this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The safety with the sweetest name and most ready-made nickname ("The Impaler") in the history of sweet names with ready made nicknames has committed to Michigan($). I know I'm late but Monday morning after the OSU game is a bad time to commit.
Informative update coming.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|3*, #41 S||4*, #16 S||80, #19 S|
Two sites say Emilien is a mid-to-low four star prospect; Scout says "meh." A possible reason for the disparity:
Plantation safety Vlad Emilien (6-1, 195) tore his meniscus in his right knee at the Nike Camp at UM this spring and tore his ACL during spring practices. He is hopeful to return in time for the playoffs.
"Spring practices" isn't quite right: the injury happened in July. Emilien has missed the entirety of his senior season to date. This makes him something of a risk, but as you'll see in the next section it's one a lot of schools felt was worth taking.
ESPN says the thing I most want to hear:
Comes up from the free safety position at proper run support angles and usually can react on the run.
Pass coverage is solid from both three deep and halves coverage. Makes a good break on the pass and times the interception well even though leaping ability is questionable. Physical when separating the receiver from the football. Emilien is a very good athlete that is a real competitor and gives super effort every play. Needs to keep working on strength and tackling techniques. He is a better strong safety candidate than free.
Here's a coach quote from before Emilien's injury:
Vlad is still just really developing,'' Davis said. ``He was a running back as a freshman. I think he has the potential to be just like [current Gator] Major Wright.''
Hey, that's a good comparison except that Wright was a fixture in Florida's nuclear wasteland of a secondary in 2007; with the injury to a "still developing player" I think early playing time is going to be limited to special teams.
We do have some evidence that Emilien has super healing powers like Wolverine (adamantium comic book guy version) or is just a maniacal worker:
“I’m way ahead of track, that’s what the doctors tell me,” said Emilien. “I just don’t want to risk coming back too early, so I’m trying to get it as strong as possible now. The whole thing (rehab) is going real fast for me.”
July ACL tear could lead to a November/September return? I think that would be some sort of record.
More evidence for the maniacal worker theory:
WHAT I DO TO STAY IN SHAPE: "I'm a workaholic; basically all I do is train, train, train. I wake up at 5 a.m. and go train. I run track, too, so I'm trying to keep myself in shape for that. I lift weights. Go on the track and do a couple of 400s to keep my endurance up. I run a couple of 110s, because that's what they run in college. I've got to get used to the college life and make sure my speed is up."
Emilien's recruiting was odd. He picked up an early offer from Ohio State in March and, along with his teammate Brandon McGee, seemed to be favoring the Buckeyes. Then OSU got a flood of defensive back commitments and had no room. They kept in contact with Emilien until his injury, at which point they backed off. Then OSU safety commit Bradley McDougald got in trouble for something or another and got his offer pulled, at which point Ohio State got involved again.
As late as August Michigan wasn't even in Emilien's top six, but then again no one other than Ohio State who ended up in his final four was in that top six.
Other early offers came from Tennessee, Auburn, Illinois, Purdue, South Carolina, Kentucky, and South Florida; Emilien picked Michigan over a final group containing OSU, Wisconsin, and Stanford.
Emilien missed his senior year with the injury; as a junior he picked up 93 tackles and three interceptions.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout lists Emilien at 4.5, which is so fake. The guy has a torn ACL, Scout.
I could not locate any free video, sadly.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The injury hurts Emilien's chances at early playing time; missing a full year in high school has to set you back experience-wise. The timing of the injury allows him to recover quickly enough to possibly participate in his team's playoff games, so he should be fine by January and can participate in spring drills. I'd still expect a redshirt, with Brown, Williams, and Smith rotating through the safety spots.
Past 2009, Emilien's got a clear path to playing time once Brown departs; he's rated on par with Williams, below Smith, and above everyone else at safety, and he's got a 3.8 GPA. I prefer my safeties with a grasp of geometry, thanks. OSU's early and continued, if intermittent, pursuit of Emilien is a good sign, too; despite having a ton of DBs committing they still made it clear he was wanted. Or made it sort of clear. Eh.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Emilien's commit is big in three different ways:
- He's a highly rated safety, and Michigan needs safeties.
- His commit makes it more likely Justin Turner can stick at corner.
- FL CB Josh Robinson might be more interested in coming north with his teammate already committed.
Michigan is probably done at safety but will take a commit from someone like MS S Dennis Thames if he decides on M; the big focus now is corner and offensive line.
We may get some news on that soon. Emilien's teammate, FL CB Josh Robinson, is deciding next week between UCF, USF, and Michigan. It's been the long held assumption of Anonymous that Robinson is staying close to home, but a couple recent premium articles were encouraging; we'll see.
Oh, and by the way, we've got some LOLSU re: nickname:
It's acctually Vlad Guerrero's nickname, but it sounds like a way better nickname for a ball hawking safety.
Wow. I always wondered where the name "Vlad the Impaler" came from. Who knew it was from a Major League Baseball player?
At least we've still got our sense of superiority, folks. Treasure it.
Etc.: Post-commit interview.
11/22/2008 – Michigan 7, Ohio State 42 – 3-9, 2-6 Big Ten
I gave you the emotional appeal for patience with Rich Rodriguez on Friday. Then Michigan went out and got clubbed to death like everyone expected, though the killing blows took a longer to get home. Michigan is 3-9, the season is over, etc.
So what happened? Who's at fault? How does this affect Rodriguez going forward?
What happened. In retrospect the optimism about the season was comical. At some point in fall camp it became clear the coaches did not think the one viable scholarship quarterback on the roster was obviously better than a walk-on who looks like the wimpy guy in a barbershop quartet. This should have been a HEAD FOR THE HILLS moment.
Instead, I saw (and participated in) a classic moment of irrational fan optimism: it's not that bad. He was injured as a senior, he could be okay. He slipped through the cracks. He's a better fit for the system. And so on and so forth.
Meanwhile, a defensive tackle was moved to the offensive line and ended up starting. Michigan lost one of its only viable starters in the preseason. Stevie Brown would reclaim a starting job, and the other safeties would be 1) a guy who had been playing corner and 2) a guy who couldn't hack it at corner.
People say "Michigan shouldn't be that bad with all that talent!" and I say "I would like to see some of this talent!" There is obviously none on offense except that which is underclassmen. Sure, the defensive line is great but it doesn't matter when none of your linebackers can cover worth a damn and the safeties give out long touchdowns like candy. This thing was doomed from the start, and even if Rodriguez screwed up all he did was make it slightly more doomed.
Who's at fault. Everyone:
- Lloyd Carr put all his eggs in Mallett's basket, leaving Michigan with David Cone as upperclass QBs this year. His recruiting was obviously rotting slowly, too.
- Angry Michigan Mobile Quarterback Hating God blew up Antonio Bass's knee.
- Bill Martin scheduled Utah instead of Sam Houston State.
- Rich Rodriguez thought Steven Threet was worse than Nick Sheridan.
- Angry Michigan Fan Sanity God also thought it would be funny to see Michigan fumble every ten seconds.
There's plenty to go around.
The one criticism being launched on the internet and elsewhere that I think has some validity is directed at the defensive staff. They had one and a half viable linebackers and a returning senior who spent the last two years of his career as a LB/CB/S hybrid. Maybe Thompson plays against UW, MSU, and OSU, but the switch to a nickel package against the spread took nine games and was only spurred by a move to a 3-3-5 that Justin Siller shredded for 48 points. Much of the year Michigan ran out three-man fronts on potential running downs and was gashed.
If they keep Thompson off the field and go with a nickel all year and never, ever go to a three man line on a potential running down Michigan probably wins another game or two more games and this year is not nearly as ugly. Is that on Shafer? I don't know. I suspect there was some major conflict between the various guys running the defense, as two of them were new to Rodriguez and two were holdovers.
I'm willing to grant a first-year coordinator a mulligan when he doesn't know the strengths and weaknesses of his players; next year I hope to see a more coherent idea of what Michigan can and cannot do and what players are good.
What now. A favorite media complaint of late has been that "it didn't have to be this bad," inevitably followed by "why didn't Rodriguez run Mike DeBord's offense?" The latter idea has already been debunked here. The former is not a complaint for Rich Rodriguez, it's for Bill Martin. If Martin wanted he could have hung on to an assistant or grabbed Brady Hoke or picked up any number of coaches who would have changed the culture and offense less radically.
Once you decide to bring Rodriguez in, though, you are committed to some degree of rebuilding, and when your hotshot QB recruit transfers leaving nothing behind him that degree is "lots." This is not Rodriguez's fault. I'm sure there were any number of things he could have done better, and that in some way he has personality flaws that make transition years under him more brutal than they usually are. Okay. Those are a sunk cost. 2008 is a sunk cost. This is a sunk cost:
In economics and business decision-making, sunk costs are costs that cannot be recovered once they have been incurred. Sunk costs are sometimes contrasted with variable costs, which are the costs that will change due to the proposed course of action…. In microeconomic theory, only variable costs are relevant to a decision. Economics proposes that a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence one's decisions, because doing so would not be assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits.
Even if Rodriguez did run off Mallett and Manningham and Arrington and Boren and various other players and is just really horrible at transitioning football teams, all that already happened. We suffered the consequences of it. Booting Rodriguez before he's been given a chance to show what he can do with a roster of his guys makes this year in vain.
I mention it because the ridiculous "BCS with a sophomore QB in 2010 or DEATH" meme has spread beyond the addled brain of the Worst Columnist in America and to some of the more Little Wayne-obsessed parts of the Michigan blogosphere:
We're predicting a sloppy 7-5 campaign … and a loss in the Alamo, setting up a situation in Year 3 that he MUST reach a BCS bowl. No pressure, though.
I generally like the Realests, but no. This horrible season should not have much bearing on Rich Rodriguez's job security. It's sunk and gone. As long as Michigan improves consistently and Rodriguez strides towards the excellent program he had at West Virginia, his job should be safe. Firing him after three years if he goes 3-9, 6-6, and 8-4 would be the first step towards the doming down of the program.
Because. Because I have to tell you, the state of the program right now is not good. 19 scholarship defenders return. Not on the two-deep. On the roster. In all likelihood, a freshman will start at quarterback next year and the skill position players will be mostly underclassmen. Michigan should obviously be better next year. They probably aren't going to be good.
I'm sorry to harp on this, but in my mind it's the primary danger facing the program right now. They've grabbed a high quality coach with 20 years of experience young enough to stay at Michigan for 20 years, which is a combination you never see. Getting rid of Rich Rodriguez for not moving the program in the right direction enough would be the biggest mistake Michigan has made in over 40 years.
Suck it up and ye shall reach the promised land. As Ninja Football says: WE ARE GOING TO BE A MACHINE.
Via the Palestra:
- Out: Threet, Schilling.
- In: McGuffie, Minor.
Minor "might start"; Expect Dorrestein to replace Schilling. (They might flip Ortmann to RT, but Dorrestein will be the guy off the bench.)
First: McGuffie. As recently as last night I was getting corroborating information about McGuffie's intended departure; today it's different. I'd really like to go back and un-post that first thing and then I would just have all this crazy stuff about McGuffie in my inbox, but I started this so I owe you the information I have: two different sources indicate to me that there's been a change of heart, McGuffie is at practice, will play Saturday, and, at least for now, intends to stay.
Chambers is "officially not a Wolverine anymore" according to his facebook status, FWIW, and you will probably see a few more players leave the team after the season.
Also FTR: there are a lot of issues completely unrelated to the team McGuffie is dealing with, for anyone wishing to criticize him.
Second: this has been a trying season for everyone from the coaches to the team to the fans and the bloggers. It figures to be trying for another four hours tomorrow. Everyone got mad at someone; those of us who got mad at people tearing at the program in newspapers or on message boards had the same bile and took the same opportunity for release. Targeting it better doesn't change the emotion.
The best example of this was an ugly exchange between Johnny and the WLA this week. Johnny started it off by posting something that ended with "This was Michigan. They used to exist." And that was about the tenor of the post. Raise your hand if you saw a full broadside from the WLA coming and okay that's everybody. Response, attempt at reconciliation, possible lingering rift.
Schism and dissent plagues the program top to bottom, and you, as a fan, have a choice. You can loudly voice your anger at the program, you can disconnect and give up and regard Rich Rodriguez as an interloper and regard the players as weak or lazy or whatever. No one will remember this if and when the program turns around. You'll switch hats and no one will know. Except you.
My advice: do the things now that will allow you to fully bask in the glow of victory later. Let's say Mike Rosenberg was actually a big Michigan fan. Now he's spent a full year publicly hating Rich Rodriguez, and anything positive Rodriguez does will be poisoned to him. He'll be rooting for him to fail a little bit so he can be right.
Being right isn't that great. My brother and I spent a large portion of the 2005 Penn State game—the New Math game—making sarcastic comments to each other about the state of the team and the game. As it turns out, we were basically right about the team. But as we were jumping up and down at the end of the game someone who had clearly been annoyed by us earlier turned around and said something like "what can you say now, jerks?"
He was 100% right, and I was shamed, and it took something away from that moment. That moment does not come along except once in a very long while, and what a shame to have done something to spoil it.
And now, someone directs their child to destroy Jim Tressel:
Go Blue. See you on the other side.
|WHERE||Pandemonium Stadium, Hell|
|WHEN||12:00 EST, November 22nd, 2008|
|THE LINE||Ohio State by 20.5|
|WEATHER||Mid 150s, 40% chance of brimstone rain, 100% chance of flying beer bottles|
Run Offense vs. OSU
Michigan is going on solid rushing performances in three of the past four outings despite having nothing resembling a functional passing game; the latest came against a pretty decent rushing defense.
However, OSU is a step up. Not as much as they usually are, but the Buckeyes are 26th against the run this year. This is not a good sign:
That's Northwestern, the #59 rushing offense, against Ohio State. Michigan is #60. It's been noted many places that Northwestern and Michigan have near-identical offenses. They were down their top two backs and their top quarterback. Michigan is down its top quarterback and top running back, though Michigan has far more depth at RB than Northwestern does.
I expect Michigan will have better output than Northwestern did just because I saw that Simmons guy and he made nothing other than what his OL gave him. Carlos Brown or Shaw or Minor or McGuffie (if he plays) are better than that. Still, 3.5 YPC is about what I expect and coupled with the pass offense that won't be enough to move the ball down the field.
Key Matchup: Michigan backs versus OSU safeties. Springing a long one will go a long way to Potential Victory Scenario.
Pass Offense vs. OSU
It's one last hurrah for Nick Sheridan, who followed up an 18 for 30 performance against Minnesota in which he looked shockingly competent with:
If Nick Sheridan was Suicidal Kitten last week, this week he's…
…a dead kitten. And yes, I searched for "dead kitten" on Google Images, and no, you absolutely should not do this ever.
This hardly seems worth analyzing. Ohio State is the #13 pass efficiency D in the conference, and Michigan is #110 on offense. You will probably see a lot of rollouts, throwaways, and futile scrambles, the occasional completion, and very little else. If OSU aligns in such a way that allows Odoms a number of bubble screens I'll be pleased.
Key Matchup: Three or Four Hopeful Deep Balls versus Coverage, Wind, General Incompetence, and The General Bloody-Mindedness Of The Universe.
Run Defense vs. OSU
After getting shredded by Penn State and Illinois in back-to-back games against teams that actually bother to run (Toledo was in between the two), Michigan settled down and turned in four consecutive performances between decent and good against Michigan State, Purdue, Minnesota, and Northwestern. (The Purdue stats are significantly distorted by a 60-yard fake punt.)
Chris Wells and Terrelle Pryor are another matter, though. Ohio State is only the #29 rushing offense in the land but remember that Wells was hurt for a significant chunk of the season. He's averaging 5.4 YPC; collectively the rest of the team is at 3.9. The stats underrate Ohio State's running game because of that absence.
You know what happened last year, of course: Wells had one 60-yard touchdown and 38 other carries that seemingly all gained exactly four yards. I expect basically the same this year, as it's the same front seven going up against the same player and the same offensive line. Wells will probably have 38 other carries that all seemingly gain three yards and the one long one. But then you throw in Pryor and it's another 80 yards rushing and various scampers and all that.
Key Matchup: Obi Ezeh versus second-level blockers. The best way to deal with Wells is to slow his momentum before he can get going, and I think Michigan will do a pretty good job of this on the line; Ezeh has to clean up.
Pass Defense vs. OSU
Is not likely to be tested much, as Tressel will regard passing the ball with all the joy Woody Hayes did. It makes sense when you're going up against a team like Michigan and you have a freshman quarterback, however talented he is. OSU's likely mode of passing will be twofold:
- They will set us up the bomb to back off the safeties and get the one big play they need to win safely.
- They'll get Pryor on the roll, giving him run-pass options and easy reads.
Michigan's been a bit better of late on rollout defense; they're now recognizing the playcall and getting upfield to cut off the roll and covering better, so that might be okay. Some of the throws Bacher was making on the roll were senior ninja stuff and Pryor probably won't be trying those—I'd be surprised if Tressel didn't bore "do not do anything slightly risky" into Pryor's head before the game.
However, the "bomb" part… just go into the game expecting at least one enormous safety screwup leading to a long touchdown and mark it off when it happens, then hope it doesn't happen again. The safeties will be freaking out on the run, and at some point Pryor will do some option thing and drop back to pass and I expect someone to be wide open.
Key Matchup: Pryor targeting Wide Open Deep Guy.
OSU's special teams are as per usual: reliable kicker, good punt returns, very good punting, horrible kickoff returns. That latter should net us a cool six yards across their two returns.
You know Michigan at this point; this is a push as long as no one fumbles.
Key Matchup: DON'T FUMBLE.
- Oh, I don't know, a walk-on quarterback takes the field against OSU?
- The defensive line does not dominate.
- We turn the ball over at all.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Terrelle Pryor is a secret double agent! Hey, it could happen!
- It's a weird mojo day. You know, one of those.
- There are zero seconds left and somehow Michigan has more points.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for Walk On Quarterback At Ohio State, +1 for Oh And We're 3-8, +1 for Oh And We're 20-Point Dogs, +1 for Oh, And Our Top Running Back And Starting RT Are Probably Out, +1 for asdfljkjweriasdlknfsdal;kjkksadf.)
Desperate need to win level: 8 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for It's The Game, –1 for But Really Is 4-8 Any Different Than 3-9?, +1 for YES, +1 for OBVIOUSLY, +1 for I MEAN WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?)
Loss will cause me to... complete the "ND 2007 or M 2008: which team was stinkier?" opus.
Win will cause me to... I don't even know. I sat here for like two minutes trying to come up with something I would do after a hypothetical victory tomorrow, and I have nothing. It's a weird blank spot in my head.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
This is not so much "who do I think will win" as "can I construct a scenario in which Ohio State loses?"
Let's try: Ohio State fans have been complaining about the offensive line all year, saying it's taken a major step back and is full of fat lazy jerkos (hmmm…). The only thing that's been keeping their run game afloat is Chris Wells stiffarms. With Michigan's defensive line looking pretty real and Ezeh and Mouton looking equally real, you could see a lot of second and longs, at which point Tressel will decide on Tressel-ball because he's got a freshman quarterback, avoiding the deep middle zone seams that have been the biggest problem on Michigan's defense all year and settling for runs and out routes and punts.
Michigan gets lucky a few times when OSU stalls out due to their own failings, maybe gets a turnover or two, and hangs around until the fourth quarter with help from two successful trick plays. Tressel dares Nick Sheridan to beat him, going into a shell up four in the fourth, and with five minutes left in the game, Sheridan strides on to the Ohio Stadium turf, history at his back.
It's at this point the scenario falls apart.
I do think Michigan will cover because Tressel's natural inclination in a game like this is to get a two-score lead and pack it in, especially with a freshman quarterback. If Wells and/or Pryor break monster runs it could get ugly, but I think you'll see this closer than most expect. There will be no point at which there is any hint Michigan could actually win.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- This looks almost identical to last year's game.
- At some point the week after I lose it and fisk someone.
- Ohio State, 17-3.