[Ed-M: Bump. Keep it up, but one space after a period is plenty kthx /generation that never used a typewriter]
Last week I posted five games to keep an eye on for potential upsets/spread-beaters. I intended the post as a one-time thing, but the numerous responses made me re-think the approach. As long as there is interest, I’ll try to post this once a week, with five games I have my eye on, and a re-cap of the previous weeks picks (because I HATE it when prognosticators cannot admit when they are wrong).
@ Baylor +6.5 TCU. Result: Baylor 50 TCU 48. [Props to: Lets Get Denarded, AMazinBlue.]
James Madison OFF @ North Carolina. Result: North Carolina 42 James Madison 10.
UCLA +3.0 @ Houston. Result: Houston 38 UCLA 34. [EDIT Props to: dennisblundon, AMazinBlue for calling for Houston to cover as the favorite.]
Tulsa +25.0 @ Oklahoma. Result: Oklahoma 47 Tulsa 14.
Marshall +22.5 @ West Virginia. Result: West Virginia 34 Marshall 13. [Props to: cadmus2166.]
A couple MgoBlogeittes (?) mentioned South Florida over Notre Dame. Props to: Indiana Blue, Purple Stuff, hart20, PaperEater.
Unlike Week 1, Week 2 brings along some more “legitimate matchups.” In Week 1, FBS opponents were 36-2 against their FCS counterparts, with Duke and Oregon State being the FBS victims. This week there are only 20 games between FCS and FBS teams. Anyone have any thoughts on potential upsets (or at least teams to keep an eye on)? A couple potential upsets (or at least close games):
Florida International +4.0 @ Louisville. Louisville is 14-3 at home against non-conference opponents since 2005. Florida International is 1-8 in road openers, with the lone win being over Youngstown State in 2004. Louisville struggled against the Racers last week, failing to cover the 29 point spread. Darriet Perry and T.Y. Hilton looked impressive in an opening conference win over North Texas, combining for three touchdowns. Florida International will find it tough to put up 40+ points again this week, facing a much better defense in Louisville, but they shouldn’t need that many to get a win.
@ Georgia +2.5 South Carolina. Bulldogs have won two of the last three meetings and seven of the last nine. South Carolina last won Between the Hedges in 2007. South Carolina is coming off a 56-37 win over East Carolina, after starting down 17-0. Neither Connor Shaw nor Stephen Garcia were impressive against ECU. While Georgia is coming off a devastating loss to Boise, Georgia has a chance to win the SEC East, having South Carolina and Mississippi State at home. Opening 0-2 will make Coach Richt’s seat all the more warm.
Connecticut +2.5 @ Vanderbilt. Connecticut is coming off a BCS appearance. Vanderbilt is coming off a 2-10 season. Since 2001, Vanderbilt is 6-14 at home as a favorite against the spread. Connecticut is 22-19 on the road as an underdog against the spread over the same stretch. DJ Shoemate did not play against Fordham last week; Lyle McCombs ripped through Fordham for 141 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Utah +9.0 @ USC. Last meeting was in 2001, with Utah winning 10-6 in the Las Vegas Bowl. USC is coming off a 19-17 win over Minnesota in which USC led at halftime 19-3. Coach Kiffin lifted the suspension of RB Marc Tyler, who is expected to play this week. USC’s lack of depth, attributed to NCAA imposed probation, will be an issue in numerous games this season. Facing a veteran QB with plenty of WR depth will be no easy task for USC.
Boston College +7.0 @ UCF. Last meeting was in 2008, with Boston College winning 34-7. Boston College is 10-5 at home under Coach Spaziani, but only 5-5 on the road. UCF is 25-19 at home under Coach O’Leary and 25-13 at home since 2005 (UCF went 0-11 in 2004, O’Leary’s first season). UCF is 9-3 at home as a favorite against the spread since 2009, including a 62-0 win over Charleston Southern last week. With that said, Boston College has a solid defense, having averaged over 3 sacks per game against top 25 teams last year. Look for the Eagles to keep this one close.
Here is the other half of ND’s depth chart, well at least the 2nd half that I am going to post on. If you need a ST breakdown you will need to keep searching. I will try to answer any questions when I can.
DE: Sr. Ethan Johnson (LY 34T, 6TFL, 5sack) Fr. Aaron Lynch
Johnson came out of spring camp with a chip on his shoulder, like Crist, he was very business like going into game prep, he actually did lead by example in week 1 though. He finished with 6 tackles and 1 TFL which is double his average from last season. True freshman Aaron Lynch saw a few snaps as expected. He is still raw but has a lot of talent, he finished with 1 tackle and 1 TFL. Unless Johnson goes down with an injury, the staff has said they plan to ease Lynch into the defense as the year goes on.
NG: Jr. Sean Cwynar (LY 32T, 2.5TFL, 1 FF), Fr. Irish Chocolate (AKA Louis Nix)
Cwynar is undersized as a NG but his motor is what won him the position out of spring ball. He saw the majority of his time at the end of the year when Ian Williams went down after Navy’s chop block marathon, that put him against some of the stronger OL’s on ND’s schedule last year. ND fans are quite happy about this position. Nix didn’t play last season as he came into south bend very over weight, he has slimmed up considerably and is now co-starter on defense. He played more than Cwynar in week 1, Nix ended the game with 7 tackles including 1 TFL. Not bad for NG who gets a double team, Cwynar finished with 4 tackles.
DE: Sr. Kapron Lewis Moore (LY 62T, 2.5TFL, 2sack, 1 FF) So. Kona Schwenke (LY 2T) Fr Stephon Tuitt.
KLM was ND’s most productive Dlineman last year, as a senior ND will need him to continue to do well while teaching the 2 younger guys at the position. Schwenke played in 5 games last year but never for any drawn out periods of time, he has put the time into the weight room but didn’t record any stats in week 1. Tuitt is the other freshman Dlineman expected to be eased into the game more and more this season. He did see time in week 1 but didn’t record any stats, though it may have been on ST only. KLM carried the Dline with 8 tackles with 1.5TFL and 1 sack. He did a good job getting penetration and keeping contain on the QB.
OLB: Sr. Darius Fleming (LY 48T, 10.5TFL, 5.5sack), Jr Steve Filer (LY 14T), Fr Ishaq Williams
Fleming was counted on as the edge rusher last year at OLB, but the same complaint of actually getting to the QB when blitzing was still there to some extent. He received a lot of praise through summer camp, and in week 1 had a solid game. He recorded 8 total tackles, 1 TFL and a sack. Filer and Ishaq both backup Flaming. Williams is the 3rd freshman to see time in week 1, he didn’t record any stats but may have only seen ST duty, I haven’t seen a replay to get strong impression on him this early in the season. Filer has been a ST staple since coming to ND, he hasn’t seen many snaps but is a real hit with the fanbase for some reason.
ILB: Jr. Dan Fox (LY 19T), Jr. Carlo Calabrese (LY 62T, 5TFL)
Fox received the starting position at the end of summer camp but doesn’t have the experience Calabrese gained last season. Either could start, either could be in on a given snap but Fox’s emergence was a surprise during camp, a good or bad surprise its unclear. Calabrese was the guy next to Manti nearly every game last season he had a solid first year as a starter. The 3-4 defense seems to have been beneficial to both of these guys. I am not sure the difference in snaps but Calabrese and Fox finished with 5 and 4 tackles respectively which is in line with what ND saw from the position last season.
ILB: Jr. Manti Teo (LY 133T, 9.5TFL, 1sack, 1FF), Anthony McDonald (LY 11T)
No that is not a typo, Manti had a huge season last year recording 133 tackles; the lingering questions on how the change to the 3-4 would effect him seemed to be answered well before the end of the season last year. McDonald doesn’t see a lot of time as Manti’s backup as he doesn’t come off the field very often. Manti lead the defense in tackles week 1 with 9, including 1TFL and 1 sack. Some have said he had a bad game, I haven’t seen the replay, but USF plays to the edges of the defense they want the ball in space and in the flats, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting a huge game out of him anyway. Maybe I am wrong on what his responsibilities actually were though.
OLB: So. Prince Shembo (LY 15T, 5TFL, 4.5sack), Fr Danny Spond, Fr Troy Niklas
Shembo might be the best kept secret from last season, but when 2/3rds of your tackles are done in the backfield that secret won’t be kept long. He saw limited snaps last year as Brian Smith’s backup, I think the staff wants to use the same model for this year’s freshman in the 2 deep, I certainly can’t complain about the results yet. Spond and Niklas seemed to be relegated to ST for the most part at this time it will be interesting to see who emerges as the #2 guy this season. Niklas was expected to play DE or OT when he was recruited but has since been moved to OLB, hopefully that’s not a depth issue.
CB: Sr. Robert Blanton (LY 53T, 7.5TFL, 1.5sack), Jr. Lo Wood (LY 3T)
Blanton saw a diminished roll last year behind Walls and Gray but was still very productive playing in all 13 games. If there is someone running their mouth on the field, Blanton is likely the guy, hopefully he can continue to back it up this season. Blanton recorded 6 tackles and great TFL where he obliterated a WR screen. Lo battled some injuries last season and is currently the nickel back under the right circumstances, sometimes they go 3 safeties depending on the look. Lo recorded 1 tackle in week 1 which quadruples his average per game from last season, lol
S: Sr Harrison Smith (LY 91T, 1TFL, 1 sack, 7int), Jr. Dan McCarthy (LY 4T, 1FF) Harrison is mostly known as the guy who fell down when USC should have won that game last year. Most ND fans remember him as the guy who finished the season with 5ints in the last 2 games, the defense turns a corner when Harrison does plays well. He recorded 6 tackles in week 1, below average from what we saw last season. McCarthy saw limited time last season as he was injured most of the year, the safety position is much deeper this season.
S: Jr. Jamoris Slaughter (LY 31T, 1int), Zeke Motta (LY 50T, 1.5TFL, 1int), So. Austin Collinsworth (LY 7T)
Slaughter, what great name for a safety seriously how much better does it get? Anyway Slaughter and Motta round out what was the safety position last season with Harrison Smith. Motta and Slaughter both played hurt and missed games so the added depth this season should be great help at safety this season. Collinsworth (yeah that Collinsworth’s son) was strictly a ST player last season and has transitioned to DB this season. How much playing time he sees may hinge on how quickly he picks up the position. Motta and Slaughter equaled 7 total tackles week 1, which isn’t so concerning when the front 7 are playing well. Not sure how tested they were in game 1 though
CB: Sr. Gary Gray (LY 66T, 5TFL, 1int, 1ff), So Bennett Jackson (LY 11T)
Gray saw a lot of balls thrown his way last season as the option on the other side was 5th year senior Darrin Walls. Gray is a solid starter and the staff will expect a lot out of him this season if the secondary is going to be strong. Jackson is following the same path as Collinsworth, transitioning from ST gunner to DB. It may have only been 11T last season but I am pretty sure all 11 of those came on punt returns. Jackson recorded 2 tackles against USF while Gray tallied 5.
The front 7 should be fun to watch this year, the first half against USF wasn’t the defense ND fans were looking forward to seeing. It was the one that showed up in the 2nd half that ND needs this season. The stronger ND’s defense is this season the easier it will be on the offense, which appears to need all the help it can get coming out of the USF game. The secondary has added some much needed depth with veterans holding down the starting positions. They were not tested down field much though so how good they actually are is still a question to answer. This defense could be really really good this season and the expectations are high.
So you've probably heard by now that I won't be producing weekly schedule wallpapers this season, and some have taken that to mean that I won't be producing any wallpapers at all. However, as I was considering semi-retirement in the face of my grown-up-adult-9-to-5-then-kids-bedtime-sleep-is-important responsibilities, I set aside time to design a few rivalry game wallpapers. The Ohio State game is a given (and probably Michigan State too) and I couldn't pass up the historic night game at The Big House.
Last year I made Touchdown Jesus say "No Good", prompting concern from my young daughter over God's feelings about mocking Jesus. "No sweetie, I'm not mocking Jesus, I'm mocking Notre Dame. God enjoys this kind of thing." Several other promising and less-blasphemous ideas were left to rot in the pages of my sketchbook, including a few inspired by the saying "All that glitters is not gold." I pictured everything from a rainbow with a pot of fools good to a Notre Dame helmet peeling to reveal a rusted shell.
Like The Game, the first night game at Michigan Stadium calls for a dramatic rather than humorous image. Where Ohio State was represented by the decaying side of a planet, Notre Dame's gold is shown as a thin, blistering and cracking layer of paint.
I wrestled over whether to make the centerpiece of the image helmets or logos (you can see the back and forth in the making-of video), but I heard from several people that one of their favorite images from last season was the lump of coal block M so I tried for something similar here. I designed the block M to match the front of Michigan's legacy jerseys, while Notre Dame's legacy helmet gets a nod with the shamrock treatment similar to my vine-wrapped block M.
Some other people you should know about
The stadium photo in the background was generously provided by Scott Maez. It would have been extremely difficult to get just the right look from an illustration or a low resolution image, but Scott's photo was shot the perfect angle (and he was kind enough to share the high resolution file with me). You should check out some of Scott's other Michigan photography. He has a nice mix of games and other events going back to 2002.
I also want to point you in the direction of MGoBlog users cjm and Blue Indy who have picked up the proverbial ball where I have proverbially dropped it. Both are doing awesome work so if you need a dose of wallpaper goodness between now and my next caffeine-fueled Michigan football design binge they're your guys.
The image below is a preview only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
I recorded the screen while I wiggled my mouse around and hoped for a miracle. Lucky for you I sped up the footage to condense a wasted weekend into just a few minutes of video. If you want to see me ruin a nice wallpaper with a happy little shamrock Watch this video.
While basketball may be more than two months away, and football has barely gotten its feet wet, I thought that given the massive amounts of anticipation that will inevitably build over the course of Notre Dame week, a little hype video fun might help assuage some of that anticipatory build. It may not be football-related, but hopefully it’s entertaining and gives people something to watch this week.
The past few months I’ve watched numerous Michigan Football hype videos on YouTube, some better than others but all equally demonstrating passion and excitement about Michigan Football. I’ve even learned a few things myself, including a few very creative video ideas, impressive editing techniques and most importantly the significance of song choice (as evidenced by a mild disdain for 30 Seconds to Mars, which is cool, no worries, I get it). But, what I didn’t see was anything hype-video related for the basketball team. I found this simultaneously moderately unfair and completely understandable. Nevertheless … an idea began to form and I got to work.
The result is below for your enjoyment (per usual, it's in HD if you switch to 720/1080 within the embed):
Now, a few words if you’ll indulge me.
Basketball will always hold a special place in my competitive center. I gushed over the Fab Five when I was in middle school, and I was lucky enough to play ball in high school just down the street from Crisler at Ann Arbor Pioneer HS. I know and love Michigan basketball as much as any fan I know, save for a certain friend of mine who lives in Cali and could literally be the Maize Rage all by himself.
I say that only to hopefully bolster the following.
I realize that the inclusion of the Fab Five clips may not sit well with some people, particularly any clips of Webber. I can see someone looking at the video and saying things like “That’s not what those kids should strive to be on the court” or “That’s not who they should aspire to be.” I can understand those sentiments, but that’s not the reason why I mashed the clips up. I don’t want this team, or any other Michigan Basketball team to be like the Fab Five, for both the good and the bad tied to that team.
I was as crestfallen as anyone when the bottom dropped out of the men’s basketball program and our name got thrown around in the muddy gutters where vacated seasons go to wither and rot. I didn’t mash-up the clips to tell Tim Hardaway Jr. that he needs to be more like Jalen Rose, or Morgan like Webber, or Burke like King (though if Vogrich turned into Pelinka, or McLimans morphed into Voskuil, I’d grin stupidly). I mashed-up the clips because that was the last time Michigan Basketball was great.
Not good. Not tournament-worthy. But great.
I mashed-up the clips to show that Michigan Basketball has the capability to be great … right now.
For the first time in forever I feel like Michigan Basketball is finally grazing its fingers up against what it feels like to be a truly dominant program again. From the returning players to the freshmen, from the coaching staff to the recruits landing on campus in a few years, top to bottom and back again, this group of kids finally looks like they’re ready to put their own indelible stamp on Michigan Basketball.
I haven’t felt like that in awhile.
The last time I did I was 10 and Webber was catching alley-oops from Jalen and Jimmy, Juwan was hitting mid-range jumpers and Ray was chomping at the bit on the bench waiting for his turn to start.
So, I didn’t mash-up the clips to tell this year’s team that they need to be more like the Fab Five.
I mashed-up the clips to remind everyone that this year’s team can do everything that the Fab Five did on the court. They can hit the same threes, throw the same alley-oops, wear that same passion and fire on their sleeves and play within a successful system as a team just like the Fab Five did.
They can be great. Just like the Fab Five were once upon a season ago. They may not reach it this year, but they’re building the foundation and laying the groundwork. It’s going to be something else to watch.
Thanks for the indulgence. I don’t usually prater on in these diary entries, as they are first and foremost to serve as a viewing vehicle for the video, but I felt the extra explanation necessary given the sensitivity of the material and the potential for misinterpretation.
Per usual, many thanks are necessary and a few questions will attempt to be pre-emptively answered:
- As always, my efforts are not possible without the efforts of others, particularly the folks over at UMHoops.com. Footage was used from a great many sources, including Dylan, who took the time to film considerable amount of practice last year, while Coach David Merritt put together some very nice All Access behind the scenes footage of Zack and THJ. However, the greatest amount of props and thanks has to go to Josh Houchin, who produces the excellent “end of season” highlight videos for the entire team, as well as Darius, THJ, Zack, Stu and Jordan individually. Those videos can be found HERE for your own perusal, while the full-season video can be found HERE. His editing is outstanding, and I definitely recommend viewing them if you haven’t already. I will certainly be taking some of his techniques into account for my own future videos. Lastly, thanks to MgoVideo/Pahokee for uploading the basketball highlights from last year.
- Music: “Lux Aeterna” by Clint Mansell (Full Orchestra version) via “Requiem for a Dream”. I considered Public Enemy’s “He Got Game” and Eminem’s “No Love” as hip hop/rap alternatives to the classical piece, but in the end Lux won the day. I’ve always wanted to see this piece of music in a video like this and I figured I might as well be the one to give it a shot. Hopefully it's tolerable to the internet masses, as it's an excellent piece of music. FYI, ignore the "music tag" on YouTube, as that song is in no way by Ray Ventura.
- Length: Yeah, it’s on the long side. But there’s no good place to splice down the music, and dammit if I’m not going to give everyone their attention span’s worth for a hype video. Hopefully the build to the fanatic finish is enough to assuage any tired eyes.
- Voiceovers: They are from an NBA Amazing video where players like Wade, Kobe and KG talk about their love of basketball. I needed something to cover the lulls and those fit perfectly with the clips. Unfortunately the YouTube video has been taken down because the TV station it was broadcast on filed a request about the images, but the audio is still good to use thankfully.
- Opening Commercial: That’s from Michael Jordan’s “Become Legendary” line of advertisements. You can watch the original version HERE.
- Basketball Speeches: The first speech after the commercial is of course, from Hoosiers. If you didn’t know that, I can’t help you. The others later in the video are from “Coach Carter” and “Glory Road” respectively.
- My Favorite Part? The Sparty crushing segment, easily, building to the NCAA highlights.
This is just my version of a basketball hype video, complete with all the trimmings that I think should be in something like this (storyline + coaches + practice + highlights + theme + music + etc.), instead of the more straightforward versions (highlights + MUSIC + rawr).
Hopefully this gets the ball rolling on a few more basketball videos, as I’d love to see other people’s takes on this kind of effort, which is a little bit different from the football versions in the sense that the highlights are a little more generically compact and repetitively similar, and thus requires some alternative editing concepts. I’d love to start seeing this become a regular occurrence for the basketball team.
That’s all I got. Thanks for the feedback/comments. Always appreciated.
First off, I think Maryland clearly won week one. I tried to post a picture of the stadium before the game, but here are the uniforms just in case anyone missed the game on Monday:
Yeesh. The arm sleeve thing looked like they had an infection or something.
This week, in honor of Iowa/Iowa State and their Hummel-based pewter trophy disaster, I will be naming new hypothetical trophies for the best games of the week. But here's a reminder of where we started:
There's only one game on Thursday, Oklahoma State versus Arizona. Fortunately, they can play for the "Dust Bowl" trophy, which would be a normal cup-style trophy full of dirt. And not good, black, growing-stuff dirt. Just dry, pale, desert dusty-type dirt.
Friday has no games worth mentioning, so I'm going to double-up on Saturday.
First we get the "Jesus Versus Air Superiority" trophy as TCU plays Air Force. It's hard to cheer against The Jesus, but the Air Force does have some great (and really, really expensive) toys. This can also be a travelling trophy between TCU, BYU, Air Force and Navy.
We also get the first apperance of the "Tumbleweed Travelling Trophy" as Colorado State plays Northern Colorado. These two schools are only 22 miles apart, which is also known as "Right Next Door" out in the wide-open spaces. I'm in Denver, and no one here cares about this game. The travelling trophy will be used to determine best-in-class between CSU, Wyoming and New Mexico.
[Ed: bump in case anyone doesn't know to read these yet.]
So, we're almost 3 quarters into the Brady Hoke era, and what have we learned? Not a hell of a whole of a lot. Western was a cupcake, and we provided the vanilla frosting, the vanilla defense, and the vanilla offense. There's plenty to criticize and the few good things all come with cupcake's caveats. Next week will be the real barometer of our progress .
Somewhere in the back of my self-important mind, I worry that breaking down our offensive and defensive systems might give a very tiny advantage to our opponents. So this year I'm going to do less system stuff and focus on individual plays and players when it comes to our team. I'll save system analysis for scouting reports of other teams.
But first, I just have to say:
You sir, have an awesome mustache.
Let's start with the bad:
Their first drive was cause for concern. Just getting aligned was a problem on many plays.
I'm pretty sure this isn't how you're supposed to defend a 3rd and 1.
And on this next play, the confusion is so thick, you can cut it with a knife. You could roll it into a batter and make... hmmmm... I'm hungry...
Despite being in a shotgun look, this is clearly a run formation. What's the giveaway?
How about the covered slot "receiver" making this an unbalanced line. We've got 3 guys defending air, and the DB's are so far back, they're practically giftwrapping a 10 yard run.
The QB meshes with the fullback to give an option look, and he wisely hands it off since our linebacker is way out of position.
The ball carrier cuts back to the GAPING HOLE. Meanwhile, our contain guy is so concerned with both the QB and pitchman, neither of whom have the ball, that he can't make a play on the FB.
But I'm encouraged by the fact that we got it figured out before the drive was even over.
Here we are against the same exact formation and play a few downs later. That's a quick adjustment, or maybe it's just that nobody f'd up this time. Notice that the DB's are in a position to support against the run and we clog up the middle to stop the FB for practically no gain.
Carvin Johnson was misaligned on the next play, but Avery did a good job to make a solid tackle and delay the TD. But as a whole, the defense looked like most of them have had 3 or 4 different coordinators in the last 4 years.
I'm also concerned about the size of our front seven, and when we go against the likes of MSU, Neb, OSU, and god willing - Wiscy, well.... let's just hope things get better.
[Ed.: more after the jump.]