that is nice bonus change
38-0. This year's Notre Dame game? No, 2003's, though it's sort of hard to tell:
Return from exile. The Diag notes that the Illinois game will not be on the BTN. I think we knew this well before the season, as Ill/M was scheduled as a night game to be on one of the three Mouse networks, but it's good to have confirmation.
Also... uh... anyone have a couple extra tickets? I am going, but am currently without tickets; given the reputation of Illini fans I would prefer to snag a couple in the Michigan section. Email me if you have a pair you need to sell.
Hockey highlights. Varsity Blue has a highlight package from the Wontario game:
Awesome to be able to see that third goal, which was a beauty.
More Miles. Michigan is one of the better programs in the country at getting its kids through school; Oklahoma State and LSU are not popularly perceived as such. Thus one frequently-lodged objection against Miles: he can't operate under the strictures imposed by Michigan. (Full disclosure: This is something I myself leveled in the summer.) Given his eight years as a Michigan assistant, that might be something of an overblown concern, but it's worth a glance. Meaningful numbers don't exist for Miles' tenure at LSU, but Oklahoma State didn't do too badly with Miles at the helm (all numbers are GSRs, which take transfers into account and are more accurate than federal rates; Oklahoma included for a glimpse at the general environment Miles was operating in):
Miles started at Oklahoma State in 2001, so the 1997-2000 cohort includes his entire team when he got to campus, but no recruits. This is therefore inconclusive, but it at least suggests that Miles wasn't completely irresponsible when it comes to academics.
In any case, these trends are more institutional than anything else. Northwestern would still graduate 90% of its players even if it hired Lou Holth; Michigan isn't going to cut back on its academic support no matter who coaches the team. Academics, IMO, are nonfactor.
Braves & Birds on Miles in the Florida game:
Bo Schembechler would have been proud of the execution of that last drive. Miles has also taken to heart a lesson from Schembechler that the current Michigan coaching staff has completely forgotten, which is the importance of being multiple in the running game. Bo's offenses ran the ball so well despite the fact that their opponents knew that the run was coming because they didn't know the direction or type of run. Bo's offenses typically featured a mobile quarterback who could threaten the defense with the option, a fullback who could do damage between the tackles, and multiple tailbacks who could run all over the place. Miles' offense has all of these ingredients. (LSU's undoing might be the same as the undoing of all of those Michigan teams under Bo: a spotty passing game.)
Depth Chart? Depth Chart has some changes:
- Likely meaningless disciplinary items: Minor OR Brown; Manningham OR Hemingway.
- The opposite of the first bullet point: Carson Butler listed as the starter at tight end.
- Probably returning from injury: MacAvoy is listed the top right guard. Will Johnson listed as a starter at DT. CGraham OR Brandon Logan.
- Probably not returning from injury: Ciulla back on the depth chart but second-string behind Kraus; Thompson second-string behind Ezeh.
By the way, I think we can officially rename Angry Michigan Safety Hating God "Angry Michigan Right Guard Hating God."
What happened to Wisconsin? It's been a weird year in the league, and college football as a whole, but one of the most inexplicable developments has been the wholesale collapse of the Badger run defense. Colin emerges from deep slumber to poke at the corpse of the Wisconsin-Illinois game, and this is what he sees:
The game stats pretty much tell the story for Wisconsin's front 7. 6.6 per carry, 1 sack recorded in 19 chances. I'm going through the game to pick up the nuances, but it's pretty clear why Wisconsin lost this game. They pretty much deserved to.
Meanwhile, last week Michigan State shredded the Wisconsin rush defense, too. And this team returned five of its front seven. Go figure.
Etc.: Maize 'n' Brew is pretty meh about the meh game.
Editorial Opinion: Woo nothin' happenin'! Two notes that don't show up above: long-discarded OH OT Zebrie Sanders took an unofficial to the thrilling EMU game, and Michigan has started looking at Traverse City kicker John Potter, a teammate of Dann O'Neill. Both sides will wait to see what the situation is.
There is good news on the safety front; CA S Vaughn Telemaque -- a three star but the rare three star with an offer from USC -- is still seriously considering Michigan and might (is probably)? even still favoring M. This from an article on his Long Beach Poly teammate Jurrell Casey:
"I'll probably try to make my announcement sometime before the holidays," he said. "Me and (teammate and close friend) Vaughn Telemaque (recently offered by USC) have talked about making our announcement together on FSN (Fox Sports Network).
"We're good friends and we've talked about going to the same school together, but I know he likes Michigan and I like USC, so it may not happen. It's just cool to have somebody to talk to who is also going through the same stuff. We're just trying to have fun with recruiting and not rush it."
Well all right, then(!). Given the performance of our current Jackrabbit sporting a USC offer, adding Telemaque would be excellent; hopefully Casey's forecast is correct.
Meanwhile, NJ S Brandon Smith took a trip to Colorado for the Oklahoma game. It's always good when an article purportedly about another team starts off like this:
Growing up, Smith says he followed Michigan. "My visit was great," he said. "I really liked the atmosphere there. The stadium is huge and I think it's the biggest in college football. It gets really loud and the fans get really into it. It's a college town so it's all about Michigan football there."
The Wolverines upset Penn State when Smith visited. "Michigan is bouncing back well since their early loss," he said. "They have a great coach in Lloyd Carr and great players and I knew they'd do it."
The Wolverines are the lone team that is recruiting Smith for safety. Everyone else is recruiting him as an athlete.
"It's gorgeous in Colorado," he said. "I loved how beautiful the campus is and how nice all the surroundings are. It's not really a college town quite like Michigan, but it's still a great place and the fans are great too.
Although Smith says he doesn't have any real favorites beyond Michigan and Colorado, he admits that South Carolina has impressed him the most so far this season.
Smith's also changed his commitment plans from a Signing Day press conference to an announcement at the Army game.
So... three mentions of Michigan, no mentions of Rutgers, the school presumed to be Michigan's primary competition for Smith, and a visit to Colorado -- a school that strikes no fear into this intrepid reporter's heart given how down they've been for a while, their distance from Smith's hometown, and the lack of that childhood-fan thing. Very positive update there.
TX S Keanon Cooper is visiting this weekend:
The Gophers now lead slightly over Wisconsin, Alabama, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Michigan. Cooper says he plans to visit Michigan for the Purdue game on Oct. 13, but the date isn't 100 percent yet. "It's not official yet," he said. "I really want to see what the game time experience is like at Michigan and get a feel for the whole school. They seem to have gotten back on track this season and the coaches are really coming after me hard."
Can't imagine that Minnesota maintains its slight lead after he gets done visiting; Michigan's got a good shot here, too.
Full board here and can always be found on the sidebar.
Oh, God, this ballot is insane. Why shoot up Oklahoma nine spots? Why move VT into the top ten from right outside the poll? Why shoot WVU up? Can I still justify Auburn behind UF? (Yes, I think I can.) I don't know anymore. Leave protestations in the comments.
Not that Emu. Highlights from the BTN:
More Penn State victorizing. This WolverineHistorian guy over at Youtube seems to be cataloging Michigan's win streak over Penn State one clip reel at at time. The current installment is 2000:
There is also a compilation of Michigan game-winning touchdowns over the years:
Miles, availability, etc. The occasional grumpy commenter who would like us all to prepare for the Brian Kelly era (which doesn't seem that bad an alternative) will drop in and assert that Les Miles will get a boatload of money dropped on him and will stay at LSU should he win -- or even just reach -- the national championship game. This NYT article that came out Friday implies otherwise heavily; this NYT blog post with fuller quotes from the principles of that article slathers it on even thicker. Former Oklahoma State player Sam Mayes:
He was never an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and I don't think that he's an L.S.U. Tiger right now. I think he's always going to be a Michigan man. I don't think he'll be content until he gets to that point. The way he would talk about Michigan and bring it up, 'When I was at Michigan.' Michigan this and that. It was like this golden fleece for him. I love my school, but with him it was something different. You had to see it. He'd say Michigan and get down on one knee. It was just crazy. People around here are joking that Les Miles has got Michigan colors on under his L.S.U. colors.
I'm sure some deranged Corn Nuts magnate can offer Miles his own effing Saban money, but I assume Michigan can and will make a competitive offer, and then we're into the whole "how many gold toilets do you need?" issue. Ben Wallace's answer was "all of them kthxbye"; Miles will probably say "just one, as long as it's Bo's."
Here's Miles' full quote about the Michigan job:
I don't want you to take the fast, hard line. I want you to hear me out.
I am indebted to that school and those people. Not Lloyd or the president there. But the tremendous memory of Bo Schembechler, and the quality that I was exposed to both academically and in football at the school. So I cannot in any way change that view. That's an honesty. I can't tell you my appreciation. My wife, my first born, my entire life is marked by my time at Michigan. Yet, I'm in a wonderful place here. I've got a great team. If I lose or have any distraction to that fact, that I would spend fun time, my time on something else like the view of that, would be a mistake. It would be a mistake and I really can't.
When I was a young coach, I had a school call me. It was so distracting. I did everything that I was supposed to do, but it affected me. Things like this really have no day-to-day change in the way I do things. I woke up at 4 a.m. today and I'm daydreaming, I'm not thinking about anything else but how to make this football team better. That to me is the right feel. I have great confidence in Michigan and they have a great staff there and they're going to do great things this year. I have no designs and nor has it ever been displayed to me that I'm the next guy, by anybody. I have given little or no thought to things that are not imminent. I really don't want to spend any more time talking about another program.
Lloyd Carr won a national championship and that staff is as quality as there is. I fully support what they're doing there.
Read from that what you will, but I have received multiple emails on this from people I trust: if Miles is offered the job he will take it.
Ashutosh has some thoughts on the Miles candidacy at What The Deuce:
Even with what Miles' has going for him, I still feel "eh" about him. I want to feel like Homer Simpson looking at a plate of bacon when the new hire is made/announced.
Mmmm baconcoach. That post went up Saturday... wonder if the needle has moved at all after the Florida game?
USA Today takes a look at said game and the fourth-down conversions therein. It slipped my mind in Sunday's post that one of the fourth-down attempts was a fake field goal; don't know if that changes the decision calculus any. It (obviously) worked, though.
Hot dog man. Missed this Daily article on the tube-meat-slinging cult hero of the student section:
As Michigan was beginning its comeback in Evanston, Ill. against Northwestern on Saturday, College of Engineering senior Jay Trzcinski walked to the front corner of the Michigan student section with an armful of hot dogs. At first, the crowd didn't recognize him, but soon murmurs began. Then the crowd started chanting "Hot Dog Man."
The rest of it is a depressing rehash of Michigan's attitude towards the stadium atmosphere ("anything fun is prohibited") compared to Northwestern's ("we are not crotchety"). Upshot:
He said he doesn't plan on throwing a hot dog anytime soon because he doesn't want a criminal charge and wants to be able to cheer on Michigan during the big games at the end of the season.
Hot Dog Man has been told his season tickets will be revoked if he throws any more tubed meats, which is preposterous. Maybe the administration's leeriness would have some merit if the hot dog tossing took place when the students were precariously perched on the seats, but at halftime everyone's sitting down. Les Miles would let the kid th
row hot dogs.
Wontario, defeated. Michigan opened up its 2007-2008 hockey season with a 5-1 exhibition win over Western Ontario that was somewhat dispiriting as these things go. Usually the final score of the exhibition is something like 8-2 and Michigan puts up like 60 shots to the opponent's 15; this game was 1-0 until a few minutes into the third when the floodgates opened. The Wolverine's Bob Miller has some impressions. Upshot:
This is going to be a very fun season for those who love developmental hockey. This Michigan team will have a solid core of players who should (no guarantees, of course) be four-year players and will be able develop naturally over time. No doubt, there will be some very frustrating games, but I can already see significant progress in most of the freshman from the first practice I attended 12 days ago. Very encouraging progress, in many cases. For those who demand lots of wins to enjoy the experience...well... you may have to decide if you can be patient through the inevitable growing pains.
Yikes. Some player-by-player breakdown follows. Personal opinions:
- Steve Kampfer still looks like the guy who got benched early last year. Lots of turnovers, occasionally turned inside out by Wontarians, still smallish. It remains a mystery how or why NHL teams thought he was worth drafting at all, let alone in the third round. Hopefully he comes around; I'm not seeing it.
- No offense to Scooter Vaughn, but God it's depressing to see #3 out there, think JMFJ(!!!) and then have it turn out to be anyone else. Similarly, the new #7, Chad Langlais, is exactly the same build as TJ except he plays defense. This is going to be a source of cognitive dissonance all year. They really shouldn't have issued thoes numbers until an appropriate mourning period had passed.
- Side note: Scooter Vaughn is a black guy from California named, obviously, "Scooter" who plays on the hockey team. Most unlikely Michigan athlete ever?
- None of the freshman jumped out like JMFJ or Hensick did when they were freshmen, but several of them showed flashes of talent. Matt Rust was compared to Andrew Ebbett by Miller, but the comparison in my head was Dwight Helminen. He has Helminen's wheels, faceoff ability, and backchecking prowess with a dash of offensive flair. Doubt he has Helminen's wicked snap shot, but his assist on Michigan's third goal -- a one-two-three tic-tac-toe job that was pure class -- was a beauty.
- Other guys I liked: Ben Winnett, a good combination of size and skill, Carl Hagelin, who probably didn't deserve a hat trick but was all over the ice, and Max Pacioretty.
- We're about to find out if Kevin Porter, top five scorer, was entirely a creation of TJ Hensick. Survey says: hell yes. He's still probably the team's best player, but is uninspiring as those go.
- One freshman defender I liked: the aforementioned Langlais. He's tiny and old (20 or 21 already, IIRC) but has some stickhandling and passing chops. Will be a fixture on the power play; reminds me of swashbuckling Eric Werner, who I loved.
- Sauer faced like one scoring chance. Goal was at the other end of the ice and I didn't get a good look, but it seemed like a goal-line scrum that ended up with him getting bumped by someone and then there was pointing and a red light. Not egregious. For that, see the Blue-White game.
10/6/2007 - LSU 28, Florida 24 - LSU all #1 and stuff.
Five times, LSU found itself facing fourth and short against the Gators. Five times, they went for it. Five times, they got it, and that's the primary reason LSU is #1 today. What does it take to sell real estate?
It takes brass balls.
Brass balls alone lead into the land of Weis E. Coyote and leads to things like running a Brady Quinn option on second and short against USC. This was more than that. David Romer, the patron saint of coach-strategery-questioning, would have approved of each call. A listing:
- With fourth and goal from the one, Ryan Perriloux cuts an option up for a touchdown, bringing LSU to within 3.
- On fourth and five from the twenty five, Matt Flynn scrambles for a first down. LSU goes on to score a touchdown. (At this point LSU K Colt David has already missed a 43-yarder; Miles is passing up on a 42 yard attempt.)
- On fourth and three from the Florida four, Matt Flynn rolls out, fakes a run, then pulls up to hit Demetrius Byrd in the endzone for a touchdown.
- LSU converts twice on the final, game-winning drive, once on fourth and one from their own 49, again on fourth and inches from the Florida five. Both times Jacob Hester bulls his way to first down yardage.
Three decisions to go were on fourth and short deep in Florida territory, and each turned a field goal attempt with a shaky kicker (David isn't very good and would finish the night 0-2, with one of the misses from 36) into a vital touchdown. One kept David from attempting a 42-yarder and eventually turned into another LSU touchdown; the last was the fourth and short on LSU's side of the field. Taken together they are a breathtaking tribute to offensive efficiency: four of LSU's nine drives against the Gators ended in the endzone. A further two ended in makable field goal attempts. There is a difference between this and mindless aggression.
The final call is the least debatable. Kicking a field goal is not automatic (LSU's kicker had already missed a 36-yarder) and gives Florida the ball back with about 2:30 on the clock to drive for the win. Going, on the other hand, either leads to Florida with the ball on their own six, needing a first down to kill the game, or what actually happened: first and goal, eventual touchdown, harried Florida drive that needs to go the length of the field to win the game. Anyone with a passing familiarity of the probabilities involved here should understand that going for it is the far superior choice, but how many coaches would pass up the temptation of a chip-shot field goal there? Certainly not our current set, and probably very few across the country.
Anyone protesting that had one of these attempts failed the consensus here would be "Les Miles is an idiot" has not lingered long over these passages or has forgotten certain things if they have. If ever I was going to turn my back on the Gospel of Expectation, it would have been after the Wisconsin game during the Year of Infinite Pain, when Carr decided to go for it on fourth and goal from the one. Matt Lentz tripped, Kevin Grady got stoned, and Michigan would go on to lose by a field goal. That game's UFR (a truly embryonic edition... the feature has come a long way in two years) makes one brief mention of it:
Still the right call.
So there you go. Miles made the right call five times and turned a loss into a victory.
Meanwhile, even the best coaches occasionally succumb to brainlock in the heat of the moment. Everyone's -- and this blog includes itself in this everyone -- prodigal coaching genius Urban Meyer blew 20 seconds after Hester's conversion before calling timeout, then failed to call another timeout after Florida's opening play on their final drive ended up in-bounds short of the sticks. When the Gators managed to cross midfield they had twelve seconds and had to settle for one harried play and a Hail Mary. If Meyer had used his timeouts appropriately by immediately calling timeout after every LSU or Florida play that ran the clock after Hester's conversion, Florida would have had a minute and a half to play with and an excellent shot at a game-winning touchdown of its own. That was coaching malpractice on a staggering scale.
There's a post about this on the Fanhouse, but I will repeat myself here: that game should forever dispel the notion that Les Miles is just an empty hat along for the ride with an epic amount of talent. Said talent bumper-crop doesn't appear to be materializing, at least not on offense. Matt Flynn threw horribly behind his receivers several times, finished with 144 yards passing, and threw an ugly interception. Primary Flynn target Early Doucet missed the game. Jacob Hester, who is From Nebraska even if he's actually from Louisiana, was admirably effective at battering his way forward and is now a local hero for all time but will make the NFL at the same time I do. The LSU offense replaces three first-round picks, returns (I believe) only five starters, and is breaking in a quarterback with only moderate talent and one career start. This is not a team that should put up 28 points (with two missed field goals) against the #9 team in the country on just nine drives.
The reason they reached that number is that Les Miles took stock of the options he had and let 'er rip. Average coaching loses that game. Good coaching loses that game. Miles and his staff were brilliant in one of the marquee games of the season, and LSU is #1.
I am sold. I will sign on the line that is dotted. Get some coffee, Les.
- Harbaugh? No. A group of friends and I watched the afternoon and late games together and everyone watching the USC-Stanford game started out conflicted save our resident Auburn guy, but when an impossible fourth and twenty turned into a first and goal, everyone whooped, and when that kid with a 1570 SAT stabbed his foot down for the winning points, everyone whooped again, and for a moment all that crap over the summer was forgiven. But it's just one game. The parallels between grabbing Harbaugh after that and Notre Dame dumping a ten-year extension on Weis are too eerie. He hasn't proven anything yet, and while I think there's plenty of evidence he'll be very good he's too much of a risk when Miles is out there, even leaving aside the garbage over the summer.
- Did we play a game? I guess we did. And of course this is the game that DeBord decides to open with something other than zone left and balance his run-pass ratio against a weaker opponent. He even threw the ball with Savoy in the game. Does he just do these things to spite me? Hey, Debord, I really hate it when we put up 50 points. Loathe it.
- An unwelcome addition to the playbook: an unbalanced line with two wide receivers in a twins look with a tight end to their side. The tight end is covered up in this look and is an ineligible man if he goes downfield. Michigan was 100% run out of this, IIRC. It worked well, albeit against Eastern Michigan, and clearly seems like a Debord Trickery special.
- Final special teams tally: one KO return inside our twenty, another instance of our punt gunners failing to do
wn a Zoltan hanger before it rolled into the endzone, two onside kicks recovered (to be fair, the second was about as perfect as onside kicks get), one instance of a punt returner failing to pick up a bouncing ball at the nine and getting Michigan pinned at the one, and one blocked extra point run back for a conversion. Michigan puts the 'special' in special teams.
- Blaming our special teams failings on our lack of a special teams coach is a shallow reading of things. I don't think many teams have a dedicated special teams coach, but they manage to do without. I do think it's indicative of a larger pattern: this team is not well coached. From the blocked field goals to the extra-point where Mike Hart ran on the field to be an eleventh guy, special teams has been a clusterf*** all year... just like our defense against even the wussiest spread option teams. Also, there were an epic number of off-field incidents in the offseason; this has lasted into the year. Manningham, Minor, and Babb all missed this game. Warren was also held out of the first series for a disciplinary matter. The overall picture painted is of a team rapidly spiraling into disarray.
- Michigan's learned nothing from redshirts blown in the past. It's mind-bogglingly frustrating to see Martell Webb, James Rogers, Troy Woolfolk, and Zion Babb on the field. Not one of these players is going to do anything this year to help the team, and whatever tiny experience they pick up this year is absolutely not worth blowing a potential starter's fifth year. Two words: Prescott Burgess.
- The mind boggles even further when Michigan's refusal to run their actual offense in garbage time is considered. If they think that getting Ryan Mallett reps in garbage time is not a useful way to increase his readiness, why the hell are so many scrubs not redshirting this year?
- Carlos Brown showed nothing in extensive time, and Brandon Minor hasn't been very impressive this year either. Both seem like very fast guys who can run straight ahead into a major hole but provide no YAC and can't make anyone miss. McGuffie has a wide open shot at the job. (Also, he's healthy again: 272 yards on 18 carries, 6 TDs. Schwing!)
- No Graham or Thompson this week, and no Mouton until very late. After the first play he was in on, Mouton started limping around, so maybe his ankle injury was pretty severe and is still lingering? I certainly hope so; if that's not the case he's really unlikely to be a contributor down the road.
- One bright spot: the corner play, IMO, has been pretty good for a few weeks now.
- Slocum finally played. Woo.