at least it's not just us?
Only one new name on the board this week, but still some big moves with Gunner Kiel's decommit (or "opening up," but let's call it what it is) from Indiana and J.J. Denman flipping from Penn State to Wisconsin. I have moved around the team rankings a little bit as teams begin to fill out their classes—if a team doesn't have many commits, they'd better have high-quality prospects. In other words, get a move on, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois. Action since last rankings:
10-16-11: J.J. Denman decommits from Penn State, commits to Wisconsin.
10-20-11: Nebraska picks up Zaire Anderson.
10-21-11: Gunner Kiel (Indiana) re-opens recruitment.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
*ESPN doesn't rate JUCOs, so Isaac Fruechte (Minnesota), Darius Stroud and Jacarri Alexander (Indiana), Steffon Martin and Devin Smith (Purdue), and Zaire Anderson (Nebraska) are counted as unranked recruits for the sake of consistency (trust me, it makes sense when you look at the spreadsheet).
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
On to the full data, after the jump.
So with Jordan Payton's announcement coming soon (supposed to be expected at latest on Tuesday last I have read) I figured I would head out last night to Thousand Oaks to watch his team, Oaks Christian, play Thousand Oaks. I figured I would try to provide a little bit of information/impression that I gained from watching the game.
Sadly, Payton got hurt on the second offensive drive of the game and missed most of the rest of the game, only coming in on defense for the couple final drives.
I tried to get some video and pictures, but it is with my phone, and sadly I could not zoom for video so sorry in advance if it is not the best quality.
First some notes:
Oaks Christian on offense mostly ran the ball and combined it with screens. They didn't attack downfield much, especially when Payton was out of the lineup.
Oaks Christian on defense played with 10 guys all close to the line, with Payton as the only deep man at safety about 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. Ocasionally he came up to press a reciever and a teammate would step back into the safety spot.
As a result Thousand Oaks ran the ball most of the time, and rarely attacked downfield because they respected Payton's abilities deep.
The other highly rated prospect out of Oaks Christian, Ishmael Adams (a 4 star CB and 5.8 rating on Rivals, same as Payton) did not suit up but was on the sideline. Not sure what his injury status was.
Payton just being on the field was able to attract most of the attention freeing up his teammates. As such Oaks Christian spread the ball around a fair amount, although they were most effective when they got the ball to Payton. On the first drive he caught two screens that didn't go for much as Thousand Oaks seemed to be playing to shut down the screens because they expected them. However this burned them as later on the drive Payton caught a fade at the 1. Three plays later he showed good hands in easily defeating a press from the cornerback on a quick slant for a touchdown.
On the second drive he had a quick screen where he juked two defenders and gained 15 yards but it was negated by a holding by an offensive lineman on the other side of the field. Sadly soon after Oaks Christian threw a screen to him and he was tackled awkwardly and injured his ankle. He did not return to the game on offense.
He caught the ball well (by my count he didn't have a single drop) and he looked like he knew how to use his size to his advantage. There were a couple times he was able to get open by beating his defender but his quarterback just didn't see him. Payton has some quickness and moves, but he won't get by anyone with burning speed. His run blocking was ok, but Oaks didn't run the ball towards his side of the field. The quick burst and moves he possesses reminds me of when Hemingway was able to juke a couple defenders against Illinois for the touchdown last year.
I have him finishing the day (in very limited playing time) with the following line:
5 catches, 43 yards, 1 touchdown.
Here is video of his fade catch (sorry I fail at youtube imbedding so if someone could help on that I would appreciate it). He is lined up on the far right.
Payton didn't see much action deep as Thousand Oaks seemed afraid to throw near him. He made a couple tackles in run support and looked like one of the better tacklers on his team, as he used his arms to wrap up ball carriers rather than just trying to run into them.
When he left the game due to injury, he was limping around with a brace on his ankle before halftime. After halftime, he followed his coach around with his helmet on and seemed able to go back into the game if needed. Coming out of halftime, Thousand Oaks started throwing deep with him gone, and after two touchdown drives his coach put him back in for a couple final drives and that shut down Thousand Oaks' deep passing game.
He seemed to follow the play well and I never saw him out of position. He took good angles to tackles and even if a teammate was making a tackle he would hustle to the area. Lastly when he was put back in defensively he huddled his teammates all up and got in their faces to fire them up. This worked as Thousand Oaks did not score once he came back in. He also stopped a running back who broke through all of his teammates and saved a touchdown on one of the final drives that would have tied the game up.
I have him finishing with 4.5 tackles in his limited time.
Here is a video of one of his tackles. He is the deep man.
The only two pictures I was able to grab: (he is #4)
I tried to maybe grab a couple pics of him to show his height, because he does look like all of the 6'2" that he is listed as. Sadly I pretty much failed at this part.
Impressions of his teammates:
Three of his teammates stood out to me during the game.
First was #5 who played as a reciever and punt returner. He was a smaller guy but he was very shifty and had good speed, so he was used often on screens. However he did not have the best catching ability as his only two deep routes he juggled and drop the ball despite being open and not hit on the catch. His name is Chris Davis, and he is a sophomore.
Second was #7. He is a 3 star LB commit to ASU, but to me he stood out on offense playing as a RB. He finished with 150+ yards, including a 73 yard td run and a 77 yard td run. For fun, he also hurdled a defender which drew some applause from the crowd. When Payton left the game Oaks Christian fed #7 the ball more and kept it on the ground and he responded well. His name is Carlos Mendoza, and he probably will play LB in college for ASU as he is listed as 6'2" and 215.
Lastly was #55. He was playing DE and he seemed to just live in the backfield constantly harassing Thousand Oaks' QB. His name is Ben Johnson and he is a senior, but I can't find him on any recruiting sites.
Though I saw very little of Payton, I was impressed and have high hopes for him. I think in college he could probably play WR or CB. If he were to choose Michigan, I think he would play WR for us as he would give us a big target for the quarterbacks, especially downfield on those fades. Though I hope he chooses Michigan, I wish him the best of luck during his college career and can't wait to see him play on Saturdays and see what he can do.
“Race Day 5/6”
By Matt Nixon
21 October 2011 – Adelaide, Australia
Word’s out: America’s #1 solar car team is from the University of Michigan.
They took third in the 2011 World Solar Challenge. As in the 2009 event the team from Japan’s Tokai University took first and from the Netherland’s, Nuon took second. Déjà vu all over again?
Yes and no. The WSC is an event of the sort where each running is unique and anything can happen. I could go on about the details; brushfires, high winds, torn fairings – but those have all been born out by now. Let’s drill down into the emotions involved.
Nervous parents, excited cheerleaders, hand wringing U-M Solar alums and anticipatory media paced in the drizzle, jockeying for a position and the perfect view. All of us waiting to catch sight of the flashing lights atop the lead support vehicle.
Clutching hope like grim death, we were beyond eager to see our heroes finish what they’d started years ago. Yesterday, running on ozone and the team’s sheer force of will, Michigan’s Quantum rolled across the finish line in the nick of time.
I won’t spin it; there was something decidedly anticlimactic about the finish. None of us could put our finger on the feelings we were experiencing in the moment. It wasn’t disappointment. Certainly there was some of that because everyone wants to win. But what they’d accomplished was nothing to be dismissed as a loss.
Relief? There was loads of that. Our team was safe. No one was injured to any significant extent. Banged up to be sure – but nothing that time and rest can’t heal.
Pride? Yes, we were all proud of our team. They performed like champions leaving everything on this most unusual field of battle. Still, there was just nothing of gravity to be said. We mustered an awkward and hoarse Hail to the Victors.
Yet something in that moment felt like the severing of the strings that had been keeping us all connected during the 1,800-mile odyssey from Darwin to Adelaide. It was like helium slowly escaping a balloon. The adventure was over and we were all descending back down to earth.
When I got to my hotel room I couldn’t bring myself to write a single line. I just didn’t have the words. The closest I could come to a descriptor was confusion. What had I witnessed? It was something profound, every fiber of my body resonated with vibrations but what was it?
I thought about it as I washed the red Outback earth from my aching body. Walking the streets Adelaide late that night, alone I pondered. Where was my heart? Where was my head?
And then it struck me like boxer’s blow to solar plexus: I missed them.
I’m in a beautiful city, staying in a nice hotel and I have every comfort (that I went without while Outback) within easy reach. But I would trade it all to be back in the dirt with the team for just another day or two. No hyperbole, I would have died a completed man out there.
This was my tribe and now we lay scattered about by the four winds.
If ever again I’m gifted with a similar experience it won’t be anything like what I’d just gone through with them. And it wasn’t until the final night, prior to the last day of our race, that some of the quieter members of the team finally engaged me in discussion.
Santosh Kumar (the head strategist) asked me a question. Whoa. This man’s mind is made from the clockwork of the god’s and he had a question for me?
“Matt, what have you found to be the best thing about Australia?” he asked.
Without hesitation I replied, “Watching you guys work together.” No matter how awed I may be, I am not one to pay lip service to anyone. My statement was pure truth.
I’ve been humbled to witness the way this team operates. I’ve learned something about teamwork, collaboration and the ability to harness the passion that, when people are put under extreme pressure, often bubbles over into negative emotions.
Sitting back I remarked that under every situation they’d found themselves facing, they always seemed to be so calm. Calm. Even when moving at speeds that warped my perception. They problem-solved with an even-keeled coolness that just can’t be captured in words or pictures. It had to be felt. To have experienced it, I am thankful beyond expression.
Santosh chuckled, “Well, we just deal with the problems and keep moving forward. What you’re not seeing are some of the fireworks that go off when we pile back into the support vehicles.”
Well, that’s really it, isn’t it? Fix what needs to be fixed. So that Quantum can get back on course solve what needs to be solved – and then you can let out the steam. It’s simplicity itself but somewhere along the line we can forget that’s how winning is done. You must remember; a lot of these men and one very special woman aren’t even old enough to legally enjoy a beer.
With all of our egos, insecurities and human frailties it’s easy to lose sight of this when you see full-on grown-ups who can’t behave like civil human beings. Still, this team of youngsters could be trusted get you through hell and back. And in a sense (if you know the Outback) they did that very thing.
This morning when I arrived at Victoria Square and found the three winning teams joyfully splashing about in the fountain (appropriately named the “Three Rivers Fountain” taking its namesake from the three rivers, the Torrens, the Onkaparinga and the Murray – all of which feed Adelaide most of its fresh water) I found my writer’s inspiration renewed. Competitors, now comrades, swapped jerseys and reveled in the joie de vivre that the World Solar Challenge and the fountain so adequately represent.
When they emerged from the waters, I asked some of the individual team members how they were feeling. Not surprisingly it was Team Manager Rachel Kramer who put a fine point on what I was seeing.
“All of the bad feelings just melted away the minute we jumped into the fountain,” said Rachel.
My heart swelled like a torrent about to burst a dam. It was in that moment that I finally got it. It was through their smiles that I understood my own emotions. I was witnessing the stuff of legend.
Celebrations at the official finish line at Victoria Square in Adelaide where #3 University of Michigan’s Quantum solar car arrived on Friday, October 21, 2011 during the World Solar Challenge race across Australia. All photos courtesy of Marcin Szczepanski, Multimedia Content Producer/College of Engineering, U-M
U-M’s Blaine Riley, head of sourcing, celebrates at the official finish line where #3 University of Michigan’s Quantum solar cars arrived on Friday, October 21, 2011.
Always smiling and a volcano of energy, U-M’s solar car biggest supporter and cheerleader Charles S. Hutchins sports a University of Michigan beret at the official finish line at Victoria Square. [Ed. - A lot of the support directed toward the team is courtesy of Mr. Hutchins. He is certainly one of the reasons the team is a HUGE success. "Volcano of energy" is an apt description. Thank you Sir!]
Shoes left after jumping into the fountain at Victoria Square where U-M, Nuon and Tokai University solar car team members celebrated at the official finish line
U-M, Nuon and Tokai University solar car teams celebrate together after exchanging jerseys at the official finish line at Victoria Square’s fountain in Adelaide.
Link to the celebration video. Watch the team sing 'The Victors' in the Three Rivers Fountain! Click here
Thanks for following along. As before, I'll be reading thru the comments and will do my best to answer questions or find answers for you. The American Solar Challenge will be held next Summer. I'll be happy to "cover" that event as well. Go Blue!
As expected the Top 25 ate their cupcakes without any problems. The six teams that lost moved down and everybody else moved up around them. Michigan, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Arizona State all stayed in the poll while Baylor and Texas dropped out of the rankings. The teams that won or were on a bye moved up to replace them without much excitement. The only big jumps in the poll were Kansas State getting up to 12th and Michigan State jumping from 23rd to 15th.
The AP voters did decide that Georgia is good enough to be ranked again. After starting out the season 0-2, they’ve won 5 in a row and look like the leader in the SEC East now that Marcus Lattimore is done at South Carolina. There are now 2 teams from Group D ranked, the most since week 2.
Washington became the 12th team to enter the polls after starting the season unranked. That should lift the spirits of the 9 people who forgot Jake Locker graduated and picked Washington in their ballot. I hope they don’t get too excited though because the Huskies are about to get beat by Stanford.
Individual Ballot Analysis
Willhouse is in first place for the third week in a row and the second week in sole possession of the lead. In 2nd place 30rackchamp rode Michigan State and Washington up from 53rd place last week. (Is 30rack a play on 30 Rock and Rackham? Just 30 Rock? Something totally different? Enquiring minds want to know.)
After 6 weeks of first place being within 6 points of the perfect ballot, that mythical prize is pulling away. The perfect ballot is the same this week as last: LSU, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, West Virginia and Clemson. That’s worth 111 points while Willhouse has only 97 points since he didn’t pick Michigan State. 97 points is the highest point total of the season.
Judging Your Pick
MGoBlog seemed to have done a good job of making their picks. For the first 6 weeks of the season the MGoBlog median and mean were higher than what a randomly picked ballot would expect to earn. People who read about Michigan football for hours every day had a good knowledge of the wider world of college football.
Week 7 politely steps in and says that we actually have no more idea of what we’re talking about than a bunch of monkeys.
A picture of the author at his desk.
Games to Watch
Not as many terrible cupcakes as last week but there still aren’t a lot of elite matchups. The daytime is full of semi-interesting to terrible games with the most relevant games on at night.
#20 Auburn at #1 LSU - 3:30 on CBS
USC at Notre Dame - 7:30 pm on NBC
#6 Wisconsin at #16 Michigan State – 8:00 pm on ESPN
#25 Washington at #8 Stanford – 8:00 pm on ABC
The winner of USC and Notre Dame is almost guaranteed to be ranked next week. This week’s “also receiving votes” is #26 Penn State, #27 Notre Dame, #28 USC. With a good win over a decent opponent either Notre Dame or USC is going to take the spot of whichever team at the bottom of the poll loses.
The other games might be good games but more likely they are going to be beatdowns.
Well that blew. So did the game. As the hopes and dreams of a rose covered field similar to the bed in American Beauty got ugly, so did the rules and reactions of Michiganders everywhere. Riding high on a drug better than K2 or bath salts, our HOKE supply dried up. Like junkies hooked on a drug, Michigan fans in withdrawal began lashing out with a bowie knife everywhere and on everyone. Some of the slashing was justified, but some was just pent up rage left over from three disappointing seasons previous.
Pass the Asparagus:
As the first quarter reared its ugly head on my boob tube, I instantly recognized this game was going to be peculiar. It seemed that the Oregon Ducks broke out their 379th uniform combo and some clown college broke out of a birthday party training and took the field in Michigan’s place. I would find out that the real clowns were the other team and the other dudes wearing stripes. When the graceful intelligence of the sportscasters acknowledged that this was actually Little Brother University and Michigan I felt a queasy feeling I hadn’t experienced since my friend's pet mongoose swallowed a family of ducklings and its mother whole at a local pond in front a group of Catholic school kids. The poor kids got a real life lesson on life’s abrupt and messy ends at any age. I’m sure the nuns got a kick out of it and turned it into a behavioral incentive program.
After gaining my orientation back from the kick to the senses the uniforms of both teams provided, I was shocked and disappointed. I was shocked that the Fingerpaint Department at LBU did not whisper into Dantonio’s ear that their colors and fight song include the colors green AND white. Maybe they did, but his school’s Napoleonic Complex was in the way. I was disappointed that even though it was most likely planned, the boys in blue went in to the locker room a half an hour before kickoff to change into their uniforms. It gave off the feeling of a combination of Project Runway and keeping up with the Joneses.
The uniforms were not the only disgusting factor in a game that blew more than two ways from Tuesday. The play calling as you all have noticed or heard by now was less than stellar. Why have a QB that has just an average pass game pass into tropical depression strength winds? Maybe Gorgeous Borges didn’t notice his own hair blowing in the wind. The wind was devastating and underrated in the game in my opinion. Combined with the wind and Gorgeous Borges’ play calling, Gardner’s sporadic appearances in the game wasted plays. At one point a wide open tailback was left hanging out playing jacks in the middle of the field with nothing but end zone and ugly sorority girls in front of him. If Denard was also supposed to find any rhythm in the howling winds of autumn, then he surely wouldn’t get it knowing he could be pulled at any second with the thought in the back of his mind that Gardner was getting in because Gorgeous Borges got frustrated with his pass game and put in Gardner to spark the offense. That kind of thing in a hostile territory like East Lansing would eat at your brain like a super dose of E.
These thoughts came to the front of Denard’s mind as Gholston spun the front of his head 180 degrees. Gholston decided to celebrate Halloween early by becoming his all time role model of football, Steve Lattimer. Like Lattimer, Gholston couldn’t control his inner thugness by doing most of his hitting after the whistles. Why Lewan didn’t gouge his fucking eyes out and pitchfork his dome into a crowd of three legged mules, I will not know until the day I die. The referees acted like 80 year old substitute teachers in Watts by tossing their hankies when they should have brought a hammer down and thrown their asses out for showing up to a NCAA football game with an XFL mentality. Then they should have thrown their crowd, stadium, waste management, and coaches out for unnecessary ugliness.
With the distractions of nauseating uniforms and cage match free for all rules the offensive line must have been confused with the concept of snap counts and picking up blitzes. This compounded the problems listed above that already made for a miserable day that even Poe wouldn’t touch with a 34 and a ½ inch pole.
As the results reverberated through MGoBlogdom and beyond, the crazies made an appearance and rationality of the season at large checked out. Even though I would be the first to panic on a ship with water on it in the middle of the Sahara, I did not feel a sense of panic as the previous two years…yet. The defense for all of the problems had on offense this sad day still looked eleventy billion times better than last year. The offense with a pinch of logic and constant practice can still improve. No we are not a national contender nor do I think even a B1G championship contender right now, but I didn’t think we were going to be August 31st either. So far I am pleased with the progress, not necessarily losing to LBU, but given the growing pains of a tumultuous three years of coaching changes, roster exoduses, and a Pimp Hand looking to sponsor the ring on his hand with Evil Pop while bringing back consistent winning ways doesn’t seem that bad. This could all change but I am willing to stay to be a champion and because I have donated way too much emotional and physical time with a team since I graduate from pull ups and mushy dinners.
CCHA opener: NMU preview
#1 Michigan At #17 Northern Michigan
Not an overly impressive team so far. Through four games they have shown almost no balance on the offensive side of the puck. The top forward line shoots a lot and scores all of the points, after top line scoring drops way down. That could be a product of only scoring 13 goals, but stats indicate that the lower lines really aren't shooting. It is hard to tell how they are scoring without video, but from looking at stats it would indicate that they have a strong presence in front of the net and capitalize on rebounds.
As for the defensive outlook this group has been weak, they don't have a good offensive output and most of them sit around even in +/-. Reports from NMU bloggers have said the team is falling into the same destructive patterns that plagued them last season, inexperience and penalties. So far they have averaged 15.2 PIMS per game and most of it comes from the blueliners. The overall youth of the team makes the alternatives to Follmer and Macauly less than serviceable players who Michigan should have no problem taking advantage of.
|Name||Games Played||Goals Against||GA AVG||Saves||Record|
Reid Ellingson: GP 2, GA 4, AVG 1.92, saves 54 2-0
Jared Coreau: GP 2, GA 5, AVG 2.53, saves 50 1-1
Tough to tell how the goalies have played without video and the quality of defense, but statistically Reid Ellingson has been solid. NMU has split goalies with Ellinson starting two games and Jared Coreau playing two. The number of close games that the wildcats have played so far speaks to the ability of the goaltenders, as three of four games have been decided by one goal.
(NMU's chart was much smaller because the scoring was top heavy, Michigans chart is smaller because everyone scores and it would take up the entire page. Lynch (1-3-4), Guptil (2-1-3), and Mofatt (1-3-4) are left off.)
Team overview: Coming into the season the fear of every fan who followed the team was that scoring would drop to levels that could not sustain an NCAA tournament run. So far the team is showing Michigan finesse and scoring at will, although the level of competition is weak they are punishing teams that they should be punishing. It's a good sign because any continuation of last years habits, losing to teams you should crush and winning games you should be crushed in, would have resulted in a very bad season.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||3-2-5||+6||12||2|
Early on the scoring output has been great, the upperclassmen have stepped into bigger roles and the younger players are making a case for more ice time. Di Giuseppe has been making the most of his opportunity so far, preseason he was so much of an unknown that I didn't even include him in my preview. As for the rest of the group they still have the speed and skill that we seen in the past, and much more than enough to give the inexperienced wildcats hell.
It's hard to find anything wrong with a group that has only given up five goals all season and has put up good scoring numbers. The upperclassmen are solid, and the freshman are freshman. From an individual perspective Mike Chiasson is adjusting well and Brennan Serville may not get to the first line as quickly as I projected.
(Janecyk is excluded because he has not started)
As expected Hunwick is still awesome. The defense has been great around him and he is playing with confidence, I expect it to continue throughout this series.
There is a reason Michigan is ranked number one. Talent, speed, skill, coaching, and any other intangible is in our favor. All signs point to a comfortable win and if Michigan stays out of the box this could be a blowout.
10/21/11- Michigan 4-2
10/22/11 Michigan 3-0