Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
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For those of you who have forgotten what a blowout win is, it’s a win where <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Michigan scores many more points than the opponent. Those days will be here again soon, but unfortunately probably not this year. So hang in there, and here’s a list of my favorite blowouts to keep you smiling until we’re seeing them live again. (Which should be real soon, I promise.)
· 10 2007 Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0 – Cripplefight 2007 between two teams headed in different directions, but we didn’t know it at the time. For Michigan it was redemption following two horrible weeks that I won’t recount, and was the first of eight straight wins. Mike Hart guaranteed victory, and victory he achieved in blowout fashion. Also known as Yakety Sax Part Deux.
· 9 2004 Michigan 43, Miami (not that Miami) 10 – This is the game we all expected to be Matt Gutierrez’ coming out party, and instead it was Chad Henne’s. I can still recall learning about Chad starting from the guy who’s lawn we parked on. Even though it was a blowout, it was actually closer played than the score indicated due to a plethora of Miami (NTM) turnovers. Two TD passes to Braylon Edwards were an omen of good things to come.
· 8 1998 Michigan 27, Penn State 0 – Penn State was fired up for this game following the embarrassment from the year before. An early goal line stand over four downs made it clear Michigan came to play. 27 points later, Michigan had its first home victory ever over the Nittany Lions.
· 7 2002 Michigan 49, Michigan State 3 – This game was Bobby Williams’ death knell. The prior year was clockgate, and Lloyd was pissy. Maybe it was just me projecting on Lloyd, but he seemed to relish this one a little more than usual. He certainly didn’t call off the dogs until well after it was decided with a couple insurance TD’s for good measure. (It is honestly the only game I can recall where I thought he ran it up a little.) He seemed to be declaring that if you needed an extra second to beat us last year, this year we don’t even need the *2nd half* to beat you punks.
· 6 2003 Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0 – This was awesome in a conveniently wrapped package, seeing as there was only doubt for about ten minutes of gametime. Steve Breaston had a couple great returns, late in the game Brady Quinn got a welcome to college football that involved lots of mass and pain, and the Leprechaun got teary eyed. ESPN had tabbed Notre Dame for “The Season”, and it was secretly very enjoyable to watch that week’s episode to see how they would hide the fact they were destroyed. As I recall, Tyrone Willingham was only vaguely aware at best that they had been blown out. Return to Glory, indeed.
· 5 1993 Michigan 28, Ohio State 0 – From the 1985 season when I really understood college football, through the year 2000, we lost to Michigan State five times, and lost to Ohio State three times with a tie. Think about that a second. 1993 is a perfect example of why, in 2000, Wolvrine32 had virtually no respect for Ohio State. In 1993 we were unranked at 6-4 and facing a #5 Buckeye team that rolled into Michigan Stadium only to slink home after a thorough and meticulous beating. These things run in cycles, and we owned them in the 90’s. Let’s hope the tables turn back in the coming decade.
· 4 1997 Michigan 27, Colorado 3 – Not only the backdrop of Colorado’s prior visit to the Big House, but also the talk of the Michigan “M” standing for mediocre and the sheer shock of the whole thing make this an all-time blowout great. I went to the game with an ND friend, and he actually cringed several times when Hessler (Colorado’s hapless QB) got sandwiched. Neuheisel pulled him less from ineffectiveness than from concern for his well-being. Things got ugly. It was awesome.
· 3 1991 Michigan 31, Ohio State 3 – This is the Desmond Howard “Heisman Pose” game. Also my first Michigan game I actually attended, with the best seats I’ve ever had at a game. What a great day. Howard also caught two long passes and generally ran in circles around any DB in a white jersey he could find.
· 2 1997 Michigan 34, Penn State 8 – Judgement Day couldn’t have gone more to plan, at least without footage of Beano Cook actually sobbing after the game. This game was a massacre, and if Penn State QB Mike McQueary doesn’t still have recurring flashes of Glenn Steele bearing down on him, then he lacks some form of basic survival instinct. (Sometimes I think of Steele sneaking up on McQueary working in a real estate office and pulling a Terry Tate just to mess with him.) I still remember the PSU crowd cheering mildly sarcastically after that 4th quarter TD, both because they had avoided the shutout and because Penn State had scored the first TD in a second half on Michigan all season. A minor footnote in a major win for the program. (A good friend described it afterward as a “three hour orgasm.”)
· 1 2006 Michigan 47, Notre Dame 21 – Make no mistake, Lloyd could’ve named his score here. This was a decent Irish team, which only scored 14 in the first half because Henne threw one bad interception and Ron English got confused and put in Jim Herrman’s playbook for the last drive of the half. God I loved this game. Context: it followed the Year of Infinite Pain, and was the message to all college football that we were back. Also, Brian posted the following on MGoBlog that my wife still refers to as The Michigan Prayer: “Win you bastards. Win. Win for Michigan. Win for America. Win for that little boy in the hospital. Win for me. Don’t lose. Win.”
Bonus coverage, 1992 Michigan 61, Houston 7 – This is bonus because although the opponent or context wasn’t anything special, I can still see Tyrone Wheatley zipping down the sideline for a TD on the opening kickoff, my second home game as a student. Michigan 7, Houston 0, 14:49 remaining, 1st Q. And no one touched him. Plus, it’s the most we’ve scored since the Bo era. Oh wait, no it isn’t, we put 63 on Minnesota that year. Man, Gary Moeller could really coach him some offense.
Instead of my content, here's a fun diary I've bumped. Actually, wait, this is extremely painful. Dammit.
Football is such a game of inches. If you could go back in time and gently nudge a single play in Michigan’s favor, which would you choose to change? I’m not talking about randomly adding 7 points to a game, but rather a minor change to an actual play that has a huge effect. This is my list:
10. Michigan v Nebraska, 2005 Alamo Bowl – Steve Breaston is RIGHT THERE and you don’t flip the ball to him? Oh Ecker. I would go back and have you make one little pitch. Although this game had no global impact or anything, it would’ve been nice to beat Nebraska.
9. Michigan v Northwestern, 2000 - Did we really deserve to win this game? Probably not. But we certainly would have but for one little fumble, almost an unforced error by Anthony Thomas (one of my favorite players.) If he just puts both arms on the ball in the waning minutes, Michigan wins an odd Big Ten shootout.
8. Michigan v Michigan State, 1990 – We got jobbed on the 2-pt conversion. If Desmond can hold on for just another .5 seconds, it’s good. This game marks my first sports bet. It, um, wasn’t my last.
7. Michigan v Ohio State, 2006 – How many plays in this game could’ve gotten us a victory? I’ll focus on 2, though both involve the same player, Shawn Crable. Crable had Beanie Wells for a loss in the backfield, and let him get by for 7. Then he gets the infamous penalty on Troy Smith, and if his head were just a few inches lower he’s probably in the clear and we have a shot at the win. This game isn’t on the list as a guaranteed win, but I’d just have liked to see us with the chance at the end. That’s why it isn’t higher.
6. Michigan v Texas, 2005 Rose Bowl – Vince Young loses if Dusty Mangum’s FG attempt is blocked. I forget which defender it was, but one Wolverine was literally an inch or two from blocking it. It certainly appeared to me that if he didn’t touch the football, he felt the breeze on his hand as it went by. Would’ve been nice to have won this one, and we were maybe an inch away.
5. Michigan v ND, 1990 – This game was on ESPN Classic the other day. Michigan was leading by 28-14 in the 4th quarter and driving deep in Irish territory. I’m thinking, how the hell did we lose this game? Then Elvis tossed a bad interception to Michael Stonebreaker, and the rest is history. If that ball is just tipped or dropped, or sails over his head, we kick a FG and win easily. Sigh.
4. Michigan v ND, 1988 – Mike Gillette’s field goal attempt sailed wide by inches. Lou Holtz goes on to win a MNC, and I generally hate life for awhile. This one was personal, though Michigan only lost 2 games (and tied Iowa) and had a great season.
3. Michigan v Appalachian State, 2007 – Shawn Crable, can’t you just block the guy? Seriously? Or Steve Brown, can’t you just tackle the guy in the first quarter? Really? Truth is you could probably pick 10 plays from this game an inch here or there and it goes the other way.
2. Michigan v Iowa, 1985 - If that damn field goal at the end misses, or one Wolverine hand gets on it, chances are Michigan wins a National Championship for Bo a year after going 6-6. Yes, Michigan tied Iowa, but I personally believe that if we’d topped Iowa we’d have beaten Illinois. Just the impact of that game alone warrants being very high on this list, but for me personally, well. We all have that first loss when you’re old enough to know what’s really going on and you’ve developed enough of a passion that it *matters*. This was that game for me personally. It hurt. A lot.
1. Michigan v Colorado, 1994 - I don’t even really have to say which play, do I? It would be nice to avoid sitting there in the stands for a half hour after the game just looking at the crumpled up freebie program and thinking about the meaninglessness of existence. Feel free to share your own, I'm sure I've forgotten a ton. And please let me know if you have a time machine I can borrow.
When at West Virginia, the coaching staff had a certain set of players available to them as potential recruits. Because of the limitations inherent in that set of players, they would quite often have to take risks on kids with baggage of one kind or another, or they would simply have to take a flyer on some kids with potential who may have been overlooked. “Talent + issues” or “10% chance of being an overlooked 4-star player” simply equated to being better in the overall analysis than “mediocre but serviceable boy scout.” West Virginia’s set of potential recruits is inherently riskier than, say, USC’s. Another way to put it is USC is looking for ways to pare down their universe of recruits, while West Virginia is looking for ways to expand theirs. In the end, USC’s batch of incoming recruits typically has a smaller zone of variability than West Virginia’s does.
Then WVU clearly made two other decisions to help mitigate the limitations of their recruiting pool.
First, they decided to outwork the other guy, or at the very least not allow the other guy to outwork them. Enter Barwis and the OL running to the line of scrimmage in the 4th quarter, etc. I’m not suggesting this was successful or not, just that they clearly believed it to be something they had to do. When you have less talent overall, or more inherent variability, you have to wring out every last drop of effort.
Second, they implemented a particular specialized offense. The WVU spread is even different than other spreads. Why? I would argue it is another attempt to expand the set of potential recruits. By taking some subset of your 85 scholarships (15? 20?), and making them fit characteristics of players that other teams don’t value, you’ve just dramatically reduced the amount of work you need to do to fill a roster with 85 good athletes.
Let me explain that some more. The slot receiver characteristics seem to be fast, fast, good hands, fast (in that order.) When that is your only criteria, and the offense is designed to make that profile of kid succeed, you don’t need the #3 wide-out in Florida. You can take Rivals’ #93 WR from wherever and you’ve probably filled that need with a 5-star for your system. WVU just made a 5-star recruit from basically nothing, because they changed their objectives and recruited a kid who has a high probability to succeed in that particular role. Now you have just reduced the risk of recruiting failure by looking for something (someone) different than the other guy.
Now, is that philosophy going to beat USC? I don’t know and neither do you, but it beat the snot out of Oklahoma once. The risk of pursuing this strategy is that the system you crafted can be attacked or beaten in some fashion, that is, it is a weaker overall offense than something else. But so far, so good for the spread.
What does that mean for Michigan?
I think the mindset to outwork the other guy is going to be a major factor in the program’s future success. As much as I love the Wolverines, I think we had lost something somewhere and this coaching staff will bring it back. They clearly believe they will, at the very least, not be outworked.
I do not believe they have fully adjusted to their new recruiting reality. This is not to say I think they are doing a bad job, I don’t. But I also don’t think that they realize they can recruit a fast, fast, fast, tall or at least not short slot receiver yet (and lots of other recruiting possibilities as well.) I say this because those philosophies were very deeply ingrained and it is very difficult to change your paradigm that quickly. As they become accustomed to Michigan’s set of potential recruits, they will begin to manage the risk differently. I interpret the commitment of Drew Dileo as the coaching staff not yet properly managing the risk of their new situation. They don’t have to take a flyer on this kind of player, they can get someone more dynamic for that specialized position, or change the position's role in the offense entirely, and they simply haven’t realized that yet. They will.
[Comrades / Friends of the Revolution / Proletariat brothers],
[money stained hands of capitalism / cowardly bourgeosie / makers of substandard Vodka]
[false campaign of imperialist propaganda / corrupt hearts / capitalist lapdogs]
[quell our revolution / overtake the people’s hearts / drink all of our Vodka] !!
Insert picture of [Rodriguez as Stalin / Barwis as Mao / Will Campbell with a non-Thor people’s hammer / Randall from Clerks wearing a CCCP hockey jersey]
Rumors of the previous year’s
[less than adequate performance / minor setback on the road to true communism / failure of the new regime]
Have been spread by
[enemies of the revolution / shameless bourgeosie / misinformed unicorns].
Take heart!! These liars and thieves will be sent to
[Siberia / the darkest Gulag / East Lansing],
And their ramblings will be proven wrong! For next season our
[people’s army / revolutionary zealots / glorious proletariat]
[purge the capitalist insurgents / sympathize with the people / fix a random number of tractors / increase production at the exclamation point factory !!!!!!!]
[proving the worth of the revolution / sucking out the festering rot in their souls / winning more games for the motherland].
Unicorns rule! Far more than [insert your favorite mythical creature]
[Comrades / Brothers / Friends of the revolution],
Comrade Rodriguez will rise up
[from the muck of the Russian Steppe / to heights undreamt of by the shameless capitalists / like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV]
And conquer all!
[Viva le revolucion! / Death to dirty capitalists / Drink Wolverine brand vodka!]
Lather, rinse, repeat.
I’m always a big fan of the best names in our favorite sport. Tshimanga Biakabutuka will always be remembered for crushing Ohio State, but the name is equally memorable.
Here is the 2009 Recruiting Year All Name Team (subtitled “Names That Make Mike Patrick Sweat and Have Another Gin and Tonic”):
QB (pro) - Nyk McKissic
QB (dual) - Shavodrick Beaver (you will be missed. Sigh.)
RB1 - Dasatre Yarnway
RB2 - TIE Nubian Peak, Dontae Aycock (wink wink, nudge nudge on both)
FB - Simione Vehikite
WR1 - Vondrae Tostenson
WR2 - De'Von Flournoy
WR3 - Uzoma Nwachukwu
TE - Zico Pasut
OL - JerQuari Schofield
OL - Claudyson Calixte
OL - Caylin Hauptman
OL - Fono Vakalahi
OL - Laman Toiaivao
DL - Stansly Maponga
DL - Tevita Finau
DL - Radermon Scypion
LB - Vontaze Burfict
LB - Abdallah Homayed
LB - Quetzalcoatl Carrasco
LB - Barkevious Mingo
DB - Prinz Kande
DB - Jideofo Okwudiri
DB - Vladimir Emilien
DB - Romel Dismuke
ATH - Ebenezer Makinde
Amazingly there were no kickers that really made the cut, although I admit after reading a bazillion names the bar kept getting higher.
I would like to point out that for some reason this year, USC really cleaned up in the bizarre name department. And I'd also like to point out that it’s more than likely if Hawaii played LSU that would make even Pat Summerall cry.
We hope you enjoyed this edition, and we further hope Mike Patrick is considering a move to PBS or Alcoholics Anonymous.
See you all next year.
4 & 5-Star Recruiting Success
Brian’s feature on “How did we get here?” with OL and more recently with LB’s is one of my favorite new features on MGoBlog. It really puts in perspective the timeline of how we got to a decently talented backup playing as our starting OL/LB (pick a position.) It put me in an analytical frame of mind, and while I’m sure this has been done somewhere on the internet, I’ve never seen it.
So I grabbed all the 4 and 5 star recruits for us off of Rivals (Scout was incomplete, listing Ryan Mundy as “NR”. Clearly this is incorrect, so I avoided Scout.) I used the timeframe of 2002-2007. 2002 since that’s the earliest data they have, and 2007 since any later would be incomplete data. 2007 has 7 players, most of which we can assess for purposes of this exercise.
Then I divided this set into 3 groups: met expectations, kinda met expectations, didn’t meet expectations (or didn’t play much or at all.) Basically, the criteria is your excitement level if I described someone’s career to you. If you’d be excited, group A. Meh, group B. Nose wrinkle, group C. (EDIT: I am grading strictly for on-the-field result for Michigan.) Examples:
· Matt Gutierrez: “Great backup, only sees the field for mop-up duty.” Nose wrinkle, group C.
· Prescott Burgess is a prime example of group B. His career? “Plays sporadically and uninspiringly for three years and has a very solid senior season.” Meh. You want more than one good year from a 5-star.
· Steve Breaston, “average wideout, all-time yardage leader in returns” Sign me up!
I freely admit that I might have messed up on some players, and data isn’t all in on others, but the overall point is still valid. Don’t get ga-ga over an individual highly rated player, because less than four in ten amounts to what you think he will.
· 5-star successes (4) – Woodley, Henne, B Graham, Warren
· 5-star tweeners (2) – Burgess, Schilling
· 5-star misses (3) – Watson, Grady, Mallet
That’s 9 total, and counting the tweeners as one-half, a 55% rate on 5-star players.
· 4-star successes (16) – Avant, Breaston, Crable, Hall, Kraus, Long, Arrington, Branch, Jamison, Johnson, Trent, B Harrison, Manningham, T Taylor, Mathews, Van Bergen
· 4-star tweeners (8) –C Graham, Moosman, Zirbel, EDIT: B Minor, Mouton, Clemons, A Mitchell, M Williams
· 4-star misses (32) – Hood, Koloziej, C Tabb, Gutierrez, L Harrison, McCoy, Rembert, Van Alstyne, J Jackson, Mundy, W Paul, Presley, Richard, Zuttah, Dutch, Gallimore, Max Martin, C Rodgers, Bass, Germany, McKinney, Schifano, Slocum, Traitor Boren, Stevie Brown, Kates, EDIT C Brown, Mixon, Patterson, Panter, Webb, M Massey
That is 56 total, 36% hit rate.
Totals for 4 & 5-star combined is 65, 38% hit rate.
So we get 11 of these types, on average, every year. And only roughly 4 will work out the way we hope.
· DT 2/0/5 29% - Lot of total flameouts here
· DE 3/0/2 60% - Our best success rate, but low overall numbers
· LB 2/1/5 31% - Lots of DNP
· DB 4/3/3 55% - Better than I thought going in, frankly. I put Trent in this group though he was recruited as a WR.
· RB 0/1/6 7% - Yuck. This is a really bad track record. Doesn’t help with Mike Hart going for 4 years, but the truth is there wasn’t ever a truly worthy backup. Minor is a great runner, but unfortunately his hands leak warm butter. McGuffie will help this out a bit in the future I think. Whoever is evaluating these guys needs to step up. They’re missing something.
· QB 1/0/3 25% - This is the Henne effect more than anything. Oh, and Mallett being a complete candyass. Not that I’m bitter.
· WR 5/1/4 55% - Clearly a strength in predicting top-flight talent that will stick around. I stuck Breaston & Bass (ATH) in here as well.
· TE 0/0/1 0% - More than anything, this says we don’t recruit top-flight TE’s
· OL 3/4/6 39% - Average. Brian always says this is a tough one to project with ratings.
· 2002 2/0/8 20% – That flat stunk. Don’t do that again. I’m amazed they didn’t go re-recruit Kelley Baraka this season.
· 2003 5/1/7 42% – Much better
· 2004 6/2/5 54% - Best year by a long shot. Branch, Jamison, Johnson, Trent, Henne, Arrington. Great class.
· 2005 3/2/6 36% – Back to reality
· 2006 2/3/6 32% – Reality gets a little worse.
· 2007 2/2/3 43% – Still a bit indeterminate. Looking good from a % standpoint, but not great from a total numbers standpoint.
· If Will Campbell comes here, plays here, and has success here, it’ll be a miracle.
· I don’t know what other schools are at for a success rate, but I think 39% is lower than I expected. These are the cream of your classes, the foundation of everything you want to do. Kinda surprising that so many names on that list never really even saw the field, much less achieve great things. Even getting to 50% would have been another 6-7 players. That’s a lot of on the field difference-making.
· Volume, volume, volume. Make sense now why the SEC teams recruit 30 players a year? I’m not saying it’s right, but I understand why they do. Guy doesn’t pan out quite right? Next!
· Think of all the great players not on this list. Harris, Adams, Hart. Hmmm. OK, point made, but at least we got many, many serviceable starters from the 3-stars. The top of the rest: Bihl, Barringer, Riley, Rivas, Stewart, Butler, Mesko, Englemon (2*), and a lot of guys on the team right now.
· What the hell are we doing with our RB recruiting? We got lucky with Hart, no mistake. If not for him, we’d have been in deep doo. 7 guys and only 1 was/is serviceable? 6 total no-shows? I’ll say it again, someone is a crappy judge of RB talent.
· Replay the years 2004-2007 in your head without Mike Hart. Here’s an icebag for your headache.
· Damn Bass’ treacherous knee.
· The 2-year span in which we got 11 total players living up to their potential, 2003-4, set the stage for our biggest success on the field over this timeframe. 2006. In the equation recruiting + coaching + motivation = success, it’s probably in that order.