Two pretty much unrelated things in one post. I blame everything.
Vince Young; Garrett Gilbert
A Braves and Birds post on the recent downfalls of Texas and Florida spurred responses from Blutarsky and Smart Football about the role of various schemes as your talent level waxes and wanes. The B&B theory:
…we can criticize [Texas] for not learning the lesson of the Vince Young era. Apparently, the lesson that Brown took was “recruit five-star quarterbacks from Texas,” when he should have concluded “recruit quarterbacks who can run.” In short, Texas was seduced by the prospect of a local five-star pocket passer and shifted their offense away from what worked for them when they were upsetting USC in the game of the decade.*
One can look at Florida and see the same mistake. Urban Meyer has always won with mobile quarterbacks. … Nevertheless, Meyer was seduced by the same siren that causes Mack Brown to jump off the deck of his ship and swim to his doom. He had a five-star pocket passer – John Brantley – living one hour from campus, so Meyer committed his post-Tebow Gators to Brantley. Meanwhile, Meyer did not offer Denard Robinson a chance to play quarterback in Gainesville.
Brantley and Gilbert imploded, the team went with them, and the guys coordinating them left. Michael goes on to say this is a "cautionary tale" for Brady Hoke, whose most successful prior year was with Nate Davis. Davis is claimed to be mobile.
I'm not in agreement with his police work there. Hoke's offensive coordinator at Ball State was Stan Parrish, not Al Borges, and dubbing Nate Davis "mobile" is stretching the term. Davis averaged 3.7 non-sack carries per game in 2008, i.e. he had some scrambles and QB draws. For his part, Borges had great success with statue Ryan Lindley* (-57 rushing yards this year) at SDSU, Davis-ish scrambler Cade McNown (a couple hundred yards per year) at UCLA, and only-secretly-athletic Jason Campbell (30 rushing yards in 2004) at Auburn.
Michigan's long-term trajectory on offense should not expose them to the same problems Texas and Florida experienced. Hoke is a defensive guy who famously goes sans headset and Borges's successes have come with throwers at QB. That some of the throwers have been able to move a little doesn't make a difference. The offense is still not predicated on the QB's legs; instead the legs are a bonus that keeps some plays alive and gets you some yards on scrambles. In Michigan's case they are moving towards their OC's expertise, not away from it. (At least insofar as Greg Davis had any expertise. He and GERG should start a cover band.)
Variance: super teams hate it.
After passing through Get The Picture's digestive system the above post spurred Smart Football to offer some thoughts on the difference between a pro-style offense that is intent on putting up points and one that's intent on not blowing it:
For the truly elite-level recruiting teams, I think the agnosticism of pro-style treats them well because they basically recruit incredible players and then figure out the system and scheme later. Moreover, spread offenses, option offenses, and really any pass-first offense (including West Coast attacks of which I’d put Georgia in the category) require very good quarterback play. Alabama and LSU are basically designed to win in spite of their quarterbacks; Nick Saban does not want to return an all world defense with a bunch of five-star playmakers and lose because his QB was a junior and had some “growing pains”, which absolutely happens at every level. …
For everyone else having an identity and being somewhat contrarian helps a lot because it allows you to focus your recruiting on guys that can help you, and in many cases it means you don’t have to compete with some other teams for those guys. … Moreover, because you have a system with specific skills required, you can develop those skills. There are many examples, but think about how those Texas Tech teams under Leach always had four guys who could contribute and were open, even against the best Big 12 teams, because they’d worked on those skills every day for two years before they got in the game and had countless reps.
The former is what Ohio State did for years under Tressel, managing games with Krenzel and Boeckman and Zwick and Belissari and even most of the time with Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor. They massaged enough safe points out of their offense to let the reliably crushing D win games. Sometimes—usually against Michigan—they went full-throttle. This happened when they feared the opponent more than variance.
The latter is why hiring Paul Johnson was a good idea for Georgia Tech but would be a bad one for Georgia, why Leach is a great hire at Washington State, and how Rodriguez made West Virginia into a power with rag-tag recruiting classes and some duct tape.
Michigan was in the former camp, but after Bo they accomplished their goals less successfully than OSU. This goes back to the Mo era, when Michigan would show up for the game with three or four losses and inexplicably beat—often thump—John Cooper's national title contenders. To me, Michigan-OSU in the 90s will forever be a fourth quarter exchange between some ranting Buckeye fan and a snot-nosed teen version of yrs truly:
MAN ADVERTISING BEER ON HAT: You have four losses! We're ranked in the top five! We're a national title contender!
FUTURE BLOGGER: You were.
That was fun as far as it went but playing spoiler ain't no way to live. For Michigan to not be a second banana in the league they either had to
- recruit and execute better
- get an identity that allowed them to perform better than their recruiting rankings
Rodriguez was an attempt to do the latter. Hoke is an attempt to do the former, or at least he seems like it. Borges is a wildcard. Maybe he's content to ramp his offense down into Tressel/Lloydball territory once the defense is truly locked in, but maybe Michigan will morph into a team with an identity on offense, even if that identity is the Boise State and Stanford have used lately.
When to put the toys in the box
There is a point at which it makes sense to trundle through games as safely as possible. That point is when you have the LSU/Alabama/OSU massive talent advantage over all comers. If Hoke's recruiting continues at the level it has, Michigan may achieve that. More realistically, a lack of oversigning and/or culture of rampant barely-punished extra benefits will leave them short of that, leave them in the same 8-10 range they usually inhabited under Carr.
That will mean they'll have to have something to rely on on offense other than don't-screw-it-up-ball if they're going to be nationally relevant more often than they have been in the past 20 years.
The early returns here are inconclusive since Borges is biding his time with Denard while recruiting Shane Morris. But they are encouraging, both when it comes to Hoke's game theory aggression and Borges's tendency to keep the pedal depressed when it makes sense to. Buried deep in his own territory up 17 against a Nebraska team that has struggled to move the ball, he'll run-run-punt; staked to a three point lead against Ohio State second down is for moving chains.
*[Lindley's implosion this year—he's now 80th in passer rating—suggests Borges is a plus playcaller/schemer. SDSU returned much of their offensive line and has Ronnie Hillman; while their WR situation was bound to drag the numbers down it shouldn't have been that severe.]
I Will Avoid Making a Dunn Pun (Rhyme, On the Other Hand...)
So... that happened:
Five-star tailback Brionte Dunn will honor his commitment to Ohio State and sign with the Buckeyes on National Signing Day.
Bummer, dudes. Dunn wasn't the biggest need on the board, but it would've been really fun to Kalis another recruit from the Buckeyes, especially in slow, painful fashion. Instead, we'll have to live with Team 132's victory while looking for alternatives at running back.
Yes, it appears there's at least one potential alternative, as four-star LB David Perkins was recently contacted ($, info in header)—and offered, according to his player page on Scout—by Michigan as a running back. The 6'2", 210-pound prospect from South Bend is a Notre Dame decommit who had a top five of Ohio State, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan State, and LSU before the new-found interest from Michigan—this is one to keep an eye on.
The Wolverines did host official visitors last weekend, and while most were commits (covered in the next section), they did have a couple targets on campus. Guard Alex Kozan was one of those visitors, and he enjoyed hanging out with guys like Kyle Kalis, Tom Strobel, Caleb Stacey, and A.J. Williams ($, info in header):
"It was a good trip,” Kozan began. “It was good to see everyone. I liked just seeing everyone, meeting the people in person and spending time with some of their commits and players.”
Kozan has also visited Iowa and Ohio State officially and has another visit set for Auburn this weekend—Michigan looks to be right in the thick of things here. The other main target on campus was current Boston College commit Sam Grant, a three-star tight end and also a high school teammate of Kalis ($):
“I had a good time on my visit,” Grant said after leaving. “There’s a good opportunity there. I have a lot to think about.”
Grant wants to make a decision "soon," but also said he's going to take more visits. Again, Michigan looks to be in good position, and the ample playing time available at tight end will likely play a factor. Having Kalis on board helps, and Grant also goes "way back" with A.J. Williams from competing in AAU basketball ($, info in header).
Yuri Wright recently stated that Michigan and Colorado were his two leaders, and he took a visit to Boulder last weekend. Glowing quotes? Not so much ($):
“We didn’t really do too much because they had finals week,” Wright said. “We met up with a few people and hung out and went to the basketball game. That was it, really.
“I wish they would have picked a different weekend for me to come out there, but I still had a good time for the most part. I know it’s a good school.”
Wright also sent out some tweets while on the trip that indicated that he wasn't having a Real Good Time. He'll be in Ann Arbor for his official visit January 13-15, and the Wolverines could really establish themselves as the team to beat for the nation's top corner if Wright enjoys his time on campus.
Meanwhile, West Roxbury (MA) Catholic Memorial CB Armani Reeves is back on the radar. The four-star is currently a Penn State commit, but he's monitoring their situation closely and keeping in contact with Michigan and Notre Dame in case he decides to go elsewhere ($, info in header). Curt Mallory is his main recruiter, and Reeves noted that Michigan has done things the right way, not pushing him to decommit but instead just trying to sell him on the program:
“[Mallory] was telling me I’m pretty much the guy if I want to commit there now,” Reeves continued. “He said he’ll be happy if they won’t take anymore guys. They feel like I’m a top corner and they expressed to me I could definitely play early and that’s an option there, and how much the school and coaches really want me.”
Michigan is hoping to get Reeves to schedule an official visit soon.
Quickly: Pharaoh Brown has narrowed his list to Michigan, MSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Oregon ($, info in header), and apparently Greg Mattison visited him recently ($), so that door may not be entirely closed; Jordan Diamond really enjoyed his official to Ohio State ($, info in header); Cincinnati Moeller WR Monty Madaris is also down to five schools ($, info in header), with Michigan included along with MSU, Cinci, Kentucky, and FSU; Jordan Payton enjoyed his official to Cal ($, info in header); and happy trails to four-star receiver Darius Powe, who committed to Cal over the weekend ($).
Mario Ojemudia: Deathbacker
Michigan had several commits on campus last week for their official visits, including Mario Ojemudia, who got some clarification about what position he'll play at the collegiate level ($):
With a chance to spend one on one time with his future defensive coordinator, Ojemudia gained a much greater understanding of where he’ll fit into the gameplan.
“I talked to Mattison a lot and he really emphasized what I was going to do,” Ojemudia said. “He told me that I would just be like, he would send me on blitzes like everywhere throughout the defense as a stand-up guy.”
Having watched Ojemudia—an undersized DE with fantastic pass-rushing skills—a couple times this fall, I can't wait to see what he can do as a QB-destroying specialist. [Ed-Seth: If you just thought to yourself "Shawn Crable" you just gained an imaginary MGoLevel.]
Also getting a bit of role clarification was Ojemudia's high school teammate, tight end Devin Funchess ($):
“I talked to them all [the coaches],” said Funchess. “They said I have a high chance of playing early, I just need to come in, get settled in fast, get used to the speed and will have to prove myself on the field. They just told me that in the red zone I would probably be split out and I’ll mostly be at the H back my first year.”
Funchess spent much of his time this season split out as a receiver, so while he'll have to adjust to the H-back role, he should be pretty comfortable in the red zone.
Matt Godin has been one of many commits to take on a role as recruiter, as well, and he gave his guesses on the odds of Michigan's targets who were on campus last weekend eventually committing to the Wolverines ($):
With just a few spots left in the 2012 class, Godin delivers his own percentages in regards to how he see’s things shaking out with the two weekend visitors.
“70 percent (chance he commits) for Alex [Kozan] and 90 percent (chance he commits) for Sam [Grant],” Godin said convincingly.
I'll take those odds.
I Don't Make Taco Jokes to Anyone Who Stands at 6'7", 245 pounds
Sam Webb's latest feature at the DetNews profiled Pickerington (OH) Central standout DE/OLB Taco Charlton, who grew up a "diehard" Ohio State fan but was rooting for Michigan in The Game because of their recruiting efforts and early offer. The Wolverines currently stand out along with Notre Dame as early favorites to land Charlton, with Ohio State also a possibility if they come through with an offer. As for his game, here's Taco on Taco:
"Right now I'm real good at pass rushing," Charlton said confidently. "I can get on the quarterback fast. My run (defense) is coming along. I'm starting to do good against that, too. … Whatever I can do to get better, I'm going to do it. I'm just trying to be a great player and do the best I can."
Another big-time junior on Michigan's radar is Crete-Monee WR Laquon Treadwell, who was named area Offensive Player of the Year by the NWI Times after amassing 75 catches for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns:
"Quon is a special player, the type that is physically gifted, loves to compete, and has a solid understanding of the game," Crete coach Jerry Verde said. "Quon is a game changer, not only on offense, but also on the defensive side of the ball. His toughness and athleticism allow him to play any position."
Treadwell also had 46 total tackles, 10 TFLs, and eight sacks on defense. That's an athlete, people.
There have been some worries that Michigan could lose safety commit Dymonte Thomas to Ohio State after his cousin, the aforementioned Bri'onte Dunn, reaffirmed with the Buckeyes, but he's doing his best to put that talk to rest ($, info in header):
“Ohio State just offered me,” Thomas told his 1500+ followers on twitter. “Haha, but it’s too late now. I’m Blue Nation now!"
“I’m Blue,” Thomas later reiterated to GoBlueWolverine. “I’m staying committed. I already gave (Michigan) my word.”
With over a year to go until signing day 2013, this is far from over, but for now there's no reason to be concerned.
A few new offers went out this week, I'll run them down quickly below:
- Seffner (FL) Armwood DB Leon McQuay III, who's already taken unofficial visits to Georgia Tech, Florida, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt ($, info in header).
- Ashburn (VA) Stone Bridge DE Jonathan Allen, who was also offered by Tennessee last week. After recording 20 sacks and eight(!) forced fumbles as a sophomore, Allen had 120 tackles, 15 sacks, two forced fumbles, and seven(!!) blocked kicks this year.
- Olney (MD) Good Counsel teammates Dorian O'Daniel ($), an OLB/DE, and Kendall Fuller, a cornerback, were both offered on the same trip that saw the Wolverines miss paths with Stefon Diggs.
- Warren (OH) Howland RB Deveon Smith, who grew up as a Michigan fan ($, info in header).
- Reported on here yesterday, Peoria (IL) Manual OL Logan Tuley-Tillman got his much-coveted Michigan offer and immediately named them as his leader. My full interview with Logan is here.
Quickly: Blue-chip linebacker Peter Kalambayi has Michigan in his top five with Clemson, Florida, Duke, and Stanford ($, info in header); Jeff Hecklinski made an in-school visit to Damascus (MD) WR Zach Bradshaw; Michigan has interest from Cincinnati Moeller OL Alex Gall ($, info in header) and Solon (OH) DB Darian Hicks ($, info in header).
As reported here earlier today, Michigan offered 2013 Peoria (IL) Manual OL Logan Tuley-Tillman today. He now holds offers from Michigan, Mizzou, Illinois, and Indiana, and the last time I talked to him he said that a Michigan offer would put the Wolverines at the top of his list. What did he have to say today? We talked over the phone this evening, and here's a full transcript:
ACE: First of all, congratulations on the offer. How did you find out about it?
LOGAN: Coach Funk, he actually came up to my school. I bumped into him and shook hands with him, said hi, and then he left, and he told me to call him a little bit later, after he left. So I waited for five minutes—I didn't really understand why he wanted me to call him, but I did it anyway—and he just explained to me that they want me to be a Wolverine pretty bad, that I'm what they want in a Michigan tackle. They offered me a full scholarship and let me know that they're going to start recruiting me more aggressively now, so I said 'yes!'
ACE: Obviously this is a really big offer. What was the reaction from you and your family? How did it feel to get the offer?
LOGAN: The offer for me, it was just, like, reviving, because it showed me that everything that I've been hustling for so hard, this is how all the hard work that I've been putting in has really come to light. It's just starting to come to fruition, everything that I've wanted to do, you know, just being at that stage. My reaction, right afterwards, I just called my mom. I had to let her know and she was so excited. I texted my aunt, and it actually brought tears to my eyes, she was just so excited and ecstatic and proud of me that I came to this milestone. She was just real happy and it was a special moment for all of us as a family.
ACE: I know when we talked a couple weeks ago you said that an offer from Michigan would vault them to the top of your list. Is that the case? Who are your favorites right now?
LOGAN: Yeah, they're really up there. Michigan is most definitely number one. They've put the most time in—they're not even done with their 2012 class all the way and it shows how much they really want me to be a Wolverine. So they'd have to be at number one, then after would probably have to be Mizzou, Oregon, Boise State, Nebraska, Illinois, and Arkansas.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline for your recruitment? Does this potentially speed things up?
LOGAN: It really does speed things up [for] when I'm going to make a decision. I'm going to sit down with my mom and see what's good for her—she's been my number one fan since day one, so she's going to weigh heavily into the decision I make. I'm going to make [a decision] before fall, before the football season starts next year.
NONDESCRIPT SOLAR SYSTEM IN MILKY WAY
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF EARTH
Citizens of the planet, I come before you today to make an announcement. That announcement is: I do not give a microdamn about the things 1) Rich Rodriguez or 2) Michigan alumni such as Desmond Howard have to say about Michigan and Rich Rodriguez, respectively.
My interest levels are declining into femtodamn levels. On message boards I now flip past entire threads in which the same tired debates are brought forth with the speed and determination I ignore threads about politics on the internet. Let that sink in. Yeah. That's right. I have as much interest in this topic as I do Herman Cain.
So I don't want to dedicate yet more time to a guy who was fired a year ago except to talk about the things that made his offense very effective and his defense very ineffective. Those things affect Michigan's fortunes on the field and are interesting examples of the ever-evolving college football metagame. Also interesting, if slightly depressing, is the pickle Rodriguez's last couple recruiting classes have left Michigan in, especially on both lines.
Talking about other aspects of Rich Rodriguez's tenure makes me want to claw at my face. But I will do this for you, like I will eat a lemon if Yuri Wright picks Colorado over Michigan. So here is a handy chart for you to follow.
1. Is it about Michigan? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.
2. Is it really about Michigan or is it a paranoid delusion? If paranoid delusion, go to 3. If still about Michigan, go to 4.
3. Don't care.
4. Still don't care. However, this incident is further evidence that Rodriguez is deservedly bitter about his three year tenure at Michigan and impolitic about discussing it.
Yes, it is further evidence that Rodriguez's maturity level and ability to play "the game" are low. Yes, it reminds me how nice it is to have a guy like Brady Hoke, who says all the correct things in all the generic ways possible. Yes—
What? Where am I? Why am I upside down in some sort of river valley? Why is there a bridge above/below me?
I was probably bungee jumping at the time in an effort to prevent the inevitable—this is the level of my dedication to you, reader—but this topic was still massively boring enough to result in nappy times. I apologize. I'm so, so happy to be talking about this, no, serious—
1. Is it about Rich Rodriguez? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.
2. Is it really about Rich Rodriguez or is it more of a rapturous thing about Brady Hoke that sets the lack of support given during the Rodriguez tenure in stark relief? If rapturous thing, go to 3. If actually about Rodriguez, go to 4.
3. Yes, that is annoying but let's just suck it up because it's in the best interests of the program.
4. Yes, it is extremely disappointing that certain program alumni appear to be jerks. What can you do, though?
To take one example, when you're so dim and callous as to deride Rodriguez as "Cherry Coke"—probably meant "New Coke"—in front of 60-70 players who were recruited by Rodriguez, are the living embodiment of that change, and went 10-2 and reached the Sugar Bowl, well… that's hopeless. Anyone who would trash-talk Denard, even indirectly, is never going to Get It.
It's further evidence that several recent program alums' maturity levels are low. It reminds me of how nice it was to have Bo around. There's nothing to do about it but wait. Eventually the Rodriguez recruits will be out of the program and the Rodriguez years far enough in the—
Right, this again. Upside down in a river valley.
If I can remain conscious long enough to respond to these things in the future, all future events will be filed "3" or "4". This, people of Earth, is my sacrifice for your well-being. Let it not be in vain. File these things 3 or 4 and live your lives without Rodriguez-Michigan-induced narcolepsy. You, too, can live—
An upside-down Brian Cook who would greatly appreciate being reeled in now
PS. Many of you have passed out in front of your computers and are in danger of entering an infinite loop wherein you wake up, forget what you were reading, begin reading again, and fall asleep. In an effort to prevent the thousands of deaths that may result, here is an animated GIF of some levitating cats.
Hopefully this will catch the newly-awakened reader's eye sufficiently to prevent them from entering a fatal boredom loop.
ANN ARBOR, Michigan (AP) -
University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon unveiled a brand new look for the Wolverines football team in preparation for their January 3rd Sugar Bowl appearance against the Virginia Tech Hokies. The announcement caused a firestorm of controversy amongst boosters, university officials, and unemployed arm-chair blog-critics alike.
The audacious uniform design features a University of Michigan student known in fan circles as Lloyd Brady. Brady is screen-printed prominently above the familiar block M logo, holding a spoonful of sugar in rapturous delight to celebrate Michigan's BCS berth.
Ryan VanBergen models the new Wolverines designs and pensively contemplates suicide.
"This is all about extending the Michigan brand," said Brandon in front of an assembly of visibly shocked press correspondants and fans. "Lloyd Brady is an emblem of the plugged-in, 24/7 blogosphere. We worked hand-in-hand with Adidas to make sure he is presented in full splendor. These uniforms harken back to the great traditions of the past while looking forward, boldly, to the coming day when the tail of internet fandom will inevitably wag the dog."
When asked how the idea began, Brandon detailed a wild night of inspiration. "Well, the nebula of the idea started one evening at a local bar with Jim Brandstatter. Beers led to shots, shots led to harder stuff, and, well... Let's just say cocaine played a role. Jim was keyed up, to say the least. Rambling on about Michigan Replay, about how the spread offense was really an outgrowth of the homosexual agenda... lots of wild ideas. I saw his white, powdery mustache and made a comment about how apropos it looked in light of our sugar bowl appearance. Once we got on the subject of sugar, the rest is history."
From there, a team of over three-hundred Adidas designers set to work creating a Sugar Bowl uniform worthy of the annals of Michigan history. "I think, clearly, we're entering a new era in sportswear," said Marty Tisdale, senior game apparel supervisor at Adidas. "The front of the uniform makes a bold statement. This isn't your father's Michigan Wolverines, no way. This uniform is the sportswear equivalent of social media - it gets people talking. In fact, the uniforms are outfitted with smart chips and keypads sewn into the fabric. During timeouts, players can tweet messages, via voice recognition, to fans in real-time with the push of a button."
The eye-catching uniform backsides are sure to turn heads on Jan. 3rd.
"The front of the uniform is really the tip of the iceberg," said Tisdale. "The backside is where we really pushed the envelope. The forty-two block M's on the back represent Michigan's forty-two Big Ten championships. As you can also see, we've tastefully adorned the uniform with a ghost-twill, sweat-wicking logo decal of our marketing partners, Domino Sugar. We hope the fans will appreciate the surprising blend of unrestrained whimsy and soul-crushing corporate fellatio."
When asked what he thought of the design, head coach Brady Hoke muttered something indistinct, then caught Brandon's stern gaze. He then offered, rather half-heartedly, "Well, you know, I think they're... tremendous."
The only coach who didn't seem on-board with the design was offensive coordinator Al Borges, who missed the press conference. He walked into the Schembechler Hall after his lunch break, took one look at the uniform concept, and turned away. After minutes of staring blankly out into the distance, hands in pockets, he said, "What have we done? God in heaven, what have we done?"
Brandon pays no mind to criticism, however. "The future is a scary thing to some people. I mean, think of the first facemasks. At the time, the guys wearing them looked pretty faggy. These are the next step in that evolution."
If Wolverine fans are unhappy with the Sugar Bowl uniforms, they can take heart; they are not permanent. Brandon also announced plans to wear different uniforms for each and every game next season, a total of twelve unique Adidas Tech-Fit designs. "Right now we're experimenting with different looks. Brandstatter and I like black-on-black, maize-on-maize, really eye-catching stuff." Then, with a furtive snort from a rolled hundred-dollar bill, Brandon added, "And of course, there's always white-on-white."
Was the bust what you remembered it to be?
“Yeah. That was a great night. I was riding up there with my wife, and we were on the bus, and Fred Jackson was right next to me, and I said, ‘Fred, where was it? I can’t remember this.’ And when I got up to the hill right there and I saw it up the road, I said, ‘Oh yeah, I remember this.’ That was a special night, a special night because that’s a special group of seniors. That was neat that that many people turned out to honor them, and they’ve earned that. I think that’s again another one of those things that separate Michigan football from a lot of other people and a lot of other places. It was a nice night.”
What does it take to keep a group from not sliding back for the bowl game?
“It’s always something that’s in the back of your mind, but I don’t think that’s going to happen with this gorup. This group is so hungry, and they already have talked about it themselves. That’s the good and bad about a bowl game. You’ll rememeber that one. That’s your last game. You always are going to remember your last game. It’s not about saying, ‘well, we had a good season and that was a bowl game.’ That’s not the case, especially when it’s a BCS bowl. These guys are focused, they’re doing everything that Brady’s asked them to do up to this point, which is the conditioning part of it. The practices that we’ve had to get them back going again, we’re real up tempo, and all signs show that that’s the same team that’s going to keep trying to get better and better.”
How has this season stacked up to the expectations you had when you took the job earlier this year?
“Well I don’t think I’d be telling the truth if I didn’t think they exceeded them. I think as the season went on, it didn’t exceed them because I started seeing that this group of guys and the job that Brady’s done and the way the staff worked, it was a great great situation, and these kids just keep trying to do everything you ask them to do. The interesting thing is forever here -- and it’s not a corny deal -- in our team room, it’s ‘team, team, team’ … and if you want to look at a great example of team, it would be this team so far. There may not be a lot of great, great players there -- there’s some really good ones -- but when they all did their thing and all worked together, and the offense picked us up, and there were games where we picked them up, and the special teams picked up both sides, that’s what a team is. That’s what you remember Michigan as, is team. As far as expectations, I think the thing they did do is they became a team. A real team. That always is a lot better than anything else.”
(more after the jump)