this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Removed PA WR Todd Thomas(Pitt), OH OL Marcus Hall(dropped us).
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Another quiet week, but this week will be a big one. The MSU game has an impressive list of visitors set up from both the 2009 and 2010 classes; at least one 2010 commit is expected and there might be a second.
But on to this week's stuff:
McNeal is gone.
I mentioned that I was of the belief MN WR Bryce McNeal was not likely to return to the fold, and others are in agreement:
McNeal, from Minneapolis Breck, will visit Colorado, California, Minnesota and Florida, with the Gophers holding the home-state advantage. The success Tim Brewster is having in his second season in Minneapolis has impressed McNeal, and inside word is that it will be hard to pull him out of his home state now. Some think Michigan still has a chance to get him back, but sources close to the program feel McNeal is gone.
I should also mention that there have been articles about LA DT DeQuinta Jones and TX WR Dewayne Peace stating they were something other than totally solid. Wheeee! Might be a bumpy ride as we approach Signing Day with negative bler bler around the program at its all-time peak.
Here's Peace looking 14 and talking about visiting Kansas and Oklahoma and such:
So, yeah, his "commitment" is more like "Michigan a declared leader." Sounds like he's probably going to stick, though.
I'm not sure how much lowdown Jamie Newberg has on Michigan's QB situation, but this would be weird:
Is Michigan done at quarterback with this recruiting class? I don't think so, and I am hearing that the Wolverines have an excellent chance at landing Miramar (Fla.) High standout Eugene Smith. USF is heavily in the mix, and some say Florida State has a shot at him as well.
Smith's been quiet in his recruitment and plans to take a decision to or close to Signing Day, so we won't know about him for a while. Given the current situation at QB (and the possibility for a couple of these recruits to play elsewhere) I would welcome a third guy in the class, but I don't know if Beaver and Forcier would.
FWIW, Newberg also reiterates the conventional wisdom on Will Campbell: he should recommit to M.
The 2010 news remains relentlessly sunny, at least. Michigan has commitments from WRs Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson already, and it sounds like they'll pick up a couple of guys to go against them in practice this weekend. One has already been discussed: Eagle Lake safety Marvin Robinson is widely expected to commit.
Here's Scout talent analyst Allen Trieu on Miller:
"Miller is kid who is shockingly put together for his age," Trieu stated. "He uses his strength to play a very physical game and blocks like a tight end. He also has good speed (4.5 in the 40) and has shown he can stretch the field. Certainly, when you talk about Florida juniors, Ricardo's name has to be mentioned right up there with the best of them."
And on Robinson:
"When I saw this kid at the Michigan summer camp two years back, I thought they had misclassified him as a sophomore-to-be," recalled Trieu. "He's built like an NFL player already, and the fact that he can cover ground well enough to play free safety is impressive. I cannot imagine there are many other kids out there with his size that can run, jump and catch the ball the way he does. It is easy to see why Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, USC and others have offered him this early. A kid that boasts those offers before the start of his junior season is definitely elite."
That's all old news, though. The new news is on another Floridian, one Lo Wood, a cornerback for Apopka (Jeremy Gallon's school) who is about as blunt as Robinson about his intentions:
“Michigan is my favorite and I sure hope they offer me. I just have always liked them. It’s big blue man and that great stadium. My teammate (Jeremy Gallon) is going there.”
He's expected to get that offer when he visits; he is one to watch for a commitment right then. Wood hovers around #10 in the extremely premature Florida state rankings for 2010 I've seen; this is another guy who will hover near top 100 lists when that time rolls around.
Here's Jim Stefani on Wood.
Moving in early.
Add FL S commit Mike Jones to the list of early enrollers:
“Oh yeah, my commitment is real strong. They have such a young team I feel I could come in and play because I have talent. And I’ll be enrolling early and be there for the spring.”
That brings the count to five; both quarterbacks and both Pahokee kids are scheduled to arrive in January.
Etc.: SC S Devontae Holloman has officially decommitted from Clemson and has M in a top four with three southern schools; SC DE Chris Bonds now looking like a longshot; a profile of NC OL Travis Bond.
The Po-lice? Dude, keep your hockey players away from the football team: several counties of the internet are murmuring about an incident in East Lansing that's something like a super-sized version of the Milano-Kampfer fight/suplexing. Supposedly there was a house party, a major brawl involving a couple dozen people, and police involvement. Since this is the internet, this could all be wrong—tomorrow a plesiosaur with a shotgun will figure in somehow—but there's been a lot of independent chatter on this. Something happened.
Will suspensions result? Was anyone more important than a tenth-string walkon involved? If Hoyer was forcibly benched would Michigan State fans even regard that as a loss? Stay tuned!
Let not the words you critique influence your argument. So last week I linked to a post from the summer which downplayed the possibility Michigan would reprise Notre Dame's hideous 2007 season, causing Rakes of Mallow to link to it and mock it:
I found it odd that no one in Wolverine Land could see what was coming this season. They witnessed what happened to Notre Dame all last season - a massive loss of personnel unable to be overcome by idiot fans screaming in the preseason "We'll still win nine games, we're [INSERT NAME OF SCHOOL HERE]!" - then looked that fate in the eye and made another asinine comment.
Of course, if Rakes had actually read the damn post:
So why won't this happen? First... it might. Michigan is unlikely to sink to the horrific depths Notre Dame did solely because of math -- hooray Gaussian distributions -- but failing to reach a bowl would be a real blow to the internet argument capabilities of Michigan fans. And that's totally within the realm of possibility.
A season like Tressel's initial foray at Ohio State -- a bleh 7-5 that would have been 6-6 without John Navarre's exceptional generosity -- is well within the realm of possibility. And by that I mean "is the most likely outcome."
So, yeah, Rakes has gone back to a post he would never have seen again if I hadn't brought up that I was wrong and then vastly exaggerated the degree of confidence I had in the season—and this was before I had any idea that Nick Sheridan would play extensively. Low, man.
Meanwhile, those levelheaded ND fans are saying Michigan "might have to fire Rodriguez this year."
I have been talking about myself. A Flint Journal writer with one o' them MLive blogs asked me a few questions, and I answered them.
Buckle buckle. The Daily Reports (via the LA Times) that Mitera's injury is the big one:
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Mitera suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Friday's first-period collision.
Mitera and his family still haven't made a decision about surgery. Wait. What?
“We really haven’t come to a decision yet,” Ken said. “It’s going to be another couple of weeks. We really want to look to the doctors’ advice and see what they feel is in Mark’s best interest in the long term.”
Can you play on a torn ACL? Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon moved up to an 0.5 Norris when he played (and ran for a 50-yard touchdown) on a torn ACL last year against Arizona, but the lingering memory of Dixon from that game is his knee buckling hideously at some random point—no one touched him—and Dixon's dad helping his crying son to the locker room.
So… yeah. Torn ACLs seem like a bad idea. Maybe it's different in hockey, but probably not. I'm guessing he goes with the surgery and is done as Wolverine. Sad face.
At least he can't whiff a block. Carson Butler is now a defensive end:
Earlier in the week, tight end Carson Butler , who has moved down the depth chart and is behind Kevin Koger and Mike Massey , asked to move to defensive end. …
"He ain't playing tight end, because Kevin Koger is the starter at tight end, and Mike Massey is the backup," Rodriguez said.
…"and we've got like ten other guys, too, thanks Lloyd."
2007 – I Guess Something Happened Or Something
Part one; part two in a day or two.
THE SETUP: Unranked Michigan is 1-2 after the Horror and all that. Penn State is 3-0 but has played FIU, Buffalo, and that year's Notre Dame squad. Chad Henne, however, isn't around.
WHAT WENT DOWN: Very little. Michigan ground Mike Hart into the line almost 40 times and protected Mallett at all costs; Anthony Morelli did his Anthony Morelli thing, fumbling and missing a wide open slant for a touchdown and generally flailing as much or more than the Snap Fumbler.
IN THE AFTERMATH, PENN STATE FANS WHINE ABOUT: Joe Paterno.
2006 – Pit Bull
THE SETUP: Undefeated and #4 Michigan rolls into Penn State (unranked and 4-2) with a dominant defense. Penn State has Anthony Morelli.
WHAT WENT DOWN: The aforementioned Anthony Morelli:
Michigan, minus Mario Manningham, struggled to move the ball consistently but completely throttled the Penn State offense until a late screen cut the lead to 17-10. By that point, however, both Morelli and then-backup Darryl Clark were on the sidelines asking for pudding, leaving that Italian near-walkon who has been Penn State's third string quarterback since 1965 to the job. Four straight incompletions later, it was game over.
IN THE AFTERMATH, PENN STATE FANS WHINE ABOUT: The fact that Alan Branch wasn't tried and executed for his perfectly legal hit on Morelli.
2005 – Joe Paterno's Two Seconds
THE SETUP: Michigan kind of sucks, ya, entering the Penn State game 3-3 and facing off against an undefeated PSU team that would end up winning the league and beating a meh Florida State team in the Orange Bowl.
WHAT WENT DOWN: After a brutally boring first half sees four field goal attempts, one of which is successful, Michigan takes a 3-0 lead to the locker room. Michigan punches in their opening drive of the third quarter, at which point all hell breaks loose: Penn State rolls up ten straight points with both of Michigan's starting safeties watching. On the ensuing Michigan drive, Chad Henne scrambles out of the pocket and is stripped by Allen Zemitas, who returns the fumble for a touchdown. Penn State gets a two point conversion after botching the PAT snap, and if "momentum" was a real thing instead of housewife-pleasing blather Michigan is D-E-D dead.
It is not. Instead, Mario Manningham runs around Justin King like so…
…which ties the game when coupled with a two-point conversion. Michigan then boots a go-ahead field goal, and we get a Herrmann special as Michael Robinson & company roll downfield, punching in a touchdown with under a minute left.
Then they kicked to Steve Breaston.
Right. Your bad. Then this happened set this up:
Woo! The New Math!
(Full Wolverine Historian highlights.)
IN THE AFTERMATH, PENN STATE FANS WHINE ABOUT: On Michigan's last drive, they call timeout. The clock continues to run after said timeout. Carr points this out, and the referees put two seconds back on the clock. Since Mario Manningham's winning touchdown came with one second left on the clock, OMG Michigan stole it. No matter that:
- It was the right call, and
- Joe Paterno had done the exact same thing and gotten the exact same two seconds back on Penn State's final drive.
2003 & 2004 – You Lucky Bastards
Michigan misses the two worst Penn State teams since Joe Paterno took over.
2002 – Overtime
THE SETUP: #10 Michigan, in the weird Perry-Askew year, met #17 Penn State.
WHAT WENT DOWN: A close game throughout with Michigan usually trailing by a touchdown. A short fade to Braylon Edwards puts Michigan up 14-13; Penn State responds. John Navarre carves Penn State up on a 64-yard touchdown drive, finally finding Edwards crossing in the back of the endzone after an excruciating five seconds in the pocket. Tied at 21, the game goes to overtime. Michigan holds Penn State inside the five, then punches it in for the win in the first overtime game at Michigan Stadium.
IN THE AFTERMATH, PENN STATE FANS WHINE ABOUT: Hey, we've got a real live whine of recent vintage on this one:
Tony Johnson's feet were in bounds. Both of them. We should have had an easy field goal to win the game. But it was stolen from us and we lost in overtime.
This was a long pass on Penn State's final drive that would have put Penn State in makeable field goal range. That whine ignores the obvious incompletion the refs screwed up to even give them that opportunity:
10/18/2008 – Michigan 17, Penn State 46 – 2-5, 1-2 Big Ten
The reader may have noted a certain fevered quality to Friday's posting, and for good reason: I was sort of fevered. Bestruck by a head cold that wanted to kill my brain, I was in something of a fever dream until Zoltan punted it away with about two minutes left in the first half and Andre Criswell decided that it would be a good idea to pop Derrick Williams.
From there, reality reasserted itself with a thud.
This is not a "well coached team," I guess. It's hard to pick through all the detritus associated with that term—usually it means "loses too much for the accuser's taste"—and pick out a real definition, but suffice it to say well coached teams can return kickoffs past the twenty and don't pick up stupid personal fouls on downed punts. They don't they lead the country in fumbles. By a lot of metrics this not only a talent-deficient team but a discipline-deficient team as well.
And, okay, if you are concerned about that I get it. I think the longer view suggests Rodriguez can assemble a successful football team that does indeed seem "well coached," and by "suggests" I mean "makes it obvious".
There's not a whole lot more to say about unsurprising 30-point losses. We're going to see what the future holds one way or the other. I advocate patience, etc., you know the drill.
- No offense to a fine young man, but NICK SHERIDAN=DEATH. The decision to start him over Threet, or play him ever while Threet is physically capable of throwing the ball, will go down as the most inexplicable one of the Rodriguez era.
- Both of Threet's elbows are torn up? WTF? This is like a single player version of the broken thumb plague of 2005.
- Obviously Brandon Minor was the major buzz coming out of the game, as he ran with power two Sam McGuffie's couldn't muster. And he didn't fumble the ball. The fumbling and the offensive line and the Notre Dame game and Minor's run of just-nagging-enough injuries makes McGuffie's insertion understandable; I think he lost his job, though.
- When Threet was on the field he was impressive, and you could see that QB off-tackle/sweep thing was something they'd worked on significantly in practice but couldn't use the week before because Threet was busted up.
- In the first half when Minor was gashing them up the middle I thought to myself "we need to have something that plays off this or they're going to adapt and shut it down"; this happened. I think the difference in future years will be the ability to go to something else when (or, preferably, just before) the opposing defense catches on to the stuff you're running. You can see there's a certain monotony in the offense.
- Commenter ShockFX is going to find his annoyance at the "Minor should play more" threads be replaced by an an entirely different one genre: "why didn't Minor play more?" Projected rage level: steady.
|WHAT||Michigan @ #3 Penn State|
|WHERE||Beaver Stadium, State College PA|
|WHEN||4:30 EST, October 18th, 2008|
|THE LINE||Penn State by 23.5.*|
|UGH.||You said it.|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on ESPN|
What do you do with a line that's 23.5? If Michigan was favored by 23.5 I'd half ass a preview. I think I'm going to do that when they're un-favored by 23.5, too. There's just not that much to say: in every facet of the game save punting (ZOLTAN WOO!) Penn State has vastly outperformed Michigan. You don't get spreads this high by accident.
Also, I am getting rocked by a cold and mostly want to lie around and snuffle. So this will be shorter than usual. (Update: but still 1100 words.)
Run Offense vs. PSU
It's hard to take Penn State's stats seriously when their out of conference schedule has Coastal Carolina, Temple, and Syracuse on it, but against teams with pulse-like objects:
Penn State's run defense has taken shotgun blasts in the form of departure, injury, and idiocy and keeps on trucking, as much of a zombie beast as the head coach.
As a spread team with no real quarterback threat and a questionable offensive line, Michigan most closely resembles—dammit—Purdue on this list. Penn State fans seem to be concerned about a couple of their linebackers in the wake of the Sean Lee injury, and if Michigan can catch someone slanting the wrong way or just frickin' block the DTs, there could be room to operate. I kind of doubt it, though, and expect more of the same.
Key Matchup: Sam McGuffie's intestines versus rupturing.
Pass Offense vs. PSU
Toledo faced off against Michigan with the nation's #109 pass efficiency defense and Michigan shredded them for 120 yards on 27 attempts, one touchdown, and three interceptions.
There's nothing to discuss if Threet isn't healthy. This is a disaster zone.
Even if he is, Threet's shining moment in the rain against Notre Dame has been followed by considerable ugliness. He is currently 95th in passer efficiency.
Penn State, meanwhile:
Uuuuuuuuugly. For opponents. Which is us in this case. 2-6 INT ratio, one team even in a marginally crappy YPA range, many, many incompletion. Penn State is also 17th in sacks allowed. In a word: likely DEATH.
THIS MATCHUP=TONY FRANKLIN.
Key Matchup: Threet versus elbow bruises and so forth and so on.
Run Defense vs. PSU
This is the one area in which Michigan is respectable… outside of net punting, of course. (WOO! ZOLTAN.) They currently sit 21st nationally, but in the most relevant matchup to date things went only okay:
That average isn't great but it's not an oblieration, either. Penn State, however, is back to the ways of Robinson, smoking opponents:
Oregon State was still wobbly early in the year and Illinois has been vulnerable on the ground against teams not named Michigan, so maybe there's some hope in the Wisconsin numbers? Eh… possibly. I expect the defensive tackles to get considerably more action than they did against Toledo, but they're all spread and HD and stuff and can attack outside—attack the linebackers—and we all know how that goes.
The verdict: a mix of stuffs up the middle with linebacker errors and Royster beating iffy tackles and one enormous bust and it looks like the Purdue game minus ten or twenty yards.
Key Matchup: Michigan defenders tackling the slippery Royster.
Pass Defense vs. PSU
Hey, so this blog can't be blamed for giving Darryl Clark a rating of '1' when these facts prevailed:
- Clark was under the tutelage of Jay Paterno.
- He sat behind Anthony Morelli for three years.
So it was a shock when he came out and started housing fools, then continued housing fools, and has pretty much got a Habitat for Ohio State Fans set up by this point. Then Joe Paterno said the reason they hadn't pulled Morelli last year was because JoePa hadn't wanted to give the media the satisfaction of being right about how crappy he was.
Ohhhh. Oh, JoePa is crazy. Okay. Still, fact A is in effect, which makes it freakin amazing that Clark is currently #15 in passer efficiency. In eight years as Penn State's QB coach JayPa has never had an above-average passer.
Now he does, and how. Meanwhile, Michigan's safeties are wearing shirts that say "I'm with touchdown-catching wide receiver". And Penn State has one of those ground games that can suck up safeties like whoah. Expect at least a few guys running open deep and 1-2 touchdown bombs; inbetween Michigan's attempts to contain Clark will stunt the pass rush and Penn State's fleet of little bastard WRs will turn little hitch routes into first downs as Michigan's linebackers whiff the tackles.
Key Matchup: Oh, hell, Brandon Graham getting to the quarterback, I guess.
We're down to #2 in net punting.
Key Matchup: Meh.
- Worry is the domain of the raw; worry is to be soothed.
- What's the worst that can happen?
- When they come for you, they will not know your name.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Joy is only a mask of fear.
- Loathe it, fight it, remain even.
- Interstellar darkness is vast beyond the capabilities of your imagination and cares nothing about your plight.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 0 out of 10. (Fear is the mindkiller. Fear nothing anymore; in your despair you find the freedom only the forsaken can experience.).
Desperate need to win level: 0 out of 10. (Needs lash the soul to the rack of imperfection. You need nothing. You experience all things, and all things experience you.)
Loss will cause me to... accept the nature of things; this wildebeest awaits only the chew.
Win will cause me to... laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
No… no, not really.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- the universe is going to die someday.
- it expands, taking everything away from everything else.
- one day an atom will repulse another atom, and that will be it, the Last Interaction.
- will the final score tomorrow matter then?
- penn state fans think so.