chance of bowl: 13.6%
Blogger's totally f-ed up and won't let me bring up the old poll template. When it ceases being so I'll post the first Blogpoll of 2007.
Carr says things here; the captains say things here. Full audio here. There wasn't a lot from the captains that can be used as tea leaves for the position battles ongoing, but Jake Long did drop a couple names on the offensive line:
â€¢ On sophomore offensive lineman Stephen Schilling ... "He's had a great camp so far. He got a lot stronger in the off-season, and he's got quick feet. I think he's really impressed the coaches. He's been pushing guys around and his footwork has gotten better. He's only been here two weeks and he's been able to pick things up right away. He's a smart guy. He's powerful. I'm really impressed with how smart he is. He's picking everything up real well and improving the offense."
On the younger players on the offensive line ... "They've really stepped up. You can really tell that Stephen (Schilling) worked hard in the off-season. You can tell he got a lot stronger; his footwork and technique has gotten a lot better. He has a great work ethic, and you can tell he really wants the job. David (Molk), for being here just over two weeks, he's really picked up the offense. He's a smart guy, and he's so strong and powerful. He's really been impressive in his blocking and picking up everything he needs to."
Molk's push has been made possible by injury to Alex Mitchell and Jeremy Cuilla, who was one of many guys missing a week here or there. He moved over from center. Impression: wary. I liked Molk as a recruit, but he's pretty undersized and is a true freshman. Seeing him on the field against anyone other than Appalachian State would be uncomfortable. Schilling, OTOH, has a death grip on right tackle and looks on his way to a Jake Long-level career.
Carr had a lot more to parse. More on Schilling:
At right tackle, Steve Schilling has had an excellent fall. He's an extremely talented guy, with great size and athletic ability. He's a guy that is smart and that loves to play. He will be a great player here someday.
"Mark Ortmann has done a very good job and has competed well. Perry Dorrestein ... it's just too close to call at this point."
I call BS on the "too close to call" given the nonstop Schillingfest going on -- Carr was responding to a general question about all of the position battles going on and went right to him. He's the man.
We have a kickoff guy: Bryan Wright. We do not have an actual kicker. Frowns. Alarm. Etc. I do like that Wright has a big leg and has locked down the kickoff job. With kicks from the 30, an excellent kickoff guy is worth his weight in gold. And it can't be Brabbs/Neinberg/Finley bad, right? Right?
"The fullback competition is very intense. Mark Moundros has had a very good fall. Vince Helmuth is competing well. I think that will go right down to the wire, as far as the fullback position."
Probably not a huge deal either way.
Middle linebacker is down to two:
At the Mike linebacker position, John Thompson and Obi Ezeh -- those two guys are really in a spirited competition. I think it's safe to say both of them are going to play a very important role.
This answer is more notable for the absence of JUCO transfer Austin Panter than anything else. A redshirt is now a serious possibility. Carr said the competition would extend into the fall.
On the weakside, Jonas Mouton is one of a parade of ankle sprains/twists; Chris Graham has "really improved as a pass defender." Graham retains the starting job going into the fall.
Cornerback, 2007's Position of Dread:
Johnny Sears has had an outstanding fall. He's a guy who when we recruited him ... he really played a significant role a year ago on special teams. He made some great plays on the kickoff. He's a guy that plays without any fear. He's a very tough, hard-nosed player, and I think he's really matured at the corner. He's had a very good fall.
That's the second shout-out from the coaches after English raved about him on WTKA. I and anyone who saw him last year remain skeptical, but Sears is a guy whose potential might take a bit longer to reach given his lack of high school experience. Brandon Harrison also got the "excellent fall"; "Vance was very pleased" with Morgan Trent. I dunno how well this meshes with both Donovan Warren and Troy Woolfolk seeing the field as freshmen.
Free safety is not necessarily Stevie Brown's job:
Stevie Brown is really a physical player. He's still a young player, has a lot of things to learn. Charles Stewart has made the move in there. I like both those guys; I think they are both going to play. I think they are both guys that are going to make a real contribution in a lot of areas on this team. That position right now is probably up for grabs, so we'll see what happens there.
A classic glass half-empty or -full situation. Is Brown not worthy of the hype? Is Stewart proving himself a useful safety? Dunno.
Johnny Sears has done an excellent job returning punts. We practiced yesterday morning in the stadium in a torrential rain. It was a very valuable practice from the standpoint of learning how you have to play different when the ball is wet. That's particularly true in the return game, as a receiver, as a quarterback and center ... I think we learned some things yesterday. ... Greg Mathews is really a reliable guy in terms of handling the football, and that's what a return guy has to prove.
I like this answer. No offense to Mathews, but when his name is plugged as a potential punt returner images of Diallo Johnson dance in my head. Sears has speed to burn and it appears he's the leader at the moment. Also called out as potential guys here: James Rogers and Donovan Warren. I would still expect a Rogers redshirt.
Kick returners mentioned: Brandon Minor(!) and freshman tailback Avery Horn. Carr mentioned some tailback depth concerns with using Minor, which was my initial thought too.
Right tackle is Schilling's; the line is set assuming a reasonable return for Mitchell. Panter is not the starting middle linebacker; Sears, Harrison, and Trent are all getting unreasonable amounts of praise that could be highly dubious. Stewart and Brown are locked in a battle for the free safety position; someone will return kicks and punts.
Few changes, though I did add Tennessee at #17, bumping a bunch of teams down. Poll now features no count-'em no non-BCS teams after dispatching #25 Hawaii. I feel a little bad about this but not particularly.
My selection of Iowa was questioned. A response: It's always bad when you lose a longterm starter at quarterback but Drew Tate didn't exactly play his ass off last year. His departure will be slightly less of a problem. Jake Christensen is the obvious replacement and a highly touted recruit. He'll probably be a dropoff but he's been groomed for a couple years. At RB, I like Albert Young and Damian Sims, especially if Sims can remain healthy, and the WR corps returns intact. Maybe. Pending Dominque Douglas's status after stealing lots of hats.
On defense, Iowa returns everyone on a pretty good defensive line. Brian Mattison is an underrated player; Ken Iwebema is getting some hype as a potential high NFL draft pick, and the tackles are getting to the point where they're actually experienced and large enough to damage people. King and Kroul were just sophomores a year ago, and King showed a lot of promise when he wasn't injured -- infrequently. Two starters return at linebacker and they have some nice recruits there in Jeremiha Hunter and AJ Edds. I will not say anything positive about the secondary. I hate it. It is loatheable.
Also, two things: Iowa was highly, highly negative in TO margin a year ago (111th) and will probably repair that -- Tate was responsible for much of it -- and there was a window in which Ty Willingham was killing ND recruiting and Illinois was still laboring under the pre-Zook ineptness (instead of the very particular Zook ineptness, which has awesome recruiting). This created an opportunity for Iowa to raid a bumper crop of Illinois recruits, who are now juniors entering the starting lineup. I think Iowa has major potential to be the surprise of the season, and not just because they miss OSU and Michigan. But I rated them #2 last year and they are Dead To Me so take it with a grain of salt.
I still hate Penn State #8. I do. I would be more comfortable with them at 12 or 15 or something but I can't find anyone below them I really believe in. I am still skeptical about UL as an actual power team, Oregon was a mess last year and its QB played baseball (and no one else is nearly as enthused as I am anyway), Florida loses nine defensive starters and its quarterback and still has no running game. I dunno. Maybe I should shove them higher just based on recruiting rankings and Meyer's ability to mitigate whatever issues his team has brilliantly. But... man. That's a lot of losses. I also hate to a slightly lesser extent OSU #9 and Wisconsin #11 (down one, I slid UL up), but both teams should have defenses that are at least solid and pounding running attacks that are the potatoes to the meat on the other side of the ball.
I'm still looking for feedback; this ballot is due tomorrow at 10AM but there is a second preseason ballot in a week.
Yessssss. The much-rumored return of Carson Butler is official:
Michigan tight end Carson Butler, who had been kicked off the team last spring, has returned to practice, coach Lloyd Carr said.
Mike Massey has "won the starting job" according to the News, though that's likely a distinction without a difference with the prevalence of two-TE sets in the zone game. Less good things in that article: Alex Mitchell is beaten up and will miss the Appalachian State game and possibly Oregon. It'll be interesting to see if we get a Schilling-Ortmann combo on the right side.
(Said article is an insta-post from an ongoing Carr presser. Will update with relevant info when transcripts become available.)
tWaWoW. That's a supercool abbreviation for "The Wit And Wisdom Of Weis," something that originated in a previous post and is going to be an erratic feature as long as Charlie Weis keeps saying inane, pompous things.
Anyway: a couple people emailed me about this Clausen-Natty Lite thing, which is totally uncompelling as collegiate hijinks go. Man named "Hand" soliciting a prostitute: hilarious. College freshman making a beer run: dog bites man. BGS was right about a hysterical article from local wannabe muckracker Jeff Carroll and, in general, the ridiculous hubbub about a nothing offense. Buying a 30-rack of Natty Lite is the most masculine thing Clausen's ever done. Celebrate it.
But the incident did provide an opportunity for Charlie Weis to say something about it. Listen, kids, and learn:
"I think it's out of ignorance - and by ignorance I mean lack of knowledge," Weis said.
We keep a list of everyone's money! We put the list in a safe place! Weis went on to point out that despite Clausen's obvious affection for Billy Idol's haircut, he wasn't getting beer to stick it to the man:
"I don't think he was defiantly trying to get himself into trouble with the law."
Oh. I see.
Vote for Ned. Deadspin is inducting people/things/memes/horses into its hall of fame. As fans of college football and things that are 100% pure Colombian awesome, you should go vote for Ned, the injured FIU Panther who risked life and limb to hobble out onto the field when FIU just came into the OB.
Do it for your country.
Grist. Ryan Mundy, now a Mountaineer, on the differences between the two S&C programs:
"It's totally different down here from the strength and conditioning program to the practice schedule. It's just a different type of attitude," he said. "Compared to Michigan, which is an already established program, down here at West Virginia we're right at that peak right now and we've got to go over the hump."
As far as the strength and conditioning program is concerned, Mundy says West Virginia's program is much more intense than Michigan's. Other players that have transferred to West Virginia have said similar things in the past, explaining that at some other places the players coming into the program are physically bigger and more explosive. West Virginia develops it.
"Down here we do a lot of Olympic lifts â€“ squats, power clings, hang clings and things like that â€“ and I hadn't done that type of stuff since high school," Mundy said. "I had to get my body back used to doing those types of movements. As far as the practice down here we run after practice and we never ran after practice at Michigan."
Any S&C zealot wishing to use this as ammo, you're welcome. It'll be interesting to see what progress he makes this year, though Mundy's problems were always more mental than physical. I respectfully disagree with this assessment of his play:
"I bounced back and I played in all 12 games last year and I played well," he said.
Captain stuff. Okay. I don't get the fretting about Chad Henne not being a captain. Michigan's had three forever, and there was a returning fifth-year senior who was a captain last year filling one slot. One slot had to go to the defense. And Mike Hart was neither of the above players. You can make a strong case that Ghandi would have been passed over in that situation. So a minor barrage of comments worrying about a lack of leadership on this year's team and Maize 'n' Brew's disappointed post about our overlooked quarterback strike me as strange. Approximate impact on season, IMO: zero.
We gon' die. The basketball schedule was released yesterday and holy lord it's the polar opposite of last year's trip through Candyland. Nonconference:
Fri., Nov. 9 Radford Ann Arbor TBA TBA^ Sun., Nov. 11 Brown Ann Arbor TBA TBA^ Thu., Nov. 15 Georgetown
Washington, D.C. TBA TBA^ Nov. 21-24
Great Alaska Shootout Anchorage, Alaska TBA
d align="left" valign="top">TBA^ BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE Wed., Nov. 28 Boston College Ann Arbor 7:00 p.m. ESPNU Sat., Dec. 1 Harvard
Boston, Mass. TBA TBA^ Sat., Dec. 8 Duke
Durham, N.C. TBA TBA^ Wed., Dec. 12 Oakland Ann Arbor TBA TBA^ Sat., Dec. 15 Central Michigan Ann Arbor TBA TBA^ Sat., Dec. 22 UCLA Ann Arbor TBA TBA^
Georgetown, UCLA, Duke, Boston College, and a variable Great Alaska Shootout that could feature another two or three good teams, plus two games against the likes of The Ladybug School For Lads have been replaced with Big Ten conference games. Welcome to Michigan, John Beilein.
Ha. Shawn Crable on his fateful helmet-to-helmet hit:
"I looked at it right after the game. I knew what happened, me, personally," said Crable, an Ohio native. "I never understood that. All year, (Smith) takes off running; that's like Michael Vick taking off running. Then he gets 10 yards down the field, he gets hit like he's a running back and then, all of a sudden, you say you can't hit him in the helmet. Why can't you?
"I hit him like he's running with the ball. I understand if he's standing in the pocket and I came and blindsided him and tried helmet-to-helmet. If he leaves the pocket, he turns himself into a runner. Why do I have to treat him any different than I treat a running back?
"In a similar position, I'm going to have to do the same thing again. It's different. I'm 6-6, and he's like 5-7, so it's hard for you to tell me I've got to go lower to hit him."
Crable has a point, especially when the week after a UCLA defender leveled John David Booty in the exact same fashion, wasn't flagged, and got a weeks' worth of praise for it. I'm going to stop thinking about this before smoke starts coming out of my ears.
Etc.: UFR spreads; good luck in your endeavor. Ron English talks. This is not relevant at all -- SEC teams as Arrested Development -- but as "College Football Teams as TV Shows/Cars/Hot Sauce Varieties/Plastic Molecules" posts go it's by far the most detailed and well thought out I've seen.
Yesterday Michigan picked up a commitment, its 14th, from PA h-back/linebacker Christian Wilson. What follows is a comprehensive assessment of him based on that old standby, the Google search.
If you unwisely decided that "Dick Butkus fake* takes over a crappy high school team" was a good show to watch, you may remember Wilson as the injured captain of Montour on the show Bound For Glory. That didn't work out so well: Butkus, only paid for eight weeks, rolled out of town a couple weeks before Montour ended their season 1-8. Wilson's still angry about how he was portrayed on the show:
"(I was mad) because the way that they came out with it," Wilson said. "The show wasn't the way that they predicted it to be with all the drama. They basically turned it into what they wanted it to be, and that really wasn't what it was. That's what made me mad the most. It made me look like something I'm not."
Hurray benevolent ESPN overlords.
Anyway, Wilson's recruitment is somewhat odd. Despite a flood of early, prestigious offers (by May, Wilson had offers from...
The Demon Deacons have already offered as have Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Clemson, Maryland and Louisville (first offer last September).
...and that number setteled around 40-50 in most articles starting around midsummer) he's only a mid-to-low four-star recruit to the guru services. Rivals ranks him #235 in the 2008 class; Scout pegs him at #292. ESPN is far higher on him, grading him an 81 and ranking him #107 in their ESPN150. Their scouting report($) projects him as a 240 pound OLB:
Flashes the speed to chase plays down from the backside with a great short-area closing burst on contact. That skill at 225 pounds is what separates him. He can generate force quickly for his size and bring the wood with him on tackles. In coverage, he shows his offensive experience by displaying great ball skills and awareness. Demonstrates fluid hips and athleticism in his turns and crossovers, but his instincts to read the quarterback and pattern match are what really stand out. ... At times, he plays stiff with lacking good change-of-direction skill. However, we are also talking about a college sized linebacker who can split out at wide receiver and stretch a defense. Wilson just needs time to polish up, and add technique to his raw skill. If a college team can be patient developing this kid -- they could have future stud on their hands.
Michigan, though, intended on bringing him in as an H-back in the mold of BJ Askew or Aaron Shea:
"I went to the Michigan spring game a while back and it was really cold," Wilson said. "It was like 30 degrees and they didn't get as many people out there as they thought. The coaches are really smart and they said they could see using me a lot. The want me for H-back and are one of the only schools that have already specified a position."
That may have changed recently, with Michigan changing its offer to "wherever":
Michigan initially recruited Wilson as a running back, but he's also considered as one of the Wolverines' top linebacker prospects. Wilson doesn't prefer one position over the other, but he says he's more comfortable on offense because that's where he's played his entire life.
Last year he played both ways; he'll do it again this fall:
The previously injury-plagued Wilson is stronger and healthier and focused on improving upon his junior campaign, when he rushed for 970 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also recorded a team-high 79 tackles.
I'm a bit less excited about the Wilson commit than I would normally be given his array of offers -- h-back doesn't seem like a position of huge import and there's a convincing case that Ohio State's pursuit was less than fevered -- but he's still a versatile player who has two ways to find the field, the size to be a Big Ten linebacker or fullback/TE, and some guru support.
Random things. This was mentioned yesterday but bears repeating. Wilson has some shiny-ass teeth:
People might be surprised to know that ... I brush my teeth like a million times a day.
Also, he's apparently the Antichrist** (and all this time I thought it was Jim Tressel):
Poems by Christian Wilson: 6 / 14 next poem >>
I Am The Antichrist
Flames licking at my body
I start to rise out of the depths
From darkness i shall come forth
And walk among you on your earth
Will you recongise who i am?
Will you bow down on your knees?
A gift i bring to you, its called pure hate
An emotion you have never known
This feeling do you like it?
If he sacks Jimmy Clausen the ensuing matter-anti-matter reaction will destroy the planet! Maybe we should keep him on offense.
"Bound For Glory" is the story of the Montour High School's quest to turn a losing football program into a winner under the direction of coach Dick Butkus, the NFL Hall of Famer. And that's the lie. Butkus is not the coach. He might be the coach on the TV show, but he's not the real coach of the Spartans. Lou Cerro is the real co
**(just to be clear, this isn't actually Christian Wilson. It's some 21-year-old emo kid with other masterpieces like "Anger and Pain," "Demons Inside of Me" and "Revenge of the Crow." But hell yes his suggested nickname is going to be "the Antichrist." )
PA HB/LB Christian Wilson has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.