...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Six Zero back with the January 2012 installment of:
This monthly offseason feature highlights some of the more famous personalities
here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll
get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light
on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF MGOPROFILE
(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
SIX QUESTIONS WITH ACE ANBENDER
BIG SHOES TO FILL: 1. Definition(expr.) when a job that was
done by a great person will now be done by someone new.
Ex: Bob was so well-liked and successful; The man
replacing him has some very big shoes to fill.
When the acclaimed TomVH packed up his bags for the bright lights of ESPN, Brian put out the call for his replacement. And, to our surprise, the position was filled rather quickly, by some guy named Ace who previously wrote at some other blog or something. As if other Michigan blogs exist, right?
Since then, Ace has quickly carved out his own niche, both interviewing prospective recruits and covering sporting events and pressers as well. His style and writing voice has blended seamlessly with the existing culture of the blog, and yet he clearly seasoned the official content in ways we have never tasted before. And all the while, he is omnipresent, and certainly his biggest day of the year will fall next Wednesday as we learn of the luckiest two-dozen plus young men who will get to call themselves Michigan Men. In celebration of next week's National Signing Day, Ace broke away from the phone long enough to sit down for this exclusive MgoProfile:
1. First off—in your own words, explain to us the responsibilities and opportunities of being the Recruiting Analyst at MGoBlog?
To be perfectly honest, I’m still trying to figure this out myself. I know the opportunities—a chance to cover the team I grew up watching, a huge amount of exposure for my writing, making great connections, and being a part of the best team-specific blog out there, to name a few. As for the responsibilities, I’m still trying to find a balance between recruiting and football/basketball coverage; Brian has given me a lot of freedom to carve out my niche, and I’m trying to figure out what that is right now. Making sure readers get enough information to be able to follow the important recruiting stories is my main goal, and if I can help them become familiar with the type of people Michigan recruits, that’s a huge bonus and something I really enjoy doing.
As for day-to-day stuff, I’m learning it really changes depending on the season. Football season is a grind, especially when I’m checking out a high school game (or two) on Friday and then turning right around and covering the Michigan game on Saturday, and it’s also incredibly fun. Transitioning to basketball—while trying my hand at UFRing games—has also required a fair share of work. I hear things ease off a fair amount in the summer, and I can’t say I’m not looking forward to chilling out a bit and taking a week or two off in there. At the very least, every day I’m either writing a post or gathering information for one (read: watching film, usually) while also monitoring any recruiting info and trying to continue building my contacts. Though there’s a lot to do, you won’t hear any complaints from my end—I know how lucky I am to be in this position.
2. What was the hiring process to become a FT member of the MGoBlog team? And what on earth is it like to have Brian Cook as your boss?
The hiring process went so fast I barely had time to absorb everything that was going on. I’ve checked MGoBlog on a daily basis going as far back as high school, so I noticed pretty quickly when Brian posted the job opening on the site. I’m pretty sure that was on a Monday morning, and by that afternoon I’d finished up my resume—tailored specifically for the job, since this wasn’t your normal job opening—and sent it to Brian. I heard back within a day or two that I was one of the finalists, and I interviewed with Brian in person that Friday. Before the weekend was over, he informed me I had the job, and from there I hit the ground running.
As for having Brian as a boss, it’s a different experience than with any other job I’ve had (though, admittedly, this is my first full-time job). Most of my interaction with him is through GChat, and he’s not telling me what I should be writing about on any given day—football season had a relatively rigid schedule, but that’s not the case right now. I initially was worried that I would have trouble getting feedback on my writing, but I’ve found that Brian is great about helping me out as long as I take the initiative to voice my concerns to him. I know Brian trusts me to get my work done, and at that point there’s no need to micromanage—if I need something, I ask him about it, and otherwise we’re both focused on taking care of business.
[Ed: remainder after jump.]
Something has young Charlie Blockham stirring in the midnight hour...
and only his mother, well-versed in the lore of Michigan football,
can disarm his anxiety and put his fears to rest.
(Click the image to view full size)
I have found that, so far, Charlie is far and away the easiest Blockham to write for.
I've tried to keep the cast appearances relatively well rounded so far to allow the
readers to get to know the family. But the truth is there's already more Charlie strips
in the can than anyone else. He's just fun to create.
Look for more Charlie, this time interacting with his dad, later this week.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs every Tuesday here at MGoBlog, and at least every
Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out our newest feature,
Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on current Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
Below are the strength of schedules for all Big Ten teams from 2011, as well as Michigan’s opponents in 2012 (note that Massachusetts isn’t listed, more about that later).
If you want to look at the rankings for opponent win percentage for all 120 FBS teams for 2011, check out my website.
Teams who had tough schedules in 2011, and easier schedules in 2012, should, theoretically, improve their win total. By contrast, teams who had easier schedules in 2011, and tougher schedules in 2012, should decrease their win total. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way.
The opponent win percentage is simple based on the combined wins and losses of a team’s opponents (includes bowl games and conference championship games, as well). Note that the rankings do not include games played against FCS opponents.
Once every team in the country has a finalized schedule for 2012 (I’m looking at you, Big 12 and Big East), I’ll throw together the 2012 Strength of Schedule, based on the win totals from 2011.
|8||Penn State||Big Ten||62.1429%|
|53||Ohio State||Big Ten||54.0230%|
|55||Michigan State||Big Ten||53.9474%|
|80||Air Force||Mountain West||50.4132%|
A few notes (on teams other than Michigan and their non-conference opponents) (Note that my projections will include postseason play, too):
Illinois –Illinois’s home conference games are all winnable – Penn State, Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue. The road games are brutal, though: Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, finishing up with an easier game at Northwestern. Illinois’s non-conference schedule is a bit tougher than the 2011 version – Western Michigan, at Arizona State, Charleston Southern, and Louisiana Tech. Early projection: Illinois decreases their overall win total in 2012, from 7 in 2011.
Indiana –Hands down the worst team in the Big Ten; schedule was among the toughest due to games against Michigan State and Wisconsin. The Hoosiers have a relatively forgiving non-conference schedule, playing Indiana State, at Massachusetts, Ball State, and at Navy. Early projection: Indiana increases their overall win total in 2012, from 1 in 2011.
Iowa –The Hawkeyes travel to Ann Arbor and East Lansing in 2012, and also make trips to Evanston and Bloomington. The home games, outside of Nebraska, are easily winnable (Minnesota, Penn State and Purdue). Iowa plays Northern Illinois (at Chicago), Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Central Michigan in 2012. Early projection: Iowa increases their overall win total in 2012, from 7 in 2011.
Michigan State –Illinois’s road Big Ten schedule is tough, but the Spartans will have it just as bad at home, as on the road. Michigan State plays Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, and Northwestern at home, while traveling to Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Michigan State’s non-conference schedule is tougher than the one from 2011 (which isn’t saying much, since 2011 was pretty easy) – Boise State, at Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Eastern Michigan. Early projection: Michigan State decreases their overall win total in 2012, from 11 in 2011.
Minnesota –Partly a byproduct of how bad the Gophers were, also a byproduct of having played Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, all of who had at least ten wins. Minnesota’s non-conference schedule allows the Gophers to improve – at UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan, and Syracuse. Early projection: Minnesota increases their overall win total in 2012, from 3 in 2011.
Nebraska –The Cornhuskers had a particularly challenging schedule in their first year in the Big Ten, having to visit tough environments in Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin. The Huskers will play Ohio, Michigan State, and Iowa on the road (as well as Northwestern). Nebraska has one non-conference game to schedule; they will play Southern Miss, at UCLA, and Arkansas State. Early projection: Nebraska increases their overall win total in 2012, from 9 in 2011.
Northwestern –Easiest schedule out of all the Big Ten teams. Having to replace QB Dan Persa will be tough, but at least QB Kain Colter has experience. The Wildcats will need that experience, as they travel to Michigan and Michigan State on back-to-back weeks; Northwestern also travels to Penn State and Minnesota on back-to-back weeks. The Wildcats host Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Northwestern’s non-conference schedule in 2012 won’t be easy, playing at Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Boston College, and South Dakota. Early projection: Northwestern decreases their overall win total in 2012, from 6 in 2011.
Ohio –Talk to a Buckeye fan and they will tell you it was one of the toughest years to stomach, between the NCAA investigations, Jim Tressel, and the losing record, Ohio is looking to forget the 2011 season. 2012 will likely be better, but the Buckeyes won’t be in the postseason. The Buckeyss have a soft non-conference schedule in 2012, playing Miami (OH), UCF, California, and UAB. Early projection: Ohio increases their overall win total in 2012, from 6 in 2011.
Penn State –Oh boy, where do I start here? Penn State’s non-conference schedule has been notoriously soft in recent years. Yes, they did play Alabama the past two seasons, but other than that, its been extremely forgiving. Penn State's schedule turned out to be the toughest because of playing Alabama, Houston, Nebraska, Wisconsin (three of which won double digit games). Next year it gets tougher with games against Navy and at Virginia. Penn State also plays Ohio University and Temple. Early projection: Penn State decreases their overall win total in 2012, from 9 in 2011.
Purdue –Purdue plays five of their first six games at home; an early start would put Purdue in great shape to improve on their 2011 record. Unfortunately for Purdue fans, they catch Michigan and Wisconsin on back-to-back weeks, but at least they are at home. Purdue also plays Penn State and Indiana at West Lafayette. Purdue will make trips to Columbus, Minneapolis, Iowa City, and Illinois. Purdue’s non-conference schedule in 2012, absent Notre Dame, is forgiving; the Boilermakers play Eastern Kentucky, at Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall. Note that Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State are on back-to-back-to-back weeks; three straight losses could send Purdue into a tailspin. Early projection: Purdue decreases their overall win total in 2012, from 7 in 2011.
Wisconsin –The Badgers have it relatively easy for their Big Ten road games in 2012. Wisconsin will travel to Indiana and Purdue, but they also play Nebraska and Penn State on the road. Wisconsin’s 2012 non-conference schedule looks like four wins – Northern Iowa, at Oregon State, Utah State, and UTEP. Early projection: Wisconsin matches their overall win total in 2012, from 11 in 2011.
With that said, what are the early thoughts on Michigan?
EDIT: Thanks to Harmon98 and bluebrains98 for pointing out a serious problem. Problem is corrected. For those who are asking, this is based on the 2011 season, with 2011 opponents.
Lake City (FL) Columbia offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil may be the most sought-after lineman in the class of 2013; he's already ranked as a five-star to Rivals and 24/7, a four-star to Scout, and he's on the ESPNU 150 Watch List. The 6'6", 275-pound junior holds early offers from Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami (YTM), Notre Dame, Purdue, USF, and USC, while Texas and LSU are keeping a close eye on him. Tunsil has already taken visits to Florida and Georgia, but while it may be difficult to pry him from the grasp of the SEC, Michigan has positioned themselves well in his recruitment. Read on to find out his top five and more:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment? Which teams are showing you the most interest?
LAREMY: It's crazy, and a lot of them!
ACE: How do you handle the pressure and attention of being an early five-star recruit?
LAREMY: Take it one day at a time. I just keep working and getting better.
ACE: Who's your recruiting contact at U-M?
LAREMY: Coach Funk and Coach Montgomery.
ACE: Any early favorites right now? If you had to name a top five, who would be in there?
LAREMY: Michigan, LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
ACE: Do you have any visits planned for junior days or camps during the offseason? Any places you'd be interested in checking out?
LAREMY: I'm not sure yet, but I have Michigan in mind!
ACE: What attributes about a school will factor in the most in your decision?
LAREMY: The coaches, academics, and tradition.
ACE: When do you think you'll make your decision?
LAREMY: Signing day. [To be clear, that would be 2013, not 2012. Laremy's got a few offers to sift through first.]
Signing day is fast approaching and anticipation is rising to fever pitch. So where will Michigan's 2012 class wind up ranked? I thought I would do a little prognosticating with a heavy dose of disclaimers. This analysis is based only on Scout, since they provide the most visibility into their ranking system. Their scoring system is somewhat arbitrary (maybe even a little silly?) and the final rankings are not profoundly meaningful, as I'm sure we all know. Still, we are just trying to have a little fun here as we bide our time ever so impatiently.
Also, I am referencing their "Commitment Tracker" which contains information some may classify as dubious. The finalist lists are somewhat suspect, and the predictions of the two analysts are arguable (some of the picks are from outside the finalist lists). So, take it all with a mountain of salt and let's have at it!
Here are the current top 10(ish):
So how might this change from now to Signing Day? Let's focus first on Michigan's prospects. Here are the most likely additions to the class and the number of points they would add to Michigan's point total:
So if Michigan were able to bring in the mother lode and sign all of these prospects, it would push their total points to 4810 (counting only top 25) and move them into the #1 slot! (if nobody else signed anyone). Of course, it is highly unlikely that Michigan will strike pure gold while everyone else strikes out, so let's look at this a bit more realistically.
It does seem likely that the Maize and Blue will add to their current commitments and a jump of 600 points or more is not out of the question. So which schools would be in a position to finish above them? This will depend on whether the other schools have roster space to add more scholarship players and how likely they are to land additional blue chips.
On the subject of how they might close, I considered how many prospects in the Scout 300 they are considered finalists for. I also make note of who at least one Scout analyst thinks they lead for. Of course, they could also sign additional players outside the top 300 and each such player would add about 75-125 points to their total. Let's look at each contender.
Alabama- With 27 commits, they can only add one more at most? (I may be mistaken, but I believe the SEC is planning to limit schools to 28 this year). They are in the running for 6 top prospects and are projected by at least one analyst to lead for two: Eddie Goldman (worth 298 points) and Dalvin Tomlinson (209). The Tide will be tough to roll.
Texas - I'm not sure how much room they have beyond their 24 commits, but they are finalists for 4 top prospects and lead for one: Dalton Santos (215). Michigan could pass them if the Longhorns come up short.
Ohio State - There is some question as to whether the Buckaroos are already over the scholarship limit. We will have to see whether or not that is an Urban myth. They are listed as a finalist for 7 top prospects and are said to lead for 2: Armani Reeves (fergodsakes no!) and Kyle Dodson (207). Assuming they stay within their limits, it would seem Michigan has a good chance to pass them up in the final rankings.
Florida - The Gators, at 20 commits, may have available space (or not; available scholarship info is hard to come by and I'm not going to turn a fun little exercise into a major research project). They are finalists for 8 top prospects and are projected to lead for two: Stefon Diggs (299) and Nelson Agholor (217). Still, Michigan should have a big enough cushion to avoid becoming gator bait.
Miami (YTM) - The Hurricanes already have 31 commits so (wait, what?!) so I really don't know what to make of that. They are listed as a finalist for 5 top prospects and projected leader for one: Tyriq McCord (208). If Miami passes Michigan in the final rankings it's time to open up yet another NCAA investigation.
LSU - Listed as a finalist for 3 top prospects and a leader for none; highly unlikely to close the gap with the good guys.
Notre Dame - Not known for oversigning, the home stretch for the Irish may be limited by available slots. They are on the finalist list of 9 top prospects but the Scout guys don't see them landing any of them. Barring unforeseen leprauchan chicanery, likely to remain behind Michigan.
South Carolina - With 24 commits in the fold, only 2 top prospects on the radar (with no projected signings) and a sizeable gap, they Gamecocks are unlikely to rise in the pecking order.
Florida State - The Seminoles are the real wild card with only 16 current commits and 9 top prospects in the wings. Four are predicted signees: Ronald Darby (300), Eddie Goldman (298), Jameis Winston (299), and Tracy Howard (298). With the ACC apparently determined to win the oversigning cup, Florida State seems to be the team most likely to close strongly. It's even possible they could jump MIchigan, but I wouldn't stick a spear in that.
UCLA - With a class of 25 already, and no projected signings among the blue chippers, the Bruins are too far back to maul Michigan in the rankings.
The Rest - Everyone else is most likely too far back, point-wise, to threaten Michigan's final class ranking. Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Georgia, Auburn and Stanford may be candidates for a strong closing stretch.
Well I hope we all had fun and are not taking this too seriously. Anyway, there is actually an outside chance that, if all the planets align properly, Michigan's recruiting class could finish with the top ranking on Scout. More likely. a third place finish seems about right. I highly doubt we could drop below the #5 spot. The one thing we can almost certainly predict is that there will be some surprises. We will all know soon enough.
Edit: - I corrected the point values associated with each recruit caused by a slight misunderstanding of Scout's formula. It was mostly just a point or two adjustment upward. More importantly, as elaydin points out, Scout only counts the top 25 recruits, so I made that adjustment as well.
Today we are going to breakdown the Powerplay goals from the Michigan win over Notre Dame on Saturday night. (Ignore the mouse burnouts)
Here we start out with our basic cycle, Notre Dame is in a normal 2-2 box penalty kill. Notice how far the forward is playing up, he will not be able to get back fast enough for and lose puck or rebound.
Like stated before, the ND forward could not get back in time so anything that gets through to the right is a goal. Quick shot from the wing goes wide left and around the back boards, Wohlberg gathers and starts the cycle again.
Once again the forward is playing Pateryn high, streching the box out. Guptil is screening and no one in gold is paying attention. Pateryn cranks it and gets super lucky, the shot just misses hitting the forward because his hips are swinging to the right.
After a faceoff win and a good keep in, Treais brings the puck down to face a pretty normal rush situation.
Treais uses a great shot fake to freeze the defensemen, who loses position going down to block the shot.
The move was great, the defender is beat, but the angle is bad. The only way Treais scores is if the goalie guesses wrong.
Summerhayes takes away right post and 5 hole. He is wrong, and the bent knee gives A.J. just enough space to fit it in left side.