"Coach Mattison told me what the Ravens were about, what he thought," Beyer said. "He definitely encouraged me. I hold his opinion in high regard."
The latest and greatest. Mysterious Michigan insider-guy Maizeman has been offering inside bits on Michigan practices since the internet's paleolithic era, mostly over email to a select group of Chosen Ones. Now he's doing it on Go Blue Michigan Wolverine, a blog open to the public. He must not fear silent ninja reprisals from Rodriguez like he did from Carr.
I have no way to check the veracity of these things and no idea who this guy is or how he survived the regime change with super-powerful insider mojo intact, but at the very least his posts are interesting. They may even be accurate. Some snippets follow; there's a lot of [sic] in here, just deal. Post the first:
Dorrestein vs. O'Neill:
Who would be first Offensive Tackle in game in case of injury? As of now Dorrenstein. O'Neill will put increased pressure on him as camp continues. O'Neill is simply a better athlete and could possibly play both Offensive Tackle spots although both Dorrestein and O'Neill seem better suited for Right Tackle. In Coach Rod's system, the only Offensive Line position that seems to have its special needs is Left Tackle and that makes Ortmann a very important player to stay healthy.
Sagesse and Kates:
Have been getting snaps at Defensive Tackle sometimes with second group and sometimes Sagesse is with third group. Both seem to be in good shape and are going multiple snaps when they are in the scrimmage. Martin has been with third group and has had some good battles with Khoury and Barnum.
And on the QBs:
Another problem that I saw in spring and continues in fall is Michigan's new version of the "check down" pass. What they do is take one of the slots and he will run a flare toward the sideline (which means does not take steps down the field, but "drifts" to the sidelines. When Quarterbacks feel pressure they are told to get rid of the ball which more times than not is just throwing a short pass to the slot who has run the flare toward the sideline.
This is why Coach Rod is recruiting those elusive slot type players because they will be asked to get about five-six yards out of virtually nothing. So far, our Quarterbacks are throwing this pass excessively often and think it is due to lack of confidence.
At least the checkdown route is no longer a drag that takes six seconds to open up. There's considerably more on GBMW; click through if you're tantalized.
Tacopants explained. Dr. Z gets to the bottom of Chad Henne's occasional passes to Jason Avant's eleven-foot-tall imaginary friend:
The third observation, who might be No. 1 by the end of the season, is second-round draft pick Chad Henne, a big arm from Michigan. Sometimes the ball flies on him, and I asked Dolphins' offensive coordinator Dan Henning to please give me a technical critique of the flight of his passes. I can ask the 66-year old Henning questions like that because ... listen to how far back we go. About a century ago I selected him as my All-Met High School quarterback for St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn.
"When he's wild, he's either wild high left or wild low right," Henning said. Noticing my idiot look, he elaborated. "You're serving in tennis. Serving to the ad court, you'll probably be wide low right, and in the deuce court, wild high left, so what we're trying to get him to do is open his body, pretending he's in the deuce court, to get the ball on target." I got so excited with this analogy I tried it myself and served an ashtray through a pane of glass, but the point is young Henne has one of the great quarterback technicians in the game to work with him.
I think my problem in Chicago was that I never selected anyone for a high school all star team in 1945.
Just because he's skinny does not mean he can't play DE. I can't remember where the first couple instances of the idea that Michigan played a 3-4 last year came from, but the disease has now struck a third person and can be officially denoted a trend:
Ezeh is the Wolverines' top returning tackler and the team's only starting linebacker retained from last season. He had 68 tackles from his spot at inside linebacker in UM's 3-4 defense and contributed four tackles for loss, two sacks, and an interception.
This is followed by a note that Michigan is "now" running a 4-3.
Wherever this idea originated, it's wrong. The only time last year Michigan had a fourth linebacker on the field it was in certain short-yardage situations and walk-on Max Pollock was the extra strongside linebacker. This was very rare. The confusion probably stems from the frequent deployment of nominal linebacker Shawn Crable as a defensive end, but this only happened against spread teams and on passing downs in Michigan's nickel package. And even if you want to claim that as some weird variety of the 3-4, Crable was usually playing with his hand down as a member of a four-man line. Michigan would line up in a 3-3-5 from time to time, but this was an exotic and not a base defense.
Wheeeee! High amongst the quotes that make Michigan fans want to punch a wall is "Michigan is straightforward" or "has no surprises" or "just lines up and runs directly at you again and again and it makes me, a USC Trojan, so bored after we crush them into dust." This era has apparently ended:
"Especially with the speed of the game and special formations," said Minor, a front-runner along with Carlos Brown to replace Mike Hart at tailback. "Last year, it was basically almost the same one formation, the I-set form. Now, there's no telling where we'll line up. We can do so much, and it's real good. I love it, because the defense doesn't know what to expect."
Just watching 30 minutes of practice Monday made it easy to see exactly what he was talking about. The Michigan offense never seemed to show the same formation on back-to-back plays.There were two tailbacks in the backfield, an empty backfield, wide receivers motioning into an empty backfield to become tailbacks, slotbacks turning into quarterbacks, quarterbacks turning into wide receivers, tight ends lining up in the slot and so forth.
There were more looks on display in 15 minutes than an entire season under the previous coaching regime.
Too bad the A11 is probably illegal.
Por ejemplo. Wild-something-or-other a la Darren McFadden is in the house:
Don't be surprised to see tailbacks Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown in the backfield at the same time.
"It's a lot," Minor said, when asked how often the two are lined up in the backfield.
I have no idea what's going to happen this fall, but I am sure that Rodriguez will throw the kitchen sink at opposing defenses.
Update 8/11: Linked to items on AZ DE Craig Roh, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, MD RB Tavon Austin, FL S DeAngelo Hadley, video of TX QB commit Shavodrick Beaver, SC DE Chris Bonds, TX WR Josh Gordon, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, OH S Isaiah Bell, PA WR Todd Thomas.
Removed LA LB Jonathan Stewart (A&M), GA WR Jamal Patterson (dropped us), LA WR Kenny Bell (dropped us), FL LB Frankie Telfort (dropped us), OK RB David Oku (dropped us), TX CB Demontre Hurst (don't think we ever offered).
The ESPN 150 is out. It's weird. Will Campbell isn't on it. Varsity Blue lists M targets and commits from it. Free Press article on the Cass Tech duo (trio?). Fitzgerald Toussaint's dad, also named Fitzgerald Toussaint, got in a knife fight.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
Nothing really happened this week save David Oku dropping Michigan and Illinois because he doesn't want to play in a spread, so we may as well go to the controversy du jour: the exclusion of OMG shirtless DT recruit Will Campbell from the ESPN 150. Here's ESPN's justification:
William Campbell (Detroit/ Cass Tech) was the subject of much debate. We recognize he has plenty of talent, but he fell short of a 150 grade at this time. We also feel he is not a defensive lineman at the college level -- he will be a better fit on offense. He reminds us of former Cass Tech prospect Joseph Barksdale, a defensive tackle prospect who will be playing offensive tackle this year for LSU. Campbell may enter college as a defensive tackle, but we think, much like Barksdale, he will end up on offense. Campbell is a big, but raw prospect who needs to keep developing his game. It is easy to become enamored with his measurables, which garnered attention among recruiting fans, but he is a kid we will keep an eye this season.
This is stupid:
- Many colleges thought the same thing about Barksdale and told him as much. This was a major source of the rift between him and Michigan.
- Barksdale committed to LSU and got moved to the offensive line... where he played as a freshman and is now slated to start as a true sophomore.
- It's recruiting high school kids. You should become enamored of measurables because technique can be coached up.
- No, it's not ironic that Barksdale is playing on the offensive line.
Everyone who follows recruiting thought ESPN was stupid for excluding Barksdale, and they were right. He's in line to be a three-year starter at LSU. If I was Scouts, Inc. I wouldn't bring his name up voluntarily.
So I guess it's nice that the overwrought scouting report on Isaiah Bell was actually indicative of where ESPN would rank him -- Bell came in at #91 -- but I don't necessarily put much stock in it. FWIW:
Though he may not be from the largest school in Ohio, safety Isaiah Bell (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) stands out in a traditionally strong football area of the state. Impressive now, but the No. 91-ranked player has a ton of upside projected to the next level, both physically and athletically.
Not only does he excel on defense with his great burst and ball skills, but this long and lean athlete displays abilities as a returner on special teams. His biggest recruiting dilemma, and perhaps the major root of his national obscurity, may be trying to figure out what position to play him. He rules the secondary as a free safety but is built more like an outside linebacker. His continued physical development should dictate eventual position and success. His great instincts and competitive nature will make him a valuable football player at the college level, regardless of position. Bell is the definition of a late bloomer.
Meanwhile, Bell's teammate and RB commit Fitzgerald Toussaint did not get in a knife fight. But his dad, also named Fitzgerald Toussaint, did:
Toussaint, who has a son playing for Liberty, showed up at the game, and eventually got into a verbal argument with his ex-wife, who also attended the scrimmage. As the exchange between the two escalated, the ex-wife's boyfriend, Darnell Harris, 45, of Rosewell Street, Akron, came over to see what was going on, the chief said.
Tisone said the two men then began to argue, and knives were pulled. The chief said at some point, Toussaint stabbed Harris in the chest. Harris was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center, where a hospital spokeswoman said he released later today after treatment. Toussaint had come to see his son, also named Fitzgerald Toussaint.
The elder Toussaint has been charged with felonious assault. Obviously. He stabbed a guy at a football scrimmage.
A couple of defensive ends have officially chopped their lists down. AZ DE Craig Roh is down to UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Nebraska and M with a few schools hovering on the periphery. NJ DE Anthony LaLota has Michigan in his top seven; I'm still doubtful on him.
Mysterious TX WR Josh Gordon is still claiming that he wants a Michigan offer badly:
As a youngster, Gordon followed Michigan and he says the Wolverines are still his top choice now although they haven't offered him yet. "If Michigan offered me I'll go ahead and commit," he said. "It would be a great choice for me and I really want to go there."
A Michigan offer at this point, however, seems like a longshot. "Michigan came to my school during the spring, but I really haven't been in too much contact with them since then," he said. "They still send mail though and hopefully they'll come out to see one of my games."
Gordon's being pursued by A&M, Nebraska, Missouri, and some smaller schools but has fallen precipitously since the Army All American combine, where he and Bryce McNeal were widely hailed as the two best receivers. This landed McNeal in everyone's top 100; Gordon has two stars and is Scout's #200 wide receiver. He reports qualifying test scores but Michigan hasn't even given him a sniff. Weird. I've downgraded him to gray.
Similarly mysterious PA WR Todd Thomas now says Pitt leads:
Thomas, the all-state senior from Beaver Falls, is considering scholarship offers from a roster of schools that includes, tentatively in the top five slots, Pitt, Penn State, Boston College, Michigan and Ohio State.
"Pitt's been coming on strong lately. I'd say Pitt's at the top of the list right now."
There is no freakin' way Thomas has an Ohio State offer, and given his shift from being very enthusiastic about Michigan to being lukewarm on them I think they might not be recruiting him that hard, either.
Etc.: GA LB DeDe Lattimore still mentioning M; I think Hawthorne is taking his scholarship and M will "get dropped" soonish. FL S Angelo Hadley has M in his top seven. He's a teammate of FL CB Mywan Jackson; MD RB Tavon Austin will visit Michigan officially.
This whole QB situation intrigues me. I think of Newsome as a "Black Tim Tebow" and I hope he can live up to that title. It seems to me that Forcier does not care about a QB situation and feels he can outshine who ever else hes going up against. I must admit but I do not know very much about Beaver but anyone who runs a 4.5 at 6'4" is not bad in my book. In an ideal world, would you rather have Newsome backed up by Forcier or Newsome backed up by Beaver? If Forcier does decide to come to Michigan, which wouldnt surprise me, would you think that they would try to convert one of three or would you expect one of them to decommit?
I don't think there's any way Michigan crams three quarterbacks into the class. If Forcier commits, someone's out the door. IMO, that would mean Newsome had decommitted first. But we can take a trip to Fantasy Fairyland, where Notre Dame has twenty straight national championships and Michigan State didn't blow a late lead against Michigan that one time, if you want. In Fantasy Fairyland, Forcier commits and the three recruits duke it out with Threet and Feagin for the starting job in 2009. Of those five players, only Forcier (shortish, smallish) and Threet (Lurch) don't project to another position. Feagin had DB/WR offers from LSU and Miami. Beaver has a WR offer from Texas. And when Newsome was going through his period of poor performance at camps, you could just feel the recruiting gurus begging for a move to linebacker.
In an ideal world Michigan would take all three and then have one transfer out in a couple years after getting beaten out, but that sounds distinctly sub-optimal for that recruit, and all of the guys looking at Michigan are extremely clear that they consider themselves quarterbacks. Beaver grew up a huge Texas fan and wanted to go there, just not as a wide reciever.
As to who I prefer between Forcier and Beaver: that's moot, IMO. Beaver's sticking and will be one of the QB recruits in this class. The choice, if there is one, is between Newsome and Forcier. I've made it clear that Newsome is my guy, no offense to Forcier and his ridiculous completion percentage.
Brian,Why is there so much concern/publicity over the lack of an experienced QB at Michigan. Just four years ago a second string QB named Chad Henne, who no one had even heard of, started for the Wolverines and went on to win the Big Ten.Aside from gameday experience (which cannot be practiced or replicated) Michigan has, at worst, a 5-star QB recruit and a 3-star "athlete" who happened to run and pass a lot in high school. To me this doesn't seem so bad.Besides, if you are overhauling and entire program like Rodriguez is, wouldn't you almost want "inexperience" at QB as opposed to deprogramming someone who would have to unlearn the old system?Does this make sense or am I just trying to see a silver lining?Thanks,LanceRichmond, VA
There was a huge difference between the quarterback situation in 2004 and the situation now. In 2004, Michigan had three top 100 players duking it out: a redshirt sophomore who was the #4 QB when he was recruited, a redshirt freshman who was the #5 QB, and a true freshman who was the #3 QB. Henne, in particular, could have gone to any school he wanted. Whoever comes out of that mess ahead has already beaten out some serious competition and is likely to be at least all right. Also, they were big tall strong pocket passers in a system for big tall strong pocket passers.
This year, Michigan has a four-star (not, unfortunately, a five-star) guy who was the #9 QB his recruiting year, a walk-on, and a three-star freshman who was mostly recruited as a defensive back or wide receiver. The one guy the recruiting services liked is a big tall strong pocket passer in a system for Pat White or Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick.
So, yeah: you're just looking for the silver lining.
I just got back from Moe Sport Shops and they have just recieved a shipment of new adidas jerseys--more #1, and now #10 and #4. Given that the athletic department decides which jersey numbers should be made, this looks like Brandon Minor will be given the first chance at running back this fall. In 2005, Nike made #3 jerseys (Grady), but they were still making #20, plus I think they started making them midway through the season after Hart was injured and Grady was carrying the ball regularly; given this it would seem that Minor will get the starter's job against Utah.
Kepp up the good work!
Just FYI, and another indicator this season is going to be a weird one: they're making jerseys for guys (#1) who don't exist.
If that city is New York: I am going to be in your vicinity on August 26th at the behest of the UM Club of NYC. There will be drinks and such, and then I'll give a half-hour-ish presentation on the 2008 edition of the Michigan Wolverines.
Details here. It's at a bar called Metro 53.
Pre-registration is encouraged; it's $5 for folks who aren't already members of the alumni chapter. If you bring me an infant I will do a Heisman pose with it.
Hey, this is awesome. Former Michigan defensive end Rondell Biggs got caught with steroids, said they were "post-workout" pills, and he was assisting with Michgian's S&C program. Awesome! Let's throw ourselves in a lake of fire!
It's probably not that bad, though:
U-M football spokesperson Dave Ablauf said this morning that Biggs was employed as an hourly worker by U-M's football staff under former head coach Lloyd Carr, but was not retained when coach Rich Rodriguez and conditioning coach Mike Barwis took over the program after U-M's bowl game on Jan. 1.
Biggs had ten pills of a supply of 50, an amount that suggests personal use only, and had been working out with Barwis like many other former Michigan players. Hopefully this is just a fringe pro trying to make the NFL or AFL or whatever, and nothing more. Carty mentions that Carr was not exactly Barry Switzer when it came to the 'roids:
Whatever your opinion of former coach Lloyd Carr's won-loss record, he made it crystal clear where he stood on steroids, bringing in FBI agent Greg Stejskal annually to speak to the team about the risks involved with performance-enhancing drugs, gambling and other issues. Carr was absolutely no nonsense on these issues, and is probably heartbroken over Biggs, a player he held great affection for.
Chances this is anything other than the proverbial isolated incident: low.
Awesome. The "countdown to kickoff" videos posted at MGoBlue are, of course, super-fluffy but fluffy is good sometimes. In this one the defensive line guys all come off as nice kids who are ready to croosh silly foe like bug:
(strong possibility firefox users will not be able to watch this; direct link for the affected.)
Terrance Taylor threw up after the team's first practice, lost 22 pounds, and needed a night of intense reflection to keep him from quitting football. Will Johnson is bald, can reputedly bench press a sedan as many as three times, but approaches his final season quite aware - almost annoyed - that Michigan's offense is far from good, not close to adequate, and at quarterback could just as likely feature a naïve true-freshman that asks a lot of questions and throws more out of obligation than instinct as it could a transfer from Georgia Tech that's never taken a college snap.
There is a rest of it, and I hardly have to tell you you should read it.
Uh oh? The assumption was that once a Comcast deal fell into place the other major cable providers in the BTN footprint would quickly fall into lockstep. This has not so much happened. Talks with Time Warner were promising at first. Now not so much:
''We're a little concerned that the pace of negotiations with Time Warner may not allow us to reach an agreement in time,'' Big Ten Network spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk said.
Time Warner man, for his part:
''The serious talking doesn't start until the 11th hour,'' he said, ''and we're in the 11th hour.''
Jasso remained optimistic that a deal could get done.
Read those tea leaves as you will.
By the way, the BTN blasted out a press release on the second season of "Big Ten's Greatest Games"; it's in a diary if you want to find out when Michigan gets its turn. Braylonfest included!
Etc.: Rodriguez does a radio interview in Alabama.
ATTENTION: if I invited you to participate, you responded to me, and you are not on the following list, please email me ASAP. I have a nagging feeling I'm missing a few blogs, but I scoured my inbox and couldn't find anything. Additions will be final by week one. Email me if you've got a problem.
- Off The Tracks (Purdue)
- Lake The Posts (Northwestern)
- Varsity Blue (Michigan)
- Michigan Sports Center
- The Nittany Line (Penn State)
Two additional cuts:
- Run Up The Score folded itself in with Black Shoe Diaries.
- Maize 'n' Brew got bumped in favor of Michigan blogs with higher traffic levels and more content.
(7 cuts; net -2. Purdue, NW now covered, net +2)
- Scalp 'Em (Florida State)
- Canespace (Miami)
- GT Sports (Georgia Tech)
- Old Gold And Blog (Wake Forest)
- BC Interruption (BC)
(Two cuts; net +3. Wake, Miami now covered but we lost our NC State coverage. Net +1)
- Bleed Scarlet (Rutgers)
(No cuts; +1, Rutgers now covered; net +1)
- Clay Travis/Deadspin (Tennessee)
- Fulmer's Belly (Tennessee)
- Gate 21 (Tennessee)
- The Hotty Toddy Blog (Ole Miss)
- Vanderbilt Sports Line
- The Joe Cribbs Car Wash (Auburn)
- The Auburner
- Third Saturday In Blogtober (Alabama - actually a weird Bama/Tenn blog; poll will accept ballots from the 'Bama half)
- Update: Bama Sports Report was one of the ones I forgot.
There is an additional cut:
- Losers With Socks. LWS is only vaguely a Tennessee blog and they have no actual analysis of the football, only short humor posts. They're bumped because of the influx of quality UT options.
(Four blogs removed for a net +5. Auburn, Vandy now represented, net +2)
- Barking Carnival (Texas)
- Double T Nation (Texas Tech)
- Ralphie Report (Colorado)
- Mizzourah (Missouri)
- Rock M Nation (Missouri)
(One cut; net +4. Texas Tech, Missouri now covered, net +2)
(Three cuts; net +1. WSU now covered; net +1)
(Three cuts; net -1. Utah covered, but we lost our Fresno State and Navy guys. Net -1.)
Totals: this year features ten more blogs covering eight additional teams. Conferences by participation:
- Big Ten: 20
- Big Twelve: 13
- ACC: 9
- Pac 10: 8
- Others: 8
- Big East: 6
We're working towards better parity amongst voters -- the Big Ten was the only conference to shed members -- but there's still some way to go. I'm willing to bend the admissions rules for a few more ACC, Pac-10, or Big East voters if you're out there.
I don't know about all this access, man. It's a lot to keep up on. The latest round of newsbits:
- Freshman linebacker Marcus Witherspoon does have a clearinghouse issue and will not participate in fall practice. They hope to get him in in September, at which point he's very likely to redshirt.
- The offense sucks, or the defense is good. Or both: "I didn't think we progressed a whole lot. I liked what I saw out of the defense today. They put a few new packages in and that may have caused some of the confusion on offense, but I thought our offense really didn't take any steps forward."
- Tight ends are "the most consistent group" they have; not surprising since they're the most veteran.
- Schilling singled out as an "emerging leader."
- Lopata "picked up where he left off."
- Moosman remains ahead of Molk but the competition is still ongoing.
- McGuffie, Shaw, Odoms, and Robinson called out as freshman contributors.
- Cissoko and Martin look like they'll play; freshman linebackers described as "very good" even without Witherspoon -- who Rodriguez called "Spoon."
- Corners should be very good; Trent praised, Woolfolk too, to go with the Cissoko stuff. Warren unmentioned but should be good.
- No position switches "yet."
- On why the offense is having a much harder time of it in fall: "Part of it was our defense was still learning and they weren't in shape. It's hard to make plays on defense when you're trying to catch your breath, got your hands on your hips."