also duty-free guys falling over and grabbing their shins
Three separate sources indicate that Carr has made his decision to retire official and people around the athletic department are being told. The formal announcement will come after the Ohio State game, possibly at the Monday press conference, possibly a day or two later.
11/10/2007 - Michigan 21, Wisconsin 37 - 8-3, 6-1 Big Ten
There was a lot of contention around these parts after the Illinois game. This was confusing to me given the content of the post that caused the contention until a commenter pointed out that the title of said post, taken from a Ben Folds Five song, was extremely inflammatory without context. Ben Folds Five being a regrettably brief and obscure prequel to Ben Folds' regrettably lengthy and prominent solo career (which, let's be clear, starts with "Reinhold Messner" and sucks), a lot of people had no idea what I was talking about and came to the conclusion I was being a dick.
Maybe I was, but the offense was not intentional. I just thought Michigan was a pretty average team bailed out by an Illinois team hell-bent on giving the game away. Surely this no longer seems controversial. Since then, Michigan struggled with the worst team on the planet for a half, required a miraculous clutch performance from Chad Henne to beat bleah Michigan State, and got manhandled by a Wisconsin team still searching for a quality win. This team deserves its record, Appalachian State loss and all.
The real tragedy in all this, of course, is that I didn't wait a few weeks for Michigan to hold out a debatably healthy Mike Hart and Chad Henne, then bitch and sleepwalk its way through a dolorous loss to Wisconsin. Because what a title for this week, eh?
Could either have played? Absolutely. If Wisconsin was Ohio State they both would have, but it was not and they did not. You can debate the wisdom of this move, but not the result: the Wisconsin game was a glorified exhibition to Michigan. Both lines took their cues from the stars on the sidelines and took the game off. So did Ryan Mallett's brain. The kick coverage team, way ahead of the curve, continued its season-long vacation. In ways literal and metaphorical, Michigan did not show up.
So, fine. Whatever. On the road against a good team, saddled with a deranged freshman quarterback and a running scheme that almost requires Mike Hart's presence to function, Michigan lost thoroughly. Fine. The absence of Henne and Hart has nothing to do with the ability of the line to block or the defense to penetrate, but whatever. It's Ohio State week and Michigan can win the Big Ten outright by beating the Buckeyes. All of the pain and frustration and anger that's built up in the Michigan program over the past six years will evaporate if Michigan can pull it out.
If Carr wins, he goes out 7-6 against Ohio State. He goes out with four Rose Bowls in five years. If he loses, he directed Mike Hart and Chad Henne to 0-4 records against Ohio State and will spend his final bowl season in central Florida trying to finish in the top 25 at season's end. For Carr's legacy, this is the rubber match.
- The complete and total failure of Michigan's ground game in the absence of Mike Hart is the worst thing that can be leveled at Debord and, by extension, Carr. This was a defense that had even approached stopping anyone except Iowa's terrible offense and it held Michigan to 47 yards on 25 carries. The zone game is a failure. One cannot run 80% stretch plays and have a good ground game; when your scheme regularly depends on lumbering backside guards making tough reach blocks against DTs who are slanting away from them it is destined to suck. Only Mike Hart's brilliance has kept the run game afloat.
The blame falls on four people. First: Debord, for seizing upon the idea that a stretch is such a tricky play that it is in and of itself deceptive and failing to diversify the offense. Second: Andy Moeller, who has not put together an offensive line without enormous holes for three straight years. Third: Mike Gittleson, whose outdated strength and conditioning program -- most prominently seen hanging over Tim Jamison's belt -- has been left behind by every school except Penn State. Fourth: Lloyd Carr, for hiring (or, in Gittleson's case, retaining) all three mostly because they were well known to him.
Hey, Wisconsin: your cheese is overrated.
Radford demolition highlights while we wait for the game:
EAST LANSING - An unknown assailant spray-painted a block M, similar to the logo of the University of Michigan, on the brick base of Sparty early this morning.
The vandalism occurred between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., MSU Police Sgt. Randy Holton said. The paint was to be removed the campus grounds crew.
I love "unknown assailant," like Sparty is going to need counseling about this or something.
Oh, and, yes, the picture above is a fake. Look at the tree. For some reason an RCMB denizen put it together; maybe he's getting his bow on.
A snake! Awesome work by MATW:
(What the dickens is this? Surely you've seen Badger Badger Badger, no?)
An oldie. WolverineHistorian has put up Michigan-Michigan State 1979:
Audio by Ufer.
Beilein items. More quotes about practice:
"After the fifth or sixth practice, when I knew this is what it's going to be, I had to get over thinking so much and just play ball and just do what he says," said Sims, a sophomore forward. "It's a learning process. Anytime (a coach) transfers from another school and you have young guys who did not have much experience, they've never seen an offense like this before and were never taught the fundamentals leading up to the offense, it's going to be a tough thing."
Manny Harris says "he doesn't give you a chance to slack off," something that would prompt another useless anti-Amaker tirade if it came from a non-freshman.
People are calling:
Since being hired in April to replace Amaker, though, Beilein has learned that coaching at Michigan is not like being at West Virginia or the five smaller schools he has led.
"I've been sitting at home and have had some of the best juniors in the country call me," Beilein said earlier this week in his office. "We haven't had too many of those situations in the past."
Jim Calhoun is effusive:
"There's nothing I can compare to trying to prepare for his offense. It was the hardest thing we ever had to defend because they truly took advantage of you," said UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who faced Beilein annually in the Big East. "As much as you think that you're just going to be able to play, John does something in a very quiet, unassuming way. He creates confidence in his players, and they run their system impeccably. They can adjust in the midst of games, and they play enough different defenses [to keep you honest]."
Run Offense vs. Wisconsin
As noted in VEQ, the Wisconsin run defense is probably the most disappointing phase in the conference. The Badgers, so good a year ago, are an ugly 58th nationally and eighth in the Big Ten. Relevant opponents:
Every back in the Big Ten not playing for Iowa has done somewhere between 4.3 and 14.5 YPC, and a large number of them have gone over 6 YPC. This is a really, really bad run defense, and now they're missing starting defensive tackle Jason Chapman.
A quick glance at the above table and Michigan's shiny-ish #25 run offense seem to imply this would be a field day for the Wolverines, but it probably won't. Mike DeBord's run-heavy playcalling -- 59% of Michigan plays are runs -- obscures a rushing offense that's actually fairly mediocre. Sheer quantity makes up for 4.3 YPC, a number far closer to average than the per-game totals suggest. Injuries to Mike Hart and various right guards have something to do with that, but Hart is still gimpy and whoever the right guard is will remain subpar; the issues that have stalled Michigan's offense in the past will be present against the Badgers.
Those issues were certainly in play against Michigan State, a to-date horrible run defense that virtually stonewalled Michigan. Mike Hart had two long runs, one of which sprung from a sick Hart juke on an unblocked linebacker in the backfield; other than that Michigan had virtually no ground game. 19 of Hart's 110 yards were credited to him on a Mallett fumble recovery; remove that and Michigan's other rushes averaged 1.3 yards per carry. Add the long runs back in and Michigan hit... yes, 4.3 YPC. This against a defense about as good as Wisconsin's against the run, which is to say "not at all."
If Bruce's diagnosis of Wisconsin's problems is correct -- and there's no reason to doubt that it is -- then misdirection has been a major cause of Wisconsin's troubles. Michigan's offense features little misdirection and is basically using the exact same scheme these exact same players held to Mike Hart's worst rushing output of last year.
Chapman's absence and the unreliability of the safeties should provide Michigan an advantage they didn't have last year, but this is going to be a slog.
Key Matchup: Mike Hart versus his ankle. Hart can make losses into game-breakers, as we saw last week in the first half. The efficacy of the Michigan run game increases dramatically when he's in the game.
Pass Offense vs. Wisconsin
The Michigan pass offense looks great on paper but languishes at #70 in the nation due to a combination of injuries and the aforementioned run-heavy playcalling. The receivers have been outstanding, near flawless except when Mario Manningham is called on to block or lay out for a ball. Everything else... not so much. Chad Henne and his separated shoulder swung wildly from good to awful to outstanding against Michigan State. The line's pass blocking has frequently been dubious.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin pass defense Bruce Ciskie slaughtered in VEQ sits at a decently respectable 46th (in efficiency terms). They're 18th in yardage largely because the run defense has allowed opponents to end games with 20-something attempts. However, starting cornerback Allen Langford is out for the year, leaving a true freshman in the starting lineup and pushing a little-used backup into the nickel package. Other than Jack Ikegwuonu, this is suddenly a secondary adrift.
Given the dodginess of the UW safeties and the lack of depth at corner, there will be plenty of opportunities here for Michigan. Manningham will have Ikegwuonu dogging him all game, leaving Adrian Arrington alone on a freshman who, though he may be good, is unlikely to lock him down.
Key Matchup: Schilling and Carson Butler versus Shaugnessy, Casillas, and assorted other blitzers. Schilling had another week of trouble against a high quality pass rusher; Butler's blocks were frequently comical in their ineptness against Michigan State. If Henne is provided time Michigan should find Manningham downfield a couple times.
Run Defense vs. Wisconsin
Last week's opening paragraph can be re-applied:
Unfortunately, you could take the damning text in the "Run Offense" section above and reapply it to Michigan's run defense, albeit with a significant reduction in ferocity if you wish to retain credibility. Like MSU, a bunch of sacks has obscured the true quality of the run defense. In Michigan State's case the quality is "atrocious"; in Michigan's it's merely mediocre.
After throttling the Spartans in the first half, Michigan got pounded by Caulcrick and Michigan State in the second half. The stats were acceptable -- 3.8 YPC for him and not much better for Ringer if you consider his reverse-field 70-yarder fluky -- but only just.
Sources close to the Wisconsin program indicate that PJ Hill is not likely to go, leaving the tailback job in the hands of sophomore Lance Smith and freshman Zach Brown. Smith's the better of the two backs and figures to see a significant majority of the carries. He's no pounder like Hill -- welcome news for Michigan linebackers -- but is more of a slasher reminiscent of Antonio Pittman or Carlos Brown. He's averaging 6.4 YPC, which would be a cause for concern if the vast majority of his carries weren't against the likes of the Citadel, Indiana, and Northern Illinois. Smith missed Wisconsin's games (he's suspended for road games after a preseason shoe tiff) against Penn State, Illinois, and Ohio State; Michigan is the first serious defense he's gone up against since the Iowa game. He did well against the Hawkeyes, albeit in limited time: 5 rushes, 37 yards. There's not enough data here to be sure of anything.
On the year, Wisconsin's rush offense is much like Michigan's: strained by overuse and potentially overrated on per-game statistics. Wisconsin is averaging just under 4.2 YPC despite playing a hideous nonconference schedule. The run game was adequate against Iowa and Illinois, but crushed by Penn State and Ohio State. It's an average run offense, especially with Hill out; it meets an average run defense. The results should be about average.
Key Matchup: Brandon Graham, Terrance Tay
lor, and Will Johnson versus the interior UW OL at the point of attack. Taylor, IMO, did a good job last game of holding up versus frequent double teams. Johnson and Graham not so much. With a similar offense on tap this week, Graham's improvement against the run will be important.
Pass Defense vs. Wisconsin
Injuries have struck the Badgers here as well. Not Particularly Inexplicable Pretty Good White Wide Receiver Luke Swan is out for the year, and the loss of Vanden Heuvel will hurt more in pass protection than run blocking according to Ciskie.
Tyler Donovan has been just okay in his single year as Wisconsin's starting quarterback. He's slightly mobile, slightly inaccurate, and has decent arm strength, slightly reminiscent of a Brooks Bollinger. In their way, Wisconsin QBs are as predictable as Michigan's: mini-me versions of the Lurch statues Michigan runs out. Donovan won't be a surprise to anyone who's seen Wisconsin play before.
Tight end Travis Beckum remains Wisconsin's favorite receiving target; his 62 catches are almost triple those of the next active receiver on the roster. He will be an issue. With Swan out, true freshman Kyle Jefferson is Wisconsin's #1 receiver; Paul Hubbard has also just returned from injury. Both are tall, long-striding possession sorts; deep balls will likely be of the jump-ball variety.
Miscommunication got Devin Thomas behind the Michigan secondary a couple times against Michigan State, marking the first time since the post-apocalyptic Oregon game the Michigan secondary looked anything but solid. Of late they have gone up against erratic quarterbacks and generally won the day. Michigan's pass efficiency D is now a shocking 20th.
One concern for Michigan: when Michigan State ran play action Hoyer often had days to throw as the line tried desperately to shut down the guy without the ball. This might be less of a threat against a line that's been a revolving door against opposing pass rushers: Wisconsin is 100th in sacks allowed despite passing just 38% of the time. And their starting right tackle is out.
Wisconsin is without a true outside threat and has serious pass-blocking issues; Michigan is likely to do well against Tyler Donovan and company.
Key Matchup: Chris Graham covering Travis Beckum. Graham's alternated between totally blowing zone coverages and providing good-to-excellent man coverage of tight ends this year; he's the guy who will be tasked with following Wisconsin's favorite target around.
Kicker Taylor Melhaff is reliable, perhaps the Big Ten's best this year, but Wisconsin's punting and return games are mediocre at best.
Key Matchup: Kick coverage, argh!
- For whatever reason the ground game remains mediocre even against a terrible run defense.
- Oh, no! It's Evil Henne!
- Beckum gets loose.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- The first-down playcalling is remotely balanced.
- The Wisconsin line is as sieve-like as their stats suggest.
- Hart is ungimpy.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 7 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for They're Battered Everywhere, +1 for Yeah But Hart...?, +1 for I Have A Bad Feeling We Will Not Be Able To Exploit Their Weaknesses, +1 for They're Probably Better Than MSU And Look How That Turned Out).
Desperate need to win level: 6 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for Bielema Is Kind Of Annoying Even When He Loses, +1 for Yes, There's A Big Difference Between 9-3 and 8-4 (Or 10-2 and 9-3), -1 for But Really This Season Is The OSU Game)
Loss will cause me to... accept that we're going down to OSU again.
Win will cause me to... PREPARE FOR THE HURRICANE, BUCKEYES!
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
A totally healthy Wisconsin would be a serious threat, but a Badger team missing five starters and replacing them all with underclassmen is a significantly less imposing opponent.
Wisconsin's run game should be decently effective. There are enough problems on the Michigan side of things for the Badger to bash out first downs here and there. But the Wisconsin offensive line can't pass block. There's no other way to read the stats. Donovan's only thrown 279 passes this year and opponents have 29 sacks. Almost 10% of the time Donovan drops back to pass he ends up on the turf, to say nothing of hurries and forced scrambles. It's somewhat miraculous that the Wisconsin pass offense is as efficient as it is. Meanwhile, Michigan consistently terrorized opposing quarterbacks until it started worrying about Michigan State's run game. Donovan is unlikely to have much time.
Offensively, Wisconsin's run defense will probably have a brief, frustrating renaissance in which they will reach mediocrity. The eye-popping 6 and 8 YPC days for most backs around the Big Ten are not likely to recur, but 4.3 to 5 should be doable. This would still allow Hart to have a 100 yard day assuming he plays the whole game. Even if that's not likely to be a good assumption the problems with the Wisconsin run defense are so extensive that the Michigan backups will be fine. Henne, if given time, will find open receivers, and Michigan will have a typical offensive day.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Michigan racks up five sacks.
- Hart gets 15 carries.
- Michigan, 28-20.
Hill sounds like a gametime decision...again. [Status is now "not likely to play." -ed] I can't imagine that they're being truthful about his injury when it's going on three weeks for a "bruised foot". I hope it's nothing terribly serious, but I am starting to fear that it's worse than they're letting on. Vanden Heuvel sounds like he will be able to play. Jake Bscherer probably starts at RT, and if Saturday is any indication, Tyler Donovan will need another couple hot tub trips before the Minnesota game if Bscherer plays.
Lance Smith will run the ball if Hill can't go, being as this is a home game and all. Hill's loss is the worst. He's fat, yes, but he can break tackles, and with how this line has been playing, it's good to have a running back who can do that. Holes are not plentiful for backs to run in right now.
Sounds like Michigan's line, actually, minus Jake Long, etc. Who replaces Langford and Chapman? Are the backups tested at all?
Aaron Henry starts at corner. He's a true frosh, meaning he's bound to screw up a few times. I like him, though. He'll challenge receivers, something Langford didn't seem too keen on doing. On the line, Chapman is a huge loss because they weren't deep. Losing Ostrowski and Cooper might not have done much on paper, but it robbed the line of any real depth. I expect Mike Newkirk to start with Nick Hayden at tackle, and freshman Kirk DeCremer is in for more playing time at end. Newkirk had been playing at end and spotting inside until Chapman was hurt. If there's a plus, it's that these guys have all played. If there's a minus, it's that you have to believe they were reserves for a reason.
That leads us to one of the great underrated mysteries of the season: the Wisconsin front seven. They returned five starters -- maybe six depending on how you regard the booted Jamal Cooper -- from an outstanding run defense. Hayden looked a bonafide star; Casillas was poised to break out. But the results have been awful. Wisconsin's gotten bludgeoned. What happened?
Hayden's actually been okay, especially lately. The problem is that the front four was never all that good. Their job was simply to take up blockers. Last year, Zalewski, Casillas, and Levy made most of the big plays, especially against the run. Losing Zalewski was apparently a bigger deal than any of us realized, because the middle of that defense has gone completely soft without him. I don't know if it was the mohawk or what, because I never thought Zalewski was all that good. Steady and a good leader, yes, but not a superb player. He hasn't been replaced, and neither have safeties Joe Stellmacher and Roderick Rogers, both of whom helped against the run at times.
Casillas and Levy have both regressed, it seems. That's due in large part to the fact that they haven't been free to do as much. Offenses are getting hats on them. But I don't think either of them have been anything remotely close to adequate when it comes to getting off blocks and helping to fill against the run. The ends have been dreadful. Cooper wasn't even on the team last year, so we can't blame it on him not being there. Maybe Joe Monty did more than it looked like he did last year.
It's also a coaching issue. I'm not a fan of what Mike Hankwitz has done schematically. Guys are out of position way too much, and the blown assignments that plagued the Green Bay Packers last year have made their way down the freeway to Madison.
[18:29] bruceciskie: (See: Pass play to Hartline at the end of the first half Saturday. I'll never understand how he was allowed to get that wide open.)
Even Shaugnessey? He was like OMG sophomore(!) last year.
Shaughnessy has been injured this year. It isn't true, but I keep telling myself that. Takes the sting off a bit. (He's been freaking terrible. If I knew why, I'd elaborate. I don't get it.)
How have the safeties been? Mario Manningham is making an NFL push and has been lights out lately when not asked to block or stick out the ball to get a first down. Last year he was most of the Michigan offense. This year?
Can we not talk about the safeties? My mom once told me not to say anything if I can't say anything nice. OK, I'll talk about them.
Remember when you asked me before the season about what worried me about Wisconsin? And I told you it was the safeties. And you thought I was nuts?
I think I thought that was fairly reasonable. Aubrey Pleasant was an MSU commit at one point. Bad judgement, as Teddy KGB might say. Not a good trait in a safety.
Yeah, that. They've been as awful as I feared. Carter is a really good athlete, and you can see it, but he doesn't have ball skills, and his coverage skills are lacking. He's a better tackler than Pleasant, but I'm pretty sure Orson is a better tackler than Aubrey Pleasant. More on that in a second. Carter has some upside, and I keep telling myself that he's only a sophomore and is bound to get better. What bothers me is that I don't see him getting remarkably better. Now, for Pleasant. He has nice hair, and that's about it for nice things. Like Carter, Pleasant's ball skills are lacking. Unlike Carter, Pleasant probably would struggle to tackle Chad Henne in the open field. He doesn't take good angles and I don't think he's physical enough in one-on-one situations.
I've not been enamored with Jack Ikegwuonu, but he's been, by far, the best and most consistent defensive player on this team. That says a lot, and most of it is not good.
Yikes. I don't know how much you've seen of Michigan lately but the OL's been a bit of a mess. RT Steve Schilling gets beat for a sack or two a game, the RG is a carousel of different players, none of whom have been particularly good, and Carson Butler just got done nearly blowing the MSU game five times. So... this is not a slam dunk by any means. Henne seems fine -- when I reviewed the game for UFR he looked much better -- and the WRs have been excellent, but if there are guys who can get to Henne Michigan will stall. How's the pass rush?
OK, actually. The problem is that they've not been really consistent, and they haven't finished plays that well. But the press
ure has been there much of the season. They'll blitz just about anyone except Ikegwuonu, and I'm guessing that the plan against Michigan will be to pressure Henne because he's been banged up. The Iowa game saw Henry, who was nickel back at the time, blitz like 200 times against Christensen and cause a bunch of problems. If they're going to have a shot in this game, they're going to have to disguise and blitz. If they rush four and let Henne pick them apart, he will.
It was one of the few things that I liked about last week's game against tOSU.
Meanwhile, Michigan's once-deadly screen game has totally atrophied. Corso says slow 'em down with screens and draws, Debord! Listen to Corso!
"Listen to Corso"? I'm pretty sure that's never been put in a blog before.
Anyway, on the other side of the ball... how has the Donovan era gone?
Donovan is a great leader. Tough as freaking nails (sorry, but I'm frazzled because of upcoming travel and can't think of anything better than a dumb cliche). He took hit after hit against tOSU and kept getting up. He can make all the throws Paul Chryst (OC) needs him to. He's mobile when he can complete his dropback without getting swarmed. He's not as accurate as Stocco, and he did start getting a bit wild with his throws Saturday once the Buckeyes hit him a few times in the second half. But I am not going to complain. He hasn't cost us a game, and he did a lot of really good things.
Allan Evridge will have some shoes to fill next year, to be sure.
I can't help but notice a 2 interception, 0 touchdown performance against Penn State. What happened there?
PJ Hill fumbled on the first play of the game. The defense was almost completely non-competitive. They were out of the game long before Donovan did anything wrong.
Worst game I've seen Wisconsin play in a long time.
Imagine how you'd feel if Michigan's defense spent two quarters making Anthony Morelli look like Colt Brennan.
I would feel very sad. And then I would want to punch a baby.
Okay. UW is 32nd in passer efficiency despite that. But also 100th in sacks allowed. Fluke? Or a likely indicator of serious turf-eating to come?
The sacks aren't Donovan's fault. The line hasn't done a great job, especially in the tOSU game, when Donovan was often swarmed with no chance to survey the field. Admittedly, there have been times that he didn't run when he should have, but I'm not going to fault him for all of that. This line has been a disappointment when it comes to pass-blocking and blitz pickup. My favorite play on Saturday was in the first quarter, when the LT blocked down the line and let Gholston rush into the backfield, where he only had to beat the block of true freshman RB Zach Brown to get the sack.
I mean, Gholston against a smallish freshman back? Who drew that crap up?
Opponents have done that against Crable, too. Weird. I think it's just a protection slide to make the n00b's blocking assignment clear. Sometimes it's Roidy McRoiderson. Sorry, kid.
Dumb. So if we keep doing that, Crable is guaranteed two sacks...in the first quarter.
Maybe Smith's pass pro is more advanced. Michigan did the same with Carlos Brown in the backfield. Not so much with Hart.
Smith is bigger. Frankly, I can't imagine he's a worse blocker than Brown. [Note that he's talking about UW freshman Zach Brown, not Carlos. -ed]
He's just a better player at this point. Too bad he couldn't handle a little cab fare tiff with his woman.
Meanwhile, Michigan's run defense has gotten gashed up the middle pretty consistently this year. After a half of stoning Michigan State they buckled against a fat back. How has the Wisconsin run game gone?
Good with Hill and Smith, bad without. Smith and Brown might have a shot against Michigan, but I'd rather Hill played, no matter what happened last year. The middle of Michigan's defense is vulnerable, and Brown isn't suited for attacking that. Smith's better on the perimeter, too, but is at least passable going up the gut. Hill is the best fit for what Wisconsin needs in this game. Generally, I think Wisconsin's run the ball pretty well, even if the stats don't show it every week.
Any particular strengths or weaknesses on special teams?
The return game is still not that good, though freshman David Gilreath has improved as the season has gone on. I'm just not impressed. Mehlhaff has been solid kicking, and DeBauche is a good punter. The coverage teams have played pretty well, which is nice, and a lot of that credit goes to the respective kickers. But that return game still isn't impressive. I'd like to see them make a big play at some point, and doing it against Minnesota doesn't count.
There should be opportunities in the kick return game. Michigan's been terrible at it this year. I hate the kickoff from the 30 for entirely selfish reasons.
I have no serious basis for this, but I'm going to do it anyway. I think Michigan's offense is too banged-up to consistently exploit Wisconsin's defensive issues. Wisconsin is also helped by the fact that Michigan doesn't run the spread (sound familiar?). Henne gets hit enough to keep him from owning the Badgers, and Wisconsin finds a way to score points. It's Senior Day, and Donovan will play well. So will Travis Beckum, who is a junior but could very well be playing at Camp Randall for the last time. I say Hill plays, and he's much better than last year in Ann Arbor. Wisconsin 24-20. Please.
It would make my trip to Colorado Springs so much nicer.
I don't know how banged up the offense will be, actually. Henne and Hart will play and everyone except TE Mike Massey is (relatively) healthy. Hart will still be gimpy-ish, probably.
Henne didn't look like he could run a 40 last week. And he's not exactly Vince Young to begin with.
You could cut most Michigan quarterbacks' legs off and put them on a cardboard box without any noticeable drop in performance.
So, yeah, I fly out [to Colorado Springs] in the morning. Sunny and temps in the 70s while we're there. It's in the 30s in Duluth, and it snowed this week.
[Holy cognitive dissonance, Batman! Ciskie goes through and viciously mauls UW's entire defense, the offensive line, and the running backs, then says... eh... victory. I followed it up with a query about the sturdiness of his prediction in the wake of the Hill news. The response:
I'm sticking with it. I may have thought Hill would play when I made that prediction, but we all knew something was amiss because he wasn't practicing. If I was stupid enough to pick Wisconsin under those circumstances, then I'm certainly dumb enough to stick with it.
Allll riiiiight! -ed]