Mario Manningham gets high praise from the Mahoning Valley's First Online Newspaper. Yow! Harding's coach on Racoon Suit Mario: "Mario's high school career is like one giant highlight reel." Sweet.
Braylon Edwards keeps talking, and people keep writing down what he says and putting it on the internet (Annoying Reg). No mentions of Super Tecmo Bowl in this one, though.
The 12th game remains a mystery wrapped in some bacon, according to the Ann Arbor News. Will it happen? (Duh.) Who will it be against? (Not USC.) Are we merging the MAC and Big Ten into one giant mediocreleague? mgoblog is fine with opening up the season against Eastern or Western or whoever but as much as I love paying a vast amount of money to watch a game that's never really in doubt, I'd like it to be a once-yearly thing. I don't really blame the school, though, as college football is currently constructed to reward not losing instead of beating someone worthwhile. As much as I dislike the BCS, if someone had to be left out of the championship game last year, it definitely should have been Auburn. The Tigers played Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, and The Citadel out of conference last year. But if, say, Oklahoma (OOC: Oregon, a good BGSU squad, and Houston) had played a top-25 team instead of Houston and lost, they would have been out of the NC picture entirely despite proving themselves to not be giant wusses. mgoblog's has complained about this before and will definitely do so again, so I shall spare the indignation for another day.
(HT: Cutter on TheVictors)
Go Blue Wolverine has usefully compiled a "consensus" top 25 based on all the preseason magazines' and internet pundits' preliminary ballots. Big Ten breakdown: OSU #4, Michigan #5, Iowa #6, Purdue #19, Wisconsin #27, Minnesota #30, and somebody got drunk and gave Penn State a single vote at #25.
Quick mgoblog assessment: Purdue, Minnesota underrated, Iowa and OSU overrated, Michigan, eh... I think about right. Wisconsin has no business being on the poll.
Oh, yeah: not one vote for Notre Dame. And Boise State is [sarcasm]criminally underrated[/sarcasm] at 20! Why, they have an offense that's totally cool and they beat Tulsa by three last year! How can the media be so blind?
Lloyd Carr's annual Car Wash For Kids was yesterday, and photos were taken:
OMG Jennie Ritter dyed her hair!
OMG Gabe Watson washed a car!
(Gabe is on the left, by the way. You can tell because the other one has a Chevy logo on it.)
"Mean" Eugene Germany: on campus, participating in team activities, wearing shoes that are white as hell.
And is there any chance this little incident didn't end with a sharp punch on the arm?
mgoblog likes a game against an overmatched MAC opponent early in the year because it gives me an opportunity to not freak out about the possibility of the world ending and focus on some players I've been hearing a lot about but haven't seen. I pick out a few guys and watch their play obsessively, trying to determine who's Mike Hart and who's Grady Brooks.
These players are usually new guys who I haven't seen play much. I have a pretty good idea what Michigan's going to get out of Jason Avant or Lamarr Woodley, so I don't need to obsess over their performances. They're also usually at areas of significant concern. I'm excited to see someone like Grady show up, but since I know that Hart has a grip on the running back job like Bobby Brown does on Whitney Houston's neck (oh no he di'in't!), the future of the team does not rest heavily on his shoulders.
Yes, almost everyone on this list is a defender.
Here's my top five this year:
1. WLB Chris Graham, Sophomore: The Graham hype machine got cranked up the day he showed up on campus and after one year of playing headhunter on special teams Graham's won the weakside linebacker job. In the process he shoved five-star Prescott Burgess over to the strong side and senior Scott McClintock to the bench*.
Graham's buzz makes him out to be Ian Gold after you punched his mom: short, fast, and angry. Yes, please. He's listed at 5'11", 225. I buy the 225. Five-eleven? Not so much. He's 5'11" like Hart is 5'9". He has a nickname--"The Brick"--positively turgid with practice stories that involve a lot of people exhaling long, slow, sliding whistles like rubberneckers passing a particularly bad car wreck.** I envision him roaming through traffic, his helmet sticking up like a fin. He fends off a pathetic attempt to block him and emerges into the hole.
There is a brief moment of incredible violence.
When the mind's eye recovers from the carnage, there is just the open water and a strange, incongruous stick with a big number on it. The number is "4."
*(while David Harris is the new middle linebacker, McClintock is the weakside backup.)
**(sliding whistle imagery lifted from "The Great LaRouche Toad-Frog Massacre" by Berke Breathed. I realized it after penning that and patting myself on the back because I AM A GRATE WRITOR. Damn. Credit where due. PS: if you read it, and you should, it would behoove you to know that the story is written as an "excerpt" from Binkley's memoirs.)
2. DE Tim Jamison, R. Freshman: Jamison got sidelined early last year with a mysterious injury that mgoblog sincerely hopes was something major enough to make a redshirt year sensible but not so bad that there is a possibility of lingering damage, because the general consensus was that Jamison was bad, bad man who relied heavily on an explosive first step. If the injury was something lingering (pleasenoACLpleasenoACL) Jamison won't be striking the fear of Zoltan into quarterbacks like he should.
I fully expect Lamarr Woodley to be deployed exclusively at defensive end and make opponents focus heavily on him. The other defensive end spot will see a ton of single-blocking, especially with Gabe Watson eating people. If Jamison can translate his high school pass rushing acumen (twenty sacks and an ovation-worthy performance in the Army All-American Bowl) to the collegiate level, quarterbacks will flee wildly from Woodley directly into Jamison's arms instead of the end zone. He'll have to fight tooth and nail with Pierre Woods, Jeremy Van Alstyne, and Shawn Crable to get playing time--if he earns it I will be giddy with anticipation.
3. CB Johnny Sears, Freshman: There is very little experience past the two starting cornerbacks, one of whom is a senior. Finding some additional DBs will be critical for both this year and next. Why Sears instead of Morgan Trent, Charles Stewart, or Brandon Harrison? Because the way he performs tells us a lot about two people: Sears and defensive backs coach Ron English.
Sears transferred after his sophomore year and was thus ineligible to play varsity football as a junior (he played JV). By the time he actually stepped on the field to start his varsity career, Sears was already a Michigan commitment. He'd never set foot on Michigan's campus. It's safe to say that Sears is a significant risk. He is also a freaky-deaky athlete, though, with the proverbial 'upside' in spades and clubs and hearts, etc. He's 6'1" and ran an electronically timed 4.39 forty yard dash at USC's camp--part of a performance that netted him a Trojan offer.
English found Sears, recruited him, and now will coach him. If Sears gets up to speed and becomes a significant contributor as a freshman he is a likely on his way to stardom, and English will have proven that he can sneak into the West Coast and snap up under-the-radar athletes.
4. DT Alan Branch, Sophomore: Branch wanted to redshirt last year but the coaches didn't let him. Thumbs up. He played in every game for Michigan, collecting five tackles and two sacks and generally looking very big and agile. He's listed at 323 but is probably closer to 350. mgoblog is counting on him to be Gabe Watson when Gabe is too tired to be himself. Defensive tackles these days don't have the endurance to play at 100 percent the entire game. They're just too big and cheeseburger-laden to do so. A team with three or four tackles that can all thump people is at a major advantage over its opponents; Branch is the leading candidate to be the first thumper off the bench.
The defensive line has the potential to be the country's best but to do so it will need at least two backup defensive tackles who can spell the starters effectively. Branch has all the physical skills needed to be another Watson, minus the motor issues.
5. RB Kevin Grady, Freshman: As you will see when the Michigan preview gets posted in a couple months, mgoblog thinks Mike Hart is still heinously underrated despite averaging 5.1 yards per carry last year. The 5'8" Hart led the entire country in carries despite hardly playing at all in Michigan's first two games of the season, a remarkable accomplishment that I do not want to see repeated. mgoblog wants to see Kevin Grady rumble, because I love freakily-proportioned football players, the kind of guys who just don't make sense when you see their height, weight, and position on a roster. Grady is certainly that at (cough) 5'9", 230. Cliches fail to describe him; calling Grady's legs "tree trunks" leaves one unsatisfied; calling him a "bowling ball" is fundamentally accurate but not powerful enough. Many backs have had those descriptions applied to them, but Grady's limbs are more wide and mossy than those who came before. He can be a deadly counterpart to Hart.
If Grady gets carries it won't be because the coaching staff is reluctant to overwork a tailback. They've shown a willingness with both Hart and Chris Perry--remember those 51 (and it should have been 52) carries against MSU?--to hand it to guys until they collapse and have to get put down Old Yeller style. If Kevin Grady gets meaningful carries it'll be because he gives Michigan something that Mike Hart doesn't. That will be the ability to drag vast armies of linebackers into the endzone, unperturbed.
Honorable Mentions: P Zoltan Mesko (Fr, Inconceivable!), DT Will Johnson (RFr coming off a senior-year ACL injury; junior year was off the charts enough for him to get recruit hype), WR Mario Manningham(Fr, tantalizing possibility of four years of obscure Super Mario jokes), WR Antonio Bass(Fr, quote on him: "like a
bigger Breaston." !!!), DT Terrance Taylor(Fr, three-time state powerlifting champion, state champion wrestler, could probably deadlift Michigan Stadium), OG Alex Mitchell (R. Fr, LG is the only thing I'm worried about on offense).
Straight Bangin' has posted a set of softball opinions/reactions that aligns with my point of view about 95% (not pissed off about hockey coming back). He ends up rather torn about the whole thing, as I was. Frankly the last game was not a thrilling thing except for about four brief bursts of interest spread over three hours. Even so, Samantha Findlay got an ALL CAPS EXCLAMATION POINT EXPLOSION!!! for her championship-deciding three-run homer.
Brent from ParadigmBlog also echoes some of my thoughts about the patronizing coverage of the ladies in a comment. You know, favorite actresses, soup recipies, and all that (although, to be fair, without it I would never have discovered Ritter's (and apparently my) MacGuyver obsession). What I want to know about a softball batter is her strengths as a batter and the pitches she has trouble hitting (and perhaps a favorite bottle of wine in some cases).
SB also discusses what I just did, the objectification of women, referencing some disappointing comments he read on message boards. I also thought there were some pretty reprehensible (and not clever, the sinniest sin of all) things posted, but I know for a fact that the wimmin are no better than us. They apparently like their sports fandom with a heaping side order of ogling, and I say more power to them, because, I mean, damn, some of those softball girls: hot. Is all I'm saying.
For the record, this is not me:
Update 6/9: Linked to article in which GA DE Jermaine Cunningham names a trio of SEC schools as leaders. Added CA QB Jake Locker, who appears to be the first quarterback after the Big Four to get offered. Added note that Taylor Mays is making an August decision. Linked to War & Peace-sized Myron Rolle article.
The AP has withdrawn from the BCS. ESPN has dropped its name from the coaches poll. College football casts about for an authoritative, 100% correct ranking system.
Enter The BlogPoll.
That's right, a poll! Compiled by bloggers! Feel a strange tingly sensation in the parts of your body your grandmother told you didn't really exist? I thought so!
To apply and be accepted to the blogpoll, you must have a regularly-updated blog that focuses on college football. This site can either be shamelessly partisan (like mgoblog) or studiously neutral (like College Football Resource). Multisport blogs dedicated to the sporting exploits of one school are welcome, as are blogs that split time between sports and other things. Blogs dedicated to lower divisions are okay, too, as long as you watch your share of the big boys.
Blogs should be updated regularly with actual content. If half your posts are "sorry for not posting for the last two weeks, here's a link to this newspaper article," that doesn't count.
One blog, one vote. Sorry, Blue-Gray Sky.
Bloggers from neutral sources must disclose alma mater (or, lacking a DI-A alma mater, a favorite team) so their ballots can be attacked just like anyone else's.
Friday night a post will show up on mgoblog declaring itself to be that week's ballot box. Participating voters should post a comment on the post with a link to their ballot. Ballots must be posted by the end of Monday for the poll's official posting on Tuesday.
The preseason BlogPoll will be posted August 23rd.
The BlogPoll strives to function rationally and thoughtfully, removing inequities in the current poll system that drive fans nuts.
The poll is a power poll, meaning that future schedules should not be a factor in the ranking process--no henious overrating of WVU last year or Purdue this year, please. The main consideration should be "team A would beat team B on a neutral field." (This ideal is impossible to maintain across multiple teams, as matchups obviously play a major role, but something close as possible is desired.)
Voters are encouraged to look dimly upon schools that schedule exclusively cupcakes for non-conference games and reward schools that take on challenges and aquit themselves well, even in defeat.
Blogs will all disclose their ballots and be rated on Shameless Bias via a formula that calculates how overrated alma mater and local conference schools are relative to the blogpoll at large in the hopes of shaming flagrant homers into reasonability.
Voters are also encouraged to snipe at each other's ballots, because there's no such thing as bad publicity.
To be included, please email mgoblog.