"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
|WHAT||Michigan v. #25 Michigan State|
|WHERE||East Lansing, MI|
7:00 PM EST
January 27th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan +10.5|
After a surprisingly strong start to the season Michigan was riding high at 10-2 and some of the more optimistic fans (yours truly included) were predicting a finish on the NCAA bubble. A win over Penn State and blowout losses to Purdue and Wisconsin - both on the road - didn't change the equation much. Close losses to #2 Kansas and #1 Ohio State in Crisler Arena gave further hope.
Then it all came crashing down. A previously solid Michigan defense was exposed in road debacles against Indiana and Northwestern, dropping from the top 20 nationally to the worst in Big Ten play. Jordan Morgan says "we thought our defense was good just because it was good, but really it was the hard work we were putting in." The team needs to get back to focusing on defensive play, rather than expecting the success to come.
Of course, Michigan's season - as painfully as it's unfolded - can't be looked at as a disaster, because there were almost no expectations coming in. That's not the case for the other side.. The Spartans have failed to live up to the usual hefty expectations--unfair though they may have been. Michigan State has dropped to an UNACCEPTABLE #25 national ranking (John Beilein: "That's not struggling"), and the perception is that they're reeling.
The perception isn't helped by the recent suspension of Korie Lucious for the remainder of the season. Though Lucious hasn't started any games this season, he's playing starter minutes (4th on the team in minutes/game) and was leading the Spartans in assist rate. He didn't accomplish much in two games against Michigan last year, but he's played a bigger role for the Spartans in 2010-11.
And of course, what would a Michigan-Michigan State basketball game be without the Rivalry Factor? Indiana native Zack Novak said "I hate them as much as people who have been here their whole lives," though his fellow Hoosier expatriate Stu Douglass backs off a bit, saying "I wouldn't call it hate." Either way, the Spartans have owned this "rivalry", winning every game since that duo has been in Ann Arbor. It's been over 10 years since Michigan has won in the Breslin Center (or even kept it to single digits), and Michigan is going to have to break their run of poor form if they want to end that streak.
With a few games under each team's belt, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Michigan State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. MSU Def eFG%||107||75||S|
|Mich Def eFG% v. MSU eFG%||164||111||S|
|Mich TO% v. MSU Def TO%||21||210||MM|
|Mich Def TO% v. MSU TO%||232||201||S|
|Mich OReb% v. MSU DReb%||303||84||SSS|
|Mich DReb% v. MSU OReb%||58||32||S|
|Mich FTR v. MSU Opp FTR||342||159||SS|
|Mich Opp FTR v. MSU FTR||61||219||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. MSU AdjD||70||18||S|
|Mich AdjD v. MSU AdjO||76||50||S|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The advantages for Michigan State come where you'd expect: rebounding and not sending Michigan to the free thrown line. Sparty's not the exceptional rebounding team they've been in the past, but early rebounding competency from the Wolverines has faded as the schedule has gotten tougher, and Michigan has gone with Evan Smotrycz at the 5 more frequently.
All said, this isn't the statistical nightmare on paper that I've come to expect from these contests. Though Michigan has had at least their share of struggles, State is in a similar boat, albeit against tougher competition.
One key will be for MIchigan's bigs to stop committing silly fouls. Jordan Morgan said, "I'm learning from a lot of mistakes I've made," but learning means very little if it's not applied in game situations. Foul trouble among the bigs must be avoided, as State's Draymond Green and Delvon Roe are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Spartans' talent in the frontcourt. Another key is to defend Michigan State's athletes, and prevent the Spartans from getting up and down the court in transition, and getting into the lane on drives from the likes of Kalin Lucas. That can be a tall task, as even John Beilein admits that Michigan's quickness is a weakness.
Rivalry games mean lots of coverage across the internets:
- Dylan asks questions of KJ from The Only Colors.
- KJ returns the favor, and TOC's Pete does the same with Remember Bo of Maize n Brew.
- MSM coverage from AnnArbor.com, the Free Press, and the Detroit News.
- Finally, game previews from TOC and from UMHoops.
At least one Wolverine fouls out, more likely two. I'll guess Jordan Morgan and Tim Hardaway Jr. Darius Morris picks up his play, though not to early-season levels. He finishes in double digits scoring, and is close in assists. The Wolverines will come closer than they have in a long time, but still fall in Breslin, 76-68.
If you have recruiting tips or questions, tweet @varsityblue or email email@example.com. All-time updates live on the Michigan Football Recruiting Board.
Every Prospect in America Goes Blue
Since last we spoke, Michigan has picked up 6 commitments, with a few more likely to drop before Signing Day. It's HOKEMANIA season in Ann Arbor.
Brady Hoke started the commitment parade by gettin' his snake oil on, yanking OH CB Tamani Carter from Minnesota's commit list. Hello: Tamani Carter.
Carter had previously been committed to Stanford, but when Harbaugh left for the NFL, reconsidered that. Local article:
"Tamani had a very special season," said Central coach Jay Sharrett to ThisWeek last fall. "When we needed a pivotal play, he was always there for us. Whether we needed a big reception, interception or fumble recovery. Tamani was the guy who made plays that won games for us."
Read delusional Minnesota message board reactions here. Carter's high school coach tells Mark Snyder that Hoke's days at Ball State made him comfortable with the staff.
Helloooooo Heitzman (sorry). OH DE/TE Keith Heitzman has said he's being recruited mostly for defense, but it remains to be seen what will happen with all these guys once they sign.
Tom spoke with CA K Matt Wile's coach shortly following his commitment, and he had this to say:
"It's no surprise that's where Matt ended up. You have a heck of a coach, and you got a heck of a kicker."
The developments with TX QB Russell Bellomy happened fast, as he visited campus over the past two days. Before leaving yesterday, he committed to Michigan. Hello: Russell Bellomy. Brady Hoke seems to be reinforcing the new Michigan tradition of stealing a commit from Purdue in one's first recruiting class.
Michigan has offered OH LB Antonio Poole ($, info in header). Wolverine coaches were in Cincinnati earlier this week to check in on him. Last night, he made it official. Hello: Antonio Poole. Video (HT: @MikeDyer):
That's 6 Hello posts in 6 days. Stay tuned for more.
Sealing the Deal and Who's Up Next?
FL OL Commit Tony Posada firmed up his commitment ($, info in header) on the visit.
MD CB Commit Blake Countess hosted defensive coordinator Greg Mattison last night, and has reaffirmed his commitment to the Wolverines.
Arizona's Scout site thinks IL OL Chris Bryant is still favoring Michigan. Even though he visited Pittsburgh a couple weeks back, the Panthers must not be too confident, as they added a JuCo offensive lineman on Monday ($, info in header). He visited Illinois over the weekend, and announces on Friday.
CO LB Leilon Willingham, a Texas A&M commit, visited Michigan last weekend... instead of taking his official to Texas A&M. That probably says a lot about his interest in Michigan, and meeting TX LB Commit Kellen Jones probably doesn't hurt. Willingham had been thinking about a decision today, but will visit UCF this weekend and plans to announce on Signing Day.
MI RB Thomas Rawls will announce at his school next Wednesday, and he "hopes for surprise" ($, info in header). Given that Central Michigan is his only current offer, it will be tough for him to surprise anyone - unless the surprise is that he's gotten a qualifying test score and therefore a Michigan offer. He wants to visit this weekend, so stay tuned.
Michigan has shown interest in OH FB Trayion Durham. His high school coach says if they plan to offer, he'll know by (last) Friday. He decommitted from Wisconsin in December, and is an unconfirmed commitment to Kent State. He is one of the nation's top fullbacks, and may visit Ann Arbor this weekend.
AZ OL Ryan Nowicki, a Penn State commit, plans to visit this weekend.
Despite positive vibes, Tom says not to get your hopes up for MD DT Darian Cooper unless the kid schedules an official to Ann Arbor despite Brady Hoke's in-home visit ($, info in header). He spoke with Michigan DC Greg Mattison on Sunday and hosted the former Ravens coach in-home yesterday. GERG2 had "interesting" things to say, and Cooper's also been hearing from Commit Blake Countess about Michigan. If Cooper visits Michigan this weekend, consider the Wolverines back in the running.
TX DE Devon Moreland, an SMU commit, might visit this weekend.
LA CB Floyd Raven has scheduled two official visits for the final two weeks before Signing Day ($, info in header). Intrepid mgouser UM_lawful uncovers that he was planning to be in Ann Arbor this weekend, but after re-affirming his Ole Miss commitment, that may not happen.
CA CB Stefan McClure's post-visit article doesn't have a positive header ($), which is probably a bad sign for landing him. In fact, he's announcing a decision this week and Michigan is no longer in the running.
Happy trails, LA CB Daren Kitchen. He was looking for a committable offer that never came, and has committed to SMU ($, info in header).
OH TE Jamare Mills has received interest from the new Michigan staff.
Past-and-hopefully-future Commit MI OL Jake Fisher came away from his Florida visit with positive vibes, but it certainly doesn't sound like he was blown away. If I had to guess, I would say Oregon is the biggest threat to Michigan re-gaining his commitment. He visits Eugene this weekend.
PA DE Max Issaka, who held an offer from Rich Rodriguez's staff, had that offer reaffirmed by Brady Hoke.
OH WR Shane Wynn might visit Michigan soon. He's a teammate of Frank Clark at Glenville.
For those who were getting hopeful about swiping MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel from Penn State... don't; He's solid to the Nittany Lions. ESPN's Bill Kurelic thinks Frank Clark and Chris Bryant will drop soon for Michigan. Article on Kris Frost officially to Auburn. AnnArbor.com fluff on Kellen Jones.
Michigan WR coach and recruiting coordinator Dave Hecklinski talks a little bit about recruiting at the end of this video.
So: we found backdoor shells and various files infected with eval() and unescape() items that turned into the nasty iframes. We decided the best thing to do was throw it all away and start from scratch.
We've changed all the passwords every twenty seconds to various strings of unintelligible gibberish. We've thrown away every bit of code from the old site and re-downloaded fresh, current items. We've scanned incessantly for injection vulnerabilities without finding any. I scanned my laptop with three different AV programs. We updated every bit of software to be the latest and greatest. The server is now in full Dwarf Fortress mode. This time I think we killed it, but these things require constant vigilance and only time will tell.
In the process we broke some things—say hello to yet another ugly, not very functional version of the board!—but right now we're just trying to get online. If/when this proves stable we'll start restoring the stuff that was broken. Cross your fingers.
OH LB Antonio Poole has committed to become the 15th member of Michigan's class of 2011. He told Tom yesterday:
"It just felt like the right choice, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I really would like to play for coach Mattison."
On with the show.
|4*, #13 OLB, #227 Overall||3*, 5.7, #26 OLB, #17 Ohio||3*, 78, #41 OLB|
The three recruiting sites disagree slightly on where Poole should be ranked, though all agree (for once) that he's an outside linebacker. Scout's the most optimistic, putting him at #13 for the position nationally, while ESPN slots him all the way down at #41. Their evaluation:
Has the size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. His strong wrap tackling ability should serve him well as a special team's player... We like his instincts and downhill approach when playing the run; demonstrates good timing when filling gaps, showing the quickness to beat blockers to the point of attack. Displays the playing strength to take on and defeat blockers when moving through traffic to the ball... His playing speed and athleticism show up in pass coverage; demonstrates good route awareness, especially with screens and release routes; is alert and can man up with receivers coming out of the backfield; also shows edge blitz speed and a change of direction move; has a good closing burst to the QB.
This is your standard ESPN fawning, and per usual, is accompanied by a "meh" rating. So, what's wrong with him? The sites disagree on his size, but at an average of 6-1, 215, he's a little undersized to be an immediate contributor at linebacker. Ohio State recruiting guru Duane Long elaborates:
His size is a question mark. His game is not. Knocks the stuffing out of people. Great instincts. Runs great. Plays with another level intensity. I think showing he can play the pass is going to be even more important to Pool [sic]. While Grigsby is a hybrid who could grow into a weak side linebacker, Pool is more a sure hybrid.
Oddly enough, Michigan's hybrid-obsessed coaching staff leaves town... and the Wolverines finally offer the guy who looks like a hybrid player. He got bigger after that evaluation (in the winter after his junior season), so size may not be quite the question mark it once was. Scout's Bill Greene chimes in ($):
His film shows an explosive athlete, equally adept at crowding the line of scrimmage, or playing in space.
This young man has sideline to sideline speed & never throttles down as he explodes into ball carriers. Great closing speed & such an athlete he can compete anywhere on the field from covering TE off the LOS to the speedy slot receiver staying right on there hip pad...What an unselfish player Poole is taking on multiple blocks hitting the holes and selling out while his teammates can scrape over to make plays, love this cat's motor when Antonio lays the WOOD it echoes throughout the stadium
Their recap also says he could play in the box as a strong safety at the next level, and that, combined with his measurements, leads me to believe he's destined for the weakside linebacker spot.
He has strong academics, named scholar-athlete of the week.
Rivals and Scout combine to list offers from a few MAC schools, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt, and Syracuse from the Big East, Kentucky, Wake Forest, and some middle-tier Big Ten teams. He also had interest from Nebraska ($, info in header). He visited Miami (YTM) last weekend, hoping for an offer. He didn't receive one (and reportedly would have committed had the offer come through).
After an exceptional junior season in which he had 48 solo tackles, 16 assists, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries, he was named to the First-Team All-Cincinnati defense (PDF link). Winton Woods won the State Championship.
I couldn't find full senior stats for Poole, but Winton Woods finished the season 10-2, losing to Trotwood-Madison in the playoffs. Antonio had 22 tackles for loss.
FAKE 40 TIME
He has a listed 40 time of 4.56, though none of the recruiting sites verify it. That's pretty good speed for a linebacker, and considering the name of Poole's game is "speed," that's totally plausible. I give a mere two FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Some sources say Poole is ready to play immediately, whereas others say he's too small. His skills against the run and pass are relatively polished and he's a big hitter, so if he takes a redshirt year, it's strictly because he's not needed in 2011 and the coaches want him to put on some mass.
However, don't be surprised if he plays a bit on special teams as a true freshman, and works his way into the linebacker rotation over the course of his career. He has an excellent chance to be an All-Big Ten selection as an upperclassman.
He doesn't have off-the-charts measurables that the NFL covets, so he seems more like a late-round pick or free agent signing at the next level.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is loading up on linebackers, and anybody who's seen the Wolverines' defense play over the last few years has no problem with that. There's probably at least one more commitment at the position on the way, and defensive line, tight end,
quarterback, and fullback are the areas of focus for the rest of the class.
If the coaches can't manage to fill a couple of those spots, they'll probably be fine waiting until next class to fill them in. Almost everything from this point forward is gravy on a transitional recruiting class.
Expect a sight delay in getting this post 100% uploaded, as the malware issue is giving me all types of trouble - UPDATE: Images should be good now.
Suck it, Purdue. Brady Hoke has extended the recently-established Michigan tradition of yanking commits from the Boilermakers by landing TX QB Russell Bellomy, according to both premium sites.
|3*, #39 QB||3*, 5.5||3*, 78, #35 QB|
Rivals is the least optimistic on Bellomy, as they rank 30 pro-style and 30 dual-threat QBs, with Bellomy nowhere to be found. The other two sites have him ranked in their top 40 combined QBs.
As for size, Rivals says he's 6-3, 178, Scout says 6-3, 185, and ESPN credits him with 6-3, 180. That's some consistency, right there. ESPN's evaluation:
He is a very good athlete with a tall, but gangly frame that has a ton of room to fill out and develop strength... Is a riverboat gambler that looks like a pocket passer, but is a deceptively good overall athlete with good foot speed and quickness for the position... Shows the ability to keep a play alive, evade within the pocket and make plays on the move. This is the area that surprises you the most about him-- he is a very good runner and improviser. Shows quickness, elusiveness and top end speed to be a guy that you have to contend with as a runner on the perimeter or the zone-read keep...
So that's his athletic ability, but how about his passing?
While his mechanics can be a bit wild and inconsistent, Bellomy displays toughness, grit and a competitive demeanor... Gets the ball out quickly and with good zip to short and intermediate areas of the field. Gets set quickly, shows very good feet in his drop and can anticipate routes and throws to a spot very well... Throws a soft, catchable ball that has the necessary zip to fit into tight windows when he has to... He has a good arm, but not great power or the ability to consistently stretch the field vertically.
The National Underclassmen Combine has an uninformative update:
Bellomy is a very versatile QB who does far more than throw the ball accurately. He's a terrific rusher and plays the game at a fast pace, making him perfect for today's style of play.
There's precious little else out there on his game, and the subpages on RussellBellomy.com seem to be busted. A horribly coiffed columnist from the Dallas Examiner caught up with Bellomy and asked him a few questions:
I have played baseball since I was little. I kept with it and played on select teams. Here at Martin, we have a big school and I made varsity as a sophomore which was pretty cool. I also played for a Kansas City Royals scout team. In the end, I gave up baseball for football so I could focus all of my attention on it.
That definitely speaks to his athleticism. Continuing with his style of play:
Some people say I look a little like Tom Brady. I'd like to think I play similar to him too. He doesn't run much so we are different in that aspect, but some of the throws he makes are crazy.
Nice Michigan connection.
No offense to the Boilermakers, but I had assumed that as a Purdue commit, Bellomy didn't have many other options prior to his senior year (he committed in June), but that's not the case. According to Scout, Boise State, Colorado, Michigan State, Minnesota, and South Florida had all offered scholarships, along with a host of MAC/CUSA-level offers.
That's no murderer's row, but Boise State and Michigan State have recent history of QB success, and have done so by developing under-the-radar recruits. This guy could be a serious steal.
ESPN has junior stats:
Completed 121 of 202 attempts (59.9-percent) for 1,546 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Rushed for 438 yards and six more scores
Thanks to our pals at Hammer and Rails, we have periodic updates from Bellomy's senior season:
So far he has Martin high off to a 1-2 start, but he is 26 of 49 for 281 yards and a touchdown against an interception. He has also rushed for 253 yards and four touchdowns in the run based offense. 210 of those yards came in Friday's 58-48 win over Flower Mound.
Bellomy has led Martin High to a 6-2 overall record and, more importantly, is actually healthy. He has thrown 994 yards and nine touchdowns against two picks, while running for 533 yards and seven scores. He has even caught a touchdown pass. Martin is on a 6-game winning streak and should make the state playoffs.
In addition to a link to the Martin High School football website, which has season-long stats. Russell finished 114/194 passing for 1584 yards (58.8%, 8.16 YPA) 15 touchdowns and 3 picks. He also rushed 120 times for 805 yards and 9 TDs. He made the All-District First Team.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals is the only premium site with a listed 40 time for Bellomy, crediting him with a 4.63. Though he's expected to be mostly a pocket guy in college, he's a pretty good runner at the high school level, so that's not unrealistic. A mere two FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
So. Bellomy is far from a polished prospect, but Michigan only has two other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster for next year. I would guess that the staff does whatever they can to redshirt him, unless they need him to play a bit. That gives him a year of separation from Devin Gardner, and provides a good start to QB depth going forward.
HOWEVA, if Bellomy will agree to being primarily a depth player throughout his career, the staff will give him a bit of playing time as a true freshman. Michigan needs three quarterbacks with game experience - plus walkons.
So Bellomy's career arc, then, depends on the fates of Michigan's current quarterbacks. Either Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner may leave Michigan early for the NFL, and there's not even a guarantee Robinson sticks around after spring practices this year. Michigan will target top quarterbacks for next year, so unless there are extenuating circumstances, Bellomy should be a backup who occasionally plays significant minutes.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines desperately needed a quarterback in this class, and they have their man. He's skilled enough that he can contribute - possibly even as a freshman - but not highly-touted enough to scare off bigtime prospects in the next couple classes.
Now that the Wolverines have filled the majority of their needs for the 2011 class, defensive line, linebacker, offensive line and tight end are the only remaining positions that must see more commitments. Any prospects in addition to those are icing on the cake.
Yesterday people started telling me the site had been flagged by Google for hosting malware, and we found it. It appears to be a database thing not actually related to Drupal since another site on the server running Wordpress got hit at the same time, and it only places the bad code in the files intermittently—so when it was gone yesterday I thought it was gone for good. If you actually get infected it will be very obvious. Instructions on how to remove "System Tool" are all over the google, but usually the best course of action is to do a system restore.
I'm going to be monitoring this closely the rest of the day, but my body has its own malware—zing!—and I feel miserable so other than watching for iframes like a hawk I am taking a sick day.
A thousand apologies for any trouble this caused people.