"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
While Michigan fans can hope that current commits see their stock rise when Scout, Rivals, and ESPN update their rankings, players often stay stable or drop. In this look at Michigan's recruiting class, we'll see which guys have probably reached their maximum guru approval (or close to it).
MI/FL WR Ricardo Miller
|Ranking||WR #24||WR #19|
Why Here? When Michigan fans were told how good Miller was, it sounded like he was a shoe-in for 5-star status. Even the Florida rankings released by some sources prior to the release of Rivals' and Scout's official lists had him in the top 5 prospects in the state. However, when the major sites released their rankings he was a mid-4-star to both.
It's not from lack of exposure. Miller's situation (being a southeast player committed to a non-southeast school before the rankings came out) may have hurt him somewhat. Southeast recruiting analysts are likely to ding a prospect for being an early commit to a school from a different area of the country.
Prediction: Miller has moved to Michigan, so it will be an entire different set of eyeballs looking at him. If he blows up in the state of Michigan, it doesn't hold as much weight as if he had done so in Florida. Miller's move to Michigan probably helped him in terms of getting acquainted with the area, recruiting other prospects, and getting ready to enroll at the University. But it put something of a cap on his rankings. Miller will probably remain a 4-star.
FL S Marvin Robinson
|Ranking||OLB #11||S #10|
Why Here? Robinson has a lot in common with Ricardo Miller. Michigan fans have been hearing for years about how he would be a Locky McLockerson for both Michigan and 5-star status. He impressed at Michigan's summer camp as a rising sophomore, and ever since we've been hearing about how awesome he is. Eventually, the 2010 rankings came out... and Robinson was a medium-range 4-star. The only plausible explanation, given his apparent exposure, is that he just isn't quite as elite as we'd been hearing. If he isn't highly ranked by now, it's probably just not in the cards.
Prediction: He's listed at either OLB or safety, so if the premium sites can come to a consensus on his future position, it might help them figure out where he should be ranked. If he gets bigger, he could be an elite OLB prospect, but he has limited upside in the rankings at safety. Michigan has a perfect role for Robinson, either as a safety if he can keep his speed, a linebacker if he adds a bunch of weight, or as a hybrid if his physical development is complete. He doesn't have the speed that an elite safety his size would have (i.e. Taylor Mays). I think he'll top out near the higher range of 4-stars.
PA DE/LB Ken Wilkins
|Ranking||WDE #17||DE #31|
Why Here? Wilkins is much like Paskorz: a tweener that scouting services don't love. He's athletic and the services recognize at least that, giving him a 4-star ranking. His exposure should be pretty good at his school (trinity has produced a number of D-1 players over the years), so he is probably ranked where the services want him.
Prediction As a tweener, it's going to be tough for him to move up, despite the fact that his coach says he's more athletic than all of the D-1 prospects who have come through Trinity. Unless collects absurd statistics as a senior, Wilkins will probably stay right where he is: a low 4-star. The Quick DE position on Michigan's defense may be a more natural fit than conventional DE or LB spots. That should be encouraging to Michigan fans.
MI RB Austin White
|Ranking||APB #15||RB #17|
Why Here? White has torn through Michigan in the past couple years, but high school football in the state being what it is the competition has not been the best. Looking at Stevenson's results over the past couple years, it's not clear whether White's stats (which are very good) are a product of his team obliterating the competition or his exceptional talent.
Room to Grow? Literally, yes: White's a small guy who could use some time in the weight room. But he's also an established star at his school who's gotten a ton of combine exposure; there's no much secret about him.
Prediction: A good senior season can only do so much for White since he's smallish and proven. He may get looks at a RB/slot hybrid, and Rivals lists him as an all-purpose back, so showing off his receiving ability could give him a bump. But White actually moved down in the Rivals re-rank; not many do that and then bounce back up.
PA DE Jordan Paskorz
|Ranking||WDE #36||DE #59|
Why Here? Paskorz is something of a man without a position. Half lineman, half linebacker, he doesn't fit into lots of schools' lists of needed prospects. Still, Paskorz has some physical talent, enough that the recruiting services know about him. The bigger question is whether he performs on the field for his school.
Prediction Especially if he grows enough to become a true defensive end, and puts together a productive senior year, he can move up somewhat. The sites have pretty different opinions of him, so he's might move one way or the other. Scouting services will never really be enamored with players that don't have obvious NFL potential. Unless he gets more athletic or bigger in an obvious way during his senior year, he's stuck where he is.
TX RB Stephen Hopkins
|Ranking||RB #80||RB #57|
Why Here? Hopkins has been solid, but not great, against high-level Texas competition. He has led his team to successful playoff runs in the past couple years. However, he lacks that one attribute that really sets him apart. He runs tough, but doesn't truck the hell out of guys. He'll get to the second level, but not outrun everyone in the secondary. He'll put a move on you, but won't make most defenders go looking for their jockstraps.
Prediction: Since he plays good competition in Texas, if Hopkins has a big season of any sort he could move him up. But he has the exposure and body of work that comes with being a two-year-starter at a big Texas program and hasn't gotten more three stars from the recruiting sites. He might move up a little bit if he's able to put in the offseason work to increase his speed or toughness, but I'd be surprised if he gets to a fourth star. He should end up a high(er) 3-star, not far from his current ranking. Note that Hopkins disagrees with this assessment, stating he's been told a big year will get him a fourth star.
OH OL Christian Pace
|Ranking||OC #7||OG #36|
Why Here? Pace's film is impressive. He is an aggressive blocker who will drive defenders into the ground. However, he is limited from being ranked any more highly by his height. At only 6-3—which may be exaggerated—he does not have ideal size for a guard, nor does he excel in pass protection. Pace's team success may not have much bearing on his ranking, so even if they improve from last year's finish, he won't reap much benefit. He will probably not grow. That will always limit him in the eyes of the recruiting services, regardless of how impressive his film is.
Prediction Even though Rivals scouts drooled over his junior film, they actually moved him down in their recent re-rank. If Pace has a dominant year blocking (and his Scouting Ohio film certainly indicates that he's capable of that), he could move up to low 4-star status, but he had a dominant junior year and didn't go anywhere.
Pace seems a lot like current Michigan center David Molk, who is a short but effective center. In the Michigan system, slightly smaller but more athletic interior linemen can still have success (again, see Molk).
LA Slot Drew Dileo
|Ranking||ATH #58||WR #27|
Why Here? Dileo has been productive in his high school career, but perhaps his ranking is held down by a few factors: 1) His team is routinely a behemoth in its small-division Louisiana competition, so it's tough to gauge individual talents at times. 2) He is a 5-10 wide receiver. 3) He is a white wide receiver. None of these factors are likely to change this year, so look out. He has limited upward potential - but as with lots of little guys, that might not mean detrimental things about his career at Michigan.
Prediction Like I said, if the scouts don't already know about Dileo, it’s not because he hasn’t been exposed. He is likely stuck in neutral as far as his rankings go. The situation from last year won't change, and barring an absolutely transcendent performance (which doesn't seem likely), he'll stay where he is. Worse still, other players might be able to move up and pass him down the road, dropping his ranking even further than its current level.
Check it. Spent a large chunk of the weekend trying to figure out how to roll my own video hosting thing so the UFR videos could go somewhere where they would not be struck down by overzealous people accusing me of piracy. This did not go well. But it turns out in the year since I last checked my third-party options, YouTube went from unusable and ugly to swanky as hell. The tubes and one slick popup module yield a net effect that is pretty cool. Clip embedding returns to UFRs this fall.
Embeds ahoy. This would be better if it was the Coner, but it's Mike Cox and it's still pretty awesome:
Around 1:45 Cox dances himself up some cleans and then looks tired… a dramatic re-enactment of a Barwis workout? Also, someone call up The Oklahoman's Barry Tramel so he can call for Cox to be shot.
Elsewhere in video straight from the football team, Zoltan faced off with Filip Filipovic in an attempt to whack the top of Newsterbaan with a punt. Filipovic failed. (Zoltan at one point deploys "FAIL" IRL LOL.) Zoltan got it in one. Newsterbaan is very large, but Zoltan cannot be contained in any enclosed space. He expands to fill the universe.
The real Lloyd Carr is halfway to Alpha Centauri. Lloyd… are you feeling okay?
“I absolutely think what we have can be improved upon because right now, we got two teams and they are voted in,” Carr said. “It’s a two-team playoff but it’s voted in. Let’s start with the idea, take the four best teams and they’ll be controversy there.”
Carr maintained he wanted to keep the bowl format but felt too often, players would be kept out of playing for the national title, not because of on-field performance, but because of computers, coaches who are voting and a bunch of things that have nothing to do with actual play on the field.
Jokes aside, this isn't out of character for Carr. As he aged he got publicly discontent with the state of college football. There was one quote about how the players should be paid now that the 12th game had become such an obvious money-grab, and "fah, money" was a common complaint as his term wound down. You will note that Carr's playoff solution is the most conservative one possible, though.
Not that it matters. As always, the Great Looming Bald Man ruins everything:
“I was with (Big Ten) commissioner (Jim) Delany last night,” Carr said. “I have great regard for him and it does not sound like, in listening to him, it does not sound like a playoff is (going to happen)."
Good, bad, I'm the guy with the butter knife. Rodriguez gets frank about the talent on last year's team:
"It was like taking a butter knife to a gun fight," Rodriguez said.
…ohhhhh crap they're gonna blow up about this media fiasco again…
"And that was not from a talent standpoint, but more from an experience standpoint. As much as we tried to coach and educate them, they were going to be in a tough battle, and we knew that coming in."
And last year comes into yet more focus. Michael Shaw's sports hernia*, Jonas Mouton's shoulder issue, and Donovan Warren's bone-chips-with-ankle-salsa…
Donovan Warren needed to get his nagging high-ankle injury, complete with loose bone chips, addressed with spring surgery.
"Talking with trainers and Donovan, he's as good as he's ever felt," Gibson said this summer. "Nobody really knows it except (us what he endured). He wasn't healthy at all. There wasn't one game he was healthy. We had to sit him out of drills to get him healthy. We'd never get him right."
…are amongst the many reasons Michigan was poor last year and figures to get a lot better this year. Shaw may not be slated to start but Mouton and Warren were Michigan's best linebacker and defensive back, respectively, and neither was healthy. From the sounds of it Warren wasn't anywhere near healthy. This is good, as it provides an explanation for Warren's sophomore-year plateau other than "just isn't very good."
*(A "sports hernia" is a somewhat less gross version of the inguinal hernia**; an inguinal hernia is when the little bits that seal off your testicles from the rest of your body rupture and you keep getting intestine in your scrotum. When you get the infamous "turn your head and cough" test they're checking to make sure you don't have an inguinal hernia.
I have the feeling some "sports hernias" are really inguinal hernias that people would rather not disclose to the public for obvious reasons. Like "ewwwww.")
**(DON'T DO IT DON'T DO IT I WARNED YOU)
Etc.: Rodriguez loads up on walk-ons, some of whom will hopefully be useful; "Stevie Brown looking to prove self" stories on their third go-round; Meechigan Dan submits a diary that I'm not front-paging because I fear a mullet invasion but the upshot: over the last four years 'Bama has signed 107 players to Michigan's 84. Whoah.
I wrote the band director last season and complained that I couldn't hear the band in Section 21. He wrote me back and was very nice but said that NCAA rules prohibit any kind of amplification of the band. I think that the completion of the new boxes will help reflect the band back to those of us sitting in the old folks sections.
…and I thought "awww" to myself. I spent a season or two in the band deadzone and feel for the people stuck there. Then I got an email from someone on the listserv of the College Band Directors National Association forwarding along a mighty interesting email from one of the marching band's assistant directors:
Recently, we were posed with a question from our Athletic Department regarding the possibility of amplifying the Michigan Marching Band and projecting it through house speakers during the game to maximize the in-game atmosphere.
Naturally, we have logistical concerns regarding amplification quality, delay, operation of the microphone, etc. Do any of you have experience with amplifying your marching band?
There followed a series of questions designed to get a handle on amplification, quality, delay, and whatnot; the point is that the Athletic Department is on the same wavelength, man. And unless the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing, this is a legit possibility. Upon reflection, an NCAA prohibition on amplifying the band doesn't make sense when you can blast music from the loudspeakers at any volume you choose.
So then it's just a technical issue. HOWEVA, it appears to be a significant one. Another email:
Regarding your comment about putting mics on the band to make sure the whole stadium can hear it: it's a bad idea. No, strike that. It's a good idea that is nearly impossible to do with good results. I've been a sound engineer in various situations and capacities for 10 years or so, and micing an area as large as the Michigan Marching Band, outdoors, combined with a public address system would be a nightmare. (Plus, I know the guys at UM who would be asked about this, and I'm sure they would agree with me). It's bad enough indoors in theaters, which are relatively controlled environments. I guarantee it would sound like hell coming out of the speakers. Much worse than RAWK MUSIC. And that's coming from someone who is in complete agreement with you on that topic.
Just thought you'd like to know.
I followed up with this guy asking if a dedicated set of speakers covering just a portion of the stadium—the deadzone—would be more feasible. The response:
That would make it better, with less bleed from the speakers, therefore less feedback. The big problem comes from the mics themselves: to cover the band, one either needs a few mics far away, or lots of mics close up. The problems with either are fairly obvious. Fewer mics = more noise, more mics = more obtrusive. If you gave me a nice big budget and free reign to hang speakers, I might be able to do something tolerable, but that never happens, right?
No, it usually doesn't. Though if there's a money issue I'd be surprised. More likely are structural/technical ones.
In summary: it appears you can amp your band, or at least the athletic department thinks you can. They are looking into it. But they're going to find a host of technical issues that may make it infeasible.
The other option, as suggested to me by various band folk, is just to eschew musicianship and strive to blast people's hats off. Apparently the MMB has gotten quieter over the years as it's gotten more technical, and this is due to the people running the thing. They're not likely to change in the near future.*
Denizens of the deadzone are probably going to have to suck it up and deal with it. They will get some relief this year, when the sonic impact of the luxury boxes is complete, and in 2010, when they remove the pressbox and open up more space via which sound can flow to them.
Side note: judging from the volume (ha!) of email I've received on the subject and the comment count of the above-mentioned screed (currently pushing 200), this is a subject that arouses great passion around these parts. If Rodriguez wants to fire up the stadium he should threaten to pipe in a ton of music the week after Michigan loses.
*(I don't know anything about music other than "hit the strum bar when the note arrives" but I'm pretty sure I blame director of bands Michael Haithcock, who killed Yost's dancing band director tradition because he thought it was lewd or undignified or something and has overseen the MMB's dip in volume. Anyone remember that episode of Coach where Craig T. Nelson is at war with a priggish band director who doesn't see the importance of all this football surrounding his halftime show? No? Just me? Well it was just like that anyway.
It seems relevant that Haithcock's last job was a 23-year stint at Baylor. I think he caught the Baptist.)
Editor's note: with the recent influx of quality diary entries I'm reviving a short-lived plan from last football season and bumping my favorite to the front page once a week.This might be tricky during football season but we'll play it by ear.
UConn taking popular choice Virginia to the woodshed 45-10 last year (sorry MaizeandBlueWahoo)
Donald Brown the 27th overall choice of the 2009 NFL Draft
Okay, it's UConn, the general reaction from the MGoCommunity has been, "UConn, why would we play them for the opener? Bill Martin is an idiot!" UConn's blog has caught wind of the opener and is pretty excited but has however noted our comments on the situation.
Man UCONN would be a HORRIBLE game. We all had illusions of grandeur for a huge opponent and per usual they get blown to bits.
It’s a lose/lose for UM! We win and no one really cares outside the fan base. We lose and we just lost to a middling to low BCS team from a weak, weak conference. I’d rather schedule a true pansy and just annihilate them.
UConn is worse than WMU. I hope it’s not them because a 7-5 team in the Big East does not deserve a home and home.
Ouch. Not our highest praise for the Huskies, they even said MGoBlog was "a simply fantastic website devoted to Michigan football". We do have a basketball program too, even if it is nothing like yours. To be fair, Connecticut, a program that has been in a BCS conference for less than a decade, is not our illusion of the Wolverines taking on the Bulldogs (no, not Fresno State) nor the Broncos. It's not the big splash that we anticipated to be sure, but this late in the process it's not totally a terrible "MAC-level opponent." They play in a BCS conference (the BCS is not every conference in the FCS Division, there are six BCS Conferences. The Big East is one).
Another reason that we are angry with this choice is the fact that it is indeed a home-and-home with the 2013 return game being played here. Rentschler stadium is not the Big House, it's only approximately 36% of the capacity. Michigan fans are frustrated with the fact that a precious OOC road game that isn't in South Bend is being played at a relatively tiny staium, and that Connecticut is getting a home-and-home instead of a 2-for-1 at least. Proposed locations for the return game include Gillette Stadium, Yankee Stadium, and the Meadowlands but are not legitimate choices because of this. Notre Dame screwed over UConn with the "5 games in South Bend, and the rest not in Connecticut" schedule which UConn did to get some exposure and go from "basketball school who has a new football team" to "big-time major college football program."
Not the Big House
Thus Michigan is resigned to play a game in the state of Connecticut , which is nice for the East Coast fans and alumni who haven't seen a game out there since Michigan defeated Boston College in 1994, but not great for many others. Brodie proposed going to the Yale Bowl, which has more capacity than Rentschler. Michigan will be the biggest name ever to play there, and UConn is lucky to have a big-time team there while only sacrificing one away game.
The MGoCommunity is also not too happy with the fact that UConn is not a team with the "prestige" of another potential BCS opponent, such as Virginia (see above). The point is, Michigan doesn't need a phenomenal (read conference championship contender in a BCS conference) opponent next year. Reasons are here, in Michigan Arrogance's excellent diary.
Some quick facts on Connecticut, not a lot is known around here about the Huskies. Most historical information (that being said, not much) found here:
- The Huskies have been playing football since 1896, and in 1-A since 2001. (Interestingly, they and Villanova were both given the choice to become a football member in the Big East. Obviously Villanova passed).
- They have been to three bowl games, going 2-1.
- UConn tied West Virginia for their only Big East title, but WVU got the BCS berth because of this loss at the hands of Rich Rodriguez. More on Rich Rod versus Connecticut here.
- Coach Randy Edsall is 58-60 at UConn, 49-36 in the FCS, and was rumored to be a candidate for the Syracuse job vacated by Michigan Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson.
- This is how the Huskies have fared since entering the Big East in 2004, not phenomenal but pretty successful at 34-29:
- In 2009, the Huskies look to replace 4(!) first day draft choices including Brown (above). They have a new offensive coordinator who looks to ignite an anemic passing game, which reminds me of Michigan's last year. They have a four-star former Notre Dame quarterback Zach Frazer who looks to lock down the starting job and a stable of backs to replace Brown. CFN, NY Times on Connecticut's 2009 season. We will be rooting for the Huskies this year because we want Michigan to beat a good team* in the opener. They are a young team and figure to be more experienced and successful next year.
Dan Orlovsky, former HuskyThus, 'tis Connecticut. A bunch of anonymous MGoBloggers will not change Bill Martin's mind (or a contract for that matter). This move does make sense as it is a BCS opponent, Michigan has a good chance of winning since by then Rodriguez should have the ball moving, and it is far harder to schedule and defeat a big-name opponent in real life than it is in a video game (I note your examples of Alabama-Penn State, and Ohio State-USC and counter with the seven mediocre opponents that PSU and OSU combine for OOC this year). Martin is reaching out to a very large alumni base out east and giving them a game in their vicinity for the first time in a long time, even if it is in a small stadium and a home-and-home (the largest athletic department in the country scheduled a home-and-home in Laramie, Texas plays at Wyoming this year). It's hard to call UConn a great, up-and-coming program, but the Huskies are improving and playing good football. Maybe it wasn't the Gameday game we were looking for, but it should still be a good game (which we will have a far greater chance of winning than if it was against Boise State or Georgia), the comparisons to the 2006 game against Vanderbilt are not fair. Kudos to Martin for scheduling the Huskies.
Some Penn State Fan who works with Anonymous Blog Reader, you have been pwned:
A remote co-worker of mine is a PSU fan. I spent last week in his location, in his cube to be exact since he was on vacation. His entire cube is decorated in PSU memorabilia, quite nice if you're a PSU fan, however I am not
I took the liberty of modifying the August page of his official PSU calendar. My only regret is that I can't be there when he flips that page on August 1st and is greeted by one of the greatest college football pictures ever snapped.
That is all. Carry on with your weekend.
Lines. Here are a bunch of Vegas lines, all of which are unfriendly to Michigan:
- vs Notre Dame –2.5
- @ Michigan State –4
- vs Penn State –5
- @ Illinois –7
- vs Ohio State –6
Notre Dame is a touchdown favorite over Michigan State despite State's recent ownage in South Bend. This has given Jamie happy pants.
(HT: Get The Picture.)
A tempo-free start. Texas blog Barking Carnival has put together a listing of teams by "pace," which is a concept unfamiliar in football but should be known to all who have heard me rail on about how Ken Pomeroy is an American hero. It's basically the number of possessions in a game. Adjusting for that can radically change perceptions of who is best and by how much:
As we move forward, one important thing to keep an eye on is that according to the standard per game stats, which are of course all that most “analysts” are able to wrap their heads around, Oklahoma’s offense was just over 37% more effective in Big 12 games than our offense was. It’s hard to argue that they were better according to raw numbers, but 37%? Sounds crazy. …
Here we can see that Oklahoma’s offense is now rated a more reasonable shade under 11% better than Texas’ offense. And whereas Texas’ defensive advantage was nearly 27% it is now just over 8% in the new analysis.
Oklahoma's offense wasn't that much more efficient, it just moved at warp speed.
Notes on the national list:
- Unsurprisingly, spread teams Oklahoma, Oregon, Houston, Troy, and Rice played the most possession-intensive games of anyone last year. Most of the top 20 are pass-oriented spread teams.
- Gus Mahlzahn and his Ludicrous Speed offense was tenth.
- Michigan was middle of the pack at 47; West Virginia was 69th.
- Interesting teams towards the bottom: Virginia Tech (118), Ohio State (117), Georgia (111), Iowa (108), Alabama(107), and Florida (106). There does not appear to be much correlation between pace and excellence.
It's a good start, but there are a lot of limitations to the study. KenPom adjusts his official pace measures by the pace of your opponents. That corrects for situations like playing Northwestern's basketball team a lot. This study doesn't have it. Also, there's no shot clock in football* and game situations dictate hurrying up or slowing down depending on who's in the lead, so one reason you might find a bunch of good teams at the bottom is their ability to get in front and then boa constrictor the life out of a game.
I'm working on getting a comprehensive play database from Bill Connolly of Football Outsiders, and when I get that my first priority is to put together offensive and defensive rankings by drive efficiency instead of raw yardage.
*(There is a play clock but here we're looking one level higher.)
Sad Pandas. It's been a bad week for the Feagin clan. Justin, of course, got the boot from Michigan for reasons unspecified. His uncle is in much, much deeper trouble:
Meanwhile, Steven Feagin, who played at another Big Ten school, the University of Illinois, stands accused of breaking into a woman's home in Pompano Beach, knocking her out with a chemical, then raping her twice.
By no means do I want to imply that Justin's thing was anything similar, or try to draw some link between the two. It's just… it's just a bad week for Feagins, is all. Poor mom.
(HT: Big House Blog.)
Come on down. Er, up. Memphis SF Casey Prather, one of two plan A wings Michigan is pursuing fervently, should be taking an official visit this fall. Rivals' Jerry Meyer:
Michigan is very much in the running for Prather, who recently had a strong showing in the adidas Super 64 event. There is talk that Prather might visit Michigan the second week in September for the Notre Dame football game, but those plans have not been finalized yet. Regardless, Michigan is expected to get a visit from Prather. … Prather is intrigued by the opportunity for immediate playing time at Michigan.
Securing Prather would go a long way towards crushing this blog's previous skepticism about Beilein's ability to recruit at a Big Ten championship level. Also: the Trey Zeigler rumblings have shifted towards Central Michigan, where his dad coaches. Rumblings subject to change, as per usual.
Etc.: AnnArbor.com is actually linking out. The homepage needs the equivalent of radioactivity something fierce, though. Yost and Crisler lookin' swanky. Texas Monthly explains the Longhorn money machine.