and... i like them? I think I like them.
I've spent the morning a little freaked out because Big Ten Media days, despite having zero items of actual interest, certainly feels like something I should be covering the crap out of. And then you flip on the Big Ten Network and Mike Hall says "Michigan will get into a bowl because it's Michigan" at 6-6 when there are rules stating any eligible 7-5 team has to be picked ahead of a 6-6 team and, well… it's not so great.
But here it is if you want to marvel at… it. Enjoy the debt reduction and Michael J Fox Parkinson's commercials, and try not to pass out when Tressel takes the mic.
UPDATE: Whoever the analyst guy is just said Tate Forcier was an "unguided missile," which is… what? And now Greg Robinson is a "beautiful mind." Aaaaargh? I'm so confused.
UPDATE II: I'm done with this now except for a quote from Danny Hope: "having a winning season in 2009 would be one way for this year to be special."
PA S Brandon Ifill is Cullen Christian's less-discussed teammate, if only because near five-star Christian has been publicly claiming a large Michigan lead for months now and Ifill's been more reserved about his plans. He recently announced a top two of Michigan and Maryland, though, and plans on finding out more about Michigan this week. Tom VanHaaren caught up with Ifill a couple days ago.
TOM: Thanks for taking my call, how’s your recruitment been going so far?
BRANDON: Yes sir, no problem. It’s been going pretty good. I’ve visited 4 different schools right now, and taking one more up to Michigan on the 31st.
TOM: That was going to be my next question. Can you tell me a little about what you expect to see, and what you hope to hear as well?
BRANDON: I just hope to see a nice atmosphere, a great place to play football, a great program, and the great Michigan tradition.
TOM: What coaches have been recruiting you from Michigan?
BRANDON: Tony Gibson.
TOM: You’re teammates, and good friends with Cullen Christian. What has he told you about Michigan, and what to look for on your visit?
BRANDON: He’s told me everything; everything possible. He says everything is great; the academics, the program, the facilities, coaches, and players, everything.
TOM: Since you haven’t been out to Michigan yet, is it important for you to meet with all the coaches, and try to bond with them? Try to figure out how they coach.
BRANDON: Yea, I want to build a good relationship with them after this visit. I’ve talked to coach Gibson, but I haven’t met the whole staff yet. I want to get to know them, and see how they do things at Michigan.
TOM: Let’s say you go to Michigan, and it blows you away. Is there a chance you would commit on the spot, or are you going to be more strategic about it?
BRANDON: I’m going to come home and be strategic about it, that’s for sure. I really don’t want to rush through anything. I do want to take some official visits come fall, because we have plenty of time.
TOM: What official visits do you think you’ll take?
BRANDON: More than likely, maybe 3 or 4. I’ll probably go back up to Michigan for an official, and then Maryland, and maybe Rutgers.
TOM: I know you said that Michigan and Maryland are your top two right now. How did it come down to those two?
BRANDON: Michigan, I’ve known coach Gibson for awhile, even when he was at West Virginia. Maryland, I’ve been there the most, and I just really like everything about the school.
TOM: You said you want to take an official to Michigan. Do you think that would be with Cullen (Christian), or do you want to go on your own?
BRANDON: I’m not sure, it depends on if the coaches want us to do that. We tried to come up together before, but they wanted us to come up individually, so they could focus on us as one family rather than together.
TOM: That makes sense. Michigan is recruiting you more for the safety position. Is that the same with other schools? Maryland for example, are they also recruiting you for wide receiver?
BRANDON: Yea, Michigan is recruiting me for safety and corner. Maryland is also recruiting me for wide receiver.
TOM: Which do you prefer?
BRANDON: I really don’t prefer. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. I’ve been playing everything my whole career, so it’s nothing new to me.
TOM: After you take all your visits, and sit down with your family, do you think you and Cullen will make the decision and announcement together, or will it just be on your own?
BRANDON: We’ll talk about it, and see if we want to do it together. I’ll definitely talk to him before I make a decision, and he’ll do the same. When we first started all this, we banked on the fact that we would be a package deal, but now it’s kind of, if it happens it happens. We have seen the process, and what goes into it. We see different things, and want to enjoy that ourselves.
Hi. I'm formerlyanonymous. You may recognize me from other Michigan sports blogs as Maize 'n Brew and Varsity Blue. For those of you not familiar with my posts, my primary topic has been Michigan baseball. Obviously the season is a well over, but I'm also following our players through their summer leagues. There are plans on the table to include more non-revenue sports in the future, and info on that will come after the dust of MGoMerger settles.
Also, for those with concerns about "non-revenue sports clogging your mgoblog internet tubes," the current plan is for my posts to be presented on Sundays. Brian's previous football season schedules have generally left Sunday open for reflection on the previous days game with the column like post on Monday. I'm hoping these non-revenue posts will take up that open space and not interfere too much with your football dependency – at least during the football season.
To see the previous summer baseball update, visit Varsity Blue (July 4th Edition). Also, those of you familiar with the team or my previous posts, I'll try to remember to include some information on who these players are in this post, but I'll go ahead and apologize up front. You're basically walking into the last line before the credits of a movie. You've missed all of the introductions, action, climax, and a majority of the falling action. I promise there will be less parentheses in future posts.
Honors – Several players have received honorable mention for Pitcher and Hitter of the Nights, as well as Team Players of the Week. Hitter and Pitcher of the Night are named by SummerBall. Charts:
|7/9||Tyler Mills||Northwoods||Hitter of the Night Honorable Mention||2/4, HR, 3 RBI, R|
|7/11||Tyler Burgoon||Cape Cod||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, 3 K|
|7/16||Kevin Vangheluwe||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, K|
|7/17||Matt Miller||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||2 IP, BB, 4 K|
|7/24||Mike Dufek||Leesburg||Player of the Week||On Sunday,went 3/5 with HR, and a walk of single|
The Cape Cod League (the most respected league) – Tyler Burgoon (Michigan's sophomore closer) has continued to be the best Michigan player this summer and ergo making the most news. As of the 20th, he’s racked up 17.1 innings of work with a 1-1 record and a 0.00 ERA. His 9 saves lead the league and his 27 strikeouts (14.2 per 9 innings) is ridiculous. He made the Cape Cod All Star Game at Fenway, but alas, the rain ended the game in just the 4th inning. He was slated to throw the 9th (or as necessary). Meanwhile, Ryan LaMarre (Michigan's starting left fielder and 3-hole hitter) still struggles, but less badly by comparison. He’s now got his average up to .243, good for third on the Gateman team. He’s also second on the team in RBIs with 12.
Prospect League – Garrett Stephens (back up 1st baseman who sees time when Dufek pitches) represented UM and the Richmond RiverRats at the Prospect League All Star game. He’s currently 8th in the league with 21 RBIs. John Lorenz hasn’t seen much playing time since the last update.
Lima Locos – Lots of good has been coming out of Lima lately. Kolby Wood (occasional 4th starter) has his ERA down to 0.66 in 11 relief appearances stretching 13.2 innings. His three saves are good for second on the team, which makes me contemplate his role next season for Michigan. Could we see another attempt at moving Burgoon to starter and put Kolby Wood as the closer? Looks good on paper right now.
Meanwhile, Bobby Brosnahan (redshirted last year as a freshman) is cruising right along with a 2.35 ERA over 15 innings pitched thus far. He’s making his case to be a middle inning or set up guy next season as a redshirt freshman. The last Michigan player with the Locos is short stop Anthony Toth (starter) has raised his average from .215 to .281 and has played solid defense.
Also, Toth was interviewed in a piece about baseball gloves by the LimaOhio.com. To give you a small sample of why baseball budgets are fairly large:
“We have a contract at Michigan with Louisville Slugger. The rep just came, had a bunch of models out and we got to pick out whichever one felt best. I went with that one and it worked out pretty well. … I think this is a $320 glove.”
That’s just one glove for one player. Not multiply that by the 20 or so on the roster, plus backup gloves each player probably has, you’ve got yourself quite the bill just for fielding gloves.
Alexandria Beetles – Again with the closers Michigan’s been developing, Matt Miller (one of our setup men) has 7 on the season, 4 in the last three weeks. He’s dropped his ERA a full run over that time. Kevin Vanghelwue (saw very limited time during the season and what he did wasn't good) also is pitching better and has lowered his ERA almost 2 runs. Tyler Mills (redshirted as a freshman this year) isn’t playing much. The freshman is just 6/36 hitting in limited playing time.
Valley League – At Fort Royal, Jeff DeCarlo (left handed reliever who saw little time) is pitching so far above his normal level I’m just perplexed. The guy has a 2.35 ERA now, and since the last update he’s thrown 5 appearances (9.2 IP) and only given up one earned run. He hasn’t even hit a batter in that stretch. He got a save? Who is this guy? His teammate Kevin Krantz (redshirted as a freshman this year) has tailed off and seems to be seeing less and less playing time. Krantz's defense has been spotty at best at third/shortstop. His batting average has also fallen .050 points to .239.
At Winchester, Brandon Sinnery’s (another occasional fourth starter) had a rough 3 starts, but his team has bailed him out each time. His ERA jumped from 2.00 to 4.31, but he has kept his 9 K’s-per-9-IP. Teammate Matt Gerbe (one of our setup men) continues to watch his ERA fall, this time from 9.69 to 6.29. It’s good to see he’s doing better since moving back to the bullpen.
Mike Dufek for the Lightning
Leesburg Lightning – Alan Oaks (right fielder and pitcher) went 1-1 over three starts in the last 3 weeks. His ERA has dropped to only 3.89, but his strikeout to walk ratio over the last 3 starts is 9:7 which isn’t good. Those walks have to go down. Eric Katzman (left handed pitcher) has just one relief inning in three weeks. He’s become buried in the pitching depth it looks like.
Mike Dufek (first base and sometime closer) has held down the closer role for the most part, recording 2 saves in 3 outings in the last three weeks. Not much playing time, but he’s made the most of it to a 0.93 ERA. At the plate, Dufek is only hitting .268, but he has cut down his K’s per At-Bat to just about 1-in-5. During the season he was closer to 1-in-4 at bats. It became crippling at times. I think our strategy for next season should mimic the MLB All Star Game. Let’s just throw 5 closers to shut down every game.
Travis Smith – Looks like Smith (3rd or 4th starter) has lost his spot in the rotation. After a few tough luck losses of the 1-0 variety, he lost two ugly starts over the last 3 weeks and was then used out of the bullpen. He’s currently 0-5 with a 4.58 ERA. Not good my friends.
Coley Crank – Crank’s (backup catcher or designated hitter) struggling. He’s still the everyday catcher, but his average is down to .198, third lowest on the team and lowest regular starter.
Matt Broder – Despite Broder's (redshirted as a freshman this season) team’s horrible website, I ran by an article in The Observer. Broder went the full 7 innings complete game, facing only 24 batters in the effort. Great job Matt.
So I got an email yesterday predicting the departure of a quarterback from Florida and thought to myself "oh God, not Denard Robinson."
Well, it wasn't Denard Robinson. Sophomore-to-be slot receiver Justin Feagin is no more:
"Justin Feagin was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules Thursday evening," head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement.
That's ambiguous as to whether the dismissal or the violation came Thursday, but I'm guessing it's the former.
I'm of two minds about the departure. On the one hand, it would be hard to pick out a player on the roster whose departure would be less likely to impact Michigan's performance on-field both this year and going forward. Feagin was a late flier Michigan took on the off chance he might be a viable quarterback. He was not and got bounced to slot receiver, where he wasn't a factor. With the spring emergence of Roy Roundtree and availability of freshmen Terrance Robinson (a redshirt), Jeremy Gallon, and Je'Ron Stokes, he didn't figure to be a factor in the fall. And it's not like slot receiver looks like a thin spot going forward; enough bits have been spilled about Michigan's receiver-mad recruiting class to fill all the tubes of the internets.
On the other hand, Feagin is the first Rodriguez recruit to leave [UPDATE: forgot about Taylor Hill, who left almost before he arrived] and did so in inauspicious circumstances. The email yesterday provided some murky detail on the violation of team rules and it's the sort of thing that is a no-BS immediate seeya type of thing. I'll let the actual journalists ferret out the details, as one anonymous, if prescient email does not a solid story make. I'd be surprised if it didn't end up in the papers eventually.
Though this kind of thing happens at a certain rate to all programs, it's another opportunity for evil bad PR gnomes to stroke their beards and mutter sagely about What Is Going On In Ann Arbor. And I (baselessly) liked the kid. How could you not, given the picture at right?
Also: you can subtract at least one additional point from Michigan's APR, which isn't going to be fatal or anything but it ain't good. Also also: I have Michigan at 20 scholarships for 2010 now, assuming that Cone and Wright don't get fifth years.
Hi. MGoBlog was a one man show, and then a guy I didn't know emailed me a bunch of stuff about how he was pretty sure Bryce McNeal was going to decommit given his Facebook status updates and wall posts. As per standard policy, I noted the information and didn't say anything about it since the tipster in question hadn't proven his mettle. Bryce McNeal proceeded to decommit, and Tom VanHaaren proposed he function as an MGoBlog recruiting correspondent using the magic of the internets (and, soon after, his phone).
I'd been thinking that social media was an untapped source of information and agreed, and soon started posting things like Anthony Fera chillin' with JoePa based on Tom's sleuthin' and talkin'. Tom set to providing a ton of valuable content and being the main force behind much of the news this site has managed to break in the last seven or eight months. It's surpassed all my expectations, and just goes to show that if you find someone with the right skill set and put them in the right spot, Good Things result.
MGoBlog is absorbing Varsity Blue, and intends to deploy Tim Sullivan as an internet-aware beat writer this fall. We've talked with the athletic department—which has been shockingly open and helpful with all this—and Tim is good to go. Paul will also join up in a capacity we'll work out as we go along—he's got a "job" that requires him to "go to work". Formerly Anonymous' outstanding baseball content will be imported 99% untouched. Important: I will not be writing any less.
This represents quite a reversal from MGoBlog's previous position on being a primary source and requires some explanation. So:
I don't plan on being the guy. One: I'm bad at it. Two: I'm good at other stuff. I've spent four years developing an expertise that has nothing to do with the tasks commonly associated with sports journalism. That expertise has propelled this blog to a living and represents a nigh-insurmountable hurdle for any other organization to clear. Spending my time doing something other than that's pretty dumb. So I won't.
I'd like to remain insulated from the corrupting influences of access*, and this arrangement will allow me to do that, mostly. The threat of losing access for your content is unavoidable once you start to benefit from it, but this site has already positioned itself as a site that's usually in Michigan's corner. I know they monitor this site and others, closely. They have not mentioned any issues.
The Varsity Blue guys all bring valuable expertise to the table. Paul and Tim were longtime WOLV stalwarts and have a four-plus-years head start on me in the stuff I'm bad at. As you might imagine, they also can do stuff with video that is extremely helpful on the web. And FA has encyclopedic knowledge of Michigan baseball, again something I lack. They all can use bigger platforms, and by joining up they can use some of the institutional cred I've accumulated over the past four years.
I think it can work. I'm not sure if twentysomething beatwriter with an internet orientation who might ask questions like "what's the deal with that formation where Greg Mathews is covered up in the slot?" will bring a ton of value to the table but it's at least worth an experiment. I'm going into this with the expectation it will be a two-year trial on both the part of the AD and MGoBlog, one that might not work. But think it will be valuable.
Offloading a portion of the daily burden should allow me to focus on some other stuff. Mostly this refers to recruiting, which VB already covers with aplomb. I plan on handing off a significant chunk of it to them, which will give me some extra time to work on research-heavy posts and more columns and whatnot.
This will also necessitate some changes as far as the presentation of information goes. Right now there's just a front page that gets updated 1-4 times daily and then the diaries and message board. More stuff will be hitting the front page now and we'll have to work to make that make sense for readers. I've always tried to avoid bombarding readers with way too much stuff to grok; that's going to be tougher now.
As always, try to bear with us—and it's now an actual us!—as we feel our way through this… undiscovered country. Spock.
Tim's first foray here is a trip to the Big Ten Media Days, where he will hopefully end up less pwned than I did.
*(I don't want to write something critical in UFR and have to worry about whether the player in question will give me the evil eye. And I don't want to get all friendly with another guy and pull my punches. Sportswriter bravado about facing down the subjects of your pieces is just testosterone.)
Any news regarding the possible eligibility of Jason Forcier for this upcoming season? Any idea when we might hear from the NCAA and any conjecture as to what the outcome might be? I’m guessing (based on the fact we haven’t heard anything) that this probably won’t happen.
I’d sure breathe easier with an experienced backup to the freshman tandem we are fielding.
Thanks! Best, Mark
No, not really. The elder Forcier's transferred to Michigan and applied for the semi-repealed Mundy waiver; a decision has to be coming in the next couple weeks since fall drills start in mid-August. I don't know how likely a waiver is, and neither does the athletic department. I asked Bruce Madej about it; the response: "we have not had this before so there is nothing to draw from."
As far as breathing easier… while it'll be nice to have Forcier around for multiple reasons—can't hurt Tate's adjustment to college, for one—I'd be mildly surprised if he ended up above Sheridan on the depth chart. He's had little time to learn the offense and at this point has far less D-I playing time than Sheridan. Even if he does win the third (second?) string spot, if he sees the field it will be time for serious panic.
The tight end position and the slot receiver position look as though they will have more competition and more depth this year. From early reports both Koger and Webb are some of the most athletic players on the team. Odoms will have his hands full trying to keep his starting slot position with Stokes, Roundtree, Gallon and Robinson behind him. Do believe this added depth will create changes in which formations are used. Maybe two TEs with Koger and Webb or could two slots be on the field and that the same time to make bubble screens to either side of the ball? Thanks.
You'll definitely see some formations with four wideouts and two slot guys; Rodriguez went to that frequently at West Virginia. As you note, that will prevent defenses from cheating on the bubbles and hopefully add some variety. And it might not end there. Gallon, Robinson, and Teric Jones all spent their high school careers in the backfield, and thus might be better candidates to go from the backfield to the slot or pull up to provide option pitch guys on QB runs. Gallon's got a pretty accurate arm for a 5'8" guy; I have waking dreams about Gallon pulling up to pass a la Antwaan Randle El in that Super Bowl.
As far as dual TE sets… well, I don't know. At West Virginia, Rodriguez would move Owen Schmitt around as an H-back and that was it as far as TEs went. So he's already in unexplored territory here. If I had to guess, though, I bet he tries it. He's an inveterate tinkerer and likes to mix up some I-form and whatnot to catch opponents off guard; if he's got two tight ends there will probably be a game in which we see a change-up dose of twin-TE ace sets. They can run zone stretches from that, too. I also bet that at least one of the hyped tight ends falls a little flat, causing significant separation between option A and option B and that twin TE sets never make it out of the exotics phase.
Those will feature more this year but It's another new formation I expect will emerge in the fall: a 1TE 2RB shotgun set with Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor in the same backfield. Michigan showed this in the spring game with some frequency and it promises to be difficult for opposing teams to defend as long as both seniors remain healthy.
Though we all know July is a complete and utter dead zone as far as college football is concerned, I thought of a question to occupy our time that hasn't really yet been asked. With everyone under the sun making predictions about how next season will go, no one has really considered or elaborated on what effect, if any, this season could have on the current 2010 class coaches are compiling. You, and several others, have mentioned that a 3 and 9 season caused an understandable dip in recruiting, perhaps prompting coaches to widely pursue more players (some of lower rank) while turning higher rated players off on Michigan, etc. Though rankings aren't everything.
But, if 2009 goes the way of 7 and 5 or even 6 and 6, do you see a potential increase in interest from guys either on the fence about Michigan or turned off by the Wolverine's 2008 season. Basically, can success in 2009 win over 2010 guys currently not on the board? If so, who? Or with this summer almost in the bag, are recruits starting to finalize their decisions and close the door on schools they haven't yet considered?
Eh… not much. By the time it'll be clear Michigan has improved and Rodriguez isn't a dead man walking, 99% of Michigan's targets will have already made their decision re: Michigan. For one, there won't be many slots in the class even midway through the fall. Michigan will add maybe 7 or 8 players before February, and by mid-September they'll probably have half of those guys. A competent season could collect one or two guys who might have gone elsewhere, and that effect is pretty marginal.
Where you would see a bounce is in the 2011 class.
Through The Wolverine Blog I saw a link to the Bentley image bank library at UM. I was checking out team photos from throughout the years (which is awesome) and came across this photo that appears to have the team wearing three different jerseys.
Any info on what the deal is with this? Is this just what they wore at practice back then? Would love to see some striped throwback jerseys sometime at Yost. These are nice too:
I have no answers for Gabo here, but I figure someone out there might. What's the deal with Michigan's motley collection of jerseys here? It's the Great Depression, so maybe they didn't sell enough pencils to get a unified kit. The guys on the right appear to have eaten their shirts entirely.