Clemson baptizes guys at practice. Is that a countable hour?
This is by way of notification that the blog is off until the 28th or 29th. Or 30th. Do not despair.
Run Offense vs. Nebraska
Both teams enter the game at less than full strength. Mike Hart's high ankle sprain is likely to linger into the Alamo Bowl, limiting his effectiveness. He will probably go but will lack his essential Hart-ness. Kevin Grady and Jerome Jackson will probably see significant playing time. Starting LG Leo Henige is out; starting C Adam Kraus is questionable. On the other side of the ball, starting NU WLB Bo Ruud broke a bone in his arm and will miss the game. Backup defensive end Wali Muhammad is suspended for violating team rules. Both players will be missed; Ruud was Nebraska's second leading tackler and Muhammad was used frequently. Together they combined for 22 TFL.
It's unlikely that Michigan's line magically assembles itself into an overpowering unit over the span of a few weeks, especially with Jake Long limping around. He will play but he won't be 100% until next fall. Michigan's running game has progressed in fits and starts, playing well below expectations save for an shockingly effective outing against Penn State. Outside of that, the interior of the offensive line has been doing their best Al Montoya impression all year. Michigan will try to get to the edges and exploit Ruud's inexperienced replacement--Grady's favorite play is the pitch--but pulling Matt Lentz has been an exercise in futility so far this year and Kraus is either going to be watching or hobbling. The prognosis is dim.
Key Matchup: RBs Kevin Grady and Jerome Jackson versus NU's linebackers. The should be able to break a few tackles. They'll have to.
Pass Offense vs. Nebraska
The statistical strength of this team (aside from net punting) is the Nebraska pass defense, 12th nationally in efficiency terms. Unfortunately for the Huskers, that number appears to be a total mirage. Check the passing efficiency ratings of these opponents:
- Wake Forest: 85th
- Pitt: 59th
- Baylor: 87th
- Missouri: 83rd
- Oklahoma: 93rd
- Kansas: 110th
- Kansas State: 73rd
- Colorado: 68th
The two NU opponents that managed to finish in the top half of DI-A were Iowa State and Texas Tech. Against ISU the Huskers ceded 317 yards on 41 attempts; against Texas Tech it was 368 on 45. Thees ees not so good. What is good is the sack count: 46. With Leo Henige and Mike Kolodziej out and Adam Kraus questionable, Michigan may find itself under seige... again.
Michigan finished an uninspiring 51st in pass efficiency, but that was due in large part to Chad Henne's tendency to rifle balls to imaginary 11-foot-tall receivers, a problem that may be fixed. In his last two outings Henne's accuracy has improved radically. Granted, one of those games was against Indiana, but Henne was extremely good against an Ohio State defense that is among the nation's best. Insert a standard disclaimer about consistency and the grating lack of it here. Aside from Henne, the Michigan wide receivers are a very good group headlined by sticky-fingered Jason Avant. The only red flag is the offensive line. Again. Henne has been effective when given time to throw but erratic-to-horrifying when pressured.
Key Matchup: The interior offensive line versus NU blitzers. Leo Henige's valiant but ultimately subpar performance is replaced by human yo-yo Rueben Riley, who should be at least adequate. The tackles should do a good job holding off the defensive ends; if Henne is provided ample time he will have open receivers.
Run Defense Vs Nebraska
Cory Ross is Nebraska's leading rusher and projected starter. Ross is a tiny (5'6") waterbug type who had success when given room to operate against bad run defenses like Pitt and Wake Forest, but struggled against Kansas, OU, Colorado, Iowa State... etc, etc. Ross is averaging just under 4 YPC, but only rushed for just over 400 yards in eight Big Twelve games. Is this Nebraska? Apparently.
Gone are the days when the Nebraska ground machine threshed opponents from sea to shining sea en route to national championships, and how: the Cornhuskers are 110th in rushing yards. The mind boggles. This is not due to a Texas-Techian total run aversion offense,--the Huskers tried to run over 380 times this season but netted only 2.61 yards a carry--nor is this due to a slate of rough-and-tumble opponents. Nebraska is in the cotton-candy Big Twelve North, missed Texas this year, and faced a weak slappy-fighter's row of nonconference opponents in I-AA Maine, 4-7 Wake Forest, and national punchline Pitt. You can leave your trembling pants at home.
Michigan is not exactly Ohio State in the rush defense department, however, finishing the year a thoroughly meh 43rd nationally. Undoubtedly you've heard this before: Massey, weak tackling secondary, outside linebackers who think outside the box but run inside of it, etc, etc. Michigan is fighting with an arm tied behind its back, split evenly between good players (Watson, Woodley, Branch, Harris, half of Burgess) and bad (Massey, Graham, the other half of Burgess). But in the land of the legless the one-armed man is king. Or something.
Key Matchup: Prescott Burgess versus Prescott Burgess; John Thompson versus Did Herrmann Watch The Iowa Game? ASSEMBLE YOUR OWN "RUN GAME KEY MATCHUP WITH THE FOLLOWING WORDS: "bounce contain OLB gash aaargh aaargh aargh."
Pass Defense vs. Nebraska
Nebraska QB Zac Taylor has been totally average so far: 56% completion rate, 16 touchdowns, 10 interceptions. He finished strong against CU, going 27 of 43 for 392 yards, but Colorado was going into turtle mode something fierce. They were vivisected brutally by Texas in their next game. He'll probably be operating in a lot of obvious passing downs after the run game fails to achieve, allowing the Michigan line to tee off on him and the defensive backs to tackle after seven-yard outs. Expect a lot of easy completions and a number of unforced errors.
Michigan actually finished the year with a pretty good pass defense--35th in efficiency--by sitting back and letting their opponents screw up until they really needed a killer fourth quarter drive. Lamarr Woodley, Pierre Woods, and Alan Branch got pressure consistently enough to disrupt most long drives and the three-deep zone prevented anyone from completing a bomb all year. This came at the expense of actually having someone within four yards of most short-to-medium routes. I doubt anything will actually change.
Key Matchup: Woodley, Branch, and Crable versus the NU OL. Nebraska yielded 33 sacks this year so there is definitely an opportunity for our line to disrupt their passing game, unlike our zone.
Nebraska's #2 in net punting! Yow! Punter Sam Koch has been murdering the ball, averaging 45.9 yards a kick. Only about 30% of his punts were returned. Steve Breaston not receive many opportunities to break a punt. He should get some kick return attempts. Almost all of NU's kickoffs are returned, though not very far (16.5 yards).
Kicker Jordan Congdon is 18-22, but it's an unimpressive 18-22. Oddly, three of his misses have come from within 20 yards. His season long is 41 yards. Sounds like Rivas: generally reliable on short kicks but a bit light in the leg.
Key Matchup: Um... like, don't screw up. Should be a push unless Breaston manages to crack one.
Kittens don't come out for double-digit spreads.
Three Things I'd Like To See:
- The continued emergence of Good Chad Henne.
- Goddamned man-to-man coverage.
- Rueben Riley looking capable for next year.
Three Things I Don't Wa
nt To See
- A game close enough to lose in the fourth quarter.
- The Aargh Zone.
- Jason Avant's last game.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 3 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for a Review Of The Record Indicates A Stunning Lack of Accomplishment, +1 for I Hope The Team is More Fired Up Than The Fans, -1 for I Can't Believe You Did That With Your Crappy Schedule, -1 for I Remember That Pitt Game Despite My Attempts To Forget It.)
Desperate need to win level: 7 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for 8-4 Does Look Much Better Than 7-5; +1 for OMG 1997 Decided On The Field)
Loss will cause me to... seriously consider the possibility that Bill Callahan is a better coach than Lloyd Carr.
Win will cause me to... camp out in front of Chad Henne's house with a playbook and a stern, let's-not-blow-next-year look in my face.
Sir! It's the Big 12 North... she's gone from suck to blow!
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: I'm taken aback by what seems to be a flood of predictions that have Michigan winning by some ridiculous score like 38-13. That won't happen. The Nebraska defensive line has a distinct advantage against the porous, banged-up Michigan offensive line. Mike Hart is not going to be right. The defense has too many holes and coaching that's too conservative to pressure the Cornhuskers into mistakes. Michigan isn't going to cover a 13 point spread, let alone double it.
That said: Nebraska has been unimpressive against a wide array of teams that have ranged from suck to blow; they can't run on confused monkeys; their QB completes 56 percent of his passes; they're coached by Bill Callahan. This is a case of two teams with identical records but divergent schedules. Michigan has been enduring a Bataan Death March at half capacity whilst Nebraska has been stumbling drunkenly through a field of poppies, making throat-slash gestures at random magic goats. Michigan isn't good. But Nebraska is bad.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Jerome Jackson is your leading rusher.
- The zone continues in the face of all that is right and good in the world.
- 27-17, Michigan.
The holiday schedule is a bit complicated by Michigan's bleh mid-December bowl berth. I'll get an Alamo Bowl preview up tomorrow. The next post after that will be after the game, probably on the 29th or 30th. The GLI will be studiously ignored.
The Michigan Difference. Reader Jeremy has provided a "Michigan Difference" version of the astounding Pacman video that's made its way around the university. Someone show it to Sam Young.
Yet Another Blog Awards (henceforth known as YABA) can be found over at Red Reporter; this one is obviously much better than the sketchy Weblog Awards because I'm nominated. You can vote if you like. Personally, I pulled the lever for EDSBS. I also endorse Sexy Results(!) even though I think I'm going to have to rumble with Ian after the South Park post.
Merry freakin' Christmas. Look, I realize these things are getting played, but I thought of Mr. Garrison and I was impressed by my cleverness. And then Mr. Slave fell right into place. When Lemmiwinks appeared in my mind I knew that the Lord had commanded me to build a great monument to his name. My god appears to be a weird amalgam of college football, Matt Parker, and Trey Stone. So here you go...
Nebraska: Mr. Garrison
I went to hell! I went to hell and I died!
Ugly. Thinks reading about celebrities constitutes an education. Used to be wildly successful out of proportion to all reason by exploiting a niche lifestyle, but has recently abandoned said niche in favor of a more conventional existence. This effort is going less than swimmingly. Decision to abandon niche produced vast quantity of horrifying images.
(BONUS: Lawrence Phillips: Mr. Hat; the expression of Mr. Garrison's writhing, unsavory id.)
Colorado: Mr. Slave
Into all sorts of kinky stuff. Conservative groups are worried about their recruiting efforts. Still Mr Garrison's bitch, deep down. Says "Jesus Christ" all the time but never really means it.
(BONUS!!! Brian Calhoun: Lemmiwinks; escaped from certain death in Mr. Slave's sinful bowels to become the prince of a selection of small animals.)
Kansas State: Miss Choksondik
Mildly interesting for unsavory reasons (JUCO reliance and scheduling convents/impossibly pendulous breasts) for a while but then choked to death on her wages of sin.
Texas Tech: Tweek
The spazziest kid in town. Jittery after having consumed heroic amounts of caffeine. Has a tendency to collapse in spectacular fashion when placed under duress.
Integral to the whole show but not the first person you think of when looking for entertainment due to a lack of fun exploits. Functions more as a straight man, letting others use him for a platform to deliver a punchline. Often nearly accomplishes great things during the first half of the show before succumbing to all-too-frequent bouts of vaginitis towards the end.
(BONUS!!! The Rose Bowl : Wendy Testaburger; Stan barfs whenever he gets near her.)
Ohio State: Shelley
Coarse. No good at speaking English. Thinks "turd" is the pinnacle of insult technology. Takes multitude of personal failures out on those around her because the true horror of her existence is too terrible to contemplate. Hits Stan a lot.
Wisconsin & Minnesota: Terence & Phillip
Do the same thing over and over again, year after year, but find inexplicable success doing so. Vaguely Canadian. Fight regularly. Always smell strongly of methane.
Iowa: Mr. Hankey
Surprisingly effective for being composed mostly of crap (easy, Iowa fans, think of it as a compliment to Ferentz). Somewhat annoyingly goody-two-shoes, but powerful when angered. Fundamentally, er, consistent. Also smells strongly of methane.
Northwestern: Sexual Harrassment Panda
Totally bizarre entity that exists for no discernible reason whatsoever. Would probably be happier on a strange island--like the Ivy League--with the other misfits.
Penn State: Grandpa Marsh
Obvious reasons; Stan's Grandpa also experienced one brief renassiance when the AARP took over, but it didn't last.
Michigan State: Butters
Innocuous boy who usually gets beaten up and picked on by everybody else. Morphs into super-villian alter-ego from time to time, wreaking unexpected havoc upon innocent passers-by. Often has hilarious delusions about taking over the world, but plans always come to naught.
Maybe we could put like 15 asses on the monkey and have four run off before the snap.
Has a reputation for wild experimentation, but in the end it's all about cramming as much ass as possible into a small area (like a football season, or a pair of pants).
Mephisto's tiny, insignificant companion.
Worst character ever. Decisions clearly influenced by pot... unless you think someone would hire Ron Zook sober.
A hunk of BEEFCAKE(!) back when 'Nam was going on but never recovered from a crippling disaster that happened long ago. Enjoys shooting things. Talks about the good old days in 'Nam a lot.
Linked inextricably with Ned; not particularly bright; also enjoys shooting things; has a fondness for garish orange clothing.
Steve Spurrier (and Florida, I guess): Cartman
Will totally kick you in the nuts.
An evil genius with an array of implasibly effective schemes that can turn any random citizen into the centerpiece of a terrifying misfit army. Occasionally says 'screw you guys, I'm going home.' Unquestionably the most reprehensible, terrible person on the planet, but after a couple of episodes without him you realize that it's just not the same. Gets all the best lines ('Respect my authorita'/'You can't spell Citrus without UT'). As the South Park website says, "basic rule, don't f*ck with Cartman."
(Also of note: was once upstaged by Butters of all people (AWESOME-O ep/'99 Citrus).)
Georgia: Cartman's Mom
You guys can play linebacker, right?
Willing to put out for any questionable character that comes along. Pushed around by Cartman all the time. Offspring associated with the Denver Broncos, at least temporarily. Ultimately got what she wanted from the various men in South Park.
Tennessee: Scott Tenorman
Radiohead thinks you're a pussy, Erik Ainge.
Would you rather eat your own parents or be a Tennessee fan right now? Tough call... unless you're Phil Fulmer! Also totally owned by Cartman. Tends to talk tough but dissolves into whiny bitchery once the horrible truth (like Charles Woodson winning the Heisman) is revealed.
Funny-accented child of privilege with a somewhat Victorian vibe going on. Probably would be comfortable with a television that showed only BBC America. Totally out of place in its current environs.
Popular with the ladies because of his 5x2. Enjoys singing about chocolate salty balls.
Virginia Tech: Kenny
Must be October in Blacksburg again.
A poor white-trash redneck. Even when it's looking good for him you know that he's going to die during the last third of the show. It's like clockwork. You killed BeamerBall, you bastards.
Florida State: Officer Barbrady
"Nothing to see here," is the catchphrase of choice, whether you're talking about criminal offenses or just ones directed by Jeff Bowden. If there's even a difference, that is. Tends to ignore obvious wrongdoing being perpetrated right under one's nose.
Kick the baby!
Georgia Tech: Dougie
Your Constitutionally-mandated "Georgia Tech students are dorks" reference. Also has a tendency to hang out with Butters a lot, plotting world domination and never achieving it.
Clemson: The Marklars
Despite all the talk, every marklar it's always the same old marklar. Marklar marklar, Bowden marklar marklar, 6-5 and the Marklar Tire Marklar in beautiful Marklar, North Marklar.
Virginia: Kyle's Cousin Kyle.
Weak, extraordinarily Jewish. Nerdy and somewhat repulsive but you know damn well he'll be your boss someday. Exactly how I imagine Ian.
Notre Dame: Jesus
Mostly exists for the purpose of fighting Jesus. Prominent in the embryonic stages of the show but hasn't been heard from recently.
Huge. Possesses minions with otherworldly, demonic skills and power. Beats the hell out of Jesus on a regular basis. Secretly kind of foo-foo, if you know what I mean.
Wears a lot of powder blue. Takes it in the ass from Satan.
Supported by older man who is unbelievably rich. Older man has given him an outlandish appearance that causes quite a commotion, though the reasons why are unclear.
Oregon State: Bebe
Briefly OMG SEXY, then quickly forgotten.
Washington: Mr. Mackey
Don't fire black coaches, mmkay? Firing black coaches is bad. You don't want to be bad, do you? All right, maybe we're bad, but we're diverse, mmkay? Diversity is good even if you're bad.
Washington State: Nurse Gollum
Fairly normal except for the terribly depressing eyesore (dead fetus/Pullman) that causes everyone to feel very sorry for them. Like Bebe, had a brief run in the sun and was then forgotten about.
Arizona State: "Hennifer Lopez"
Spicy faux-latin with sex appeal who puts out all kinds of wacky material that somehow sticks; ultimately a mirage. Seems like a fiction of the evil genius' mind. Loves tacos.
Arizona: Jennifer Lopez
Like the fictional version, only crappier and prone to volcanic outbursts of ridiculous behavior.
BYU: Gary & The Creepy Mormons
Dum dum dum dum dum. Would be even better if Gary Crowton was still running the show.
Louisville: Crab People
Things just keep getting better for the Cardinals, but underneath the flash and dash is concealed an audacious plan to conquer the world. Vaguely foo-foo as well.
Boise State: Mrs. Crabtree
The source of a vast amount of noise but ultimately irrelevant.
Timmah! Timmah Chang! Do exactly the same thing year after year: throw ten billion passes, go to a bowl game in, er, Hawai'i. Somewhat retarded, but fun to be around.
Syracuse: The Denver Broncos
Really, really, really orange. Good back in 1998.
Fresno State: Trent Boyett
Your Constitutionally-mandated "guy from the wrong side of the tracks coming to kick your ass" Fresno State reference.
Also, Trent is a dead ringer for an elementary-school version of Pat Hill. Seriously.
Temple: Miss Claridge
Please, someone put it out of its misery.
Leftover characters for reader suggestions: Starvin' Marvin, Kyle, Mr. Broflovski, Mrs. Broflovski, Randy Marsh, Mrs. Marsh, Principal Victoria, Saddam, Jimmy, Big Gay Al, The Mayor, The Raisins Girls, The Goths, The Useless Mayoral Goons, Kindergarteners, Scuzzlebutt, the Cutswalds, Priest Maxi, Miss Information
Glaring team absences: Cal (hippies?), OU, Texas, Texas A&M, LSU.
The impending lack of college football has driven the various denizens of the college football blogosphere insane. There's no other way to put it. Joey comes right out and says it after leaving a manic comment with a truly prodigious exclamation point count in the aftermath of the Carlos Brown commitment:
Shotgun with Henne flanked by Bass and Brown with Breaston coming on the end around.
MY HEAD JUST EXPLODED!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So yeah... about that. Others flake out and do things like watch the
New Orleans Katrina Bowl. Or write something on the order of 1,000 words about it, which happened at not one but two(!) blogs. SMQB has a ready-made excuse as a Southern Miss Alum, but even he says that...
Watchability Rating: SMQ is a diehard alumni with solid ties to one of these programs, and even he might opt for Gilmore Girls.
And then, uh... well... Joel Hollingsworth, who got bitched out for an inagural blogpoll ballot that was essentially a declaration of war on damn Yankees, has gone totally flapjack nuts with extra walnuts. Yeah: a flash movie staring Vol fans as "Vollum." The reasoning boils down to: "if SEC teams are overrated in the BlogPoll they will fail to achieve," which is flattering but mostly batshit insane. Then again, I think that accurately captures what my mental state would be if my team just lost to Vanderbilt.
Of note: I am not exempted. Apparently the prospect of an army of blue-clad, Full-Metal-Jacket-drilled kittens playing Sherman to whatever Georgia town you call home has terrified both Mayor Kyle King and Orson from EDSBS into rooting for the Wolverines in the (please don't remember the) Alamo Bowl. So if anyone needs a kitten army that's really good at burning things and stealing women and stuff, it's available for hire. Unless you're from the government, in which case I have no idea what all those cats are doing in my basement and demand that you find the perpetrator of this foul deed.
So that's why it's important to get to 7-4. The bowl gift limit got bumped up to 500 dollars this year--theoretically allowing every college football player in the nation to bring home an XBOX 360 for the holidays--but of all the bowls in all the halfass vacation destinations in all the world, only the Alamo decided to give it out as schwag. So we've got that going for us. This revelation spurred both Bleed Blue and White and RBUAS to great heights comparing and contrasting the various and sundry bowl prizes. Which is better? I declare blog deathmatch!
Not alone... not. alone. I would like to point out that The House Rock Built also has a kitten fixation. That is all.
Hopefully you will be joined by, like, other people. The Detroit News has a feature article on '07 shooting guard commitment Alex Legion. It would be nice if he got to play with a point guard and some tall guys, Tommy.
Update 12/19: Added MI S Aaron Gant and MI DE Quintin Woods, removed IN DT Dexter Larimore(OSU) and re-added KY DT Corey Peters, who was apparently just offered. Reaction to the Larimore commitment? Removed WR Percy Harvin(UF). Added GA RB Carlos Brown as a commitment. Updated Jonas Mouton's school list based on a Scout article header: Nebraska is out. Final three are USC, LSU, and UM... where have we heard that before?
Also, here's a Daron Rose article.
Editorial Opinion: USC can't take a third safety away from us, can they? I would regard that article as good news. LSU hasn't been mentioned much for him and given the internets chatter it seems like if he's going to leave home it would probably be to go to Michigan. So Mouton gets to choose between OMG USC/mom/two five stars at his position in the very same class and Michigan/cold/one safety in the last two classes and Steve Brown. That looks good, but USC hasn't lost a recruiting battle against Michigan since they stopped sucking.
And, hey, remember Carlos Brown? I'm betting you do, since he committed yesterday. Well, do you remember that goofy AJC photoset featuring David Cone and his Army of Midgets? Yeah, they did Brown, too. (Original AJC link gone but reproduced at BuckeyePlanet; get a load of his ideal car: a 1996 Impala... um, okay(?).)You can see him at right holding a perfectly innocent football hostage. There are also a number of pictures available for perusal on Scout.
Other than the "are you sure? Really sure? Sure you're sure?" Brown commitment, the interesting news in this particular update is the emergence of two instate players who got offered (or are apparently on the verge of being offered) based on strong senior-year performance: DE Quintin Woods and OLSM's Aaron Gant, a safety. Someone claiming to be an OLSM alum popped up on BuckeyePlanet and offered these words:
Word around here is that Gant is going to Michigan. Michigan wants him at safety or linebacker. Gant is good friends with Michigan committ Brandon Graham, and his cousin is Dionte Allen- a kid whom many around here expect to be a Wolverine next year. Gant is a good player, he really came on strong his senior year, and that is why he's getting alot of recruiting attention right now.
and then again:
I have no idea if he really has an OSU offer. I do know that he has one from Michigan though. If there is a quality OLSM kid that wants Michigan, Michigan will almost always offer him. OLSM is a pipeline to Michigan, and the staff at Michigan doesn't want to disrupt that pipeline. Especially when you look at the prospects they'll have in the 2007 and 2008 classes. Michigan wants to keep the pipeline open, and if they land Gant, they can pencil in Dionte Allen in '07.
As always, take such unconfirmed Internet speculation lightly, but I buy it. There are enough ancillary factors in play here to believe Gant's offer is not strictly a Mouton backup plan--OSU got in on him, the OLSM pipeline thing, Dionte Allen--so I don't think Gant and Mouton commits are mutually exclusive.
As for Woods, he emerged late and has been the subject of a recent flurry of articles($). Iowa offered him (scroll down). A Google search turns up a lot of basketball hits but nothing on football, as he didn't even play the sport until his senior year--shades of TE Carson Butler last year.