in town for free camps
You ever notice that when a blogger puts up a post titled "Happy HOLIDAY X" it's just his way of copping out of a post that day? Yeah.
Happy Memorial Day!
Here's a conciliatory youtube video:
Also, Michigan's regional for the baseball tourney:
4. Eastern Michigan
The puck drops Friday at the Fish, and then they'll probably pick the puck up and play some baseball.
Apologies. Most of this UV is old news; I've been having increasingly severe computer issues over the last few days that have taken up large blocks of my time. I think I'm going to have to send Laptop 1 in; Laptop 2 may or may not be dead, in which case posting would be sporadic whenever Laptop 1 is getting fixed. FYI.
Hey, Desmond said stuff! Last person on the internet to remark on Desmond's remarks on Kirk Herbstreit (a "seemingly intelligent" guy) and Justin Boren (a "complainer"). Oh snap to both. The full smackdown on Herbstreit:
[Herbstreit's report] was wrong on so many levels. As a former player, unless I spoke to that coach and he told me it was cool, I would never have done that because he was still coaching a team that's about to play in a (SEC) championship game. ... His team, the first thing they saw when they woke up was that report. It was not fair to him and not fair to the players.
And on Boren:
At first, I was like, 'Wow, he's talking about family values.' And sometimes you use key words, and I read that, and I was like, 'Damn, this thing is just blowing up.' So I came up here (to Michigan) and I watched them practice. I was in the weight room working out, and two players started talking to me, and in general conversation they said, 'This guy, Desmond, was a complainer. He complained about workouts, he complained about practices.' And this is what they told me: 'Really, we're better without him.' I said, 'Wow, that's a different side of the story I hadn't even thought of.' I knew they were training in a way they've never trained before.
So then he went to Ohio State, and I was like, 'Well, how loyal can this guy be? All the colleges available to him, and he goes to Ohio State?' I talked to Rich, and Rich told me he talked to him, and Rich said (Boren) never was really happy no matter what they did. And Rich said, 'Desmond, I've got to do things my way.'
Howard also referenced the "raggedy" search process, which is kind, IMO.
The reaction here is, of course, "go Desmond." Rodriguez's lack of a family atmosphere has been so horrible it's run off exactly one player -- Mitchell, Ciulla, and Mallett all decided to pack it in before Barwis workouts even started. The manner and destination of his departure indicates a serious lack of character, and Michigan's not likely to miss him.
Hey! Gregg Easterbrook's a dummy! Remember this?
A preseason favorite for the BCS title, West Virginia was poised to qualify for the BCS Championship Game, needing only to beat 28-point underdog Pittsburgh in its final game, at home yet. The Mountaineers lost. We now know that in the days leading up to this huge upset, West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was negotiating for the Michigan job -- that is, was furiously engaged in stabbing his school in the back. The West Virginia team played very poorly in a game staged as the coach was working behind the scenes to shaft the school. Strange coincidence?
Easterbrook wrote this in a huffy section of his interminable TMQ in January without providing one shred of evidence this was the case. MGoBlog duly called him a loser.
Now, thanks to the magic of West Virginia's we want more money, guy campaign, there is rock-solid proof Easterbrook is full of it:
As part of the ongoing lawsuit filed by WVU to collect Rodriguez's $4 million buyout for leaving, the attorneys asked for all correspondence between Rodriguez, his representatives and Michigan regarding the position.
A representative of Rodriguez's contacted Michigan on Dec. 11, WVU attorney Jeffrey Wakefield said on Wednesday. The contact occurred three days before Rodriguez met with U-M president Mary Sue Coleman and athletic director Bill Martin in Toledo to interview for the position.
December 11th, ten days after the Pitt game, was the first contact between Rodriguez and Michigan. But why care about common sense or facts when you can leer at cheerleaders? As I wrote in January:
Scenario A: Rodriguez -- who doesn't care even a little bit about maybe winning a national title -- and Michigan secretly begin talks before the Pitt game. No insider gets wind of this and no one reports it during a period of time in which Michigan's athletic department was leaking like a sieve. He then spends every waking hour thinking about the Michigan job, thereby sabotaging WVU's preparations.
Scenario B: Michigan contacts Rodriguez in the thirteen days between the Pitt loss and the first meeting using a "telephone."
Scenario A is so unlikely that it would be dismissed by anyone except Easterbrook, who's the kind of pundit who will cram any available evidence into his extant theories no matter how square the peg and round the hole.
Expecting an apology from TMQ in 3... 2... 1... never.
And it begins. Not the streak, but the Penn State-Michigan series:
Michigan would lose the next three before embarking on its current 650-year win streak, which started when Joe Paterno was only 6,000.
Quiz for the future. Clay Travis is a young, bearded man who writes for CBS Sportsline. His latest column tackles the Buzz Bissinger thing -- which I really meant to say something about but never got around to -- in a way I wish I had. It's one of those columns that crystallizes something you've been kicking around in your head for a long time but never managed to figure out how to say. Key section:
What none of this banal criticism recognizes is that sports blogs exist -- and find an audience -- as a natural reaction to the patently false athletic images sold by the professional sports leagues and the majority of the mainstream media who cover these athletes. We know that athletes aren't saints and that in real life, outside the locker room, they don't walk around spouting the same tired responses to the same tired questions night after night after night.
Yet, athletes have become so coached in their responses to the media that it's the rare individual who is willing to step outside of the clichÃ© and say something interesting or revelatory. I challenge you to read the write-up of any game and see any quote by any player that you haven't seen a thousand times before. We've all been down this path before. Welcome to the sportswriting matrix, where we're all in crypto-sleep waiting for something to change.
I felt strongly about three things in the whole Bissinger meltdown:
- It was completely disingenuous of Will Leitch to claim "they're just commenters" when Deadspin is a Gawker blog that specifically picks people out of the rabble to be approved commenters and cultivates an aura of snark-snark-snark that leads to things like "Salisbury is a penis" or whatever. It's one thing if your comments are largely unregulated. Deadspin's are carefully groomed.
- Further, Leitch does the entire sportsblogging community a disservice by being presented as The Voice of The Internet when his blog is only tenuously a sports blog at all. I think of Deadspin as a Gawker blog about sports, with all that entails, more than a sports blog run by Gawker. Next time, Will, say tha
nks but no thanks and let Orson or Alex Belth or anyone else do it.
- A much more convincing defense of the Matt Leinart pictures would have been that for the majority of young people, those pictures make Leinart more likable because they are not pre-packaged "they played hard" comments.
- (four... four things I felt strongly about!) I kind of agreed with Bissinger, if you can agree with spittle. The whole Big Daddy Balls-Kissing Suzy Kolber aesthetic is a nihilistic and depressing thing unrescued by the blind hope of fandom, and I'm kind of embarrassed those guys get as much play as they do. This is also pretty much Will Leitch's fault.
This is not to say I don't like Leitch, a good writer with his heart in the right place, I just don't like Deadspin so much now that it's gone from the Leitch show to sometimes Leitch but quite often a bunch of other dudes who seem fundamentally meaner than him.
So... yeah, it's kind of awesome and kind of awkward that Clay Travis is trying to put together a five-on-five charity Quiz Bowl challenge with myself and Orson and Leitch and a couple of the KSK guys versus five blog-bashers. I was captain of the Quiz Bowl team in high school, you know. That's strictly Al Bundy small potatoes, though: one of the HSR guys won College Jeopardy(!), if Travis is looking for a ringer.
It's not me. Cris Carter wants to beat some Michigan blogger up because said blogger called him an asshole; this is not me. This a comprehensive list of all the people I've called assholes in this space:
- Mike Boren (indirectly)
- That guy who blocked that field goal during The Horror.
- Charlie Weis, which, in retrospect, is totally obvious
- Bret Bielema
- John Pollack, the hero of Tienanmen Square
- Terry Foster
- The ref who gave TJ a ten minute misconduct during the 2007 North Dakota game
- The universe
- yrs truly
- Coach K
- Alonzo Mourning ("our greatest asshole," according to Fictional Hubie Brown)
- Jason Whitlock
- Chris Webber
Other than Mourning and maybe Bielema and Boren, I feel pretty safe. The rest of them are either little dudes or so vastly out of shape I could just run away. (Chris Webber is neither but has no knees.)
Sword located. A "where are they now" on former MLB Sam Sword:
Sam Sword, a city recreation supervisor who played football at the University of Michigan and in the NFL, said preregistration was slow early in the week but the number of participants nearly doubled when youngsters showed up with parents on the day of the meet.
Sword lives in Palm Coast, Florida, and appears to be overcoming the indignities of his Michigan education quite nicely.
(Via Big House Blog.)
Etc.: Good piece in Slate related to Travis' "these guys are packaged and shiny" theory; Michigan has a German for next year or maybe the year after but he's six ten and can shoot. If you've got a hundred bucks you can sign up for Barwis' strength clinic and go "eeeeee" the whole time, or at least until he punches you in the trachea.
Now that Lloyd Carr is spending his days golfing and his nights at manga conventions, it's time to go over this career. First we play nice, assembling the Carr Era dream team. First up: the offense.
Rules: each season is judged independently. It makes no sense to compare one year of Drew Henson with four years of Chad Henne. Each player can only appear once: no receiving corps of Braylon, Braylon, and Braylon.
This will be a hellacious battle. The candidates:
Navarre has the most yards, touchdwns, and interceptions but he also has the most attempts by over 100. His YPA was a healthy 7.3, but Brady (7.6), Henne (7.6), and Henson (9.0!) exceed it. He's out. Griese goes, too, as the pilot of an efficient-ish but by no means dominant 1997 attack. His YPA also falls short. Mallett... uh.
We're left with Brady, Henne, and Henson. You know all about Chad Henne, whose senior season might have dusted everyone on the list if he had, you know, got to play it. Brady is the god-king of New England, currently siring a litter of future foot-bots with supermodels. Drew Henson is nothing, a failure at both football and baseball, the man who subjected all of us to John Navarre's 2001 season.
And... he's the guy. 9.0 YPA is ridiculous. 18 touchdowns against 4 interceptions is ridiculous. Completing over 60 percent of your passes for almost 15 yards per is ridiculous. Doing all this despite missing Michigan's opening tomato can games against Bowling Green and Rice is even more ridiculous. Michigan's 2000 offense scored 30 or more points in nine of twelve games, lit up Penn State, Ohio State, and Auburn to close out the year, and averaged 34 points per game. Henson benefited from a host of weapons, a killer offensive line, and that year's nightmare secondary (which forced Michigan to keep the pedal to the metal at all times), but... Jesus, the numbers don't lie. Damn you, Steinbrenner.
Tom Brady 1999. I spent the first half of the Orange Bowl screaming, writhing, pounding the floor, begging them to "throw it to Terrell." They did, eventually, but only after finding themselves in a 14 point hole.
Chad Henne 2006. Sigh.
Note: two of the best three seasons from a quarterback under Carr were from juniors whose senior seasons more or less didn't happen. How much different does Carr's legacy look if "Henson 2001" and "Henne 2007" are two of the top three?
And now for the least surprising selection ever ever...
Braylon's 2003 season is a close runner-up, but two things put his 2004 over the top: sheer production (12 additional catches and about 200 more yards) and the single most dominating performance by a Michigan wide receiver in the last six minutes of an embarrassing loss turned ridiculous victory ever:
Yeah, a winrar is he. Now we're left deciding between these gentlemen:
(Toomer isn't eligible since he left right before Carr's first season (1995), but I just wanted to throw out his stats so I can ask this question: how in the hell did Amani Toomer average over twenty yards a catch and only have six touchdowns?)
There's not much to choose from, but some context: Manningham managed to haul in all those passes despite being saddled with Ryan Mallet a third of the year and a broken Chad Henne for another third. Walker was the lone threat on Michigan's dire 2001 offense helmed by a not ready for primetime John Navarre. TE Bill Seymour was next on Michigan's receiving charts with 27 catches. The year before, Terrell had Walker as a competent sidekick and Drew Henson throwing to him.
Could it be that Mario Manningham's 2007 season, which virtually every Michigan fan was disappointed with, was
the second-best in the Carr era? Maybe. But I remember David Terrell as an all-around threat who could beat you deep or catch a slant, and though he flamed out in the NFL he was the #8 pick in his draft year. I
Walker 2001 and Manningham 2007 are significantly better than their challengers...
Jason Avant in a nutshell:
I will accept my stoning at noon tomorrow: it's not Mike Hart. It's not even close to being Mike Hart. Hart's best season was probably his junior year, wherein he had 1562 yards on 318 carries, 4.9 per. He had 144 yards against Ohio State in a sorta-kinda close loss.
In 1995, some guy with a funny name did this:
His name was Tshimanga Biakabutuka, and in 1995 he had 1818 yards on 303 carries, six yards per. 313 of those came against Ohio State in a 31-23 win. 1818 yards remains the Michigan single-season rushing record. Michigan football comes up regularly in conversations with my mother and about twice a year she lingers over the many syllables of "Tshimunga Biakabutuka" two or three times apropos of nothing. He was selected in the first round of the NFL draft and during the brief period in which I played fantasy football, he was always but always on my team, injured half the time (always when playing) and running for 160 yards and two touchdowns the other half of the time (always when benched).
And I wasn't even a little mad.
Statistically, this is Anthony Thomas. His 2000 season is the second most-prolific in Michigan history, with 1733 yards at 5.4 YPC and 18 touchdowns. And if it's not Anthony Thomas, it's Chris Perry. In 2003 Perry rushed for 1721 yards and 18 TDs at 5.0 per. Against Michigan State he set an all-time record with 51 carries. In the history of game-worn jerseys, his is the most worn.
But... Mike Hart's offensive line in 2006 was Jake Long and four guys who can only see an NFL game if they buy a ticket. And he never fumbled. And he windmilled his little legs and stoned Dan Connor over and over again, and I just like him better. So it's Mike Hart 2006, with apologies to the aforementioned duo.
I guess it depends what you want in a fullback. Do you want a quasi-tailback? Then BJ Askew's your guy. Do you want a quasi-tight end? Aaron Shea's your guy. Do you want someone to crush a linebacker into a white-hot furrow of snapped limbs and smoke?
Maybe I've been hopelessly biased by this lingering image of Chris Floyd giving the business to some poor Wisconsin defensive back (in the snow, no less), but for my money Floyd was your #1 limb-snapper fullback in the Carr era. He was such a badass that Michigan gave him the ball some 30 times his senior year lest he eat one of the freshmen.
If Floyd was the #1 limb-snapper, Chris Dudley was 1A. He plowed a path for Mike Hart's breakout freshman season. Also, Owen Schmitt didn't play at Michigan or under Carr but he did play for Rich Rodriguez, who has met Lloyd Carr, and is so awesome that we should figure out some way to claim him, too. We will never rest until everything good about West Virginia has been appropriated for our purposes!
This is a two-man battle. (Ha!)
Joppru came from nowhere to be John Navarre's safety valve and go-to third down receiver his junior year. He is now the shining archetype of a bad-senior-gone-good that excessively optimistic types trot out every fall when things like "Chris Graham, starting OLB" are suggested. Tuman caused Michigan fans to fall in love with the waggle. 1996 was actually Tuman's sophomore year; his '97 was slightly less productive and by '98 his YPC came down to around 9.
This is terribly close and depends on what you value. 16 YPC out of a tight end is something else, but Joppru was the Jason Avant of 2002. Joppru seemed to be more integral to the offense, with a knack for spectacular catches and critical third down conversions, and was more highly regarded by the NFL, so I think he wins.
Tuman; flip a coin between '96 and '97.
LT Jake Long, 2007. All American, first pick in the NFL draft.
LG Steve Hutchinson, 2000. Two-time All American. Four year starter. Probable NFL Hall of Famer.
C Rod Payne, 1996. All American.
RG David Baas, 2003. All American, Rimington Award winner (in 2004).
RT John Runyan, 1995. All American. Long time NFL pro bowler.
Holy God. The best way to sum up this collection is to list the players left out: Jeff Backus, Jon Jansen (All American, 1998), Maurice Williams (longtime NFLer), and Jonathan Goodwin. There is some weakness at guard, where Damon Denson was the best pros
pect left out and David Baas' junior season was used so Rod Payne could get on the hypothetical field.
LT Jeff Backus, 2000
LG Jonathan Goodwin, 2000
C Dave Pearson, 2003
RG Damon Denson, 1996
RT Jon Jansen, 1998
Yeah, Mo Williams still doesn't get on the field.
As an alum who witnessed mid 90s success but has suffered through the last few years of football stagnation, is it premature to be excited by this early recruiting success by Rodriguez? I know Lloyd and staff were relatively strong in the recruiting department, but it seems like a new kind of athlete is being recruited by this staff - the speedy dread-locked guys that may not translate that well to the pros but cause hell in college. With Barwis and the early recruiting returns I am more excited about Michigan football than I have been since 97 through 2003, when I really believed Michigan could contend for national titles every year. Basically, I am asking, even before Rodriguez has even coached a game, if there is some momentum in this program. Is Michigan becoming the new "hot" destination for recruits, ala USC, LSU, and Florida the past 8 years, or is this just my hopeful bias acting up?
Well... no on the "hot destination." Don't get me wrong, Michigan is doing well on the recruiting trail and has locked up all manner of exciting skill position players, but you'd be hard pressed to separate Michigan's results to date from their results the last several years under Carr. Michigan's recruiting of late (numbers, as per usual, are Rivals'):
(2003 is perhaps the best example I can find of how screwed up the recruiting sites' team rankings are. Michigan finished a lowly 17th that year despite raking in Lamarr Woodley, Prescott Burgess, Leon Hall, Shawn Crable, and others. Michigan had two five-stars, eleven four-stars, and just four guys with two or three stars, one of whom was a kicker. They finished behind Oklahoma State's class of 31 losers and Cal's class of 28 non-losers. Those teams had eight four-stars between them. In 59 players. WTF?)
You can see the epidemic of southern oversigning and attrition in the disparity between Michigan's class rating and their star average. Every year save 2005 -- an unusually large class of 23 -- was better in the latter metric, usually by a significant margin. Over the time span listed here, Michigan finished between 6th and 7th nationally in star average. It would be hard to improve that in any meaningful way without kicking MSU into the MAC.
However, the point about the little guys with dreads is an apt one even if none of the guys we've reeled in actually have dreads. Guys like Odoms and Robinson and (Pitt signee) Cameron Saddler are routinely downgraded for their size. If Rodriguez can regularly take little three-star guys and get five-star production out of them, Michigan could start to outperform their recruiting rankings. Or, like, just perform to them. That is the Barwis hope in a nutshell.
The other side of the coin:
I've been noticing Ohio State's recruiting of late. They're starting to look
like a Midwestern USC, as one of my friends pointed out. Could you
please discuss this topic?
Maybe a little. Last year they were third in star average, the year before that fifth, and
this year they're off to an extremely strong start. If the smug truckers with names like "BucksLOL!!1!" on their message boards are right -- and since internet confidence usually trickles down from insiders on high, they probably are -- they're the favorite to reel in another set of OMG shirtless sorts. This is a slight improvement on their results from earlier in the decade.
But this is nothing particularly new. Ohio State and, except for a period when Willingham was incredibly inept, Notre Dame have always recruited well. The numbers above show that Michigan has, too. It will always come down to coaching. And luck.*
Anyone expecting Ohio State to drop off in the near future is going to be disappointed. Tressel is 55 and at least ten years from falling off into Bowden-Paterno senescence. They're going to be a power. Michigan is hoping for Ten Year War II.
*(consider how differently this Tressel-Carr thing looks if 1) Drew Henson doesn't sign a baseball contract, 2) Braylon Edwards doesn't get a dodgy offensive PI call in the 2002 game, 3) Carr goes for it on third and four in the 2005 game, and 4) Chad Henne's shoulder exists in 2007. You figure #1 is a clear win and Michigan probably takes one of the other three, which would put the Tressel-Carr record at .500. Thin margins, always.)
On the APR:
I attended Central Michigan, until I graduated last year. My first two years there I was one of the "lucky" kids who wasn't able to get into the normal dorms, and instead was put in the athletes dorm. Basically, I got to know many of the football players on CMU. Many of those guys left before their 4/5 years was up, but it had nothing to do with the reasons you outlined (money) as to why small schools suffered in the APR.
First, especially at the time, CMU wasn't a known football power. Kids want to be loved, respected, and have some sort of fame. Yet, when you play at a bad MAC school or something, nobody cares. It isnt a big campus with 80,000 people every Saturday. They dont see themselves on TV a whole lot, and when are on TV, nobody pays attention to them. Players at the bigger school have much more incentive to stay because they are better players, have more fame, and have more going for them.
Next, many of the kids schools in the MAC, Mountain West, etc. recruit aren't from the area. CMU has their share of Michigan kids, but needs to recruit kids a whole hell of a lot more from Florida, Georgia, etc. than schools like Michigan and MSU do. Thats because the talent pool isn't as big in Michigan, and Michigan and MSU scoop all the talent up. CMU and other MAC schools needs to get players from the south so they can compete. This is hard though because not only will those kids have the same problems as I stated in the previous paragraph, but they are waaaaay more likely to get homesick and leave. I saw many time where CMU would recruit a kid from inner city Miami, then redshirt him. The kid isn't happy being redshirted, has trouble adjusting to a MAC town, and then once that first snowfall and bad weater hits, boom, they are outta here for Christmas break and never return.
It is just very hard for teams in smaller conferences to retain players than it is for bigger schools. Yes, sometimes it may have to do with what you said, but that is a lot smaller of the percentage. I can see why you feel that way since you went to a big school. However, until you attend a smaller school and see the disadvantage first hand and hear it and see it from many of the players you are friends with, then you don't really know the whole story.
Central Michigan, though it was one of the teams to get hit by APR penalties, was not one of the teams referenced when I was advocating for I-A to get 20 teams smaller. When not coached by Mike Debord, Central is one of the better teams in the MAC and has the resources to compete at a reasonable level. They'll get their scores up soon and will avoid serious punishment.
I don't have much sympathy for smaller schools even if it's tougher for them to keep scores up for reasons beyond their control. You can make an argument that a player at Michigan or Oklahoma or wherever is being completely reasonable when he puts
everything into being an NFL caliber football player. Not so much at San Jose State, where any kid who flames out is going to be lifting boxes.
Yesterday, I mentioned that WVU's possessions were some way short of what seemed like an average number, but I didn't go back and calculate those numbers myself. A reader chips in:
I've been an avid reader of your blog for quite some time and appreciate all the work you do. I post under this handle on Rivals premium and Scout free boards. I'm also an amateur nerd and play with numbers in my free time. One such venture was to calculate the scoring efficiency of certain offenses. Specifically, I calculated the points per drive of the Michigan offense (and others.. did this during the coaching search) over the past 4-5 years using data available from the ESPN website (it's good for something). An offense that scores 35 ppg while reducing the game to 10 possessions per team is more dangerous than the offense that racks up the same total but expands the total number of possessions in the game (Purdue, Cal).
Obviously the flaw in this research is that some offenses try to build a small lead then sit on the ball while others simply try to score as much as possible. However, I found it to be an interesting endeavor nonetheless. To do the calculation I counted the number of "meaningful" drives (I excluded the apparent take-a-knee-before-the-end-of-the-half drives) and counted only offensive points. Throwing out pick-sixes and punt-return TDs was difficult since they do affect the thinking of the offense, but ultimately they're not the result of the offense.
I have all this data broken down on a spreadsheet into the single game performances, but here are the year-long results...
'07 Michigan -- 13.2 drives/gm, 27.2 off ppg, 2.07 pts per drive (ppd), 2:16 per drive (TOP)
'06 Michigan -- 12.6 drives/gm, 27.2 off ppg, 2.15 ppd, 2:39 per drive
'05 Michigan -- 12.8 drives/gm, 27.0 off ppg, 2.12 ppd, 2:29 per drive
'04 Michigan -- 13.0 drives/gm, 28.1 off ppg, 2.16 ppd, 2:28 per drive
'03 Michigan -- 12.2 drives/gm, 32.5 off ppg, 2.65 ppd, 2:38 per drive
'02 Michigan -- 12.8 drives/gm, 27.2 off ppg, 2.13 ppd
'07 West Virginia -- 12.6 drives/gm, 38.5 off ppg, 3.05 ppd, 2:23 per drive
'06 West Virginia -- 11.2 drives/gm, 39.6 off ppg, 3.55 ppd, 2:46 per drive
'05 West Virginia -- 11.8 drives/gm, 28.3 off ppg, 2.41 ppd, 2:38 per drive
'04 West Virginia -- 12.3 drives/gm, 27.8 off ppg, 2.26 ppd, 2:23 per drive
'03 West Virginia -- 13.0 drives/gm, 27.3 off ppg, 2.10 ppd, 2:12 per drive
The Florida spread-option...
'07 Florida -- 11.2 drives/gm, 40.3 off ppg, 3.61 ppd, 2:41 per drive
'06 Florida -- 11.1 drives/gm, 27.4 off ppg, 2.46 ppd, 2:48 per drive
'05 Florida -- 11.8 drives/gm, 24.8 off ppg, 2.09 ppd, 2:46 per drive
Ultimately, I think RRod's offense will reduce the avg number of possessions by 0.5-1.0 per game. While Carr's offense was good at eating up clock, I think a lot of that had to do with the defense giving them the ball back. The offense neither reduced the number of possessions nor sat on the ball particularly long when they got the ball.
The "13 or 14" cited in the UFR appears to be a little high. Over the spans provided here, Michigan averaged 12.7 drives per game; West Virginia averaged 12.2. The PPD numbers show that West Virginia's performance against Rutgers (3.44 PPD against a top-twenty scoring defense) was statistically excellent, if reached a little flukily.
Generally on these the reader knows what happens before the UFR hits the page, so: West Virginia beat Rutgers 31-3. Total yards for RU: 314. For WVU: 398. Turnovers, inopportune penalties, and missed field goals hurt Rutgers badly.
I picked out this game because 1) it was available, 2) Rutgers was a slightly better than average run defense that looks just average because it had to play West Virginia, and 3) Greg Schiano is reputed to be a fine defensive mind.
No video; I'm having trouble getting VirtualDub to recognize whatever these files were encoded in and thus can't slice out individual plays.
|M33||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||5|
|Schmitt used as a lead-blocker on a zone stretch play that looks eerily familiar minus the whole shotgun thing. Rutgers is doing a weird blitz where the WLB/SS guy blitzes off the slot receiver and the DE flows down the line instead of attempting to deal with the zone read. He ends up overrunning the play â€“ jammed pretty well on the frontside â€“ as Slaton cuts back; the threat of White caused the blitzer to delay just enough for Slaton to pick up a decent gain. Does Steven Threet inspire the same respect?|
|M38||2||5||Shotgun 5-wide||Run||QB Draw?||White||4|
|I won't know what the personnel is on any of these so I can only give you formations. I'm sure Slaton's still in so "five wide" is not right. I'm not sure if this is a read or a draw or what, but this appears to be a screen to Reynaud â€“ WVU bunched four guys to the bottom of the screen. White pulls it down and takes off, scrambling for a few yards.|
|Ur? On fourth and what looks like a foot â€“ sneak distance â€“ they hand it off and get stuffed. The DT shed the center and shot into the backfield as Rutgers sells out to stop this.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 10 min. Fireworks not so much yet. Schiano was asking for a bubble screen in his face on first down. High risk, high reward here.|
|M38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Slip Screen||Jalloh||5|
|This is set up very well and looks like a potential big play but for two issues: White's a little late and upfield with the throw (just a little), and the defensive end did not get chopped by the OT, reads the screen, and makes a great play backtracking downfield. (CA, 3)|
|M43||2||5||I-Form Twins||Run||Inside Zone||Slaton||8|
|Reynaud comes around on an end-around fake. Slaton's already taking it up the gut. A double from the C and G blows the undersized Rutgers NT back; the other DT is cut and Schmitt obliterates the MLB. A diving tackle attempt from the unblocked DE is stepped through and Slaton's got his first chunk of the day.|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||6|
|Rutgers with only seven in the box here, one of them nominally covering the slot guy, both safeties back. Backside scoop on the DT works well enough and gets an OL into the second level, causing the Rutgers WLB to start cheating over there in case Slaton takes it directly up the middle. He bounces it between the G and T instead, where there's a crease. Rare instance of passive D from Rutgers.|
|O43||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||QB Draw||White||-2|
|It's actually pretty interesting to watch the Rutgers D at work here. They're stunting and blitzing like mad from all angles; here they get the TE blocking no one as the DE stunts inside and through; White can't take it outside because of another blitzer and gets hit for a loss. I have no idea what happens in this game other than a WVU win... I get the feeling there are going to be some big plays when Rutgers rolls the dice and comes up craps.|
|Man free for Rutgers as they bring another blitz, with a catch: it looks at first like there are seven blitzers but two peel off to cover receivers... poorly. Reynaud is nominally covered by a safety rolling up to the line but is open and darts for the first. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||38|
|Uh, check on the ol' big plays. Rutgers is consistently shooting the backside DE down the LOS and bringing the slot-covering WLB in as the contain guy. It's been pretty effective, as the weakside DE shot into the backfield and caused a cutback on an otherwise very well-blocked play. Problem: the backside contain decides to plow White and trip over his prone body. Slaton is â€“ WOOP â€“ gone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q. No wonder Bo liked this guy: one real pass so far, and that because of a third and medium.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Pass||PA Flare||Schmitt||13|
|Same late shift with the slot blitz and DE shoot; this time WVU goes play action, faking the same frontside zone read they've run a couple times before. This time Schmitt releases to the backside. He could pick up the blitzer but instead dummies him and slips into the flat; White hits him and it's beer truck time. (CA, 3)|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Pass||Bubble Screen||Reynaud||5|
|Good job by the Rutgers corner here to cut down on the gain here; Rutgers had again blitzed off the corner. (CA, 3)|
|O43||2||5||Ace 3-wide||Run||Inside Zone||Slaton||4|
|Slaton's got a nice hole up the middle as a scoop block seals one DT and gets a lineman out to a linebacker; Schmitt kills a DE and wipes out a weakside blitzer in the process. If you get your hands on these guys they crumple. Also: another end-around fake.|
|O39||3||1||Shotgun 4-wide||Run||QB Lead Draw||White||4|
|Schmitt in the backfield with White; Slaton split. ISQD is the call. A Rutgers DE zips right past the WVU RT and into White's path; White jukes past him and the unblocked weakside blocker to pick it up.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||Zone read keeper||White||3|
|Same slot blitz gets in an unblocked player; he tackles Slaton, leaving a major gap in the middle of the field. Unfortunately for WVU, the OL on the second level does not have an angle on the MLB. He meets White at the LOS. White spins out of it; the delay allows a safety to fill.|
|Bad snap and a bad block from the RT allows the DE to knock it down. (BA, 0, protection 0/1, RT). I don't think this RT is very good.|
|Snap flies over White's head.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 11 2nd Q. White is all like "dude, snap it to me." Punt hits a gunner and goes back to WVU.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Run||QB Draw||White||19|
|Again, I'm not sure if White actually has an option to throw a screen here or if it's just a decoy. In any case, both Slaton and White take off towards the trips side of the field. The weakside DE gets way too far upfield â€“ the proper angle if this was a zone read with White peeling out to his side of the field, but it ain't â€“ and opens up a huge cutback lane that White exploits.|
|O12||1||10||Shotgun Stack?||Run||QB Sweep||White||2|
|Two WR, a TE, Schmitt and Slaton lined up approximately over the TE. This turns into something kinda like the sweep that was so deadly with QB Eagles in Techmo Super Bowl. Good contain from two separate players on Rutgers forces it back up inside for a minor gain.|
|O10||2||8||I-Form Trips||Run||FB Dive||Schmitt||1|
|Jammed in the center. Schmitt does what FBs do, which is run directly forward until they've hit the ground.|
|O9||3||7||Shotgun 2-back||Run||QB Sweep||White||8|
|Rutgers is blitzing from the weakside and bailing a safety out into a robber zone on the playside, leaving three guys chasing uselessly and one running his way out of the play. Almost doesn't matter as the RT gets beat again, forcing Schmitt to pick his guy up and allowing the DT to continue flowing down the line against a not-so-effective reach block. Schmitt gets enough of a push on the other guy to create a hole; the diving DT causes White to stumble but does not bring him down.|
|I think I need some differentiation between QB draws here. On this one, Schmitt is the single setback and White looks like he's going to give him a zone handoff before keeping the ball, using Schmitt as a lead blocker, and hopping into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 9 min 2nd Q. White actually fumbled into the endzone but recovered his own fumble.|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||QB Sweep||White||22|
|Schmitt the only setback. This play is actually gap blocked with the TE and LT blowing the Rutgers DE way off the ball â€“ sort of like the Navy offense, when you get these guys expecting not to get blocked and then they get hammered the results are not pretty â€“ and pulling the backside guard around. Schmitt picks the corner off and a filling linebacker gets swallowed by the guard; White lopes into the secondary.|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun Trips||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||5|
|Nice zone block by the center to carry the DT out of the play; big hole in the middle is filled by a couple meh second level blocks.|
|M42||2||5||Shotgun 4-wide||Run||QB Draw||White||0|
|Well-timed blitz from Rutgers gets a guy into the backfield, as two OL were scooping a DT and did not get out on him in time. Result is a mess.|
|M42||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||Pass||In||Jalloh||11 + 5|
|Jalloh comes open in man, as the lack of safeties cause the cover guy to be cautious. Easy pitch and catch for the first. (CA, 3, protection 2/2). Incidental face mask tacks on five.|
|O42||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Penalty||False Start||Some Guy||-5|
|They fake an iso or inside zone to Slaton then roll White out of the pocket. Schmitt, releasing into the flat, gets a hit on a linebacker and gives White enough time to fire a strike in front of rapidly-closing defender. (CA+... aw... DO, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O34||2||2||Shotgun 4-wide||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||1|
|Two guys come up to the wide side of the field and a guy backs out into zone on the other; WVU zones away from the rolled-up secondary. This should be a good gainer or at least a yard or so and a really short third down but Slaton decides to cut back needlessly and ends up losing ground.|
|O35||3||3||Shotgun 2-back||Run||QB Sweep||White||13|
|Rutgers sends the house with six guys coming through the LOS and a seventh trying to clean up. One cut block is quite effective and White sets up blocks from both Slaton and Schmitt before bursting upfield and picking up the first down and considerably more.|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Pass||Bubble Screen||Reynaud||Inc|
|Zone read fake to the bubble screen; White throws it well over Reynaud's head, possibly in an attempt to get it over the hands of onrushing linemen. (IN, 0)|
|There are 30 seconds left in the half now, so WVU is pressed for time and Rutgers is kinda expecting pass. White throws this into coverage, unwisely. (BR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|O22||3||10||Shotgun 2-back||Run||QB Draw||White||-2|
|Rutgers sends two guys right up the middle and almost right past White, who is this close to breaking a tackle and shooting into the secondary for at least a first down and very probably a touchdown when he goes to the ground. Roll them dice, Schiano.|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 17-3, EOH.|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||Zone read keeper||White||-7|
|Slot blitz as per usual, but no stunt. The DE shoots right into the backfield unblocked â€“ unclear whether this was intentional or not â€“ and tackles Slaton; Slaton doesn't have the ball. White keeps and starts rolling out; the tackle blocks the corner. Unfortunately for WVU the guard who moved directly to the second level does not get to the LB, who makes an excellent, quick read and shoots into the gap. White was planning on taking it up into the hole; he starts backing off and looks like he's going to throw the bubble screen, then hesitates and is lost.|
|M21||2||17||Shotgun 2-back||Pass||Bubble Screen||Reynaud||Inc|
|Poor throw; slot blitz and this was open. (IN, 0)|
|Nice throw, though it's short of the sticks and Rutgers closes Jollah down. Rare dropback pass. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 14 min 3rd Q. Rutgers goes on a 7-minute drive that features a dropped touchdown pass and gets no points out of it.|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||FB Flare||Schmitt||Inc|
|Schmitt as an off-the-line TE. Same corner blitz; Zone read fake suckers in everyone and Schmitt shoots into a wide open flat. Big gainer but for the pass getting batted down. (BA, 0)|
|M25||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||-3|
|Corner blitz + DE stunt combo again. This allows the NT, who's shaded to the frontside of the play, to really shoot hard. He does so, and a poor cut-block on the backside plus the stunt leave Slaton surrounded.|
|M22||3||13||Shotgun Empty||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Slaton||51|
|Three man line and two blitzers up the middle; everyone rushes hard and takes themselves out of the play. Left side of the line releases; great cut block on an attacking safety by the LT, and excellent downfield blocks by the wide receivers. Slaton sprung, runs far. (CA, 3)|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Run||Zone read keeper||White||1|
|The usual stunt-blitz. White pulls it out of Slaton's belly and attempts to shoot upfield past the CB; a diving shoestring tackle limits him to one yard; LB coming up may or may not have had an angle.|
|O26||2||9||Shotgun 4-wide||Pass||Bubble Screen||Sanders||6|
|Crappy block from the outside WR forces Sandesr to deal with the defender a yard or two after the LOS; he stiffarms his way for a number of yards. (CA, 3)|
|This appears to be a flare screen for Slaton designed to exploit the corner-blitz-mad Rutgers D. White bobbles the snap, however, and he never makes the throw. So he's got four defenders in his face and one guy who's made an attempt at a cut block. White just sort of darts up through the crack and is loose in the secondary just like that. Bad cut downfield or this is a TD.|
|O5||1||G||I-Form 3-wide||Pass||PA Rollout||N/A||Inc|
|Iso fake to Slaton coupled with a White rollout. No one open, so he throws it away. (TA, 0)|
|O5||2||G||Shotgun 2-back||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||5|
|Hard to tell what Rutgers is doing on this play since we get a terrible camera angle and the replay's not much more helpful. This is another cutback from Slaton though, and one that picks up a block from White.|
|O1||3||G||I-Form Twins||Run||Off tackle||Slaton||1|
|Another excellent job by the LT to seal the DE and use his hands to delay pursuit from two separate players. Schmitt, leading, can't find anyone to plow until he's five yards into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|M27||1||10||Ace Twins||Run||Inside Zone||Slaton||3|
|Reynaud with the end-around fake. Excellent play from the MLB to shoot into an offensive lineman, get playside of his shoulder, and make a tackle around the LOS.|
|Schmitt the only setback; Slaton in the slot... and yeah, you can kind of see this coming. A Mildly Surprising QB Draw. Nice push froom the OL but the stunting DE gets in, as does the blitzing corner, and another LB... Schmitt sort of stops to set up a block on the outside guy; White runs into him.|
|M33||3||4||Shotgun 2-back||Pass||FB Flare||Schmitt||19|
|Woo! Zone read fake coupled with Schmitt shooting to the backside of the play. White keeps, draws attention, and dumps it to Schmitt, who McGuffies some kid ten yards downfield, rumbling for excellent yardage. Side note: you know what this play reminds me of a lot? Carson Butler shooting backside against Oregon for 50-some yards. (CA, 3)|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Run||Zone read handoff||Slaton||-10(pen)|
|Schmitt now in the slot. Zone read handoff is well-contained; holding called anyway.|
|M42||1||20||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||QB Draw||White||3|
|Trap block blows up an OLB; slanting from the DL gets the playside DE in past his assigned blocker; he delays White long enough for help to converge.|
|I don't catch the call; either a false start or delay.|
|Ton of time for White; he can't find anyone open. Eventually he scrambles out and gets back to the LOS. There's gotta be an outlet or something on second and long and any moderate gain significantly increases your chances of picking up the first, so... (BR, 0, protection 3/3)|
|M41||3||22||Shotgun Empty||Run||QB Draw||White||17|
|A give-up-and-punt; White's dangerously close to making this a first down.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-3, 14 min 4th Q.|
|We're watching some damn horse race instead of the game.|
|Rutgers has this contained until Reynaud makes a jab step upfield and bursts outside; the containing DE took a step in and when he tried to come back out he slipped. Reynaud has the edge and a decent gain.|
|M43||3||1||Shotgun 4-wide||Run||QB Sweep||White||7|
|Schmitt lone setback... not quite a MSQD but close. This is a sweep play with Schmitt lead blocking. He crushes a linebacker, blowing him back on his ass and giving White a lane.|
|50||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Run||Inside Zone||Slaton||0|
|No creases in the front; when Slaton bounces it out he's got an unblocked linebacker to deal with.|
|50||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||Run||Broken play||White||-6|
|Snap is high. White bats it in the air; when he comes down with it it's too late to do anything but get to the ground.|
|M44||3||16||Shotgun 3-wide||Run||QB Draw||White||50|
|Safety blitz comes up late; this is the Wrong Answer. White
reads his blitz and zips past him with the help of a last-ditch push by an OL, and then there's one guy with a shot at him, a DE who's been blocked four yards off the LOS by Schmitt. Can he catch Pat White? No. A cutback turns a first down into a near-touchdown.
|O6||1||G||I-Form Twins||Run||Off tackle||Slaton||6|
|Clearly running over the strongside tackle. After momentarily blocking the DE, the LT passes him off to Schmitt and heads downfield to seal off anyone with an idea of getting to Slaton, eventually cutting the last hope of preventing a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-3, 8 min 4th Q. Up four touchdowns, WVU calls the dogs off. EOC.|
Well, that was... different.
In many ways, yes. The most striking to me is the protection tally, which is 9/12. For a game. Michigan would do that on some drives last year.
Not so different in all ways. The West Virginia run game is not much different than the zone stretch stuff Michigan ran the last two years under Mike Debord. The two major differences:
- The quarterback is in the shotgun, and
- said quarterback can reach a cruising speed of 600 kph.
That latter point is the difference between the West Virginia rushing attack (6.15 YPC) and the Michigan tepid advance (3.97 YPC), as it forces the backside defensive end into a no-win situation more often than not.
I feel conflicted about whether this was a dominant performance or a kinda meh outing rescued by a few huge plays.
You and I both, hypothetical guy who talks in bold. West Virginia got stuck in third and long twice only to be bailed out by 1) a screen that would have every Michigan fan howling until it reached the sticks, then muttering until it passed 30 yards, then grudgingly pleased, and 2) Pat White going "woop" past several blitzers on a broken play and gliding for days. Both plays went for better than 50 yards and turned what otherwise would have been limp, punt-terminated drives into touchdowns. Similarly, WVU's first touchdown was opened up by a colossal Rutgers screwup -- banging into Pat White, who obviously did not have the ball.
Without that, West Virginia's day was kind of a sputtery mess, and it's reasonable to question whether or not the offense relies on opponent screwups to function.
On the other hand, this was a remarkably short game. West Virginia had nine meaningful drives, only one of which started in opponent territory, and scored four touchdowns and a field goal. I should really go back and get a number for Michigan drives per game over the last couple years, but I can tell you nine is probably tied for a record low. More realistic numbers are 13 or 14, which likely would have seen WVU put up 40-some points against an opponent that went 8-5, was 17th in total yards ceded, and allowed opponents only 22 PPG.
Charts. White's passing chart for the game; I've taken the additional step of breaking down his throws into screens (which also include little flares and the like -- anything that doesn't cross the LOS, basically) and downfield attempts.
You can see why White isn't often tasked with going downfield: here his positive results are just three of seven throws. For comparison, Chad Henne's chart for all the games he played more than half of:
The receiver chart is really boring and is omitted. There were no drops, and the only catch rated harder than an easy '3' was a third-down conversion early that was only tough because Darius Reynaud is a smurf.
So... is any of this replicable by Michigan next year?
Not much. The similarities between the two sets of personnel are a good, fast running back, -- we don't know who Michigan's is yet but there are six of them, someone will step up -- a good left tackle, and a bad right tackle. Things WVU has that Michigan does not:
- Pat White
- little slot buggers (maybe)
- Pat White
- a facemask-busting maniac fullback
- Pat White.
Things Michigan has that WVU does not:
- receivers the NFL will not laugh at
- sixty-five tight ends
- hypothetically, a strong-armed quarterback.
Michigan is going to be more balanced by necessity this year, and probably next year.
What was the deal with Greg Schiano's mad blitz-stunt scheme?
I don't want to steal too much of my own thunder here, since one of my articles in the upcoming Hail To The Victors 2008 is all about Schiano's response to the West Virginia zone read, but this is the basic concept:
Shooting the defensive end down the LOS as shown above makes him useful again, and allows the defensive tackle on the playside to have one-gap responsibility. It slowed West Virginia's attack down considerably. Many of their rushing yards came from a variety of White draws, and Slaton was a nonfactor outside of his... uh... 38 yard touchdown run and 50-some yard screen. So it's got a fatal flaw: the cutback. The HTTV article has much more.
Note: in an effort to spread out content, the promised WVU-Rutgers UFR will go up tomorrow.
Success out the ears. It's been a particularly good spring for Michigan sports, and the news of late has been particularly particularly good. To wit:
Men's track and field won the Big Ten championships for the first time in twenty-five years. Of particular note to football fans is redshirt freshman cornerback Troy Woolfolk's performance:
[Junior Dan] Harris began the day by electrifying the crowd with his burst of speed on the home stretch of the 4x100-meter relay. Harris received the final exchange from fifth-year senior Stann Waithe (Towson, Md./Loch Raven HS) and was in the middle of the pack. But Harris blazed past everyone to give Michigan its first 4x100-meter relay title since 1982, posting a regional qualifying time of 40.26. Harris and Waithe were joined with freshman Troy Woolfolk (Sugarland, Texas/Dulles HS) and junior Andre Barnes (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield HS). ...
Harris and Woolfolk also ran in the 100-meter dash, finishing third (10.36) and sixth (10.58), respectively, and accounting for nine points. Woolfolk's time was a new personal record.
Eeee? Maybe? In two weeks, 14 qualifying Wolverines will participate in the NCAA's mideast regional in Fayetteville. Youtube has the winning relay up; Harris is the guy with the jet engine:
Update: A correction: that's actually last year's 4x100, not this year's. Sorry.
The women's team finished second at their conference meet.
Men's tennis made the NCAA Sweet 16 before getting knocked out by #1 Virginia.
Softball, meanwhile, beat the everliving brains out of its regional opponents on the weekend, beating Wright State 13-5, Notre Dame 8-0, and Kent State 5-0 in the regional finale. Michigan hosts Virginia Tech in a best of three super regional this weekend for the right to go to softball's College World Series. ESPN has a long piece up on Samatha Findlay and the UCLA player she homered off of to win Michigan's first national title in the sport.
Baseball went 2-1 against Northwestern, setting a new record for most conference wins for a Big Ten club. The conference tourney is this weekend at the Fish; details can be had at Maize 'n' Brew. Also, Baseball America interviewed Nate Recknagle, the new single-season home run record holder.
The Daily lays out the case for a home regional:
Michigan (26-5 Big Ten, 42-12 overall) has one of the best records in the country, blowing out the rest of the Big Ten to set the record for most conference wins in a season.
Although impressive, the Wolverines' record alone may not be enough to merit hosting duties. But for once, they actually benefit from being a Northern team. The NCAA wants to geographically spread out the regionals. Michigan and St. John's are the only ranked teams above the Mason-Dixon line.
Minnesota coach John Anderson and Central Michigan Athletic Director Dave Heeke are two key members on the 10-member NCAA Baseball Regional Committee who will lobby for Michigan. Anderson is a friend of Michigan coach Rich Maloney and more importantly a fellow Big Ten coach who knows what's good for one Big Ten team is good for the whole conference. As a nearby athletic director, Heeke will certainly feel pressure to support a local team.
On top of everything, there's a chance the Wolverines could host without being named one of the top-16 seeds. No. 11 San Diego, No. 13 California and No. 23 Coastal Carolina don't have the proper facilities to host a postseason tournament. Don't be surprised if one of these teams is sent to Ann Arbor, even if it's a higher seed than Michigan.
Add all these elements together, and the odds are the Wolverines will host a regional for the first time since 1986.
Most projections do have Michigan hosting, usually against San Diego.
Inadvertent news? I don't know if this is news or not since it's buried deep within an article leading with Weis' "to hell with Michigan" remark -- why the media continues to focus on that bit instead of the hilarious mumbling about excuses that immediately precedes the "hell" remark I don't know -- but it looks like there will be no academic casualties in Michigan's most recent recruiting class:
Rodriguez also said he expects all the recruits signed in February will qualify academically and most will arrive in June for summer term.
It would have been helpful to have the exact quote; that could either be "I think" or "I know". If it's the latter, that's a small relief. Pint-sized cornerback Boubacar Cissoko is highly rated and needed to do some work to get in.
Teapot tempest tamped. Braylon Edwards and Rodriguez mud-wrestled for the right to allocate the #1 jersey as the winner see fit, and Braylon won:
"Everything has been taken care of," Edwards said of the tradition of a wide receiver wearing the No. 1 jersey at Michigan since 1979.
So much for WVU newspaper columnists' dreams of armed alumni insurrection.
Etc.: Carr quizzed about Weis' "hell" remark; Brian Ellerbe located; we are pursuing this German kid for the basketball team (they don't get any TV from the States until 15 years later: advantage us).