Mike Lantry, 1972
I am out for the Thanksgiving weekend. Stirring victories in the Showcase may rouse me from my hibernation on Sunday, but expect the next post around these parts to be on Monday. Don't tell the Viagra spammers, okay?
A dollar to anyone who gets the title reference, BTW.
Needs: Michigan picked up four top-100 defensive linemen last year but one, Marques Slocum, did not qualify and will enter this year after going to prep school and another, Eugene Germany, was just tackled from behind by cops--that bodes unwell for his future playing time in more than one way. Still, with four defensive linemen going into their second year of eligibility and another two or three redshirted freshmen (depending on Germany's status and exactly where edge-rusher/OLB Chris McLaurin ends up), Michigan can afford to go light here this year.
Commitments: NY DE John Ferrara and PA DT Marques Slocum. Slocum has not wavered on his Michigan commitment despite being released from his LOI after failing to qualify. He was a near five-star a year ago who dominated the Army All-American game. He's reminiscent of Alan Branch, a huge dude with impressive athleticism for his size who could play DE if the situation called for it. He's probably destined to be a penetrating DT.
Ferrara is a three-star on the upswing. He was trying to keep his grades up this fall... so he could get into Stanford. Smart is good and he had offers from Penn State and Michigan State, but he's probably closer to Rondell Biggs than Lamarr Woodley. No offense intended to anyone.
Prospects: Michigan and Ohio State are battling for Indiana DT Dexter Larimore, who also happens to be the nation's #1 rated heavyweight wrestler--shades of current freshman Terrance Taylor's dual exploits in high school--and previously considered accepting a wrestling scholarship. Indiana is nominally the third finalist, but the next football player to pick Indiana over Michigan and Ohio State will be the first. Michigan is also in on Micah Johnson, though he seems like a solid bet to stay in the south at this point.
Completely Useless Opinion: This isn't the OMG TOP 100(!) defensive line class that 2004's was but it seems on track to be a good compliment to it, depending on which class, exactly, you count Slocum in. Michigan is in a position where they can take a player they like without worrying too much about future holes if he doesn't pan out.
Needs: Significant. Michigan brought in only one last year and this would have been the year that it lost its entire set of starters had fate and crappy play not intervened. As it is, Lawrence Reid was forced into retirement, Pierre Woods moved to defensive end, and Scott McClintock was exiled to the bench. Even though Michigan returns all three starters for '06, they have almost no depth past them. Redshirt freshman John Thompson backs up Harris and true freshman Brandon Logan backs up Brandon Graham. After that there are no scholarship players. Michigan's looking for three or even four players.
Commitments: Detroit Crocket MLB Brandon Graham, Colerain OH MLB Cobrani Mixon, and Flint Carman-Ainsworth OLB Quintin Patilla. Graham is the number one prospect in Michigan, a five star by both services, and one of the top three linebackers in the country according to everyone. Mixon is a thumper in the middle from the high powered Cincinatti Colerain program Mister Simpson and BJ Askew came from, a prototypical mike linebacker. Think Sam Sword. Patilla was initially thought to be a wide receiver recruit but Michigan offered him as an outside linebacker. He needs to add bulk to play in the Big Ten. If he can do that he should be a contributor--camp offers seem to work out well.
The possibility of batting Graham to defensive end is out there--he is already 250 pounds--which may explain Michigan's continued pursuit of linebackers even with three already in the fold. Mixon and Patilla aren't moving anywhere.
Prospects: Instate sleeper Obi Ezeh has received an offer and seems to be on the verge of committing. He should do so sooner or later, as his only other options are MAC schools and Indiana. Michigan is also pursuing Ohio's Thaddeus Gibson--always good to have a guy who knows his way around a cotton gin--and Michael Morgan of Texas, both four stars. Gibson is reputed to have grade issues but does hold an offer. Michigan may take him knowing he may not qualify since they have some flexibility with the three commits--losing him wouldn't create a major hole. Gibson also appears suited for strongside linebacker unlike any of Michigan's commitments to date.
Completely Useless Opinion: A strike and a necessary one. Graham is one of the nation's top recruits. Mixon was pursued by LSU, Michigan, and Ohio State early despite limping through a large portion of his senior year on a partially torn ACL. Patilla is less heralded but Michigan liked him enough to offer him at camp when they were still in the running for a number of higher profile recruits.
Needs: Morgan Trent's emergence as a steady nickel corner and prospective starter in '06 plus the unexpectedly strong play of all four safeties, including true freshman Brandon Harrison, has reduced the panic level significantly. Michigan is still on the lookout for a player or three. It seems doubtful that sophomore-to-be Charles Stewart is going to see the field in a meaningful fashion, as Michigan avoided using him at all costs this year. That leaves redshirt freshmen Chris Richards and Johnny Sears as the only backups to presumptive starters Leon Hall and Morgan Trent. A lot is riding on the two California sleepers unless Michigan backs them up with someone this year or, failing that, '07.
Commitments: Indiana safety Steve Brown, who was busy doing everything for his Columbus (Indiana) high school team before he broke his ankle. Brown's projected to play free safety but is a possibility at corner.
Prospects: Bleah. Michigan has no serious cornerback targets at the moment other than Louisiana's Jai Eugene, who is unlikely to stray far from home. Michigan may pick up a sleeper late, but after last year's wing-and-prayer job there's reason for concern. Michigan does have a good shot at California safety Jonas Mouton, a top-100 guy to both services. Mouton is down to USC, LSU, Michigan, and Nebraska, but USC already has a couple of high profile safties.
Completely Useless Opinion: Michigan's post-Marlin Jackson big time corner drought is going to continue. There are three high-profile defensive backs that Michigan is thought to have an edge with in the '07 class. Instead of taking a marginal prospect who probably won't see the field Michigan will probably use the opportunity to pitch an appealing depth chart to Muskegon's Ronald Johnson and OLSM's Dionte Allen. Brown is an excellent pick up, but one defensive back in the class is not enough.
Again, average given Michigan's needs. They'll go into '07 really needing to lock down at least two top corners, but the linebackers look very good and given the defensive line situation Michigan isn't really pressing. C so far.
Yeah, Michigan got off the BU schneid yesterday, but good god, man:
TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS
## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
25 Brown, Graham....... f 1-3 0-0 3-4 1 2 3 4 5 0 4 0 1 17
32 Abram, Lester....... f 4-7 1-3 1-2 0 4 4 3 10 0 2 0 0 32
44 Sims, Courtney...... c 1-2 0-0 3-6 2 6 8 2 5 1 2 1 1 26
04 Horton, Daniel...... g 6-10 2-3 7-8 0 1 1 1 21 1 2 0 4 38
05 Harris, Dion........ g 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 7
01 Smith, Jerret....... 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 3 2 0 0 21
15 Shepherd, Jevohn.... 2-7 0-0 1-1 3 2 5 1 5 1 0 1 1 20
24 Coleman, Ron........ 1-3 0-1 0-0 1 1 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 14
31 Hunter, Chris....... 1-5 1-2 0-4 1 3 4 3 3 1 3 1 3 18
50 Ba, Amadou.......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7
TEAM................ 1 3 4 1
Totals.............. 16-39 4-10 15-25 9 24 33 16 51 7 19 3 12 200
Mmm, that's an ugly meatball. Note the further appearance of the Incredible Disappearing Courtney Sims, who launched all of five shots against an America East team featuring no one taller than 6'8". Ryan didn't buy my theory that Sims got sent to the bench for being useless against decent defenders, but this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. Michigan's defensive rebounding also dipped ominously to 66%. Michigan escaped with a win only because the Terriers couldn't throw a Jew into all the money they stole from Michael Jackson (OMG j/k!) as BU went 18 for 52.
Another grim note: Harris' extended absence was due to a foot injury that sounds ready to linger painfully all season:
The right foot injury that has bothered Dion Harris since the summer flared up in practice this week and forced the University of Michigan junior to miss most of Tuesday night's game.
That sounds like it could be something like plantar fasciitis, which would likely ruin his entire season.
The good news? Michigan did force 18 turnovers of their own with what sounded like hounding defense and Daniel Horton saved Michigan's bacon with efficient scoring. Ironically, Michigan probably would have been better off had he jacked up a three every time down the court instead of attempting to get his frontcourt involved in the game.
I couldn't watch the game, being DirectTV-free, but "Cheapo" on the Wolverine did. I highlight some concerning statements:
...I believe that TA was frustrated with the some of the players' lack of energy and focus. There were a few minutes in each half where the UM starters (Abram aside) seemed to go listlessly through the motions. By the way, in the second half there were a couple of doozy UM defensive breakdowns--e.g., one half-court layup with ABSOLUTELY NO ONE stopping the guard.
Fourth, I agree with the poster who said that Ba was inserted partly as a lesson that those with hustle and effort play. FWIW, Ba looked a lot better than I expected. He's all thumbs when he receives a pass (his confusion/fall after receiving a pass near the court's out-of-bounds line looked pretty funny). But then, most of the UM bigs were bobbling passes under the bucket. More importantly, Ba tried to box out, whereas our other bigs seemed to not want to focus on that aspect of the game (I can't believe the number of offense rebounds BU snagged!).
Urgh. That's the kind of stuff that bothers me about Amaker. Two seniors and a junior in the starting lineup and the scrubbiest scholarship player on the roster gets to play because he understands the idea of standing between his man and the rebound.
I mean, if Tom Izzo was a cartoon, this is probably what he'd look like:
AAAAAH! REFEREE I WILL EAT YOUR SOUL!
This is how I envision Amaker:
"Fundamentals make my tummy ouch."
Let me quote myself:
What is Amaker doing during practice? I hope it's more than "let's play really good this weekend, guys!" followed by Abram raising his hand and saying "let's play well, Coach," followed by Amaker saying "Yeah! That's the ticket!"
I dunno, I like my student-athletes to be scared #$%*less by their coach. I mean, not Bobby Knight scared, but Red Berenson scared. I could see Amaker in a Care Bears episode as Friendly Mr. Coachy.
Ohio kicker Bryan Wright has committed to Michigan. Wright would probably redshirt next year and then step into Garrett Rivas' shoes in 2006, except with more oomph: Wright broke his school's all-time field goal length three times last year, topping out at 57 yards.
BuckeyePlanet is always useful for Ohio prospects and their thread on Wright does not disappoint:
This kid is the real deal. I saw him in the game this year against Niles. Salem lined him up for a 57 yarder, and I couldn't believe they were doing it. The kick was dead center of the uprights, but was just (and I mean just) short. It would've definitely been good from 52 or 53, and probably from 55. And he was absolutely crushing the ball on kickoffs. It's rare to see a high school kid kick it anywhere near the end zone, and he was consistently kicking it through the end zone. I know it might be hard to believe if you haven't seen him play, but he is definitely worth a scholarship--it would be ridiculous if we didn't offer him one. No doubt in my mind. This kid would be starting here next fall, no doubt. Just imagine how good he'd be if he's already kicking 50+ field goals and touchbacks.
So yay and stuff: replacing Rivas is important and it sounds like we have someone capable in the bag; we even have the luxury of redshirting him and finding out if he's a capable collegiate kicker. Given that the big-time prospects are thin on the ground this year and we don't have a pressing need at many positions, this was a good year to take a kicker. Thumbs up.
Defensive recruiting summary coming later today.
(note: due to a consistent morning time drain on Wednesday, you can expect the poll at about noon going forward.)
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Risers: Georgia Tech's schizophrenic year continues with a win over then #3 Miami and boosts them from out of the poll up to #19. Also of note is Ohio State (finally) hurdling Notre Dame after a fairly throttling victory over Michigan--yes, despite the whole come from behind thing. Fresno State going toe-to-toe with USC probably hurt Notre Dame more than Ohio State's win, though. Speaking of Fresno, they didn't rise after that narrow loss but nor did they drop, remaining static at #15.
Outrage!!! I still think the mid-majors get too much credit for not losing to meh teams.
Wack Ballot Watchdog: As discussed below, Kyle King freakin' hates UCLA. Sporting Fools, who I hasten to point out is not a Michigan fan, 50YL, has Ohio State #5 and Penn State #6 despite the head to head and the fewer losses, etc. Boi From Troy is still voting for Cal and is singlehandedly fighting a private war against East Coast Bias(!).
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
No, we still don't know what to do with Texas Tech. Voters have the Red Raiders anywhere from #15 to #25 and no particularl slot got more than six votes. This would all be very clear if they had played, say, Wisconsin and Virginia OOC.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is Kyle King, AKA The Mayor (of the non-city of Georgia). This appears to be one of those weeks where the winner of this category has a lot of slightly strange things in the ballot but few large differences--his #3 is VT, Auburn is #6, Ga Tech is a little high at #14, etc. Two things do leap out: Fresno State at #10, up six from last week, nestled snugly in front of #11 Notre Dame, and UCLA way, way down the ballot at #21. I guess I can see UCLA's awful run defense, series of close calls against bad teams, and absolute demolition at the hands of Arizona causing you to knock a one-loss team down a ways, but that's a ginormous outlier: no one else has the Bruins worse than #16. Bad mayor!
Mr. Numb Existence ParadigmBlog, and yes, I do find it amusing that the top two blogs in this category are both Michigan fans.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award goes to the WV Law Dog for the second consecutive week, this time for having WVU #7. Interestingly, Kyle King is now showing up on this half of the bias list after spending quite a bit of time early in the year on the Straight Bangin' list.
The Straight Bangin' Award is now the property of Bruce Ciskie, who I believe is a repeat winner. Bruce totally omits Wisconsin from his ballot. He's been steadfast all year in his belief that the Badgers are overrated and his ballots reflects that.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive is actionBERG, who radically revamped his ballot after getting some heat for it in this space. The Texas teams take steps back to more reasonable slots in the poll (TCU down six to #16, UTEP down to #25), a lot of teams that were seemingly way underranked made major steps forward (Ohio State up 5, ND up 4, etc. He's probably the only voter to seriously punish Fresno, though, dropping them from #11 to #20. It's not a Numb Existence ballot, but it's not an auto-Bold one any longer, a nice middle ground.
Mr. Stubborn is Rob in Madtown, who hardly moved anyone at all: Miami dropped four, Michigan dropped a few, a few teams went out. 'Bama dropped one spot.
|1||Texas||Certainly has a better D than USC...|
|2||Southern Cal||... but yeah, that Bush guy is alllllright.|
|3||Penn State||Don't get used to it: everyone on both lines is gone; entire secondary gone; Robinson gone.|
|4||Ohio State||Goddammit. Final score doesn't really capture how thoroughly Michigan got waxed. Losses to #1 and #3.|
|5||LSU||Clear SEC frontrunner.|
|7||Notre Dame||No, I'm not leaping FSU past them.|
|8||Auburn||Okay, okay, I believe.|
|9||Miami||That's a buzzkill, isn't it?|
|10||Oregon||Commenters were near unanimous about this.|
|11||Georgia||Functional DNP vs. UK.|
|12||Alabama||Oof. Sorry, Warren.|
|14||Fresno State||No, I shant punish for that loss, but FSU still hasn't beaten anyone outside Boise.|
|17||Georgia Tech||Total omission from first draft.|
|21||Texas Tech||Okay, okay.|
|22||Michigan||Well, who else?|
|24||Iowa||Tate is still a very good quarterback. Bit of an up and down year, but a quality team.|
|25||Boston College||A quarterback short of an intimidating team.|
Games I Saw: Michigan-OSU, USC-Fresno.
Help requested: What should I do with Oregon? Better suggestions towards the bottom are appreciated.
Update: Bumped Oregon two spots as commenters were nigh unanimous in their corrections; also moved Georgia Tech in at #17 after forgetting about them in the first draft.