It's not my fault. Okay, so I'm logging on to facebook to play Scrabulous when I see this new feature they've implemented that lists a bunch of people you have mutual friends with, the hypothesis being that if you know a bunch of people person X also knows you probably know person X.
Yeah... not so much:
I make it a strict policy never to dive into players' Facebook accounts ever since I think I got Marques Slocum suspended by pointing at his profile for injury information, prompting Orson to unearth the infamous/awesome "Fuck Lion" survey. The internet had a good laugh, Marques got nominated for Sportshuman of the Year, and I may have in some small way contributed to The Horror. Good job, Brian.
Except... except... scroll down and, well... I have gone over this particular profile with a fine-toothed comb and found nothing more untoward than holy rippling pecs, Batman, and his eligibility has expired anyway, so...
This is Chris Graham trash-talking a goat.
Also there is this. If the internet was a woman I would buy it a diamond ring and then scream "I love this internetwoman" in some bird-laden piazza and internetwoman would be embarrassed until I showed her the rock. Because women just care about diamonds. That's what advertising says.
Uh... I have a number of West Virginia blogs in my feed reader and it's been interesting to see their expectations for the new kid-friendly coaching staff. Since they are college football fans and it is spring, they are giddy. But for weird reasons. See this item thrown in amongst a bunch of aspirations:
I want defensive coordinators to literally shit their pants on the opposing sidelines wondering about our next play call. I want 430+ yards a game. I want Pat White and Noel Devine to both be in New York when the Heisman Trophy is awarded.
West Virginia's yards per game the last two years: 456 and 461. To that blog's credit, the post before that one is cautious about the idea of West Virginia's new offense, but that stands alone in a sea of bubble screen hating, complaints about predictability, and exhortations to throw it over the middle.
Hey! They're just like us. Except their team finished 50th, 5th and15th in total offense the past two years while Michigan was 55th, 38th and 68th. It's surreal to see these guys complaining about "DickFraud" (LOL!!1!) like he's Mike Debord. "New emphasis on passing" helps Pat White "progress" is the line being provided by the coaching staff, as if it's not natural for quarterbacks, especially running quarterbacks, to rely more on their arm as they age. As if Rodriguez never had Shaun King or Woody Danztler. As if a new emphasis on passing is necessarily a good idea when you average 6.15(!!!) yards per carry.
Yeah, Pat White got hurt and that cost West Virginia dearly, but you know what also gets people hurt? Hits in the pocket when your right tackle whiffs a block.
Jimmah! ... should probably just wear hats. The whole hair thing is not working out for him:
Zip. RB/slot recruit Michael Shaw is fast:
Event 2 Boys 100 Meter Dash Durham
Meet: m 10.20 1978 Eric Brown, Hampton VA
Nike Qualify: N 10.73
Name Year School Finals Wind Points
1 Shaw, Michael Trotwood Mad 10.39 4.9 10
2 Benton, Travis Redan HS 10.54 4.9 8
3 Spreads, Dantwan Dutchtown HS 10.67 4.9 6
4 Marshall, Brian Ooltewah 10.73 4.9 5
He is also fast:
Event 6 Boys 200 Meter Dash
Meet: m 20.90 1988 Kerry Wooden, Newport VA
Nike Qualify: N 21.69
Name Year School Finals Wind Points
1 Shaw, Michael Trotwood Mad 21.30 2.2 10
2 Myricks, Johnny Ooltewah 21.94 2.2 8
3 Seamster, Sammy Ooltewah 21.97 2.2 6
4 Boyce, Derek Webb School 22.24 2.2 5
The 100-meter time is a hundredth away from the Ohio state record, by the way. Also, "Sammy Seamster" and "Dantwan Spreads" are awesome names, as is "Ooltewah."
Ha-ha. The only thing basketball can possibly give me is schadefreude:
Bye-Bye Beverley? - That's the jarring headline of Brandon Marcello's latest Slophouse blog entry. According to the post, Patrick has been making some comments on his Facebook page that could lead some to believe that he won't be with the Hogs next season, including "I
Head coach Red Berenson of the University of Michigan ice hockey team announced Friday (April 18) that rising senior defenseman Mark Mitera (Livonia, Mich.) will be the captain for the 2008-09 season.
Red's lost his captain once before: Mike Van Ryn skipped town before his junior season in an attempt to circumvent the NHL's draft regulations by playing with a CHL team. He even had his own loophole named after him until the NHL's new CBA did away with it. You'd think he'd be wary enough to get a clarification on Mitera's status, and there is indeed a premium Rivals article($) with highly encouraging quotes. He's staying. Please don't shoot me if he goes.
Update: The Daily confirms:
Berenson said he gave Mitera the captaincy after the defenseman assured him that he had decided to return for his senior year. Mitera confirmed that he has made the commitment to return in an interview.
Ohio running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, teammate of safety commit Isaiah Bell, has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Mildly informative update: He's fast, as per usual:
Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint and senior James Allen will lead the Leopards this year in the sprint. Toussaint was sixth in the 100 at state, while Allen took third in the 200. Both runners have great chances to sit high atop the podium come early June.
Toussaint and Allen will have to find two more running partners for the 400 relay, an event the Leopards placed second in Division II last season.
Sixth in the state as a sophomore: not bad. He runs far on few carries also as a sophomore:
Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint tore up the league as a sophomore in 2006, averaging 12 yards per carry, rushing for 1,100 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns.
With every skilled position filled last year, Toussaint was fortunate to earn a spot. Junior Julius Ferrell wasn't so lucky.
A couple years ago, when Dallas Saunders was still an assistant at Chaney, the Cowboys scrimmaged Akron Garfield, which had a running back named Chris Wells who was headed to Ohio State.
Saunders came away impressed.
Friday night, the Struthers head coach had a similar feeling after watching Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint juke, jive, spin and accelerate past his team â€” sometimes breaking a few tackles along the way â€” on his way to 239 yards and four touchdowns.
"He's a special back," said Saunders after his team's 43-22 road loss to the Leopards. "I don't know that he's quite at that [Wells'] level, but he's the best I've seen in awhile."
But, like... okay. There are kids not as good as Beanie Wells who would be fine on Michigan's team. Toussaint isn't ranked by Scout, Rivals, or ESPN yet; he had offers from Pitt, Illinois, and WVU but not Ohio State. If I had to guess he'll probably be a mid-to-low four star when he gets ranked. Ohio State generally prefers its tailbacks bigger than Toussaint, who's in the 5'9"-5'10 range and is often compared to Sam McGuffie by Michigan fans who watch his Scouting Ohio video (I like when the man says "shawties!").
Said video isn't quite the McGuffie mixtape, especially since Liberty doesn't play the top competition in Ohio, but it is pretty good. He's fast, he's got some jukes, and doesn't go down that easy. He's got this weird jump-stop thing going on where he'll take one step that slows him considerably, the go "WOOP!" and past the defender.
There are now two running back sorts in this class but Rodriguez's philosophy on slick little bastards appears to be "gotta catch 'em all" so look for another two or even three slot/tailback/DB types as Rodriguez gets Michigan's speed up to speed.
Side note: while Michigan has ceded ground in-state and in Ohio at certain positions, like ground pounding running backs and water buffalo pocket passers, to MSU and OSU, this is an example of a guy for whom Michigan is now a beacon on a hill. Toussaint is a great fit in the spread 'n' shred and could be a slot receiver or a tailback who experiences Great Success. Meanwhile at OSU, Maurice Wells is buried.
Related note: Youngstown Liberty has another potential Michigan recruit in FB/LB Julius Ferrell. An injury robbed him of most of his junior year and thus offers are slow in coming -- Akron is the lone suitor at the moment -- but he'll be one to watch into the fall. He said Ohio State was his leader a month ago, FWIW.
Received two conflicting opinions on whether Mark Mitera will stay or go. Western College Hockey's Chris Dilks:
I think the odds of Mitera leaving are probably better than 50/50. Pretty much everything I've ever heard is that Mitera would leave Michigan after three years, even before his freshman season. I kind of discount the midseason chatter about him staying. You hear that from a lot of players who get caught up in the camaraderie of the team during the year, and don't want to make it seem like they're bailing on their their teammates as soon as the season as is over. But once the season is over, they sit down and look at it and decide it's really best for them to sign. Personally, I think Mitera is ready to go. I'm not sure what else is left for him to prove at the college level.
Is it best for Mitera to sign? Gabe Nelson, currently at the Michigan Daily, provides some insight into Mitera himself...
He is a junior biophysics major who takes his studies seriously. My friend was his lab partner and said always worked hard and cared about his education. He's one year from that degree. Considering he's the only upperclassman hockey player in a legitimate major, don't you think that indicates a determination to stick it out?
...and the situation of the Anaheim Ducks:
The Ducks are likely to get knocked out of the playoffs by the Stars, reducing their immediate need for a rookie defenseman, and already have a stacked defensive core in the NHL.
Chris Pronger "C"
They have six legitimate top-six defensemen on that list. They are not hurting immediately for another. And would Mitera leave Michigan so he could go play for an AHL affiliate and probably not make the Ducks right away? Another year at Michigan, with visibility as the captain, gives him a better shot at making the team right away and gives him better leverage for a contract.
Just a thought. I'd personally be shocked if Mitera decided to leave. He has very little to gain.
Nelson's right about the Ducks' D corps. All but DiPenta are signed next year and all but Huskins are solid NHL defensemen making 1.2 M+. There's no room at the inn for Mitera and no chance he'd make the team. He's also right about Mitera's degree program:
Personal... Enrolled in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, majoring in biophysics ... Graduated with honors from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in 2005. ... Drafted in the first round (No. 19 overall) by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
No independent study there.
Not to unduly insult someone who's weighing whether to take the NHL millions now or later, but I also question Chris's assertion that Mitera has no developing left to do at the college level. He was indeed lights out early in the season, but as soon as he deflected a Notre Dame shot into the top corner of the net in January there was a significant wobble to his game: turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. There were several games in which Mitera was directly responsible for opponent scoring chances and goals via sloppy passes or turnovers along the boards. At no time did he seem to be above the level of competition like Mike Komisarek or JMFJ.
He's clearly very good and could go if he wants, but if he's serious about school -- check -- and is going to be developing at Michigan or in the AHL, -- check -- I think he might stay. Lord knows Michigan's lost kids with no chance of making the show for years, and by merely floating the idea of a return I have singlehandedly guaranteed he'll depart August 15th immediately after tearing everyone's ACL in fit of pique. But the indicators here are not all bad.
Well... it was a disappointing end but given the expectations at the beginning of the year -- picked fourth in the conference, some concern over extending the tournament streak -- the results -- CCHA double, GLI title, Frozen Four -- are outstanding. Probably the only Michigan revenue sport to exceed expectations since... uh, 2006 football. Never mind.
Highlights from the year that was:
The Hoover Street Rag says next year in DC, and got even more jerseys than we did.
Now that's a lot of trouble. I wonder what a Michigan list the equivalent of this soaring, majestic dossier of Penn State malfeasance would look like? A brief, representative snippet:
17. Tony Johnson - Arrest, DUI - Guilty
18. Richard Cheek - Arrest, Stolen Credit Card - Guilty
19. Yaacov Yisreal - DUI, - Guilty
20. Dan Drogan - DUI Leaving Accident, - Guilty
21. Dethrell Garcia - DUI, - Guilty
22. Scott Paxson - Criminal Mischief, Summary Charge - Guilty
23. E.Z. Smith - Drunk in public - Summary Charge - Guilty
24. R.J. Luke - Arrest Assault, - Acquitted
25. Damone Jones - Unknown Charges - Dismissed From School
26. Mike Sothern - Terroristic Disorderly Criminal Mischief - Guilty
27. Mike Sothern - Criminal Mischief Expelled - Guilty
"Terroristic Disorderly Criminal Mischief" is the best charge ever. The list, which dates back to 1999 or thereabouts, comprises 57 separate incidents including JoePa's road rage and generally paints the picture of a team that no longer fears or respects their coach, possibly because he works from home. And is one billion. And tries to eat their brains.
While I don't think Michigan could match Penn State's achievement in this category, if you took just the last few years the schools would be pretty close: Sears, Arrington, Richards, Butler, Germany and so forth and so on. Moral of the story: once you lose your "I'm gonna kill you" fastball, discipline and performance starts slipping as your guys start getting frisky. Thus Penn State -- .500 in the Big Ten over the past eight years -- and Michigan's uneven performance in the last years of the Carr era. Is it a coincidence that West Virginia started racking up Fulmer Cup points in earnest as soon as mean ol' Rich Rodriguez left and nice ol' Bill Stewart was promoted from teaching European History to tenth graders?
Mean is good.
Seriously? Is this "OMG Tressel" tiff still "going on"? Rodriguez was asked (yet again) about whether he was a Rumpelstiltskin-style* child kidnapping fetish after Jim Tressel made a joke that probably wasn't directed at Rodriguez at all. A recap:
What would you describe this as? I would go with "patient explanation to child with a tape recorder." The Free Press went with:
Rich Rodriguez fires back after Jim Tressel's jab at his recruiting tactics
The thing they cited first as "firing back":
"If not being a gentleman is recruiting guys until the end, until signing day, particularly after all visits â€” guilty as charged."
Can you fire back by agreeing with someone?
Of course, someone scurried off to the next Tressel press conference with Rodriguez's stunning riposte and asked for a riposte riposte:
Asked if he had a beef with Rodriguez, Tressel said, "I've known Rich for a long time; no beefs at all. He'll do a good job. I've said that all along."
This is exactly why I never begrudged Carr his churlish relationship with the media. What a waste of time.
I was flicking through the spring practice pictures on the Free Press' website when I hit this one...
Probably not. I bet Derek Tinkle's work is in need of some copyediting but no more or less informative than your average newspaper piece.
This might also be the place to relate that when Michigan was in Denver preparing for their semifinal against Notre Dame, they made it clear Billy Sauer didn't really want to talk about the North Dakota game last year. The first question (from a knob at the Denver Post) was basically "how do you feel about being such a goddamn failure in the North Dakota game last year?"
It's one thing to ask a "tough question" when there is the possibility of an enlightening response or someone has undertaken ethically questionable activities. Tough questions in the context of the Ann Arbor News' investigation into independent study and the like are fine. (That the Ann Arbor news passed on the opportunity to ask those questions because they didn't want an email interview is another matter entirely.) A "tough question" to a 20-year-old kid when the answer to that question is going to be the standard athlete cliche boilerplate about taking it one game at at time is just being a dick.
But journalism has this weird machismo thing going on where that's prized: see any anti-blogging screed that claims the basement-dwellers inferior because they don't say rude things directly to the players themselves. I've always found it interesting that said screeds contain the implication that bloggers are wantonly negative because they don't have to face repercussions. Newspapers, meanwhile, are full of people who are wantonly negative because they like being wantonly negative even in the face of social approbation.
Which group sounds more maladjusted?
*(apparently the Firefox dictionary has "Rumpelstiltskin" in it, which... like -- gnome (yes) griffin (yes) hippogriff (no) sphinx (yes) mindflayer (no) gorgon (yes) Perseus (yes) Icarus (yes) -- is apparently only the tip of a nerd iceberg. It figures: open source.)
Reverse. Of course, it's not all bad. See this informative piece on NCAA, Big Ten and Michigan drug testing regimes by Mark Snyder that explains just how Manningham could play despite testing positive for weed. Operative area:
As for punishment, a Michigan athlete who fail
s a first test will be referred for counseling and attend an assessment with the athletic department doctor. If the athlete does not participate in the counseling, "additional disciplinary action will be taken by the athletic director and/or head coach and may include, but not be limited to, suspension from practice/games," according to the policy.
A second positive test -- at least 90 days later -- results in suspension from competition for 10% of the maximum allowable contests in the traditional season and must be served immediately. The coach may enhance the penalty.
Manningham was suspended for the Eastern game this year but no others. Question: I recall Arrington being suspended for large chunks of his career, and he was one of the three guys -- Eugene Germany and Carson Butler the others -- in serious trouble after the Rose Bowl for an incident widely rumored to be getting crunk in the hotel days before the game (WHAT?). I bet one of his one-off suspensions was for a second positive test and the Rose Bowl incident was his third; Butler also got a one-off suspension during his redshirt freshman year, IIRC. Both nearly got the boot.
Speaking of weed, man.
1) At Copper Mountain on Saturday they were having some sort of season-closing music fest. When I got off the hill, George Clinton was playing and man... freaky, man.
2) Ohio State's having their own problems with the marijuana:
That 2008 Buckeye defense we've all been daydreaming about just took a bit of a hit. The rumors from earlier in the day proved to be correct and Donald Washington, Jamario O'Neal and Eugene Clifford are in a bit of trouble.
Eleven Warriors says the message-board buzz is that Eugene Clifford is gonzo -- hello, Cincinatti -- and Washington may follow him out the door, while O'Neal is in trouble but safe. That's probably in inverse order from what Buckeye fans would like (other than "no pot issues at all"), as Jamario "Toast" O'Neal is a backup as a senior and has been a bust whereas Washington is a useful nickelback and Clifford was the highest rated recruit in OSU's 2007 class.
3) Ladies and gentlemen... Ohio State fans!
What are the chances this guy didn't smoke a bowl ten seconds before this? Zero. What are the chances this guy really likes Chappelle's Show for all the reasons that drove Dave Chappelle crazy? 100%.
Etc: Stuff Golden Domed People like from MNB... MNB's wife is a Domer so this one's authentic; some sort of Fan Day will happen in August; we're slow but smart; Russ Levine drops a Tacopants reference in this FO article; MVictors digs up a bit of M history on Will Johnson's Meyer Morton award; Ekpe do you not know the pathways of my heart?
sorry this is late, it had to be rebuilt after Firefox froze. I was asking for it though... something like 80 windows open.
If my feedreader is any indication, you're already stuffed with information about Michigan's spring practice and game. But I would be remiss if I didn't chip in with what I have.
First, something that purports to be the entirety of the spring game-like substance in four minutes and seventeen seconds:
Given other descriptions of the game I believe the above is missing a number of plays -- no dropped balls -- but it's still a quick primer on what went down.
You can get most of the same thing with better video quality and some guy who calls Troy Woolfolk "Woolfork" and Nick Sheridan "Andy Mignery"(!) twice(!!!), plus some interviews in the extended highlights provided on the Big Ten Network:
(What is with this "Woolfork" stuff, man? It's an error rampant on message boards and it even showed up in a Free Press article... three times! Who would make a fork out of wool? It would be floppy and when you got stuff on it, which you would constantly because that is the life purpose of a fork, you couldn't wash it because then you'd have mini-woolfork. And HIS DAD, who is also NOT NAMED "WOOLFORK," is ONE OF THE BEST RUNNING BACKS IN THE HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM. I think I NEED TO CALM DOWN ABOUT THIS.)
Holy crap that's a lot of ugly interceptions. The only other thing that pops out: Avery Horn is as fast as rumored. Oh, and Threet looks a little like Justin Timberlake.
Michigan Sports Center has collected the media available on the game, and MVictors has an extensive photo gallery.
H'okay. In marked contrast to years previous, information about Michigan's spring practices is flying around, giving us a new problem: instead of one secretive and possibly sketchy source, Michigan fans are confronted with a wide array of often conflicting information.
Let's try to sort it out. In addition to the material published in the paper and online I'll intersperse some impressions from emailers; the largest bulk comes from Craig Ross, a dedicated observer of the program and author who's been to a lot of spring practices.
Quarterback. Rodriguez said Sheridan and Threet were both equal on Saturday but Threet had pulled ahead in the practices leading up to the game. In all likelihood, he is your Utah starter. Ross:
Threet was a bit better than Sheridan. But, man, this looks like a sore spot. Teams are just going to sit on the run and underneath stuff and ignore us deep. But, it was wet and cold. The ball was probably hard to throw. Antonio Bass would have been perfect in this offense. What a heartbreak for another truly kind and thoughtful person. [My guess is Carlos Brown will get some reps in the fall, unless Feagin can pick the offense up quickly and is better than most think.]
In the video above you can see the long bomb completed to Mathews was underthrown by about 20 yards. Chad Henne's deep ball will be missed. Oh, and his tendency to not throw six interceptions.
Fellow attendee Stephen Raines:
Threet looked really weak. Although, he showed good decision making at times, his passes were not pretty and often into tight coverage. Sheridan actually looked decent, at times, at others you could really see how his height will get in the way of him ever being a starter, but he had some good throws. Where he was a better runner than Threet, this benefit goes out the window when we tried to run the option and he completely missed the pitch.
The attempted options in the spring game were few, far between, and ugly as sin. As previously theorized, it's going to be confusing and ugly early. I expect at least three players (Threet, Feagin, and one or both of Brown/Minor) to take snaps at QB, though one or two of those players will be operating as an Incredibly Surprising Running Quarterback in the vein of Darren McFadden. Hopefully very much in the vein of Darren McFadden.
If David Cone strides onto any field of play when a game is remotely close, cower. (Ross repeatedly mentions he's a fantastic kid, though.)
Running back. This is one spot that will likely find a strong starter simply because Michigan has too many bullets in the chamber to miss with all of them. Mike Barwis ate Carlos Brown's finger, causing him to miss much of the spring as Barwis grows him a new one; Kevin Grady had a lingering knee injury of some variety that held him out. Grady did come back midway through spring practice, but most of the reps went to Horn and Minor.
Avery Horn was not mentioned in AA News today (at least I didn't see anything) but he has big play potential. The rumor is that he has had trouble learning the offense (moving to slot?) but he has remarkable speed. I thought Minor and Grady played hard and pretty well.
You can see Horn's lightning quicks in the video above. There are two sweep handoffs that together tell a story: on the first, Minor pops outside the defensive and and gets decent yardage but can't get the corner. On the second, Horn does the exact same thing, bursts to the outside, and ends up grabbing a big chunk of yards.
Still, it's Minor gathering praise for his work ethic and leadership and Horn who is still reputed to be having difficulties with all the things he has to do in the offense. And then there's Grady, who had one impressive run during the scrimmage and was the subject of Brandon Graham's violent attentions. Ever spring we hear he's driving bowling-ball shaped holes through defenders and rescuing the princess with dashing derring-do, then in fall we either get unimpressive performance or exploded ligaments.
Minor is your tentative front-runner now, but as many as six players (the four on campus now plus Mike Shaw and Sam McGuffie) will vie for carries in the fall.
Wide Receiver and Tight End. This position group was extremely thin due to NFL draft entry and Junior Hemingway's high ankle sprain. Greg Mathews, Toney Clemons, Zion Babb, and James Rogers were the only scholarship players available, and the latter two were DBs for part or all of last year.
Some positive indicators from Raines:
A plus here, M
athews showed that he can catch the ball, even on a bad pass. And because he was covered by Trent, this impressed me. Clemons looked pretty solid too. He had a couple quick slant passes that showed he can catch it in the middle.
Mathews will be reliable but not game breaking. Ross sounds an alarm about the general lack of speed in the unit:
But mostly we went with one tight end. Sometimes two. Rarely 4 wideouts. The fact is we have tight ends but not much in the way of slot receivers. ... Over the coming years, I would expect to see less and less of the tight end. The theoretical key to RR's spread is 4 wide----and my guess is he wants to get there. But not this year. I think we will see a lot of 11 packages [1 TE, 1 RB -ed] in the fall. Recruiting might look to TEs who can also play OT, as opposed to TEs who might be used as WRs---our current batch.
RR seemed pleased about the team understanding of his offense. From an intellectual point of view, the team is well ahead of where he guessed it would be at this time. The problem is (according to RR) "we are too slow." I think this references (primarily) the slot receiver position (and QB, of course). This will change with the 4 guys coming in---I know Odoms and TR and McGuffie ain't slow.
This is how bad it is: Jim Potempa, the little guy you might remember from the end of the Notre Dame and Purdue games, has been pressed into service as the wacky slot guy. The starting wacky slot guy. Terrance Robinson and Martavious Odoms are going to get all the snaps in the slot from day one.
Offensive Line. Justin Boren is a communist. Past that, the threat level here is pink or orange or whatever is equivalent to "the nukes are on their way." Virtually every observer has called the offensive line a Sauer -- zing -- this spring, and when Rodriguez made the quarterbacks live for a brief period Threet was immediately knocked out with a minor injury.
It looks like the first group right now is Moosman, Schilling, Ortmann, MacAvoy and Zirbel. My guess is Molk may still sneak in. But, for the moment, the first five seem like the leading candidates.
They weren't awful. At this time of year, that might be OK. I have seen some good lines look awful in the spring. On the other hand, they weren't very good---at least w/o looking at the tape.
I think this group would mean a move inside for Schilling, as Ortmann and Zirbel have always been tackles. Moosman and Schilling won awards are thus good bets to start. Ortmann basically has to be the left tackle unless Dann O'Neill is just awesome. MacAvoy and Zirbel should be considered provisional with David Molk and the true freshman threats to take their jobs. (Dey tik er jebs!)
I dunno. It's gonna be rough.
Defensive Line. Michigan's hopes for a good season rest on this unit being frickin' awesome. So... hope that Terrance Taylor's apparent demotion to second string is successful motivational ploy and not an indication that he's not taking to the Way of Barwis. I kinda think he might be, though:
Will Johnson won kind of a weird award for a fifth-year senior and returning starter to pick up:
Fifth-year senior Will Johnson (Oakland, Mich./Lake Orion HS) received the Meyer Morton Award, granted to the senior football player that experienced the greatest development and showed the most promise during spring practice.
Johnson was excellent in spot duty as a sophomore but only okay last year. He was pretty highly touted as a recruit before an ACL tear cost him his senior year, so he could have some upside left. He's always been renowned as one of the hardest workers on the team... hopefully he can make a big leap.
Meanwhile at defensive end, Jamison and Graham are both reputed to have lost 15 or 20 pounds during their period of Barwisization. Rodriguez has apparently gotten a little ticked at defensive coordinator Scott Schafer for unleashing the DEs a little too frequently and violently. There's certainly the potential for these guys to blow up. Jamison has alternated explosive plays with wheezing and Graham was clearly a physical marvel on par with Woodley but lost his conditioning late in the year, most prominently when Michigan State plowed him over again and again in the second half. Both of these players were top-50 recruits.
Behind them there's very little. Ryan Van Bergen did get an award of his own:
Freshman defensive end Ryan Van Bergen (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall HS) led all newcomers, earning the John F. Maulbetsch Award. This honor is given to a distinguished freshman athlete on the basis of desire, character, capacity for leadership and potential for future success.
Michigan really needs him to work out given the way defensive end recruiting has gone the last couple years.
Linebackers. Obi Ezeh is penciled in as a starter somewhere, which is unsurprising. The surprising thing is the emergence of senior JUCO transfer Austin Panter. Ross on an earlier practice:
The LBs looked good, notably Panter (!!!!) who seemed to be running with Thompson with the top DL group.
Insert default moaning about blown redshirts here. IIRC, Panter was an MLB/SLB type, which would mean he's battling Thompson for one of the two big beefy guy slots.
On the weakside, I guess Brandon Logan is still technically a threat but it's Jonas Mouton and whichever freshman impresses the most. There were a few rumblings that Mouton looked pretty good but after last year, when he could not see a snap playing behind a poor Chris Graham, this blog is spooked about his ability.
Secondary. Except for the nasty rumors flying around that Donovan Warren might transfer, cornerback is set with three returning starters. As for the rumors: they're widespread enough that I give them credence but I think they're unlikely to come to fruition. If he was going to go he probably would have already announced it a la Boren. And if they were serious he probably would have missed some time in the spring a la Carlos Brown last year. Knock on wood.
The questions, then, are at safety, where both starters graduated. Stevie Brown was a special teams standout and practice hero as a freshman. He was given the starting spot for The Horror... and immediately gave up a long touchdown and entered the Hall of Infamous Michigan Athletes. Not bad for a first start. Brandent Englemon replaced him before halftime.
Yeah, now he's basically guaranteed a starting job. Ross says he looked "pretty good," and there is the potential that Michigan Safety Hating God has moved on to other pastures with the departure of Carr and his staff. I, and probably all of you, will be nervous until his play dictates otherwise.
The other spot is probably going to go to Charles Stewart, but sophomore Artis Chambers and redshirt freshman Mike Williams also played well. Ross says Williams was noticeable during the spring game and Chambers had the wherewithal to catch wounded ducks thrown directly to him, which will b
e a critical skill for the Notre Dame game (zing!).