And There was much rejoicing. And by rejoicing I mean "bitching about the Alamo Bowl." Copious "rejoicing." RBUAS:
Anyway you slice it
's season was a bad one. If they had maintained their New Year-bowl streak, would you have looked at their season with any more adoration? Of course not. Michigan
See you in San Antonio. I'll be the one hanging himself.
Well, at the very least Vegas expects us to strangulate the Huskers: the line opened Michigan -13(!).
Double rejoicing! Lost in the basketball/recruiting spoo-- article yesterday: the hockey team got their asses swept @ Miami (Roethlisberger). They've now lost four in a row for the first time since 1988-89, when Zack Morris was still the coolest man on the planet (slack: I was ten) and not rumored to be dead from a heroin overdose every six months. This, as they say, is not so good.
Adding injury to injury, the US World Juniors team will pirate Jack Johnson, Mark Mitera, and Kevin Porter from the Wolverines' efforts to not be humilated at the GLI. Add in the near certain addition of Andrew Cogliano to the Canadian team and Michigan is screwed with a capital screwed. Depressed hyyyarrr.
One of these years Michigan is going to have to take a hard look at its participation in the GLI and either demand it take place at a time when Michigan is not down 3-4 critical players every tournament or that it go on without Michigan. Going into it shorthanded every year and picking up at least one loss is damaging Michigan's PWR time and again, and it's not worth it.
As an aside, the US team is heavily favored to win the WJC according to Bob McKenzie, a statement shocking to anyone who knows about these things. In the span of a half dozen years the US has gone from humorous also-rans to shock winners (in '03) and pretournament favorites (now)... yeah, I think the USNTDP is sticking around.
At least there's... basketball? No, that doesn't sound right. But there you go. I submit this gem on Graham Brown's uncanny resemblance to someone who is not Ben Wallace for your edification and approval. As Uncle Grambo might say, best evs.
Big Ten Wonk has initial, extremely, er, wonky PPWS stats up. Michigan players featured on the top:
7. Daniel Horton, Michigan (1.40)
18. Courtney Sims, Michigan (1.29)
19. Brian Butch, Wisconsin (1.28)
20. Lester Abram, Michigan (1.27)
... and on the bottom:
5. Ron Coleman, Michigan (0.89)
13. Chris Hunter, Michigan (0.98)
Still early yet and there is much noise to dampen, but of interest. Big Ten Wonk also points out this article on incoming recruit DeShawn Sims, though I believe its claim that Sims will play on the wing in college is erroneous. Next year Michigan's posts consist of Brent Petway, Courtney Sims, and then... Amadou Ba? One or both of Kendrick Price and Sims will have to play as a post at least some of the time unless we pull a post recruit in this class, which seems unlikely.
Sure, this sounds totally on the up-and-up. No, there's nothing shady about anything that ever goes on in Columbus:
[AJ] Hawk, [Nick] Mangold, and a third roommate, Jonathan Thomas, told police that their apartment in the 100 block of West Norwich Avenue was broken into and about $3,000 in cash, $1,425 in movies, two laptop computers, a $500 Gucci watch, two Microsoft X-Box games valued at $500, a Sony Playstation game valued at $250 were taken.
Who in the sam hell keeps $3,000 dollars in cash lying around? Are you Amish? Do you not trust the banks since they're run by persons of foreign persuasion? And, importantly: did Troy Smith get ripped off last year by only getting $500?
It's also totally normal to be robbed on October 23rd and then, you know, tell the cops five days later when you get around to it:
Police were not told about the crime until Nov. 28, according to their report.
Woe to you, Buckeyes, hypocrites! For ye are like whitened sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Can anyone get me this data? The final regular season coaches' poll has been released and with it comes each coaches individual ballots, compiled here in a totally sweet flash animation. This, of course, leads to many fascinating questions, like who exactly is the Straight Bangin' Award winner? Who is Mr. Bold? Etc! Does anyone have access to this stuff in some sort of text file? If I can get my hands on it I can run the calculations and you, the reader, can find out who the nation's wackest coach is. The House That Rock Built's early money is on Larry Blakeney of Troy State.
DE Pierre Woods
In A Nutshell: Peaked as a sophomore, then killed Pope John Paul II during his junior year, earning himself a permanent spot in Carr's doghouse. Got off the bench late in the year when Lamarr Woodley injured his arm and provided several critical quarterback hurries/sacks in the Iowa game, but was largely neutralized against Ohio State. Undersized and suited only for the weakside spot dominated by Lamarr Woodley, he ended up a pass-rush specialist and a disappointment.
Replacing him... probably: As a DE: Redshirt sophomore Tim Jamison; hopefully Jamison replaces the Woods who was terrorizing Drew Tate and not the one who was watching Rondell Biggs and Jeremy Van Alstyne do very little. As an OLB/DE tweener: Shawn Crable.
Net effect: Should be an improvement. Jamison has been quite impressive in his limited time, though I fear that he'll be stuck behind Woodley. No offense to Biggs and Van Alstyne, but Jamison made more plays this year in his sparing time than those two have in their injury-plagued careers; even if it means moving Woodley over to the strongside DE spot an effort should be made to get Jamison on the field.
DTs Pat Massey and Gabe Watson
In A Nutshell: Pat Massey must be the best damn captain in the world, because he had very little business playing defensive tackle in the Big Ten. 6'8" and lanky, Massey was plowed backwards by every team he faced. This is probably the most effective summary of his career: though he started for three years he finished with exactly four TFLs that were not sacks. All four came as a sophomore, two against Houston and two against Indiana. As a senior he had 29 tackles, one for loss. That was a sack against Michigan State where Woodley crushed two blockers, forcing Stanton to scramble back into a trailing Massey. Whoever replaces him would have to try very hard indeed to do less.
Watson was something of a disappointment-- he was benched for portions of three games early in the year--but is still a much bigger loss than Massey. Watson was intermittently dominant, driving his man into the backfield with regularity. If Massey had ended any play within three yards of the line of scrimmage, Watson's penetration would have been the key component in a fierce run defense instead of a painfully ironic way for opponents to create gaping holes in the center of the line.
Replacing them... probably: Junior Alan Branch and some combination of Terrance Taylor, Will Johnson, and incoming freshman Marques Slocum. Branch started in Watson's place when he ended up in the doghouse and then moved over to defensive end when Biggs and Van Alstyne went down. He was extremely effective in both spots. Taylor and Johnson both played in relief of the starters with mixed results. They had a tendency to get blown off the ball, but let's review: Taylor and Johnson were freshman. Massey was a fifth year senior. Both of the youngsters have more prototypical DT bodies and are extremely strong already. Add in the penetrating Slocum--who looked an awful lot like Branch during last years Army All-American game--and Michigan should have a four-deep rotation of guys who can play.
Net effect: Almost has to improve simply because Massey is gone. Branch is a terrific player who was named Michigan's best defensive lineman at the football bust this year (though Lamarr Woodley's injury had something to do with that) and should adequately replace Watson as the guy you have to double. A capable starter next to Branch should emerge from the Taylor, Slocum, and Johnson trio.
LB Scott McClintock
In A Nutshell: Lost his job as soon as David Harris stepped on the field and was never heard from again.
Replacing him... probably: Er?
Net effect: Zero.
CB Grant Mason
Anyone who gets hurled into the endzone is all
right by me.
In A Nutshell: Would have been an excellent nickelback for any team but when pressed into a starting role had some obvious shortcomings. In one of the more bizarre statistical quirks I can remember, Mason finished second on the team in tackles to David Harris--not a good sign. Teams completed a lot of passes in front of Mason and he was a major part of Michigan's containment issues. On the bright side, he did make a couple of key interceptions against Wisconsin and Northwestern.
Replacing him... probably: Sophomore Morgan Trent, the nickelback a year ago. Trent has an impressive size/speed combination and adapted quickly to the position. He should do just fine, if not better. The greater question is "who replaces Morgan Trent?" Precisely zero cornerbacks other than Hall, Trent, and Mason saw any non-garbage time last year, also not a good sign. If Charles Stewart didn't see a single meaningful snap in a year when Michigan clearly was looking for conerback depth it's highly unlikely he ever contributes.
Thus Michigan's cornerback recruiting drought will come into stark relief next year unless California sleepers Johnny Sears and Chris Richards turn out to be players. Sears is reportedly an athlete par excellence, but he had only one year of varsity experience due to an unfortunately timed transfer in high school. He is the presumptive favorite in the race for third cornerback next year. Richards--DB coach Ron English's godson--is young and undersized but has some talent. Cal got him to decommit temporarily after he did very well against hyped FSU recruit Fred Rouse (last seen bemoaning his decision to spurn Florida) in a California-Florida All Star game that caught the Bears' attention. He could contribute.
Net effect: Mason was servicable, a solid player but not a star. Trent is clearly a better athlete and had an impressive debut season; he should mature into an All Big Ten corner. Depth, however, will be important and is a total question mark. I would not be surprised to see either recruit Steve Brown or sophomore Brandon Harrison, both safeties at the moment, shift over to corner if Sears and Richards don't impress.
The only departing player who will get a serious look from the NFL is Watson, and that will be based more on his enormous, er, everything than anything unbelievable he did last year. We'll miss him, but teams tended to run at the gaping hole next to him this year and that--combined with his entry into the doghouse early in the year--limited his effectiveness. In terms of personnel, Michigan should be better next year. Other than Watson, Michigan lost its worst starter, a third-down edge rusher, and an adequate corner. There are still questions (who is the nickelback (and dimeback, for that matter)? Can we find effective outside linebackers? Who starts on the DL next to Branch and Woodley?) but Michigan has good players at at least seven defensive positions. There should be no excuses next year.
Of course, there's that whole coaching thing. Michigan's soft zone got downright ephemeral after the year of safeties who were anything but. Michigan avoided man coverage like it was the clap, sacrificing any element of surprise in favor of keeping someone (or three someones) behind the play. The end result was a hair-pulling, garment-rending extravaganza not seen since erroneous reports of Joseph's death reached Jacob. (BLAM! Ten years of Sunday School!) This year forcibly disabused me of the notion that Jim Herrmann will change or Lloyd Carr will pull ineffective players who are really swell people, so Michigan's underacheivement relative to talent will probably contin
ue, but there will be more talent and more experience next year. That should count for something.
Update 12/5: Removed Micah Johnson, who committed to UK. Also removed NV RB DeMarco Murray(dropped us) and FL OT Jim Barrie(UF). Updated MI WR Dominque Douglas' list to include Iowa... and then removed him when he committed to Iowa. Added OH QB Rick Stanzi. Linked to article with passage on NJ DE Jason Adjepong and article on new K commit Bryan Wright.
Editorial Opinion: There's also this GBW article that may or may not imply that Michigan is likely to receive committments from LBs Obi Ezeh and Thaddeus Gibson, S Jonas Mouton, and DE Greg Banks. Given the cited article on Banks...
"I've talked to Greg. He said he had an outstanding visit Michigan visit this weekend. Outstanding." ... "As I said, the Michigan visit was OUTSTANDING."
...it seems likely that he will indeed commit sometime after his last visit, which is to Cal next week. Ezeh, who doesn't have any major offers other than the one from Michigan, is also widely considered to be in the bag. Gibson is not expected to qualify (<-- speculation, but one that is widespread), but Michigan continues to pursue him on the off chance he does and perhaps to get the inside track with him in 2007 if he heads to prep school. Mouton is the last remaining high profile secondary target in Michigan's crosshairs; receiving his committment would be a major boost to the class, especially because it might allow Steve Brown to ease over to corner. A USC visit looms, but they already have two five star safeties in coulda-shoulda-woulda Michigan recruits Taylor Mays and Antwine Perez. The vibe is good on him... and his other presumed finalist is Nebraska.
The other major piece of news is the committment of Dorrestein. He's a three star to both services and picked Michigan over Nebraska, Illinois, and Northwestern... so he's not exactly Sam Young, but offensive line is the position on the field where recruiting rankings matter the least. The suddenly-more-credible-when-overrating-Michigan-recruits Tom Lemming likes him quite a bit:
Plainfield Central, 6-7, 310, sr., OL
The best offensive lineman in the Suburban Prairie. Listed by talent scout Tom Lemming as the state's No. 1 offensive lineman and one of the five best in the Midwest. Being recruited by Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue. "Best offensive lineman I've coached in 22 years,'' Wildcats coach John Jackson said.
Take that with a grain of salt, as the only recruit more likely to be overrated by Lemming than one who could possibly be thinking about considering Notre Dame maybe is one from anywhere near Chicago.
ESPN's Scouts, Inc. gives Dorrestein a resounding "eh, he's okay," giving him a 6.0--right on the bottom edge of "good prospect." His profile($) is full of praise for his physical ability and criticism of his technique, which is exactly what I would hope to hear about a middling prospect like Dorrestein. The upside, as they say, is high. Thumbs slightly up.
First... my popularity on the central asian steppe continues to skyrocket. I received this email from one Stephen Repp:
I am a loyal mgoblog reader (OSU fan, sorry Brian) and I can testify that you are the #1 Michigan site in the Central Asian Steppe. As a matter of fact, the #1 college football site there. I reside in Novosibirsk, Russia (you could look it up) and check your site every day. Looking forward to UVV re the OSU game!
UVV? Must be the Russian keyboards. My excitement at this email is only matched by the first note of support from the CAS; I urge any and all MGoBlog readers from this fine area of the world to speak up and be heard.
Must not... make fun of... south... ARGH. Y'all are probably the target audience for shirts that say things like "I skip weddings, funerals, and organ transplant surgery for college football," so I suggest you check out the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer store. All pre-XMas proceeds go to support, um, adult literacy. And I have... no comment... on the selected cause... as regards the south...
Okay. Okay. We're good. You should have seen my fingers hovering above the keyboard, twitching with the effort of restraint. It was a sight, let me tell you. And while you're tooling around RJYH, check out the anti-Millen sign confiscation post.
I thought that was just a metaphor. Yeah. This is kind of strange and dickish and awesome all at the same time:
That's a woodcarved bobblehead of Lloyd Carr after the Oregon loss a few years back found in "Woodcarver Online Magazine." The story of its construction:
In choosing a subject for this article, we discovered that we were both stalwart supporters of rival football programs (I suspect Matt's support may be derived from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and too much snow), and a small wager was initiated. The resulting outcome of an upcoming game would determine if the bobblehead I would be carving for this article would reflect the likeness of Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel or Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr.
Much to my chagrin, the subject of this article is a bobblehead with the likeness of Coach Carr. Since I am not one to welch on a bet, the likeness of my choosing was selected from an AP photograph of Coach Carr on September 20, 2003 just after shaking hands with Mike Bellotti, Coach of the Oregon Ducks, after a hard fought 31-27 Michigan loss. Perhaps this likeness is not the most flattering one I could have chosen, but from a Buckeye fans perspective it was perfect.
Typical of a Buckeye to obey the letter of the law but to flout its intent. In any case, the end result is actually quite evocative.
The Rose that grew from concrete(!). Uh, Jalen Rose has an official website that demands observation, if only for its ambitious framing of Rose as Roy Hobbs. Warning: if you're at work, turn your speakers off.
Hyyyyarrr! Prepare for a mighty betouchdowning! My obsessions with football, game theory, and pirates wrapped up in one clearly insane man? Bestill my heart! The NYT Magazine has a fascinating feature by Michael Lewis (local ordinances require that I tell you Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball) on Texas Tech head coach/lunatic Mike Leach, though it is amusingly out of touch in parts:
Bad as it [this year's 56-17 shellacking] was for Texas A.&M., its staff might wonder how much worse it could have been if Leach had the same access to talent as A.&M. or Texas or Alabama or, God forbid...
So, right, the end of this sentence is obvious, right? It has three letters, it's in California, all references to it on Bruins Nation are preceded with profanity, etc. NSFMF!
Er... okay, Mr. Baseball Man, whatever you say. (Standard disclaimer: OMG WEIS OMG QUINN OMG THAT WHITE GUY WITH THE UNSPELLABLE NAME.) There's also a sort of breathlessness about Leach throwing the ball constantly that seems dated when half the stodgy ol' Big Ten runs the spread. Leach is certainly an innovator, but it's not necessarily because he only runs when forced to.
Humorous timewarps aside, a look into Mike Leach's head is hilarious:
Last year, after a loss to Texas A.&M. in overtime, Leach hauled the team into the conference room on Sunday morning and delivered a three-hour lecture on the history of pirates. Leach read from his favorite pirate history, "Under the Black Flag," by David Cordingly (the passages about homosexuality on pirate ships had been crossed out). The analogy to football held up for a few minutes, but after a bit, it was clear that Coach Leach was just . . . talking about pirates.
Hyyyarrrr!!! It's also highly interesting. Here's a poignant passage for Michigan fans:
The Texas Tech offense is not just an offense; it's a mood: optimism. It is designed to maximize the possibility of something good happening rather than to minimize the possibility of something bad happening. But then something bad happened. ("It always does," Leach says.)
Recommended for anyone interested in football strategy or pirates. And if neither of those things interest you, I have to seriously question your choice of blog.
En fuego, si, si. EDSBS continues its best blogging ever(!!!) streak.
Basketball 12/3/2005 - Michigan 71-67 Notre Dame - 5-0
I mean the following sentence in the nicest way posssible: Graham Brown, the beating heart of the Michigan basketball team, has no discernible basketball skills whatsoever. Generally basketball players can be described in terms of what they can do--shoot threes, break down defenders off the dribble, post up, find the open man, etc--but not Brown. Attempt to describe him: "er, uh, he's sort of tall... and when a rebound comes to him he secures it and when he doesn't get his shot blocked he can, uh, hit a layup. Sometimes." No, Brown is better defined thus: despite not having any of said abilities, he is still "a legitimate baskeball player" according to Bill Raftery during Saturday's ND game. That sums it up perfectly: he is a legitimate basketball player, but of the sort where you have to be told about it constantly to remember.
This was the rare game in which Brown's contribution were obvious on the box score--13 points on 6 shots, 10 rebounds--and his three late baskets were clearly integral to Michigan's victory, but there will be times in the future wherein his production is not measured in easily identifiable numbers. If, and I'd like to stress "if," Michigan has an unexpectedly strong year and the stat wonks throw up their hands and claim bafflement, it will be time to bring up the Moose in the room. Who does that sound like?
Yeah, him. A commenter below called Brown "Michigan's Ben Wallace," which is precisely correct aside from Wallace's ability to leap higher than two inches off the ground. Remove the outrageous athleticism of the NBA and kindly ignore that Brown and Wallace's respective skins have melanin contents about as divergent as possible, and the comparison is eerie. I'm not going to dip into the refrain of the Typical Middle-Aged White Sportswriter and declare him to be underappreciated because of the hip-hop's pernicious effects on our society or whatever--Graham Brown is exactly the type of player who is a TMAWS encomium magnet--but I would like to revisit something I said earlier...
He'd be a good 10-15 minutes a night role-player for any Big Ten team, but Michigan will probably be forced to use him more.
...and take it back. Brown played 34 minutes against Notre Dame and Michigan needed every one. His performances down the road will be as important to the team's success as those of Sims, Horton, and the rest of the guys who actually have those discernible basketball skills. So call him blue-collar or lunchpail or a roleplayer or apply whatever backhanded compliment is appropriate in your native language (Icelandic: "man who is good at running away from polar bear"), but don't forget the "legitimate." Moose can play.
Magically Delicious Bullet Points:
- Brown's shot-stuffed-to-charge-taken ratio: 0:1, FYI.
- Color me concerned about Dion Harris and his oft-errant, oft-used jumper. While he has been granted amnesty from Big Ten Wonk himself for last year's shudder-worthy PPWS, it does not appear to be moving in a positive direction. Many of Harris' shots are Horton-esque in their audaciousness, though the game-winner was an open look.
- That last sentence is totally unfair to Horton, who is operating at totally unprecedented levels of efficiency. Against ND Horton had 19 points on 14 shots and a 7:2 assist to turnover ratio. Through five games he's shooting 56% with 22 assists and just 8 turnovers. Notre Dame resorted to a box-and-one against him down the stretch. He's been flippin' sweet.
- Our prospects for next year are iffy. Minus Brown, Hunter, and Horton, Michigan will be dangerously thin on the frontline and will be facing a major dropoff at the point. Given that this year's team is a borderline tournament team... well, Alex Legion's commitment may be the one thing that keeps Michigan fans off of Amaker's back.
- This Notre Dame win is probably going to be a good one at the end of the year. They had the best player on the floor in Torin Francis and an impressively annoying array of ugly white guys who can shoot threes. They are likely an NCAA bubble team if not a little better and a win over them on the road is going to be a moderate feather in the cap come committee time.
- Abram: 0-5 from the floor (though he was robbed of a foul call in one instance)... and we win? Great googly moogly. That can't continue. Horton's done a very good job of finding open guys--especially in the post--but he has to get Abram more involved. Remember the PPWS!
Well, that was a thrilling weekend full of, uh, games that were over midway through the second quarter. Nonetheless, congratulations to all the conference champions except Penn State. (I keed, I keed: no congratulations to Tulsa, either.)
Anyway, try to fit links to your penultimate ballots in between the flames from PSU fans down here.