...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff tight end Adam Breneman is one of the most sought-after prospects in all of the 2013 class at a position of major need for Michigan. The junior already holds offers from Alabama, Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Temple, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wake Forest. Breneman's early rankings reflect that impressive list of suitors, as he is on the ESPN150 Watch List and already ranked as a four-star to Scout and 24/7, with the latter listing him as the #32 overall prospect and top tight end in the class. I had the chance to chat with Adam yesterday, and here's a full transcript of the interview:
ACE: You just committed to participating in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game. What does that mean for you to be honored as one of the top recruits in your class?
ADAM: It's really exciting, and it's a great honor to be wanted by both the elite all-star games, the Army Game and the Under Armour Game. It's a huge blessing to be asked to participate on those big stages, and it was a really tough decision for me and my family, to decide whether I was going to play in the Army Game or the Under Armour Game. At the end of the day, I thought that the UA Game was the best place for me to go to, and I wanted to commit to a game before this year's game since I got early invitations, so I decided that it would be best for me and my family to go down to Orlando to play.
ACE: In terms of your recruitment, I know you've got offers from, well, just about everywhere right now. I won't make you run through all of them, but what schools are contacting you the most right now, and who's standing out to you?
ADAM: I don't really have a top schools list yet. Some of the schools that I think pretty highly of right now would be Maryland, Virginia, Miami, Rutgers, Michigan, Michigan State, South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Alabama, just to name some of the ones that I've been in pretty constant contact with, and I've developed some pretty good relations with those coaches. It's still very early in the process for me, I'm nowhere close to narrowing anything down yet, but those are some of the schools that have gotten off to a good start. There are quite a few places, and I don't have a timetable at all, but those are some of the schools that have definitely gotten off to a great start.
ACE: With Michigan specifically, who has been in contact with you from them, and what is your general impression of the coaching staff, the school, and the program?
ADAM: Coach Montgomery is the defensive line coach—last spring, when I was a sophomore, he came to my high school to visit. He offered me then, he told me that they had seen my tape and they wanted to offer me. My recruiter is Curt Mallory, Coach Montgomery just happened to be in Pennsylvania and stopped by the school, but I've developed a good relationship with Coach Mallory. I talk to him quite a bit. Actually, I'd say probably a month ago I had, I guess you'd call it a conference call, with the coaching staff, and I talked with Coach Hoke for a while. That was the first time I got a chance to talk to him, and he seems like an awesome guy and it's just great to see what he's done at Michigan so far in a short period of time.
ACE: Just to talk about your junior year real quickly, can you recap how the year went for you, where you felt you got better on the field, just how the season went for you this year?
ADAM: We finished 9-3 on the year. We lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs to the state champion, lost by three points. When we look back on it, we play in the biggest classification in Pennsylvania, but we're actually the smallest school in that classification, so to do what we did, there's a lot of things to be proud of that we accomplished as a team this year. Individual-wise, I made first-team all-state, I finished the year with 72 catches for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns, and making first-team all-state was one of my goals at the beginning of the year. Team-wise and personal-wise, it was a great year and certainly an exciting year.
ACE: If you had to do a self-scouting report, what would say are the strengths of your game right now, and what are you working on to get better for your senior year and on to the next level?
ADAM: I think in the receiving aspect I'm very good at the tight end position. I play a lot of wide receiver in high school—I think I actually have the ability of a wide receiver but I'm in a tight end's body. I pride myself in never dropping passes and beating linebackers one-on-one—it's just a lot of little things, running routes the right way, those are some of the things that I work really hard at. Moving forward, right now I'm about 6'5", 220, which is fairly thin for a tight end, so obviously moving on to the next level I'd like to put on some more weight, get stronger, and become the kind of tight end that can put his hand in the dirt and block. I do a good amount of blocking in high school, but obviously when you get to the next level the players are a lot bigger and a lot stronger, so just moving forward I'd like to just let my body develop more, put on some more weight, which I'll probably do naturally. I'm only 16 years old, so I'll probably put on a good bit of weight in the next couple of years, and I'll become a better blocker.
ACE: In terms of the offseason for you right now, do you have any idea, in terms of junior days and camps, places you'd like to visit before your senior year?
ADAM: Nothing is scheduled at all yet, nothing finalized. I know that I'll be going to Maryland for a basketball game and I'll definitely be visiting Miami—I haven't visited there yet, so I'll be going to Miami for a visit with my family. I'm about 95% sure I'll be coming up to Michigan, too. I don't know if I'll be doing a junior day or just a normal visit, but I'll be up there. Whether it's in February or in the spring I don't know yet, but we'll definitely be out there.
ACE: You said you don't have a timeline or anything right now, but in terms of just what you're looking for in a school, what are the ideal traits that you're looking for when it comes down to picking a school?
ADAM: A big thing for me is the kind of offense that I'd be playing in. Actually, it's not so much the kind of offense, but how I'll fit in to the offense. I love catching the ball, I love having the football in my hands, and I want to go to a school that's going to allow me to do that and allow me to be a playmaker from the tight end position, so I definitely want to play for a coach that has a history of tight ends and has a history of throwing the tight end the ball. Another thing is academics. Academics are a big part of my life—I carry a 3.9 GPA, so I take academics very seriously and I want to go to a place that's going to prepare me for life after football. Third of all, definitely the relationship that I have with the coaching staff—I'm going to be spending a lot of time with those guys, and if we don't get along it's going to be a long four years. That's definitely important, and just a place that fits me best athletically, spiritually, and academically, just having everything fit me in all three of those areas, that's where I'll wind up.
I am trying to build a database of all the head coaches, OC’s and DC’s for D1 teams since 2003. Starting digging in and the head coaches are done but the coordinators are going to take more time than I have. Anyone who is interested I created a public Google Doc that has what I have and anyone who has some time to kill and interested in supporting it would be much appreciated. I have completed all the head coaches and the coordinators available readily on Wikipedia for the Big Ten and Big 12. Everything else is missing.
A couple notes for how to update. Every team and year is listed at least three times, one for head coach, one for OC and one for DC. If there is are multiple OC or DC for a given team, just add a new line with the coach team, year and position. If a coordinator role is held by the head coach, just change the coordinator note for the head coach from “No” to “Yes,” do not add a new line. For any mid or late season changes, list only the coordinator most responsible for the season, do not list both.
Thanks again for anyone who is willing to spend a bit of time and start to fill in blanks. Wikipedia team season pages have most of them listed for bigger schools and more recent years, but some of the older years and smaller schools will take a bit more digging, I’ll take whatever the Mgocommunity can provide.
Naperville (IL) North standout Colin Goebel is a versatile interior lineman who's currently holding offers from Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Toledo to go along with interest from several top schools in the Midwest and Southeast. The junior already stands at 6'4", 275 pounds, and if you recognize the last name, it's because his cousin, Garrett Goebel, currently starts along the defensive line for Ohio State. Colin is coming off an outstanding junior year that saw him earn first-team all-state honors, and he took the time to talk about his recruitment this afternoon:
ACE: How's your recruitment going overall? What schools have been in contact with you the most, and who are you most interested in right now?
COLIN: Right now I have three offers: Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, and Toledo. I've been hearing from a lot of bigger schools, though, like Miami, Florida, Ole Miss has been talking to me a lot, basically most of the Big Ten—Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ohio State. My cousin [Garrett Goebel] is a D-tackle at Ohio State; he started this year and he's going to start next year. I have no favorites right now, but I like the Big Ten and the SEC.
ACE: I know Michigan sent an in-school visit your way. Who has been your recruiting contact at Michigan, and what have they been saying to you?
COLIN: Michigan has talked to me a lot. Coach Funk is the one talking to me—he came to see me in school, but Coach Hecklinski is my recruiting coordinator. I've been trying to call him but he hasn't answered lately. I went up there for wrestling camp in the summer and Coach Funk showed me around the facilities.
ACE: Just to recap your junior season, how did that go for you, how do you think you improved on the field this year, and just in general how would you say the year went?
COLIN: I thought it went really good. I exceeded all of my expectations, I made first-team all-state, and also all-conference and lineman of the year awards. I thought I got a lot better at pass protection and knowing where my body should be in run blocking, everything. I definitely want to improve for next year.
ACE: In terms of your position, I see you projected as an interior lineman. Do you have a preference in terms of what you'd like to play at the next level, or is that not a concern at the moment?
COLIN: I don't really care—guard or center, I know how to snap, shotgun snap, everything.
ACE: Have you been working on the center position? I know it's kind of a different animal than the rest of the offensive line.
COLIN: Yeah, I know how to snap, and shotgun snap—I work on snapping year-round, almost. I practice and I used to play center just so I'd know how to do both for college.
ACE: You mentioned your cousin Garrett at Ohio State. Have you been talking to him at all about the recruiting process, and does him being at Ohio State affect your recruitment at all?
COLIN: He gives me tons of information and tons of tips on how to talk to coaches and [he gives me] lots of help. Him being at OSU doesn't affect me that much. I obviously know more about the school, but I'm definitely keeping all my options open.
ACE: I know you're doing wrestling right now, but do you have any plans in terms of attending any junior days or camps over the offseason? Have you made any summer visit plans at all?
COLIN: Not yet. I've got to wait and see what schools I have and don't have offers from, and then I'll probably decide my summer plans. I'm going to try to start going to junior days in the middle of February and on, as soon as wrestling season ends, I think the first week or second week of February.
ACE: For people who haven't seen you play, what would you say is probably the biggest strength or strengths of your game, and what are you working on to prepare for your senior season and the next level?
COLIN: I feel my strengths are my athleticism and how I can move with my weight, and my mental toughness and being a hard-nosed player. I definitely want to improve my footwork and my pass protection skills, just my technique for college and senior year.
ACE: You're a pretty big-time wrestler as well. Do you think that helps you at all in terms of translating over to the football field?
COLIN: Oh, yeah, definitely. It definitely keeps my competitive drive going throughout, extended for three more months—I'm always competing in wrestling. It definitely carries over in practice, I never want to lose any rep, even just in practice. It definitely helps the mental toughness knowing I've got to out-tough the guy ahead of me, and it helps a lot with athleticism, too.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline for when you'd want to get the recruiting process wrapped up? Also, what are the ideal traits that you're looking for in a school?
COLIN: I'd like to narrow now my decision by senior year, be committed by my senior year. That's not always possible, but that's my goal. The traits I'm looking for—I definitely want to be on a winning team, just have a good tradition at the school, and definitely academics are a big part of it, too, just a good mix of both.
I’m not a superstitious person, but it’s fun to pretend that there are signs, or that ordinary objects can possess special powers. For example, I often break out the M boxer shorts for big games. Our track record hasn’t been so good in big games recently, so I left the boxer shorts in the dresser drawer for this game. There were two signs that if I were the sort to believe in such things, portended a bright future for the Michigan football team.
First, prior to the game I was listening to my Johnny Cash Pandora station. Out of nowhere, the station started playing “Jambalaya”, by Hank Williams. So what you say? Well, this past weekend I posted a diary comparing M football games to Iron Maiden songs, picking out particularly relevant lyrics. The lyrics to Jambalaya?
Jambalaya, a crawfish pie and a fillet a gumbo…
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou…
The reason this song stood out besides the obvious connection to New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl, and the hope that we’d have big fun at the game, is that my mom would sing this song whenever she cooked Jambalaya. That seems reasonable, except that she wasn’t from the south and never sang any other songs while cooking that I recall. It’s as if something was preparing me from an early age for this year’s Sugar Bowl.
I hope I’ve established the musical connection. Well, the second sign that occurred was the National Anthem being sung by one of the actors from Mad Men (one of my favorite shows) while accompanied by a clarinetist. As a youth, I played the clarinet (until a bizarre badminton accident claimed three of my teeth, but that’s a story for another day.) How often have you seen someone play the National Anthem on the clarinet? For me, the answer was none, until this year’s Sugar Bowl. So as you read through this thoroughly depressing set of stats, remember, that none of these numbers matter except the final score, because this was all preordained. You can’t argue with the signs.
Burst of Impetus
- It’s been awhile since the OSU game, so let me remind you what this section is all about. Basically, it presents the big momentum changing plays of the game. The biggest play was the first 4thand 1 where we stopped VT. Instead of them kicking the FG to go up 9-0, they went for the kill. Martin, Van Bergen and Will Campbell came up with a huge stop. That stopped their momentum.
- Of course, that wouldn’t have meant much if we couldn’t get anything going offensively. When VT got hit with a roughing the punter penalty, it gave us some momentum which allowed the 45 yard TD pass later in the drive.
- At the end of the game, the impetus was swinging back and forth like a tennis ball at Roland Garros (that’s the clay surface where points take forever, as opposed to Wimbledon where it’s one and done.)
Trash Cans Full of Dirt
- I went through the play-by-play link and looked at Virginia Tech’s third and fourth down plays. They converted third downs of 1, 8, 9, 12, 13, and 20 yards. Their average third down conversion was on 3rd and 10.5 yards to go. We stopped them on third down and 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 7, 7, 11, and 20 yards to go. So the average down and distance to go when we stopped them was 3rd and 6.1. That seems just a little backwards. It’s even weirder on fourth down, where we stopped them twice on 4th and one, but they converted 4th and 11.
- So why did VT have more success on longer down and distance plays? I think the rush suffered from Van Bergen’s early injury and the fact that Thomas is one big dude. His ability to see over the rush was key to finding the open receivers. On third or fourth and short, they tried running and we lived up to the “Trash Cans Full of Dirt” nickname earned in game 1 I believe. On one 4th and one, they tried a QB sneak right into the center of Martin, Van Bergen, and Will Campbell. That was the initial burst of impetus that started turning things around for us.
- 20 players show up in the defensive stats, including 4 tackles for Elliott Mealer. I believe those actually belong to Frank Clark, unless Elliott became a special teams monster without me noticing.
- Kovacs lead the team with 11 tackles, followed by Morgan and Martin with 10 apiece. While I like the balance (a DB, an LB, and a DL) I don’t like having three guys with double digit tackles. We couldn’t keep VT off the field, and when we did stop their drive, our offense couldn’t sustain anything, leading to a large discrepancy in total plays: 76 for VT and 52 for UofM.
- We had 8 TFLs, half of those were by Jake Ryan for an insane 36 yards. He mixed up his TFLs quite nicely, one stopped a fake punt, one was for 22 yards, (hey, if a back wants to run backwards for 22 yards, I say let him. Just be sure to tackle him when he turns around) and one was a classic, “Jake Ryan hates ankles as much as Taylor Lewan hates donkeys” QB sack. I’m sure he leads the team in ankle tackles and it’s not even close. The dude must have some strong hands. (Since I talked about signs in the intro, I watched 10 minutes of “16 Candles” over break. Our Jake Ryan has now replaced the Jake Ryan as my favorite Jake Ryan.)
We Haz Special Teams
- I was going to move this section all the way to the top in honor of us out-Beamerballing Beamerball, but Martin and Van Bergen deserve top billing.
- JB Fitzgerald gets credit for a forced fumble on a kickoff that turned into three points. That play was one of many that were key to getting us to overtime.
- Gibbons, a veritable Van Bergen Mini-Me, was good from 24, 37, and 39 yards. My wife is a brunette, so I’m right there with you Brendan.
- After a rough start for Hagerup, Wile came on to do the punting and averaged 43.7 yards. He also drew a roughing the punter penalty that kept a drive alive and lead to 7 points. Wile had a long of 58 yards, which is what I expect from dome punting. I don’t know why, there is no wind in a dome, it just seems like guys are always killing the ball when punting in a dome.
- After the punting section, they list returns and credit Elliott Mealer with a 7 yard interception return. I’m pretty sure this is a typo and this INT belongs to Frank Clark. Perhaps the stats guys were partying a little too hard after the win. I don’t blame them.
- This was one of those rare games where we reverted back to the original meaning of the word filthy. Denard had 13 carries for 13 yards. He was only 9 of 21 passing with one INT, and several other close calls.
- Touss ran 13 times for only 30 yards. What surprised me was that Touss didn’t get a carry until our 7thoffensive play. I thought we would try to establish him early, since he finished the season as a productive third of our offense (1/3 Touss, 1/3 Denard running, 1/3 Denard passing.) Instead, we saw all sorts of long developing plays, mostly run to the outside, that gave VT’s speedy defense time to react. I think the MANBALL, power up the middle stuff would have worked better, but the Molk injury certainly hurt.
- Another thing missing from the game plan were screen passes - a good counter to an aggressive defense. We tried the one to Vincent Smith. Denard bounced the pass and we never went back to it.
Big John R. Studd Referee Section
- My brother called at halftime and I complained about the refs. He said, “what do you expect from Sun Belt refs?” or something to that effect. While he was just kidding, I took him at face value because they didn’t have a clue.
- All I ask for is consistency. Sometimes DBs were allowed to grab jerseys, and sometimes they weren’t. Every time they missed the hands to the face penalty.
- I think they missed two false starts on Gibbons, but whatever.
- The referee was Jay Stricherz. When I googled him, the first hit said, “Good thing Riley didn't have the crew of referee Jay Stricherz, which has regularly dispensed flags like penny candy off parade floats.“ Apparently, I’m not the only one who has a problem with Jay. It looks like they are a Pac 12 crew FWIW.
- Junior Hemingway. That’s all I got for this section.
- To be fair, 8 players did catch passes, including Jareth Glanda.
- We wore yet another new uniform. I’m so over this by now. I will say that the uniforms the VT cheerleaders were wearing were the ugliest things I’ve seen all season.
- 5G Frank Clark was the only hexadecimalist to register, breaking Matt Cavanaugh’s streak. I think they just lumped all the special teams tackles under Elliott Mealer.
- The announcers were Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge. I barely paid attention to them. I was a little surprised that was the first UofM game they did all season.
Random, as Yet Unnamed, Bullets
- I put VT in the “respected opponent” column, unlike say, an MSU or ohio, but I’ve got to say this about the halftime university commercials: our walking robot could kick their walking robot’s ass. And I’m not just saying that because I know Prof. Grizzle and he’s a class act. Did you see the commercials? Our robot is practically running while their robot is taking these little baby robot steps.
- Writing these diaries in the middle of the week is painful. If I'm going to do this again next season, I demand we get a Friday or Saturday Bowl Game.
- So the main question everyone is asking is, how do you win a game when you get outgained by 193 yards. Well, we had one turnover to their two, and we stopped them twice on fourth down. That’s a +3 in the extended turnover stat. Even if you assign 40 yards (the average net punt) to each of those, we’re still trailing by 73 yards. The answer is, I just don’t know*. And you know what, I don’t care. We’re Sugar Bowl Champions, and that’s all that matters. And now it’s time to have big fun on the bayou…
* I do know, we scored two touchdowns, and they kicked a bunch of field goals. You’ve got to score TDs when you get the chance. Also, they roughed our punter, which continued our drive. That's basically a negative turnover for us. And even though I bashed the refs, we picked up another ~40 net penalty yards.
Last night Team 132 finished one of the more memorable, rewarding, and unexpected seasons in recent memory. Brian and much of the blogsphere have valiantly focused on what this team accomplished, what they overcame, and how well they have represented the university not just this season, but through their entire careers. But there has been consistent talk among some fans and media types about how "Michigan is back".
With the help of my brother I set out to understand if this 11-2 season with a BCS bowl victory matched some vague definition of Michigan past and thus validates the claim of the program being back. I looked at all seasons in the "Bo era" of UM football to see when the team finished the season with a good record and BCS bowl appearance.
But in order to do that, we need a chart.
Chart you say?
Wait - there is an alter ego in this post too?
Yes - So let's see the chart then!
**UPDATE** In the comments user "Vasav" made a suggestion that we could create a metric that took into account beating OSU, winning the conference, and final ranking to get a "score" for that season. I updated the table below with that metric, though I changed his values somewhat.
- Versus MSU: Win = 0.5, Tie = 0.2, Loss = 0.0
- Versus OSU: Win = 1.0, Tie = 0.5, Loss = 0.0
- Big Ten Finish: 1st = 1.0, Tied for 1st = 0.5, Other = 0.0
- Bowl Outcome: Win = 1.0, Loss = 0.0
- Final AP Rank: 1-5 = 1.0, 6-10 = 0.5, Other = 0.0
There are obvious flaws in this such as the difference between being ranked 5 and 6 costing a significant amount toward the final score or the fact that you can't have "ties" for the conference title like you used to before this season. But it is a starting point and helps sort these seasons, so the table has been updated. (Read below for other updates.)
What did we learn from that?
Well, you can find just about anything on the Bentley LIbrary site.
Besides the shameless plug, what else did we learn?
There are several things that were interesting in this research. Here are a few.
- Carr (2-3) and Bo (3-10) did a lot to promote the belief that the Big Ten can't win big games.
- But they also got to these big games at a very high rate with Carr going to 5 BCS games in 13 years and Bo going to 13 in 21 years. This may be where the "Michigan is back" meme comes from since the five year drought we just lived through had only happened one other time in the past 40 years.
Carr, Mo, and Bo all had several historically great seasons with Carr's 1997, Bo's 1985, and Bo's 1988 standing out perhaps as the best.
- **UPDATE** When applying the "Vasav score" you see these seasons change slightly. Obviously 1997 and 1988 still stack up, but 1985 is lower on the list than 1980 and 1992.
- Damn.....Bo was a great coach. Over time I had sort of felt like his memory was greater than his actual resume, but you can't help being amazed at his tenure. The Rose Bowls, top ten rankings, and conference titles are more than impressive.
- What was it like to be a die-hard fan from 1970 to 1974? In five seasons Bo went 50-4-1, won or tied for the conference title 4 times, finished in the top ten each season and only went to ONE bowl game. Imagine the server damage that would have been done if MGoBlog existed then.
- **UPDATE** Look at how 2006 scores out despite being perhaps Carr's second best team. I think this is a good test of the Vasav score because that great season left such a bitter taste in our mouths for having lost to OSU and then USC when we were perhaps so close to a championship.
Well, those are some nice bullets, but does that mean the people saying "Michigan's Back!" are right?
Can't we just focus on this great season and the heart shown by the members of the team who have put everything they had into this program despite the chaos over the past several years?
No - I need an answer. Is Michigan back? Does this season stack up against the rest?
The answer is "not quite". Finishing with an 11-2 record and BCS win (regardless of how ugly) is amazing and stacks up with some of the best seasons ever. Considering the past 4 years that is a great accomplishment and shows that the program is on the right track and about as "back" as could be dreamed of before this season started.
But there are a couple of things that put it a notch below most of the seasons on the list. First is the fact that Michigan finished as the third best team in the conference behind MSU and Wisconsin, despite the deserved BCS appearance. Classic Michigan teams expected to win the conference and did more often than not. That's the goal and motivation for next year. Another difference is that Michigan will likely finish ranked outside the top ten this year while all but two of the teams on the list finished with a better final ranking.
Hoke has exceeded expectations and has Michigan poised to compete for BCS bowls going forward, even if this season is a slight notch below the great ones of the past 40 years. Bring on Alabama and 2012! Go Blue!
**UPDATE** Response to comments
It is always dangerous to respond to comments, so I'll keep this brief. Obviously I, and most readers of this site, agree with Brady Hoke when he says that Michigan isn't "back" because it never went anywhere. No matter what the record on the field, the men wearing the winged helmets have represented the university with integrity and worked their tails off both on and off the field. The "Michigan is back" meme is used in this post as a backdrop to putting the 2011 season in historical context. Anyone reading this blog has lived and died emotionally with this team no matter their record or coach and can attest to Michigan not needing to be "back."
Likewise, there is no arguing that 2011 was a spectacular season by any measure or metric. The fact that we are even comparing it to the other 24 on this list states that. But this post was a way to both celebrate the past, celebrate 2011, and look forward to areas where we can still improve.
Finally, I intentionally avoided any discussion of late-era Carr or Rodriguez because that isn't relevant. Whatever ill-will or praise you have for either coach does not factor into the on-field significance of their past seasons so I hope we can avoid turning another series of comments into an argument about either coach.