somehow we're only 124th
I, for one, welcome our Nike overlords. After two straight years of using The Game to prove even Ohio State can look more ridiculous, Nike will strike again this fall, outfitting Michigan State in their Pro Combat line of jerseys for the October 15th tilt against the Wolverines. (Yeah yeah, those in glass houses and whatnot).
In fairness, going to Pro Combat might be an improvement from the OMG MODERN FONT look straight out of Any Given Sunday that Michigan State switched to last year:
...as opposed to going away from the classic look of Ohio State's traditional jerseys (/immediately feels dirty, showers).
We live in an age where the apparel companies are going to do what they do in search of the almighty dollar. Methinks it's best to just to just accept it and move along. It certainly doesn't hurt that I'm not nearly as "get off my lawn" about Michigan's night game jerseys as is Brian. We'll see if Adidas plans to make frequent use of cash-grab alternates, like Nike is doing.
[Ed-M: As Michigan fans, however many headaches we've had to suffer thanks to Adidas's neon-ish idea of "maize" is made worth it when we see our rivals come to school looking like their colorblind mothers got lost in the kids section at Target.
For those wondering why they don't just go with the classic 1960s thing, MSU's official site rules out the obvious Duffy-era look because they rocked that for ND in 2006 -- not that anyone noticed. You can't really do too much damage with MSU since they've had 9 significant uniform changes since 1993, but they already have a home alternate, so either they're scrapping that, or State will play just three games all year in their "home" jerseys. Oregon indeed.
Futzing with Ohio State's
classic helmet disco ball covered in bird poop for Michigan week is the kind of thing that can make the football gods remove their favors.]
Speaking of ill-advised Spartan doings. Justin Abdelkader jokes that he wishes to bomb Michigan Stadium:
This is INCONTROVERTIBLE PROOF that all Spartans are terrorists. Look it up.
Barbecue snobs are certain to clarify this is merely a "cookout." As you've likely noticed, Wednesday Recruitin' has been a little calm over the past two weeks, after a whirlwind late spring/early summer parade of commitments to Ann Arbor. A slow period should transition immediately into another action-packed (though not necessarily commitment-packed) period coming up soon, with next weekend's "Barbecue at the Big House" recruiting event.
Much more about it in next week's Recruitin' post, but if you need your fix now, Tom has an ever-evolving list of visitors up in the Diary section. Those not already committed to Michigan are of the greatest interest to us because, you know, they could commit. All this and MUCH MORE next Wednesday (they call that a tease, kids).
Why would anyone want to leave that state? Also regarding the barbecue, Eleven Warriors calls Kyle Kalis and Tom Strobel "Ann Arbor's new favorite couple," but it is not supposed to be a gay joke - except there's no other way for it to realistically be intended. They could be Purdue commits for all I care, but what century are we living in where "hurr hurr u r gay" is still an OK insult?
If you Google "Kyle Kalis ACL," the first infinity results are of Ohio State message boarders wishing injury on a 16-17 year-old kid. Kalis has gone into (mostly) radio silence since his commitment, for fear of backlash. Ohio State fans bashing him for "poor morals" because he decommitted from a school that's about to get hammered for lying to the NCAA? Irony reading: high.
I'm not trying to pick a fight with Eleven Warriors here, but come on dudes, hold yourselves to a higher standard - which, to be fair, they usually do.
Godzillatron will be ours. Updates on the scoreboards? Updates on the scoreboards. Pictures can be seen at Michigan Stadium Aerials (also with updated photos of the hoops Player Development Center), and if you're into the "paint drying" thing, you can watch the assembly live on the internet at MGoBlue.
OK, so it's not quite as impressive as the mega-boards at places like Texas and... Minnesota... but it's certainly an upgrade over the recent past.
The QB my friends, is blowin' in the wind. Tate Forcier was told "thanks but no thanks" by Hawaii, of all schools, because his transcript is really that bad. The official mgoblog position is "hope he gets his life in order," but uh, is anyone still second-guessing David Brandon's alleged refusal to schedule a meeting with QB5?:
"I needed a certain amount of credits. The incompletes, I took care of those. Dave Brandon still wouldn't let me stay. He refused to even meet with us."
If Hawaii isn't even going to meet with you, Dave Brandon proooooobably wasn't in the wrong here. It sounds like you have more than "a few incompletes" to take care of.
Etc. The Big Ten goes in the wrong direction by going from 3 to zero teams on its preseason media ballot. Men's lacrosse picks up a top offensive coordinator - and tons of solid 2012 commits - including a football teammate of Erik Magnuson. Big Ten schools gettin' that paper, yo. Rest in peace, Jimmy Maddock.
This fall, I'll be chronicling the season of Michigan commits as they hit the field on Friday nights (or Thursdays, or Saturday afternoons) in their high school games. The series includes stat breakdowns, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer for the offensive side of the ball - the prospects whose games I'm most likely to attend this fall. If you have any corrections, you can e-mail them to me at Tim@mgoblog.com, or post them in the comments of this post.
Harrison High School
Farmington Hills, MI
|Farmington Hills Harrison 2011|
|8-27||8PM||Detroit Cass Tech (@EMU)|
|9-23||7PM||@ Southfield Lathrup|
|10-6||7PM||@ Rochester Adams|
|10-14||7PM||OAA Crossover Game|
HS Position: Wide Receiver
Projects as: Tight End/H-Back
HS Position: Defensive Tackle
Projects as: Defensive End/Rush LB
Farmington Hills Harrison had plenty of success on the field last year, winning 14 straight game en route to an undefeated State Championship season in Michigan's second-largest division. Devin finished the season with about 33 catches for 800 yards, while Mario notched 127 tackles and 12 sacks from the DT(!!!) spot, also causing three fumbles.
Harrison looks to be strong yet again in 2011, with not only Funchess and Ojemudia back, but teammate Aaron Burbridge reeling in the receptions - I'll be keeping an eye on the #2 prospect in the state of Michigan, as he's a prospect for the Wolverines as well. Harrison does have to replace quarterback Tommy Vento (a preferred walk-on at Michigan State), but if they can find a signal-caller, the other pieces are in place for a deep run.
I should catch quite a few Harrison games, and their season-opener against Cass Tech is a must-see for Michigan fans, as Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson will be suiting up across the field. That game is August 27th at 8PM in Eastern Michigan's Rynearson Stadium.
Cass Technical School
|Detroit Cass Tech 2011|
|8-27||8PM||FH Harrison (@EMU)|
|9-2||3PM||@ Detroit Central|
|9-9||4PM||@ Det Southeastern|
|9-30||6PM||Crockett (@Det Osborn)|
HS Position: Fullback/Linebacker
Projects as: Middle Linebacker
HS Position: Slot Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
The Cass Tech Technicians (We're from Tech!) had enormous success last season for a city league team, falling in the State Semifinal game on a final-minute turnover to eventual champion Lake Orion. Tech sent four players to FBS teams following the season, including Michigan freshman CB Delonte Hollowell (Illinois, Toledo and W. Mich got the others). Royce rushed for 10 touchdowns, and added 90 tackles and five sacks on the other side of the ball, and Terry finished with 35 tackles and 12 interceptions, plus 12 receptions for 400ish(!) yards and five touchdowns.
Despite losing plenty of talent, Tech looks to reload with Terry and Royce as the leaders. Royce's fellow linebackers Ruben Lile and Laron Taylor both have multiple Big Ten offers, and DT Darryl Goldsmith is hearing from the MAC. There's talent in the 2013 class as well. The schedule sets up nicely, with the showcase game against Harrison leading into several Detroit teams whom Tech has dominated over the past couple years.
Aside from the season opener against Harrison, I should be able to make it to a couple more Tech games, many of which are conveniently scheduled during the day. The final two games are tentatively scheduled for Thursdays, which could mean more chances to check them out. [Ed-M: Bonus reason to go to a Tech game: their fan cheer is "Go Cass; Kick Ass!"]
Detroit Catholic Central
|Detroit Catholic Central 2011|
|8-26||7PM||@ Dearborn Fordson|
|9-2||7:30PM||@ Delphos (OH) St. John's|
|9-24||7PM||De La Salle (@Lake Shore)|
|10-15||7PM||Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-22||4PM||Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)|
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Tackle
Last year, the Shamrocks saw plenty of success, but lost in the State Quarterfinals to current Michigan freshman Brennen Beyer and his eventual runner-up Plymouth Wildcats. They closed out the season 9-3. Matt capped off a 66-tackle (28 for loss), campaign with All-Catholic Honors.
Catholic Central looks to rebound from a down year in 2010 (seriously, 9-3 is a down year) with a return to the state finals - they won the State Championship in 2009. Along with Godin, tight end Matt Doneth is a BCS prospect as a senior, and 2013 RB/DE Wyatt Shallman should be one of the top prospects in next year's in-state crop.
With Michigan's heavy recruiting of the Catholic League this year (James Ross attends Orchard Lake St. Mary's, and 2013 QB Commit Shane Morris goes to Warren De La Salle), I should be able to make it out to at least a couple of Godin's games.
St. Mary's Preparatory
Orchard Lake, MI
|Orchard Lake St. Mary's 2011|
|8-26||4:30PM||GR West Catholic|
|9-2||7PM||Toledo (OH) St. John's|
|9-16||7PM||UD Jesuit (@Ferndale)|
|9-23||7:30PM||Columbus (OH) DeSales|
|10-7||7PM||Warren De La Salle|
|10-15||7PM||@ Det Catholic Central|
|10-22||7PM||Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)|
HS Position: Fullback/Linebacker
Projects as: Linebacker
Last year, St. Mary's reached the State Championship game, but fell to rival East Grand Rapids (as the Eaglets so often do in various sports) on a goal line stand in the fourth quarter. The only other losses in the 11-3 campaign for St. Mary's came to another rival in Birmingham Brother Rice (once in the regular season, once in the Prep Bowl). James finished his junior season with 103 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, and an interception last year.
This year, the Eaglets have to replace a Penn State-bound WR Allen Robinson, along with their starting quarterback Mike Koenigsknecht. The onus will fall on the run game and defense to bring the Eaglets back to the playoffs.
I should be able to make at least a couple OLSM games this fall, particularly when they take on other Michigan prospects.
Rockford High School
|9-16||7PM||Holland West Ottawa|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Tackle
The Rams are a traditional football power in the State of Michigan, so only reaching the semifinals last year (they bowed out to Brennen Beyer's Plymouth team) was a disappointment. The 11-3 seaosn also included road losses to Howell and Canton in the regular season. Braden is an offensive lineman, so his didn't accrue any stats.
Expect a disappointing 2010 season to fuel a deep run for Rockford this year, led by Braden up front. His other bookend, Parker Ehinger, is off to Cincinnati this year, so the Rams need another big lineman to step up in their run-heavy attack. There has been a lot of talk this summer about how Braden impressed on the camp circuit, so a strong senior year could help him move into four-star range to the recruiting services.
Rockford [shows hand, points at left side of palm] is positioned across the state from most of Michigan's other commits (and, you know, Michigan itself), so it'll be rare that I get to take in one of Braden's regular-season games. However, Rockford should make a deep run into the playoffs, and I'll hopefully get to catch a couple there.
De La Salle Collegiate
|De La Salle 2011|
|8-26||7PM||AA Pioner (@Lake Shore)|
|9-2||7PM||Carman-Ainsworth (@Lake Shore)|
|9-9||7PM||@ Dearborn Fordson|
|9-18||2:30PM||@ Brother Rice|
|9-24||7PM||Catholic Central (@Lake Shore)|
|9-30||7PM||Inkster (@Lake Shore)|
|10-7||7PM||@ Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-14||7PM||UD Jesuit (@Lake Shore)|
|10-21||7PM||Prep Bowl (@ Ford Field)|
Shane Morris (2013)
HS Position: Quarterback
Projects as: Quarterback
De La Salle has not been a power in the Catholic League, but they put together a good 2010 season, reaching the State Quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual champion Farmington Hills Harrison. The other losses in a 9-3 season for the Pilots came to another pair of Michigan commits in Detroit Catholic Central's Matt Godin and Orchard Lake St Mary's linebacker James Ross. Morris completed 102 of 180 passes for 1,150 yards, to go along with 14 touchdowns and just 2 picks last season.
De La Salle should be about the same this year as they were last year, but with another year of experience for their star QB, they'll look to get over the next hump. With a very strong junior season, Shane can make an early argument for 5-star status in the 2013 class.
Since he won't be hitting campus for another couple years, I'm not prioritizing Morris's games as highly as the other prospects. I plan to be in attendance (when possible) for a couple contests against 2012 Michigan commits.
Any corrections to the schedules posted here are welcome. If you attend any commit's game, feel free to e-mail me notes, stats, photos, etc. to Tim@mgoblog.com.
A whole lot of "defense will be better" diaries this week. Rather than steal their thunder, HIT PLAY to listen to my favorite song off my favorite album of all time, and once the strings and charts come in, start clicking things. (Mp3 courtesy of band's official page)
Your gentleman caller
Well, he's been calling on another
He loves his forbidden fruit
And as it dribbles down his chin
"Baby I've been drinking with some friends now how about a little kiss"
Rub his nose in it, what a mess
And he's playing dumb
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
I'm not looking for a lover
All those lovers are liars
I would never lie to you
You say you wanna get even
Yeah you wanna get your bad man good
Well, are you in the mood?
You bad girl
Does it feel good
Being bad? and get worse
do do do do do do do do
But in the morning
On the sober dawn of Sunday
You're not sure what you have done
Who told you love was fleeting?
Sometimes men can be so misleading
To take what they need from you
Whatever you need to make you feel
Like you've been the one behind the wheel
The sunrise is just over that hill
Whatever I said to make you think
That love's the religion of the weak
This morning we love like weaklings
The worst is over.
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
- NCAA Total Defense: 110th (of 120)
- NCAA Scoring Defense: 108th
- Rushing Defense: 95th, but that's just to set up the…
- Passing Defense: 112th
- Turnovers Gained: T-77th
- 3rd Down: 95th
- Red Zone: 87th
- Fremeau: 108th
The worst is over.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Western Michigan Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||411.67||34|
|Points Per Game||32.33||37|
|Yards Per Play||5.74||46|
|Yards Per Pass||7.22||49|
|Yards Per Rush||3.92||83|
|Playcall Distribution||1.23 Pass:Rush|
The Broncos ran a pass-heavy spread offense last year, putting the majority of the focus on QB Alex Carder and his stable of receivers. Part of the apparent balance in playcalling is a mirage, as the Broncos were one of the most-sacked teams in America, with Alex Carder and Tyler VanTubbergen going down 30 times on the year. Adjusting the playcall distribution to account for that, they're 1.42 passes per run. Their playcalling makes sense given that they were a decent team on a yards-per-pass basis, and god awful at running the rock.
Ever since Bill Cubit has been at Western Michigan, they've been a pass-heavy team, regardless of talent. Expect that to continue into 2011.
Alex Carder returns for his second season as a starter, though he's been in the program for four years (redshirted in 2008, backup in '09). It's fair to expect a bit of improvement going forward. One thing that could hinder that development? one of his top targets from last year, Juan Nunez, is out the door. He's also been hit plenty of times recently, as one of the most-sacked QBs in the nation (more about that in the OL section).
His backup, Tyler VanTubbergen, also returns. He got limited action in his redshirt freshman year. The third-stringer will be someone who has yet to throw a collegiate pass, be it a true freshman or a sophomore who hasn't seen any game action.
|Western Michigan QBs 2010|
|Western Michigan QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 3/5. It's fair to expect Carder to be a little better this year than he was last year, but with a depleted receiving corps, that may not show up in the box scores. He was also the team's most oft-deployed runner as well, and though he didn't put up good numbers (thanks in part to being sacked 2.5 times per game), he did lead the team in rushing TDs. He's Phil Steele's 2nd-Team All-MAC QB.
Tevin Drake was the team's leading rusher last year, despite being fifth(!) on the team in carries behind several guys who didn't get nearly his YPC. He did get enough reps that his high YPC is probably not a statistical anomaly, though his big games came against some of the worst competition on the schedule.
Aaron Winchester was the team's wholly-underwhelming workhorse last year, and it's odd to see that he got so many more carries than the other guys, considering he performed considerably worse. There could be some situational-use explanations for that, but if the offensive line was bad, it was bad for everyone, and he didn't even perform well against the dregs of the schedule.
|Western Michigan RBs 2010|
|WMU RBs Receiving 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Since everybody returns from last year, it's fair to assume this unit will perform better. I'd also imagine that the coaching staff will wise up and reduce the reps for Winchester while increasing them for Drake and Fields, who are no longer freshmen. That means more explosiveness and less... uh... ineffective player. Winchester didn't get it done last year, but kept getting the ball. The dude got 3.3 ypc against Nicholls State, for God's sake. He didn't account for a single touchdown all year! I think Fields is more built to take every-down pounding, and Drake may be more effective as a situational player (Phil Steele has pegged him as 2nd-Team all-MAC).
Last year's most prolific wide receiver will be a 6th-year senior, thanks to a medical redshirt way back in 2008. He was a Biletnikoff semifinalist last year, so Jordan White is the Real Deal. The problem is that the team's second-best receiver (immediately before a cavernous gaping hole to #2), Juan Nunez, has shuffled off after what seemed like an interminable career at WMU.
Robert Arnheim and Ansel Ponder will have to take much bigger roles in 2011, and since three tight ends with game experience are returning, might we see a bit more use of those guys?
|Western Michigan WRs 2010|
|Blake Hammond (TE)||9||113||12.56||3|
|Clark Mussman (TE)||7||98||14.00||0|
|Dallas Walker (TE)||9||58||6.44||2|
|WMU WRs Rushing 2010|
|James O'Neill (TE)||3||11||3.67||0|
|Dallas Walker (TE)||1||-2||-2.00||0|
Grade: 4/5. Jordan White was by far the team's most consistent deep threat last year, and the question becomes whether he can reprise that role without Nunez forcing the defense to respect the whole field. If Arnheim or Ponder can become consistent threats, it will open things up for the whole offense. On the other hand, neither has shown the explosiveness that Nunez brought, so it will be a tall task to fill his role. I do, howveer, expect improvement from the tight ends - maybe even enough to show off more two-tites packages. White is on Phil Steele's 1st-Team All-MAC squad, while Arnheim is on his 4th Team.
The Broncos lose three starters from last year's line, and we've already discussed its struggles from last year: couldn't run the ball and couldn't protect the passer. One of the returning players should be familiar to Michigan fans, as erstwhile Wolverine Dann O'Neill is a starter at right tackle. Left guard Anthony Parker was All-MAC in 2009, and is the other returner. The final three positions are serious question marks. JuCo transfer Tim Maka (a 25-year old who served on a Mormon mission) is expected to start at left tackle, while right guard should be manned by redshirt sophomore Terry Davisson, and Kevin Galeher should be the starting center.
Grade: 1/5. As mentioned above, the Bronco line was pitiful last year. Losing three starters isn't going to make it a whole lot better, especially when one of those losses is an All-MAC payer in left guard Phillip Swanson. Dann O'Neill and Anthony Parker are the only players on Phil Steele's All-MAC projections, a 2nd- and 3rd-teamer, respectively.
|Western Michigan Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||387.83||73|
|Points Per Game||23.83||52|
|Yards Per Play||5.72||74|
|Pass Yards Per Game||221.25||62|
|Yards Per Pass||7.52||88|
|Sacks Per Game||2.33||34|
|Rush Yards Per Game||166.58||76|
|Yards Per Rush||4.34||71|
Despite playing a pretty poor schedule last year, the Broncos defense didn't do a whole lot to instill fear in anyone. In fact, they were below average in just about everything except getting to the quarterback. With their top backfield demon (linebacker Dex Jones) gone, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the lineup can pick up the slack.
The other thing that Western was OK in was points per game, a product of a positive turnover margin - +0.25 per game, despite their awful O-line doing no favors on the other side - and some plain luck.
The Broncos return their top 7 contributors from last season, and these guys have plenty of experience. Edge-rusher Paul Hazel is the headliner of the bunch, but Deauntay Legrier's production could have been even better if he hadn't missed a couple games with injury. Drew Nowak holds down the middle, joined by Travonte Boles.
|Western Michigan Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 4/5. By all expectations, this should be a solid unit, if they remain healthy. The only player lost is a role guy who only got in a handful of times last season. The Broncos were in the nation's top third in sacks and close to that in tackles for loss, and though all that production didn't come from the D-line, they were certainly an important part of it. Nowak is a 2nd-Team All-conference projection by Phil Steele, while Boles and Hazel are 3rd-teamers.
So, the Broncos play a 4-2-5 defense, given the extremely low numbers of players who accrued stats from the position last season. Mitch Zajac is a multi-year returning starter, and the obvious headliner of the group. That leaves Chris Prom and Desmond Bozeman to fight it out for the weakside spot. I'll give the nod to Prom, as he accomplished a whole lot more last year. However, Bozeman is getting a little bit of press this summer, and could pass Prom on the depth chart.
|WMU Linebackers 2010|
|Waymon Ross (DE)||2||0.5||0.5|
Grade: 2/5. It's tough to grade these guys on the same scale as LB units with three players. This unit had one obvious standout, who returns, and a ton of roleplayers. As long as Zajac (on Phil Steele's conference 2nd team) remains healthy, the cast of characters at the other spot can probably rotate without much dropoff. Losing Jones's ability to get into the backfield, however, is a huge question mark.
Western played tons of defensive backs, and these guys built up the lion's share of the stats in the 4-2-5 scheme. They lose the top two tacklers in hybrid Jamail Berry and strong safety Mario Armstrong, along with corner Damond Smith, who was a starter before getting kicked off the team. Louis Toler at corner and Doug Wiggins at one of the safety positions are the only sure starters, with sophomore Demetrius Pettway or Keith Dixson getting one of the other safety positions. By my estimation, Raheam Buxton and Johnnie Simon will be the other two starters, at corner and rover, respectively. There is only going to be one backup on the roster with any significant game experience, so this unit is light on depth.
|WMU Defensive Backs 2010|
|Louis Toler (CB)||59||1.5||0||5|
|Doug Wiggins (FS)||55||1||0||0|
|Raheam Buxton (CB)||25||0||0||1|
|Johnnie Simon (Rov)||25||0.5||0||0|
|Keith Dixson (SS)||22||0.5||0||1|
Grade: 2/5. There are a couple accomplished players returning, but when a secondary loses the top two players from a defense that couldn't stop anyone from passing last season, it's unlikely that they'll be particularly good. With limited depth, they're also an injury or two from being in deep trouble, unless there are some unknowns ready to step up.
Both of Western's starters return from last year, and both were quite good. John Potter resumes kicking duties, and Ben Armer is back as the punter.
|Western Michigan Kickers 2010|
|Western Michigan Punting 2010|
Grade: 4/5. Both specialists were good last year, and it's fair to expect more of the same in 2011, or even some improvement. They're both 2nd-team All-MAC projections by Phil Steele.
[Ed-M: Bumped because this totally punctuated my equilibrium. The best indicator yet of year-to-year defensive evolution. And great news: the mean has magnetism!]
Richard Goldschmidt hypothesized that the incremental changes to organismal phenotypes over the course of even thousands of generations was insufficient to explain the change from one species to another. He posited that evolutionary change is powered by great leaps forward, instances of saltatory mutation that generate a new species from the old. Goldschmidt’s ideas were ridiculed, mostly, and with good reason. The overwhelming evidence of population genetics and the theoretical triumph of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis seem to indicate that evolutionary change is effected gradually over time by the additive effects of allele substitutions in the genetic makeup of a given population; population change happens slowly, if at all.
But there are situations in which sudden changes to an organism’s ecological niche—a new predator or prey introduced, migration or population bottlenecks, climate change, a massive meteor falling from the sky and killing all the dinosaurs—opens up the opportunity for rapid (on the geological time scale) evolutionary change.
The defense was bad last year. And bad the year before. And the year before that. A number of reasons have been put forward for the awfulness. The defense was decimated. Really decimated. Seriously, it was decimated. GERG is a force of nature complete with his own effect. The coaches thought making in-game adjustments was tantamount to cheating. And so on. At the risk of overstraining the metaphor, it certainly felt as if we were watching the extinction of that species of animal previously known as the Wolverine defense. It’s at the very least an endangered species. But if the combination of the addition of Hoke and Mattison, Nebraska joining the BIG, and the tattoo-laden implosion of the 614 area code don’t count as a change in the environment that opens the possibility of rapid change, then my metaphor has no validity at all.*
Folks have tried to take a stab at what might happen this year, based on small sample sized studies of returning starters, even smaller sample sized bits of anecdotal evidence, and a healthy dose of Hoke-A-Mania! I collected data from http://www.cfbstats.com/ on total defense numbers from 2006 through 2010 and analyzed year to year changes for every team, based on total defense rankings. Even though I’ve got five years of data, I’m going to talk in terms of “Base year” and “Year 2;” since I wasn’t looking to find multi-year trends in defensive performance all I care about is the movement from one year to the next. So with five years of data I have four years (2006-2009) worth of data in my “Base year” set and four years (2007-2010) in my “Year 2” set
This diary doesn’t propose to do anything other than aggregate a little bit of data about what we can expect based on very recent history and to show how many teams over the last few years have been outliers. From there we can start to see what Michigan’s chances are of bucking the odds of Darwinian uniformitarianism.
Natura non facit saltum: The Case For Phyletic Gradualism
My first task was to look at the aggregated data on a very coarse grain. I wondered how much movement there was in rank from year to year, so I grouped teams into sets of ten based on their base year finish (top ten teams, teams 11-20, etc.) and then tracked where those clusters of teams finished on average in year 2.
So the 40 teams in the data set that finished in the top ten in the base year averaged a finish at around 20 year 2. If a team finished in the 111-120 rank range, they could expect to be at around 95 in year 2. The obvious thing that jumps out is regression at the two ends of the line. This suggests what should be obvious: it is difficult to sustain excellence or ineptitude. So, by staying terrible last year, Michigan is already an outlier. Yay? But as you move away from the ends of the line, the movement away from the base year gets less and less, so that teams that are average appear to stay average.
Then, since I care mostly about one of the teams at the gruesome end of the line, I looked more closely at teams that finished the base year in the 90-120 range, and got this for my troubles:
This looks at every spot in the ranking from 90 to 120 and plots the year 2 average for the teams that finished at each of those spots. There is a lot of noise here, because for each ranking spot there are only four data points, but the trend line is pretty much what we’d expect. The worse you are in the base year, the worse you can expect to be in year 2.
So the numbers look gloomy, suggesting that expecting much movement in one year is a recipe for disappointment. These numbers provide the baseline for the geological timescale. The pace of change appears to be slow.
Hopeful Monsters: The Case for Saltationism
Despite this evidence of evolutionary stasis there have been a number of teams who’ve managed macromutation from one year to the next, both up and down. Since 2006, 37 teams out of a possible 278 (obviously only teams ranked 51 or worse could possibly make a 50 spot leap) have managed a leap of 50 or more spots in the ranking from one year to the next, and 107 out of 378 possible have made jumps of 25 or more spots.
50 spot leap
25 spot leap
For what it's worth, these percentages are higher than I expected prior to compiling the numbers. It's not worth anything, by the way.
My original goal was to analyze the factors that these saltatory leaps might have in common, but finding reliable data on returning starters, experience, changes to coaches or defensive co-ordinators, etc. has proven difficult. I might try to look in detail at a few case studies to see if there are any similarities between Michigan 2011 and the hopeful monsters who point to the possibility of rapid change, but provide a link to my table so that anyone else who may want to can do the same.
Viva la evolucion.
*Yes, I’m aware my metaphor already has no validity at all.
Edit: I think this is what the first commenter is asking for.
The Curious Case of the Cass Tech Commits
There was a minor hullaballoo late last week over the status of M commits Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson, after a couple tweets indicated they'd like to take other visits:
Mr2012RJS i want to take my visits to Oklahoma Miami Florida Alabama and Iowa and get a feel for every school.
Terry_Rich Me n Royce both still taking visits are recruitment process not over till feb 2 we solid but still looking nothing personal
Royce backtracked within a couple of days:
great advise my coach gave me. T wilcher.
no visits 4 me . i will wait till i get to AA to get wined n dined =DD
So it sounds like Mr. Jenkins-Stone's commitment is as solid as they come, thanks to Coach Wilcher. Terry hasn't said anything about canceling his visits, but he tweeted:
People make newspaper articles on my tweets and royce tweets they outta hand with this recruiting stuff we are still in HIGHSCHOOL People!!!
So it sounds like he's upset that his words were made out to be more than he intended. ...But, in personal e-pinion, when you're a public figure, you have to expect attention based on your words.
Michigan has offered OH WR Monty Madaris, he tells TomVH:
Coach Smith said they liked my film and they are looking forward to getting me up there for a visit soon. I'll be up for the BBQ on the 31st. Michigan is near the top of my list [now] for sure. They are one of the schools that I'm evaluating more than others. I have no idea when I want to make my decision but I would like to make it soon.
The Wolverines are certainly looking for a wideout in this class, and it sounds like they won't have to wait too long to hear Madaris's decision. He ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at Michigan State last weekend.
Speaking of wideout needs, CA WR Jordan Payton has scheduled his official visit to Michigan for the Notre Dame Game on September 10th.
MO WR Jehu Chesson has scheduled a Michigan visit ($, info in header).
Michigan State and Michigan are on the mind of MI WR Aaron Burbridge ($, info in header).
Tom talked to the coach of OH WR Dwayne Stanford and DE Adolphus Washington, who says the highly-touted pair won't be in Ann Arbor any time soon:
I don't think they'll be taking any more visits because of AAU basketball. I know they go away next week and when they come back we'll be in two a days so it will be tough for them to make it to places. As of now they have nothing else scheduled.
Coach Martin points out that Michigan is one of the few mutual schools on their top five lists, but they're softening their stance on being a package deal.
The Crimson Quarry breaks down the recruitment of IN QB Gunner Kiel, noting that Oklahoma and Missouri's recent pickups at the position may reduce their chances of landing the nation's top signal-caller.
Of course, AJ fails to mention Michigan, reducing the competition to a head-to-head battle between Indiana and Alabama. That could either be prescient (CBS's Eye on Recruiting blog also omits Michigan) or foolhardy, but I'm guessing the Wolverines are unlikely to land Kiel at this point.
IL OL Jordan Diamond will cut his list to 10 schools soon, but it seems like he has a top 5 within that number:
Diamond said Iowa is among five schools that would definitely make the cut, the others being Michigan, Wisconsin, Auburn and Tennessee.
Ohio State sounds like his sixth school, pending a decision from the NCAA (which could be a long way off if Michigan's timeline (in a less serious case) is any indication). Diamond plans to take all five visits before deciding.
PA OL Adam Bisnowaty likes Michigan, but is not going to hurry a decision just because the Wolverines' class is starting to fill up.
CA DT Aziz Shittu will take his time coming to a(nother) decision on college ($, info in header).
Tennessee and Notre Dame lead for OH DE LaTroy Lewis ($, info in header).
MLive's Kyle Warber interviews OH S Commit Allen Gant, who - shocker - wants to beat Ohio State and play in Rose Bowls.
Is the door still open between Michigan and NY CB Wayne Morgan? It sure sounds like it:
Morgan currently holds offers from Alabama, Miami, Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn, among others. Michigan offered him and wanted him to commit in June, but the decision was made to go on visits first and find the perfect fit. Morgan said he is still in touch with Wolverines coaches, so they are not completely off the board.
His coach's version of events (Wayne thought he was moving too fast) differs from the internet consensus of events (the coach wanted Wayne to consider Rutgers, so he made him delay a decision), but either way the door is still open a crack. Regardless of which is true, I would assume that Wayne's place in the 2012 class is no longer available, barring any changes in Michigan's commit list.
The Big House BBQ recruiting event is still over a week away, but Tom is already hard at work putting together a guest list of known visitors. He'll update with the latest info when it becomes available, so keep checking back. There are a couple big uncommitted names planning to be there, including OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn and OH DE Chris Wormley.
The Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski talks about Michigan and Michigan State recruiting success in Ohio.
NY DT Jarron Jones has narrowed his list of schools to North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Penn State. The Penn State decommitment is not considering Michigan.
Happy Trails, TN WR Drae Bowles, who committed to Tennessee.
Happy Trails, OH RB Alden Hill, who also committed to Tennessee.
Duane Long runs down the three "must-have" players in Ohio next year. QB/WR/Ath Jalin Marshall sounds like he's all Buckeye, but CB Cameron Burrows hails from Trotwood-Madison, which has been kind to the Wolverines in recent years, and RB/S Dymonte Thomas has openly named Michigan his leader. Long on Burrows:
Burrows is the complete package. He can cover like an elite corner and he brings the hurt like a safety. He dazzled this spring at Ohio State with his feet and hips. Athletes Burrows size are not supposed to move like that.
...and on Thomas:
As great a back as Thomas is, make no mistake he is a great back, he may be a better safety. If you held a gun to my head and said choose a position I would say safety. He is a relentless kid with great speed and instincts. He is a great tackler and ferocious competitor. He has an ideal safety frame at 6-2 and about 190.
Thomas, as you may recall, is a cousin of 2012 RB Bri'Onte Dunn.