commitments elsewhere because now I’ve lost all the stuff on them. They are:
- OK RB David Oku got sick of waiting around for Florida State, dropped them, and added Michigan back in. His other finalists are Louisville, Tennessee, and Nebraska. He’ll officially visit for the Illinois game.
- TX S Craig Loston and NC S Devontae Holloman are both Clemson commits who are taking official visits elsewhere; Michigan is on their itineraries. I don’t have great hopes either will get lured in by snake-oil, but if Bowden really implodes this could be it for him and Holloman, at least, had Michigan in a group of two or three before he committed to Clemson. Meanwhile, Mike Farrell notes an unofficial to A&M last week and says “The chance he remains a commitment to Tommy Bowden and his staff become slimmer and slimmer each week.” Farrell’s list of officials doesn’t include Michigan but that appears to be old info.
- MD CB Travis Hawkins had dropped Michigan but now plans to visit with his teammate, MD DE Jason Ankrah.
Defensive end panic has short shelf life. Ankrah, meanwhile, was seduced by whatever weird mojo Penn State has over kids from Maryland, but his love is unrequited:
Last week I mentioned that Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard defensive end Jason Ankrah wanted to commit to Penn State but that the Nittany Lions might have other fish to fry. As of this writing, Ankrah still hasn't talked with Penn State assistant Larry Johnson, and if PSU balks on taking his commitment, Michigan and Tennessee will get official visits and be the teams to beat. Ankrah has talked to coaches Rich Rodriguez of Michigan and Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee, but hasn't talked with Joe Paterno, another potential indication that Penn State has other defensive ends higher on its board.
Penn State already has a four-star kid from, yes, Maryland committed and is also hot on the trail of NJ DE Anthony LaLota. I’m not sure how reliable this is—newspapers are rarely accurate sources of information on where a recruit is leaning—but FWIW, this is encouraging news on him:
LaLota is expected to make his college intentions clear in the coming weeks, with Michigan and Penn State believed to be his current top two choices.
Meanwhile, the buzz that AZ DE Craig Roh is basically down to Michigan and USC continues; he should decide in the next couple weeks. Roh on his Michigan trip:
"It went well. I saw what I needed to see," Roh said. "What I really came here to see is the game-day environment and if I could fit in with the crowd at Michigan. The crowd was electric. That was my first big college game and it was amazing. It was a little bit better than I expected. I really didn't know what to expect, but I was blown away."
There are a lot of positive vibes out there on Roh; I am cautiously optimistic.
Meanwhile, Michigan will get an official from SC DE Sam Montgomery:
Montgomery's scholarship tally exploded to more than 40 offers this summer, but he recently anointed a top list of programs in his recruitment. Earlier this week he touched base with Michigan assistants Tony Gibson and Scott Shafer to inform them that the Maize and Blue had made the cut.
"I'm taking an official (visit to Michigan)," Montgomery reported. "I'm also going to Miami, Southern California and LSU. The other one (his fifth and final official visit) is free."
Local schools Clemson, South Carolina, and North Carolina remain in the game and have gotten unofficials, so there are seven or eight teams still in the running. A long way to go here and most expect him to stay in the south but get ‘em on campus and bler bler bler.
And, finally, if you want to squint hard you could interpret this as a sign Michigan is in a good position with VA DE Will Hill:
"I think I could still put on 10 to 15 pounds and still play on the end. That's my position. … You always have to be working to get faster, stronger, and quicker off the ball. You have to or you'll be left behind." Hill does not have any favorites but says academics is important to his decision. He would also like to go to a school that has a diverse student body. Hill mentioned that he was impressed with Maryland's diversity. He likes Michigan and their academics.
Hill visited unofficially earlier this year; he also has offers from Penn State and Tennessee amongst others.
Ideally, Michigan will pick up two of these three guys soon and then everyone can breathe easier at the position.
Miscellaneous. FL S Jonathan Scott has talked about how fun it would be to go up against his brother, an Ohio State corner, at some point in the future. This now seems unlikely to happen for two reasons. One: his brother is no longer at Ohio State. Two: he’s not favoring Michigan.
Safety Jonathan Scott considers Florida State his favorite, ESPN's JC Shurburtt reports. In addition to the Seminoles, Scott would like to officially visit LSU, Michigan and South Carolina.
Scott previously stated he'd cooled on the Seminoles, who already accepted multiple commitments from safeties. However, it appears now that Florida State views Scott as a weakside outside linebacker target instead.
NC LB Hawatha Bell has Michigan on his short list:
Bell, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior, is ranked No. 15 nationally as a middle linebacker prospect by Scout.com, a national recruiting Web site. Bell says he has narrowed his college choices to North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois and Michigan. He's a high-profile recruit, and opposing teams are gearing up this season to keep him as frustrated as he was Friday.
I believe IN LB Jordan Barnes projects as an MLB but with the unexpected losses of Taylor Hill and Marcus Witherspoon, Michigan could take up to five linebackers in this class; they have between two and four depending on what you think of the two safety commits.
Etc.: VA OL Morgan Moses favors prep school over not qualifying. FL WR commit Jeremy Gallon is going nuts. So is OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint. Michigan is in on this NJ WR Nyshier Olivier kid along with ND; don’t know if they’ll have a scholarship for another wideout who isn’t CA WR Shaquelle Evans. CA QB Tate Forcier committed, obviously. MD LB Jelani Jenkins is fluffed; so is NC OL Travis Bond.
So sometimes the internet goes beyond awesome and into the sublime. This happened yesterday, when Paul from Varsity Blue pointed out this Muppet version of "Temptation":
OMFG, &c. This is the real stuff, 100% pure Colombian awesome.
But it gets better: a commenter followed up with "you can't have one without the other" and linked to MUPPETS DOING THE HAWAIIAN WAR CHANT.
I keep watching these. I am going to make these an institution here.
Okay: I’m moving more towards the resume style as we continue to get more information about the teams. East Carolina is way high, maybe, but they put the spurs to West Virginia in a fashion that was no fluke. Maybe Bill Stewart’s just that bad, but probably not.
I think, on consideration, that I might have been too enthusiastic about moving Penn State up given the results of the Oregon State-Stanford and Stanford-Arizona State games, yes? I’ll probably at least swap PSU and ASU given that Arizona gave an equal horsewhipping to the clearly better team in the opener.
Auburn’s game against Southern Miss was not as close as it appeared, so they stay, but Florida’s game against Miami was closer so they drop.
I think my sudden enthusiasm for Oregon is also a bit unjustified; I’ll probably drop them, and I may put Kansas back in instead of GT.
Watched: Michigan-Miami(Not That Miami), Notre Dame-San Diego State, portions of West Virginia-ECU, Penn State-Oregon State, Texas-UTEP, BYU-Washington, Wake-Ole Miss, Miami-Florida.
The Monday press conference distilled into relevant items.
- Ortmann has a dislocated elbow and will be out a few weeks. Maybe he returns for Wisconsin. Bryant Nowicki and Perry Dorrestein are competing to replace him. Omameh also got a mention.
- Shaw, Mathews, and Brown will play.
- Brown was in a white shirt—instead of a light-contact green one—for the first time yesterday.
- Terrance Robinson has his knee brace off and is a couple of weeks from seeing the field.
"That's an 'or' because it is 'or.' Both of those guys are still in the mix. If one guy would emerge and play to the point where it's just him, that would be good. But our concern is whoever is taking the snaps, can we execute the system."
Feagin is working at quarterback and slot receiver, “helping Michigan out at the receiver position.” This should sound the death knell for his prospects at the position: David Cone is the third QB, not Feagin. I expect a move by the end of the year.
“I saw them making steps, and I told them. Sometimes whereas it was two, maybe three guys not quite right, a lot of times it was just one guy. We're really not effective, especially in our system, unless all five are getting it done. There is a lot of precision to it.”
- Koger still hasn’t played but they do plan to get him in at some point. No mention of Roundtree, who IIRC did not play Saturday.
- There were a couple of questions about Brown, one neutral, the other “dude… like doesn’t this guy need to get better?” Rodriguez responded “Why do we want to make this negative? Stevie has played some but for a veteran guy, he doesn't have a whole lot of experience.”
- Warren is still the top guy returning punts but they’re “almost ready to have a rotation” between Warren, Odoms, and Cissoko.
- Panter and Evans are still “in the mix” at linebacker but Rodriguez “kind of liked the way they lined up this weekend.”
Oh, it’s on, Notre Dame. It’s on.
The line. After the Utah game there were reports that the line for the Notre Dame game was as high as ND –8.5, but in the aftermath of Michigan’s DOMINATION last week there’s been a seismic shift. Diarist Jamiemac has the lowdown:
At Carib Sports--the only place where I am registered that I could find where you could bet tonight on Saturday's game--UM is -1. Lets think about this line:
Summer line: ND -3.5
Adjusted line after Week 1: ND -8.5
Actual line of Game Week: UM -1
I have not seen such a turnaround before. Surprisingly (or not so when you really think about it), most of those summer lines stay true to form.....its scary how accurate those are to the actual line months in advance.....anyway, yeah, you'll see a 1 or 2 point swing over the course of the season, but this line movement is unreal. A five point swing after the first week of games. Then, a 9.5 point swing in the other direction after the 2008 ND team unveiled itself.
Covers.com has one Michigan –2.5 and holding, a whole host of pick-ems, and a couple sites that opened with Michigan about a three-point favorite and have now moved to ND –1. The over-under is not available, for obvious reasons.
I’m with the bookies on this one: nothing short of Notre Dame starting a hippogriff at linebacker would surprise me. Notre Dame by twenty? Michigan by 38? A zero-zero tie finally broken in the sixth overtime after seven Notre Dame holding penalties and a Jimmah Clausen sack result in a safety? All equally plausible.
Well, no, I have a hard time envisioning Michigan putting up 38 points on Cal Poly. That is less plausible.
The reason for the jump was obvious to everyone who didn’t run from the room screaming during the San Diego State-Notre Dame game.Notre Dame was about a millimeter away from going down 20-7, and that would have been 20-0 if not for some incredible clock malfeasance by Chuck Long at the end of the first half.
San Diego State’s relative performances against a I-AA team and Notre Dame give cause for hope:
|Opp||Yards Gained||YPA||YPC||Yards Allowed||YPA||YPC|
|Cal Poly SLO||306||10.5||3.6||284||6.2||4.0|
It’s worth noting that SDSU had a week to-week offensive inversion, throwing 59 times and running 15 times against ND; the week before they ran 41 times and threw 15.
Blue-Gray Sky was not particularly impressed:
While Duke and Stanford's 2007 defenses were hardly worldbeaters, they were probably better than the San Diego State defense that gave up over 200 yards rushing to a 1-AA team. Yet, with largely the same personnel, Notre Dame's rushing offense was significantly less effective against SDSU than it had been against Duke and Stanford. In the final two games of 2007, the Irish running backs averaged 5.7 yard per carry against Duke and 5.1 against Stanford. Against SDSU, the Irish backs averaged a meager 3.4 yards per carry. Perhaps even more telling than the statistics was the play-calling. On each of their first three drives, the Irish offense faced a third-and-short situation (3rd and 2, 3rd and 3, then 3rd and 2 again). Each time, the call was a pass. It's hard to reconcile that play-calling with a commitment to "pounding" the ball.
Welcome to the club. Actually, I think you should be welcoming us to the club.
The bothersome thing. Okay, I watched the San Diego State game. During this game, a performance in which Notre Dame nearly lost to one of the worst teams in Division I-A, I was repeatedly wistful because Notre Dame’s quarterback completed passes downfield. What sort of pass? Any sort of pass. I miss John Navarre 2001. I miss John Navarre 2000. I miss Ryan Mallett.
Rodriguez's latest press conference has revealed that Angry Michigan Offensive-Line-Hating God has seen fit to dislocate Mark Ortmann's elbow. He's out for about three weeks. Cue the skull-heavy, foreboding painting:
Mmmm, undead beef jerky. Also: now what?
Bryant Nowicki isn’t Belgium’s famous painter but he is Michigan’s soon-to-be famous planet-sized walk-on starter at left tackle. When he came off the bench to replace Ortmann I deeply regretted the demise of the free programs that were so essential for figuring out which obscure player just made a special teams gaffe or, like, is our freakin’ left tackle. Then I saw Nowicki talking to David Molk and it was weird that one of our OL made another of our OL look like Martavious Odoms. Then I deeply regretted Michigan’s offensive line recruiting over the past five years. Then Nowicki played pretty decently.
So what’s the deal?
Nowicki was a recruit who drew interest from a bunch of schools early because he was 6’9” and football-sized but didn’t pick up a D-I offer. Some local I-AA and D-II schools did offer, but Nowicki picked a preferred walk-on spot at Michigan over toiling at SVSU or wherever.
This is his third year against Michigan, during which time he’s lost around 40 pounds and learned not to squint in photographs:
He saw action in two blowouts—Notre Dame and Minnesota—last year. ESPN, surprisingly, scouted him. Upshot:
He can be a dominant blocker in a restricted area. He has dropped weight between his junior and senior year, and is more effective dealing with moving targets. He is able to more consistently get a piece, but will still struggle in space. As a pass protector he struggles to reset his feet and has difficulty handling speed, but can mirror rushers in a short area. Nowicki is interesting because of his size, but he may not move well enough to play guard and may struggle with speed rushers at the tackle position.
He’s dropped 40 pounds, so maybe the movement has improved? I’ll attend to him closely in UFR. Chances he’s good are low, but he wasn’t an obvious sieve in the way Courtney Morgan was. That may be an effect of opponent and relative competence of the gentlemen around him.