to play football, not to play trumpet
Well, what can you take from that? At halftime I was sure the USA was going three-and-out at the World Cup after a dismal showing that saw the one good US chance something Jozy Altidore created entirely on his own versus a series of knee-buckling counter-attacks from Turkey that repeatedly caught US midfielders out of position. Doom.
Four subs and 45 minutes later… hey… a result against a basically A-level Turkey team that's got a considerably better Silver ranking (24) than either Slovenia (35) or Algeria (a stunning 64th, well behind South Africa and ahead of only minnow-tastic New Zealand and North Korea). And a deserved one. Bring on England.
Jose Torres. I can put many words down or I can point you to the five minutes that cover every touch Torres had in the Turkey game:
That is five solid minutes of possession and passing porn. Torres's composure on the ball reminded me of the Holland friendly earlier this year. In that dismal loss, whenever the USA would put the Dutch in a tough spot in the midfield they would keep it with deft touches and accurate passes; the US would either lose it or dump it back to Demerit, who would hoof it upfield. That was kind of what the first half was like with Ricardo Clark swinging back towards wildly useless—it's always one or the other with him. Enter Torres and the world changes. That highlight reel is composure under pressure and a wide array of great passes that break pressure and set the US up in space that simply did not exist in the first half.
After the Czech friendly I praised Torres's work but suggested his general "uselessness" defensively would keep him from seeing the field in the World Cup because he'd be a substitute and Bradley would favor the relatively more established Benny Feilhaber. I would like to backtrack on that as rapidly as possible. I'm not an extremely bald man with a furrowed brow and more soccer experience than scalp shine, so I can't rule out the possibility that against some of the USA's first-round opponents the tactical situation will call for an Edu or Clark or (I guess) Feilhaber. But I want Torres to start. I think it makes sense, too, with England's central midfielders not exactly the guys who will make Torres's diminutive stature and lack of raw speed an issue.
Robbie Findley. Findley, like Torres, has seen a groundswell of internet support for a potential starting role—enough that Greg Lalas (yes that Lalas) has offered a "settle down, folks." I'd like to cosign that: you're choosing between Findley and Stuart Holden here. Holden was perhaps the USA's best player against the Czechs and has been so impressive with Bolton that they've offered him two contract extensions in the last six months. He's real good.
Findley, meanwhile, blew everyone's minds with the chip pass that set up the USA's first goal and put himself into the conversation as a potential substitute, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: it was Torres, not Findley, that produced the sea change in the amount of space and time the Nats had in the second half.
Steve Cherundolo. After an iffy to bad game against the Czechs—gave away possession a lot—may have forced himself into a starting role by controlling Arda Turan much more effectively than Jonathan Spector did. Also got forward effectively in the second half once the US, spurred by Torres, found itself in a position to use overlapping fullbacks effectively. The choice at RB may come down to how threatening the opponent's wingers are, with Cherundolo taking the tough ones and Spector offering a more attacking option against potentially less sturdy opposition.
Altidore, Donovan, Dempsey. All three are in the same category as players who either scored or set up scores—Donovan assisted on both—but still left something to be desired. For Donovan it was a little backtracking and an ability to get involved in the game in the first half. Dempsey impact was limited until his goal.
As for Altidore, this first highlight was brilliant…
…and he had a few other decent touches, but didn't have any other chances. The goal, well… it's nice that he's in the right spot but most people reading this blog could have finished it.
Still, these are caveats: X did not do this except for this one brilliant thing against a good opponent. Dempsey's ability to run onto the Donovan pass after deflecting it with his hip and then fire it through the keeper seemed fluky, but eventually when you keep doing ridiculous fluky things they cease being fluky.
I'd leave him up top. He'll need service to get involved in the game but no one on the roster makes goals out of seemingly nothing like he does. (Yes, he had moved back to midfield for that goal.)
Carlos Bocanegra. Is the holiest of holy locks to start at left back.
Stuart Holden. Holden didn't get much time but his cameo was productive; he was the guy who picked out Michael Bradley and put him in alone. Speaking of…
Michael Bradley. Had a major part in both the ineffective first half and very effective second half. See the above Torres reel for an indication of where he falls flat—better control on that pass leaves him in a ton of space moving at the D. There was also the fantastic run to get him one-on-one with the keeper late… and the pass that resulted. Bradley scored 17 goals in the Dutch league one season, so he can and should be shooting there. It wasn't a horrible decision since Dempsey did get off a shot that clipped the post, but, man, one on one with the keeper any international level midfielder should be shooting.
More important as far as Bradley's role on the team: the spacing and lack of tackles in the first half was at least partially on him. I don't know how much. Again, this doesn't matter much as far as the starting lineups for the WC: he's played every game, he starts in the Bundesliga, he's the coach's kid, he's an automatic start.
Tim Howard. Could maybe have saved the Turkey goal but tough to blame him; didn't really have much to do other than that except a couple of shots that were directly at him. Minor plus: got in some serious "I have Tourette's guys, in case you forgot" screaming at the defense in the first half.
Center back roulette. Onyewu had an encouraging second half, charging down a potentially lethal shot in the box and doing some unnecessarily high jumping on uncontested balls in an effort to prove that his error against the Czechs was not indicative of his fitness.
Demerit and Goodson, on the other hand, were kind of shaky, Goodson most prominently. To be fair, they were put in a lot of bad positions by midfielders getting out of position in the first half and shaky play from at least one fullback at all times (the window between Spector coming out and Bornstein coming on. But the errors from others exposed a certain lack of mobility that I don't recall a healthy Onyewu displaying. I think they have to grit their teeth and hope for the best with Gooch.
Jonathan Spector. May have lost his job in the first half after putting in a pretty ugly performance defensively. I'm not talking about the run that eventually led to the Turkey goal, as there were a couple of passes and some midfield pressure from the US that delayed the Turkey counter and should have let either Donovan or Clark rotate back; neither did. I think that's mainly on Donovan because of his positioning on the field but Clark's supposed to be a defensive mid, so I can see the school of thought that puts the blame on him.
Anyway, when Spector was in position his defending was poor to say the least; I don't know if that's an anomaly but since people who pay more attention to the EPL than I do claim he was amongst the weakest left backs in the league it might not be. Cherundolo shook off a poor game against the Czechs and was an immediate upgrade defensively. Against England and their blazing wingers this will be important.
Ricardo Clark. It was obvious that he was having a bad game even before Torres came on and almost singlehandedly swung the flow of play. Clark's played in just three club matches since the end of the MLS season and the rust was apparent. Even at the best of times he's marginal with the ball at his feet (unless he's uncorking a shot from distance); against Turkey he never even got to display this limitation because he never won the ball. If it wasn't Donovan's job to rotate back it was definitely Clark's. Torres, meanwhile, had 41 appearances for Pachuca across competitions last year.
Jonathan Bornstein. It's come to this: when he came on for the final 15 minutes yesterday I was rooting for him to get smoked just so Bradley would not be tempted to put him on the field in virtually any circumstance in the World Cup. Even with that background, Bornstein still managed to disappoint, getting skinned three(!) times in his brief cameo and getting lucky on a late offside trap that did not work except in the eyes of the linesman.
I'd send him home with an injury and call up Frankie Hedjuk. Seriously. I'd think about bringing in Tony Sanneh.
Next up: the last friendly, this against fellow World Cup participant Australia in South Africa. It's at 8:30 AM on Saturday. With a full week until the England match, the US can put whoever it wants on the field without worrying about fitness, so I'm guessing we'll see Onyewu and Holden go the full 90 in an effort to get them as match fit as possible. Bocanegra may also fit into that category after his surprise hernia surgery.
One man's starting lineup for the Socceroos:
Cherundolo Onyewu Demerit Bocanegra
Holden Bradley Torres Donovan
I assume both Dempsey and Altidore will make way for some combo of Gomez/Buddle/Findley, Spector will be given a shot to decide the RB position, and the central midfield will also see a healthy amount of rotation. Donovan will probably get lifted for Beasley just so nothing horrible happens.
In a little over two seasons of Michigan baseball coverage, I've seen highs and I've seen lows. In 2008, Michigan had an outstanding class of upperclassmen, perhaps their best since the 1980s. When they left, some to graduation, others who left early to the draft, Michigan was left with a huge void. In one year, Michigan went from a first place team in the Big Ten to one of the worst teams in the conference.
The 2010 season was supposed to be the first step to rebuilding. Michigan had two powerful senior captains. They had Ryan LaMarre, a guy now looking at being drafted in the first two rounds of the MLB draft. The pitching depth was there. They may have lacked the big star on the mound, but they were going to be good.
On Saturday, Michigan faced Iowa in a chance to make the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The game went much like the rest of the season. Michigan opened with a bang. The offense exploded. After it went quiet, the pitching held strong. But when the pitching left, so did much of Michigan's hopes for the NCAA.
Recap, and a look back at the big picture… or excel graph. However you want to look at it…, and a look forward after the jump.
Saturday 3:35pm ET
Notes: Michigan is 102-45 all time.
Iowa is 2-1 in the tourney, 0-1 vs UM.
Michigan lost to Minnesota 4-3 in 11 innings in one of the most thrilling Big Ten Baseball games in this writer's recent memory. The loss was pretty tough to take, but at the same time, Michigan doesn't seem to be stunned. The Wolverines will face Iowa in the loser's bracket for a chance to face Minnesota again in the Championship rounds.
Follow the jump for extremely abbreviated preview.
GBW is reporting a commitment($) from Columbus DeSales defensive end Chris Rock. Rock visited for the BBQ and was widely regarded a possible commit going in; it took a little longer but he did indeed sign up. Rock has the offer list of a solid four star, with Nebraska, Michigan, Oregon, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Pitt, and West Virginia among his suitors.
More later after we sift through a thousand links about that other guy named Chris Rock. This is going to be worse than Michael Schofield's commitment.
[Ed: Tim's update below.]
Michigan has gained a commitment from OH DE Chris Rock. Not that Chris Rock.
|3*, #49 DE||250 Watchlist DE||46, NR DE|
Scout says that, although he's a talented DE/TE in high school, there's a chance he could play defensive tackle at the next level:
Rock had another fine season at DeSales. He plays defensive end and tight end currently, but could possibly be a defensive tackle at the next level. Needs to continue to add strength, but has good size and plays with intensity...
As a sophomore he projects as a TE/DE but he's got the physical build to become a OT/DT in the coming years. Very good player who will have played and started at the varsity level for four seasons.
They list his strengths as "Body Control and Balance" and "Intensity/Effort," while saying he needs to improve "Lateral Range" and "Strength." He also describes his own game:
“I work really hard and have a great motor. I’m not the strongest kid, so I use my quickness to my advantage. I’m very disciplined.
“I definitely want to get stronger. I’m also working on my passing rushing moves and learn more moves.”
He's listed consistently at 6-5, and reports on his weight fall in the 235-260 range. GBMW took in a DeSales game, and gave a quick rundown of his physical appearance:
Chris stated his size at 6”5 and 250 pounds. His father appears to be marginally taller than Chris, leading to the possibility that Chris may not be finished in his vertical ascension. There is clear room for Chris to put 20 plus pounds on his frame. Chris does not appear to have much interest in the usual measurements of 40 time and bench press figures. But around 4.9 seemed to be the likely 40-time number.
The usual groaning about the quality of writing on that site applies, but it's still informative. From his next game:
Chris does not mind mixing it up, a trait that is an absolute necessity for a college defensive lineman, where the environment is one of survival of the fittest with no mercy asked or given. Chris contained pretty well all night and several times tackled guys outside the pocket area. He did not get locked up often. Chris also applied good pressure and used those long arms to knock down several passes. Chris rushes the pocket reasonably well, but as of yet is not the rare lightning fast edge rusher every university craves.
So: he's a pass rusher, but not an elite physical specimen like, say Brandon Graham or Craig Roh. That hasn't stopped him from being the most disruptive player on a DeSales defense that has featured several D-1 recruits.
Ohio State recruiting guru Duane Long has had him pegged as high as the third best player in Ohio(!). In any class, that position would be a lock for 4-star status, and potential for 5-star. Not sure where Long currently slots Rock, though certainly lower than he did before. How much of that is on the basis of reduced production due to illness or injury his senior year?OFFERS
At the beginning of his junior season, he already held offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Pitt, Cincinnati, and Duke. He followed up with most of the non-Ohio State Big Ten, Nebraska, Stanford, West Virginia, and others. He wasn't getting the attention of the USC/Florida/Alabamas of the world, but a solid BCS-level offer sheet is nothing to sneeze at. Nebraska's offer, given Bo Pelini's eye for talent, is also a big deal.
Michigan and Notre Dame were his long-standing top two, until the Irish filled up at defensive end and pulled his offer. He recently told Tom he would be deciding soon, and the BBQ at the Big House may have help push him even closer. A late Oregon offer slowed down the decision process very slightly, but he chose the Wolverines this afternoon.
His ESPN profile says he notched 64 tackles and 15 sacks as a sophomore. As a junior, he was fighting through either illness or injury through most of his football season, and his production dropped off considerably. My estimates based on game articles are in the 50-tackle range, and he had 11.5 sacks including a three-sack outing against Cincinnati Wyoming and future teammate Jibreel Black:
"We definitely harp about our defense being the heart of the team," [Rock] said. "All week, our coaches kept telling me to stay low and get pressure on the quarterback. I knew their quarterback was quite a runner. We had to control him..."
"Chris was sort of in a zone," coach Ryan Wiggins said.
In his next game, DeSales lost to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney and another of Rock's future teammates, Ray Vinopal. That ended DeSales's playoff run.
He showed off some athleticism with a 55-yard interception return against New Albany, and a punt block against Findlay. There's significantly less talk about his performances on offense, but a 33-yard TD catch in a playoff game was notable. From the sounds of things, DeSales had a ground-oriented attack.
He was named 2nd-Team All-State on the defensive line, the only 2011 prospect so honored.
FAKE 40 TIME
JJHuddle provides a nice FAKE 40 time:
The 6-foot-5 and 255-pound Rock is a talented athlete in a big body. Rock runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and is also a key reserve on a very good DeSales basketball team.
That's slightly FAKE for a guy whose scouting reports unanimously indicate he doesn't have great speed - even for a defensive end. I'll give it four FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights from ScoutingOhio:
You can also see a highlight video of DeSales's loss to Cincinnati Anderson, in which Rock alternates good pressure with giving up contain. There are a couple more individual game and highlight videos available on Youtube.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
From the sounds of things, Rock is something of a tweener between a big strongside defensive end, and a potential defensive tackle down the line. That'll actually work out well at Michigan, where he can play defensive end in a 3-man front, or tackle on passing downs. His athleticism and size combination probably means he won't be an elite pass rusher, but can still get into the backfield a little bit.
He can be penciled in at Ryan Van Bergen's defensive end position. When Rock arrives on campus, Van Bergen will be a redshirt senior, with a number of prospects from the classes of 2010 (Jibreel Black and Terry Talbott) and 2009 (Anthony LaLota) littering the roster, he's a near-lock to redshirt to add weight and strength under Mike Barwis's program.
Following his redshirt season, it will probably take Rock a couple years to earn significant playing time in the rotation, considering all the guys ahead of him. By the time he's a redshirt junior and senior, he could become a starter, with potential All-Conference (but not likely All-American) potential in his final season.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Rock is the first true big guy in a 2011 class that should be pretty heavy on them. At least one more defensive lineman, a nose tackle, is guaranteed to end up in this class, and there's potential for even more than that. Either another nose tackle, or potentially another big-ish defensive end could join the fold as well.
Michigan continues to pick up commitments from prospects who play positions other than those considered to the most important: offensive line and linebacker. With each commitment at a different position, it reduces the number of spots available for non-OL/LBs. A couple more spots will go to offensive skill players and defensive backs, but expect the focus to be on those two positions of need.
Hopefully Rock's commitment is a sign that Michigan is going back in the "defenders with badass names" direction, peaking in the mid-90s with the likes of Foote, Steele, Sword, et al.
St. Francis DeSales pumps out talent each year, including Travis Jackson of Michigan State, Chi Chi Ariguzo of Northwestern, and Adam Griffin of Ohio state in last year's class alone. The class of 2008 brought Patrick Omameh to Michigan, and it never hurts to develop pipelines at talent factories.
I was wondering if you could give me some insight on why we haven't taken the leap in going Varsity with our lacrosse programs. We appear to have one more women's sport than men's at the varsity level (women's rowing is varsity, men's rowing is club), so would that make it easier to add a men's sport under Title IX? If Lacrosse were the next sport to go varsity, would we also take the women's program?
Title IX compliance isn't based on the number of sports but the number of participants, which gives football a big overhang and usually forces everyone to carry at least one more women's sport than they do men's. For some reason, even rostered walk-ons count in Title IX calculations. Here's an ESPN article about K-State's 124-member football team that takes the stance that the problem in this scenario is lots of walk-ons and not the stupidity of counting a player who's not adding anything more than the cost of his pads to the athletic department's expenses.
Adding lacrosse as a varsity sport will necessitate the addition of a women's sport. I am not aware of any that have the organization or success that lax does, but some club team is going to get lucky.
Title IX, at least as it applies to college athletics, seems outdated to me. When 57% of college students are women the gender to be concerned about has switched, and when a sport like football takes in millions of dollars it seems like it shouldn't count at all. It's supposed to be about equal support, and football doesn't require support in many places.
Have you ever determined, if it's even possible to determine, how many national championship games Bo would have coached, if the BCS system existed while he was a coach?
It will depend on what crazy mixed up BCS system you want to adopt. Since the Harris Poll didn't exist when Bo was around, you can't replicate the current system. Since that current system is the final expression of "the voters are always right," though, we can just use the AP poll as a proxy. If we're going by that, Bo would have played in the national title game in 1976, when Michigan was #2 and had eight first-place votes. They would have played #1 Pitt.
There were a ton of close calls, though: 1989 (#3), 1986 (#4), 1985 (#5), 1978 (#5), 1977 (#4), 1974(#4), 1973 (#5), 1971 (#4 despite being 11-0). With many of those votes close and between teams will wildly varying schedules, the computers might have been able to swing Michigan into a title game in one of those years.
this thought was spurred by your mention of Boise St potentially being included in the Mtn West. Do you think that if Big 10 expansion steals Missouri & Nebraska away from the Big 12, it might lay the groundwork for TCU & Utah (maybe Boise, as well?) to step in to fill those vacated spots? Given these recent bits I've read about the Pac 10 and Big 12 working together to seal the deal on TV contracts west of the Mississippi, it seems to make sense that both leagues might be up for welcoming in the hot non-BCS schools out there. In fact, maybe the PAC-10 opens it's doors to Boise??
I know you've been critical of teams like Boise rising into the spotlight, due to strength of schedule issues. I definitely see where you're coming from, but I think it's great for the game to have teams like that step up. I do think this kind of seismic shift/realignment/expansion is an opportunity for these non-BCS teams to come to the table with the big boys and really prove their worth. Funneling teams like Boise, Utah & TCU into the 2 major conferences on the left side of the country really would make things pretty interesting, and, IMO, ends the possibility of BCS-busters, at least for awhile. Boise St joining the MWC really just continues the problems that already exist, even if the conference moves toward an automatic bcs bid. I think I'd rather have the good teams from the MWC sucked out into the BCS conferences, and have the remainder of the WAC & MWC relegated into a B-league with little chance of bursting the BCS bubble. What do you think?
Will be interesting to follow, for sure.
The way the current system is set up there is almost nothing a team like Boise State can do to actually deserve placement in the national title game. Any team from a BCS conference with one loss and a decent nonconference game or two is going to vastly exceed Boise's worthiness. One or two games against Pac-10 teams a year does not make a viable candidate when the chances of you, or any other serious national title contender, losing against the remainder of the WAC is close to zero. That's my only problem with Boise. Move them to the Mountain West and now maybe we're talking.
If we're talking about my ideal version of college football, it would be seven setups like the Pac-10 has now: ten team conferences that play a round robin. This would never happen, of course. Personally, I'd rather have the MWC as a second Big East than jamming more and more teams into big conferences with no clear winners.
Attached is a spreadsheet showing our redzone efficiency since 2003. I have tracked various stats from the 2003 season forward and this happened to be one of them. This is % of points scored based on 7 pts per trip. Before the Illinois game we were right about average on offense and much better on defense (about the only thing the defense had consistently done well, thank God, otherwise things could really be ugly). I couldn’t find the national numbers prior to 2007 so I used an average of 2007-2009 (to date). The national numbers are assuming no 2 pt conversion and no missed xps. At that sample size I can’t imagine the other years straying too far from this figure.
National average: 69%
|Offense||RZ Trips||RZ pts||RZ efficiency||Defense||RZ Trips||RZ pts||RZ efficiency|
|2009 (wo/ Ill)||31||153||71%||2009 (wo/ Ill)||30||120||57%|
What does this say? I'm not really sure other than maybe Red Zone efficiency isn't incredibly important. The horrible 2008 offense was not that far off the average and actually better than the 2004 and 2005 teams; the beyond horrible 2009 defense was actually considerably above average.