(Newsy bits pulled out for easier digestion. Important stuff underlined for better clarity. [Ed: jk, I guess we're still bolding.])
Again, from not my file, but we'll get there soon.
- Gallon, Dileo, and Vincent Smith handling returns
- Odoms is healthy
- Starting O-line, from left to right: Lewan, Barnum, Molk, Omameh, Huyge
- Shaw starting RB, Fitz likely back-up (based on mention only)
- Thomas Gordon likely starting free safety, may play nickel along with Woolfolk
- Cam Gordon starting at SAM, no starter at WILL yet.
- Gibbons likely kicking FGs. Wile will kick off, also might punt.
- Started prep for Western Michigan two days ago.
Okay, on to the poetry.
General, aka fluff:
Footbawww. "It was really good to get up in the stadium, get up there and kind of go through our process on gameday, so guys get an idea what our expectations of mentally preparing for a game -- how you come out, where you go with your group to warm up -- all those things that we don't think about, but they're all organization things you've got to go through. We got to do that, we got to be in that locker room, go down the tunnel, and get a sense for playing in that great stadium."
Consistency. Toughness. Improving. "This was practice 23. We have six opportunities left. We have to keep grinding and keep improving as a team. There were some good things you saw on both sides of the ball, but at the same time we're a long way from where we need to be as a football team."
We need to stop false-starting. "We had a couple penalties today, two of them were composure and poise penalties. We had a full Big Ten crew working the scrimmage. It was a much lighter scrimmage than it was a week ago. Our composure and our poise -- we had a couple procedure penalties offensively that obviously don't help you. Instead of first and 10, you're first and 15 or you're second and 12 or whatever it might be. Those things bother you."
But we didn't fumble or throw INTs! "We took care of the ball pretty well. When you look at the ball security issues ... that's huge for us. We've been minus 32 in turnover margin the last three years. You can't play football that way."
What is the two deep? "I think there are things that are set. We'll do a good job of diving into the tape tonight and further some evaluations on guys. The corner position is hotly contested. I like how JT and I like how Troy have come back, but Courtney Avery and, oh, daggonit, uh..." Talbott? "Calvin! Yeah ... " No, Talbott. " ... Talbott is doing a good job. I just went blank... I'm good with numbers ... Number 18, Blake Countess is doing a good job. Greg Brown is playing well. There's great competition there."
How is health? "We're pretty good health wise." Nothing major? "No, no ... everybody's a little beat up." Tay Odoms? "He scrimmaged today. In fact, he's gone the last three days. He seems fine."
Return game? "Gallon -- both kickoff and punt -- has done a good job. I think Vince Smith in kickoff returns is a guy that would either be the off returner because he's not afraid to go hit somebody in the face, or return the ball. Dileo -- punt -- when you look at punts, you always want to make sure that guy first and foremost is going to be able to field the ball, and isn't scared. I think between those two right now we'll probably start that way."
How many plays did you run in scrimmage today? "We went 126 plays last week. If my count's right, we'll probably get 73-74 today."
How many 4th and 1s? "One."
Did you do anything situational? "We did black-zone coming out, trying to get a first down so you have room to punt and field position. We didn't put it on the 1-yard line. We had a bunch of shots last week at it, and that was a pretty phsyical deal. You're starting to get to the point where you want to get into game week."
Were you surprised by the transfers? "I think you're always surprised, but guys gotta do what they feel is right for them. This isn't for everybody here, and it never will be. They're great kids, and we wish them the best."
But you recruited them! "That happens."
Resolution at some positions, can you share? "Mike Martin's probably going to be the nose tackle. Denard's going to be the quarterback." Oh. Ha ha. "Koger's going to be the tight end. Molk will be center. Lewan will be the left tackle. Huyge will be the right tackle. Patrick will be the right guard, and Ricky will be the left guard. Running-back wise I think we'll look into his tape a little more, but Shaw's had a pretty good camp. Fitz has had a good camp. Safety-wise, Kovacs will be one of those safeties at our base, and I would think Thomas Gordon will be. Thomas is really having a tremendous camp. He had a tremendous summer, and that's why his camp was so good."
Whoa, wait, where did Gordon come from? You never talk about him. "I just think his whole attitude and how he approached the game of football, workin' out, all those things. He's really taken a conscious effort. He'll play some stuff in our nickel. Him and Troy, depending on what unit we have out, they're both playing some nickel. Thomas is basically a dime in another defense. There is a lot of learning that goes on, and he's done a really good job with it, and I'm proud of where he's at right now."
SAM and WILL: "Cam Gordon, I would think, is going to be the SAM. Jake is obviously pushing in there. Brennan Beyer has done a nice job for us. At the WILL ... I don't know yet. Mike (Jones) and Kenny Demens (?) have done a good job, but at the WILL, Hawthorne missed a couple days because of an ankle, and he's fighting his way back. Mike Jones is playing a little bit of both them, both MIKE and WILL. Freshman Desmond Morgan is a good football player. He's got a slight ham, so we held him out today. I don't know if we have a definite guy."
Kicking and Punting: "There's no doubt Wile will kick off. I think Gibbons has done a nice job. He's been accurate. [Ed-M: whaaah?] We did a lot of kicking again today. He's had a good camp. Wile has had a pretty good camp. I think Wile will probably punt, but Seth is a real good possibility there. I think that will probably be a decision made up Wednesday or Thursday to be honest with you."
But that's really late! "You can do that one late I think."
"They all have a real great mindset about their craft, and I like that about them. I don't know if I would have said that in the spring as much, but I think they all have worked hard at it. Every night they're evaluating their kicks because we film them a lot from all angles. You get a write-up from them, and some of them are a page, page-and a half about each kick and my plant foot and whatever it might be. I'm pleased that they're into football, let's put it that way."
You're a big tradition guy. What does it mean to be in stadium now? "Yeah it's always special to be in the stadium. We talk about that a lot, when we go up there, the expectation, how you play. We had one other date that we were going to be there, but we had the bad rain and the storm, so we had to stay indoors. We were at [Big Ten Championship site] Lucas-Oil Stadium indoors for that day because all those scrimmages are gamedays. And the championship is played in Lucas-Oil, so we had to go indoors, we just thought it was lucas-oil." (I think Hoke means that they were playing make-believe.)
Minus blitz, how is the pass rush? "Mike gets some good push. I think he is a guy that is aggressive enough, strong enough, pretty good technician in there to push the pocket. I think Jibreel has shown some life as a pass rusher, and Roh. Ryan's kind of a meat and potatoes guy. He works hard at it, and because of that, he'll have some good things happen."
What's your schedule the next two days? "We're going to have a very good mental practice tomorrow at the stadium. Probably about an hour and fifteen minutes. A lot of kicking, a lot of situational stuff. A lot of mental stuff. We'll do a two-minute at the end. We've started Western -- we started about two days ago on some of the switch personnel things, looking at them on both sides of the ball, and we'll have a couple of periods on Sunday. On Monday, they'll be off of meat," (No meat!?) "but there will be no practice for them. We're getting into the school-time schedule where we'll be off as far as practicing goes."
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Northwestern Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||391.08||48|
|Points Per Game||26.38||63|
|Yards Per Play||5.40||70|
|Yards Per Pass||7.94||29|
|Yards Per Rush||3.64||91|
|Playcall Distribution||1.45 Rush:Pass|
Northwestern's offense was a one-man show last season, with quarterback Dan Persa accounting for 61% of the Wildcats' total yardage... despite missing three games (Denard accounted for 67% of Michigan's yardage; Persa was accounting for 76% for the Cats before he went down). If Northwestern is going to have success this year, they need to find other playmakers in the backfield to spread the ball around a bit more, especially with Persa coming off a serious injury.
Adjusting for sacks, NU called a pass for every 1.35 rushes, and if Persa is to be kept healthy, he's going to have to either pass or rush less. He's unlikely to have the same escapability as last year.
We're really tying the Dan Persa theme together here, as he was probably the player in the Big Ten that was most important to his team - yes, even moreso than Denard Robinson to Michigan. Coming of an Achilles injury is not easy to do, especially after just 10 months. That could mean some serious reps for backup Evan Watkins, who started the final three games for Northwestern last year - all losses.
|Northwestern QBs 2010|
|Northwestern QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 3.5/5. This grade is assuming non-full health for Dan Persa (Phil Steele give him that vote of confidence, naming Persa the league's 1st-Team selection at QB). His importance to Northwestern was magnified by exactly how bad his backups were in comparison. Since he's likely to be less of a rushing threat this year, it takes him down a notch. The experience from last year - unsuccessful though it may have been - is a positive going forward for the backups. If Persa was healthy, this would likely be a 5/5.
Despite their general ineffectiveness, a ton of different Northwestern backs got some experience last year. Mike Trumpy got by far the most run (second-most used back, Arby Fields, was by far the least effective), so I'm guessing he'll start again this year. There are three returning backs with significant experience.
|Northwestern RBs 2010|
|Northwestern RBs Receiving 2009|
Grade: 3/5. Having this much talent returning is a bright sign for Northwestern, even if they didn't have a lot of success on the ground last year. Trumpy was just a freshman last year and Fields just a sophomore, so it's reasonable to expect those guys to improve.
Jeremy Ebert was the Big Ten's most oft-deployed receiver, and turned that into the highest yardage total in the league as well. His #2, Sidney Stewart (younger brother of former Michigan DB Charles) is out the door, but plenty of Wildcats got game experience. Demetrius Fields should take over the #2 role, with Charles Brown stepping into a starting role. Drake Dunsmore got plenty of work (at "superback" in the NU offense) last year, but other than him, don't expect a ton out of tight ends.
|Northwestern Receivers 2010|
|Drake Dunsmore (TE)||40||381||9.53||5|
|Josh Rooks (TE)||5||24||4.80||1|
|Aaron Nagel (TE)||1||6||6.00||0|
|Northwestern Receivers Rushing 2009|
Grade: 3/5. Losing the #2 receiver probably hurts, but Northwestern spread the ball around plenty last season, so the players that will be expected to step up aren't exactly green. With the Big Ten's most-prolific receiver in the fold (though Phil Steele only projects him to the All-Conference second team), the young guys should be more than capable of picking up the slack. The one question mark is a lack of serious downfield threats - partially a product of a screen-heavy NU offense.
The Wildcats only lose right guard Keegan Grant from last year's starting lineup, but that may not be such a good thing, given how awful the front line was last year. NU gave up more sacks than any team in the conference, and they were in the "Minnesota-Indiana" cohort of rushing futility. NU should start three seniors this year, with Al Netter on the left side, Ben Burkett at center, and Doug Bartles taking over the RG position. Junior returning starters Brian Mulroe and Patrick Ward will play left guard and right tackle, respectively.
Grade: 3/5. The big hope for Northwestern fans here has to be that a line with very little personnel turnover will be able to build the chemistry to develop into a stronger unit. It really couldn't be a whole lot worse, as I shudder to think how terrible the line's performance could have been without Persa the whole year.
|Northwestern Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||426.15||97|
|Points Per Game||29.00||77|
|Yards Per Play||5.94||94|
|Pass Yards Per Game||241.15||95|
|Yards Per Pass||6.73||t-45|
|Sacks Per Game||1.23||104|
|Rush Yards Per Game||185.00||92|
|Yards Per Rush||5.15||110|
So, oddly, despite Pat Fitzgerald's reputation as a hard-nosed defensive specialist and all that entails, the Wildcats' defense was pretty bad. It was probably around the same league as Michigan and Minnesota in several areas.
So, what is Northwestern going to do to improve that? Getting to the passer and stopping the run were the two major weaknesses of the D, so stepping it up along the defensive front and linebackers is of the utmost importance.
The Wildcats' defensive line - weak though it may have been last year - returns three of four starters, and should have an opportunity for improvement. Vince Browne and Kevin Watt return for their senior seasons as bookends, and classmate Jack DiNardo will plug the middle. The only replacement is at the other defensive tackle spot, where Brian Arnfelt will replace Corbin Bryant. Northwestern also has a few players - most notably DEs Quentin Williams and Tyler Scott - who have a bit of experience and will play a role in the rotation.
|Northwestern Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 3/5. It's hard to look past how bad Northwestern's run defense and sacking were last year when evaluating this unit. They should improve with three returning starters, but they have a long way to go to get out of the depths.
The Wildcats' top two tacklers from the linebacker position are out the door in Nate Williams and Quentin Davie, so there's some reshuffling to be done at the position. Bryce McNaul is the lone returning starter on the weakside. Junior David Nwabuisi is expected to fill the middle, while senior Ben Johnson will play the strongside. Sophomore Damien Proby is the only other player with significant experience anywhere other than special teams. Roderick Goodlow is coming off a mid-career redshirt thanks to a knee injury last year, as well.
|Northwestern Linebackers 2010|
Grade: 2/5. The linebackers weren't blameless for the issues I pinned on the DL, so losing the two most productive players from a weak unit isn't going to solve anything for Northwestern. The depth is also lacking in a big way. Any injuries could spell more doom (than already exists) for Northwestern.
Justan Vaughn is the only departing DB for the Wildcats, so there's a good chance the performance along the back is improved this season. Senior Jeravin Matthews should slide in to take his spot, with 4-year starter Jordan Mabin on the other side. The situation is a little murkier at safety, with Brian Peters a lock to start at one position, but three reasonable options at the other spot. I'm guessing Hunter Bates will play FS, allowing the enormous Peters (6-4, 215) to play closer to the line of scrimmage. David Arnold and Jared Carpenter both have a bit of starting experience, and could slot in at safety, as well.
|Northwestern Defensive Backs 2010|
|Brian Peters (SS)||60||4||3|
|Jordan Mabin (CB)||63||0||1|
|Hunter Bates (FS)||45||2||2|
|Jeravin Matthews (CB)||15||0||0|
Grade: 4/5. This is easily the strongest unit on Northwestern's entire team, with Phil Steele picking Peters to his 2nd-Team All-Conference defense and Mabin on the fourth team (though he was a 3rd-team performer in the Big Ten last year). There's also a few combinations that would result in four senior starters. Pass D was one of the few bright spots on NU's defense last year, and with even more experience, it could improve further in '11.
Stefan Demos - a recipient of the Brooks Bollinger Memorial Eighth Year Senior Award - has finally moved on, meaning that redshirt sophomore Jeff Budzien should become the new placekicker. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Williams will return for a second year as the starting punter.
|Northwestern Kicking 2010|
|Northwestern Punting 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Demos was never a superb kicker, so Budzien's inability to unseat him doesn't speak to any big upgrade there. In the punting department, Williams was steady last year, but not really very good. This should be an iffy unit.
So, about that game against that school: does anyone else feel a little bit like Marge Gunderson right now?
As the rest of the world laughs at Dave Brandon's decision to dredge up a not very nice thing that happened a while back I keep thinking of the scene at the end of Fargo where Grimsrud is in the back of the squad car, mute, as Marge tries to figure out what's in his head:
MARGE ... So that was Mrs. Lundegaard in there? She glances up in the rear-view mirror. Grimsrud, cheeks sunk, eyes hollow, looks sourly out at the road. Marge shakes her head. At length: MARGE ... I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. Grimsrud's head bobs with bumps on the road; otherwise he is motionless, reactionless, scowling and gazing out. MARGE ... And those three people in Brainerd. No response. Marge, gazing forward, seems to be talking to herself. MARGE ... And for what? For a little bit of money. We hear distant sirens. MARGE ... There's more to life than money, you know. She glances up in the rear-view mirror. MARGE ... Don't you know that?... And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day...
Marge is trying to comprehend an alien intelligence's decisions. That's where I find myself today. I can't begin to fathom the kind of thinking that would go into scheduling Appalachian State again. I get there are reasons, just like Grimsrud had reasons, but for the reasons to win out over the costs the kind of value judgments that are going on in the decision-maker's head must be frightening.
Meanwhile, instead of being mute Brandon is reminding us not to shoot anyone. Thanks, Dave Brandon. I'll try to remember not to shoot anyone this fall. Then there's this:
Oh, each team wanted to win. Players mentioned how their nerves came into play. There were sweaty palms, and probably a few "yips" on the green. And when the match was over, there was some fun "trash talk," but there were more laughs and hugs -- and respect for each other.
Not being mute is only exacerbating this divide.
We've had hints of this for a while now, but this is the last straw: Dave Brandon is not a Michigan fan. He may want Michigan to win but he has no concept of what the fanbase thinks is important. In the last year he's suggested or executed the following:
- moving the Ohio State game to midseason
- putting Michigan in a different division than Ohio State
- curly fries in Michigan Stadium
- a sponsored spring game
- a mascot
- scheduling The Horror: The Squeakuel
He has failed to:
- summarily execute Special K on the diag
In the aftermath of people blowing up about these things, he wrote jerky emails and said he "can't see how it would be a negative" to dig up the most infamous upset in NCAA history. These are not good signs. Dave Brandon is going to create the future whether you like being put in a wood chipper or not.
ALIEN VERSUS HORROR NEUTRAL BLOGGER REACT ROUNDUP
this is the single dumbest scheduling decision we can remember, and the most craven once since Indiana sold out one of their own Big Ten home games to play at a "neutral site" full of Penn State fans.
No matter what happens, greater glory is paid the lowest point in the history of the Michigan football program in exchange for national television exposure. This is Michigan football becoming a celebrity rehab patient. This is Michigan's amateur sex tape that no one wants to buy. We're beginning to think Dave Brandon is not a very smart person. We're beginning to also think this will all end with this Michigan team losing this game in 2014, and then beating Florida in the 2015 Outback Bowl.
the athletic department has scheduled what it’s going to have to call a revenge match with Appalachian State, a concept too hysterical to even contemplate.
Aug. 30, 2014, is two days shy of the seventh anniversary of the most stunning upset in college football history, long enough for everyone involved in Appalachian State's 34-32 miracle in the Big House to have graduated, retired or otherwise moved on from the respective programs, but not nearly long enough for Michigan fans to get over the festering humiliation that sent the program into a four-year spiral from which it's only beginning to emerge.
Son, never throw a punch at a redwood.
Second amendment say what. Borges:
"We'll be gunning more than we've ever gunned — than I've ever gunned," Borges said. "We use a lot of shotgun, but we're tailoring the gun more to his skills. I'm not going to reveal any trade secrets here, but we're going to use Denard the way he can best exploit the defense."
And there was much rejoicing.
He's done it. Thanks to user Chunkums here's a glimpse of Borges running the speed option at Auburn back in the day. It's at 26 seconds:
Dollars to donuts this is happening.
Are you a woman, a bicyclist, a baby, very sweaty, or all of the above? This is your lucky day if you've been interested in some MGoShirts. Underground has a limited-time store up with women's, kids, and toddler sizes plus wicking shirts, hoodies, and assorted exotics. Check it out. Order by the 30th.
Tomorrow they'll announce Dantonio's hiring. The RCMB had a thread featuring user photoshop mockups of the Pro Combat uniforms everybody will always wear against Michigan forever. One of them featured the RCMB logo on the helmet. So of course this happened the next day at the Free Press:
Someone associated with the "Downtown Coaches Club" emailed it out, so that's obviously happening. I hope the State spokesman was under 40 and therefore far more aware of the RCMB than Steve Schrader.
Chagrined by their mistake, the next day the Free Press reported that TE Evan Jones had committed to State. That's accurate. It also happened three months ago.
This is probably just me. Does Darrell Funk give off kind of a Gary Busey vibe?
Just me? Okay. As far as actual news, Huyge is holding off Schofield; Schofield is actually practicing at RG(?) as well.
Bring out yer dead conferences. The CCHA has ceased to be, or has set a point in the future where it will cease to be:
After two rounds of talks, the WCHA is ready to accept five CCHA schools into the conference, sources have indicated to CHN.
The switch from the CCHA to the WCHA is pending each individual schools' Board of Trustees approving the move. Announcements will thus come piecemeal, with the first ones potentially coming as early as Friday.
The WCHA has given the CCHA schools are 30-day window in which to officially accept the invitation. At least three CCHA schools are certain to accept — Lake Superior State, Ferris State and Alaska.
Bowling Green and Western are both waiting around to see what Notre Dame does. If ND joins the NCHC—we really need a sarcastic nickname for them—Western hopes to tag along. If Notre Dame goes to Hockey East, both BG and WMU hope to get their faces kicked in for all eternity in the NCHC. That latter scenario would mean the powers of the WCHA broke it up so they could add Miami, WMU, and BGSU.
I'm a little disappointed this is the way it's playing out. I would rather have seen the CCHA bolster itself with the four Atlantic Hockey schools that were interested in moving and kept conferences relatively small so expansion would be an attractive option. It's still a lot better than it was before the Big Ten formed.
At least get your lame political cracks right. Via the MZone, here's this guy:
I thought Ann Arbor was supposed to be full of liberal hippies. Apparently it is also really into sharia.
Etc.: Catlab returns. Trippy. I think I'm in love with Dana Holgorsen: "Holgorsen's idea of balance is making sure a bunch of people get the ball, whether by pass or by run, and then get a bunch of yards." Frank the Tank's latest on conference realignment. The Hoover Street rag is irritated that Michigan is phasing out the seal in favor of the block M. Holdin' The Rope explores the file on Nate Brink.
College football is 7 days away. Michigan football is 9 days away. It is time for a little Big Ten preview. Last year my numbers pegged Michigan at 7-8 wins. This year you’ll have to read on to see my predictions for Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten.
The Nuts and Bolts
If you just want to see the picks and the nice standings you skip on ahead. If this section confuses you or brings about more questions than answers, you might want to head here.
My methodology is along the same lines of user Undefeated Dream Season of 1992’s great post from last week.
Begin with the PAN from the team’s previous season. Regress that season half-way to a team-specific mean, which for me is the five preceding years, then adjust for returning starters. Every team ends up with a rating which is then plugged into the full season schedule and simulated a whole bunch to produce average results for every team in the FBS.
I weight returning starters based on what I can find validation from in past seasons. I am continually tweaking this because it is very difficult to separate out, but my best method currently accounts only for returning QBs on offense. A returning signal caller is worth 1 extra point per game vs average and a loss of QB is a 1 point reduction, leaving a 2-point spread. Once accounting for a regression to the mean and the QB effect I can’t find any other correlation across returning offensive starters. On defense the break-even point is seven returners. Each player returning above or below seven is worth 0.8 points per game. Return all 11 and it’s 3.2 points per game. Return 3 from the previous season and it’s –3.2.
For prediction purposes I exclude special teams because their success or failure isn’t typically consistent from one year to the next like offense and defense are. Almost all teams are predicted to have 2+ losses because even though you know several teams are going to run the table or have just one loss, which teams is a challenge and my numbers are based on averages across multiple “plays” of a season.
The Power Poll
Michigan checks in right in the middle of the Big Ten at +4 predicted. I didn’t know what to do with Purdue at QB since they have just been a mess the last two years, but hedging to the negative is probably the right call. Those of you familiar with my numbers know that Northwestern has some sort of crazy luck/skill at exceeding their numbers year in and year out. They are the one team in my ratings out of 120 that just never work and it’s always to the Wildcats' favor.
It should also be noted that I had Wisconsin as a non-returner at QB even though they kind of do have a returner. If Russell Wilson is counted as a returner, Wisconsin jumps to the top of the table.
The power poll tells you how good I think a team is but to get a read on how they will be predicted to do you have to factor in opponents and game locations.
Woody Division (R. Wilson as returning starter)
|Team||W||L||Conf W||Conf L||Conf SOS||NC SOS||SOS|
If you drop Wisconsin down based on Wilson, Ohio State sneaks into the top spot.
SOS indicates the average PAN rating for all opponents on the season.
|Team||W||L||Conf W||Conf L||Conf SOS||NC SOS||SOS|
Michigan, at 8-4 (5-3 Big Ten) comes in second in the division, but Michigan, State and Iowa are all virtually indistinguishable in spots 2-4.
The Big Ten is highly bunched this season. Whether it’s Wisconsin, Ohio or Nebraska that makes it through the championship game depending on the scenario, I am projecting the Big Ten winner to have the most conference losses of any conference winner in 2011. [Ed-M: I'm predicting SEC fans will give us shit for that.]
Overall, the Big Ten is slotted third in my preseason conference ratings behind the SEC and what’s left of the Big XII. In conference strength of schedule, the Big Ten ranks fourth behind the Big XII, Pac 12 and SEC. The SEC is the only conference with a weaker non-conference lineup than the Big Ten.
Michigan’s strength of schedule is ranked 12th in the country, Notre Dame and Ohio [Ed-M: He means OSU; next thing you know Mathlete's gonna be pointing at things too.] are #1 and 2. The SEC has the seven toughest conference schedules among its ranks but its cupcake-loaded preseason leaves them lower overall.
Predicted winners from other conferences:
|Team||Conf||W||L||Conf W||Conf L||Conf SOS||NC SOS||SOS|
|W Virginia||Big East||10.2||1.8||5.8||1.2||0.7||-3.3||-1.0|
|Boise St||Mtn West||11.8||0.2||6.9||0.1||-2.1||3.1||0.1|
Four of my top five match the AP top five (Boise, Oklahoma, Oregon and Alabama) but beyond that I have a handful of teams I think are over/underrated:
(First post! So we're trying to use more direct quotes from now on. Let's see how it goes.)
General: Seven [practices] left ... Proud of attitude and effort to improve. "Where we are? I don't know ... I see times out there when we're approaching a Michigan defense. And then I don't see it enough times. We gotta see it on a more consistent basis."
Seeing more of what you like? I am seeing more. "What I look at at every single position is technique. I'm seeing great improvement on their technique. I can't accept [excuses like] being a long camp and a lot of hitting, why I get tired and why I don't use my technique. There's going to be games when you're going to be out there more than you have to be. You got to rely on your technique."
Two-deep: "We have not filled out a two-deep. The scrimmage tomorrow, that will be a big key. We're going into our house -- we're going to the Big House -- and if you can't play like you have to play, then you're telling us a lot."
How many guys do you feel comfortable playing? For next weekend, "I hope it's 22." Needs to have 22 capable guys, and have seven more days to get 22. Won't ever be a coach who says we lost a game because a guy got injured.
What are your impressions of Troy Woolfolk? "I'm really, really impressed with a senior -- with a new staff, with a new system -- with a guy that comes out every day and says 'I'm going to do what you tell me to do, I'm going to do it how you tell me to do it, and I'm going to try as hard as I can to do it.' ... I think his technique is improving."
"I don't see any signs of (the ankle injury) at all."
On cornerback competition: "We've got a number of guys still battling for it ... One day you might say, 'this is the guy,' and then he may not be as consistent the next day." Happens to just about everyone. Can't name anyone in particular. Have to wait another week. "They're all in same boat."
On defensive standouts: "A lot of guys, different days." Mike Martin, Troy ... "probably would leave it right there" ... are guys that have more good days than bad. Needs everyone to be consistent all the time. "Those two guys haven't done it every day, either."
Marvin Robinson and Jake Ryan ... haven't heard about them in a while: "Marvin was a little bit sick, got through that. He's a guy, two days ago, [had me saying] 'yeah that's how I want you to play.'" Maybe today too, but hasn't watched film. Jake was out with minor injuries for almost a week, but came back yesterday. "(He) right away had a great hit." He knew what to do when new defenses went in, because "when he came back he didn't miss a beat."
"Our SAMs would also be guys that, in our sub or nickel packages, would be pass rushers." As such, Jake is playing SAM and big part of sub/nickel package.
Josh Furman? He is inconsistent.
Harder than anticipated to improve defense? "No, it's Michigan."
Battle at WILL linebacker: "A young man by the name of Desmond Morgan has shown some great signs." He got a little nicked up the past couple of days. They do a thing called "production points" where the coaches gives players points whenever defensive plays are made: interceptions = 10 pts, fumble recoveries = 7. tackles = 3.
"Hawthorne was in 10 plays in the live scrimmage, and I think he had 24 or 25 points. So I'm sitting here thinking, 'Wow, we got a guy right here.' And then he twisted his ankle a little bit, but he'll be back."
"A defensive player can have his technique be perfect every play, but if he doesn't make plays, you're not going to have a great defense."
"Jones showed some great things." Morgan, Hawthorne, and Herron. "All of them had their moments ... Now who's going to put the moments all together? That's what we've got to figure out."
Demens? Demens has been running with ones, had some good hits, but still not completely consistent.
Scrimmage: "I was pleased early." Got to be consistent. "When you're into your 60th or 65th play, what are you going to be like then? And that was what bothered me: I didn't see them stay the way they started out all the way through."
Is Craig Roh on the D-line? "Craig Roh is a rush. He's a rush outside linebacker for us. [Ed-M: This is a term for a 3/4 OLB with his hand on the ground. #FEARSOFGERG] Craig, Jibreel Black, and even the young kid Frank Clark. All three of those guys are working hard at that position."
Rapport with Denard: "I got on him today. He didn't play every play of yesterday's practice, and I yelled at him during stretch today: 'Boy, you must be as fresh as a daisy today,' and he gave me something back.' I love him."
The wide receivers are his adopted children. Goes over and talks crap to them every day.
General: "Our practices are not for the faint of heart. We get after them pretty good." It has been a real real grueling training camp. (We want to) see what they're made of when they're tired." But they're going to taper the intensity as gameday approaches.
On Denard: "He's picked it up. What we're trying to do is wean him a little bit. From the pass game perspective, we're not giving him so much that he's overwhelmed. It's what I call a starter set."
Right now this "starter set" of plays is about 65-70% of the SDSU playbook.
"As he feels better about it, we'll feed him a little more, particularly in the pass offense."
Chris Barnett? Talk to the hand. Or Hoke.
Starting RB: "Mike Shaw is definitely one of our ... if we played tomorrow, he'd probably be our starting running back." Has had a "heck of a camp, as has Fitz, and Stephen Hopkins, and Vince Brown" -- oopsies -- "Vince Smith." Smith is doing more situational stuff (aka 3rd down) but can still "run from the home position. We're not eliminating him from the fold that way."
There wasn't a lot of hype on Shaw before camp because of his hand injury. "He was not a participant in a big part of spring football ... I didn't really have a good bead on him other than what he had done before."
Freshmen? "We have two kids that are going to have a great future, but at this point, Justice Hayes is still developmental, and Thomas has had an injury that set him back ... Probably somebody will redshirt, but it's still too early to tell."
Expect to see just Shaw, Fitz, Hopkins, and Smith at this point. Rawls has missed a couple weeks with the injury, but he's back.
O-line: "We feel pretty good about our first five guys, first six guys, maybe even seven guys." It's a chemistry position, and likes the way it's shaking out. Funk is a very good technician. "He coaches them to the bone on the steps and all the things you gotta do to play that position, and they've come around."
Receivers: "I think you're going to see more than Junior and Roy out there." Hemmingway and Roundtree will start outside. Grady has done good job, and so has Gallon. Jeremy Jackson has good range because of his size. "Drew Dileo, he'll go in the middle and catch the ball. He's fearless." Will rotate often to keep players fresh because injuries occur more often when players are tired. WRs run a lot in camp, especially, but the coaches will be backing off on them for this last week.
Right tackle battle: "Mark Huyge has been very consistent. Mike Schofield has developed a great deal since spring - athletic, runs well. There will be a role for him, too." Feels good about the position. Good depth.
On Barnum: "Ricky is as athletic as anyone on our line. Ricky is a tough guy." Biggest problem is that he's a little underweight, but he's gotten stronger, doesn't get pushed around, and "looks like a back out there sometimes when he runs."
On scripting opening plays: "In the old days I used to script a lot more." Would script up to 25 plays, but is doing less these days. Never got to the last 10 plays, so stopped scripting so much. Just wants to call what they practice. "If you practiced it, you should do it in the game, otherwise that's bad economy of offense."
An esteemed Big Ten Network analyst said that Denard is going to be out of the shotgun more. "Dinardo said that, didn't he. Esteemed? Nah ... " JK. "Gerry if you're out there, you know I'm kidding."
"Shotgun is not deuce(?). We're tailoring the gun more to his skills ... We're going to use Denard the way he can best exploit the defense."
Which of his past offenses will this resemble most? "None." Nucleus of offense still same as when he started in 1986. QB skill set still most important aspect, so gotta tailor to that.
Thoughts on giving Devin PT? "I'm not promising anything on that, and if I was I wouldn't tell you anyway."
On last weekend's scrimmage: "Physical nature was good on both sides of the ball." Saw ability to create big plays, but too many self-inflicted wounds. We have to remedy that before we play. "When you're transitioning offenses -- and trust me guys I've done this a bunch, OK? -- you can survive if the damage you do (to yourself) is not excruciating ... you're going to have some pain, but if those aren't things that are catastrophic, you can survive."
Ryan Van Bergen
General: "We've had our ups and down like anybody would in camp." Still striving for consistency. "You probably question your commitment if you're not fully into it in practice. We go full pads every day. We bang everyday."
How much more physical, maybe percentage-wise, are the practices compared with last year? "I don't have the stats in front of me [zing!] but statistically offensive line and defensive line, we bang everyday. We probably have periods of five minutes each. We probably have close to ten periods that are full-go offensive line (vs) defensive line, and that's not counting individual periods where the defensive line is servicing the defensive line and we're going against each other. We're very physical." Very.
Are you 5-tech or 3-tech? Currently playing both "depending on situations, who we're playing. Right now I've been repping both of them, and I'm comfortable with both of them. I've played both of them in the past. Fortunately I'm 290 lbs now. The last time I played 3 technique I was 260 and I don't think that went too well. I'm much more comfortable with the weight I'm at."
"I prefer 5-technique because I get to go against my bud back there." (Hi Taylor!) "Me and Taylor, we're real competitive. You know, we're good friends -- best buds. We got rings. It's no big deal."
Does moving people around hurt D-line chemistry it at all? "I can see how that's the perception, but that's not the case at all. The D-line has been together for so long. When you have that many reps with each other, regardless of what positions you're playing, you're still pretty comfortable with each other. Everybody has been together long enough that we feel chemistry regardless of who's in."
On Frank Clark: He's got raw athleticism. He's a fast guy, did track in high school. Coaches have been impressed.
Did you say something about rings? "No, it's just that me and Taylor, we're best buds. We talk about it sometimes."
Personal record between him and RVB? "It was 2-1 (Lewan) before today, and then we did 1-on-1 drills. He beat me today. But a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, right? So it's all good."
How's the O-line chemistry? Good. Lots of guys competing for positions. Mike Schofield especially. "He's everywhere. Right guard, right Tackle, left tackle, he's all over the place. It only makes everybody better. He pushes me, he pushes Huyge, he pushes Patrick Omameh, and that's awesome."
On Chris Bryant: "He's shown a lot of improvement. He got his weight down a lot, he's shown a lot of athleticism for a big guy. As far as playing this year, I'm not positive -- I'm not a coach, but I think he's doing some really good things, and I'm excited about his future."
Is this offense as efficient as last year? "We'll get four yards, and that's successful for us. We're much more into nickel and diming it, just moving the ball up and down the field. Controlling the game. That's a big part of us now, and how Michigan has been for a while."
On Barnum: "He's improved so much. He's playing like a redshirt senior." With Schilling gone, Barnum picked it up. NBD.
Molk's leadership? Quiet, sturdy. Like a rock.
Borges' coaching style: "There will be times in practice where he'll get up in our faces and tell us you need to do this this and this. Other times sit back, he'll get up on the thing where you film practice, what's it called?" The lift. "The lift! Thank god, you guys are smarter than me. He'll get up on the lift, and he'll call the play, read the defense, and he'll be out of it." Doing both is good for the offense.