Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Yes. College. We called it "man fun" when we lived in the house with the purple door on Geddes. Despite the thoughts knocking around in your puerile mind, O Reader, man fun was an innocent expression of childhood glee via the medium of unprovoked amateur wrestling, albeit one that often had dire consequences for knees, elbows, and -- in one memorable incident -- walls. Man fun was unpredictable and could be spurred by almost nothing. It was dangerous enough when average-sized people were participating, but this is on another level. Folks, watch out for seismic disturbances in town. Terrance Taylor and Jason Kates are having man fun:
Terrance Taylor's Michigan football initiation came in the middle of a living room last summer.
He was low to the ground and really got worked up.
But this wasn't a secret hazing - it was senior Gabe Watson trying to take down the high school state heavyweight wrestling champ.
Now that Taylor is a sophomore defensive lineman, he's extending the tradition and dishing out the punishment.
"Me and Jason Kates have played a little bit," Taylor said.
Talk about taking on all comers. Taylor is getting his weight down and said he's about 300 and dropping. Kates, a freshman defensive lineman, looks every bit of his listed 325 pounds.
"It just happened," Kates said. "We were hanging out, playing NCAA `07 when I was up here earlier and we were hanging all around, the defensive line. ... It happened a couple times. I'm going to get him before it's all said and done."
So far, Taylor has not lost the wrestling matches, just like his senior year at Muskegon when he was 24-0 on the mat and his team was 14-0 on the football field.
More Avant, this one from the Eagles' official site. Much is adone about the 4.8 40 that dropped Avant to the third round. Wide receivers coach Erik Campbell tells you how he really feels:
"If he was a 4.4 guy, he would have been the first receiver taken in draft," said Michigan receivers coach Erik Campbell in a matter-of-fact tone like he's telling you the sky is blue or Texas is large.
David Baas is also doing well according to John Clayton's latest:
With the announcement this past weekend that center Jeremy Newberry is out for the season awaiting microfracture surgery, the 49ers look brilliant with the selection of Baas. He will be the starting guard while Eric Heitmann gets the nod at center. Baas already has become one of the best on the line in San Francisco.
Jed Ortmeyer is not doing well. He has a blood clot in his lungs ("pulmonary embolism" for those who like doctor lingo) and may miss a large chunk of time if he decides to go on blood thinners. I still owe Jed some portion of my soul; good luck.
In the beginning, there was college football as rap. Then college football as the Simpsons. Then college football as South Park. Now... the SEC West as fancy paintings. With book larnin'. I'm shocked that something from the oeuvre of Daniel Moore wasn't the 'Bama pick.
Etc.: IBFC has compiled all upcoming Michigan appearances on Classic; Pickin' on the Big Ten is BACK, baby; The MZone finds something affiliated with Ohio State that may be more humiliating than library masturbation; Maize N Brew turns the negative recruiting on Notre Dame (projected to be most effective: "Tom Lemming and Mel Kiper get keys to your rooms. It's part of the deal."); RBUAS breaks down the offseason weight changes, includes standard amounts of Gittleson-bashing.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Cal returns a plethora of talent on offense and the defense should be the best in the Pac-10. This pick is a wild guess, and I'm hesitant to pick a Pac-10 first overall, but the chief weakness on offense appears to be at QB, a position that Jeff Tedford seems to be able to coach pretty well. Ask me again who the best team is after about four games.
I dunno about that defense. They didn't exactly stop any of the good offenses they opposed, and by "didn't exactly stop any" I mean "were massacred by all."
Fallers: Next poll.
Risers: Next poll.
Wack Ballot Watchdog: It's just preseason, so we'll let wacky expectations stand. I could point out my ballot... I've got Iowa #2! I suck!
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
USC repeats as preseason standard deviation champion, though their margin this year is significantly lower than it was last year when the Trojans got all but one first place vote.
On the other side of the ledger, an unsurprising list of teams no one can figure out:
- Oklahoma: no Bomar.
- Cal: Bad QB or Tedford magic?
- WVU: fluke?
- PSU: Good this year or death by graduating senior? (Also: PSU bloggers going buckwild did not help.)
- Tennessee: good Lord, Phil Fulmer is fat, isn't he?
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is Tulane blogger Frank McGrath, apparently the last person on earth with faith in the state of Florida. He ranks the Florida-Miami-FSU triumverate extremely high (3-6-7, respectively), but that's only the tip of the iceberg. I wonder if the placements of LSU (20) and Michigan (24) have something to do with McGrath's split Tulane(NR)-Notre Dame(1) fandom. Other sources of BOLD: Tennesee and Georgia in the top ten; Penn State and VaTech 12 and 13; Louisville unranked. Let's try to keep the writhing hatred somewhat better cloaked, kids!
Mr. Numb Existence is Tennessee blogger View From Rocky Top. No doubt last year's loss to Vanderbilt was well worth it now tht VFRT has demonstrated his ability to predict the actions of a mass of football bloggers.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award for oustanding bias in the name of making the poll look silly has several strong contenders, but none could best new SBNation GT blog Ramblin' Racket's LSD-inspired placement of Georgia Tech at #7. What part of "Chan Gailey always finishes 7-5" equals "#7"?
Two Penn State blogs feature in the irrational exuberance -- 50-Yard Lion ranks PSU #8, Black Shoe Diaries #13 -- as one might expect from the comments found on this very blog whenever things like four new offensive linemen, a new secondary, and Anthony Morelli's potential lead poisoning are brought up. Braves & Birds ranks Georgia #4 but has the decency to try to explain himself:
Why Georgia at #4? Because the defense has been consistently excellent under Mark Richt, because there are worse scenarios than picking between a 5th year senior and a ballyhooed freshman under center, and because the team ought to be able to run the ball well.
Sure, there are worse scenarios. But Tereshinski != Shockley in the realms of long-benched fifth year senior quarterbacks if Tereshinski's lone start last year is any indication.
Straight Bangin' Award for reducing expectations to reduce future pain goes to EDSBS for their reservations about Florida's offensive line and Chris Leak's tendency to squeal and duck when faced with incoming defensive linemen.
(This might be a good opportunity to find a name that doesn't sound like the world's worst Halloween candy and enter the Witness Protection Program.)
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive and Mr. Stubborn debut next week.
...But first I must kill a couple bugs.
Some notes on revisions:
- Georgia was an oversight and moves from NR to #16. Tennessee moves out and there's some reshuffling towards the end.
- Penn State fans who think I'm crazy have obviously not examined the recent history of their program, in which PSU has a senior-laden team and an excellent year, then drops of a cliff and does something like lose to Akron. Two starters return across both lines, the secondary is entirely new, and Anthony Morelli may indeed be OMG shirtless but perhaps you'll agree that Penn State isn't exactly a slam dunk.
- Ohio State: Jesus, they were #8 and are now #7. That's, what, one or two losses? And don't give me that Pittman stuff. Anyone with two legs and the sense to run in the right direction would have racked up 1300 yards against the motley collection of defenses OSU faced. Albert Young is by far the superior back.
- Nebraska: irrational exuberance for a team that will probably have a crap offensive line. Down five.
Poll coming up.
IBFC has an assessment of the latest injury rumor to hit the internet ("two offensive linemen out, one with a career ending condition, the other with an ankle break," to paraphrase). The condition belongs to Mike Kolodziej, the ankle is Justin Boren's. Reading between the tea-leaves of moderator reaction, Vijay concludes that there's something to said rumor. And he left out some grumbling by The Wolverine's John Borton on WTKA yesterday to the effect of "Kolo has to prove he can stay healthy."
So... something's up. Boren's alleged injury is unfortunate but should have a minimal effect on the season and his career. Kolodziej, on the other hand, was battling Alex Mitchell and Jeremy Cuilla for the last starting job on the line. Though I don't think there's much difference between a Mitchell-Riley right side and a Riley-Kolodziej right side, his absence would hurt the line's depth -- the first tackle off the bench likely becomes redshirt freshman Mark Ortmann -- and would be a generally nasty blow to a player who [Lloyd] deserves better [/Lloyd].
As with all rumor-mongering, keep in mind that this is that Internet Irresponsibility the papers keep telling you about and nothing is guaranteed until Carr refuses to speculate on a particular player's condition during a press conference. This one is rated "probably true" but with a "details/severity unclear" rider. More baseless speculation as it becomes available.
Hi! This is my proposed preseason ballot. If the description of some teams seems excessively negative (I have OSU and ND in the top ten and spend every sentence ripping on both teams) or positive (see: M @ 10), it's because I'm arguing against whatever the conventional wisdom is. Obviously teams like OSU and ND have much to recommend them, but since I think putting either in the top five is less a stretch and more a crime against reason I must break out the negativity.
Please take any and all opportunities to call me a huge idiot. You're not likely to make a lot of headway on Big Ten teams since I have fully formed opinions on them, but there could be quite a bit of give in my opinion of teams not located in my geographical area.
I had a discussion with Orson about the various SEC teams and he convinced me that Brandon Cox was better than meh, Kenny Irons was going to plow a furrow through the SEC, and new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp -- the guy who led LSU's defense during its national championship run -- was enough of an upgrade over the one-year stand-in they had in '05 that the defense should take a step forward despite some distressing holes at DT and safety.
Really, you could put teams 1-10 in a bag, shake them up, and put any one at the top and A) have ammunition to justify it and B) wince at the major flaws the team has.
Might seem stupid at the end of the year, but I think the one error in my Iowa preview was underrating the Hawkeye safeties. Compare them to OSU:
- Advantage Iowa: QB, RB, TE, DL, K.
- Advantage OSU: WR, Return Game
- Push: OL, LB, DB, and that's assuming Iowa's corners are bad.
(You might move QB to push if you're a huge Troy Smith fan but I think Tate's the better player.) Even the most ardent Buckeye can't seriously claim a significant coaching advantage over Kirk Ferentz. Iowa returns seven starters on D, seven on O, and a guaranteed Groza finalist at K. Their record last year was depressed by a freak series of events that lost them a lot of games late. In a year of total chaos, Iowa's as good a choice as any.
Always loaded due to Mack having, like, hypnosis eyes or something, but the choices at quarterback are a freshman or a freshman.
"Great except they can't defend the pass," according to Orson. Seeing no one intending to pass in the SEC and considering that a major flaw but no less major than most of the teams in close proximity to them, here they go.
Okay. Am I on crack? Perhaps. But Zac Taylor was pretty good as the year progressed and they have a couple of capable backs. Teams usually struggle their first couple years learning a new offense; this is Nebraska's third year running the WCO. Callahan's bountiful first class will start seeing time this year. The defense returns largely intact and has two vicious defensive ends. The catch: the running game was school-record awful last year and the blame falls largely on the offensive line.
Well, it's USC. Without two Heisman winners they'll drop one or two of those crazy Pac-10 shootouts against ASU or Oregon or something, especially sans that whatshisface... Gore guy. Please, Pac-10. The nation needs you.
This is your All-O, No-D Heismanpundit OMG Team Of The Year. Brian Brohm and Michael Bush are the top backfield tandem in the country; both are healthy and seriously pissed off you guys about the WVU game a year ago. Elvis Dumerville and his billion sacks do depart but the entire secondary returns along with two linebackers and some experience on the DL.
8. Ohio State
I realize that there's not a whole lot to choose from at the top of the polls but it appears that the blogpoll is heading for a 1-2 Ohio State-Notre Dame double punch of Conventional Wisdom, and that makes Bear very sad. Ohio State's defense is going to drop off a cliff even if it remains pretty good and their offense is probably immensely overrated.
That's right: immensely overrated. Michigan's crappy, no good, Herrmann-led defense was the third best unit Ohio State faced last year -- by a huge margin -- and I watched them scrape by on screens and the MasseyGap for the better part of four quarters until Michigan's terminal EOG stupidity kicked in and zoned Michigan to a painful death. In games against Texas and Penn State, OSU's offense got its ass kicked. The rest of the schedule looked like this: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Illinois, Indiana, etc, etc, etc, etc. OSU racked up a lot of yards and points because they had a huge number of short fields against Sun Belt defenses. That's certainly better than struggling against those opponents but the overall weakness of said opponents should be taken into account, especially when the other side of the ball is totally new.
9. Notre Dame
A second team whose preseason rankings are wildly overrated because of an offense that racked up tons of points and yards versus Sun Belt D. I've said it before, you've heard it before. It's a good offense but not good enough to justify the hype. They still don't have a single cornerback; they moved their second string running back to linebacker last week in the expectation he might start.
A good team with a good coach, yes. Ginn or no Ginn, Smarjajdjadaizaia is the most frightening player Michigan must face this year, Zbikowski's so fast Fisher DeBerry thinks he's an albino, and apparently Quinn managed to figure out how to throw downfield to wide open guys sometime after the Michigan game. #1? #2? Bleah.
I'd like to think my offbeat Michigan ranking is more due to the vast array of information I have on them and not pure fanboy bias. If I was an SEC blogger I'd be tempted to put them as my wack #1 pick in a year with no favorites.
Why? A total of seven starters* depart, only but only three were any good: Jason Avant, Adam Stenavich, and Gabe Watson. The other four ranged from mediocre-at-best (Grant Mason) to plain bad (Leo Henige, Matt Lentz, and Pat Massey). So there's that: in terms of returning production Michigan must lead the country, especially when you consider the veritable plague of injuries that rained down. Mike Hart was healthy for four games, Jake Long none. Angry Michigan Safety Hating God smote Michigan safeties like one would expect. Lamarr Woodley about a quarter of the season, including the final, fateful drives against OSU. For most of the season the right tackle was Rueben Riley, the third string guy even when both his thumbs weren't broken.
That returning production did lead to 7-5 and the (gasp!) "three plays from 4-7" meme that hacky sportswriters love to trot out, but Michigan was (gasp!) four plays from 11-1 too. That's what happens when every single game you play is decided on the last drive. Phil Steele made this argument about Arkansas: when a team loses a lot of games by narrow margins but can reasonably expect significant improvement the team's record can change drastically for the better.
Lloyd Carr's tendency to sit on slim leads and punt on second and ten is a negative that costs Michigan some expectation and thus a few spots in the poll, but most of the piercing analysis of Michigan that's been offered during the offseason amounts to "OMG LLLLLOYD LOL" and vastly overstates whatever negative impact his game theory flaws bring, especially since Michigan's version of Jeff Bowden is gone.
*(Six if you count Tim Massaquoi, but Tyler Ecker saw at least as much time as he did.)
A team much like USC except this year they get their version of Reggie Bush back. Actually, they get their versions of Bush back -- both Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch averaged well over 6 YPC. The catch is that the heavily promoted defense didn't do much to earn the hype being given it this year, yielding 47 points to UCLA, 38 to WSU, and 35 to USC. Giving up only 20 in regulation to Oregon seems impressive, but the Ducks had just lost Kellen Clemens for the year. Cal's rep as a tough defense was built on crushing Arizona, Sacramento State, Stanford, and the like. They stopped no one of consequence.
Then there's the QB issue, still unsettled between three players. Nate Longshore missed last year with a broken leg; Joe Ayoob was more joke than quarterback; Steve Levy played well once, against Mormons. Marshawn Lynch is real nice but is this a top ten team? Uh. No.
Poised for a step back this year as everyone who plays them will be hell-bent on figuring out the particulars of WVU's spread-option offense. As SMQB points out, the 'Eers were moments away from being on the receiving end of a unholy beating from Louisville and nearly managed to blow the Georgia game once UGA managed to stumble to its feet and take a standing eight count. This may be an overreaction to the Great Purdue Misprediction of 2005, but it feels lke their fifteen minutes are up and at the end of the year people will be milling about asking each other "what the hell did we even see in them in the first place?"
15. Florida State
16. Boston College
Everyone else is voting for them. Why?
I think there's a chance people are making too much of Rhett Bomar's departure, since he wasn't exactly Tom Brady last year. A starting guard getting booted, though, is bad for Adrian Peterson, and what's bad for Adrian Peterson is bad for everyone.
I trust Phil Steele. Orson also argued in their favor, citing Steele, dismissing the absence of McFadden as trivial, and pointing out 6'6" wide receiver/mobile wall Marcus Monk, the closest thing to Calvin Johnson since... er, he's still in school. The closest thing since sliced bread!
Willing to take input here as well.
20. Northern Illinois
Garrett Wolfe made believers out of Michigan fans in last year's season opener, which was closer than the score suggested. The little Husky is a tiny, impossible-to-find slasher and legitimately one of the premier backs in the country. You've got a love a running back who rocks the #1 jersey. He'll get an opportunity to believe-ify plenty more Big Ten opponents in games at Ohio State and Iowa. I expect NIU to at the very least scare the hell out of OSU in their season opener. Tackle Doug Free is a potential first or second round draft pick and though NIU loses three starters from last year's line they get guard Matt Rogers, a starter in '04, back from an academic suspension.
Also of note for name-watchers... NIU's crack SID staff has your back (pdf):
the question remains who moves up to the No. 2 [RB] spot---junior-to-be All-Name Team candidate Cas Prime, soph Montell Clanton, red-shirt frosh Justin Anderson, or incoming freshman Ricky Crider?
Orson swears that the return of Cutcliffe is worth games all by itself and that Tennessee fans will no longer have to curl up in the fetal position, muttering "why didn't they hand it to whichever impossibly giant, suspiciously robotic back probably sent from the future to kill Steve Spurrier we have this year?"
I am suspicious about the loss of Mahelona and what seemed like the only good bit of team Tennessee had last year. Willing to listen here, as well.
22. Virginia Tech
Purely a rep pick. Very open to pro/con arguments.
23. Drew Stanton
I suppose he has teammates.
24. Fresno State
Mid-major respect know-nothing pick. Flexible here.
25. Georgia Tech
Sure, they'll probably be 7-5 at the end of the year, but whoever ends up here at the end of the year is going to be around 7-5 anyway. Not many potential #25 teams have Calvin Johnson, a veteran quarterback, and the consistently swarming defense Tech features. Okay, the veteran quarterback looks and throws like Gary Coleman, but it's #25. What are you going to do?
Votes due by Wednesday @ 10, so get yer bitchin' in today.