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.
never heard of it
The University of Michigan football program will open the 2014 season with a match-up against Appalachian State University on Aug. 30 at Michigan Stadium. This will be the second [sic] meeting between the Wolverines and Mountaineers at Michigan Stadium.
Sorry about that error in the second sentence above. Michigan has never played Appalachian State.
If you'll excuse me, I feel like having a seizure.
Tristan Nickelson on an unofficial visit to Auburn. [Photo courtesy of the Nickelson family]
League City (TX) Clear Falls offensive tackle Tristan Nickelson projects to be one of the top offensive tackles in the nation in 2013, and it looks like Michigan will be a serious player in his recruitment. The 6'7", 280-pound prospect is an ESPNU 150 Watch List candidate and could receive consideration for five-star status when the 2013 class is ranked. Excelling in the classroom as well as on the field, Nickelson carries a 4.1 GPA (!) and plans on studying mechanical engineering in college. His father was kind enough to update me on Tristan's recruitment as he prepares for his junior season, which kicks off tomorrow against the Hitchcock (TX) Bulldogs.
ACE: Who has been recruiting Tristan from Michigan? What is his interest level in the Wolverines, and are there any plans to take a visit at this point?
MR. NICKELSON: Coach Funk personally sent Tristan a hand-written invitation to attend one of the summer camps in Ann Arbor last June -- unfortunately we had a conflict in scheduling and were unable to attend. Based on NCAA rules, Tristan can’t receive any recruiting information until September 1st, 2011.
At this point (still very early in the recruiting process) Michigan would be his top choice, based on the new coaching staff, Coach Funk, the engineering department, and the incredible facilities. Tristan asked me several years ago, “Which top-25 program also has a world-class engineering department?" I answered Michigan, so since that time Michigan has been his favorite college team, even though I played for coach Jim Wacker at TCU (4-year letterman 1984-1988) and his mother played volleyball for Texas A&M. (Our daughter Taylor is a freshman at Texas A&M.)
We would like to explore taking an unofficial visit to Michigan to expose Tristan to the game day environment, and we're thinking that invitation will happen -- but again, most likely after Sept. 1st. It would be Coach Funk’s call or the recruiter assigned to the greater Houston area.
Tristan also plans on attending the Michigan Football Camp in June 2012.
ACE: What other schools have shown interest, and does Tristan have an idea of which programs are among his favorites?
MR. NICKELSON: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, TCU, West Virginia, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M -- basically everyone on the list has started showing interest in recruiting Tristan by inviting him to games and unofficial campus visits.
His top three at this point (in order) would be: Michigan, LSU and Texas A&M.
ACE: Does Tristan have a timetable in mind for his recruitment? How has he handled all the attention so far?
MR. NICKELSON: We plan on attending a number of college football games this season, then continuing with unofficial visits throughout the spring and summer. Tristan is being considered for the U.S. Army All-American Game (Jan. 2013) and could wait until then to announce his final choice. I guess the timeline is still undetermined at this point. Schools can start contacting him directly on April 16th, 2012 -- I’m sure it will get crazy at that point.
ACE: This might be tough to answer, being his father, but how would you evaluate Tristan's strengths and weaknesses on the field? Is there anything specific he's working on in his game right now?
MR. NICKELSON: Although several publications have him listed at 6’6”, 255 lbs. [and playing for] Clear Springs High School, the correct information is 6’ 7 3/8”, 281 lbs. (with a shoe size of 17) at Clear Falls. So we need to improve on his “feet work” along with his 40 time; at the Under Armour Combine he was timed in the 6.4’s, which he has since improved to under a 6.0. Based on the top 10 OT numbers, Tristan really needs to be under a 5.2 by spring football (March 2012). His shuttle times have also continued to improve, and I would say at the point in his career, he is a much better run blocker than he is on pass protection. On over 50% of the run plays, he ends up with a “pancake block.”
From a positive standpoint, he is very strong and increasing weekly as he matures. Several programs, including Auburn, feel like Tristan will play in the 310-320 range. He has a wingspan of 82.5” and extremely large/strong hands (Tristan had the strongest hands at the UA Combine -- 165 lbs. on pressure). He is also on the wrestling team, placing 4th in district last year as a sophomore in the 285-pound class (his weight was 241 during the season). He is being trained by one of the top Olympic lifting coaches in the country, Tim Swords.
ACE: You said that your son is planning to study mechanical engineering in college. What qualities is he looking for in his future college choice?
MR. NICKELSON: As I mentioned, the combination would be a top-25 football program with has a top-tier engineering school; it’s only a handful of schools that have both. In addition, we have talked about playing for an offensive line coach that played the position in college or in the pros, along with a head coach that will have some level of flexibility in regards to the engineering curriculum.
Based on recent events, it will also be very important that the program is in good standing with the NCAA, and not under any type of current investigations.
If Tristan has the opportunity to play in the NFL that will be great, but we have always stressed the need for a great education, which he has done a great job of managing to date. So from our perspective, the pursuit of the [mechanical engineering degree] should always be equally as important as playing for a major university.