you can't have one without the other without this one
"We're going to go out here (to practice) in a couple of hours," Carr said on the Big Ten's conference call today. "I wouldn't be surprised if (Henne) took some snaps. We'll have to see what goes on beyond that."
Uh... gamesmanship maybe. Personally I doubt he plays. FWIW
@ Burnt Orange Nation. Feel free to proffer your own responses in the comments.
1. Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?
Well... it's not the favorite anymore, that's for damn sure. With Michigan's collapse there appears to be no true front-runner in the Big Ten. Penn State has looked good against Buffalo, FIU, and Notre Dame; Wisconsin looked good against Washington State, bad against UNLV, and then nearly got Michiganed versus the Citadel. Michigan did get Michiganed. Purdue's played no one, and Ohio State was up 3-2 at halftime versus Akron. Iowa lost to Iowa State but misses Michigan and OSU. So... yeah. Any of those six teams looks like a realistic bet but until the games actually get underway you may as well throw all these crappy cats in a bag and pick one at random. Hell, Illinois could make a run. I don't have any idea how the conference race will shake out... this looks like a three-way 6-2 co-champs year.
2. Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.
Best case: No one on the schedule except Illinois has the sort of spread option run attack that killed Michigan in the first two games and it turns out that's just some sort of weird achilles heel. Zook blows the Illinois game somehow; Michigan turns into a rushing juggernaut that runs over the Big Ten. The defense still blows a game; 9-3 and a BCS berth against a team that will kill us.
Worst case: Well, they aren't losing to Eastern or Minnesota. Probably. You really want me to give a worst case scenario for a team that lost to a I-AA team and then could have given up 80 to Oregon? Uh... in the worst case they're still 38 points better than Notre Dame.
3. We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.
Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall.
4. Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.
- Wake up and smell the Romer. No more punts from inside the opponent's 40. Ever. Unless it's like 15 yards to go.
- Stop doing the stupid things that are stupid. A fullback shuffle has been a guaranteed zone run to the direction of the shuffle all year. Any freshman wide receiver in the game == auto-run. Play action has been virtually nonexistent even though we run constantly. Many of Michigan's playcalls are predictable based on presnap motion.
- Let Zoltan play cornerback.
5. USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?
With the Big Ten all set to serve up a heaping helping of crap this year, this is an opportunity for the Pac-10 to get two teams in. The winner of Oregon-Cal will probably play in a BCS game. Likewise, Texas, even though it's looked crappy, will probably face little competition outside of Oklahoma and finish 10-2. This will be good enough. And Hawaii will make it in for no reason whatsoever.
RIP, Shakey Jake. First Faz, now Shakey Jake... legendary Ann Arbor figures are dropping like flies. We need some new ones. I command someone to drop out of school, and live on the street playing a guitar that barely exists.
Via Dangerous Logic.
Henne status. He wasn't on the two-deep yesterday, but Carr on Henne during his presser:
Is Chad able to practice and can he be considered a possibility? ... "Chad Henne has got enough experience that he could play without practice. But you know, those are all decisions that we make as we go forward."
So... not practicing but maybe? MSC got a screencap of his brace:
Survey says... I dunno. Probably not if he's not even healthy enough to practice.
Only other bit of hard news from the PC: Hemingway was held out because of a minor injury and will practice this week.
The Five Year Myth. Notre Dame fans are beginning to turn on Charlie Weis:
It is a myth that every coach at Notre Dame has an inalienable right to five years to prove himself. That has never been policy. Fifteen coaches in Notre Dame's storied history have, for various reasons, had tenures of less than five years. That list includes Kuharich, Devore, McKeever and Anderson since Rockne. More recently coaches Davie and Faust were given five years, and those decisions proved to be miserable failures. There was some justification to warrant Faust's extra time given his high school background and Father Ted's personal commitment to him, but giving Davie five years was gross negligence. The five-year plan is not policy and even if it were time has proven it to be a colossal failure that should be learned from and not repeated. Ara himself set the standard by boldly stating upon his arrival that if you can't do it in three years, you can't do it. And without exception this has proven to be true. In the entire history of Notre Dame, no coach who failed at the three year mark, succeeded in five years. There are some who claim that because of parity, restrictions and other issues, that Notre Dame can't win anymore, but they said the exact same things before both Ara and Lou arrived in South Bend and were proved wrong. Tedford, Meyer, Carroll, Stoops, Tressel, Amato, Friedgen, Holtz and others have made immediate impacts on their schools, most with far, far less talent than Notre Dame. When the five-year myth is promulgated by media talking heads and writers, it's important to note that most of those talking heads and scribes are not fans of Notre Dame or speaking in Our Lady's best interest.
Wait... what? That was written about Ty Willingham as part of NDNation's crazy-ass push to get him fired? Well, I never.
By the way: Notre Dame has lost six games by 20+ points since they hired Charlie Weis in 2005. Michigan has lost seven games by 20+ points since they hired Bo Schembechler in 1969.
This might be a little mean. But it's not that mean. I mean, not compared to the pain Johnny Sears inflicted on Michigan fans:
Both dubiously-rated corners Ron English plucked from California in 2004 are now gone, Richards -- his godson -- for the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre and Sears for failing a drug test. If we're going to recruit crappy players can they at least be nice?
(Via Varsity Blue)
More press conference stuff.
The record on Jones. Demetrius Jones is taking issue with Charlie Weis' assertion that Jones did not tell anyone he was not making the Michigan trip:
"When I heard Jimmy was No. 1 all the way through spring and that the only thing keeping him out of the lineup was his surgery, well, that's not what I was led to believe going into the summer," Jones said in a South Bend Tribune story published Monday. "I thought I was getting a chance because coach Weis believed in me. Then I didn't know what to believe anymore."
Now he is upset about the way he is being characterized, along with the events that prompted his departure from South Bend.
"The facts that are out there now are just not true," Jones told the Tribune on Monday, declining to say how or whether he had notified Notre Dame of his decision to leave last week.
"Because people are trying to [assassinate] my character and don't really know what's going on, I think it's best for me not to say anything.
"People don't know the facts. The [Notre Dame] team did know I wasn't coming prior to that bus taking off. They found out before the bus was scheduled to depart, and it wasn't something like, 'Where's Demetrius? Where's Demetrius?' They were notified."
Since a portion of yesterday's "Super Genius" post was based on the way Jones left ND, it's worth mentioning. Someone is lying here. If it's Jones, the post stands as is. If it's Weis, then it's not the Jones transfer but Weis' attempt at character assassination that marks him as an ass. Either way it's the same result.
Illinois' Rivals site thinks this will be helpful($) with their Chicago-area recruiting:
If you are a city kid in Chicago, how can you believe anything the Fighting Irish coaches tell you? Recruiting is all about trust and will a Chicago kid listen to anything Weis, Ianello or defensive coordinator Corwin Brown tells them after what happened to Demetrius Jones? The redshirt freshman from Morgan Park wasn't given much of a chance, saw the writing on the wall and hit the road. ND promised he
wouldn't play receiver, 'is a QB' but when the time came to follow through, all those things rang hollow.
Jones was the 'go to guy'/player host for top prospects like Martez Wilson, Rejus Benn, Robert Hughes and other 'city kids' that the staff wanted to sell on the virtues on ND football, South Bend, Indiana.
The transfer is great news for the Illini because now they will likely have one less 'big school' to compete with for Chicago Public League players. Notre Dame doesn't need the Public League players to win but they didn't handle this situation well at all.
If Michigan scrapes by PSU and starts putting together an actual season while ND circles the drain, it's time to put in some calls to Steven Filer, et al.
Renovate! The House Rock Built's game report is sad because he's a nice guy who couldn't even get a damn slice of pizza in Michigan Stadium; it is also a powerful argument for the upcoming renovations (er... "repairs"):
As I reached the concourse, I was stunned whan I saw the restroom. There wasn't a line for the men's room, per se, but an amorphous blob of antsy dudes tap-dancing with bladder fatigue about 25 deep and 10 broad. I walked to the other end of the stadium and saw an even larger line at the other restroom, so I dubiously returned to the line of something like 250 people and waited patiently to do my duty. I somehow survived the ordeal without making a mess of myself and strolled out of the men's room about 20 minutes after I had left my seat. No worries, since I hadn't missed anything eventful on the field, but still an aggravating hassle. Nevertheless, my spirits were still high and I was resolved to make it to the end without losing my cool. I went back to my section and saw a line of about 20 people waiting to get into the aisle to work their way toward the seats.
A lot of opposing fans level accusations at Michigan Stadium's sucky amenities. They are right; this should change as soon as possible.
Side note: this passage?
My biggest cheer came late in the second quarter, where a somewhat promising drive had the Irish's total yardage rapicly closing in on 0. When our yardage hit negative-9 yards, I stood up and cheered wildly, shouting "Single digit negative, baby! Oh, yeah!" The fans around me laughed along and gave me high-fives.
Remember our stirring goal-line stand down 39-7? It was at this moment I high-fived my cousin, turned the Oregon fans behind us and said "OH YEAH! SUCK IT!" to a similar reaction. Oh, how I wish I could not relate to that.)
Etc.: I feel for the guys at Randomly Located Iowa Sports Blog (aka Black Heart Gold Pants); they have taken to posting Morrissey lyrics in the wake of losing to Iowa State. I also wish I could not relate to that bit.
I'm pretty comfortable with the top six. Past that, though... yeesh. I'll just ask questions this week.
Am I flipping out too hard about Oregon and BC? Really the problem here is that there appears to be an absolute dearth of top-ten teams at the moment. If Dennis Dixon can consistently play like he did against Michigan, Oregon's lack of run defense won't matter that much. Also Matt Ryan versus GT and Tenuta == impressive. I don't like sliding OSU up that much after Boeckman had a rough outing, but it's still a road win against what appears to be a fringe-ish top 25 team. Eh.
Uh... WTF about the rest of it? It looks insane but rearranging it just looks equally insane. Is Kentucky really in my top 25? Cincinnati? What teams with crappy losses should I boost up?
Urf. Henne is not on the "two-deep depth chart" for PSU according to Jim Carty. Nor is Johnny Sears, but that was not in real question.
I'ma lay down and bend over... Mr. Casanova has some harsh words for the Irish (NSFW):
Word. Especially about that reality TV show this offseason. Gold, Mr. Casanova. Gold.
It's a workout.
Uh... Ferentz... uh. No. We are still operating under the assumption that Michigan will be looking for a new coach this offseason, so it's worth noting that Kirk Ferentz no longer seems like a thrilling option:
...the Cyclones (1-2) did what they seem to do annually against the Hawkeyes (2-1). Iowa State's seventh win in 10 years over Iowa -- and the first victory for new head coach Gene Chizik -- came after the Cyclones had been handled at home by Kent State and clobbered by Northern Iowa.
Ferentz isn't responsible for one of those losses, but in his nine years with the Hawkeyes he's but 3-6 against Iowa State. I wasn't enthused with the prospect of Ferentz anyway -- I've seen too many Lloyd Carr-like bungled finishes to games -- now he should be out of the conversation totally. As of November he was the second-highest paid coach in the country (I believe Urban Meyer has passed him since); this is no longer commensurate with his results. Also, another kid is going to play under him at Iowa starting next season. Even the Mary Sue Coleman connection shouldn't be enough to make him a serious candidate.
They lie to distract our interest! A couple Cal blogs are discontent with the Bears' recent victory over Louisiana Tech. The Band Is Out On The Field titles his post "The Best Team That Could Be Awful", knocks Tedford's playcalling...
Coach Tedford Could the play-calling get any less inspired. Jahvid Best is in the game - we are running a fake pitch to him and handing off to Will Ta'ufo'ou up the middle (a play Barry eloquently labeled "Give it to fatty.") As far as I recall, we have yet to hit a receiver in stride this season. Apparently, the quick slant was part of Mike Dunbar's playbook.
...and is generally pessimistic about the Bears' chances this season:
The Bears are ranked No. 6. In my opinion, this means they are considered to be the best of the team in the country that might still turn out to be god awful (see Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Oregon, etc.) Right now, I feel like there is a pretty huge drop-off from the top five of USC, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida, and West Virginia and the next teams on that list, who, generally have been unimpressive. The Bears are getting a deserved benefit of the doubt for having dropped Tennessee. But it appears Tennessee is god awful themselves. Basically...The No. 6 ranking means nothing. No one should be worried about getting a BCS bid (or being jobbed out of one...again). There is no reason to worry about respect, or lack thereof. Right now, the Bears need to worry about survival in what is going to be a brutally tough Pac-10. A month from now, they easily could be unranked.
Cal beat LTU 42-12 and outgained them 447 to 273... I call smokescreen. We still covet precious Tedford. In two weeks the Bears face off against Oregon; if Cal wins the drumbeat will intensify. Ted-ford. Ted-ford.
Stop with the seconds. Run Up The Score appears to be one of the most reasonable Penn State fans on the internet (see also: best Notre Dame blocking, circa 2007) but even he falls prey to one particular bugaboo that bugs:
Then, everything simply unraveled. We don't need to rehash all the gory details. Suffice it to say â€” kickoff return, prevent defense, two seconds added to the clock, and the final dagger on the final play of the game â€” the picture you see in today's masthead picture. Don't worry, guys, it'll be gone by tonight or tomorrow morning.
I know I've addressed this before, but here goes again: Penn State fans are not allowed to ever complain about this again. At one point in Penn State's go-ahead drive, they called timeout. During the commercial break, Joe Paterno did his crazy-old-man Joe Paterno thing at a linesman for approximately 45 seconds of spittle about how Joe hadn't seen a travesty like this since the Hottentots invaded in nineteen-dickety-two. At the conclusion of the rant, the referees placed two seconds back on the clock. Shut up, shut up, shut up about Lloyd Carr getting the exact same call minutes later. Zip it. No. Zip it. Zip. It. Zipit.
UNVEIL THE TIME PORTAL.
Uh... anyway, RUTS is way more reasonable about this than every other Penn State fan ever so don't want to heap scorn upon him too much, but that one really gets my goat. The other things mentioned were the Bryant Johnson catch in the OT game, which was an obviously awful call but came right after Penn State was given a controversial third down conversion on a highly questionable completion, and the spots in the 2005 and 2006 game... the latter of which veers dangerously close to tinfoil hat territory.
Foightin' round the world. This Russel Crowe thing?
Michigan might want Crowe to stick around for good luck, but the actor didn't know how long he would stay in Ann Arbor.
"Well, I want to have a couple of beers with Lloyd - however long that takes," he said.
Too strange for words. Also there is this description of Jake Long:
Crowe then took over, comparing rugby to American football, talking about Carr's visit to Australia and joking about the Wolverine he would like on his team, such as Jake Long, a 2.01-metre, 143 kilogram offensive tackle.
"I want Jake!" Crowe said.
That's a lot of kilograms.
Etc.: Mike Hart as avenging angel.
9/17/2007 - Michigan 38-0 Notre Dame - 1-2
"They're going to have to learn about us, OK? Let them try to stop a pro-style offense, which has multiple personnel groups and multiple formations. Let's see how they are going to do. They've had their advantage because I've come into recruiting late. Well, now it's Xs and Os time. Let's see who has the advantage now."
This post isn't really about Michigan, because that game provided no more information about Michigan than the upcoming Eastern Michigan game will. When not blocked, they can sack; when not shed, they can run.
And thus the House of Weis comes crashing down. Notre Dame, in year three of the Weis regime, is 119th -- last -- in rushing, total offense, and scoring offense. The pass offense, Notre Dame's bright spot, is 115th. Notre Dame has been blown out by more than twenty points for the past five games. NDNation begins to turn in on itself, and even Stewart Mandel -- generally the last person to realize anything -- has caught on to the sleight of hand Weis parlayed into a ten year, 40 million dollar contract. Losing to Appalachian State seems like small potatoes in comparison.
Notre Dame partisans will tell you all about this year's senior class, they of the four contributors who are all marginal players at best, and point a finger at Ty Willingham's recruiting. They are not without reason here. Willingham's 2004 class was a dire melange of two-stars and guys overrated late because they decided to go to Notre Dame. It is dragging the program down. But this far? Notre Dame has a number of contributors left over from the 2003 class: four-year starting center John Sullivan, three-year starter Trevor Laws, probable NFL first-rounder John Carlson. All told there are fifteen seniors on the Notre Dame two-deep and all of them will be departing after this year. (I think a couple may be walkons, but there are at least 12 on scholarship.)
Dire numbers, these... or not. Michigan has nine scholarship seniors. Ohio State, terrifyingly, lists all of five seniors on their entire two-deep and will graduate three starters after this year. Three of the five seniors are fullbacks. Clearly, both of these teams are much better than Notre Dame -- as are your local Pop Warner runners-up -- despite not having a massive edge in experience. Youth cannot explain away Notre Dame's start.
What can? There is a compelling case to be made that Charlie Weis sucks at life and, by extension, football. This is the Notre Dame offensive line that has given up 23 sacks:
- C John Sullivan. Redshirt senior. A four-year starter; given four stars and ranked the #3 center in 2003.
- LT Paul Duncan. True junior. Three-star, #26 OT of 2005. Other finalists: UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU.
- LG Mike Turkovich. True junior. Three-star, #30 OT of 2005. Other finalists: Wisconsin, BC, LSU.
- RT Sam Young. True sophomore. Five-star all-everything recruit; returning starter.
- RG Dan Wenger. Redshirt freshman. Four-star Rivals 250 member; #3 center of 2006.
Syracuse is second-to-last with 18 sacks allowed; no one else in the country has allowed more than 13. Not even Temple. Is this the picture of a line pretty obviously the worst in the country? Consider that Michigan is currently rocking a true sophomore and a redshirt freshman itself. Sam Young has the recruiting rankings than Schilling does and a year of starting experience; last year Schilling sat on the sidelines with mono, then injured his shoulder in the spring. Dan Wenger was rated slightly lower than Justin Boren and redshirted himself. Taken together these guys are a wash. John Sullivan is a four-year starter and redshirt senior who was a four-star his recruiting year: this is equivalent to Jake Long in terms of rating and experience. (Perhaps this is not quite fair, but we did give a wash to the kids on the line when Young has started for a season and neither Michigan player has.) Where Michigan has an advantage is in junior Alex Mitchell and senior Adam Kraus, who have one and two years experience on true juniors Paul Duncan and Mike Turkovich, respectively, plus a star edge in recruiting rankings. This is not an enormous gap. Michigan's line should be better than Notre Dame's, but not 295 rushing yards better.
Meanwhile, erstwhile starting quarterback Demetrius Jones -- lauded as a great guy and one of the keys to Notre Dame's impressive 2008 recruiting class -- got benched and immediately bolted for Northern Illinois... or didn't, instead enrolling at NIU on September 4th but continuing to practice with the Irish until it was time to board the bus for Ann Arbor, at which point he moved out of the dorm without telling anyone. It's hard to think of a more vindictive way to leave a football team that doesn't involve kneecapping the starting quarterback on the way out.
In a vacuum, this could be considered the petulant act of a 19-year-old kid angry at losing his spot. But last year starting defensive end Ronald Talley left Notre Dame for I-AA Delaware for no apparent reason. And running back Darius Walker bolted for the NFL draft... at least in theory. He was passed over and everyone got in their mocking, but he looks like a genius now. This was a non-screwup of a kid leaving early for NFL prospects everyone knew were dim. (Zach Frazer's transfer was a clear "you're never playing here, kid" sort of thing that happens to most programs, but it's also faulty roster management that leaves ND with two scholarship quarterbacks.)
Anyone who's read this blog for more than a nanosecond knows what the upcoming explanation is going to be: Weis is a colossal asshole. Heck, anyone who's read one of his many ridiculously arrogant press conference quotes (the grand mother of them begins this post) or saw the embarassing 60 Minutes puff piece -- wherein Weis came off as a bully and a jackass -- when Notre Dame was returning to glory for the umpteenth time knows this. The only wonder is that the media spent the better part of 2.5 years pumping him up as Weis E. Coyote, Certified Super Genius, largely because Weis spent every available moment telling the media that he and his ACME catalog of incredibly sophisticated devices were worth a foolproof touchdown every game. Somehow I doubt even Tyrone Willingham would have Notre Dame scoring -7 points per game.
Erickson driving a golf cart into a volcano, I can have this.
The result of all these fantastic toys? Literally nothing. No touchdowns. No rushing yards. No hope. This implosion has to be laid at Weis' feet. Jeff Carroll of the South Bend Tribune brings forth an excellent point:
Weis sabotaged this season when he installed that gimmick offense for the opener. What that did, beyond chasing unloved Demetrius Jones to DeKalb, Ill., was rob valuable learning time from new starters who should have been absorbing the fundamentals of running Notre Dame's real offense.
He essentially flushed preseason practices down the drain, never to be recovered. Since then, the inexperienced offense has been scrambling to get up to speed, and it may never, at least not this season. But, again, that's a symptom, not the underlying problem. The main malady is that Weis thinks that because he can process complex schemes, his players can do the same in 20 hours a week.
Weis either half-assed a spread offense and wasted some of his preseason prep time or really went for it, wasted all of his player's time, and junked it 30 minutes into the season. Either way it's a huge miscalculation borne of hubris, the one thing Weis has more of than lipids.*
Thus an odd situation to find oneself in: I kind of wish Notre Dame was better. Obliterating Notre Dame for the second consecutive year was a pick-me up, but it can only be so meaningful when Notre Dame is intent on snapping it to Tacopants and generally soiling itself whenever Michigan
- does something clever like run left, or
- does something clever like rush the passer.
As it is, a 38-0 whitewashing of Notre Dame means almost nothing in the somewhat grander (ie: Big Ten) scheme of things. Michigan will play no worse team this year. Eastern Michigan is likely to rack up positive rushing yards. Minnesota will probably manage the shotgun snap just fine. Both are strong possibilities to score; even if they do not they will probably have more than one meaningful snap on Michigan's side of the field. If Notre Dame did not suck so very badly, our prospects for Penn State would be cheerier. But they are not and so 38-0 is just a pleasant nothing of a game, enjoyable in and of itself but no solace in the face of teams that will do more than swing purses at onrushing players.
So there is always this, even when you've just lost to Appalachian State: Notre Dame sucks and has sucked for 14 years. This offseason we will search the country high and low for a proven collegiate winner; Notre Dame is saddled with a maladjusted hunchback who they have given a ten-year contract for losing to USC.
*(it's a fat joke, sure, but it's a science-y fat joke.)
- But oh boy do I still have some problems with our coaching staff. Unless Henne is for-sure playing this week, Michigan's decision to spend the entire second half grinding away on the ground was ludicrous. We have a true freshman quarterback who may or may not be starting against Justin King and Penn State next week; we should have been throwing on every down as soon as the game hit 38-0. It might have drawn fire for being "classless," but this isn't Chad Henne out there. Every rep the kid can get against actual competition helps.
- I really hope Carlos Brown's problem is cast-related, but I don't know... visions of Max Martin dance in my head, minus all the bad-apple stuff.
- Johnny Sears gone, drugs, bye.
- What is the deal with James Rogers and Renaldo Sagesse getting playing time? And Zion Babb? Have we learned nothing from Prescott Burgess?
- On first glance the linebackers were vastly improved, especially Thompson, but I think much of that was never having to deal with blockers.
- I think we might be able to grind Penn State pretty good; last year we had a decently effective ground game and now they have a very young defensive line. Stats are good so far, but against FIU, Notre Dame, and Buffalo. (Note that even before this year, Penn State looked to have a horrible nonconference schedule with those three teams and Temple. The three non-ND teams were ranked #117, #118, and #119 among D-I football programs by ESPN; with the Irish collapse Penn State may have the worst nonconference schedule of all time.)
- Mallett: meh performance, but I love his enthusiasm:
- There is a season to have if Penn State is defeated. That's the nice bit of being in a conference.
- No shirking from BGS' Dylan, who steps up to the plate and takes it like a man with... uh... two sentences:
You are what your record says you are, and right now you're an 0-3 football team, and that's not good enough.
Not by a damn sight.
Good game, mister. Glass houses.