somehow we're only 124th
Manningham update @ AOL.
Vote Smackdown! The irritating nubbin that is the AP poll's two first-place votes for West Virginia draws fire from The MZone in the form of an open letter to the two outliers. An excellent theory as to why these goofballs vote they way they do is proffered in the comments by "beast in bama" (Andre Smith?):
What these gentlemen have is what I call the "Corky Frost Syndrome." Corky's the guy from Arizona who, back in 1992, voted Alabama #1 all season. When the Tide beat Miami in the Sugar Bowl to claim the MNC that year, old Corky looked like a freakin' genius!
His voting record was made public and he gained slight notoriety nationally (and major celebrity status down here) as the "prophet of college football." He was even grand marshall of the parade they had for the team in Tuscaloosa.
Every year since, the AP has some other crackpot attempting to do the same thing. And no, slight notoriety does not equal fame and fortune; it equates with EGO, something that sports writers have in abundance.
SMQB also has a beef:
So SMQ does not get worked up about polls, because it's mostly run of the mill disagreement. The only real issue he has before the ranking system inevitably robs a team of its official, corporately-designated mythical championship opportunity is the mass movement of number one votes towards Ohio State, and the perception - enforced for several weeks now in various outlets - that OSU is the "clear number one." SMQ has had Ohio State on top since the Buckeyes beat Texas, and, because its impressive wins over UT and Iowa and competent handling of the remaining rabble, will probably keep them there this week. But this year was regarded by nearly everyone as a wide open season on the polls, dominated by no one team, and that should still be the case: Michigan, for one, has been particularly impressive, and should be considered basically an equal of OSU; ditto Florida, which has knocked out otherwise very impressive Tennessee and LSU and Alabama, and also handled the rabble with ease.
I've also wondered thusly: if Michigan had gone 9-3 or 10-2 last season and the dates of the OSU-Texas and Michigan-ND games were reversed, would Michigan be number #1? And would they be regarded as the no-doubt best team in the nation? Ohio State grabbed everyone's attention with the big win over #2 Texas and by the time Michigan -- adrift in the teens because of last year's 7-5 -- finished its BEAT DOWN of, yup, #2 Notre Dame it was too late. My main problem with the polls is what appears to be an appalling lack of thought put into a lot of the ballots. Win, no matter how tightly and against who, and stay in the same spot. Lose and drop a poll-approved amount, often staying in front of the team that just beat you.
Meanwhile: Dan Shanoff laid into AP voters for bias -- though I'm still not sure what's so ridiculous about Michigan at #2 that requires excoriation; Dan Steinberg goes over the ballots with a fine-toothed comb and finds precious little evidence thereof. Smackdown ensues!!!
...or not so much. Reasonable discussion? Don't these guys know they're writing blogs? Appalling.
Etc.: Google News digs deep to find this article on Andrew Ebbett's new AHL career. Sounds like he narrowly missed the NHL.
You say you're Minnesota? Cupito was 25 of 36 for 347 yards; Amir Pinnix had but 26 carries for 76 yards. Welcome to evil mirror universe Minnesota. Why did this happen? Well, Penn State's Steve Alford gave their interior line issues all day, so that was part of it. When the Gophers had successful plays they went for six to eight yards; when they didn't they went for zero to two. It's not that their run game was consistently stoned, but rather that they didn't pick up any of those 15-20 yard gashers that are a Gopher speciality.
The odd thing is that the plays on which Minnesota picked up big chunks of yards versus Michigan were entirely absent versus PSU. The whole pulling off-tackle monstrosity that is the Gopher run game went away. Why? I don't know. Possibly they thought the fast PSU linebackers were a bad matchup. Minnesota got all their chunk plays versus the Penn State secondary.
And about that secondary. Think Michigan's secondary last year: nummy soft zone almost constantly. Minnesota found plenty of space in between levels, hitting Spaeth and Payne on posts and outs and such for big hunks of yards. All are seemingly incapable of tackling and not even Justin King is frequently trusted in man coverage.
It's deep zone deep zone deep zone and has been all year. I don't expect Manningham's absence will alter that, as Penn State's coaching staff is the equivalent of what the most pessimistic Michigan fans think is their cross to bear. Adjustments? What me, worry?
Pass rush remains weak. The outstanding feature of the Notre Dame game was a total lack of pass rush. It was a little better versus Minnesota but not much. Alford had an impressive sack or two; the rest of the line did very little.
Black Shoe Diaries is taking exception to my characterization of Penn State as a bad team. Specifically, he asks us to remember another person when it comes to pass rush:
Brian also suggests Jay Alford is the only one who can get any pressure on the QB. Remember #92. His name is Ed Johnson.
Citing a DT as a major pass rushing threat sums up their situation nicely. PSU actually has 18 sacks, but many of them came against NW, Youngstown State, and Akron. In three games versus actual competiton, they have six. That's not bad on the surface but the sack numbers are hollow, backed with little quarterback pressure outside of the numbers.
Run defense? Fairly good against Minnesota and Notre Dame, or 5.5 per carry to Antonio Pittman? No other games are meaningful. Jay Alford is a really, really good player but Ed Johnson hasn't had much of an impact and the defensive ends have been uninspiring. We'll be running away from Alford most of the day but I expect a few plays where one of our guards follows him to Hart in the backfield. He is a penetrator, though, which may make all those draws we ran last year a good option. He'll take himself out of the play if you give him the opportunity to.
Tony Hunt! I forgot to mention this over the past couple weeks of OSU games, but I was wrong about Antonio Pittman. He's actually pretty good.
Am I going to take back my Tony Hunt bashing? No sir! He racked up a ton of yards versus Minnesota, but I swear to God that a good 60% of them came after dragging Minnesota linebackers. That requires two things: a good head of steam and crappy tackling, small linebackers. To date Michigan has thumped two backs even larger than Hunt, PJ Hill and Jehuu Caulcrick, to the tune of 2.5 yards per carry. Both those teams had inexperienced lines and backs who couldn't really get the corner if their hole was jammed up. The end result was Burgess, Harris, Branch, et al devouring them. I expect more of the same.
Derrick Williams! has 19 catches for 221 yards. Much-maligned Steve Breaston has 23 catches for 222 yards.
Anthony Morelli! is improving... he only threw three balls that should have been interceptions instead of his usual four. No, seriously: he was improved. But you can only be so impressive against Minnesota and their total lack of quarterback pressure or guys in the secondary.
His deep ball is fairly accurate but with a wide array of diminutive wide receivers they don't have a lot of jump ball potential. They've got to get behind the secondary, which is easy versus Minnesota but perhaps a little more difficult against Michigan. Note I didn't say "impossible," as Rhema McKnight got loose against the Michigan secondary and Jamar Adams got burned by Jerramy Scott. Michigan seems to give up one big passing play a game and will probably give up another.
That pass interference call was so, so weak.
As per WTKA, Carr's weekly press conference, and basically the entire world.
Immediate reaction: sucks, but come on now. PSU is still bad and we should gut them.
Update: By "WTKA" I meant "WDFN," sorry. I now have two reports from people who have spotted Manningham around campus on crutches, and Carr's "I can't say anything, I don't know anything, I'm like those see-no-evil monkeys" response to fervered questioning speaks volumes. I think he's out.
What does this mean for the game? Obviously the chances we nail someone on a long pass route go down, but given the way PSU plays that was unlikely to be in the cards. I watched the Minnesota game and will post on it tomorrow, but long story short Penn State blitzes rarely and what pass rush they get comes almost exclusively from DT Jay Alford. They drop back in a deep zone a lot. The last time we faced a team so intent on hanging back it was CMU. Unless they do something that provides shocking evidence that, yes, Joe Paterno still dimly perceives the outside world, Manningham probably wasn't going to be running a whole lot of fly routes anyway.
Also: Adrian Arrington is not, how you say, chopped liver, and neither is he slow. He was about as hyped a recruit as Mario was, has caught a bomb his ownself, and clearly has some wicked acrobatic catchin' chops. Now we are concerned because we don't have two deep threats? Oh... okay.
10/9/2006 - Michigan 31-13 Michigan State - 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten
It turned out that all you needed to know about this game came on Michigan's first drive of the day, when MSU jumped offsides five times and was flagged for it twice. Befuddled by Chad Henne withdrawing from center to check into another play -- can he do that? -- the Spartans gave Michigan ten important yards on their first touchdown drive of the day. By jumping offsides. Five times.
And so forth and so on:
- A personal foul after an extra point.
- A dropped touchdown pass.
- A total inability to not rough the kicker.
- A fair catch at the four yard line.
- An indecisive kickoff return that ended up at the nine.
- A useless late hit personal foul that extended a Michigan drive and led to another touchdown.
Michigan fans often bitch about the coaching staff's flaws, and I'm no exception, but in the wake of whatever that was it's clear that there are worse fates than running way too much. Ever since college football entered my consciousness, Michigan State has been dangerous because of its stupidity. Sometimes they're a danger to others because they're too stupid to know they should lose. Sometimes they're a danger to themselves because they're too stupid, period. This was the latter.
And thus I must risk blogospheric cred by aping Simmons and quote Teddy KGB from Rounders: "I feel so... unsatisfied." There's no great joy in watching them run around punching themselves in the face, only a small and petty one. Instead of glorying in the dominating victory of our warrior-poets, I found myself trying to come up with the best way to complete this sentence: "Michigan State is as organized as [adjective(s)] [silly noun] [preposition] [noun phrase]." (Candidates:
- a horde of coked-up squirrels looking for nuts to nut
- Dadaist theory as perceived by art history freshmen
- the unfortunate neural pathways in what purports to be the mind of Mike Gottfried
- Brady Quinn's bowels in the fourth quarter of the Michigan game
- the French army.
) Which is nice and all, but, yeah. With the fourth quarter dragging through a series of injuries, TV timeouts, and unnecessary instant replay reviews, I became bored and frustrated with run run run punt.
Bored, and frustrated, and up 31-13, and 6-0. Uh... I'll take it.
Hopefully More Satisfying Bullets:
- Re: Arrington's controversial catch. The NCAA rulebook does state that "any part of the body" landing in bounds makes your catch legal:
c. To catch, intercept or recover a ball, a player who leaves his feet to make a catch, interception or recovery must have the ball firmly in his possession when he first returns to the ground inbounds with any part of his body or is so held that the dead-ball provisions of Rule 4-1-3-p apply (A.R. 2-2-7-I-V and A.R. 7-3-6-IV).
1. If one foot first lands inbounds and the receiver has possession and control of the ball, it is a catch or interception even though a subsequent step or fall takes the receiver out of bounds.
"Any part of his body" is crystal clear, though the phrasing of the second passage is worrisome. This image shows Arrington did punch his hand down before falling out of bounds, so if a hand is good, the catch is good. Still: it should have been reviewed.
This will be the first game all year where running 2/3rds of the time is clearly the wrong decision (assuming we aren't up by three touchdowns again). Will DeBord adjust?
If I had to guess -- and I would like to point out that this is speculation and not something you should take as Gospel, in fact you should probably just stop reading this post right now -- I'd say Manningham has a mildly sprained knee and is questionable for this weekend.
It's a wacky, wacky week. I normally try to avoid any of the super-cool lists, but I'd be shocked if I didn't pull Mr. Manic-Depressive for this baby.
- I hate every team after #15.
- Is Arkansas any good? No. They are not. They only beat Alabama -- a team that was in a fourth quarter battle with Duke -- because the Tide's kicker underwent an epic meltdown. They beat Vandy by two. They're apparently worse than the Pac-10 middleweights (and lightweights, in the case of Arizona) that USC's been struggling with all year.
And yet they crush Auburn by three scores despite featuring a true freshman quarterback who threw all of ten passes. So what to do? Well, given Auburn's performance to date -- struggles with South Carolina and Buffalo(!), and a good but close and debateable win over an LSU team that was just pantsed by Incredibly Surprising Tim Tebow -- you crush Auburn's face in in your poll. AU's offense has been reliably awful.
- So, yeah... Arkansas is no good but I rank them #16? Well... who else? Can you pick a team below them better? If so, for God's sake tell me.
- Also: who says LSU is any good? Wins over ULL, Arizona, Tulane, and Mississippi State. Losses to Auburn and Florida. They crush the weak and lose to the strong. I dunno.
- Wild, wild swings of opinion on Tennessee and California. UT's run defense crushed Cal but fritzed out against Air Force and now UGA, so they're a bit wonky, but they hammered Cal and Georgia and lost by one to Florida. Yeah, I'd bet on them versus anyone below them. As for Cal, how heavily do you take that UT game into account? With Longshore flipping a switch to go from "Ayoob" to "Booya," is this even the same team? Not so much. They murdified an Oregon team that, yes, was fortunate to win versus OK, but obliterated a defense that just held Texas to 200 yards. Would I bet on them versus USC? Damn skippy.
- My raging contempt for Louisville and WVU continues unabated.
- Iowa! Up ten! Purdue's no good but they finally laid the smack down on someone. It's more like I've soured on the SEC en masse and they were the biggest beneficiary.
- Texas... oy. The Longhorns and Sooners are mirror images of each other. Both clearly have epic talent at the offensive skill positions and a quarterback they trust not at all. Defensively, both have talked a good game to date but had little to show for it until last week. I hate games like this year's Red River Rivalry that give me the impression that the teams are nearly identical but end up with lopsided scores due to a bad luck explosion on one sideline. I think Texas should be lower but refuse to drop them behind Louisville and WVU; I think OU should be higher but refuse to raise them higher than a bunch (more) one-loss teams. Maybe? I'm strongly considering jumping OU past the knot of SEC teams I hate.
Games Seen: Michigan-Michigan State, Penn State-Minnesota, Auburn-Arkansas, Texas-OU, Georgia-Tennessee, bits of Missouri-TT, bits of Nebraska-ISU.
OMG Beat Puke State LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.