|1||Texas||Certainly has a better D than USC...|
|2||Southern Cal||... but yeah, that Bush guy is alllllright.|
|3||Penn State||Don't get used to it: everyone on both lines is gone; entire secondary gone; Robinson gone.|
|4||Ohio State||Goddammit. Final score doesn't really capture how thoroughly Michigan got waxed. Losses to #1 and #3.|
|5||LSU||Clear SEC frontrunner.|
|7||Notre Dame||No, I'm not leaping FSU past them.|
|8||Auburn||Okay, okay, I believe.|
|9||Miami||That's a buzzkill, isn't it?|
|10||Oregon||Commenters were near unanimous about this.|
|11||Georgia||Functional DNP vs. UK.|
|12||Alabama||Oof. Sorry, Warren.|
|14||Fresno State||No, I shant punish for that loss, but FSU still hasn't beaten anyone outside Boise.|
|17||Georgia Tech||Total omission from first draft.|
|21||Texas Tech||Okay, okay.|
|22||Michigan||Well, who else?|
|24||Iowa||Tate is still a very good quarterback. Bit of an up and down year, but a quality team.|
|25||Boston College||A quarterback short of an intimidating team.|
Games I Saw: Michigan-OSU, USC-Fresno.
Help requested: What should I do with Oregon? Better suggestions towards the bottom are appreciated.
Update: Bumped Oregon two spots as commenters were nigh unanimous in their corrections; also moved Georgia Tech in at #17 after forgetting about them in the first draft.
First... Obviously I've been in a bit of a sulking mood, what with the football and the sky that David Foster Wallace would most assuredly refer to as "gunmetal" and Robert Earl Keen would term "Nashville suicide weather" plus a nasty head cold. The "sad boy music" has been on heavy rotation. It's in times like these I look to movies for a pick-me-up, and since I am viciously anti-spoiler I usually go into these things blind.
So, uh... yeah... a piece of advice. If you find yourself in a similar state don't watch Requiem for a Dream. Just don't.
Programming Note: The meaningless UFR for D versus IU will go up probably late today, as I charted it. It's pointless but I strive for completeness. The UFRs for OSU will be posted early next week in order to reduce the flecks of spittle reaching the reader's cheek to an acceptable level.
We ain't done bitchin' yet. No sir. Braves & Birds:
In a way, it's worse to know what fate is about to befall you like a condemned man. On the other hand, at least there was no surprise when the Buckeyes marched the length of the field and saved their season while casting their arch-rivals into a winter of discontent.
ParadigmBlog attempts to gauge the state of the program and finds that most other teams can be thoroughly unhappy as well. RBUAS has a selection of newsbits for your perusal. Foremost among them: Lamarr Woodley will return for his senior season. Also some guys are out for the bowl game.
What about the poetry? One of our warrior-poets has done bad:
Eugene Germany, a redshirt freshman from California, was arraigned over the weekend on one count of larceny from a person and two counts of resisting police.
The cosmic stupidity of grabbing a girl's cell phone on South U, a campus thoroughfare full of bars laden with people at 12:40 AM, pales in comparison to the disappointment experience at this sentence:
Two officers in the area joined in the chase, tackling Germany as he ran, reports said.
Those officers must run a 4.4.
Okay okay that's cute and all. But seriously if we lose to BU for the third straight year, I'ma kill someone. BU is all hyped up about a visit from the us, we're trying to avoid a three-year stretch more embarrassing than that time CMU took two of three from State.
"Certainly, at the end, when we took a two-score lead with five minutes to go, we felt the way we had played defense the first fifty-five minutes that we were going to win the game. We let them score on that first drive too soon. We missed a tackle on Santonio Holmes on the touchdown play, and so they didn't have to take enough time off the clock."
"That (pooch punt) is a play we work on every week," Carr said. "I felt very confident that Garrett Rivas would get it down close to the 10. That bought us 20 yards, which is two first downs. I just felt we had to do that for our defense. That's why we did it, and I would do it again."
I'll be under the basement stairs shivering if you need me.
Update: Oh, yeah. Michigan scorin' machine TJ Hensick is going to be on CSTV's "Tuesdays at the Rink" interactive interwebs chat feature at 2. Ask him piercing question about his availability for his senior season or something.
It's time for everyone's favorite creepy Nabokov-inspired pastime: recruiting. As the season has progressed actual events have seriously impinged on my ability to obsessively cover the projected future events (one million national championships, natch), but now that actual events have ceased actively tormenting me except in all too frequent 'Nam flashbacks, we can return to the magical fairyland that is the Future.
In the future, cancer will be totally awesome and Michigan won't play a zone looser than the morals of Betty Grable (harlot! zing!). In the future, space hamburgers will be made in space and Michigan will be a rough-and-tumble unit with aggression bordering on maniacal. In the future, the pain of all oppressed peoples worldwide will be redirected into the state of Ohio via lasers (natch) and Michigan will win. And stuff. With these players!
A note: the recruiting board has been updated and is presumed accurate for the offense. If you have any corrections, tips, or unlinked articles to add, comment or email me.
Needs: Michigan attempts to take a quarterback every year. A recruit this year is looking at competing for the job with Jason Forcier and Unnamed '07 Recruit as a redshirt sophomore after Henne leaves.
Commitments: Michigan took a flyer on Statesboro, Georgia QB David Cone, who draws comparisons to Elvis Grbac for being an inexperienced passer stuck in an option offense and to John Navarre for being a big, gumpy white guy.
Prospects: Most of the other high profile quarterbacks Michigan was after either committed elsewhere or were outperformed by Cone. Michigan is still going after Florida's Tim Tebow but he's expected to stay in the south. There's a 95% chance Cone is it.
Completely Useless Opinion: I'd prefer it if Michigan landed a bigtimer every year, but failing that I think Cone's commitment is okay. You can tell a lot from how Michigan approaches a particular player's recruitment. In Cone's case, he showed up to camp, stood next to more touted prospects like Neil Caudle and Pat Devlin, and came out a Michigan commitment. Michigan immediately ceased seriously pursuing everyone outside of Tebow. They like him and actively chose him over guys with bigger reputations. He's certainly a risk but he's not going to be walking into a situation like Henne's where he'll be asked to start as a freshman. He'll have at least two years to get comfortable.
For more on Cone, check out this recent article from the Savannah Morning News. I likes me a quarterback who says things like this:
"It's a situation where we don't want to deviate from what's been working for us," he said.
Smart kid; probably good at reading coverages; if I see him whip out "excoriate" at any point I will commence agitating for him to usurp Henne immediately upon matriculation. Blizzam SAT verbal section!
Needs: Almost none. Michigan took Kevin Grady and Mister Simpson last year and allowed Simpson to redshirt. Next year, then, they'll have two juniors, a sophomore, and a freshman even without any commitments.
Prospects: Michigan is pursuing a few backs, but all seem like longshots.
Completely Useless Opinion: We probably don't take a tailback, which is fine.
Needs: Also almost none. Three freshmen came in last year and two--Mario Manningham and Antonio Bass--appear to be budding stars chock full of speed almost southern in its vast quantity. The third, LaTerryal Savoy, has also impressed the coaches despite being given a redshirt. He's reputed to be more of an Avant type.
Commitments: Florida WR Greg Mathews, a four-star to Rivals and three to Scout. Mathews is big (6'2") but has surprisingly slow 40 times listed (4.72 on Rivals, and an OL-like 4.9 on Scout) that may or may not be reliable. Mathews just finished saving his team from an early exit in the Florida state playoffs by catching 8 passes for 213 yards, 126 of those in the fourth quarter after briefly leaving the game with an injured hip and cramps.
Prospects: With Mathews in the fold Michigan is down to a selection of instate sleepers who might get offers late in the process. Foremost among them is PSL MVP Dominque Douglas, who caught 24 touchdowns this year.
Completely Useless Opinion:Mathews would have gone to Miami if offered a scholarship; obviously the Hurricanes passed on him. How much should this color our perception of Mathews? Probably not much. Miami already has a commitment from a top-100 WR in Sam Shields and is heavily pursuing OMG 5 Stars(!) Vidal Hazelton, Percy Harvin, and Damon McDaniel. They have bigger fish to ply. His speed does seem almost caucasian in its paucity, but he seems to be doing fine on a high school level. He might not have the explosive burst of Manningham and Bass, but we could use a bigstrong possession alternative to said speedsters.
Michigan may offer Douglas or Adrian Cannon late if a scholarship opens up, especially if either shows an aptitude for defensive back.
Needs: Michigan probably needs one. Tyler Ecker is a senior next year and there are only two other tight ends on the roster, though Michigan likes both. Redshirt freshman Mike Massey is clearly a work in progress but should be an excellent receiver in time and Carson Butler is a 6'6" supafreak who could be a major difference-maker if he pans out.
Prospects: Michigan is reportedly looking at some instate guys who are flying under the radar.
Completely Useless Opinion: Michigan struck out on a couple of high profile targets and is left scouting the region for someone to fill the roster. Don't expect a star.
Needs:You always need offensive linemen, but Michigan recruited a whole unit last year and thus will go somewhat light this year in a small class. The primary area of need is tackle. When the 2006 class emerges from their redshirt year, Jake Long will be a senior if he's not in the NFL and there will be three sophomores battling for the left tackle job. Other than that there's nothing.
Commitments: Ohio G/C Justin Boren, son of former Michigan linebacker Mike, chose Michigan over Ohio State early in the year. Boren, an Army All-American, is ranked in the top 50 by both Scout and Rivals.
Prospects: Michigan is in a good position with two heralded face-mashers in Florida's Sam Young and Washington's Steve Schilling and is heavily recruiting three-star OT Perry Dorrestein from Illinois. Florida prospects Daron Rose and Jim Barrie are also possibilities, but seem ticketed for local schools.
Completely Useless Opinion: Offensive line is the position grouping where recruiting rankings matter least, but it would certainly be nice to pick up Young or Schilling. Either would significantly improve the outlook in the post-Long era, simply by dint of numbers. Three guys to man two spo
ts is a little hairy.
Depends heavily on how the offensive line class fills out. Michigan entered this year with very little required from its skill position recruiting what with Grady, Bass, Mario, etc, but a distinct need at quarterback and tackle. Striking out on the top quarterbacks is disappointing. Cone is a risk no matter how you slice it, though I do have faith in their ability to identify talent and the pattern behind his recruitment does look positive. If a big timer comes aboard in '07 then we're fine and will have a hell of a battle when Henne graduates. This seems likely, by the way. As far as offensive tackle, we are in on a number of prospects that would satisfy the need but I don't know that we can count on any of them.
As of now this class appears to be in the C range. A commitment from a high profile offensive lineman or two could bump it up to a B- or B.
Taking what I can get. Yes, Michigan did beat Central Michigan handily in their season opener, waxing the Chips 87-60. Both Big Ten Wonk and Hawkeye Hoops wonder aloud whether Tommy Amaker is reading blogs for his strategery, as Daniel Horton took all of four shots in 27 minutes and allowed Abram and Sims to shoot 16-for-20. I'm guessing he doesn't; the turtleneck thing persists.
Big Ten Wonk pointed out offensive rebounding as a canary-in-the-coalmine stat for Michigan this year, but I'll be looking closely at two other stats: defensive rebounding and turnover percentage, especially from the guards. I'm resigned to the fact that Hunter, Brown, and Sims are all going to turn the ball over with frequency, but there should be a dramatic improvement in the backcourt. For all of Horton's fobiles and Harris' struggles, they're worlds better than Dani Wohl, Ashtyn Bell, and the rest of the IM All Stars. As far as defensive rebounding goes, there's just no excuse for a team with a veteran and deep set of posts and a couple wings (Coleman and Abram) who are capable on the glass to finish dead freakin' last in the league. Michigan must improve drastically to compete for an NCAA spot.
So far? Freshman Jerrett Smith had nine assists and two turnovers; Horton had four and zero. Ominously, 17 turnovers were turned in by others, including four each from Abram and Sims. Better news is to be found in the defensive rebounding, as Michigan crushed the Chips to the tune of 86%. Even notoriously soft Chris Hunter got in on the act with seven defensive boards in only 19 minutes.
Yeah, other people think it sucks, too. RBUAS:
It was 21-12 and I kept getting the feeling I'd seen this game before. The way the lead was so unsatisfying, how bewilderingly it had been obtained, and how petrified I was even while up nine points, knowing fate would soon realign itself and things would be back to normal, with Michigan baffled as to how another one got away
ugh, it was like watching the Lions.
Ah, the joke that never got to be made. After all-everything Ted Ginn handled a couple of punts like an epileptic with a hot potato, I was foaming at the mouth to make the "nice muff" joke. Twice. But Michigan wouldn't let that happen.
Joey's probably twitching in a ditch somewhere, but no doubt he'll check in with something appropriately rabid.
Drafty bits. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau has released its preliminary rankings, which you can see up at INCH. Long story short: Mitera #3, Miller #17, Turnbull #21, Swystun #25, and Sauer the #1 goalie. The preliminary rankings are only per league, but since the NCAA has averaged from 5-8 first round picks in recent years, it appears that Mitera is a likely first-rounder. Sauer may be as well, though it's really hard to tell with goalies until much later in the year.
Well, there's always the Pistons. Despite getting blown out of Dallas by the end of the first quarter on Saturday, they're still 8-1 and Rasheed is still saying things like this:
"I'm telling you, Darko is a Serbian gangster," Rasheed Wallace said. "Darko's got some bodies back there (in Serbia-Montenegro). He can go psycho on guys."
XOXOXO Sheed. Remember that he is known as the King of Vulgarities when he takes a penalty.
(via Detroit Bad Boys)
11/19/2005 - Michigan 21-25 Ohio State - 7-4, 5-3 Big Ten
Now, despite forcing myself away from this space until I could compose some semi-rational thoughts, comes the bile. It won't go away and I have to write something. I pre-apologize. There's little less seemly than the semi-coherent invective of a fan directed at a coach, but the camel got an anvil this year. I wish this was better, but since it's not in all caps and I retroactively removed all the swearing and (non-oblique) references to retards I declare a tenuous victory over emotion.
I'm not the kind of person to go around blathering about how I was OMG RIGHT. I wrote a lot of words this year. Random chance indicates that some of them are going to be right. But did it have to be this stuff?
When Wisconsin took the ball with around 4 minutes left and calmly marched for a winning touchdown, I said this:
So how about that strategic blunder?
Michigan allowed the worst possible thing to happen to them on Wisconsin's final drive: a touchdown with vanishingly little time on the clock. When the Badgers got the ball back Michigan should gone nuts with aggressive man to man and blitzing to prevent the 8-10 yard plays that Wisconsin got with frequency. They were aggressive up front with eight man fronts but the coverage they played behind it was soft and the corners and safeties were playing far off. When it became clear that Wisconsin was A) going to have more than enough time to do whatever they want and B) not going to punt, Michigan should have taken its timeouts and told Wisconsin that if they were going to score, they were going to score quickly. First and ten from the 24 was the tipping point, if not sooner. Passively watching Wisconsin drive down the field and getting the ball back with 29 seconds left is a recipe for defeat, and defeat is not Good Eats.
Our miraculous escape from the Penn State game did not prevent me from revisiting the topic:
What is the deal with that last drive?
I don't know. Robinson made some excellent throws but Michigan also played off, never blitzed until first and goal (except when they sent all of five guys on one play), and generally made things as easy on him as they could in an effort to not give up a big play. In doing so they repeated the mistake they made against Wisconsin by not adjusting their defense to a much more aggressive stance. Playing soft with that much time on the clock eats time, often preventing the offense from mounting a response drive. Michigan had 20 or 30 seconds against Wisconsin and just 50 against Penn State. Without the Breaston return they lose. The advantage of having the ball last in a close game is often overlooked and Michigan played in a way that immediately reduced their chances of getting a last possession.
Passivity also makes much less sense when the offense is going to go for it on fourth down. Allowing medium range passes without serious resistance when the opponent has four cracks at a first down instead of three is a tactical error since you're relying on the opponent to screw up an extra play. Given that Penn State had way too much time on the clock for it to pressure them in any way, the correct strategy in that situation was to increase your aggression, reducing the chances of each individual first down at the expense of increasing the chance of a big play.
When Iowa nearly did the same thing until Ferentz caught some Carr-itis of his own, I said this:
This was a wretched defensive performance. Reviewing the tape I kept thinking to myself "how did we win this game?" A large part of Tate's success was due to Michigan never using man coverage. We played so far off their receivers that the only time we actually covered them is when they went deep. ... This is the essence of bend-but-don't-break: sit back until your opponents screw up, if they screw up. Michigan blitzed two times (I don't count the delaying LB tactic as a blitz as the LB is the fourth rusher). Two! Even blitz-hating TMQ would find that excessive. You can count the instances of man coverage on one hand . Not coincidentally, you can count the instances of covered receivers on the other hand. ...
We had the good fortune to get a number of drive-killing Iowa mistakes and thus managed to hold them to 17 points, but Michigan's defensive strategy in this game loses it 8 out of 10 times. We relied on Iowa drops and penalties and failed stunt pickups to win this game, which is crazy considering that Iowa was the least penalized team in the league coming in and is generally regarded as one of the best coached teams in college football. A series of flukes conspired against them in this game, otherwise they put up 30+. ...
Yes, this seems viciously harsh for a game in which Iowa scored 17 points in regulation, but ask yourself: when Iowa got the ball back with two minutes to go, what did you think our chances of stopping them were?
Those things were all true, no matter how much I wanted them to be false. My cockeyed optimism got the better of me after Northwestern, though:
I submit that Lloyd Carr is working towards that sweet eight-track player by changing his habits built up over the decades.
No, he isn't. Despite getting immediate negative feedback on his punt-and-pray strategy no fewer than three times this year, we saw Garrett Rivas jog on to the field to attempt a pooch punt 110,000 people knew was coming. The punt was quickly followed by a Charmin-soft zone that ceded the 22 meaningless yards gained in three plays and a touchdown scored without any time for Michigan to attempt a late-game drive of its own. Just like Wisconsin. Just like Penn State minus 30 seconds. Just like Iowa minus one point. A strong case can be made that Lloyd Carr and his coaching staff learn slower than laboratory mice, who generally figure out that the electric shock button is bad after one or two trials.
So I hope you'll forgive me when I say that with Ohio State on the 50 yard line and the deja vu hitting its most overwhelming point, I uttered a deadly serious declaration of hatred not directed at anyone in red. I was means and opportunity away from ending up on Fanopticon under a headline better reserved for English soccer fans. I sat there stupefied at Michigan's passivity, stupefied at its willingness to let Ohio State dictate the pace of the game, stupefied at the utter incompetence of it all. The entire year had led up to this futile point when the coaching staff consciously decided to use the same strategy that failed every time it was pressed into service to date, including the most recent Ohio State drive. In doing so they threw away every effort the players made to make up for a coaching staff that was damn sure that they were right no matter the copious evidence presented by the prosecution.
I give up. Despite the natterings about negativity from OMG PROGRAM INSIDERZ who think that any criticism that doesn't come from their mouths is null and void, this space has tried to hew a middle ground between those who are willing to blame Lloyd Carr for everything and those willing to blame him for nothing. No more. After watching Carr fail to learn a goddamned thing after ten years of the same thing over and over again, it's clear that we'd be better served with Algernon. This is a painful admission for me, since every year I've scoffed at those who think that Carr is mediocre to worse coach. The record speaks for itself, I said.
Well, yeah, it does.
Ballot links and suchforth and sowise; I don't have anything to ask this week, but if you've got something strident to say go ahead.