good luck with that
Bubbly. AnnArbor.com catches up to a smiling Brandon Graham after his selection by the Eagles:
Rarely have I been so happy for a Michigan player. After the last two years, Graham deserves every good thing that can possibly happen to him. I hope he learns how to fly.
(Also: can I take a moment to tout how useful UFRs have been in tracking Brandon Graham's impact? I was a little worried that BG was outperforming Woodley, but there he is in the top half of the first round after the NFL saw how unblockable he is.)
Denard-o. Gerry DiNardo has lost more football games than you've ever watched, but he's still on the television so people ascend to his yurt high up in the Indiana mountains to beseech him for his wisdom. Last year his wisdom was "Denard Robinson is going to start at quarterback," which is a strong indicator as to why he's lost more football games than you've ever watched. DiNardo single criterion for choosing a starting quarterback is "is it vaguely possible this kid was named after me?" By no other measure was Robinson a plausible starter in 2009.
In 2010 things are different. Denard Robinson is still named after Dinardo, though:
"I think it has to be Denard Robinson," he said. "If you think about the way Rich Rodriguez became so successful at West Virginia it wasn't with a drop-back quarterback that threw 50 times, even though that approached worked for him some as an offensive coordinator. He wants to play the game that Denard plays, with a greater emphasis on the running attack than the passing attack. He wants to have that guy that can tuck the ball and make you miss even when the blocking isn't perfect, that can make you miss even if he misreads the read-option, and from everything I've seen, Denard Robinson is that guy.
"In college football nowadays, defenses, as much as they try to practice this, cannot tackle in space. From the earliest age, you're not coached to tackle one-on-one without help. The instruction is always about rallying to the ball and then for your defensive backs to use the sideline as their friend. But when you're stuck in a one-on-one situation, against an athlete like Denard Robinson, most of the time you're going to be left grasping for air.
"So when I see what he can do, and then I see what Forcier did last year - to me there is no comparison for where this offense wants to go."
I'm not sure he's right that Rodriguez is dedicated to running 75% of the time, but his other points are solid. The bit about defenses being unable to tackle in space could be the operational philosophy of Rodriguez's entire offensive system. Tate missed reads on the option plenty last year—most of the time, it seemed—and while he was slippery enough to evade lumbering defensive ends he wasn't fast enough to turn his frequent missed reads into anything more than a few yards. A prime example from the Illinois game:
It's possible Robinson can turn this into another couple yards, or even break something long (although probably not on this particular play). A quarterback who can get that extra couple yards is an extremely dangerous option. For all Forcier's flaws, he was an effective runner. If you cut out the copious sacks Michigan gave up last year (24 for 184 yards), he averaged 4.7 YPC. (This is slightly optimistic since Robinson probably took a couple sacks, so you may want to mentally adjust that to 4.5 or so.) A version of Denard Robinson that can run the zone read and throw well enough to keep linebackers honest will obliterate that.
Keeping the linebackers honest will take some doing, but the nice thing about being Denard Robinson is that when you go to play action, it's time to cheat like a mother for all but the best defenses. I don't think Ohio State is going to be particularly vulnerable to a raw sophomore like Robinson, but I also don't think Illinois or Purdue has much of a chance to stop him.
Merrill rising, talkin' smack. Incoming defenseman Jon Merrill saw his stock slip slightly over the course of his final year with the NTDP, but a strong U-18 tournament (where the US is obliterating all comers) has seen Merrill's stock pop up into the rarefied air of a potential top ten selection once more:
At the beginning of the tournament Gudbranson had the inside edge as the potential top defender to be selected this year, battling it out with Windsor's Cam Fowler, but the gap is closing. The play of Merrill, along with the struggles of the Gudbranson-led Canadian team, may have catapulted Merrill into that coveted position and certainly into the overall debate.
Coming into the tournament many even felt Forbort would likely be ranked and selected ahead of Merrill, and even though Forbort has looked strong, the abilities that Merrill has showcased so far during this tournament have pushed him ahead in the eyes of many scouting circles. Merrill is a tall and lanky player with a lot of room to build on his frame. He has tremendous speed and has extremely good intelligence with and around the puck. Merrill has been the kingpin of the US's powerplay and quarterbacks it tremendously well.
Merrill will jump into Michigan's top four on day one and I'm betting he'll be on the top powerplay and top pairing by midseason at the latest. He was also interviewed by McKeen's, and because he's going to play in college he was asked to justify his existence. He did so with aplomb:
I think a lot of guys make the argument that the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) is the most similar to the NHL in style of play, and you play a lot of games, and things like that, but you’ve got to look at it from my perspective. I’m 18 years old. If I went and played in the CHL, there’s 15 and 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, in the league. There’s top-end 18 and 19-year-old guys, too, but if you go to college, everyone’s older than you. I’m a freshman in a bigger, stronger, faster game, and you get up for every game, because you only play 35, 40 games, or whatever it is. Every game is a big game. Whereas in the CHL, you’re playing in Sudbury on a Tuesday night, and how do you get up for that, you know?
Tuesdays in Sudbury is a best-seller by Bizzaro Canadian Mitch Albom, but not a particularly attractive option compared to playing outdoors in front of one million people, give or take nine hundred thousand.
Nothing on Moffatt, unfortunately. He has just one assist for a rampant USA. The U18s are the last opportunity to put it out there for NHL scouts and he's not drawing a whole lot of notice. Hopefully he'll slide in comfortably—a mid-round NHL draft pick is usually a good player—but an instant impact is unlikely.
Side note: please don't read anything about Jack Campbell. It will make you sad.
(Interview HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
About the one million people. Sales for Cold War II have been ridiculous so far:
General ticket sales began Wednesday, netting 14,700 purchases by 4 p.m., according to an athletic department spokesman. When added to the that seats have already been sold or committed to by season-ticket holders, former players and other groups, officials announced Wednesday that close to 80,000 tickets have already been sold.
"This has just taken off. You knew it would when you have something this special at the Big House - the first time ever, maybe the only time ever," Berenson said in a statement. " Everybody wants to be there. I think we'll be sold out before we know it. It'll be a tough ticket to buy."
With the original Cold War still the all-time hockey attendance record, the question at this point is not if this December's game will break it, but if the record shatters with enough force to match the destructive power of a bear dropping a bomb into a volcano.
Probably not. But it will be close, yo.
Cancer, again. Chris Perry's arrest was a family thing in which something went down with a cousin, possibly because Perry's mom is terminally ill with the cancer she was battling when Perry played at Michigan. Irene Perry is the main reason Chris didn't transfer a couple years into his career. Best wishes, for whatever that's worth, to the Perry family.
This Saturday the #1 ranked Michigan Lacrosse team will take on their instate rival at 7PM at East Grand Rapids High School as part of the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic. Tickets are $6, and gates open at 5:30. Defending Division 2 state champions East Grand Rapids will take on Division 1 reigning champs Birmingham Brother Rice at 1PM as part of the festivities. For more, check out the EGR lacrosse page.
Michigan has an 19-1 record all-time against Michigan State. For the past four seasons, the Wolverines and Spartans have closed the regular season with the Great Lakes Lacrosse Classic, with the venue alternating between Grand Rapids and Birmingham each year.
In the 2006 regular season, #1 Michigan defeated #22 Michigan State 14-8 at Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids. The Spartans would get their revenge in the CCLA tournament, however, coming away with an 11-10 win in which they were dominated in every aspect except the final score.
The 2007 season would bring a sweep of Michigan State, with a 14-6 victory at Birmingham Seaholm High School in the regular season and a 10-3 domination in the championship game of the CCLA tournament at Kings High School in Mason, Ohio. In that game, now-senior faceoff specialist David Reinhard won 5-of-6 draws, and Anthony Hrusovsky notched two goals and an assist. [Ed: full preview after the jump.]
The Eagles just leapt up 11 spots to draft Brandon Graham 13th overall and the NFL Network guy said he'd be a "situational pass rusher" his first year because he doesn't know. It's okay. You couldn't really without paying minute detail to a not good football team. May he destroy the universe from Philadelphia, where we always knew the end of civilization would originate from.
I think I might have to slightly care about the Eagles, who also have Jason Avant and Marlin Jackson, now. Someone make them trade for David Harris.
Michigan took two games against a weak opponent that is still looking to wake the echoes and return to glory from their days when Paul Mainieri, current coach at LSU, was still in South Bend. In Notre Dame's first visit to Ann Arbor since 1977, Michigan won a closely contested game, and the next night, the Wolverines pounded out a huge win.
Abbreviated midweek recaps and thoughts after the jump.
Okay. Complaints about a lack of clarity in the 16-team bats scenario have been lodged and heeded. Let's walk through an example of the "backwards scenario," which I will dub "Dynamic Crossover" because it sounds cool.
Yes, this is all irrelevant for at least a year now, and given the accuracy of media speculation to date the Big Ten will probably end up kicking everyone except Illinois and Northwestern out, and the chances that the Big Ten will adopt anyone's loony internet proposal are dim indeed. It's April 22nd. Minds will wander. On with show.
Let's say the final standings of each eight team division are like so:
|Ohio State||7-0||Penn State||6-1|
We now break the conference into four groups:
|Ohio State||Penn State||Illinois||Minnesota|
|Michigan State||Wisconsin||Indiana||Notre Dame|
"Paterno" and "Osborne" are the good teams, "Colleto" and "Dinardo" the bad ones. Now we play games that haven't already been played in each group. Hypothetical focus on Paterno:
- Ohio State has already played Michigan State, with OSU winning. (They dominated in yardage but a series of fluky turnovers made it look closer than it was.)
- Iowa beat Pitt 6-5.
In week one:
- Ohio State plays at Pitt. Pitt wins.
- Michigan State plays at Iowa. Iowa wins.
In week two:
- Pitt plays at Michigan State. Pitt wins.
- Iowa plays at Ohio State. Ohio State wins.
The final standings:
Ohio State advances to the conference championship game by virtue of its overall record. You'll note that it is hard or even impossible for third or fourth place teams to win through—Pitt won both of its crossover games and still didn't make it—but this seems like a good compromise between keeping a lot of teams involved and making sure the totality of the regular season is weighed appropriately.
If this is too complicated or falls foul of the NCAA's bylaws that restrict conference championship games to conferences that play round robin in two separate divisions, you can get rid of the group concept but leave the crossover games dynamic. The scheduling remains the same—#1 and #4 play #2 and #3 from the other division—but the winner is just the team in each division with the best record.
- Crossover games are equitable, important, and high profile.
- Guarantees two weeks of hyped games between good teams, culminating in a championship game.
- Eliminates unbalanced scheduling complaints.
- Leaves two weeks of the season uncertain. Although you know you'll be playing you don't know where or against who.
- Increases the chance of a championship game rematch.
- Increased connectivity between top teams will add extra losses and may hurt chances at additional BCS bids.
It's been a while since this feature has made an appearance, but with a recent boom in good diaries, it's time to dust off the cobwebs and bring you the best in user-generated content. Write a good diary and you, too, can have your time in the spotlight!
A lot of diaries of late have been Lacrosse (me), Baseball (formerlyanonymous), or Recruiting (Tom/me) -related, but there's been some good user-generated content, as well. Though we haven't seen this feature since December, I'll restrict entries to the end of basketball season. I'm leaving 16-team Big Ten proposals alone for now, as Brian will probably bring them up later.
The Mathlete brought it strong over the past few weeks, including a look at which NCAA football teams have been the most and least lucky over the past two years. How did he define luck?
To try and answer these questions, I took my team PPG values for the full 2009 season and then “re-played” the regular season schedule to see how the season would play out if the teams played at that consistent level and the fluky plays were eliminated. All first half plays and any in the second half with the game within 2 touchdowns were included. Interceptions are included, fumbles are not. Standard special teams plays are included, punt blocks, on-sides kicks etc. are not.
Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been so lucky either of the past two years:
Northwestern has been the luckiest team in the nation two years running, so they may be in for a rude awakening sometime soon. MCalibur's lengthy diary presumably covers something similar (win expectations), but is more notable for how pretty its charts are.
Here offensive YPG is charted against defensive YPG. The horrible dot at the bottom is '08; the horrible dot to the right is '09. You can see how far from respectable Michigan was in '08 and the sizeable improvement last year, albeit not enough of one to expect a bowl game.
The Mathlete then delved into the importance of personnel, starting with the cumbersomely-titled post exploring the value of returning starters to a football team's success. Surprisingly, as long as your team wasn't among the bottom 20% in the country of returning starts at some key positions, returning experience isn't that big of a deal:
Returning starts don't matter as much as people think. The way they are most likely to affect a team is if you have very few. A whole host of returners isn't necessarily more valuable than a solid group. Just don't be stuck at the bottom, even a low ranking in a single position group can be worth a game or two.
So Michigan is losing its best three defenders, which bodes ill for the 2010 season, right? Not So Fast My Friend, as The Mathlete continued to outdo himself, crunching the numbers to reveal who were Michigan's top defensive players last year. Ryan Van Bergen comes in at a surprising #3, with Brandon Graham, in a shocker, the runaway leader with an adjusted score of 27.4. Donovan Warren's 8.7 was second.
The only positive performers who are returning are Van Bergen, Jonas Mouton, Mike Martin, and Obi Ezeh. Jordan Kovacs, Craig Roh, and Mike Leach were only slightly in the negative, all right around average nationally for their positions. The conclusion:
The most glaring point for me is that Michigan’s top linebacker, Mouton, barely makes the top 150 linebackers nationally in production. If Michigan’s defense is going to turn things around there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers.
The Mathlete, for your research-laden diaries (and the charts, OH, the charts!), you are The Diarist of the... er... Spring!
Inspired by the recent changes to NFL overtime rules, ecormany proposes a few tweaks to the NCAA's overtime system. Among his ideas: reincorporate the punting game and give teams only two minutes to complete each possession in an overtime period.
In Can The Heat Be Beat?, Elno Lewis looks at the ever-growing dominance of so-called "warm weather teams" in winning football national titles. The results are striking:
Warm Weather Teams Winning Championships
1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 40.6% 47.5% 53.1% 53.8% 62.1% 68.4% 70.0%
It looks like the trend is still upward for warm-weather teams. Can northern squads like Michigan try to buck the trend? Follow-up question: can an infusion of Florida talent negate the trend? I'd be interested to see someone expand on Elno's research.
wildbackdunesman compares the respective CCHA coaching careers of Ron Mason and Red Berenson, and proposes a name-change of the CCHA Tournament trophy to the Mason-Berenson Cup. Red is comparable to Mason in every category of measuring success, and there's certainly a compelling argument to be made. It seems the only serious advantage Mason has is being the coach of more CCHA teams (Lake State, Bowling Green, and Michigan State, as compared to only Michigan for Red) and coaching longer than Berenson has so far.
With the NFL Draft coming up, Mat takes a look at whether Donovan Warren made the right choice in leaving Michigan a year early for the Big Leagues. The criteria to consider:
The potential gains for returning for one more year are:
- Another year of college life / experience
- Potential improved draft stock
...and the verdict:
Warren didn't make a mistake. Most guys who are drafted are not making a mistake when they turn pro. The decision is the correct one when all the costs and benefits are factored in for most. The decision is only a mistake is if you’re immediately cut and never earn a penny as a pro football player or are really enjoying life as a collegiate athlete and will miss it more than you’ll appreciate the money you’ll earn as a pro.
The reasoning behind this conclusion seems pretty sound, yet it inspired tons of debate in the comments. Both supporters and detractors of the premise raised a bunch of interesting points about Warren's draft stock, and how it affects their view of his decision.
mfan_in_ohio declares the Michigan fanbase's independence from Angry Michigan BLANK Hating God. The preamble proceeds thusly:
When in the course of sporting events it becomes necessary for fans to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
...but the money quotes come in the airing of grievances.
Misopogon determines whether the three new NCAA football rules have an effect on Michigan. The verdicts? Wedge blocking ban: Help. Taunting rule: Hurt. Eyeblack message ban: Neutral. Click through to find out his reasoning.
Bust out the cigarettes and Fedoras, as BlueSeoul gives us a glimpse into the noir-style meeting between Jim Delaney and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick's about the Irish joining the Big Ten. Plus he has to apologize at the end for getting to Star Wars-y.
An actual historical diary from Alaska Hokie shares the story of former Michigan quarterback James Miller.
WALLA WALLA, March 19.—James Miller, the famous quarterback of the Michigan team last year, who has been missing from his home for several months, was located in this city yesterday working as a laborer. His mind is a total blank and he is quite unable to recognize his friends. He was elected to the captaincy of the Wolverine team for next season.
Sounds like something out of the twilight zone (or at least the front page of MVictors). There's debate over whether his amnesia was a medical issue or a clever ruse to cover up for some personal issues.
Defense + - Graham 6 0 RVB 1 0 Herron 0 1 Heniger 0 1 Kovacs 2 2 Roh 1 2 Brown 1 2 Warren 3 0 Martin 1 0 Mouton 4 2 Leach 2 1 total 21 11
Denard Robinson was 1/1 with the pass being deemed "catchable," but Tate Forcier had a slightly rougher day.
On the basketball side of things, Champswest tries to figure out where Michigan's scoring will come from next year. Uh, Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz, apparently. I guess more balanced scoring is a good thing?
Etc.: Nantucket Blue, seemingly apropos of nothing, rips on Michigan State in Our Colors Don't Mix. In other Michigan State-related diaries, MGoData looks at the Google habits of East Lansing residents (seriously). Kman23 brainstorms ways to get Michigan's best receivers on the field at the same time. Jeff gives props to the streaking Women's Tennis team. Laveraneus looks at combined win/loss records for football and basketball across various schools and conference. MGlobules tries to round up some UConn spring game recaps. backusduo pre-previews EA's NCAA Football 2011.