News bullets and other important items:
- Bye weeks. They are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal.
- Aside from the guys who are out for the year, everyone except maybe Brandon Moore and maybe Marvin Robinson should be back for Purdue.
- Also except for Nathan Brink.
“You know, the bye weeks, I think you never know when a good bye week is, when it’s not a good bye week -- I don’t think you really know that until you go through it. I think it was good because of the productivity that we got from having the bye week. I would hope we have that, the productivity, anytime the bye week was, but I think we got to really re-evaluate where we’re at and what we want to do. I think you evaluate yourselves a little bit as coaches. I think that’s always a big part of it. Different things in the aspects that you’re involved with, from the kicking, the defense, the offense. You always look at self-scouting, see where you’re at, what you might want to do different or what you like, what you’re doing.
"I think the other part of it is the teaching part, the fundamentals, and those things that go along with it. I think the other part, which was big, was the guys who are traveling who are freshmen have not been home since June 25th. We have a lot of those guys from the state, got a lot of those guys within driving distance from Ohio and Chicago. It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human being and go home and maybe watch their high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncles, whoever -- I thought that was positive. And then from the academic side also I think it’s always a help.
"So we’ll find out obviously Saturday. We’ve got a tremendous challenge because I think Purdue’s playing as well as anybody in our league right now. Three and one. Went to South Bend and played a hard-fought tough game, had a chance to win the game. So we got our work cut out for us.”
Michigan football senior/junior defensive lineman Nathan Brink (Holland, Mich./Holland Christian) suffered an undisclosed injury during practice last week and will be out indefinitely. Brink has appeared in all four games this season and has two tackles, including 1.5 stops for losses
I take that to mean his season's over since The Fort doesn't release any injury information it absolutely doesn't have to. If they're telling people it's because they know word will get out anyway once Brink is spotted on crutches or whatever walking around campus or on gameday.
Brink's not a huge loss but Michigan's thin DL just got thinner. This means more playing time for Keith Heitzman and… well, Keith Heitzman. Also Jibreel Black, who will probably take some of the snaps Brink was getting as a rotation 3-tech.
UPDATE: Heritage Newspaper is saying it's a neck injury, so Brink will transfer to MSU and play next weekend because he's just had the wind knocked out of him.
9/29/2012 – Georgia 51, Tennessee 44
[WHAT THIS IS: I took the opportunity presented by the Michigan bye week to head down to Georgia and take in an ESS-EEE-CEE game with Spencer Hall, Doug Gillett, and Michael of Braves and Birds and SBN Atlanta. I'd gone to an Auburn game a few years back because a good friend is an Auburn guy and acquired a taste for college football tourism, which is why I went.]
You go on a plane and get off of it and eventually you end up in the upper deck of a stadium far more vertical than Michigan's and look down at everything and in that moment you get the full weight of college football.
When it's your fandom, you've got a lifetime of dog-kicking and air-walking that tethers you to the larger institution. On Sunday I ended up watching most of the Falcons-Panthers game with a couple of Falcons fans who had mostly contempt for the larger NFL*. When you're just there to catch some football, you can appreciate the thing itself. On Saturday, I wiped the corners of my eye when Georgia put that Herschel Walker run on the screen and saw Orson do the same when they put a solo trumpeter in the corner of the upper deck to play the opening notes of the Battle Hymn of the Republic as Larry Munson said the same thing he always has.
Neither of us gives a damn about Georgia; both of us are pledged to other outfits. Doesn't matter. The weight of the institution is heavy, and genuine, and involves weird things that evoke Ghostbusters…
…and that Herschel Walker run. There's a dog on the opponent's sideline with an air conditioned house, and Tyler Bray is about to take the field. Football.
I was pretty sure the guy who would leave the lasting impression would be Jarvis Jones, Georgia's missile OLB/DE. He'd spent most of Georgia's game against Missouri flossing Tiger QB James Franklin's teeth and promised to do so again against college football's leading artillery piece, Tyler Bray. That was not to be the case. Jones did little, and I left thinking "I saw Tyler Bray play."
Bray is not great. He may be good, but it's hard to tell on a Tennessee team that can't run the ball or stop the run or maintain leverage even one damn time in a three-hour football game. This only increases the enjoyment of watching Bray play as he tries to cover up for Tennessee's myriad other flaws. Bray is gonna Bray. We have Derek Dooley to thank for this.
Several times a game you will see Bray decide to unleash the dragon well before it's clear this is a good idea. If you see Bray lean back, the ball is going 40 to 60 yards. He will do this ages before it's clear this is a good idea. Bray don't care. You will see teams of orange-pantsed gnomes wind the kid up as the play develops. He'll sidestep a rusher (or fumble) as the gnomes get a satisfying CHUNK out of Bray and he clicks further back. Once sufficient chunks have been chunked, the ball will zing out of Bray's hand at lethal speeds, destination unknown but awesome.
After Georgia rolled out to a 27-10 lead that was one fluky pick-six away from being game over, they did neutrals a favor by taking a shotgun to their foot repeatedly at the end of the first half. After the first of these, the game became a series of spectacular MMA knockouts. Orson and I ended independently going "OHHHHHHHHHH" and jumping up and down and laughing when Bray would laser a flat-footed pass 60 yards downfield into coverage for a completion, or do the same for an interception, or fumble, or throw a perfect deep ball that Cordarelle Patterson would drop, or chop a linebacker down as Patterson turns a failed trick play into a knee-slapping did-you-see-that winding touchdown run that took him from one side of the field to the other.
By the fourth quarter, the Bray lean was Christmas morning. On Tennessee's second to last drive, he tossed a back-foot laser to Patterson 30 yards downfield (dropped), then leaned back to hurl a spectacular NFL interception twenty yards downfield on a line. On UT's last drive he scrambled around in the pocket, leaning back the whole way until he fumbled, ending the Vols' hopes. Bray finished 24 for 45 with two touchdowns, a third eighty-yarder dropped, three interceptions, and a lost fumble.
I have seen Tyler Bray play football, and it was everything it could have possibly been. He's three hours of jumping up and down and going "OHHHHH" as you feel a stadium you don't belong to lurch back and forth queasily, in a place that puts the weight of Herschel Walker on your shoulders.
*[As they should, since this is a league that looks at fourth and one for the game with Cam Newton at QB and says "punt." Rod Gilmore swells with pride, NFL.]
Obligatory Comparison Bullets
Apparently I only do this when Michigan has two losses. M was 1-2 in 2008 when I went to Auburn.
Auburn test: passed. The weirdest thing about that Auburn game a few years back was preparing to stand and yell on what would eventually be LSU's gamewinning drive, looking around, and having to sit down sheepishly because no one else in the section thought this might be a good moment to yell their throat raw. I really needed "they s'posed to be SEC!" to be invented already to describe that.
Anyway, on two different Tennessee fourth quarter drives to tie, Georgia passed the Fans S'posed To Be SEC test. Auburn, you're on notice.
Bands. For the second straight week I was about as far away from a band as I could be—this time it was Tennessee's—and could hear them loud and clear. Unlike Notre Dame's, this had nothing to do with amplification. They were just loud as hell. Michigan either needs to figure their amplification out or start blasting it as loud as other folks, or they won't recover their lost status. The piped-in music at Georgia was significantly less frequent than it is at Michigan Stadium, FWIW.
I asked Orson, BTW, and he related that virtually all SEC games feature both bands. They're more tightly packed than the Big Ten—or at least were before expansion—but not busing the MMB down to Northwestern or Indiana or Purdue is pretty lame.
Also the MMB should play "Paint it Black," as the Georgia band did.
Chants. Georgia fans are short on them. They have a couple of generic GO X and GEOR-GIA chants but I didn't come away from the game with anything else in my head at all. Auburn was considerably different, and Michigan has a lot of inscrutable student stuff and Let's Go Blue and the wave and whatnot. [Ed-S: They bark a lot. There's also a "Who's that comin' down the line?" responsive chant the students were doing during the walk down to the stadium]
Georgia fans. A collared shirt tucked into khakis is their equivalent of OSU fans wearing jerseys. Median names are "Tad," "Chad," and "Brad." In general looked like a group of folks keenly interested in Ryder Cup updates. Extremely friendly—didn't see anything approximating crap given to Tennessee fans, or vice versa, though there weren't a whole lot of opportunities because Volunteers seemed scarce.
Michigan similarities are obvious.
Athens. Like Bray, everything it was supposed to be, at least insofar as that can be determined in a day. Gorgeous, seemed packed with things to do, kind of like an Ann Arbor that happened to be the best place in the state to catch a show. A college town with adult things in it.
SEC tailgating: great until you turn campus into Fallout. This was also a thing at Auburn I noticed: there's a lot of extremely pretty tailgating going down on the campus itself. The equivalent would be if a large portion of Michigan's tailgating was on the Diag, which is not possible because Michigan's main campus is extremely compact and the football stadium is a hike.
By contrast, a lot of Big Ten tailgating takes place in parking lots. Michigan: golf course or parking lots. Ohio State: all parking lot. ND: parking lot. PSU: not a parking lot because it is an open field. Northwestern: parking lot. Etc.
This makes for excellent tailgating, and a lot of dead grass on campus.
Desire to play Georgia: significantly incremented. I would love to go back to see winged helmets run out of the tunnel. That would be a wow experience.
Spread is dead, part XVIVII. Four years ago at Auburn I watched a guy do this:
Auburn now does the thing where the team doesn't huddle, lines up, looks ready to snap the ball, relaxes, and then looks to the sideline for the call. Whenever Auburn would do this, an elderly Auburn fan was visibly, I-can't-set-the-time-on-this-damned-VCR agitated, throwing his hands in the air in disgust. This obvious discontent seemed to spread to the other oldsters around him as the game continued.
This was during Tony Franklin's brief tenure as Auburn OC. Four years later Auburn has won a national title with a spread option and both of these teams spent a majority of their snaps in the shotgun, refusing to huddle and looking to the sideline for play checks. Now, this spread does not equal a Rodriguez spread 'n' shred or Oregon or the Air Raid or whatever, but I was struck by how much different the conventional wisdom is now. No one had a conniption fit about any of this; it was just natural.
This is bizarre.
That is all.
Orson on the game:
One scoreboard graphic is the shell game cartoon most stadiums use as interstitial entertainment. In UGA's case, a bulldog puts an order of fries beneath one of three small doghouses, and then shuffles them around quickly while fans scream out "THREEE! IT'S UNDER THREE, Y'ALL!!!"
At one point the cartoon came to a stop, and UGA pulled up one doghouse to reveal a tiny UGA. A guy behind us, in the thickest Georgia accent imaginable, cried out:
"NOOOOOO!!! YOU WANT THE FRIES, NOT THE DAWG!!!!"
Maybe it's because Tennessee fans have been beaten down by life, but I did not see a single angry word exchanged between Dawg and Vol fans in Athens on Saturday. It was really the best that the SEC can be in terms of a passionate crowd that does not spill over into being Philadelphian assholes.
Doug takes the UGA fan POV.
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's high school action, the latest on Leon McQuay III, the 2014 ESPN 300 Watch List, and more.
Butt Turns Tables, Defeats Taco
Remember the picture of former Michigan safety Carvin Johnson as the saddest of sad pandas after losing the state title game? Taco Charlton also hates losing, and after his Pickerington Central squad fell 37-0 to Pickerington North—the first time in six tries that North defeated their crosstown rivals—he's the next in line for Agony of Defeat Photo of the Year:
Much like Johnson in that state title game, Charlton was phenomenal in a losing effort, recording ten tackles and 1.5 sacks while playing on offense, defense, and special teams for the Tigers. In the end, though, it was fellow Michigan commit Jake Butt, who finished with nine catches for 92 yards and a TD as well as a crucial fourth-down sack, celebrating a rivalry win on Central's home turf. I'll have much more on this game, including more photos and video highlights, in tomorrow's Future Blue Originals.
Speaking of outstanding two-way efforts, Dymonte Thomas led Marlington to a 34-14 victory with 249 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries and also recorded an interception—all after suffering an ankle injury that forced him out of the first offensive series. Thomas also threw an eight-yard touchdown pass. You can see highlights from the game at the 4:30 mark of this video.
Channing Stribling continued to show why he's regarded as a fast-rising prospect, returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown for Matthews Butler. According to TomVH, Stribling now has five interceptions in six games on the season as well as a kickoff return for a TD and a receiving TD.
We haven't heard much from Wyatt Shallman, who's been battling injuries, thus far this season, but he had a breakout performance on Friday. Playing defensive tackle, Shallman finished with six tackles, four hurries, a sack, and an interception (returned for 20 yards), via TomVH.
DeVeon Smith rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns on only 12 carries in a 37-14 victory for Warren Howland. Several other commits found paydirt over the weekend, including Mike McCray (77 yard TD catch along with five solo tackles), Gareon Conley (TD catches of 58 and three yards), Ross Douglas (13-yard TD run), Ben Gedeon (71 rush yards and two TDs), and JaRon Dukes, whose 10-yard TD reception provided the winning points in a 7-6 victory.
In other commit news, David Dawson announced on Twitter that he's been invited to represent Team USA in the International Bowl. Also, Magnus has an interesting discussion about Wyatt Shallman's college position over at TTB; I agree with him that Shallman stands out much more on offense, and I believe he'll stick at running back.
[The latest on McQuay's visit plans and more after THE JUMP.]
Trey Burke does not approve
I made some disapproving noises last year around tourney time about Michigan's nonconference schedule, not because it was easy but because it was decent to good but RPI and Kenpom didn't think so:
Each of these teams went 9-3 in the twelve games listed. Losses are in italics. Tourney teams are in bold with their seed in parens after:
26 Virginia (10) 24 Purdue (10) 9 Memphis (8) 65 Saint Joseph's 65 Saint Joseph's 17 Duke (2) 82 Cleveland St. 74 Marshall 26 Virginia (10) 89 Princeton 78 Denver 30 Iowa St. (8) 104 Fairfield 105 Richmond 48 UCLA 202 Rider 112 Nevada 133 Arkansas 213 Norfolk St. (15) 120 Vermont 156 Oakland 237 Niagara 124 Maryland 174 Western Illinois 257 Winthrop 165 Long Island 268 Bradley 268 Bradley 181 Western Michigan 327 Arkansas Pine Bluff 308 St. Francis PA 221 Hofstra 338 Towson 343 Binghamton 287 William & Mary 340 Alabama A&M
Which of these teams has by far the strongest nonconference schedule? Michigan. Drexel and Iona played one team capable of acquiring an at-large bid each; Michigan played four plus a middling Pac-12 team and not so good SEC team. From the perspective of the good teams that expect to get in the tournament, any differences at the bottom are meaningless.
Is Michigan's nonconference SOS a lot better than both these teams? No.
Is it better than Drexel's atrocious number? Barely. Michigan has the #181 nonconference strength of schedule to Kenpom, #173 to the NCAA($).
From the perspective of a tourney aspirant, that schedule was much more difficult than either Drexel or Iona—last year's big "team X got screwed" controversy—but was judged far worse than Iona and barely better than Drexel. The reason for this was the end of the schedule. Michigan played five teams in the Kenpom top 50 and five in the bottom 100; Iona played one and one. In both Kenpom and RPI the results were bad.
I thought of this Friday when Luke Winn posted an analysis of the folks doing the best job of exploiting the RPI's quirks. Because the RPI overvalues teams with excellent records against iffy competition, teams like Pitt have been able to get nice seeds even when their resumes are lacking:
But in 2010, when Pitt earned a No. 3 seed despite having zero marquee wins outside the Big East, it was in part due to Dixon's manipulation of the 158th-best efficiency NCSOS into the 49th-best RPI NCSOS.
What Dixon likes to do for his home guarantee games, he says, "is play the teams that we think are the best picks to win the non-BCS conferences." These are the best "gap" teams, because they're beatable despite having high RPI returns. In 2010, Dixon beat five of them in Wofford (69 RPI), Wichita State (43), Kent State (47), Ohio (95) and Robert Morris (129). He only had one 250-plus RPI opponent (Youngstown State, at 271), either, and so it didn't matter that he played just one marquee game (against Texas) and lost it; the Panthers were in good standing due to their choices of non-BCS opponents. Despite their efficiency profile suggesting they were the quality of a 7-8 seed, they were a No. 3 on the strength of their RPI.
How does Michigan's schedule stack up?
Not D-I so is essentially another exhibition.
IUPUI was a 14-18 Summit team that loses a guy who took almost 35% of their shots. Thumbs down. The second round against Cleveland State or Bowling Green will probably be much the same. CSU was pretty good last year(22-9, 12-6 Horizon, NIT bid) but loses their three most important players and is projected sixth in the league by SBN. BG was 16-16 last year, 9-7 in the MAC. They do return their top two usage guys.
Michigan of course had little control over who their initial opponents were going to be in a preseason tournament.
If Michigan reaches the finals at MSG, they are likely to play Pitt in the semi followed by either Kansas State or Virginia. Pitt was terrible last year; they add a couple of big recruits. K-State and Virginia are probably going to be middling members of their Big Six conferences. Those games should be properly evaluated by RPI.
If NC State lives up to their elite billing this is a necessary showcase game for any team hoping to get a one or two seed.
Arkansas, WVU @ Brooklyn
Arkansas is poised for a major leap forward as they were extremely young last year—316th of 345 in experience—and return everyone except a backup post. It's hard to predict what will happen with WVU after they lost efficient minute vacuums in Darrly Bryant and Kevin Jones, but they'll at least be a bubble team. You might get a slight RPI boost from Arkansas relative to their quality since the SEC is not too good at basketball.
A terrible idea from a competition standpoint as the Braves were 7-25 last year and 12-20 before that, but this is a favor Beilein is paying Geno Ford for hiring his son. Also it's a road game, which helps mitigate the RPI hit.
These are the wrong MAC teams and the wrong Michigan teams. Western loses their top three usage guys from a team that went 6-10 in the league; Central just fired Ernie Zeigler and lost the star player off a 5-11 MAC team. Eastern managed a winning MAC record at 9-7 but was 14-18 overall.
To maximize the return from playing these guarantee games, Michigan should be squaring up against Oakland and Detroit, who will be pursuing bids in their leagues and figure to have relatively shiny overall records.
At least these games are better than last year's double SWAC/Towson binge. There's only one team on the docket this year like that…
The one really bad idea on the schedule. Binghamton was 2-29 last year, the third-worst team in the country according to Kenpom. They are one of the anchors that kept Drexel out of the tournament last year. Michigan would be much better off playing a D-II team instead of this collection of Tony Kornheisers. (They are literally all clones of Tony Kornheiser grown in a lab.)
It's an improvement. Michigan's not going to look at their schedule at the end of the year and see three teams in the 300s of the Kenpom rankings, and I doubt any of their major opponents end up 6-10 in their league like Arkansas was last year. Their Preseason NIT opponents are probably out of their hands.
Downers: You'd still like to see them schedule some of the local small schools that project to be good and the Bradley thing is pretty weird. There is absolutely no upside to scheduling a Binghamton.
Michigan's nonconference schedule should be more helpful to them than last year's as long as they make the NIT final. Five power teams is a lot to go with an 18-game league schedule, and they don't have as many anchors as last year.
Not a whole lot going in the recruiting world over the past couple weeks, but there is a new addition to the big board: the "POINTS" column, which is simply the product of number of commits times star average. Hopefully this adds a little more clarity to the rankings; as you can see below, Michigan and Notre Dame are well ahead of the field and Ohio State has some separation from the pack at large. Then there's Minnesota. Never change, Gophers. Changes since the last rankings:
9-11-12: Indiana picks up Jordan Heiderman.
9-19-12: Penn State picks up Kasey Gaines.
9-20-12: Ohio State picks up Tyquan Lewis.
9-22-12: Indiana picks up Anthony Young.
9-23-12: Notre Dame picks up Torii Hunter Jr.
9-25-12: Penn State picks up Tanner Hartman.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^||POINTS|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
To eliminate any confusion about how the rankings are determined (to be honest, they used to be arbitrary), team order is determined by multiplying the number of commits by star average.
On to the full data after the jump.