in town for free camps
The Rodriguez presser boiled down into notes of interest.
Steven Threet is your starter for Wisconsin.
- Huyge is “getting closer to being able to play”—not a useful comment but whatever—and Ortmann “will be limited this week” but may be available for Wisconsin.
- Later, Rodriguez mentioned that Huyge should be 100% this week or next week.
- Mathews was still dinged, “played more plays than we probably should have played him” (we’re from play!), but should be fine for next week.
- Terrance Robinson “was ready the first game” until his injury; he will be limited this week but may start seeing some snaps against UW.
- Cory Zirbel’s injury is “more than likely” season-ending.
- Freshman Brandon Smith had his appendix out and will redshirt.
As mentioned, Smith will redshirt. Robinson might be a candidate, as well: “there are guys that are right there, like Terrence Robinson, that we'll evaluate in the next two weeks.” It sounds like the only freshman OL with a chance to play are Ricky Barnum and Patrick Omameh(!)—Rodriguez would still like to redshirt them if possible and will only stick them in if the injury situation gets dire. With Huyge and Ortmann getting close to returning, that seems unlikely.
As it stands now:
- Have Played: Odoms, Shaw, Stonum, McGuffie, Martin, Cissoko, Fitzgerald
- May Play: Robinson, Koger, Roundtree
- Probably Redshirting: Smith, Moore, O'Neill, Wermers, Mealer, Barnum, Omameh, Khoury, Feagin, Floyd, Demens, Cox
Despite some offseason chatter that Rodriguez was as profligate with redshirts as late-era Carr, it’s hard to protest any of the guys who have seen the field except maybe Fitzgerald, and given the situation at linebacker even that seems reasonable.
You’re welcome to parse this on Stevie Browns every which way:
Some of them might not have been his mistakes, and it might have looked like his mistakes. There were a few plays I'm sure he'd like to have back. He also did some pretty good things.
Charles Stewart is a guy we probably want to play more in the secondary. He's been pretty consistent when he's had his chance in there. Brandon Harrison has been pretty consistent, too.
Also, the invisible Mike Williams was brought up:
Mike is playing a lot of special teams, he's making a few plays. He's getting closer to playing more. He's playing in some of our nickel packages.
We're getting more confidence to get him in there. He's a young guy who has never played. He's still learning some of the defense, but he's getting a little bit closer each week.
Rodriguez questioned the chop block call on Molk—he was asked about it directly—saying “Molk did go low but the guy was grabbing our guard, our guard wasn’t even blocking him.” When asked about the officials he said “there were a few I questioned.”
9/13/2008 – Michigan 17, Notre Dame 35 – 1-2
You either accept this or you don’t as it relates to football and, more generally, life: random events occur without reason. Around these parts, the following things are chalked up the general bloody-mindedness of the universe:
- unforced fumbles from Boubacar Cissoko, Michael Shaw, Steven Threet (x2), Brandon Minor, Donovan Warren
- Notre Dame fumbles miraculously bouncing back to the fumbler
- Greg Mathews’ borderline touchdown catch—which, IMO, was going to stand as called either way—being ruled incomplete
- Kevin Grady’s borderline fumble not being ruled down for forward progress
- some questionable officiating
- a pounding rain descending upon the players after a number of above events had combined to provide an 11-point deficit.
Michigan, of course, actively participated in a number of these events—in fact, they were the only participants in most of the fumbles—but suggesting that these represent a disturbing trend (or, if you’re Pat Haden, some sort of mystical ND juju) is a stretch.
The Wolverines hadn't lost four fumbles since 1995. They hadn't had six turnovers since 1992.
You can’t really say this because the “BUT” is enormous, but: Michigan significantly outplayed Notre Dame on a down by down basis but shot itself in the foot every two seconds. Yes, this is sort of like saying “these cookies are delicious except for the arsenic.” Yes, Notre Dame was relieved of the need to outplay Michigan on a down-by-down basis because they were spotted a 21-0 lead and a second-half rainstorm and could be content to run some clock and punt. But I’ll take a team that looks competent except for a few huge glaring errors over one that can’t complete a pass, and if the teams played again next week the line would be further in Michigan’s favor. [Rakes points out this is a confusing sentence. The team that can't complete a pass is Michigan in their first two games. I rejiggered this paragraph and it didn't come out quite right. -ed] Massive negative events have a distorting effect on game results out of proportion to their usefulness as predictors.
Some of these major negative events are not purely random and are going away. Kevin Grady is a fumbler. The execution errors that led to the Minor fumble will remain rife. Stevie Brown has moved from possible liability to definite liability. Carson Butler.
Others—many others—were random events highly unlikely to recur: Yakety Sax fumbles caused by a wet ball, the distribution of close calls in ND’s favor*, Brandon Harrison kicking a fumble otherwise surrounded by M players back to the wide receiver.
Since I am not an emotionless robot I screamed my half-dozen profanities and fantasized about breaking stuff during the game, but when the red mist passed I was strangely pleased with an 18-point loss to what looks to be a meh-at-best team. This year was never going to end in glory anyway. What’s more important is the development of the offense, the emergence of Sam McGuffie, and the amazing one-week turnaround of Steven Threet.
The most damaging part of the whole Terrelle Pryor/BJ Daniels/Justin Feagin fiasco was not necessarily the loss of player X or player Y but the crimp it put in Rodriguez’s development schedule. Until about 3:45 Saturday it appeared Michigan would have to suffer through this year with the Threet/Sheridan duo, then start all over in 2009 with freshmen at the most critical position on the field.
It was at that point Threet threw a third-and-long slant, moved the chains, and embarked on a 16-23 day in extremely unfavorable conditions. Though he fumbled twice and was partially culpable for the Minor fumble, he also looked like an actual Division I quarterback, and in ways that even a potentially horrible Notre Dame defense couldn’t distort: he threw balls to receivers. He made good decisions. He was a freshman in his first road game, played in Hurricane Katrina, and averaged 7.6 YPA.
Yeah, he’ll probably regress, probably play well only in fits and starts, etc., etc. He’ll also go into next year a threat to keep his starting job, giving Michigan a third shot at quarterback competence. That’s more relevant for the rest of this year and the next three than a slippery ball and Notre Dame waking up the Willingham echoes.
*(this is not to say that any of the calls were wrong, but virtually everything that could have gone either way went to ND; over time that’s unsustainable.)
BULLETS THAT ARE APPARENTLY SLATHERED IN BUTTER OR SOMETHING
- Hey, great, Carson Butler, let’s take a swing at a player. Butler’s provided almost nothing positive this year and should be encouraged to enter the draft this spring.
- One inexplicable carryover from the Carr era: the occasional Carlos Brown ISQD that goes for one yard.
- Speaking of Brown:
Another junior running back, Carlos Brown, said he was prepared for a bigger role in the game.
"It is what it is," said Brown. … Asked whether he'll be used more as a running back in the future, Brown said, "Hey, I'm clueless. You have to talk to coach Rod about all that."
This sounds like a guy who is not happy with his playing time.
No, I don’t think Michigan was taking any particular risk by putting a couple freshmen back to return kicks. They returned kicks in high school and it’s not like there’s anything different about it in college. Usually a KO fumble means some crappy field position; Michigan just got extraordinarily unlucky to have a muff like that.
- Speaking of muffs: the Donovan Warren punt return thingy has to be over, doesn’t it?
- The defensive line was somewhat disappointing, but on the long bomb they had eight guys in to block and a two-man route. That’s on the secondary.
- Stevie Brown turning a 10-yard slant into 60 yards by overrunning a guy Donovan Warren had brought to a near-stop was backbreaking.
- Also backbreaking: Grady fumble.
- Actually you could pick like eight different plays if we wanted to keep going.
ONE At irregular intervals, one of my girlfriend’s cats—yes, there are two and yes I realize this means I am playing with serious cat-lady-down-the-road fire—will face the wall or a window or a door and emit what is possibly the world’s most angst-ridden noise, somewhere between a meow and a strangled cry of existential dread.
Sometimes, the girlfriend will call out to the cat, acknowledging the deep roiling depths of his soul-dread. The cat will continue making the noise, unconsoled. Then, because it is a cat, it will completely forget about it and go do something else.
TWO Some years ago a strange literary conception popped into my mind in the course of writing twenty or so pages of a novel about the whittling of a set of five ninjas*: one of the characters in the book was subconsciously off-putting and consciously morose because instead of the usual organs and cells and atoms and subatomic particles he was comprised of layer after layer of tiny cats. Cat nerve cells stretched down his spine, each with their mouth on the tail of the adjacent cell; messages were passed when a sensory cat would be disturbed and bite down, causing the next cat to become impotently angry and use the only means of revenge at his disposal, which would be more biting. These cells had cat organelles and cat molecules all the way down to the frantically yowling electron cats and ovoid neutron cats that looked more like balls of yarn than cats and spent their time purringly content, &c.
I never got around to fleshing that idea out, but when I saw David Foster Wallace respond to a question posed by Charlie Rose with a sort of enraged incomprehension—literally saying “are we really talking about X?” before stammering out a spittle flecked, blindingly intelligent answer—I saw my man made of cats in the flesh. Wallace seemed repulsed by everything around him down to his own skin and torn between flight, murder, or suicide; lacking the ability to decide, he grit his teeth and soldiered on.
No more of that.
*(The ninjas were I dunno, symbolic of a friendship forged in one of those houses occupied by five to eleven guys in college and eventually ended up cinders as the people from the house splintered into their adult lives. It was (obviously) autobiographical and (equally obviously) embarked upon during that horrible post-college, mid-twenties lull where you are just getting used to the idea that you are not a special snowflake and all your friends moved, or you did, and your connections to the world are flimsy and unsatisfying.)
THREE I think, insofar as it is possible for anyone who really, really likes David Foster Wallace to think like this, that the aforementioned is pretty much #1 on my list of personal heroes. At this point, styles and formatting and idioms from his writing are so deeply embedded into mine that I’d forgotten where I got “&c”—DFW for etc.—from. “Bats” is my preferred term for insane. On Friday, I referenced Orin Incandenza, Wallace’s insanely valuable and accurate punter from Infinite Jest. In a 2005 post I urge you to not go back and read because yikes the prose, I riffed on a section of DFW’s brilliant article on fringe tennis player Michael Joyce. I’m extremely disappointed in myself because the season preview didn’t claim the offensive line gave me the howling fantods.
At some point a few years ago, I read the 1,079 pages of Infinite Jest in five days. When I was done, I was livid it wasn’t 300 pages longer. I went back to the beginning and read the first 50 or 100 pages again and realized that the book really was infinite: it was a loop. You could start from any point in it and end at any point and it would be the same: brilliant, infuriating, incomplete, and recursive. Wallace wrote a book on infinity and a thesis on modal logic and sometimes seemed more like a math genius with a side of authorial genius.
I mean, obviously, right? Obviously as soon as I picked something up.
FOUR Wallace would see-saw back and forth on a topic and in writing about one thing would invariably recurse his way into something entirely other, precisely define that, and then tie that back into the main thrust of his argument. Yesterday I re-read his review of a usage dictionary—usage! English usage!—and found this brilliant summation of why this blog is a successful endeavor:
…all the autobiographical stuff in ADMAU's Preface does more than just humanize Mr. Bryan A. Garner. It also serves to detail the early and enduring passion that helps make someone a credible technocrat — we tend to like and trust experts whose expertise is born of a real love for their specialty instead of just a desire to be expert at something. In fact, it turns out that ADMAU's Preface quietly and steadily invests Garner with every single qualification of modern technocratic Authority: passionate devotion, reason, and accountability, experience, exhaustive and tech-savvy research, an even and judicious temperament [uh… I try. –ed], and the sort of humble integrity (for instance, including in one of the entries a past published usage-error of his own) that not only renders Garner likable but transmits the same kind of reverence for English that good jurists have for the law, both of which are bigger and more important than any one person.
Probably the most attractive thing about ADMAU's Ethical Appeal, though, is Garner's scrupulous consideration of the reader's concern about his (or her) own linguistic authority and rhetorical persona and ability to convince an Audience that he cares.
He did this all the time, accidentally. Writing on lobsters, he defined the only morally and logically consistent position you can have on abortion. Writing on the Illinois State Fair, he defined an entire elusive section of the American populace. Writing on cruise ships, he defined his life: “a supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again.”
FIVE DFW, like all of the people who have written truly great things about sports since I’ve been paying attention, was not a sportswriter. He was a writer whose attention occasionally turned to sports, mostly tennis, and people who invest their time in the intricately choreographed peregrinations of athletes were always better off for it. The last time Wallace touched upon the subject was a New York Times Magazine article on the 2006 Federer-Nadal Wimbeldon final. This I also read yesterday, after considering the vast array of brooding photos that accompanied news stories and tributes across the internet, after revisiting the Rose interview in which Wallace seemed like a preternaturally unhappy person.
Necessary background for what’s to follow: the piece is titled “Roger Federer as Religious Experience,” states its thesis thusly…
if you’ve never seen the young man play live, and then do, in person, on the sacred grass of Wimbledon, through the literally withering heat and then wind and rain of the ’06 fortnight, then you are apt to have what one of the tournament’s press bus drivers describes as a “bloody near-religious experience.”
…and touches upon on a seven year-old boy named William Caines who was diagnosed with cancer at two and a half and served as Wimbeldon’s inspiring moppet du jour—my words, not Wallace’s.
In typically infuriating DFW fashion, Wallace buries the very crux of his piece—this cannot be disputed, it’s the title and thesis—in footnote #17. Perhaps he wanted to hide it. Didn’t know what to do with it. Wanted to say it but whisper it. Whatever. Midway through the third set there is a Federer Moment. DFW writes:
By the way, it’s right around here, or the next game, watching, that three separate inner-type things come together and mesh. One is a feeling of deep personal privilege at being alive to get to see this; another is the thought that William Caines is probably somewhere here in the Centre Court crowd, too, watching, maybe with his mum. The third thing is a sudden memory of the earnest way the press bus driver promised just this experience. Because there is one. It’s hard to describe — it’s like a thought that’s also a feeling. One wouldn’t want to make too much of it, or to pretend that it’s any sort of equitable balance; that would be grotesque. But the truth is that whatever deity, entity, energy, or random genetic flux produces sick children also produced Roger Federer, and just look at him down there. Look at that.
Everybody but everybody is dredging up the thousand and one points in Wallace’s writing that presage a premature, self-inflicted demise; this might be the one passage in his entire oeuvre that makes it shocking. And I think that sports may not be such a silly thing to make a career of describing and relating and experiencing.
SIX I even kind of look like DFW: tall, broad-shouldered, glasses, shaggy, shoulder-length brown hair, perpetual growth of stubble.
SEVEN I love that image of DFW at Wimbeldon, in the stands, those things converging on him, forgetting all the things that make his suicide so very unsurprising, thinking just look at him down there.
Look at that.
Let's get it on. If you’re new to this or just VERY ANGRY that all of your comments don’t show up, please check the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post put up this morn. It will help the guys running the show to not got bats.
Liveblog gets going at approx 3PM.
Take everything that follows under that context and realize these are solely our observations from moderating the live chat during the game and our goal is to make the chats better for everyone going forward.
1. This isn't as easy as it seems. We are putting lots of effort into making this an enjoyable experience for everyone, and sacrificing a bit of our own enjoyment of the game to do so. All we ask in return is the benefit of the doubt in that our actions are well-intentioned.
2. The number one complaint so far is "why aren't my posts being published?" There are 3 possible reasons for this.
First, we just didn't see it. This is highly likely if your comment is right after a big play.
Second, your comment is the same thing 5 other people said at the same time. In this case, we prefer to choose the clearest version of the comment.
Third, your post was neither witty, insightful, relevant, nor original (see next topic). Brandon Minor RAGES, we get it, everyone gets it.
Submitting "MINOR RAGE" clutters our view and limits what we can post. If someone makes a tackle or a pick, typing their name, "Graham!" is the same thing.
A list of common one-liners that destroy continuity:
<name of person involved in play>!
Those kill us. It kills the live blog. Please refrain.
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We aren't looking to accept paragraphs of technical analysis. One word posts aren't acceptable.
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5. Are we censoring comments? Definitely not. There were several viewpoints we disagreed with that we allowed through, and that will continue. Period.
1. Please keep the doom and gloom comments to a minimum, especially when we are winning the game. We're just as big a bunch of fans as you are, but piling on and bitching when we all know this is going to be a rough season really makes it less enjoyable for everyone. There were hundreds of comments ignored for this reason. Sarcastic, self-deprecating, and/or just plain funny doom and gloom, on the other hand, is encouraged (e.g. "my life is a rudderless, meaningless mess unless Stevie Brown screws up multiple times every Saturday")
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Anthony LaLota announces his college decision at eight PM on CSTV. Just in case he picks Michigan, let’s google-stalk!
|5*, #3 OT, #42 overall||4*, #6 SDE, #120 overall||80, #13 DE|
LaLota gets the precious fifth star from Scout, though Scout is an easier lay than prim and proper Rivals—Scout always has exactly 50 five-stars; Rivals usually has 25-30. Rivals is a bit more reserved but still lands him just outside their top 100. ESPN is slightly less enthusiastic, placing him just outside their top 150. He’s the #13 DE to them and #12 is in the 150—he’s close.
You’ll note that Scout rates him an excellent offensive tackle prospect; ESPN also sees it:
LaLota is a pretty exciting prospect. He has good size and athletic ability and when you factor in that he is still pretty new to the game of football you realize this kid has a huge upside. A debate could get sparked over which side of the ball to play him on. A very strong argument could be made that you add 30-40 pounds to his frame and make him a left tackle.
They still see him as a defensive end but do mention that he has “value on both sides of the ball”, which should increase his chances of seeing the field since he’s got more than one place he can go. This is probably moot since LaLota’s been vocal about preferring defensive end and Michigan really needs defensive ends after picking up one in the last two classes, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.
Also, there’s this from Tommy Bowden. Weirdly, LaLota’s dad ran into Bowden when he was giving as speech to pharmaceutical sales reps—the mind boggles—and offered Bowden some tape of his kid. Bowden looked at it, provided some advice, and made a sweet comparison:
I've broadcasted several University of Virginia football games over the last couple of years and he reminds me very much of Howie Long's son, Chris. Chris was an offensive and defensive lineman in high school at a small private school in Virginia (Anne's Belfield School) and Howie thought he was destined to be an offensive guard in college. Now, he is the top defensive end in college football and, according to several services, may very well be the No. 1 player taken in this year's NFL draft. Incidentally, in his senior year in high school, Chris had 92 pancake blocks as an offensive lineman.
If Anthony is intent on being a defensive end, and I think he has all the ingredients to be a great one, he just needs to make this very clear in the recruiting process. All I'm saying is that if Howie Long wasn't sure about what position his own son would play, I'm not about to guarantee your son or anyone else where they will eventually end up.
So, hey, that sounds good.
Lots and lots. LaLota’s final seven was M, Notre Dame, Penn State, Boston College, Virginia, Florida and Rutgers. That’s pretty impressive and it’s even more so because his emphasis on academics caused him to drop a number of football powers, including Ohio State, FSU, LSU, and Tennessee.
LaLota’s only played one year of organized football—which means he’s raw but has the proverbial upside—and in that year racked up 10 sacks.
FAKE 40 TIME
Lalota’s listed at 4.6. He is also listed at 6’6”, 260. Fake! Fake, I say!
I can’t get it to work now, but Yahoo posted the LaLota highlight film given to Terry Bowden. The free intertubes turn up nothing else.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Given his lack of experience I assume he’ll redshirt. Barwis will have to keep him at a reasonable size for defensive ends—under the old regime I would have assumed he would put on significant weight and end up at OL or… ick… DT—but once he gets some technique and chocolate milk, he could be a monster. One year of organized football, 6’6”, 260, and those ratings and offers == major upside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
LaLota is a major, encouraging pull for the Rodriguez regime. Just over a month ago Michigan was hardly being mentioned, the last school of his seven finalists to get an unofficial visit. LaLota had declared he would commit soon after the Michigan official, which usually means the prospect has a school or maybe two in mind and is just doing his due diligence on some others. Up until his visit, I had him colored red and thought Michigan had little chance.
One visit later, he announces he’ll delay his decision and eventually settles on Michigan, filling a major hole in the prospects coming up with a recruit everyone was after. Score.
Michigan now has one defensive end in the class and hopes to get at least one more; they’ll probably take two if they can get two they like. The buzz on top 100 AZ DE Craig Roh remains good, and MI DE Nick Perry is about to be a free agent after the NCAA Clearinghouse shot him down.