Remember that I don't look at previous ballots in an effort to reduce poll inertia, so some of the up-down stuff may not make complete sense. I much prefer arguments that don't consider the previous poll to be some sort of holy gospel: it was last week's guess and this is this week's guess, which may or may not be accurate.
Points of issue:
- UCLA? Yeah. I mocked Orson for including them last week but I watched their game against Washington and they were fairly impressive even without their starting quarterback. Chalk the Utah thing up to Dorrell being Dorrell.
- Oregon still has no D. They might not need one, though.
- Do not fuck with the CK award. GT took the pipe and so did Alabama. Just don't do it.
Comments and such will be considered; I have been adjusting my ballots this year but haven't had time to post the revised editions.
Posting is light today since I have to UFR the entire game now so it can go up tomorrow.
I've yet to figure out exactly what to do with Alan Weymouth's contribution... this week it goes here. Editorial comments interspersed.
An outstanding performance by our defense. I mentioned that my biggest concern was our secondary and I must say, they answered the bell this last week. Our tackling was crisp (Morgan Trent might be the best tackler on the whole team) and coverage in general seemed very good. I was quite surprised that PSU didn't go after Warren more. You can bet your bottom dollar that Saint Sweater Vest will.
[Run Up The Score saw a lot of inaccurate Morelli balls and bad reads in his version of UFR; I have the game now but haven't started looking at it. Will be interesting to compare. I do think that maybe we shouldn't be getting too enthused yet... Morelli is not good at the football. -ed]
The game ball though, goes to the defensive line. He might not show up in the stats, but Will Johnson had an outstanding game. He was able to put pressure on Morelli up the middle and cause alot of problems for Penn State up front. We all saw how good Brandon Graham can be this week as well, but I can also see why the coaching staff rends it's clothing over the guy as he blew a couple of assignments that resulted in long PSU runs...the 19 yarder by Austin Scott, and I also believe he messed up on the long run in the fourth quarter. He was playing DT on the long Scott run, and "pinched down". It doesn't appear to me, that this is what was called, as it left a large gap that could not be filled by the LBs. On the 38 yarder in the fourth, Warren blitzes from his CB spot, and has outside contain...I think BG was supposed to take the inside gap, and if he does this is a 2 yard loss instead of a 38 yard near TD.
LB play was pretty darn good..and I take my hat off to Thompson and C.Graham this week. Again, the DL is making things, much, much easier for these two. My only beef here is, they didn't recognize those draws early enough to shut them down near the LOS. Getting hurt on those once or twice is understandable, but you need to adjust quickly. Same thing with screens. If our LB corp can recognize the screen developing, and get that shut down, we'll be able to let the front four loose a little more. Part of the reason we saw a decrease in the pass rush, was our inability to get these two plays shut down..so, the staff reined in the front four a little to help.
[What I don't understand is why the WLB would even start chasing here. I know there's this eleven-hats-to-ball mentality, but your first responsibility has to be to the misdirection, right? Michigan in general and Chris Graham in particular have always been vulnerable to plays that exploit our linebacker's tendencies to go scurrying off at the slightest hint the play is going to one side of the field. See: That Goddamned Counter Draw. Once you verify that the ball is gone, go, but there seems to be little value in biting on a long handoff pump fake. -ed]
I know you had problems with the way our offense went about it's business last week, but I didn't. The run game was working..and though it was boring to watch, it was very effective. Mallett's limited knowledge of the playbook kept the staff from revealing some of what they could do until late in the game. Penn State's defense was very good, very fast and well coached. They will adjust to what hurts them, so as a OC, I think holding some of that stuff back a little, allowed it to be used in the fourth quarter when it was needed. They let loose the reins a bit at the end of the second quarter, and Mallett threw a frosh like pick that cost us a FG attempt.
The strategy at the end of the game was solid as well. I too think they might have allowed him to throw on first or second down, rather than force him into a third and long situation, but with the run game going decently I can't argue too much here. Toward the end, they played some man though, and any pass we attempted would have been either a slant with some risk of a pick-6 involved, or a longer throw that was less likely to be completed.
I would have punted also. The defense was playing well. They had Penn State backed up and without a T.O. Sure there was enough time to get the ball down the field, but given Morelli's performance and knowing that running the football was nearly completely out of the question, the staff knew it could turn loose our DLs and get pressure. For once, playing percentage football was the right thing to do.
I watched only a little of the OSU/NW game. If Henne is back (the real Henne, and not that impostor who appeared in the first two games) we shouldn't have much problem with the Cats. Our biggest enemy will be us. This team SHOULD understand that you have to prepare for every opponent..but will it? It's a classic letdown game opportunity for a staff and a team that is prone to just that. The goal here should be to have this game put away early and let Hart rest. Carr needs to allow Henne to throw the ball, even if it means we score an embarrassing number of points..I just don't know if Carr will do it.
[I believe Mallett will probably play this weekend. -ed]
I'm not too worried about the injuries at RG. I thought McAvoy looked very good for a guy who got thrown into the middle of a big game. Nowhere near as physical as Mitchell, but he agile and was able to get out on the LBs better than Mitchell or Ciulla. He got pushed around a little, but showed some tenacity, and the ability to lower his pads and hang in there. Once he gets some experience, I think he might not give the job back...we'll see. Schilling got some high praise from Carr this week, but I'm not sure why. Technique wise, we was good. He's got excellent agility for a OT, but he's not strong enough or physical enough IMHO. He's just a pup though and he'll get better. I thought he struggled a bit in this game, and basically forced Michigan to run toward Long. Some credit needs to go to PSU though.
[Weymouth ends here. On with other folks. -ed]
Considering Ball State's almost upset against Nebraska yesterday and at the big house last season, like it or not, you have to consider Brady Hoke for the Head Coaching search for Michigan, no? It shows he has the creativity and coaching ability to go against higher talents and out-coach the opposition.I would love to see a feature on him just like you had one for Jeff Tedford.
Thanks and keep up the great work.
Uh... wow. Though Brady Hoke has done more at Ball State than, say, Mike Debord did at Central, a Hoke hire would be the absolute worst-case scenario. Hoke was a defensive line coach for a half-dozen years in the late 90s and early... uh... 00s hired to be Ball State's coach primarily because he's an alum. At Ball State he's 15-31 in his fourth season and hasn't won much of anything. His biggest accomplishments are close losses to Michigan (a game that was out of hand despite a fluky safety and a pick six until Johnny Sears made his thrilling debut) and Nebraska. If we are going with a MAC coach, it should be Brian Kelly... even if he's not in the MAC anymore. Central before (under DeBord) == awful. Central under Kelly == MAC champions. Central post-Kelly == awful. Since there is a clearly more attractive candidate in his genre ("back-up plans who would obviously come"), Hoke is not a serious candidate.
Hey man, whats going on. You obviously know your michigan football, but I have a question
that I am dying to get answered. I have been to games up in A2, and have been to some buckeye games, I have seen both mich fans and osu fans wearing them. I am looking for a hat, it is like a hat an old irish golfer would wear. A newsie/ flat cap/ gatsby hat with a fuzzy yellow ball on top, and says "go blue". I have searched all over the internet and have found nothing. So I am on last ditch effort attempts to find one. If you know anybody that has one, or you know where I can get one, it would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Uh... I dunno. Can anyone help this guy out?
I was wondering, have you ever heard a version of The Victors and thought "hey! that was awesome." ? Obviously the Michigan Marching Band does a great job, and I love the song that plays in the background of those warm-and-fuzzy-feeling Michigan hospital commercials. Which is your favorite? Do you have any unique/cool versions? I love that song, but its so hard to find new styles of it online or through iTunes. (I mean, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir apparently recorded it, but thats about it for selection.)
If you could help me find The Best Victors Ever, that would be much appreciated!
I have no alternate versions of the Victors save the "Hoover Street Rag" thing they play post-victory, which happens to be on the MMB CD I own. This is also a "can any commenters help" situation. Can you?
Update 9/24: Added scholarship available due to Sears dismissal; now up to 19. Added FL S Karnell Hatcher, removed WA DE Kavario Middleton (dropped us), AZ CB Marc Anthony (Cal), KS LB Arthur Brown (dropped us), NJ S Will Hill (UF), PA QB Terrelle Pryor (dropped us). Linked to articles on NC CB Spencer Adams, TN CB JT Floyd, PA KR/WR Cameron Saddler.
Editorial Opinion: Slow week. Hatcher visited for ND and seemed to have a good time, so I added him. Personally I think it's doubtful he comes north but a visit means business.
The major news of the week: AZ CB Marc Anthony committing to Cal. That hurts. Anthony had declared Michigan his leader after camp and was looking like Michigan's best bet for a high-profile corner in the class to pair with Cissoko. Attention now focuses more heavily on Adams and Floyd. Adams just took an official visit:
"It went really well," he said. "I met with some of the coaches and the academic adviser. The game was great. It's the biggest crowd I've ever seen. It was a great atmosphere. I could see myself having a good time and playing there."
Clemson is also mentioned as a school of serious interest.
Floyd, meanwhile, remains the world's softest Tennessee commit, and with Phil Fulmer seemingly on the way out that can't be good for UT's chances. Status:
He has scheduled an official visit to Michigan for November 16th when the Wolverines host Ohio State. Floyd said he's very interested in Michigan. "They are near the top," he said. He also will set officials to Tennessee, Maryland and NC State.
PA WR/RB/KR Cameron Saddler is very good at what he does...
Saddler, a senior, returned two kickoffs for touchdowns Friday against Norwin to give him seven for his career. He had five last year.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the national record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns in a career is nine, set by Trevor Mote of Kingman, Ariz., from 1994-96.
...and opening up his recruitment...
A running back/defensive back/kick returner, Saddler has rethought his college decision and is now considering "probably 10 schools."
He had previously narrowed his choices to West Virginia, Michigan, Virginia and Syracuse.
"The coaching situations at some of those schools were getting a little scary," Saddler said. "I didn't want to be down to schools with shaky coaching situations."
Hopefully Michigan can get Saddler and Hale in for an official visit sometime in the near future; the package deal that once seemed so likely has faded as an option with Michigan's opening struggles.
PA WR Jonathan Baldwin on said struggles:
Aliquippa receiver Jonathan Baldwin has Michigan on his final list of six colleges. When asked if Michigan's start might affect his thoughts on the Wolverines, Baldwin simply said, "Ehh."
Uh... okay. I won't even try to parse that.
The three huge five star guys who went off the board were real longshots; Middleton apparently wants to play TE in college. We are obviously full up there.
Note: Banner above is the fine work of Fred Simmons. Given the ill fate of Baxter Allen's banner and the overarching awesomeness of Mike Hart, a change felt warranted. Thus ends the rotating bannerage. Blog: stabilized.
Presser News. Audio at The Wolverine. News: no Mitchell, Ciulla doubtful, MacAvoy likely to start. Savoy, temporarily off the team, has returned after his acquittal.
Corso's where it's at. If, by some chance, Hart runs for like 2000 yards and Michigan wins a bunch of games and Mike Hart wins the Heisman...
...it started with Corso and we should adopt him. (Is this going to happen? No.)
Carr embedded. Now on the tubes: Carr's Penn State postgame.
Schrodinger's awesome recruit. Do I overuse that metaphor? Maybe. But it's very apt in this case. Michigan has picked up a hockey verbal from Luke Moffat, a class of 2010 forward who is the slam-dunk #1 player in his class and very likely to be a top NHL draft pick. This guy is a Jack Johnson-level recruit. But NSFMF!
"I've just not made up my mind," says Moffatt, "the NCAA route is very exciting, but I'm going to take my time before making a decision."
And to Moffatt's credit, he admits that the school he commits to (that being Michigan), will know the situation right up front.
"Yes, they will know the drill, that it will be a commitment pending my decision to play either college or in the WHL. This will make things easier for me though. It will either be Kelowna, or (Michigan)."
So this is a quasi-commit. Moffat will be with the USNTDP this fall and may or may not show up in 2010 with an evil gleam in his eye. Here's an article from the Phoenix Coyotes' site (Moffat is originally from Phoenix, though he's playing for Detroit Honeybaked at the moment.)
No cheeseburgers in space! Varsity Blue highlighted this from the open thread comments:
Our space emmporer should start aiming for the corners.
Mike74 | 09.22.07 - 4:30 pm | #
There are no corners in space
KBlow | 09.22.07 - 4:31 pm | #
Awesome. Personally, I think our gunners should start doing something useful; Zoltan has been great.
This is the part where I pull at my tie in agitated fashion. Like that Billy Idol video. You know the one. Apparently, the open thread also contained some "helloooooo nurse" comments regarding the new, non soccer-mom-y uniforms in general and this upstanding young woman in particular:
Autumn Thunder compares this with last year's outfits; it's as lopsided as your typical Notre Dame game. A comment on that post says these might not be permanent:
Unfortunately, I've been informed that the unis we saw the last two weeks are "just for maize outs" ... perhaps given positive feedback, the thinking will change on this? Somebody e-mail the athletic dept / whomever runs the cheerleading program...
I maintain no opinion on this. You are all treating objects like women, man.
Uh... what? I can't find this on MLive to confirm this, but MVictors reports that Jim Carty reports thusly:
Let's say Michigan beats Penn State, Penn State beats Ohio State, and Ohio State beats Michigan. All three teams end up with one conference loss. In that scenario, the Lions win a tie-breaker over Michigan and Ohio State because those teams played I-AA opponents. That's right, playing a I-AA team can eliminate you from the Rose Bowl. It's a little-discussed Big Ten rule instituted prior to the 2006 season.
I find this impossible to believe, since this would be a huge change in the tiebreaker process that would basically preclude any Big Ten team that takes itself seriously from scheduling a I-AA opponent. The tiebreaker procedures haven't been updated since 2001 according to the Big Ten's website... anyone know details on this?
Update: article here. Still find this somewhat hard to believe.
Oy vey. Braves & Birds takes on the Lloydball win we just ground out:
Thus, Michigan got away with running almost exclusively on downs other than second and third and long. (Excluding its drive that started with 90 seconds to go in the first half and its kneel-down at the end of the game, Michigan had 34 first and tens in the game and threw on exactly eight of them. How Carr and Debord think it's a good idea to "protect" a true freshman quarterback by forcing him to throw mostly on obvious passing downs is beyond me.) Michigan also got away with forgoing the chance to kill the game off on its final offensive possession, mainly because Anthony Morelli is not a good quarterback and Penn State's offense is fairly easily defended.
I co-sign and will provide a fuller opinion in UFR.
Etc: Stadium and Main on the game; Adams is co-defensive player of the week. Dan Wetzel trashes the Big Ten and says Miles would be stupid to leave... didn't he write this exact article like two weeks ago?
9/22/2007 - Michigan 14, Penn State 9 - 2-2, 1-0 Big Ten
Adrift on a sea of bodies, legs gone, head yanked back, enemies all around and pawing, Mike Hart stretches for the inch he needs and gets it. When Hart is gone and I am old and my mind flips through the rolodex of players past, this will be the image that lingers. It's his career writ microscopic. He takes his natural ability, and stretches it to its breaking point, and Michigan has a season again.
Somehow Mike Hart still feels like a secret. In some extremely obvious ways he is not: one of Michigan's vaunted triplets going into this season, he is widely acclaimed as the best back in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. Anyone claiming the "no respect" card for Hart is going to have to make a strong case indeed. Everyone knows he is good. Maybe even great. But they don't know.
No one who doesn't live and die with Michigan's program can really know. He came off the bench, this freshman from upstate New York the size of a flea, against San Diego State and helped Michigan avert an Appalachian State disaster, and since then he has been the linchpin of Michigan's offense. A few games later Abdul Hodge stripped him as he dragged three Hawkeyes from the ten yard line to the four; this was the last time he lost a fumble. In that time we've watched Max Martin and Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown and Kevin Grady cough up seemingly every other carry they get, but Hart has not fumbled. Sometime this week or next he will become Michigan's all-time leading rusher. When he breaks into the secondary his arm starts pirouetting, orbiting around as he seeks his balance to cut behind an overaggressive safety. Last year against Notre Dame he ripped off a 21-yard run in the closing minutes, dove to the ground as he neared the sidelines, and made the run-the-clock hand signal as he got up. Sometimes four defenders claw at his body and end up yards from where they should be. He runs out to block when Michigan only has ten guys on an extra point attempt. He cheats at cards. His high school graduating class was like a dozen people, six of them women and three of them Canadians, and Hart dragged them to multiple state championships. Whenever he's not on the field I am alarmed at what might happen.
So you can watch him intermittently, whenever your team plays Michigan or when you're flicking through the game on a crowded Saturday afternoon, and not really comprehend what he is to the program. Set aside the rushes, the yards, the relentless pounding he took while battling some sort of flu or strep illness. Sometime midway through the second half he limped off, battered, then reversed course and told Minor to get off the field. It was third down and too far to run. As Mallett dropped back to pass, Dan Connor, Penn State's all-everything linebacker, blitzed right up the middle. Hart, eight inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter, clocked him. Ran right up into him and stopped him dead in his tracks. The blitz picked up, Mallett converted the third down. Hart would stretch for the winning points a few plays later.
Mike Hart does not care. He does not care that he is the size of Toad and runs about as fast as Richard Nixon, who is dead. He does not care that Michigan ruined everything the first two games of the season as he rode a bike on the sideline. He does not care that some people think he should shut up. He does not care that his legs are on someone else's legs and there is no possible way he can worm the ball to the goal line. It takes someone like this to pull you back from despair and ennui, to turn emo week into something other than emo year.
Mike Hart does not care what came before.
Bullets that, if Keith Jackson had done the game, would no doubt have been dubbed "hoss" several thousand times:
- Count me in with the people upset about the offensive playcalling. I do not think it was a coincidence that Michigan came out of its shell when PSU put up its second field goal; it was a pure "scoring offense" situation and one that demonstrated the effectiveness of, you know, throwing on first down every once in a while.
- The thing to be most upset about: a give-up-and-punt on third and long that gave Penn State one last opportunity. There's really not much difference between 2:10 and 1:34 in that situation for the offense. With no timeouts they must pick up big chunks of yards either way. If it goes well they won't have issues with time. If it doesn't, time won't matter because it'll all be incompletions anyway. Giving up the chance for a game-killing first down was frighteningly reminiscent of the Year of Infinite Pain.
- Mallett was 8-20 in the first half and 8-9 in the second. The third down conversion on the final drive to Mathews was a play about four people on the planet could have made. Henne's still better, but if you assume Mallett has a standard progression curve... holy crap.
- That said, man... throw it to wide open Arrington in the endzone plz.
- Yay missed 29-yard field goal!
- Brandon Graham appears to be the best player on the defense, possibly by a wide margin. Five sacks in basically two games of starting, even against those two offensive lines, is an impressive accomplishment.
- Very disappointed to see Penn State's defensive line get so much push against our OL. Don't know if that was just guys getting beat or us tipping our plays or what; will be a focal point in UFR.
- Hey... we 1) ran opposite the shuffle, 2) passed off the shuffle, and 3) threw with Clemons in the game. Did any of these plays work? No, aside from one third-down conversion.
- No deep balls all game. Odd. If they were really in three-deep the whole game we should have been hammering them underneath. This is a major problem I have with our offensive design: we don't punish people from loading the box and playing soft behind it. Those easy completions to Manningham at the start of the first touchdown drive are there all the time.
- I erroneously termed some of Appalachian State's QB draws "Incredibly Surprising." This is an incorrect application of my own nomenclature: a true ISQD is one in which a running back or wide receiver lines up alone in the backfield and takes off, like Junior Hemingway did against Penn State. I hate ISQDs. They are stupid.
- If we ever, ever punted from the 31 my head would explode. JoePa remains even more ossified than Michigan is, and that's the primary reason we've owned them for the past 9 games. If you line up and come right at us, you die. Many teams have figured this out, but JoePa is old and only interested in pudding and Betty Grable.
- UFR will be Wed-Thurs this week if all goes well... I forgot to tape it and the MGoVideo guy's kid changed the channel. So tape is delayed but coming.
Platonic Mancrush 2004-2007:
Platonic Mancrush 2008-2010:
Not Mancrush But A Fine Player In His Own Right:
Five Sacks In Two Games:
Carr presser is not embeddable but is here.
And this showed up on YouTube late, but here it is: Lloyd and Russell Crowe: