Crappy table legend:
- * == redshirted
- bold == key players
|2005||Chad Henne||So.||Matt Gutierrez||Jr.*||Jason Forcier||Fr.|
|2006||Chad Henne||Jr.||Jason Forcier||Fr.*||David Cone||Fr|
Should improve, though how much I have no idea.
I guess it says something when your true sophomore quarterback completes 58% of his passes for 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions and is regarded as a big fat disappointment. For the 2005 edition of the Michigan Wolverines it says "Jesus we ran a lot of wide receiver screens," because Henne was indeed a big fat disappointment no matter how slightly above average his stats look. We've gone over this before, so suffice it to say that Henne's inconsistency caused more than a few people to curse their television (or eyes) out and definitely cost Michigan more than one game.
This will be Henne's make or break year. With two full years of starting under his belt, he's as experienced as John Navarre--who has a third of Henne's natural talent--was when he led Michigan to the Rose Bowl and was named All Big Ten. If he doesn't improve his accuracy significantly, Michigan's offense will end up spinning its wheels much like it did last year. The good news: towards the end of the year his accuracy and pocket presence both improved, especially against Ohio State.
|2005||Mike Hart||So.||Kevin Grady||Fr.||Jerome Jackson||Jr.*||Max Martin||So.|
|2006||Mike Hart||Jr.||Kevin Grady||So.||Jerome Jackson||Sr.*||Carlos Brown||Fr.|
Should improve moderately.
Predictions of a three-headed demon backfield did not materialize. Mike Hart limped through the season, alternating dominating, saliva-generating performances with pensive standing on the sideline. Kevin Grady's often ended up running into his own offensive linemen or the waiting arms of tacklers surprised at the young man's generosity. Max Martin, well... I called him a greasy-armed malcontent and I'm sticking with that. Though they were hamstrung by an offensive line best forgotten, the position group was an overall disappointment.
With a healthy Hart, a more experienced backup, and some OMG speed in freshman Carlos Brown, the running backs should come closer to the lofty expectations placed upon them before last year. That won't necessarily mean the running game becomes crushing--the mess on the offensive line will have to get resolved before that happens--but goddammit Hart's going to be on the field instead of on the sidelines (knock on wood). That's improvement.
|2005||Brian Thompson||Jr.*||Will Paul||So.*||Obi Oligibo||Jr.*|
|2006||Will Paul||Jr.*||Brian Thompson||Sr.*||Andre Criswell||Fr.*|
Should remain level.
I suppose returning both players who saw extensive time is good, but Paul can't catch and Thompson can't block. With a couple of capable tight ends and a veritable armada of wide receivers, Michigan should rely on the fullback less this year--though whether they actually will is a matter of some debate.
|2005||Tyler Ecker||Jr.*||Tim Massaquoi||Sr.*||Mike Massey||Fr.*|
|2006||Tyler Ecker||Sr.*||Mike Massey||So.*||Carson Butler||Fr.*|
Should decline slightly.
Massaquoi was never a great receiver, especially when he was running around with a club in one hand, but the fleeting glimpses of Mike Massey demonstrated that the freshman's blocking has an epic distance to cover before it can be considered adequate, let alone good. Assuming Tyler Ecker has plateaued, that indicates a slight decline.
Even so, the tight ends should be good. Ecker is athletic for a guy his size and has good hands. Even when Massaquoi's cast came off it was clear that Ecker had passed him for the starting job. Massey--who has received buzz as an excellent receiver--also contributed a few catches. Neither of these guys is going to pound your head into the ground, but as a pass-catching duo they'll probably be formidable and heavily relied upon, as the receivers do not appear to have a possession type in their midst.
Keep an eye out for hulking manbeast Carson Butler, who has Bill Brasky of College Football potential down the road. Butler--6'6", probably getting towards 240 or 250--played mostly basketball in high school before switching sports as a senior. He spent his senior year running fly routes as a hilariously oversized wide receiver. If he can actually play football he could find himself starting as soon as next year.
|2005||Jason Avant||Sr.||Steve Breaston||Jr.*||Antonio Bass||Fr.|
|Mario Manningham||Fr.||Carl Tabb||Jr.*||Doug Dutch||Fr.*|
|2006||Mario Manningham||So.||Antonio Bass||So.||Carl Tabb||Sr.*|
|Steve Breaston||Sr.*||Adrian Arrington||So.*||Doug Dutch||So.|
Should be approximately level.
Jason Avant will be missed, but the next five guys on the depth chart return. Antonio Bass and Mario Manningham got unprecedented levels of playing time for true freshman, Manningham in particular. One of them will have to make the leap from intruigingly fast youngster to "Oh God, Not That Guy." Indications are that this will likely happen: after all, Manningham had a better year than any freshman wide receiver since AC. He's on the fast track to stardom. Michigan's hopes for the WR corps rest on just how fast that track is.
There is an issue with size. Michigan has always had a selection of big, physical players. None of the projected top three wideouts next year matches that description, but sophomore Adrian Arrington and redshirt freshman Laterryal Savoy will audition for the role of deceptively tan white possession receiver.
|2005||Adam Stenavich||Sr.*||Leo Henige||Sr.*||Adam Kraus||So.*||Matt Lentz||Sr.*||Rueben Riley||Jr.*|
|Mike Kolodziej||Jr.*||Alex Mitchell||Fr.*||Mark Bihl||Jr.*||Jeremy Cuilla||Fr.*||Jake Long||So.*|
|2006||Mike Kolodizej||Jr.*||Rueben Riley||Sr.*||Adam Kraus||Jr.*||Alex Mitchell||So.*||Jake Long||Jr.*|
|Mark Ortmann||Fr.*||Justin Boren||Fr.||Mark Bihl||Sr.*||Jeremy Cuilla||So.*||Cory Zirbel||Fr.*
Should... improve I guess.
Normally losing three starters would be major cause for concern, but since two of the starters were obviously quite bad at the whole blocking people thing it's a mixed blessing. Add in the fact that both Jake Long and his backup missed most of the season and Michigan should have a bounceback year on the OL. Four of the projected starters have about a season's worth of experience, though Rueben Riley's has come at a mishmash of positions. Only projected RG Alex Mitchell is totally inexperienced.
Despite Mitchell's youth, the blinking question mark is new left tackle Mike Kolodziej. Lost in the wailing over the revolving doors at guard was how the departed Adam Stenavich quietly erased anyone who attempted to get past him. Kolodziej is regarded as an able pass blocker without the mean streak needed to do much in the run game, but has not been extensively tested. He's seen time here and there, usually against weak competition, and is now thrust onto the most important spot on the line.
Hail! Hail! to the champions of the Crab
Nebula... or something.
Looks good, doesn't it? Projected improvement from the returning offensive backfield, the cornucopia of top-100 wide receivers coming of age, an offensive line that has both experience and functional knees... Michigan's offense will explode across the stars in a glorious supernova of points, leaving a white-hot glowing Crab Nebula that future football teams will marvel at for millennia to come!
Wait, that was what I said last year. Or words to that effect. Consider me chastened and newly humble. There's a lot of good out there but three major ways it can fall apart:
- Evil Henne. This is obvious: he has to play better. He should have more opportunities to actually do something right with a (please, God) better offensive line and the threat of an actual running game, but even accounting for the myriad problems he had to deal with this year he was an average Big Ten quarterback at best, which doesn't cut it.
- Hey, offensive line, it's your mom! She says you still suck? Yoda says if the OL does not improve, the skill position talent matters not.
- Proving message board retards right. This is not a place where lamentations about Carr's utter unsuitability for anything other than janitor at a meat packing plant are offered up constantly, but Michigan has shown a tendency to fritter away offensive talent on a regular basis. This usually happens when Michigan has found itself in a "comfortable" lead (like, say, 3-0 in the first quarter) and decides to pack away the scoring offense for another day. Stay aggressive.
If none of these three things come to pass, the Michigan offense really will be nebula-causing. That's unlikely, though. Pumpkin Henne is probably not going to go back to Cinderella without a half-season of growing pains. The offensive line is not likely to be magnificent, and Lloyd Carr is too set in his ways to change completely.
Yes, it should be better, but better does not necessarily equal "good." Michigan finished 55th in total offense, and that likely understates how crappy they did. Tomato-can defenses occupied a wide swath of the schedule: only three opponents (Penn State, Ohio State, and Nebraska) had defenses ranked higher than 50th. Michigan could improve a great deal and end up average.
More (tenuous) grist for the mill. Lynn Henning throws this line away at the end of a column called "The Buzz" (OMG young reader magnet!):
Michigan is about to change defensive coordinators...
I hope everyone likes speaking ENGLISH WINK WINK WINK. (<== clever allusion to rumors? we'll never know!) Also, Max Martin's transfer is official.
Meanwhile, people who don't know sexy from a dead penguin have declared the 2005 Automotion calender to have too much of said sexy when in reality it contains far too little. The "American Decency Organization" is pissed and totally lacking a copy editor or even the slightest idea what's going on in the world. Check it from their press release... here's a piece of evidence that world hell handbasket etc:
***The SuperBowl and Jannette Jackson (the wardrobe malfunction)
Figures. Though calling "Michael" something closer "Michelle" might work. And I would love to see an ADO boycott of the SuperBowl this year. After all, it's in DetRoit.
You can see for yourself: WARNING!!! PORNOGRAPHY!!! Hell, you can download the whole thing and set it up as your desktop background... but, really, it's disappointing. You'd think the American Decency Organization would have the, er, decency to trash something with, like, whips and perversion and stuff. Instead they attack the most innocuous, innocent pictures of B+/A- chicks in bikinis ever created. Go figure.
Speaking of perversion, move over "Tim Tebow Shirtless" because we have a new winner in the field of "creepiest search term used to reach MGoBlog"... drumroll please:
If you don't know what slash fiction is, er, check Wikipedia. And then enter the fetal position if necessary.
Speaking of overuse of the segue "speaking of"... I got nothing. But I want you to know that I know. Now you know that I know you know.
Update 1/11: Removed OLs Mark Jackson and Doug Stroud (not being recruited), QB Rick Stanzi, RB CJ Spiller, DE Jason Adjepong(VT), CB Devin Ross, LB Mike Morgan, S Ian Conyers. Moved LA CB Jai Eugene to committed. Added SC DT Adam Patterson, who just visited. Also added LA RB William Griffin.
Linked to free Scout article on Thaddeus Gibson in which Gibson is very explicit about his intentions:
"I 'd say there's a 65-70% chance I'll commit to Ohio State over the other programs."
Mentally moving him to the "written off" bin. Also linked to Scout article on Brandon Minor. Minor is noncommittal in the article, though he does get off this totally awesome quote:
"Coach (Lloyd) Carr was here on Jan. 3, and Coach (Phil) Fuhlmer was here on Jan. 4," he said. "They both told me how much they wanted me and stuff. I know that Michigan got a commitment from another running back, but that doesn't mean anything to me, I'll go in and play wherever I go."
Editorial Opinion: Most of the casualties were guys who mentioned Michigan once or twice and then never again. Only Adjepong actually got in for a visit. The Eugene commit is obviously very good. Check last weekend's article for more details.
That leaves a few pieces of news: we're in it for a random SC DT, Adam Patterson, who visited and came away quite impressed; Thad Gibson is probably going to Ohio State; Brandon Minor has Michigan in his leading group and Allen Wallace can't spell "Fulmer."
The projected loss of Gibson is no big deal since Michigan has either three or four linebackers in this class already, though he may prove a thorn in the side down the road. First he'll have to get his grades up. Minor seems interested in Michigan and the above quote indicates he isn't looking at Carlos Brown as a major negative. Some think Minor would be a fullback in college, but Michigan's recruiting him at TB. Patterson--a DE/DT tweener, BTW--still has four more official visits to go but is definitely interested.
For a more complete take on Michigan's recruiting efforts to date, check out IBFC's latest opus. I would just add this: with the departures of Martin and Gutierrez, the most commonly kicked around number of scholarships is 18. It's likely that a few fifth-year seniors do not return, however, and Michigan could take as many as 21 players. Michigan has 15 commits. Simple math (coughLloydcough) indicates 3-6 additional players.
Link a heah.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Blogpoll Declares Victory! Um... yeah, Auburn is lower than Wisconsin. I love you guys.
Fallers: As expected, both Miami and Oregon got thumped heavily, Miami because they lost by 37 points and Oregon because they finished the season as unimpressively as any 10-2 team ever has. Also getting pounded was Auburn after they were run out of the (cough) Citrus Bowl by Brian Calhoun and Wisconson. Fellow top-ten losers Georgia and Notre Dame found a softer landing, dropping only 3 and 4 slots respectively.
Risers: Mass carnage in the top ten allowed several teams to slide up quite a ways, most notably Wisconsin. Their unexpected throttling of the aforementioned Tigers catapulted them from #17 to #10. Also shooting upwards: Sugar Bowl-shockers West Virginia and Miami-assistant-coach-murderers LSU, each gaining five slots. Towards the bottom, an 8-4 Oklahoma team parlayed a victory over Oregon into the #20 spot, largely because down there a lot of nose-holding took place.
Wack Ballot Watchdog: Come on, now, Boi From Troy. Y'all lost. It does the poll no credit to be the only one in existence with someone holding out for USC. Nor does your sanity seem, uh, sane when Florida State is #10. Not to be outdone, Pitt Sports Blather ranks the Tide #17, a full six spots worse than any other voter.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Go ahead, take a guess as to who Mr. Bold is. Yes, it's Boi From Troy. We've discussed TCU, Texas, and FSU already. Georgia at #17 is also a huge outlier and various smaller ones are dispersed throughout the ballot. It's okay, BFT: two national titles is still pretty good.
Oddly enough, our final Mr. Numb Existence is is RD Baker from Cheap Seats, who was a frequent visitor in the "Mr. Bold" category, winning it three times (I think). Newly staid and plaid-donning RD Baker, the BlogPoll salutes your for your ruthelessly efficient ballot! [/Big Ten Wonk]
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award belongs to Oklahoma blog The Gaylord Memorial Gathering for placing the Sooners #15... but given the mess in the middle of this year's poll that's not too insane.
Straight Bangin' Award candidates number exactly two in the post-season, as only two blogs got above the paltry -0.4 registered by any Michigan blogger who (justly) omitted his team from the final poll: Bruins Nation, your champion, and Mayor Kyle King. One wants Karl Dorrell fired... the other is above such petty things as overrating his own team. Salutes all around.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive is a less notably insane version of The View From Rocky Top, who dropped his tremendous SEC fixation in favor of... well, a lot of stuff. You don't hit 172 on the swing scale without seriously revamping your ballot.
Mr. Stubborn goes to the aforementioned Pitt Sports Blather, who had West Virginia in front of Georgia even before all this crazy Sugar Bowl stuff happened... and reacted to that game by bumping WVU up two spots and Georgia... up one spot! Likewise, the (cough) Citrus Bowl saw both participants drop a single slot. I, uh... okay.
Aaaaand that's all folks. Except not really. I'll throw together some season averages for next week so we can have some fun badgering the outlying voters with evidence o
f their clear insanity. Thanks to all who participated by voting, writing roundtable responses, commenting, and reading. We'll wind down over the course of a few weeks, discuss what went wrong and what went right, and then start up again in the summer when the impending season can no longer be ignored.
Well, it ain't Maine... but it ain't all that good either. Michigan managed to spin its schedule around and cram the Vanderbilt Commodores in as the season opener. Sacrificial lamb Ball State has been moved back to the November 4th bye week. Vandy will not have that Cutler guy who beat Tennessee and scared the jean shorts off of Florida. They'll probably revert to their total doormat status after reaching the hallowed heights of Michigan State's annual 5-6 record, but at least they're a semi-credible I-A team. The Wolverine has further details.
Note: The final BlogPoll will be posted at noonish tomorrow. Get your bets in.
In other news, Ohio State stands for gooded edumuhcation and strict NCAA compliance. Recently dismissed Miami running backs coach Don Seldinger:
'The one thing that bothers me is the U stood for family and tradition and all the things that other colleges don't have,'' Soldinger said.
You knew this picture was coming. (Er... second bullet.)
Holy balls. What is Seldinger's family like? Is he part harpy? Has he gotten his double-digit Jerry Spring guest chip? Is the most delusional thing that has been uttered in the last ten years? Fifteen?
Also of note: Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe got the boot despite approximately two million years of quality service. He's regarded as one of the best, and with current OL coach Andy Moeller a former linebacker and current LB coach Jim Herrmann, uh, looking around, we could finagle ourselves an opening... nah.
Unfathomable! Inconceivable! I guess if you live in Idaho many things aren't fathomed on a regular basis, like disliking potatoes and turf that doesn't burn your eyes and, like, electricity. Thus Gutierrez's decision to leave Michigan gets this sentence in the Idaho State Journal:
The thought of another year on the sidelines as Henne's backup was unfathomable.
Other than that instance of thesaurus overload, the rest of the article on Gutierrez's future is quite good. Peruse.
(HT: "Wolverines," the simply-titled MLive blog that replaced Gregg Henson's abomination.)
Good riddance, various NFL-bound future opponents! The list of people we won't have to deal with next year is fairly heartening:
- OSU has lost WR Santonio Holmes, CB Ashton Youboty, and S Donte Whitner, bringing their total count of returning defensive starters down to two. Despite graduating the finest assemblage of remarkably ugly, remarkably effective linebackers in all the land, I wouldn't expect that unit to be anything less than average next year, but the secondary is now looking questionable at best.
- Notre Dame TE Anthony Fasano has left early. No doubt Weis E. Coyote will construct a new tight end from the mighty sinews of his frontal buttocks.
- Laurence Maroney and his warp drive are gone, though Minnesota seems to have a never-ending supply of guys they can plug in who will grind out 1,500 yards and watch helplessly as their defense blows yet another season. Gary Russel is next in line, though he won't have the opportunity to run behind Setterstrom and Eslinger.
- Diminutive, evil, Michigan-smiting Brian Calhoun has not officially announced his departure but is widely expected to enter the draft. His replacement can't possibly be as good... right?
- Purdue isn't technically an opponent, but there is a slight chance that they could be a bothersome contender for the Big Ten title next year (hey, I said a slight chance). This chance has gotten even slimmer, as both trash-talking safety Bernard Pollard and prototype DE Ray Edwards have declared.
If you can't beat 'em, inflate their NFL prospects enough to make 'em jump to the league, I guess.