coaches say you can't, so don't sign a loi
- Bumped UT up a spot since they have a better resume than Clemson.
- Bumped ND up a couple spots since they have played four actual teams -- maybe 3.5 depending on your opinon of PSU -- and won three of those games.
- Replaced Wisconsin with Wake Forest.
- On the top five: Swapped OSU and Auburn again, since whatever struggles OSU had against Penn State were matched by Auburn against Buffalo. The margin between the top five teams is really thin and I am liable to change things up there with seemingly little provocation.
If you're wondering where all the Kamoku-related rage is... it's on AOL. Video of the incident and a post wherein Bret Bielema is castigated for letting a punt-coverage scrub get away with that reprehensible act scot free. Especially because he's only a punt-coverage scrub and the next game for UW is freakin' Indiana. Way to be awesome, Bielema!
Perspective: Badger Tracker provides a series of bullet points from a Wisconsin perspective. If it's any consolation, BT, every team that's played Michigan so far this year has come out of the game believing its offensive line to be inept. Michigan Monday has the OSU take; SMQ ("SMQ is more confident at this early stage about the Wolverines than any of the other current mythical championship frontrunners") and EDSBS ("In nine months, "Ron English ______ "will begin popping up in the birth registers around Ann Arbor, just as "Jim Herrmann" suddenly gained popularity as a name for abused pet cats and individual pieces of toilet paper in the area last year") chip in frighteningly positive neutral viewpoints.
Oh, snap. Vijay is living on pure ND rageohol these days. First: oh, snap, referee complaining all up in your face. Now he eviscerates the "9-3 isn't good enough... unless you're Michigan" meme. (Is it really a meme if it's too retarded to be real? Can I call it a "reme"?) Said post contains one of those sentences that wraps up a complicated situation with a neat little bow:
Notre Dame fans taunt Michigan because our accomplishments aren't as lofty as their pipe dreams.
Yes. Yes, that's exactly why the frankly incredible condescension that radiates from many Domer fans grates so. This is a Read The Whole Thing Situation: there is much goodness within.
While we're on Notre Dame, Jon Chait has an article on Irish lore in The New Republic.
1. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
Q: How do you stop Calvin Johnson?
A: Are you Reggie Ball?
A: Then you can't.
2. Alan Branch, Michigan
What happened to Lamarr? Well, it's like this: Branch is having equal production from a more difficult position to seriously eff up an offense from. In terms of raw, NFL-scout-stunning talent, the 6'6" 330-pound Branch is the winner. In terms of overall impact to date on what's possibly the nation's best defense, Branch is the winner given that he's been getting heavy pass rush despite being double-teamed as a defensive tackle..
He doesn't have the stats, but he does have the talent and impact. He is closer to the platonic ideal of a superstar at his position than anyone save that Johnson kid immediately above, and that's how this ballot rolls.
3. Troy Smith, Ohio State
Does one ridiculous throw offset a crappy day? No. So he goes down a couple spots. It was raining, yes, but most of Smith's throws were well off, and Penn State got wasted by ND a couple weeks ago.
4. Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois
Upcoming game versus Iowa will be critical for the little MAC back who could. I saw him shred Michigan last year and Ohio State this year; he's not just running up huge numbers against MAC snackycakes. But he is doing that too... and what numbers!
5. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
Obviously super awesome, but I dunno... leaves me cold for some reason. Since I never get to see OU-Texas it will be hard for me to be blown away.
A Totally Real Interview With ESPN Personality Jay Mariotti That I Would Like To Emphasize Is Really Real And Not Fictional In Any Way Whatsoever
MGoBlog has been fortunate enough to snag the finest talent at ESPN for a no-holds-barred interview about life at the WWL. I cannot stress this enough: this interview is totally real. This guy actually said all these things and I can totally prove it, except not right now.
Remember: this is not fictional in any way. At all.
Hi. Great to have you here. As you no doubt know, Jason Whitlock's controversial interview with The Big Lead led to his summary termination as an ESPN writer/talky-person/designated Jeff George proponent. Do you think his firing was warranted?
Jay Mariotti: Did he call someone a fag? That's intolerable.
Uh... no. Didn't you read the interview in question?
Jay Mariotti: Who was it written by?
It's an interview. It's not "written" by anyone per se. But it involves J--
JM: --ay Mariotti? That guy can write.
JM: Well, then I obviously haven't read it.
Uh... anyway. In it he levels some pretty harsh charges of "bojangling" -- whatever that is -- at Scoop Jackson and calls Mike Lupica an "insecure, mean-spirited busybody"--
JM: Dude, that's nothing. Ozzie Guillen called me a fag.
--and do you think ESPN was correct to terminate their relationship with Whitlock?
JM: Who? Did he call me a fag? That's probably why get got fired. Mess with the Mariotti, get the horns.
Do you have any opinions of Lupica?
JM: That guy's a fag. I hear that the only way he can get an erection is by slitting the throat of a baby goat.
Also, ESPN upper management is running an elaborate sex-slavery operation that has robbed Lithuania of 50% of its preteen girls. They also think Carrot Top is funny.
This isn't going to affect my relationship with the network, is it?
No way, man! You're Jay Mariotti!
JM: You're damn straight I am.
Video this week is thanks to Chris of Dangerous Logic.
|Wisconsin's RG doubles Branch momentarily with the RT, then peels off to block a charging Burgess at the last moment, opening a hole up the middle. Very nice play.Hill pops through the LOS for a nice gain. If I can blame someone it's Mundy(-1), who's too far inside and is washed out. YAM: 3. But he's done pretty well this year.|
|Crable(-1) is not the right guy to be taking on fullback blocks and it shows here, as he is shoved to the ground by Rentmeester with ease. Dave Harris(-1) gives up â€“ yes â€“ outside contain, opening up much room for Hill.|
|M37||1||10||Standard 4-3||Pass||5 (Pen)||PA out|
|Taylor(-1) offsides at the snap. Wisconsin goes with play action; Branch(+1) pushes his blocker back over a fallen UW OL and hammers Stocco as he throws, forcing an incompletion. (PR)|
|Pulling guard is supposed to block Woodley(+2), but Lamarr plows him backwards. This takes away Hill's lane and removes two blockers. Hill tries to bounce it out; Trent(+1) has also defeated his man and wraps him up for a major loss.|
|Same play that killed us when Owen Daniels ran it last year. Effective because when Woodley reads screen he goes and finds the RB, not the TE. Will Johnson does make it back to the TE but can't make the tackle. No minus, but a missed opportunity for a plus. Would like to see a linebacker somewhere around here. Refs miss a facemask on Johnson. (CA, coverage -1)|
|M29||3||2||Standard 4-3||Pass||29||Busted dumpoff TD|
|Could be on Burgess but Harris was the player closest to Hill when he made his cut, so he gets the -2. (CA, Coverage -2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q. Creepy drive to start with... D is AWESOME! What? Er.|
|O18||1||10||Standard 4-3||Penalty||-5||False start|
|Point of attack is jammed up, so Hill is forced to cut back. Unfortunately, there are acres of space as Tim Jamsion(-2) has totally vacated the backside.|
|Jamison(+1) is run at again, this time intentionally. He holds his ground against a pulling guard nicely, allowing Burgess(+1) to close down the outside and track Hill down when he cuts up looking for what he can get.|
|O25||3||3||Standard 4-3||Pass||6||Short cross|
|Burgess's blitz chopped down and Woodley just loses his balance before getting to Stocco, allowing him to complete the cross for the first down. (CA, coverage -1)|
|Zone blitz where we drop off the weakside DE (Jamison) into coverage: they run right at the vacated weakside DE. Should be a big gain â€“ our rock, their paper â€“ but excellent work on the inside by the DTs (Johnson and Taylor, both +1) to the left forces a bounceout: Harris and Burgess(+1 each) kill it in the backfield.|
|Crable lined up over a slot receiver as UW goes three-wide. Surprisingly, Michigan is in man. Unsurprisingly, Crable's not much good against a WR, who gets a yard or two of separation and a good gain. (CA, Coverage -1)|
|Another zone blitz â€“ Van Alstyne drops into coverage â€“ that sends Burgess and Harrison to one side of the formation. RB picks up Harrison, leaving Burgess(+1) unblocked and forcing a ball from Stocco that's ruled intentional grounding. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q. Couple times on their last series of downs that drive we find ourselves out-schemed. Once we turn it into a three yard loss, but the other one sets up a 3rd and 3. English gets his stop with a well-executed blitz.|
|Branch(+2) crushes his man three yards in to the backfield, disengages, and tackles. Terrance Taylor(+1) also got good push.|
|Stocco bounces it. Harris(+1) was right there if the pass was accurate. (IN, Coverage +1)|
|Branch(+1) spins off his man and comes free, forcing Stocco to get rid of the ball way early. The pass ends up a two-yard dumpoff that's almost intercepted by Burgess(+1), who would have waltzed in if he makes the catch. (BR, coverage +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 15 min 2nd Q. Branch almost singlehandedly kills this drive.|
|Crable(+1) takes the fullback on and hold his ground, forcing Hill outside of him. Harris(+1) is unblocked, reads the play and closes quickly, making contact a yard behind the LOS. Hill manages to stumble forward for a small gain.|
|Wisconsin runs play action and runs Stocco out on a bootleg. Branch(+1) is through the line instantly and starts running Stocco down, forcing a throw-away due to good coverage(+1) downfield. (TA)|
|Sideline image of English PISSED for some reason.Woodley(+3) goes right around the tackle and kills the Wisconsin drive. (PR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 12 min 2nd Q.|
|O12||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||-1||Off tackle|
|They're in three-wide and decide to run against our base defense. This goes about as well as you might expect. Woodley(+1) drives his man back, disrupting the timing of the play. Harris and Crable clean up.|
|Taylor(+1) gets a good pass rush, forcing Stocco to check down to Hill. He's covered, but Burgess(-1) overruns the play a bit and is forced to try to arm-tackle Hill around the legs. That would probably work against most backs but Hill's a big dude â€“ like Rob Stone's prom dates, apparently, except for the "dude" bit â€“ and breaks the tackle. Sixteen yards later, first down. (CA, coverage +1)|
|Wide open(coverage -1) but thrown a bit behind Hubbard, who drops it. Still has to make that catch. Hall came up to make sure the bobble became an incompletion, but was way too far off of him to make a play if he secured it quickly. (CA)|
|O27||2||10||Standard 4-3||Pass||12 + 15||Stop|
|Simple seven-yard stop finds Trent(-1, coverage -1) way off the receiver. Easy catch and opportunity for YAC because we're playing soft. Jamison(-1) picks up a personal foul for an unnecessary blow to Hubbard's head. WTF is he thinking? (CA)|
|M46||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Good job by Jamison(+1) to fight off a block from the FB and prevent the play from going outside. There's a tiny bit of room inside but not much.|
|M44||2||8||Standard 4-3||Pass||16||Deep cross|
|Rare instance where Stocco's kept totally clean by his OL. Given time and plenty of space he fires a dart in between four Michigan defenders. (DO)|
|M28||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||5||Off tackle|
|Hill manages to find a tiny crease and burst through the line even though this looks like it's going to go for very little. Jamar Adams with a rare safety tackle.|
|Harris(+1) avoids an attempted block from the tackle, then sticks and drives Hill backwards with a textbook tackle. Spielman starts going POW BOOM OOF.|
|Biggs(+1) leaps into the air, forcing a high, inaccurate throw from Stocco. 50-50 this works if it's complete. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-7, 6 min 2nd Q. Last thing approximating a drive Wisconsin gets until garbage time is a couple instances of soft coverage, a kind of ticky-tack personal foul, and one nice throw from Stocco.|
|O16||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||1||Off tackle|
|Very nice job by Taylor(+1) and Will Johnson(+1) to kill this right at the LOS.|
|Johnson(+2) drives into the backfield and snuffs this draw out by himself by tossing the guard away like he's a toy.|
|Blitz + picket fence zone around the first down line, which is what I like to see. Blitz is picked up but Terrance Taylor(+1) pancakes the OL and charges in on Stocco, forcing him to take what he can get. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 2 min 2nd Q. Consistently great play from both DTs on this drive and Alan Branch isn't even in the game! Johnson's been more than adequate in limited snaps this year â€“ see third and one versus ND â€“ and is an excellent option to keep the starters fresh. There's not much of a dropoff when he's in the game and that there is one at all speaks more to Branch's overwhelming awesomeness than anything else.|
|Beckum gets a couple steps on Englemon(-1), who's not in position to deal with this presnap (that isn't his fault) but gets way behind him on the crossing route. (CA)|
|Stocco throws it out of bounds, as Hall(+1, coverage +1) gets a jam and is in tight coverage. (TA)|
|Woodley(+1) spins back inside his blocker, getting pressure that forces a Stocco dumpoff. (CA)|
|Stocco is crushed by Branch(+1) as he throws. Ball was heading OOB anyway. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, EOH.|
|O19||1||10||Standard 4-3||Pass||Inc||RB flat|
|Good coverage(+1) forces an inaccurate dumpoff to Hill that was going to get crushed anyway. Terrance Taylor is trying to run Hill down, BTW. (IN)|
|O19||2||10||Standard 4-3||Run||3||Counter trap|
|Taylor slants inside, getting pushed out of the designated hole on this play. Burgess(+1) takes on a blocker and comes off for the tackle.|
|Great coverage(+2) as Stocco has a ton of time but can find no one. Stocco is eventually flushed and throws it away. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|One of their better runs comes one of the few times we bring an eighth guy into the box. There's a big hole between their RT and RG as Crable blitzes upfield. Adams and Burg ess get blocked off, leaving Hall to come up and make the tackle.|
|No room here. Great play by Branch(+2) to drive all the way to the other side of the line and tackle. Jamison(+1) also holds up well.|
|O39||3||4||Standard 4-3||Run||3||Pitch sweep|
|Looks like it should get the first down but comes up just short... possibly a questionable spot. Credit to Hall(+1) for coming up, absorbing the blow, and getting Hill to the ground just short of the marker.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 10 min 3rd Q. On replay the spot is correct. Excellent job by Hall.|
|O20||1||10||Standard 4-3||Run||2||Counter trap|
|Branch(+1) cuts off the outside with penetration; Crable(+1) runs Hill down from behind. Dude is fast.|
|Pass is deflected at the line by Branch(+1) another zone-blitz, with Woodley dropping into coverage. (BA)|
|Blitz. Pass deflected at the line by Biggs(+1). (BA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|Morgan Trent(+1) comes up hard on the outside to prevent Hill from reaching the corner; Harris cleans up. There's nowhere to run inside. Ever.|
|Taylor(+1) comes free after a couple moments of being blocked, forcing Stocco to throw off his back foot. The resulting pass is shockingly good considering the situation but Hubbard can't make a tough, diving catch. (CA)|
|Michigan's in Stocco's head now. Branch(+1) spins inside on the snap, drawing the attention of a guard and the center, as Taylor(+1) stunts around him, coming clean. Stocco rolls a bit and throws it away. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 2 min 3rd Q. The Terrance Taylor/Will Johnson combination this year is better than Gabe Watson was a year ago. There. I said it.|
|This is an outstanding play from Jamar Adams(+2). TE Beckum comes across the formation on this play action fake to the left. Adams, in man, watches Beckun release and sprints across the field to prevent any gain whatsoever.|
|Alan Branch(+3) is a damn beast. Good coverage(+1)|
|Biggs(+1) discards his man and closes on Stocco. Harris(+1) delivers another thumping blow to Hill to finish this drive.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 13 min 4th Q.|
|I'm shocked when our DTs are actually blocked. Hill squeezes up between them but Burgess(+1) makes a nice play to contain the run for only a few yards.|
|O23||2||7||Standard 4-3||Pass||Inc||Deep cross|
|Has just enough time to find a small hole in the zone, but Anderson drops it. (Coverage -1, DO)|
|Jamison(+1) totally unblocked. Uh, okay. Obviously the OL thought Hill was supposed to pick him up.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 10 min 4th Q. Wisconsin gets no second half first downs until the game is over.|
And there relevant football ends. Michigan puts together a field goal drive, then gives the ball back leading by 17 with 5 minutes left. The second string proceeds to give up a big chunk of yards. Michigan brings in the first string and holds UW to a field goal.
So that performance certainly didn't suck.
Uh... no, it didn't. Wisconsin went three-and-out on nine of the thirteen relevant drives they had and scored on but two, one of which was a semi-short field after the first interception of the day. By the time Michigan had effectively ended the game, Wisconsin had around 150 yards in total offense. Some garbage-time passing from Stocco on the second-string defense in prevent mode propped up their final numbers but make no mistake: if inclined to continue, Wisconsin probably could have gone another four quarters without another touchdown.
Here is chart:
|Taylor||7||1||6||Came through with flying colors in first serious test versus running team.|
|Branch||12||12||Jumpin' jehosephat. Officially the best player on the team.|
|Johnson||4||4||A fine player in his own right.|
|B. Graham||-||-||-||Made a brief appearance in the second quarter at DT.|
|Crable||2||1||1||Not much for him to do with the front four getting pressure on their own.|
|Harris||5||3||2||Blamed for the bust on the UW touchdown; otherwise the steadiest and best linebacker Michigan has.|
|C. Graham||-||-||DNP, I think.|
|Burgess||6||1||5||Did well in the run game.|
|Mundy||1||-1||Was fine. Possible run/pass platoon with Englemon?|
|Trent||2||1||1||Seemed fine in run support. Started again despite the stadium announcement. Has essentially won the job, IMO.|
|"Coverage"||9||8||1||Far less busy than against ND.|
Obviously, we are very happy with chart. Chart is a fine representation of the Michigan defense.
For a second straight week I desire to say "everybody." That's just the way it is when you give up 150 meaningful yards. More specifically: the entire defensive line. Aside from a couple plays early Hill had nowhere to run and poor John Stocco spent his day screaming "run away, run away, run away" when the nasty big pointy teeth of Branch or Taylor or Woodley or Jamison or Biggs or Johnson came bearing down on him. This defensive line is ridiculous, especially because it has six players who are all contributing at a high level.
Well, David Harris had a tough first drive, giving up outside contain on a Hill run that netted a first down and (probably) blowing the coverage on the Hill touchdown. But he ended up positive on the day -- like everyone who was involved in more than a couple plays -- after thumping the UW ground game and so is declared redeemed.
Anyone emerging further?
Jamison continues to get more and more playing time as his ankle heals. There was one messed up play on the backside but that was more mental error than anything. When he knew what to do in the run game he held up well enough. He's also fast.
Taylor and Johnson were both great. They're active, driving players who would be an excellent starting tandem even in the absence of Alan Branch (BTW: Alan, you are getting verrrry sleepy. You love Michigan and would never consider early entry into the NFL draft). Morgan Trent showed well in run support one week after playing an excellent game versus ND's passing game.
The aforementioned players are all playing in spots Michigan fans were fretting over at season's start. Add in the emergence of Biggs as an above-average player and the remarkable transformations of Crable and Burgess and there isn't a spot on this defense that can be considered a major hole anymore.
Shall we invoke that particular year again and tempt the gods of hubris further?
Uh, no. This defense is terrible, I miss Todd Howard, Zach Kaufman, and Pat Massey and will be surprised if we make a bowl game this year.
What does it mean for Minnesota?
The Gophers may prove more troublesome than Wisconsin did, but they're down to a converted linebacker and Amir Pinnix at RB and have lost that Setterstrom-Eslinger combination that powered their run game for so long. They did rack up 421 yard against Purdue, but that D has been giving up nearly 30 points to I-AA teams. They were largely shut down against Cal -- one of their scores was a kick return -- and if I had to pick between Michigan and Cal's defenses, I would definitely pick Michigan's.
The trouble comes in the form of Ernie Wheelwright, Logan Payne, and Brian Cupito. We haven't faced a receiver with the size and speed of Wheelwright, who is the frequent target of Cupito bombs. We lived on the edge against ND, occasionally letting Rhema McKnight get open downfield. Fortunately for us, Quinn was either getting hit or panicking about getting hit to hit him, except once when McKnight dropped it. I have the Minnesota-Purdue game on DVR and will relay further impressions later in the week.
So, before we get to the ballot... who is number one? In my mind there are five candidates:
- Auburn: Marquee win over LSU, but a close game marred with some small officiating controversy and at home. No other competent teams on the schedule, though secondary win over WSU is good since it's 40-14.
- Ohio State: handled Texas @ Texas, winning 24-7, though the game was closer than that implies. Big time marquee win. Struggled badly against a Penn State team that was obliterated by ND; Irish were in turn obliterated by Michigan. Transitive property?
- Michigan: BEAT DOWN Notre Dame by 26 points. Have ground out nearly identical victories in all other games, crushing opponents to the tune of 150-ish yards before garbage time and winning by about three scores. Secondary win over Wisconsin probably the best of the contenders.
- Southern Cal: Lamest big win of all candidates over a Nebraska team seemingly more focused on covering the spread than winning, deploying a mind-numbingly stupid three-TE rush attack most of the night. Obliterated an Arkansas team that's probably headed for 5-7 and struggled badly against crappy Arizona in other games.
- Florida: Marquee win @ Tennessee but in a squeaker. No other actual opponents on record. Had a goofy, narrow game against UK that was more fluky than anything.
Am I being a shameless homer if I contend that Michigan's resume is the best, albeit by a very narrow margin? When six minutes were left in Michigan's most recent game they were was up 17 and sending in the second team defense. Ohio State, on the other hand, was up eight and facing a potential -- if highly improbable -- game tying drive before Morelli gift-wrapped two Buckeye touchdowns. Given that Penn State has looked like crap this year, I think that's advantage Michigan. And while Texas is probably much better than ND, Michigan's win was significantly more emphatic. Meanwhile, Southern Cal has played two atrocious offenses and a Nebraska team that voluntarily made their offense atrocious. The two SEC teams earned their marquee wins by the skin of their teeth and have no one comparable to Wisconsin in their pile o' skulls.
So am I ranking Michigan #1? Hell no! I've seen what happens to people who tempt the wrath of the C/K Award -- Spartan fans everywhere can thank tES for their nationally-televised sack-kicking -- and wish to avoid that fate. But I think some people should and that the rapidly solidifying conventional wisdom that Ohio State is obviously the best team in the country is wrong. I urge you, poll voters, to consider the teams en toto and to refrain from blindly voting last week's #1 at the same spot despite a bad game versus a meh team. Down that path boringosity lies.
And now is the time on Sprockets when we vote.
- My "no looky" policy dropped Nebraska out after a 56-0 win over Troy. I'm fine with that since they showed no life in their one game against real competition.
- Wisconsin moves in after a loss. In short: I think their defense is pretty good and it's more palatable than FSU or some mid-major or something. Also their band kicks ass.
- WVU drops. I watched most of that game versus the ECU Pirates.
- Iowa drops. I didn't see the Illinois game but given their interminable awfulness Iowa's sluggish 24-7 victory is not impressive. I think I've dropped Iowa two or three spots every week so far.
- Clemson and Cal rocket up. I think Clemson deserves it, as their one loss was XP-induced and they've dropped the hammer on everyone else. Cal... well... they're obviously pretty good now that Longshore is not a disaster.
- MSU stays. Again: who else is a good option? They h
ave a good win over Pitt and a close, hilarious loss to ND. That offense is really good, and they can't implode like that more than a couple times a year. Right?
As always, I await stern corrections.