shocked gambling establishment etc
Update 6/16: Finally removed LeSean McCoy after reading this PA Homestyle Sports entry. Given the way things are going (Percy Harvin now lists UM along with USC and the three Florida schools and added UM immediately after I sliced him off), we should lead for McCoy in under a month until I put him back on the list, upon which he'll immediately commit to Buffalo. Also removed IN LB AJ Edds. Changed Jeremiha Hunter's status... Michigan has fallen back to the back. Updated some schools for other players, as well.
McCoy was a pipiedream anyway. mgoblog doesn't think Michigan will take a running back in this class unless DeMarco Murray surprises. Link here.
Overrated: I'll try to keep this within the scope of teams that I know about. My pick here is Iowa, which I hate (the pick, not the school). But this is a team without any semblance of a running game, and that won't change this year. Albert Young is probably their best back but it really takes two years to get back to speed after an ACL tear and this is year one for him. Plus they lost their starting LT for the season and are one injury on the offensive line away from scrambling for players.
Defensively, that entire line is gone and my initial reading of the Iowa tea leaves says that the best that the Hawkeyes can hope for this year is that the guys who replace them are pluggers who hold up okay. Teams that can pound straight ahead (a dwindling few in the Big Ten) will be able to move the ball against Iowa. I don't think that's the profile of a 10-1 team. Much closer to 8-3, in my opinion, and thus they have no business in the top ten.
Why do I hate the pick? Kirk Ferentz. He's been holding the Hawkeyes together with tape for a couple years now and has a proven ability to take 180 pound losers and turn them into Robert Gallery. There's an excellent chance this will end up making me look real dumb.
Underrated: Let's suck up to the ridiculous influx of Falcons out there. I pick Bowling Green, who check in at #29 on that poll. I believe that Omar Jacobs and company will blow Wisconsin out in their opener and then have one of the year's most entertaining games against Boise State. (Do NOT miss that game. The over under will probably be 100, and I'm taking the over.) Will they win? Who knows. What happens when you take two explosive offenses and two trash defenses and put them together?
1) Complete unpredictability.
2) A hell of a lot of fun.
And if they're going to toe to toe with the Broncos in the land of fake blue grass, then dammit, they're probably just as good as a team that many slightly intoxicated blogpollers are pegging in the top 10. mgoblog thinks that's mighty kind to Boise, but both should be around 15-20, meaning that the Falcons are at least ten spots too low.
Rose Bowl flyer: Again in the Big Ten, a team no one is talking about: Minnesota. On the surface Brian Cupito was pretty mediocre last year but that was partially a function of the throws he was asked to make, which were largely bombs downfield. Victimized by a spate of dropped balls, he completed under 50% of his passes... but led the Big Ten in yards per attempt(!). With three great offensive linemen back and Laurence Maroney ready to blow the doors off, I think there's a good chance Minnesota's offense starts ramming protons together, ignites, and becomes a really bright thing that you can't look straight at.
The defense? Probably still atrocious, but that isn't stopping the Boise State/Louisville bandwagons.
So. One of the things that I hope will differentiate the BlogPoll from the various other polls is the amount of interaction that will take place between voters. The ideal is sort of a giant hive mind of college football knowledge that collectively is very accurate--the key to this is taking everyone else's opinions and absorbing things you didn't know and changing your mind.
With this in mind, this is the first in a series of Q&A (&A&A&A&A) sessions that will hopefully get people thinking about things in ways they wouldn't have without input from the Tulane guy or the BGSU guy or the Mississippi State guy.
BlogPollers are encouraged to answer the following questions on their blog and leave a trackback here. If they have an area of expertise (like the Big Ten for this particular blog) they are encouraged to stay within it. Then they are furthermore encouraged to read everyone else's opinions and comment on them, so forth, so on, etc, until we are completely right about everything. mgoblog will wait several days and then summarize the general feel of the answers, much like a Slate fraywatch.
In the future I'd like this to move around--nobody likes a traffic hog. I figure we'll do another one in a couple weeks. If you'd like to come up the questions and play Grand Central email me.
Based on this compilation of the top 25 as Internet pundits and preseason rags see it, who looks flagrantly overrated? Why?
Who looks underrated?
What team in the high teens or lower could end up in the Rose Bowl?
(PS: Anyone blog-less who would like to participate, by all means leave a comment.)
Yesterday rumors of Gabe Watson being "suspended" for "being the size of an aircraft carrier" popped up on Michigan message boards. This, of course, set off an absolutely tremendous wave of bitching about everything from Watson's girth to Carr being a pansy to that damn jug Yost insists on winning back next year and how the sun is weak and cold, not like the sun you got in the old days, now that was a sun, and when we had a quagmire we had a proper quagmire, not this running around in the desert going yip business, where's my cane yer bastard.
Lost in the wash is this: Watson and company were astoundingly good last year at shutting off the run. Tremendous. Outstanding. Tremendously outstanding. How can I say that given Stanton, Young, Smith, Cobb, Maroney, etc? Follow me on a magical journey of discovery.
It is my contention that Michigan's defensive line, led by Watson, was one of the best in the country at stopping the run. The problem was everyone else.
Axiom 1: Watson was not at fault against the mobile quarterbacks of OSU, MSU, or Texas. The USS Watson cannot be counted on to track down quarterbacks. He is a defensive tackle charged with clogging the middle of the field and consuming anyone who he happens across. Quarterback runs that go up the middle are essentially always draws, and there will be a hole. Someone must fill it.
Axiom 2: Watson was not at fault for the multiple long runs Michigan gave up. Three long touchdowns came from the DeAndra Cobb counter draw, which was used successfully in three consecutive games. Again, this is an outside run that Watson has no responsibility on. Its consistent ability to burn the Michigan defense is entirely on the linebackers and safeties. mgoblog remembers the draw being run against Michigan six to eight times. Three of those runs: 72 yard Cobb touchdown, 64 yard Cobb touchdown, 68 yard Noah Herron touchdown. Michigan stopped it once or twice, the other few times it went for 15 or 20 yards. Likewise, Laurence Maroney's 80 yard touchdown run in the Minnesota game isn't Watson's fault past the ten or so yards Maroney got before blowing by an out-of-position safety.
It's mgoblog's contention that only the first five to ten yards a running back gains can be attributed to the defensive line, if that. In the case of the counter draw, the first person with an opportunity to make a tackle on that play is almost invariably going to be a linebacker or safety, if any ever felt like showing up. Football Outsiders encapsulates this thinking nicely in something they call "line yards," which is essentially the previous paragraph in number form: all long rushes are hacked down to ten yards and averaged. FO also has an "adjusted line yards" stat which adjusts for down, distance, score, and opponent quality. Sorry, but mgoblog ain't crazy enough to do that by hand.
But he is crazy enough to take a whack at the unadjusted variety. FO's line yards stat also excludes all quarterback runs under the assumption that if you aren't named "Vick"... well, let them say it:
"Under the assumption that there are very few runs called for quarterbacks not named "Vick," the directional rushing statistics do not include QB runs. They also don't include runs by wide receivers, since these are mostly trick plays and reverses that don't depend on conventional offensive line blocking."
This assumption is much more problematic for the college game, but we're going to go with it anyway, because what we're trying to measure here is the ability of a defensive line to combat an offensive line on a conventional running play. In my opinion, very few quarterback runs test this battleground. Many are scrambles and still more are run/pass option bootlegs. mgoblog firmly believes that if you're getting overrun by quarterbacks, that's on the linebackers and safeties.
Mr. Number The Indisputable says this: if you wade through Michigan's schedule from last year, excise all runs from quarterbacks (note that this include sacks) and normalize all long runs to ten yards, this is what you get:
For comparison's sake, the NFL average is 3.5, and the best team in said league last year, Washington, averaged 2.82 unadjusted line yards per carry. Michigan probably played a relatively weak schedule compared to NFL teams since college is generally less balanced a playing field, but mgoblog is willing to bet that Michigan's adjusted line yards would still be amazing and amongst the top five in the country.
Two years ago Minnesota detonated for over 400 rushing yards against Michigan; last year they had one big Maroney run and 109 yards on 38 carries. The difference? Gabe Watson instead of Grant Bowman. Don't believe the hype about not believing the hype: Watson did exactly what he was supposed to. A run on first and ten was usually second and nine. If he improves not one iota this year, he should be an All-American. He is unmovable.
The MSU Scout site has a rundown of MSU's potential recruits this year. Deshawn Sims and Tom Herzog make appearances. Some insight on what to expect from said players should they become Wolverines.
Side links have rearranged themselves. New category for blogs by Michigan folk that don't really fit elsewhere, with ParadigmBlog, Rob in Madtown, and Straight Bangin' the inagural members. Straight Bangin's MVN NBA site, End of the Bench, has also taken up residence in the "local teams" section.
The ArborBlogs aggregator has proven to be relatively meh, but ypsi~dixit consistently takes things that seem boring--going fishing, planting stuff, etc.--and makes them interesting. Her recent exploration of Washtenaw County's weirdest cemetery is sweet.
Pennslyvania's equivalent to MLive sports not one but two good Penn State blogs, PA Homestyle Sports and 50-Yard Lion. Neither pulls any punches about the state of the Nittany Lion program, which I found a little surprising for the officially-affiliated pair. A credit to them. (Ok, ok, the former linked to me and the latter's in the BlogPoll, but they're still good--no RSS though, boo.)