here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
Enjoy the holiday, and take a moment to dwell on its nature. Here is Tom Harmon with his bomber, as per tradition.
Draftageddon resumes tomorrow.
ALL RIGHT FINE IT STARTS NOW. If you weren't around four years ago or four years before that, when the World Cup rolls around I cover the USMNT like it is the subject of this blog. I'll be interested to see if the ratio of people pleased by this to people disgusted because 'Murica has gone up.
But whatever man. It's the offseason, and I like the World Cup a lot.
That's that for Landon Donovan, who didn't even make the 23. This made me a little EMOTIONAL last night, because I mean seriously.
This man was in a Mexican lottery commercial trying to sneak into Mexico wherein he says "it's easier to win in Mexico," which brings a threat of violence until he explains he's just talking about the awesomeness of Gana Gol. And then he gets kicked out because Mexicans hate Landon Donovan.
Before the existence of Donovan it was impossible to envision Mexican fans hating any specific USA player more than he hated whatever it was the jerseys stood for in their minds, because he killed them in a way no USA player was capable of before. Because Donovan was a little weird, a little effeminate he got saddled with unflattering nicknames like "Landycakes" as soon as anything went wrong with his career. And he may even have (momentarily) lived up to that nickname when he went a little stir-crazy last year. But never forget: Mexico feared Landon Donovan.
And then there's all this other stuff.
The Analytical Hat in re: Donovan
I still don't get it unless Klinsmann's doing it for You Must Step Up purposes. Brad Davis's inclusion is solely because he can play Tiny Beckerman on set pieces and the (very) occasional cross a high-level opponent will let him swing in. He's a legit A in that department; Donovan is at worst a B+ and is also Landon Donovan.
The only thing that makes sense other than hand-waving motivational stuff is that Donovan's performance on the infamous "beep test" was so bad that they couldn't look the rest of the team in the eye and bring him. I don't mind dragging Green along since player #23 is never going to play, so locking that guy down and prepping him for 2018 is worthwhile.
Brad Davis, though? I look at this roster and see no way he's getting in a game. Might as well bring Landon.
The unquestioned man, then
Not that there was much of a question before, but minus Donovan and coming off this display of Keyser Soze-level will…
I'm also told when beep test ended Michael Bradley was still going. Only happened once b4 in #USMNT history when Donovan and Hejduk did it.
— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) May 22, 2014
…Michael Bradley is the engine the team is built around. I mean.
"This will be a World Cup where teams that do well will suffer. We want to be the team that can suffer the most."
This is a man with an armband whether he has it or not.
I've expressed my opinion on this repeatedly elsewhere, but to reiterate: the USMNT looks its best when Bradley is paired with an outright holder and allowed to range upfield as far as he wants. With someone else maintaining a screen to help prevent breaks, Bradley has the fitness to recover when the US is caught out. When Bradley can become part of the rushes upfield on the regular, his passing, vision, and late runs into the box give the US attack verve it lacks otherwise. Bradley also does excellent work providing the kind of high pressure that leads to dangerous turnovers and central backs hoofing it upfield. There is no substitute.
Unfortunately, Klinsmann fave-rave Jermaine Jones is around and likely to start despite his inability to be that player. When paired together it's Jones flying up the pitch more often than not, and generally to little effect other than taking a long shot. Bradley stays back and plays well, but has much less impact on the game. And at this point it's clear that Klinsmann either can't or doesn't want to rein Jones in.
I would prefer Cameron or Beckerman, but with Goodson cut and Gonzalez shaky Cameron is at least the #3 center back and will compete to be #2. Meanwhile Beckerman struggles mightily against speed. The thing he has going for him is that the US has clearly focused on having quick outside backs, which may allow for Beckerman to do his positioning and passing thing as others cover for his lack of range.
Outside backs: fast
Yedlin also brings hair to the table, so much hair that GIS asks you if you'd like to search for not just "Yedlin hair" but "Yedlin hair 2013."
The US cut Parkhurst and Evans to include DeAndre Yedlin, a 20-year-old with one cap to his name, and Timmy Chandler, who hasn't been on the team in six months. And, yeah. Had to do it. Evans and Parkhurst were consistently exploited by low-level players because they simply could not keep up with them, and since they were no less likely to get skinned by the likes of Ronaldo you might as well roll with the guys who can catch up to him after.
Pair with DaMarcus Beasley and you've got a set of gentlemen who can keep up when pressed. Are things going to go spectacularly well there? No. But Evans seemed like a disaster waiting to happen at the World Cup level and I'm saying there's a chance things are okay with Chandler and Yedlin.
Again, I would prefer Fabian Johnson at right back but with the cut of Donovan he is the most obvious choice for left wing. In fact, he is about the only choice.
Who's on the left?
Johnson and Beasley have played a lot on the left side of the US formation. Nobody else on the roster has. And nobody else on the roster seems like a natural fit there. Bedoya and Zusi are right-sided players, Johannsson and Green are striker types, Diskerud is a central player… what happens if injury or cards knock out either one of the presumptive left sided starters?
A: the other one plays left back and the US tries something along the lines of what it was doing with Eddie Johnson playing "left wing" as an in-cutting player trying to get a shot off with his stronger right foot. That could be Dempsey if the US is in a two-striker formation with Bradley its defacto attacking mid; it is most likely to be Johannsson, who has a combination of speed and deftness on the ball that no one else on the roster does except possibly Green, who is… wait for it… really green.
The only thing about that in-cutting formation is that it does place demands on your left back to be a high-placed defacto winger… and demands on your right back to be quite good defensively. (Like the 4-3 under is halfway between a 4-3 even and a 3-4, a setup like this is kind of halfway between a 4-4-2 and a 4-2-3-1.) In the event that Johannsson ends up as a left winger that might be a spot where you play Cameron at right back.
Chance to start against Ghana rankings
- Michael Bradley
- Tim Howard
- Clint Dempsey
- Fabian Johnson
- DaMarcus Beasley
- Matt Besler
- Jozy Altidore
- Jermaine Jones
- Graham Zusi
- Geoff Cameron
- Timmy Chandler
- Omar Gonzalez
- DeAndre Yedlin
- Aron Johannson
- Kyle Beckerman
- Alejandro Bedoya
- Mix Diskerud
- Julian Green
- Brad Guzan
- Chris Wondolowski
- John Brooks
- Brad Davis
- Nick Rimando
WAG at what it looks like
Don't take this bit too seriously, as Klinsmann has shown a penchant for changing things based on opponent. Bob Bradley would settle on a thing and roll it out over and over; Klinsmann has been experimenting.
But the most likely things is the 4-2-3-1 he's been rolling out on and off since his arrival:
Johnson Dempsey Zusi
Beasley Besler Cameron Chandler
I would prefer something like the 4-4-2 diamond they tried out in a recent friendly, with Bradley dropping back when faced with opponent possession and Dempsey moving under Altidore to provide an outlet and link to Altidore up top.
WITH THE BALL
Beasley Besler Cameron Chandler
WITHOUT THE BALL
Beasley Besler Cameron Chandler
I do think the Johannson-as-left wing scenario is in the mix, in which case Johnson would likely bump Beasley at left back and Cameron may flip to RB and allow Gonzalez to enter.
How I'm feeling
Nervous, man. This was supposed to be the last hurrah for this generation of players, but there are only five guys on the whole team who were at the last World Cup. This is uncharted territory for everyone save Dempsey, Bradley, Beasley, and Howard. I mean:
The last time Landon Donovan didn’t start for the US in the World Cup, Thomas Dooley was the captain and Preki came off the bench.
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) May 23, 2014
But I guess I'd be nervous anyway.
Catcher/7th hitter Lauren Sweet is hitting .364 in the NCAA tourney. [mogblue]
College softball's biggest problem as a sport is that the offense/defense balance that's so important to compelling athletic competition is tipped too far by a great pitcher. Florida State has one of the best, Lacey Waldrop, who came into the super-regional series (IE the semifinals) with a "you're breaking the sport!" ERA of 0.90. Michigan was fresh from a grueling regional in Arizona and a late flight, and would have to face Waldrop and the 53-6 Seminoles on their home field.
Michigan won 17-3 in a mercy. Haylie Wagner didn't look very sharp either, but this time it was Megan Betsa's turn to bail her out, entering in the 2nd and allowing just 4 of the remaining 18 batters to reach base and stranding all of them. Michigan's own player of the year candidate, shortstop Sierra Romero, had two hits; the other Sierra (Lawrence) and Lauren Sweet both had three. The best-of-three series continues this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. on ESPNU; if FSU wins that the rubber match will be right after. Read South Bend Wolverine's super-regional series preview before entering.
Of the rest of the recent diaries, I highly recommend L'Carpetron Dookmarriot's* look at other possible D1 programs that could take up lacrosse. MGoChippewa asked what would have happened if Alex Legion, hoops 4-star who decommitted when Amaker was replaced, had stuck around. My guess is the scenario would include him transferring a year later when Manny Harris refused to give him the ball. The Padog basketball previews continue with Michigan, MSU, OSU, Nebraska.
*To Mr. Dookmariot I recommend the old blog of the K&P writer who made up your name.
Best of the Board
|Nope, this doesn't save the 2013 season.|
WHEN YOU WISH UPON DENARD
Imagine a world in which Denard, who clearly needed a redshirt, got a redshirt and could return in 2013. In that world…the offensive line would still be terrible, and Borges still wouldn't have known how to use him.
So imagine a world in which Chad Henne, who probably could have used a redshirt, got a redshirt while Matt Gutierrez started. In that world Henne… probably loses his redshirt when Clayton Richard chooses baseball mid-season, and then in 2006 he's trying to beat out a senior three-year starter in Gutierrez and probably doesn't. Does he even stick around, or does Henne transfer to Penn State or something?
So imagine a world in which Antonio Bass wasn't hurt and 2008 rolls around and there's this fifth year senior around who maybe moved back to quarterback because Mario and Arrington and Mathews had WR handled, and Rodriguez finds him and they lock eyes…
This thread could get fun.
|The University of Michigan Athletic Office is proud to announce the Mort Plotnick Department of Photoshopping.|
GOOD NEWS(!)…ABOUT MICHIGAN(!)…FOOTBALL(!)
1484 put together a list of recent tweety-nuggets from Lorenz/Tremendous/Aquaman concerning some big time recruits:
- 5* CB Kendall Sheffield would like to visit
- 4* DE Kyree Campbell was waiting on an offer, already set a visit
- 5* CB Iman Marshall is friends with Canteen, very likely to plan an official
- 4* Grant Newsome likely deciding between Michigan and PSU
- 5* 2016 OL Liam Eichenberg has set a return date for another Michigan visit
- Michigan is still a factor for 5* DE Jashon Cornell
Michigan recruiting in May: still awesome.
EVEN A BLIND MAN CAN DO IT
Tulane has a long snapper who's legally blind (can't see out one, can barely see out the other). This is very impressive for the kid, Aaron Golub. Having the gumption to say "you know what, adversity, you can go screw because I want to play football," and then doing that successfully is a lesson to everyone to stop complaining about their comparatively weak shit. On the other hand, this is the absolutely worst time to call long snapper "arguably the most underappreciated position on the football field." I mean…
By the way, the most underappreciated position on the football field is center. You're right smack in the middle of every play, you're responsible for knowing your play and the opponent's play, you have to be able to snap the ball to various depths, you're typically lined up against a 300-pound monster you can't start blocking until you're done snapping, and you're going to end more plays than anybody as the last dude in the pile.
And I'm not just saying that because I'm getting epic amounts of crap from Ace in our Draftageddon email thread right now. Really.
ETC. Way OT but an EPA administrator (Steve L.) once told me when I worked for an environmental trade pub that bionic photosynthesis is humanity's best hope for cheap, clean energy. According to him, you take sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and readily available surface minerals, and the waste product is oxygen. There's a long way to go but the University of Michigan (and Pitt) may have done just that.
Your Moment of Zen:
Speaking of inspiring feats, Brock Mealer can now stand…
…on one leg.
LAST TIME ON DRAFTAGEDDON: I saw a pale horse ridden by a guy who thinks Shilique Calhoun is a first round NFL draft pick.
ROUND 3 - PICK 1: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Stefon Diggs (MD)
D: DT Carl Davis(IA)
BRIAN: Stefon Diggs is recovering from a broken leg that snuffed out his year 7 games in, but we've already got plenty of evidence that Diggs is the most explosive WR in the Big Ten. A five-star recruit with offers from everyone, Diggs put up 848 yards as a freshman and was on pace for 1090 before the injury last year. He made the All-ACC team as a freshman and is being projected as a first rounder a few places despite the leg and the uncertainty about whether he'll come out.
I'm not particularly worried about that injury. Diggs returned to drills and 7-on-7 in early April, and broken bones are not the kind of thing you might worry about long term. He says he's faster than he was before despite being only 90%, and even if that's not true... I'll live with it.
The main issue with Diggs is that his production is dependent on his quarterback and his quarterback plays at Maryland and therefore will die six ways and be replaced by a linebacker midseason. Probable starter Caleb Rowe had 131 attempts last year and completed fewer than half of them. But in terms of my team, he's a perfect fit. Miller's good over the top and commands so much attention that WR screens feature one on one matchups. He's a guy who would be able to get a ton of free yards paired with Miller. Dana Holgorsen called him a "Tavon Austin clone"... except like four inches taller. As a bonus, he had two KR TDs as a freshman.
ROUND 3 - PICK 2: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
O: WR Devin Funchess (U-M), LT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU)
ACE: I could drag out all the stats on how Funchess blew up once Michigan realized he's a wide receiver, period. I could tell you how awesome it is to have a 6'5", 230-pound living matchup nightmare on the outside. I could discuss in exacting detail how Funchess, just a true junior, should have by far his best season in 2014. I could mention the (terrifying) possibility that he'll be a first-round NFL Draft pick at this time next year.
But you know all that. So let's just admire the freaky athletic ability for a little bit:
Is this a homer pick? I won't say no, though Funchess is the leading returning receiver in the entire conference.
Do I feel bad about it whatsoever? Noooooope.
BRIAN: That's no homer pick, man. Funchess is also getting first-round hype and with good reason. Not the reasons that the people picking Funchess in the first round have, like "is a tight end," but Funchess was the other guy before a big dip in available talent at WR.
ACE: Yeah, I mostly just wanted to set up that Archer reference. I would've taken Funchess here even if he played for Rutgers. Okay, maybe not Rutgers, but literally anyone else.
BISB: Anyone else? I'm picturing Funchess catching passes from Danny Etling, which would be a "Denard as pocket passer"-level crime against man-panda.
sorry, I heard "crimes BY man-panda" –ed
ACE: I stand by my original statement.
Also, I am now dead.
[AFTER THE JUMP: additional man-panda crimes! Seth Dumars!]
You won't see it in the Kickstarter but we just got a big pledge today toward making this year's Hail to the Victors season preview and feature mag.
Draft Street, you ROCK!
Our online fantasy sports partner must know a good bet when they see one, cause they're doubling down on us hitting our goal, and covering the difference between 3rd and 1st class shipping so you'll get your books sooner and in better condition.
Our gratitude is immense; if you want to show yours, I think they'd just like you to keep playing. They have games for all sports—college/NFL/NBA/NHL/PGA/etc.; check out the MLB games going on now. They're also offering to cover a free MGoShirt from our store to one new person who signs up this week.
Did he leave a message? Here's what the sponsor wrote us when he offered to do this:
"Hey guys, it's Larry from the DraftStreet team. We are really excited to team up with you guys to be a part of the MGoBlog annual. We look forward to this magazine every season and even pass it around the office during the year to help our scouting of the Michigan players and the guys they're facing.
If your readers haven't signed up for DraftStreet yet I would highly recommend they check us out. They can sign up for a free MLB draft right now and pick 8 players from 8 tiers. If anyone has any questions please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. GO BLUE!"
What's This Then? HTTV is MGoBlog's annual 128-page print magazine, now in its third year of us publishing it on our own. About 30 of those are dedicated to a positional preview of Michigan's 2014 team, and another 20 are team-by-team breakdowns of all the scheduled opponents, with special attention paid to ND/PSU/MSU/OSU. Most of those were Ace, but PSU was done by Mike Pettigano, the Brian of the PSU blogosphere, and BiSB did ND and OSU.
The rest are features. Brian wrote his ode to Gallon, I wrote the decline and fall of the Big Ten Empire, Space Coyote introduces the Nussmeier's offense like so…
…and Mathlete has promised the his study on highly touted prospects will be in today. Dooley's annual article is on the 1964 team (he scored an interview with Bump!) and Kryk's is on Bo's last. There's a couple more features I'm forgetting at the moment. Oh: Craig Ross takes us from the origins of the game to Bennie Friedman. And a former Daily writer investigated where the Wave came from (actually not Michigan but a Michigan game). Anyhoo it ends with our regular roundtable.
Why Kickstarter? We fund each one through Kickstarter so we'll have the capital upfront. No loans = lower cost to make it.
Why do I care about your sponsor? Because we have to pre-pay for the shipping. Last year we had a lot of issues with mailing because the new printer sent them 3rd class bulk, which saved a lot of money but also got some books out reeeeeealllly slow-like, sometimes damaged. We HAVE to go 1st class, but that takes a bit chunk out of us that we didn't really calculate into the initial overhead. Problem solved.
Malzone Gets The Bump
Because way too many people my age think Kanye wrote a great horn line for "Touch The Sky"
After updating their top 100 on Monday, Rivals continued this week with a revised Rivals250 and newly minted four-star prospects. In the former, Shaun Crawford (#111) and Tyree Kinnel (#193) both had very minor drops, while Darrin Kirkland Jr. moved up from #183 to #167. In the latter, Alex Malzone led off the list of non-Rivals250 prospects to earn the four-star bump:
Malzone has consistently upped his play over the last year, doing so again most recently at the RCS Detroit, where he brought home the quarterback MVP award. We already knew he had a strong arm and his team's state title last fall showed he has the intangibles as well. What Malzone showed at the Rivals Camp was pinpoint accuracy on his throws, showing he has taken ownership of his arm mechanics. College coaches were also impressed by his workout this spring, and he accepted an offer from Michigan in May. - Josh Helmholdt, Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst
While the Michigan commitment certainly earned Malzone a closer look from recruiting analysts, it sounds like he was well on his way to that fourth star with or without the Wolverine pledge. As I said in yesterday's roundtable, I expect ESPN and 247 to follow suit eventually. Either way, Malzone is now officially ineligible for MGoBlog Sleeper of the Year status.
Crawford Update: Mixed Messages
According to Josh Helmholdt, after speaking with the coaches, Shaun Crawford still considers himself a Michigan commit:
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) May 22, 2014
Considering he visited Notre Dame last weekend, that'd be a departure from the usual way the coaches have handled these situations—if a prospect takes visits, they're not considered a commitment—but perhaps they've reevaluated how they'd like to handle this type of scenario.
Or, potentially, not. Rumors abound that the Crawfords aren't at all pleased about Michigan's visit policy, and Sam Webb no longer considers Shaun a commit:
— nezz21〽 (@nezzy21) May 19, 2014
I doubt that is just Sam's opinion. Notably, Crawford is no longer listed among Michigan's 2015 class on Scout. There's a rumor on the GBW board that Crawford may not visit Ohio State, which would be good news; that may also be an indication he's leaning towards ND, however. Hopefully this situation clears up one way or the other before too long, as I dislike the soap opera aspect of recruiting as much as anybody.
[Hit THE JUMP for news on several new offers, updates on top targets in both the 2015 and 2016 classes, and much more.]