Men down. Two major injuries in the Big Ten just came down the pipe:
- Badger linebacker Chris Borland, last year's Big Ten freshman of the year, is out for the season with a shoulder injury. It sounds like he will be replaced by sophomore Mike Taylor, who just returned from an offseason full of injury himself.
- Iowa's Jewel Hampton was struck down by Angry Iowa Running-Back-Hating God, tearing his ACL. AIRHAG, as BHGP has taken to calling him, also saw fit to concuss Paki O'Meara, leaving Adam Robinson and "anybody else who wants to volunteer," according to Kirk Ferentz.
Iowa also lost second-string LB Bruce Davis for the season.
Iowa's looking like a potential swing game after the Arizona loss, and getting down to their equivalent of JT Floyd at tailback might mean Michigan's linebackers can actually get an angle on outside runs; I'll still believe M beats Wisconsin when the clock reads zero and I'm all like "woo New Year's Day," which isn't happening so don't get your hopes up.
Man down less sympathetically. The reason Dion Sims isn't playing for Michigan State is he has "allegedly been involved in a Detroit Public Schools computer theft ring involving 988 stolen laptops valued at around $800,000." This will presumably knock him out of the Michigan game unless Michigan State manages to swing a work-release program for him. (How does MSU manage to get all of this stuff done during the season? They could be making headway towards a third straight Fulmer Cup, but nooooo they only get in massive trouble from September to January.) QUICK EVERYONE LOOK AT THE JAW.
Speaking of hopes up. Michigan did not get punished by sportsbooks for the events of last weekend. They're now a 4.5 point favorite against MSU (up one), one point favorites against Iowa (up one) and Wisconsin (even), and 3 and 14 point dogs to PSU and OSU, respectively. IE: the most reliable predictive device available projects something slightly better than a 2-2 split against the meat of the Big Ten schedule. If Michigan takes care of business against BG, Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois they would be 9-3 if that comes true; even if they biff one of those four they'd be 8-4.
This makes me terribly nervous.
Troof. Orson's graphs are back and yeah:
Our other stuff looks like Run DMC, though, so we've got that going for us.
The other football. The Daily was there and so was I, and we both thought the same thing: whoah. 3,500 people packed out the officially 2,200 seat soccer stadium to see a 0-0 tie against Notre Dame, and the Daily is overrun with people who want to write the other football:
…at the latest mass meetings, the majority of students said they were interested in a different kind of football — the one with a “u” and an “o” and a significantly different ball. And each time, I did a double-take. This is the University of Michigan, after all, and all of you just want to cover soccer?
My friends and I tried to sit in the grandstand, which was full, and then migrated to the student side of the field, which was shockingly lively. The "Ultras," as they're calling themselves, badly need to work on their chants* but do an outstanding job of existing, especially since the soccer complex is way off campus.
There are games tomorrow and Saturday at 7 PM, with the latter against Ohio State.
*(A large number of them were classic tunes that saw a couple words replaced, with the weakest being "When The Saints Go Marching In" sung except they say "blue" instead of "saints." You've got two guys named "Saad" on the team! What do you think some working-class London hooligans would do with that? This is a layup.
Also, soccer and hockey have the same aims; many of Yost's cheers could be appropriated. Apparently some have, but I saw a 0-0 draw without any goal chants.)
Expansion: over? OSU AD Gene Smith says so:
"We're finished (with expansion)," Smith said. "The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us. …The reason most of us say it's not done is because we think there are some schools that are going to try to talk to some conferences. But we're not actively out looking at expansion. After our October meetings, that's going to be the last we talk about it."
Fine by me. 14 or 16 team conferences are dumb.
Smith also says the schedule has not been finalized past '11 and '12 and that Michigan-OSU at the end of the year is not a given. Though he'll 'push for it," he doesn't know what "Barry Alvarez might bring in the room," to which I say if it's not bratwurst tell him to go back and get some.
Etc.: At least everyone's special teams suck. More on Kiffin's bizarre two-point hijinks. Full RR presser transcript. The Daily's story on the Shirtpocalypse is ironically paired with a big animated ad exhorting you to purchase their picture of Denard doing the Heisman on that Te'o. Must… not… smash… faceintodesk SPOCK.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Sousa had 151 yards passing but threw three interceptions. He was 9-of-24 and was hurried quite often by the University defense.
Sousa had 2 TDs through the air, and added an 8-yarder on the ground (on 9 carries for 67 yards, according to what he told Tom), but two of those picks were true Stanziballs:
...things appeared to get to Sousa after that as the senior Michigan commitment threw back-to-back interceptions that Johnnie Griffin and Jachary Baldwin each ran in for touchdowns.
This was University's first win on the year, so Lake Nona is still very bad. Sousa clearly doesn't have much help around him.
|Kevin Sousa 2010|
|Oak Ridge||L 0-48||6||13||46.15||34||2.62||0||1||7||31||4.43||0|
This week: Lake Nona hosts Sebring on Friday at 7:30.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Last Week: Seaholm fell to Detroit Country Day 21-28. Conway tweaked his ankle covering a punt early in the game, and Seaholm's starting QB was also out. These factors, along with the weather, limited his production, though he still did some stuff through the air. I was there, so enjoy the (mostly unedited) highlights:
And the scouting report: Don't be too alarmed by the defensive play where Kenny Knight (#8 on Country Day, considering Minnesota and others) ran right by him. It was the play immediately after the ankle injury - probably why DCD decided to test him - and Conway fell for a pump-fake. He won't be playing defense at the next level, so it isn't much of a concern.
Offensively, the backup QB for the Maples couldn't throw a bubble screen to save his life, and those are typically a pretty big part of the Seaholm offense (and Conway's involvement in it). He did get chewed out on the sidelines by head coach Chris Fahr (his stepdad) for giving up on routes during the game, so with a 100% effort, he might have had a bit more success.
In all, this definitely wasn't his best performance (it's a shame this had to be the one Rod Smith and Tony Dews saw in person), but there are enough reasons to explain it, so I don't think it's anything to worry about. I would also point out that Country Day has five or six Division-1 prospects over the next couple classes, whereas Seaholm has... one. Conway was a big part of the Maples even staying in this game.
FridayNightHighlights.tv has comprehensive highlights, as usual.
|Shawn Conway 2010|
|North Farmington||W 26-6||4||32||8.00||1||3||137||45.67|
|Country Day||L 21-28||3||62||20.67||0||3||32||10.67|
This week: The Maples host Auburn Hills Avondale on Friday at 7.
OH OL Jack Miller
Last week: St. John's pasted rival St. Francis 42-10. The Titans scored nearly every time they touched the ball, and rushed for nearly 200 yards.
This week: St. John's heads to Toledo Whitmer on Friday at 7. Jack will be tested by elite defensive ends Kenny Hayes (2011 OSU commit) and Chris Wormley (2012 Michigan prospect).
FL OL Tony Posada
"I told some people if it appears it's shady out there Thursday night, it's because of this lineman," said [Abilene coach Steve] Warren of the 6-foot-5, 295-pound Michigan commitment. "He's the biggest person I've ever seen. Why doesn't he just go on to the NFL instead of Michigan? He's huge."
The game didn't go so well for the Panthers, as they fell 17-27. It was on ESPNU, so I got a chance to watch. The story on Posada remains the same: he's massive, but will need to work on his conditioning before he's able to contribute at the next level.
This week: Plant takes on Riverview at home on Friday night.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Last week: Traverse City West lost to Cadillac 35-58.
This week: TC West hosts winless Gaylord on Friday at 7:00.
OH DE Chris Rock
This week: DeSales heads North to take on Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's on Friday at 7:30. I should be in attendance, though I make no guarantees.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
Last week: Plymouth beat Livonia Churchill 41-27.
Michigan-bound Brennan [sic] Beyer led the Plymouth defense with 10 tackles, including three sacks.
This week: 3-1 Plymouth heads to Livonia Franklin on Friday at 7:00.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Last week: St. Pius X defeated Worthing 20-12. Jones didn't play, because he's resting his ankle injury from last week, and wants to be healthy for conference play.
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
|Worthing||W 20-12||DNP - ankle|
OH CB/S Greg Brown
Last week: Ross defeated Cleveland Benedictine 47-7:
The Little Giants even came together early Friday night, racing to a 7-0 lead on Greg Brown's 85-yard touchdown reception on Ross's first offensive play. Wolf skied a pass to Benedictine's 45-yard line, Brown reeled it in and then raced to the end zone for the game's first points...
Fremont head coach Derek Kidwell said, "Greg Brown started the game off well for us."
The proprietor of the Fremont Ross Forum blog mentioned Brown's TD:
From the first quarter when Tyler Wolf hit Greg Brown on an 85 yard TD pass to the runback of a fumble by JJ Moreno in the fourth quarter, Ross was hitting on all cylinders last night.
This week: The Little Giants host University School on Saturday night.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech dominated Detroit Southeastern 42-0. No mention of Hollowell.
Next Week: Cass Tech faces Detroit King on Friday.
This is just pure aaargh right here, but how about a preview of why the Michigan defense was so terrible against UMass?
It's first and ten on the Michigan 35 on what will be UMass's second touchdown drive. UMass comes out in an ace set with two tight ends to the short side of the field:
Michigan is in a 3-3-5, basically, but the twins formation and the double TEs distort it. Roh's off the field momentarily, replaced by JB Fitzgerald. UMass is going to run it up the gut:
There's no pull on this so it's an inside zone. There's nowhere to go with RVB shoving his guy into the backfield, Kovacs beating the second TE to the inside, and Leach blitzing unmolested off the weak side. Michigan has basically killed this play as the RB has no choice but to head outside, where…
…Mouton is totally unblocked. You can also see Kovacs poking his head through at the top of the line and Van Bergen getting his shove on.
Anway, Mouton: with no one outside of him because of the alignment he's the force defender who must get the tailback inside of him, where Leach and a scraping Ezeh can deal with the tailback if he cuts back inside tackle. (For some reason, this is "keeping leverage on the football.") And he's playing against a I-AA tailback. So he runs up real fast…
…lets the tailback outside of him…
…and personally turns zero yards…
Seriously, there's nothing else here except Mouton making an enormous mistake. The good news is that if they fix that stuff the scheme of the defense is fine. It's not like they're asking the players to do anything particularly difficult or novel: make tackle. If cannot make tackle, funnel RB to help. Do not let RB outside of you. This has nothing to do with a shift to a 3-3-5. Look, here's Mouton doing the pretty much the same thing last year, albeit against a blocker:
That's the bad news: if these linebackers have been starting for three years and are still making these mistakes, why would they stop now? GERG linebacker fairy theory is about it and that took a major hit against UMass.
Maybe it was just an off day, one on which the linebackers took it easy and reverted to old, bad habits. Yeah. That, too, is the ticket.
[Ed.: Bump. This makes sense to me: Michigan should mostly dump special teams once it gets across midfield.]
As Brian highlighted in the UMass round-up, maybe forgoing the punt altogether might not be such a bad decision. He noted my earlier look at the the topic and I wanted to pull it back and revisit and refine some of the work.
I looked at the years 2004-2009 and only looked at the top 20 rated offenses for each year. This study assumes that Michigan’s offense this year will be at a top 20 caliber and provides a broad enough definition of greatness that there is a good sample size. I did not distinguish what type of offense (Texas Tech Air Raid vs Georgia Tech triple option vs spread and shred) was used to get into the top 20. I will detail more assumptions as they are applicable along the way. In place of fourth down conversion percentages I used third down conversion percentage since the data pool is much larger and covers a wider variety of opponent levels. Since the thought process on a third down and fourth downs are roughly the same in most all (for now, anyway) situations, it seems reasonable to use the third down numbers.
Time for a you know what…
Assumptions: Top 20 offense, average defense, average punt game, average field goal kicker.
Based on these assumptions, except for long yardage, the punter should grab a seat once the offense crosses midfield. On your own side of the field the decision still makes sense starting around the 30 for shorter yardage situations and becomes more viable for longer yardage as you cross further down the field. Field goals become practical with 4+ yards to gain and only from about the 5-25 yard lines.
There are two big advantages a potent offense has that make 4th down tries more logical. The first is that they have more to gain by success. With a limited number of drives in a given game, why give them away for free? The second is that they are more likely to make them. Good offenses are more likely to be in better position on fourth down and more likely to make it. Here is a chart of great offenses fourth down conversions compared with all offenses. The right hand column was the one used for the above chart.
|To Go||All Teams||Great Off|
It’s not a huge advantage on any one given down, but Top 20 offenses convert the same opportunities about 2-3 percentage points more often than the average offense. Note: the rate of conversion for great offenses was much higher in the original analysis and is part of the reason the chart isn’t quite as go for it as the original.
But we don’t have an average <blank>
<blank> = Kicker
Let’s start with the kicking game, which is currently 5 points below average on the season and rated third worst in the country after the first three weeks.
Assumptions: Top 20 offense, average defense, average punt game, below average field goal kicker (FG make odds are reduced by 25% everywhere on the field).
The decisions near midfield obviously aren’t changed but now attempting a field goal on 4th and 5-9 from inside the 25 is no longer the most valuable option.
<blank> = Punter
I know it hasn’t been the most Zoltanic of starts for Will Hagerup, but at this point if he can hold onto the snap, there is no point in adjusting him to below average, even if he isn’t an advantage at this point.
<blank> = Defense
This is the one that seems a bit counterintuitive and Brian and I disagree on. I say that the strength or weakness of your defense is irrelevant to your offensive decision on whether or not try a fourth down conversion. My belief that it is irrelevant is based on this chart.
Great defense obviously give up fewer points than bad defenses but the key point is that the difference between a great defense and a bad defense is consistent up and down the field. Giving the opponent a first down at midfield isn’t a guarantee of a touchdown even with a bad defense and isn’t a guarantee that pinning an opponent deep against a great defense will keep the other team off the board. In fact, the gap between the two is about .25 points per first and 10 all the way from the 1 to the 90. If this is true, then the ability of the defense is irrelevant to the offense’s decision to go for it. For that to be the case, there would have to be evidence that the difference between a good defense and a bad defense changes at different points on the field.
So what does all this mean
If Michigan can maintain their feverish offensive pace this year and fail to find an adequate kicker, I think their decision set in all but late game score specific situations should look something like this:
As I noted previously, if you buy into this mentality, it opens up another opportunity, changing your early down play calling. If your four down strategy has changed, so should your down by down playcalling. It may become more viable to risk a wasted down with deep ball knowing that you have an extra, or it might just make sense to keep the ball short in the air and on the ground knowing that over four plays instead of three the likelihood of getting the yardages greatly increases so play to have the shortest possible fourth down attempt if you don’t convert before that.
First: Look at those glasses! He says they're not prescription.
When he made two big plays late in the first half "I just felt like it was the momentum changing." The offense started poorly, and he needed to provide a boost. "I don't know if 2 touchdowns in 45 seconds is quite the dream," it might be better. "I was always the big-play guy in high school, I was always the deep threat in high school. I've always wanted to get that transition over to Michigan."
In the third year of the offense with Denard throwing well, it's not just Stonum that's blossoming. Everybody knows stuff so can go out there and play fast.
"I try to lead by example most of the time. I'm not really a vocal screaming yeling in the huddle type of guy." He lets his work ethic speak for itself. Always works as hard as he can in weight room, in class, and on-field.
Defenses play differently with Denard in the game. They'll contain instead of trying to sack Denard. He's making the right reads and is pretty dangerous. "We knew we didn't want him carrying the ball 30 times a game every game." They were able to get the ball to some RBs and establish something else on the ground.
"We've got some pretty athletic offensive linemen." They relish the opportunity to show off that athleticism by getting downfield and making plays. "I knew we had playmakers, it was just a matter of us getting the ball into the laymakers hands and setting up opportunities for them through our blocking."
The OL is coming together each week, as they have pretty good experience. Molk jumped back in where he left off with his injury last fall and spring. Taylor Lewan - "I watched the whole game yesterday, and he seemed to have a pretty good game." He and some others have been performing well in practice, even if they haven't seen the field much.
"There's absolutely more [offensive improvement] to come. The offense is clicking but we're still not performing to our full potential and capability."
UMass was a "mini wakeup call." Seniors have been good at getting them pumped, but they need to do better than last week. "I'm frustrated now and I was frustrated then. You just can't do anything about it now." The defense needs to prepare better and be more hungry going forward.
The first two games were good for the defense. Against UMass "looking at the tape, we just didn't tackle well." Were surprised by a few schemes as well. Have to have a certain persona to tackle well. "I really did think every guy came in with that" and it just didn't work out for some reason. They'd hit guys in the backfield, or allow 5 yards to be stretched into 10. Don't want to let guys get more than they should.
"With our training from Mike Barwis, we don't get very tired ever." The fourth quarter points for UMass were not a result of that.
Taylor Lewan played well. Proud of him because they've been buddies for a couple years. "He's finding a happy medium between being aggressive and holding a lot." That style will work well in the Big Ten.
Mike Martin "he is the strongest person I' ve ever seen in the weight room, and it's really showing on the field." Beat a double team to sack the QB.
It won't be tough to get up for BGSU. "From our performance this Saturday, this team is definitely going to get up for this game."
"The offense really helped us out this past Saturday, and that's why it's a team." One side will have to rely on the other from time to time.
Craig doesn't listen to music before games to get pumped up - reads a bit of the Bible.
Being a hometown guy, it'll be a different experience to play BG. He doesn't know anybody on the team though, outside of Bryan Wright. "It's gonna be weird" being on opposite sidelines. Knows him well, good kicker. They keep in touch a little bit, but haven't been trash talking yet.
Defense mindset - "Obviously we aren't satisfied with the way that we played defensively." It's much nicer to get that out of the way early in the season, and with a win. "I expect it to be a 1-game slip-up. I'm sure we'll make our corrections today."
Feels different than last year's struggles. They'll move forward. "I think they're pretty simple things." Technical errors and a couple missed assignments. Players might have been hesitant after giving up big plays to Notre Dame "maybe guys are just inexperienced and aren't feeling comfortable in their zones yet."
Obi and Jonas are the senior leaders on D. Each said a few things after the game in the locker room, as did Craig Roh.
"If you can control the ball, you can wear out a defense." The D didn't do their job to get themselves off the field.
Interception - "The first thing I was thinking is 'yes I finally got one.' Sometimes, you don't want to do too much." He should have tucked the ball better.
The team will be very focused after a letdown against UMass. "Last game was a reality check for many games to come. Of course, it's a good thing that we still got the win." There's a small margin for error at this level. The other teams prepare, too. "You have to prepare even better. It's not like high school."
The defense wants to do their part like the offense has been doing. "We're still not as good as we need to be or want to be." Both sides of the ball can improve, but there's only been three games.
Going against Michigan receivers in practice helps prepare for other teams' best receivers.
Transition to safety is good. Still room for improvement. "What's the best room in the house? That's room for improvement."
Choosing Michigan - "I love it here." Everyone will face adversity growing up, and he's learning at Michigan that working hard and staying in the fight will help you through.
Note for students: Maize Rage mass meeting 7PM in the League's Vandenberg room. Who wants some FREEEEEEE PIIIZZZAAAA?
Further adventures in epic rootability. Remember how Darryl Stonum was this year's Roy Roundtree, who was in turn Michigan's version of Rick Vaughn? Yeah, Stonum is taking the comparison as far as he can without literally raiding whichever Planet Hollywood contains the skull-and-crossbones originals:
Awesome. He was probably thinking Run DMC, but either way it is epic.
Just plain epic. This is astounding:
I would buy a billion of these before they were taken from us. Sadly these are not extant, but you can get it as your wallpaper.
The Freude. You will want to check out This Week In Schadenfreude this go-round for obvious reasons:
My 11 year old thinks ND football is a joke
by btd (2010-09-19 00:43:18)
She can't grasp why they are even on TV. She said it tonight. "Daddy, why does anyone care about Notre Dame? Have they ever been good?"
Basically there isn't a kid alive today that has ever seen real ND football.
This running diary didn't even make it in because I ran out of room:
12:06 Went and got a bottle of NyQuil and a bottle of Woodford Reserve. Placed them both on the table in front of me. Flipping a coin to see which one I start chugging.
12:16 WHY DO WE HAVE THIS BLACK CLOUD HANGING OVER OUR FOOTBALL PROGRAM!?!?
The freude is strong this week. BONUS: find out where Tacopants transferred. It won't be a surprise.
Mascot win. So the Ohio Bobcat got fired, reprimanded, and banned for life from Ohio athletics for a spectacular attack on the Ohio State mascot:
So worth it. He's never going to have to buy a drink in Ann Arbor, State College, or any other Big Ten city.
The look on the kid's face afterward is priceless: "this never happens to me in Iowa."
The latest lack of outrage. This is probably the most convincing explanation of an assumed ref disaster ever. It's about the delay of game, or lack thereof, on the Michigan State fake punt:
"The responsibility is assigned to the Back Judge, who in this situation was standing beneath the upright. Proper mechanics dictate that his focus be directed to the play clock as it approaches zero. When the play clock display reads zero, he must re-direct his attention to the ball. At that time, if the snap has not started, a flag will be thrown for delay of game. If the snap has begun, no flag will be thrown.
"Under these procedures, there will always be a small amount of lag time between the time the clock reads zero and the time the Back Judge is able to see the football.
"On the play in question, this lag time created the situation where it appears the play clock expired just before the snap. We believe the snap occurred well within the normal lag time for the Back Judge to make this determination.
That makes total sense. I wish officials would do this more often. Issue little dicta explaining why penalties were (or in some cases, were not) called and you reduce the complaining at least somewhat.
Bork on. Hockey season is going to start soon and Red Berenson is talking them up:
"We realized we were as good as anybody at the end of last year and this team will take that (confidence) and put that on the ice," …
"Does it make our team better? Definitely, it's huge," said Berenson of having Hagelin and Caporusso back. "You're so much more optimistic because you know who your top players are. I felt they had their heads in the right place. They are really invested in this program."
The usual blunt assessments of early departures (Pacioretty and Palushaj are in the AHL and "probably don't like it") are also included along with an interesting Cold War II tidbit: the rink will be Olympic size. Advantage to a quicker Michigan team, no doubt.
Etc.: Congratulations, commenters, for not being NDNation about Dantonio's heart attack. It is in this way we will not be a newspaper's comment section. By request, shots of Michigan Stadium's renovation from above. MGoBlog invades North Korea. Srsly. The Team, The Team, The Team: the video they played Saturday.