I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
The week 15 poll will be released tomorrow since there are no pending games and we're trying to beat the bushes for as many votes as possible for our season-ending pair o' polls. Please refrain from throwing yourself off available bridges.
A day (even more) late, because when I had finished the spreadsheet and closed it I must have hit "no" when it asked me to save the thing... when I opened it up I was faced with the first three drives of the game and no more; thus I relived the horror a third time. Yea, I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, twice. (Yes, it has gotten rather biblical around these parts of late... strange.)
|1||10||M20||Penalty||-5||Illegal formation. This is on either Massaquoi or Will Paul, as both were standing well off the line right next to each other. Hart is clearly not right already. He looks like he did against Iowa, all tentative cuts. On the next play they come out in exactly the same formation except the TE is on the line... and it's Tyler Ecker. This is on Mass.|
|1||15||M15||Pass||Breaston||5||Long handoff to Breaston(CA).|
|2||10||M20||Pass||Avant||4||Henne takes a quick throw in a flat to Avant as the Buckeyes blitz. The bucks read the hot read and converge quickly. (CA)|
|3||5||M24||Pass||Manningham||13||A wobbly, ill thrown route that does make it to Manningham. Danielson points out a solid blitz pickup from Hart. (CA)|
|1||10||M37||Pass||Hart||15||We go against tendencies here; this looks for all the world to be a waggle, but we throw a screen back across the field after Henne starts his roll. It's wide open. Great call from Malone. (CA).|
|1||10||O48||Pass||Bass||-4||Ohio State is ready ready ready for our WR screens. This play features Bass lined up as a tailback with three receivers to the wide side of the field and Henne in the shotgun. Bass runs a flare route, but drops the ball... and it's lateral. Wouldn't have mattered much anyway, as Ohio State has a linebacker coming up hard and Mass whiffs his block on the OSU DB. OSU lined up in a man press and as soon as they saw Henne motion towards Bass they attacked. Our OMG super clever trickeration versus Indiana does not appear to have had a lasting effect. (CA)|
|2||14||M48||Run||Hart||3||Draw from an offset I. Henige can't kick out his man.|
|3||11||O49||Pass||Massaquoi||12||Massaquoi reaches the very edge of the field on a crossing route underneath the coverage; Henne hits him in stride so he can turn it up and get the first down. (DO)|
|1||10||O37||Scramble||Henne||0||Play action that is supposed to go deep; Massaquoi gets beat by a blitzing defensive back and Henne's forced to scramble away. He made a nice move to dodge the blitzer to buy time but didn't have anything and tried to run. (TA... marginal)|
|2||10||O37||Run||Manningham||1||End around with Bass as a decoy. Camera anle is too tight to really see whats' going on downfield, but it looks like there's an extra guy that ends up in the box, forcing Manningham to try to cut it outside.|
|3||9||O36||Pass||Avant||8||Fired in to Avant and Schlegel makes a great tackle to prevent the first down. (CA)|
|4||1||O28||Pass||Avant||Inc||The slant is there. Henne throws a bullet that's too high to be caught... no reason to fire this so hard. Just get it complete. Later, on replay, Danielson highlights the coverage from Youboty, which is uncalled holding. Beaten by Avant's outside feint, Youboty is forced to grab him outside the shoulder and give a heavy yank that throws the route off just enough for the incompletion. The ref looking at it is shielded by Avant's body, though--really hard for him to make that call. As it was, this is a great play by Youboty to skirt the edge of a call when he knows he's beaten and force the turnover on downs, but it's still holding. (CA minus the penalty)|
|Drive Notes: Downs, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q. Michigan comes back with a creative drive of their own that doesn't quite work out.|
|1||10||M20||Pass||Bass||8||Bass comes out of the backfield on a 3-4 yard out and has enough room to run up for a nice gain. (CA)|
|2||2||M28||Run||Hart||1||Looks like Grady here, running up his offensive lineman's back when there seemed to be space to either side. Sympotmatic of the ankle and his hesistancy to cut?|
|3||1||M29||Run||Hart||1||Ugly... neither guard gets anything resembling a block, but Hart manages to squeak out the first down by fall ing forward.|
|1||10||M30||Run||Hart||2||A draw. Bihl impacts Schlegel but doesn't engage and he slips off into the hole. Hart tries to cut outside but is tracked down... again I wonder about the ankle. One of our better runs all day: sad.|
|2||8||M32||Penalty||-10||Holding on Henige, as he just gets owned by the DT.|
|2||18||M22||Run||Hart||2||A totally stupid call. Michigan is lined up in a three wide and tries to run into what turns into a six man front at the last moment. No one gets close to blocking Schlegel, who makes the tackle after the other LB forces Hart to make a cut. This is a give-up-and-punt play.|
|3||16||M24||Pass||Hart||-4||Completing the give-up with a screen that AJ Hawk annihilates. Sad when our third and sixteen screen is predictable. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-9, 9 min 2nd Q. We pitch the possession after the holding call. Given the Ole(!) job our guards are giving their DTs at the moment I can understand it, but couldn't we have gone with something that would have given us a makeable third down?|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Manningham||Inc||Bomb towards the corner. Bass and Manningham end up running in the same space; Manningham trips just towards the end of it as Salley clips one of his feet in coverage (incidental contact). Ball hits right at the corner of the endzone on the goalline: almost perfectly thrown. If Manningham doesn't take a tumble he has a very good shot at hauling this in. (CA)|
|2||10||O36||Pass||Manningham||5||Henne comes off his initial read (could be a feint, since he did it verrry quickly) and finds Manningham sitting down in front of the zone (CA)|
|3||5||O31||Pass||Breaston||6||Lasered in between two defenders in a zone. (DO)|
|1||10||O25||Run||Hart||1||A graphic about the Snow Bowl occupies this space instead of the actual play. Thanks, ABC!|
|2||9||O24||Pass||Breaston||5||Credit to the OL this time, as they pick up a blitz very nicely, giving Henne all kinds of time. He eventually finds Breaston on the sideline... unfortunately he's just a foot to far to the outside and steps out after the reception, else he runs for a first down. (CA)|
|3||4||O19||Pass||Breaston||5||Breaston runs a little flat route behind an Avant slant that forces Everett to loop around Avant and his defender, opening up space for the first down. Excellent call. (CA)|
|1||10||O14||Pass||Manningham||8||Long handoff. Manningham beats Youboty and heads down the sideline. (CA)|
|2||2||O6||Run||Hart||1||Again an Al Montoya impression from the OL; this time it's both tackles who whiff. Steno misses a cut block and Long lets his man get around him instead of sealing him to the outside.|
|3||1||O5||Pass||Avant||3 (Penalty)||Grabby Mr. Youboty gets nailed for it this time for grabbing Avant's arm. (CA)|
|1||G||O2||Pass||Avant||2||Fade; touchdown; can't do it better. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-9, 5 min 2nd Q. A ten play, 36 yard drive... impressive or totally unsustainable going the length of the field against the Buckeye D? Er, the latter, as the rest of this game demonstrate. Still much competence displayed in portions here, especially by Henne, who looks like the guy we were all drooling over preseason.|
|1||10||M16||Pass||Manningham||Inc||WR screen that was going to go for a large number of yards, but Manningham drops it. OSU's DBs immediately move up and attack when Massaquoi goes in motion--they're prepared--but since no one comes out with Massaquoi (zone) they're helpless to stop it. (CA)|
|2||10||M16||Run||Hart||0||End of Hart's day, as we run right into the heart of a blitz.|
|3||10||M16||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Henne can't find anyone and is forced to throw it away. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-12, 14 min 3rd Q. Stunningly inept in the rushing game, but that WR screen was definitely open.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Massaquoi||13||Mass is ooonbelievably wide open as the Buckeye DBs bail out on the post; Henne checks down smartly to Mass underneat the coverage (CA... but a money read.)|
|1||G||O7||Scramble||Henne||1||Henige reacts late to a delayed Hawk blitz, forcing Henne to scramble up in the pocket. (not charted... not enough time)|
|2||G||O6||Run||Grady||1||Neither TE gets a block here. Ecker watches his man make the tackle; Mass's guy gets enough penetration to knock into Henige and prevent him from pulling around to lead block; it's blown up.|
|3||G||O5||Penalty||-5||Delay of game.|
|3||G||O10||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Danielson goes all slobbery about Hawk here but he totally whiffed his jam at the line and was in bailout mode, facing away from the quarterback, futilely hoping his hands hit the ball on its way in. All Henne has to do here is lay it up into Ecker's hands, but he overshoots him by a good couple yards. One of his few poor throws. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal(27), 10-12, 10 min 3rd Q. A bunch of crappy blocking sets up a third and goal from the ten. Henne can't convert.|
|1||10||M19||Pass||Grady||5||Screen. Massaquoi is knocked back a couple yards blocking Salley, which forces Grady into a couple of bad decisions as to which way to cut when he reaches him. (CA)|
|2||5||M24||Pass||Ecker||7||Play action; Henne hits Ecker in stride on a crossing route in front of the zone. (CA)|
|1||10||M31||Run||Bass||1||No one on the interior of the line can seal off their man on the pitch. An OSU linebacker smartly forces Bass back inside where the pursuit converges.|
|2||9||M32||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant runs a deep corner route; Henne's throw is a little bit too far to the inside, allowing Salley to come up and make a play on the ball. A nice play from Salley but Henne gave him the opportunity to make it (as is usually the case on routes like that... can't stop a perfectly thrown ball). (CA... marginal, close to IN.)|
|3||9||M32||Pass||No one||Sack, -6||Long gets straight beaten by Patterson.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-12, 5 min 3rd Q. The overriding themes here are the offensive line getting crushed on every run play and a fair share of passing downs. Henne's tremendous efficiency comes on a lot of short routes and we continue putting ourselves in third down time and again. Look above: no plays longer than 13 or so yards, and the Buckeye defense eventually comes up with a play on one of our third downs unless we get a short field.|
|1||10||O37||Pass||Breaston||10||We go against tendencies again... this is the same slip screen setup with the motioning TE we've seen all year; Henne fakes said slip screen then pivots to the other side of the field to throw a jailbreak screen to Breaston, which he takes advantage of, eluding linebackers for the first down. (CA)|
|2||In||O27||Run||Grady||2||Again little support up front.|
|1||10||O25||Pass||Breaston||11||Henne comes off the slant and fires a bullet with great timing to Breston in the face of an oncoming DE. (DO)|
|1||10||O14||Pass||Avant||12 (pen)||Interference on Everett on an Avant post. They're looking for the arm-raking thing and Everett does get his hands in before the ball arrives, but I'd probably be livid about this if I was a Buckeye. Also I would be retarded. The throw here is perfect. (DO)|
|1||G||O2||Run||Grady||2||Touchdown on the lineup, set, and snap immediately play they do with regularity.|
|1||G||O3||Scramble||Henne||3||Finding no one open, Henne scrambles in.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 18-12, 1 min 3rd Q. Two point call is the wrong one. Not making it means that if OSU scores, we're behind three and our field goal only ties the game instead of puts us in the lead. The chances of 5 versus 6 being useful are small and not worth the risk of not getting it to 5.|
|1||10||M29||?||No tape on this one for some reason.|
|2||9||M30||Pass||Paul||Inc||Henne is hit as he throws and drives it into the ground as result. Lentz is injured during the play, causing the pressure. Good coverage. (Er... BA)|
|3||9||M30||Run||Bradley||9||Yeah, OSU is just as confused about this as everyone else is... Alijiah Freakin' Bradley, all 5'6 of him, rips off Michigan's best run of the day on a counter draw, which sets up...|
|4||In||M39||Henne||1||A QB sneak on fourth an inches that Henne stunningly demanded, getting in Carr's face.|
|1||10||M40||Pass||Breaston||Inc||We're in our four-wide slipscreen formation and the Buckeye DB crashes it right at the snap without even checking to see what the play is. Manningham manages to shut him off but for the second time in the game our screen-receving WR is spooked by the unexpected pressure and drops the ball. This, by the way, is definitely a lateral and should have been a five yard loss. (CA)|
|2||10||M40||Run||Grady||3||We fake the slip screen and hand it off to Grady up the middle... would have been better to reverse these playcalls.|
|3||7||M43||Penalty||10||Holding on Schlegel attempting to keep Ecker from breaking open. No replay is provided.|
|1||10||O47||Pass||Manningham||38||A ton of time. This one is thrown behind Manningham but the corner is too busy attempting to recover and does not locate the ball to make a play on it; Manningham makes the catch. (CA)|
|1||G||O9||Run||Grady||3||Eh. The DE doesn't get blocked at all, forcing Grady to cut it back.|
|2||G||O6||Pass||Breaston(?)||Inc||Riley lets a blitzer through, forcing a Henne roll and throwaway. (TA)|
|3||G||O6||Run||Henne||3||QB draw... I don't think Henne waits long enough here, because Avant doesn't get over to block the eventual tackler.|
|Drive Notes: Field Goal(19), 21-12, 8 min 4th Q. Oh, how I thought we were going to win after this... the fourth down conversion, the bomb (finally)...|
|1||10||M48||Pass||Massey||Inc||Possibly the dumbest decision in kickoff history... Huston's been putting them between the freakin' uprights and they decide to pooch it. After a Will Paul fumble (enjoy DE again!) and a Breaston recovery, M sets up at midfield. ... Anyway. Play action rollout and Henne hits Massey in the hands; he drops it. Excellent call that would have had a first down. (CA)|
|2||10||M48||Pass||Breaston||11||Breaston is hit on a shallow crossing route... he then cuts back across the grain and gets a great block from Avant to scoot past the first down marker. (CA)|
|1||10||O41||Run||Grady||0||Toss play to Grady... Massey doesn't even bother to block the cornerback, who comes up and makes a tackle. Freshman screwup... given that we know Massey is a crappy blocker at this point and Mass is unavailable this doesn't seem like a good idea to start with... add in the whole OSU defense thing and it's doubly bad.|
|2||10||O41||Pass||No one||Inc||Henige is beaten again and holds again; Henne is forced to throw it away in the face of the pass rush. (TA) Penalty is declined.|
|3||10||O41||Pass||Breaston||6||The same fake-slip actual-jailbreak screen as before... this one gets six. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: ... Punt.... 21-19, 5 min 4th Q. Punt = disaster. Our guard play puts the first nail in our coffin.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Avant||23||A brief glimmer... (DO)|
|2||10||O43||Pass||Ecker||a number||Sigh. (BR)|
Where was that guy wearing #7 all year?
Er... maybe some more, you know... analysis and stuff?
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
In a word, magnificent. The four TAs and one BA were all due to pressure yielded right up the middle by the guards; none of these were instances of Henne sitting in the pocket way too long. OSU covered his first read and got to him before he could find a second or third receiver. Removing that you have two instances of bad play: the Ecker overthrow in the endzone and the throw to Ecker at the end of the game (not enough time to check down, there, just risk the INT). If you want to be harsh you can add the Avant corner route that was too far inside and thus batted down by Salley and the fourth and one slant that was fired past an interfered-with Avant, but those throws were at least okay. This was Henne's best performance of his career... to be that effective against that defense and with that revolving door of grimly futile interior blockers is incredible.
If the guy who showed up against OSU had played all year, Michigan beats both UW and Minnesota with ease and probably beats Notre Dame, Jason Avant is a Belitnikoff finalist, and Joey isn't planning on hanging himself.
Well, then, why couldn't we score?
Our chronic weakness at guard (and center without Adam Kraus) blew up something fierce. I don't want to be too harsh on Henige--his football career is over and he'll be walking with a limp the rest of his life after playing on the functional equivalent of Mr. Garrison's testicles the last three years--but he just couldn't block anyone. Lentz was little better, and Bihl didn't do much. Ohio State got interior pass rush with infuriating frequency and there was hardly a running play that didn't end up with six Buckeyes gang tackling the running back at the LOS. Things only got worse when Lentz was dinged and Massaquoi went out.
The complete inability to rely on the line turned the running game into a keep-em-honest sideshow and thwarted Michigan's efforts to go deep--Henne could not sit in the pocket and let the throws develop--forcing us into long, grinding marches based entirely on the short passing game. Ohio State's D is too good to let you score on fifteen-play, 80 yard drives, so our scoring was limited to instances when we were given short fields.
And thus, the playcalling...
I thought it was great given the limitations provided. Michigan acknowledged the impossibility of running early, coming out with a clever, tendency-defying ope ning drive heavily featuring the passing game that ended on fourth and one after an uncalled penalty. Throughout the game Michigan tried to get its playmakers involved on the perimeter, avoided plays that were likely zeroes, and generally operated as efficiently as possible given the offensive line's complete absence.
I do question the weird trick play outburst against IU. I would rather have wasted plays trying wacky stuff like the diamond transcontinental against the Buckeyes than running futilely into the line. It didn't slow OSU down one bit and given the situation outlined above where Michigan's chances of getting a big play became vanishingly small because of the offensive line's sieve impression, a high-risk, high-reward trick play or four could have helped immensely. We didn't pull out so much as a reverse.
But what about that last (real) drive?
I hate that Grady pitch on first and ten, especially with freshman Mike Massey in the game. Massey ignored the charging corner, who hit Grady immediately. Look at the chart above... see any effective runs other than the "who's the Smurf?" counter draw? We essentially blew a down in that situation and asked our freshman tailback and freshman tight end to make a play instead of trying to get red-hot Henne to hook up with Breaston (on fire Breaston) and Avant. Henige's failed block on second down (and a holding call declined by Tressell) left Michigan in third and ten, at which point they run a screen that appeared to be setting up a makeable fourth down in my mind. I mean, if you're going to punt you have to run a play that has a good chance of getting the first down, even if it leaves you in fourth and ten.
Then... punt. We've been over this before. A disaster that only served to rob Michigan of the time it needed to respond after the OSU touchdown drive. After all that, after going for it on your own 40, after watching any team that really needed a late game score get it all year... I just don't understand.
Well, I guess I do. The story of Carr (and the story of Michigan) this year was an attempt that fell short. Carr did adapt his strategy to deal with the altered reality of college football, but when the pressure ratcheted up to its migrane-inducing peak he reverted to his basest instincts--a totally human, understandable reaction--and thus Punt, Lloyd, Punt. It bit him every time, but old habits die hard... very hard.
What does it mean for next year?
We need to rebuild the offensive line entirely. We need Hart back and healthy. We should have plenty of options in the passing game...
But you and I know that it comes down to #7. Against OSU we saw the reason we were so damn excited about him in the first place, the reason we nearly upset Texas in the Rose Bowl; the reason all that preseason top 5 stuff happened. Is it a mirage, or was this season a bad dream? We won't know until the Notre Dame game next year, if then. To borrow from horrible action movies everywhere:
Nervous woman prone to screaming and passing out: What... what do we do?
Grizzled man probably chomping a cigar: We... pray. We... pray.
And There was much rejoicing. And by rejoicing I mean "bitching about the Alamo Bowl." Copious "rejoicing." RBUAS:
Anyway you slice it
's season was a bad one. If they had maintained their New Year-bowl streak, would you have looked at their season with any more adoration? Of course not. Michigan
See you in San Antonio. I'll be the one hanging himself.
Well, at the very least Vegas expects us to strangulate the Huskers: the line opened Michigan -13(!).
Double rejoicing! Lost in the basketball/recruiting spoo-- article yesterday: the hockey team got their asses swept @ Miami (Roethlisberger). They've now lost four in a row for the first time since 1988-89, when Zack Morris was still the coolest man on the planet (slack: I was ten) and not rumored to be dead from a heroin overdose every six months. This, as they say, is not so good.
Adding injury to injury, the US World Juniors team will pirate Jack Johnson, Mark Mitera, and Kevin Porter from the Wolverines' efforts to not be humilated at the GLI. Add in the near certain addition of Andrew Cogliano to the Canadian team and Michigan is screwed with a capital screwed. Depressed hyyyarrr.
One of these years Michigan is going to have to take a hard look at its participation in the GLI and either demand it take place at a time when Michigan is not down 3-4 critical players every tournament or that it go on without Michigan. Going into it shorthanded every year and picking up at least one loss is damaging Michigan's PWR time and again, and it's not worth it.
As an aside, the US team is heavily favored to win the WJC according to Bob McKenzie, a statement shocking to anyone who knows about these things. In the span of a half dozen years the US has gone from humorous also-rans to shock winners (in '03) and pretournament favorites (now)... yeah, I think the USNTDP is sticking around.
At least there's... basketball? No, that doesn't sound right. But there you go. I submit this gem on Graham Brown's uncanny resemblance to someone who is not Ben Wallace for your edification and approval. As Uncle Grambo might say, best evs.
Big Ten Wonk has initial, extremely, er, wonky PPWS stats up. Michigan players featured on the top:
7. Daniel Horton, Michigan (1.40)
18. Courtney Sims, Michigan (1.29)
19. Brian Butch, Wisconsin (1.28)
20. Lester Abram, Michigan (1.27)
... and on the bottom:
5. Ron Coleman, Michigan (0.89)
13. Chris Hunter, Michigan (0.98)
Still early yet and there is much noise to dampen, but of interest. Big Ten Wonk also points out this article on incoming recruit DeShawn Sims, though I believe its claim that Sims will play on the wing in college is erroneous. Next year Michigan's posts consist of Brent Petway, Courtney Sims, and then... Amadou Ba? One or both of Kendrick Price and Sims will have to play as a post at least some of the time unless we pull a post recruit in this class, which seems unlikely.
Sure, this sounds totally on the up-and-up. No, there's nothing shady about anything that ever goes on in Columbus:
[AJ] Hawk, [Nick] Mangold, and a third roommate, Jonathan Thomas, told police that their apartment in the 100 block of West Norwich Avenue was broken into and about $3,000 in cash, $1,425 in movies, two laptop computers, a $500 Gucci watch, two Microsoft X-Box games valued at $500, a Sony Playstation game valued at $250 were taken.
Who in the sam hell keeps $3,000 dollars in cash lying around? Are you Amish? Do you not trust the banks since they're run by persons of foreign persuasion? And, importantly: did Troy Smith get ripped off last year by only getting $500?
It's also totally normal to be robbed on October 23rd and then, you know, tell the cops five days later when you get around to it:
Police were not told about the crime until Nov. 28, according to their report.
Woe to you, Buckeyes, hypocrites! For ye are like whitened sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Can anyone get me this data? The final regular season coaches' poll has been released and with it comes each coaches individual ballots, compiled here in a totally sweet flash animation. This, of course, leads to many fascinating questions, like who exactly is the Straight Bangin' Award winner? Who is Mr. Bold? Etc! Does anyone have access to this stuff in some sort of text file? If I can get my hands on it I can run the calculations and you, the reader, can find out who the nation's wackest coach is. The House That Rock Built's early money is on Larry Blakeney of Troy State.
DE Pierre Woods
In A Nutshell: Peaked as a sophomore, then killed Pope John Paul II during his junior year, earning himself a permanent spot in Carr's doghouse. Got off the bench late in the year when Lamarr Woodley injured his arm and provided several critical quarterback hurries/sacks in the Iowa game, but was largely neutralized against Ohio State. Undersized and suited only for the weakside spot dominated by Lamarr Woodley, he ended up a pass-rush specialist and a disappointment.
Replacing him... probably: As a DE: Redshirt sophomore Tim Jamison; hopefully Jamison replaces the Woods who was terrorizing Drew Tate and not the one who was watching Rondell Biggs and Jeremy Van Alstyne do very little. As an OLB/DE tweener: Shawn Crable.
Net effect: Should be an improvement. Jamison has been quite impressive in his limited time, though I fear that he'll be stuck behind Woodley. No offense to Biggs and Van Alstyne, but Jamison made more plays this year in his sparing time than those two have in their injury-plagued careers; even if it means moving Woodley over to the strongside DE spot an effort should be made to get Jamison on the field.
DTs Pat Massey and Gabe Watson
In A Nutshell: Pat Massey must be the best damn captain in the world, because he had very little business playing defensive tackle in the Big Ten. 6'8" and lanky, Massey was plowed backwards by every team he faced. This is probably the most effective summary of his career: though he started for three years he finished with exactly four TFLs that were not sacks. All four came as a sophomore, two against Houston and two against Indiana. As a senior he had 29 tackles, one for loss. That was a sack against Michigan State where Woodley crushed two blockers, forcing Stanton to scramble back into a trailing Massey. Whoever replaces him would have to try very hard indeed to do less.
Watson was something of a disappointment-- he was benched for portions of three games early in the year--but is still a much bigger loss than Massey. Watson was intermittently dominant, driving his man into the backfield with regularity. If Massey had ended any play within three yards of the line of scrimmage, Watson's penetration would have been the key component in a fierce run defense instead of a painfully ironic way for opponents to create gaping holes in the center of the line.
Replacing them... probably: Junior Alan Branch and some combination of Terrance Taylor, Will Johnson, and incoming freshman Marques Slocum. Branch started in Watson's place when he ended up in the doghouse and then moved over to defensive end when Biggs and Van Alstyne went down. He was extremely effective in both spots. Taylor and Johnson both played in relief of the starters with mixed results. They had a tendency to get blown off the ball, but let's review: Taylor and Johnson were freshman. Massey was a fifth year senior. Both of the youngsters have more prototypical DT bodies and are extremely strong already. Add in the penetrating Slocum--who looked an awful lot like Branch during last years Army All-American game--and Michigan should have a four-deep rotation of guys who can play.
Net effect: Almost has to improve simply because Massey is gone. Branch is a terrific player who was named Michigan's best defensive lineman at the football bust this year (though Lamarr Woodley's injury had something to do with that) and should adequately replace Watson as the guy you have to double. A capable starter next to Branch should emerge from the Taylor, Slocum, and Johnson trio.
LB Scott McClintock
In A Nutshell: Lost his job as soon as David Harris stepped on the field and was never heard from again.
Replacing him... probably: Er?
Net effect: Zero.
CB Grant Mason
Anyone who gets hurled into the endzone is all
right by me.
In A Nutshell: Would have been an excellent nickelback for any team but when pressed into a starting role had some obvious shortcomings. In one of the more bizarre statistical quirks I can remember, Mason finished second on the team in tackles to David Harris--not a good sign. Teams completed a lot of passes in front of Mason and he was a major part of Michigan's containment issues. On the bright side, he did make a couple of key interceptions against Wisconsin and Northwestern.
Replacing him... probably: Sophomore Morgan Trent, the nickelback a year ago. Trent has an impressive size/speed combination and adapted quickly to the position. He should do just fine, if not better. The greater question is "who replaces Morgan Trent?" Precisely zero cornerbacks other than Hall, Trent, and Mason saw any non-garbage time last year, also not a good sign. If Charles Stewart didn't see a single meaningful snap in a year when Michigan clearly was looking for conerback depth it's highly unlikely he ever contributes.
Thus Michigan's cornerback recruiting drought will come into stark relief next year unless California sleepers Johnny Sears and Chris Richards turn out to be players. Sears is reportedly an athlete par excellence, but he had only one year of varsity experience due to an unfortunately timed transfer in high school. He is the presumptive favorite in the race for third cornerback next year. Richards--DB coach Ron English's godson--is young and undersized but has some talent. Cal got him to decommit temporarily after he did very well against hyped FSU recruit Fred Rouse (last seen bemoaning his decision to spurn Florida) in a California-Florida All Star game that caught the Bears' attention. He could contribute.
Net effect: Mason was servicable, a solid player but not a star. Trent is clearly a better athlete and had an impressive debut season; he should mature into an All Big Ten corner. Depth, however, will be important and is a total question mark. I would not be surprised to see either recruit Steve Brown or sophomore Brandon Harrison, both safeties at the moment, shift over to corner if Sears and Richards don't impress.
The only departing player who will get a serious look from the NFL is Watson, and that will be based more on his enormous, er, everything than anything unbelievable he did last year. We'll miss him, but teams tended to run at the gaping hole next to him this year and that--combined with his entry into the doghouse early in the year--limited his effectiveness. In terms of personnel, Michigan should be better next year. Other than Watson, Michigan lost its worst starter, a third-down edge rusher, and an adequate corner. There are still questions (who is the nickelback (and dimeback, for that matter)? Can we find effective outside linebackers? Who starts on the DL next to Branch and Woodley?) but Michigan has good players at at least seven defensive positions. There should be no excuses next year.
Of course, there's that whole coaching thing. Michigan's soft zone got downright ephemeral after the year of safeties who were anything but. Michigan avoided man coverage like it was the clap, sacrificing any element of surprise in favor of keeping someone (or three someones) behind the play. The end result was a hair-pulling, garment-rending extravaganza not seen since erroneous reports of Joseph's death reached Jacob. (BLAM! Ten years of Sunday School!) This year forcibly disabused me of the notion that Jim Herrmann will change or Lloyd Carr will pull ineffective players who are really swell people, so Michigan's underacheivement relative to talent will probably contin
ue, but there will be more talent and more experience next year. That should count for something.
Update 12/5: Removed Micah Johnson, who committed to UK. Also removed NV RB DeMarco Murray(dropped us) and FL OT Jim Barrie(UF). Updated MI WR Dominque Douglas' list to include Iowa... and then removed him when he committed to Iowa. Added OH QB Rick Stanzi. Linked to article with passage on NJ DE Jason Adjepong and article on new K commit Bryan Wright.
Editorial Opinion: There's also this GBW article that may or may not imply that Michigan is likely to receive committments from LBs Obi Ezeh and Thaddeus Gibson, S Jonas Mouton, and DE Greg Banks. Given the cited article on Banks...
"I've talked to Greg. He said he had an outstanding visit Michigan visit this weekend. Outstanding." ... "As I said, the Michigan visit was OUTSTANDING."
...it seems likely that he will indeed commit sometime after his last visit, which is to Cal next week. Ezeh, who doesn't have any major offers other than the one from Michigan, is also widely considered to be in the bag. Gibson is not expected to qualify (<-- speculation, but one that is widespread), but Michigan continues to pursue him on the off chance he does and perhaps to get the inside track with him in 2007 if he heads to prep school. Mouton is the last remaining high profile secondary target in Michigan's crosshairs; receiving his committment would be a major boost to the class, especially because it might allow Steve Brown to ease over to corner. A USC visit looms, but they already have two five star safeties in coulda-shoulda-woulda Michigan recruits Taylor Mays and Antwine Perez. The vibe is good on him... and his other presumed finalist is Nebraska.
The other major piece of news is the committment of Dorrestein. He's a three star to both services and picked Michigan over Nebraska, Illinois, and Northwestern... so he's not exactly Sam Young, but offensive line is the position on the field where recruiting rankings matter the least. The suddenly-more-credible-when-overrating-Michigan-recruits Tom Lemming likes him quite a bit:
Plainfield Central, 6-7, 310, sr., OL
The best offensive lineman in the Suburban Prairie. Listed by talent scout Tom Lemming as the state's No. 1 offensive lineman and one of the five best in the Midwest. Being recruited by Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue. "Best offensive lineman I've coached in 22 years,'' Wildcats coach John Jackson said.
Take that with a grain of salt, as the only recruit more likely to be overrated by Lemming than one who could possibly be thinking about considering Notre Dame maybe is one from anywhere near Chicago.
ESPN's Scouts, Inc. gives Dorrestein a resounding "eh, he's okay," giving him a 6.0--right on the bottom edge of "good prospect." His profile($) is full of praise for his physical ability and criticism of his technique, which is exactly what I would hope to hear about a middling prospect like Dorrestein. The upside, as they say, is high. Thumbs slightly up.
First... my popularity on the central asian steppe continues to skyrocket. I received this email from one Stephen Repp:
I am a loyal mgoblog reader (OSU fan, sorry Brian) and I can testify that you are the #1 Michigan site in the Central Asian Steppe. As a matter of fact, the #1 college football site there. I reside in Novosibirsk, Russia (you could look it up) and check your site every day. Looking forward to UVV re the OSU game!
UVV? Must be the Russian keyboards. My excitement at this email is only matched by the first note of support from the CAS; I urge any and all MGoBlog readers from this fine area of the world to speak up and be heard.
Must not... make fun of... south... ARGH. Y'all are probably the target audience for shirts that say things like "I skip weddings, funerals, and organ transplant surgery for college football," so I suggest you check out the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer store. All pre-XMas proceeds go to support, um, adult literacy. And I have... no comment... on the selected cause... as regards the south...
Okay. Okay. We're good. You should have seen my fingers hovering above the keyboard, twitching with the effort of restraint. It was a sight, let me tell you. And while you're tooling around RJYH, check out the anti-Millen sign confiscation post.
I thought that was just a metaphor. Yeah. This is kind of strange and dickish and awesome all at the same time:
That's a woodcarved bobblehead of Lloyd Carr after the Oregon loss a few years back found in "Woodcarver Online Magazine." The story of its construction:
In choosing a subject for this article, we discovered that we were both stalwart supporters of rival football programs (I suspect Matt's support may be derived from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and too much snow), and a small wager was initiated. The resulting outcome of an upcoming game would determine if the bobblehead I would be carving for this article would reflect the likeness of Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel or Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr.
Much to my chagrin, the subject of this article is a bobblehead with the likeness of Coach Carr. Since I am not one to welch on a bet, the likeness of my choosing was selected from an AP photograph of Coach Carr on September 20, 2003 just after shaking hands with Mike Bellotti, Coach of the Oregon Ducks, after a hard fought 31-27 Michigan loss. Perhaps this likeness is not the most flattering one I could have chosen, but from a Buckeye fans perspective it was perfect.
Typical of a Buckeye to obey the letter of the law but to flout its intent. In any case, the end result is actually quite evocative.
The Rose that grew from concrete(!). Uh, Jalen Rose has an official website that demands observation, if only for its ambitious framing of Rose as Roy Hobbs. Warning: if you're at work, turn your speakers off.
Hyyyyarrr! Prepare for a mighty betouchdowning! My obsessions with football, game theory, and pirates wrapped up in one clearly insane man? Bestill my heart! The NYT Magazine has a fascinating feature by Michael Lewis (local ordinances require that I tell you Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball) on Texas Tech head coach/lunatic Mike Leach, though it is amusingly out of touch in parts:
Bad as it [this year's 56-17 shellacking] was for Texas A.&M., its staff might wonder how much worse it could have been if Leach had the same access to talent as A.&M. or Texas or Alabama or, God forbid...
So, right, the end of this sentence is obvious, right? It has three letters, it's in California, all references to it on Bruins Nation are preceded with profanity, etc. NSFMF!
Er... okay, Mr. Baseball Man, whatever you say. (Standard disclaimer: OMG WEIS OMG QUINN OMG THAT WHITE GUY WITH THE UNSPELLABLE NAME.) There's also a sort of breathlessness about Leach throwing the ball constantly that seems dated when half the stodgy ol' Big Ten runs the spread. Leach is certainly an innovator, but it's not necessarily because he only runs when forced to.
Humorous timewarps aside, a look into Mike Leach's head is hilarious:
Last year, after a loss to Texas A.&M. in overtime, Leach hauled the team into the conference room on Sunday morning and delivered a three-hour lecture on the history of pirates. Leach read from his favorite pirate history, "Under the Black Flag," by David Cordingly (the passages about homosexuality on pirate ships had been crossed out). The analogy to football held up for a few minutes, but after a bit, it was clear that Coach Leach was just . . . talking about pirates.
Hyyyarrrr!!! It's also highly interesting. Here's a poignant passage for Michigan fans:
The Texas Tech offense is not just an offense; it's a mood: optimism. It is designed to maximize the possibility of something good happening rather than to minimize the possibility of something bad happening. But then something bad happened. ("It always does," Leach says.)
Recommended for anyone interested in football strategy or pirates. And if neither of those things interest you, I have to seriously question your choice of blog.
En fuego, si, si. EDSBS continues its best blogging ever(!!!) streak.