chance of bowl: 13.6%
The Blue-Gray Sky, a rather good Notre Dame blog, has a lovingly detailed post on ND's new "Apache" 4-2-5 defense. It's got pictures and everything.
In summary, they expect a defense that will disguise itself extensively before the snap and help address ND's recent deficiencies against the spread offense. Sounds like the D is heavily dependent on both the strong safety and 'weak' safety (the half-linebacker, half-safety that is the "Apache" position) being able to successfully contest both run and pass. It places a lot of pressure on the cornerbacks, too, as they have just one safety behind them playing the middle of the field and can't be too aggressive. Will it work? I dunno. The Irish should be pretty bad on defense this year after losing 8 starters. Michigan should be able to exploit a young, inexperienced defense with Hart, Henne, Avant, Breaston and company, especially since they'll only have one game under their belts. John L Smith discovered last year that taking a linebacker and giving him a fancy name ("Bandit" in MSU's case) and additional coverage responsibility can't cover up a severe talent deficiency.
The Notre Dame game will provide the first bellwether for the Michigan season. Michigan should be aiming to match the 38 they put up in '03, though ND will definitely not end up with the same 0 they had after that game. It could be a shootout if the Irish can grasp Weis' offense quickly.
So, I graduated about two years ago. I still live in Ann Arbor. I still have friends who are students, so things sort of drift to me second and third hand, weeks after they happen. I have my finger on the pulse of someone who has his finger on the pulse of the University of Michigan. I have come to you today to talk about "facebook.com," which is sort of like Friendster. Only different. My interest in Friendster lasted just long enough to create a fake Lloyd Carr profile, but then I sort of drifted away. I didn't see the point. So I didn't understand what all the hoop-de-do was about "facebook," but my friends who are still in school reference it nearly as much as The Family Guy.
Then came yesterday. There has been discussion of Braylon Edwards on the RCMB lately, because they are bored and when you get bored on the RCMB it's time to trash Michigan. (Say what you want about the place, but it has its merits... minutes after someone posted a thread with the title "Why isn't anyone talking about Braylon Edwards being a headcase?" someone posted a thread titled "The official thread to talk about Braylon Edwards being a headcase.") Anyway, one of the BE threads had a mention that Braylon's "facebook" profile had a picture of him on his Bentley. So I, armed with an email address from the university which will never, ever expire, went ahead and signed up to see if this was in fact true.
And what do you know?
I thought this was odd. Why would Edwards have a facebook profile? Isn't he busy beating the crap out of sliced bread? Then I noticed a group called... "Michigan Football Players." No. It couldn't be. There is no frigging way.
Oh. My. God. Probably 70 to 80 percent of the football team has extensive facebook profiles. Garret Rivas is president of a group called "Henne's Hair." Gabe Watson is CEO. Braylon is a member of... "Braylon Edwards for Heisman." Prescott Burgess' girlfriend is unbelievably hot. A group called "Steve Breaston is my hero" is composed of about fifteen random Michigan students and... Gabe Watson. And then there's... this:
Sean Sanderson and Tom Berishaj Fan Club's Profile
Group Description: This group is dedicated to two of the most outstanding athletes to ever play Michigan Football.
#1 FAN Jeff Clancy
Berishaj autograph collecter Garrett Rivas
Sean Sanderson nutritionist Matt Studenski
Official Berishaj thigh massager Michael Mandich
Promotional Affairs Andy Stejskal
Words cannot possibly justify the way I felt, so let's just grab Tyler Ecker's profile photo:
Yes. That's exactly right. Thanks, Tyler.
And, though I knew what I was doing was definitely creepy, it sort of dawned on me that the whole enterprise was designed to facilitate, enhance, and provide creepy stalking opportunities to college students and that I still have my student ID, so I may as well stalk away.
I simply don't have time now to point out every bizarre, hilarious facebook artifact at the moment (I have 23 Internet Explorer windows open), but I promise that I will document these things in time, assuming I am not mysteriously assassinated for peeking INSIDE THE FORT or Lloyd doesn't just make everyone yank their profiles.
(Note for the fainthearted: in the interests of anthropological veracity or whatever, no editing will be done to what follows. Bad words appear! Hide the children!)
I will leave you with this, though... a snippet from Max Martin's profile. You can leave messages on people's profiles, sort of like Friendster testimonials. Michigan State offensive lineman Roland Martin left this beautiful sentiment:
fuck blue!!!!! GO GREEN!!!!
we goin to beat that ass this year and u no it nigga u watch
GO WHITE!!! Roland Martin #73 nigga ask about me!!!
Click on this profane haiku and it takes you to Martin's own profile, and... and... this...
Oh. My. God. I have to go have a lie down now.
I added trackback, if you're interested. And by "added trackback" I mean "clicked a few buttons." But it's here. All previous comments have gone to comment heaven, but I'm confident the new generation will carry on okay.
Braylon Edwards... well... see for yourself:
Yow. Bling bling bling! Blingity-blangity. Blingy-blingy-blang-blang. Uh. I'll stop now. There's an article about him, too, at the Detroit News.
Meanwhile, Tom Friend over at ESPN has caught Scoop Jackson disease. (What's Scoop Jackson disease you say? Scoop's conveniently provided a stellar, unreadable example just today.) Friend has an article up about who he would pick if he had his druthers in the top ten. I mention it because Friend is fawning about Braylon, who he has at #1, but the whole thing is an excellent example of the sort of sportswriting that should be taken out behind the barn and shot. It contains a lot of this:
Cedric Benson's a con, Ronnie Brown isn't. Cedric Benson cut off his dreadlocks to impress NFL people; Ronnie Brown simply ran at the combine.
That is, sentences that substitute know-it-all bravado for intelligent conversation and make bold pronouncements with absolutely nothing behind them. Benson a "con" because he cut his hair? I bet he wore a suit, too, the phony! The whole thing is Friend pulling facts about players' lives outside of football and using that to justify his selections. As such, it gets the (new!) official mgoblog Mark of Sportswriting Disapproval:
The Old Yeller Award! For stories so obviously pained at their suckosity that the only humane thing to do is put a (metaphorical) bullet in their (metaphorical) heads!
You may notice that the left side has rearranged itself. Do not be alarmed. If you know of any relevant sites that I'm missing, especially other (regularly updated) blogs about Big Ten teams, please drop me a line above for at left.
Also, because I feel like it, I'll cover the Pistons playoff run. Because I like the Pistons. If this bothers you extensively, just pretend the Pistons-related posts never happened, like that Orange Bowl loss against Wake Forest. What Orange Bowl loss against Wake Forest? Exactly.
First, the most relevant: Clayton Richard will return in the fall, according to the Detroit News. He's also sporting a 0.46 ERA so far for the baseball team, which I hear is good. Richard will almost definitely be the #3 QB since he has taken the spring off and Gutierrez has recovered enough throwing ability for the coaches to be confident enough to throw him out there.
And with the draft closing in this weekend, everyone is talking about it. Including Marlin Jackson, who had an extensive chat at ESPN.com. I usually skim these things since they don't contain any piercing questions about the defensive breakdowns at the end of last year, and when they do, they work out like this:
guenther(ann arbor): What happened to you guys in the Rose Bowl this year? It seems like you guys couldnt stop Vince Young
Marlin Jackson: You nailed it. We just couldn't contain him and he won the game by himself.
But if you're interested, it's here.
NBCSports, long the eeevil propaganda arm of the flagging Notre Dame football program, has listed Braylon Edwards as a top-5 bust candidate. The snippet on Edwards then damns him by comparing him to... Keyshawn Johnson? Um. The same Keyshawn Johnson with almost 9,000 recieving yards? Weird. It does not mention Edwards' tendency to drop routine balls, which should be the #1 negative mentioned by everybody. No research! Just like I said!
Stewart Mandel at CNNSI has come down on the other side of the coin about Ernest Shazor, labelling him underrated in his latest column. This I am not so sure about, since he's probably going to go in the second round, which is about as high as safeties ever go. One or two a year slip into the first but it's usually the late first. Shazor's valued about where I would take him.
Finally, the Ann Arbor News has an mgoblog-worthy brick of a story on the new trend for players to ship themselves off to specialized NFL-draft boot camps in the hopes of pushing their numbers in the right direction. It contains a quote sure to set some of the strength-and-conditioning doom-and-gloomers' heads afire:
NFL agent John Drana, who represents 2004 draft choices Navarre and former Michigan offensive lineman Tony Pape, said, "If my son was a University of Michigan football player looking at the prospect of being drafted, I would tell him to stay put, don't leave campus. (Michigan strength and conditioning coach) Mike Gittleson is one of the best, if not the best, in the country."
Now, he's an agent so there's no reason to believe he actually believes anything he says. But I like tweaking people who think that the reason Michigan hasn't won 10 straight national championships is Gittleson. The parade of offensive linemen who leave Michigan and immediately claim starting jobs in the NFL should make it clear that Michigan's S&C program is at least as good as the ones at comparable schools across the country. The S&C is not a pressing concern in light of the fact someone like Cato-friggin'-June is the leading tackler of the Colts. June couldn't tackle a dead goat at Michigan, and it wasn't because he was lifting weights differently than the guys at USC.