A chilly start to October! Wind is the word of the weekend! A low pressure system is making it's way out of the eastern Great Lakes, but not before pulling in some fast-moving cooler air and giving us a bit more rain. It's definitely a day to bundle up (making sure you have that bright MAIZE colored shirt proudly worn on top of all your layers!), especially if you're planning on being out early or staying out late!
This might be the first game that you need to bring the thermos out! Waking up to cold temperatures around the 40 degree mark, and with strong north winds we're talking -oh yes, I'm going to say it- wind chills in the low 30s! Even by 9/10am wind chills will still be in the mid 30s. Winds will be around 18mph could see gusts up to 25mph. This means leaves will constantly be in motion, small branches can blow around a bit, you'll see smaller trees swaying. Skies are very cloudy until around 10am; then that cloud cover will begin to break up. There's also a slight chance of a light sprinkle throughout the morning hours, but really not a lot to worry about - I think the major rain events will mainly stay east of I-75.
I think the rain will have cleared us for the most part and we'll just keep around a good amount of clouds. North winds 20-25mph, could see some gusts up to 30mph. Winds this strong are when using an umbrella gets difficult, empty plastic garbage cans will blow over, the wind "whistles." The temperature will be up to 45 degrees, but, it'll feel like the upper 30s with that wind.
Keeping some of those clouds around, but you'll notice they do continue to slowly break up more and more throughout the afternoon. Although we'll see that thermometer go up a couple degrees, still going to feel like the low 40s. Strong north wind not going below 20mph yet.
We'll reach the high temperature for the day-although it's not going to get over 50 degrees. Some of the clouds will disappear and as we break into the later evening hours you'll see a few starts through partly cloudy skies. Bundle up if you're headed out to celebrate! Those winds will shift a tad to come out of the north-northwest throughout the evening, but aren't going to feel any warmer. End of the game the winds will still be at a steady 20mph, gusts up to 30mph, and we won't see them get down to about 10mph (leaves will blow about) until midnight. Temperatures late night after the game will cool down to 40 degrees, but that wind chill is back making it feel like it's in the low 30s.
Stay warm, enjoy the game, and let's get that Little Brown Jug!
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for NBC/ABC in Traverse City, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
It's one thing for a running back to have quick feet; it's quite another to have feet capable of nailing an unblocked guy's feet to the ground and teleporting an opposing nose tackle from one side of your guard to the other.
Of course, on this play Toussaint wasn't the only guy with super powers. The SDSU DE running the scrape exchange made himself invisible, at least to Kevin Koger.
The Setup: First and 10 for Michigan on the SDSU 16, up 21-7 and driving to close the game out. Michigan will run the zone read (I think; I'm sure I'll be corrected if I get it wrong) out of the shotgun, pulling Kevin Koger to open the backside.
Wha'hoppon: Robinson sees the LB come down for contain and so hands off to Fitzgerald Toussaint. Koger misses the DE coming down the line on the scrape exchange, blocking the LB that had already been neutralized by the handoff.
With a free hitter staring him in the face, Toussaint takes a half-step to the outside, freezing the DE and changing the momentum of the NT being blocked by Omameh. This puts him on the wrong side of the hole, and Omameh rides him out of the hole as Toussaint comes through one step ahead of the DE. Good downfield blocking lets Fitz ride his OL to a 9-yard gain.
Full YouTube link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxVJpWo2NOc&hd=1
[Ed: you know what? I'm just going to bump this instead of linking it again.]
[Quick JCB plug: We’ve got you covered on all the weekend action, including a great preview on the stellar prime time schedule tomorrow night from SteveY and a breakdown of the Evil Empire vs Little Brother match tomorrow afternoon. More to come later today including a deeper look at the Nebraska-Wisconsin showdown and, of course, my weekend card of picks, so bookmark us already!]
October is hours away. And so is the start of the 2011 Big 10 conference season. Out of conference games are more or less over and we're about to begin an historic Big 10 season, one with Nebraska in it, two divisional races and a winner-take-all championship in, of all months, December. This will be season to remember, but will Michigan be a factor? The numbers from September are in, and the early math points to the Wolverine's showdown with Nebraska in November being for the division title.
But we've all been here before with Michigan looking good on the verge on the conference campaign only to see the September numbers wither with the changing seasons. I have a feeling this year will be different, but that doesn't mean the Wolverines will run the table or boss their division. My prediction for the division has always been its pretty mediocre and that we'll see three teams tied atop at 5-3. Michigan has as good a chance as anyone to hit that 5-3 mark. My other prediction was if they beat ND, they would be one game better through ten games than a year ago, so that's 8-2 heading into the nasty double date at the end of November with the Huskers and Ohio State coming to town.
There are plenty of storylines to be had in tomorrow's league opener for Michigan against Minnesota. The Little Brown Jug is on the line, fer gawd's sake!! We get another data point in the evolution of the new offense. How does Minnesota look with the whole Jerry Kill situation? Can these young, new playmakers on the Michigan defense continue their progression. And, of course, in my world, can Michigan cover the point spread. Generally speaking, I don't consider covering the line or not a true storyline for the masses. But in Michigan's case this season, I do. Don't forget, the Wolverines didn't cover a single point spread in Big 10 play a year ago. That's only the fifth time in the last decade that any FBS school didn't cover against the closing game in all their league games.
The paranoid ninny in me is naturally not happy that Michigan is the biggest chalk on the Big 10 board in the wake of last year's 0-8 ATS mark and 4-20 ATS mark the last three years against the Big 10. Obviously part of that is Minnesota's serious sucktitude so far this season. But some of it is indeed a changing mindset towards Michigan within the gambling community. Back in the summer, not only was nobody betting on Michigan, but everybody and their pet cats was betting against the Maize and Blue. However, a month into the season, Michigan has showcased some defensive competency, they still have Denard Robinson and, well, the rest of the Big 10 just looks terrible. The result? A major shifting of the odds in favor of Michigan. The Wolverines used to be 8th in line on the board with Big 10 Championship odds, checking in at +1600. But with the shifting Big 10 odds, today they are third in line at +800, behind Wisco and Nebraska. And when books re-released lines for future games on Monday, Michigan, which had been an underdog in almost every Big 10 game available, is now the favorite in almost all those games.
[ed: specifics after the jump. Thanks for being terrible, Big Ten.]
Standings are here as usual. Read below for more analysis than you could possibly want. Skip to Ballot Analysis for a way to judge how your picks are doing.
Last week we listed 5 games to watch for Pick Six relevance. Four of those games had a pretty significant impacts on the standings. LSU clobbered West Virginia knocking WFnVU almost out of the poll and overwhelmingly claiming first place for themselves. Clemson essentially switched places in the poll with Florida State after a huge beatdown and is now the highest ranked team that was unranked in preseason. Sorry Baylor, it was a good run but we all knew your time was limited. Oklahoma State leapfrogged Wisconsin and Stanford after beating Texas A&M who dropped 6 spots in the rankings. Finally, Arizona State crushed USC and reenters the poll. For the first week this year, the three most popular unranked teams are all ranked. In order of popularity Texas is #17, Michigan is #19 and Arizona State is #25.
Not much else happened this week. Just some minor reshuffling, so let’s move on with the show.
Out of Conference Recap
After one third of the season is over (that’s depressing to think about), most schools are done playing their non-conference games. This is a good opportunity to see how the teams performed.
NV means no votes received. For the first five groups Popularity gives the percentage of picks for that team. For the unranked teams the Popularity column gives the number of total votes since the percentages are so small. The unranked Change column assumes that all teams with no pre-season votes were tied for 49th.
In terms of overperforming teams, Florida had the most improvement of any ranked team. Clemson came out of nowhere the last two weeks going from unranked to 21st to 13th. Baylor and South Florida have been slowly climbing the polls ever since great performances in week 1. Unfortunately for the 21 people who picked them, they have pretty much reached the peak of their rankings. They will most likely start to slide back down in the polls in the next few weeks.
For underperforming teams, it is probably a tie between Florida State and Auburn for the worst season so far. FSU dropped from such a high spot but is still ranked, while Auburn is the only pre-season team to not be receiving any votes this week (thanks to the lone voter for Mississippi State and Missouri).
The current perfect ballot has 92 points with #1 LSU, #5 Oklahoma State, #7 Wisconsin, anybody, #12 Florida and #13 Clemson. Still no perfect ballot this week but BlueMars24 and Cottonpicker both picked Alabama, Stanford, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Florida and Clemson to earn 89 points this week. They jumped from 40th place last week all thanks to Clemson.
The unranked team usually makes or breaks a ballot. There were 25 people who picked Clemson (8th most popular pick) and 7 of those people are in the top 100 this week. So next year, spend 90% of your analysis on the unranked team. You’ll thank me later.
Now that Southern Cal is unranked, the two last place contestants have the worst possible ballot earning only 26 points. 17 of those points come from Oregon, they also get 6 points for TCU and 3 points for Florida State.
Weekly Brian Watch
West Virginia getting destroyed hurt Brian’s ballot this week (along with a lot of people). He is now tied with 21 people for 123rd place with 74 points.
Judging your picks
A completely random ballot would be expected to earn 55 points. So if you have more than 55 points you can safely say that your picks are better than random. If you have fewer than 55 points, you should probably just throw darts at the wall next year.
The median (and mean) of the contest is 60 points. So if you have more than 60 points you are an above average MGoBlog user. Congratulations!
If you have less than 60 points, remember that this is the internet. So just tell everybody how awesome the rest of your life is. A few possible suggestions would be the attractiveness of your significant other (they’re a model, right?), how much money you made in Vegas (didn’t you correctly pick a 15-team parlay in the sportsbook?) or the size of your wine cellar (this is a Michigan blog for the wine and cheese crowd after all).
Games to Watch
As I type this South Florida is losing big to Pitt. Pitt won’t be ranked, but will USF be unranked come Sunday? That would be a big blow to the 13 people who have been riding the Bulls to a respectable ranking.
- #14 Texas A&M vs. #18 Arkansas
- #8 Nebraska vs. #7 Wisconsin
- #13 Clemson vs. #11 Virginia Tech
- #3 Alabama at #12 Florida
- Michigan State vs. Ohio State and Mississippi State at Georgia
Texas A&M and Arkansas are both coming off losses. The loser of this game might be knocked all the way out of the poll. Especially if the game isn’t close.
Assuming Nebraska-Wisconsin is a good game, the loser probably won’t be affected too much. They’ll drop down to around 13-16 in the polls. It’s still pretty important since so many people picked both of those teams.
I won’t deny that I have no idea who is in which division of the ACC but Virginia Tech and Clemson look like the best conventional teams in the conference. Georgia Tech just rushed circles around the athletes at UNC so it might be a 3-team race over in basketball-land.
If Florida can stay within 3 touchdowns of Alabama they will still be ranked on Sunday but an upset would send shockwaves through the football landscape as well as the Pick Six standings.
There are two games pairing up unranked members of the infamous Group D. Michigan State and Ohio State are both near the top (the very top in MSU’s case) of the “also receiving votes” category. The winner will probably be ranked next week if they look very strong, or if one low-ranked team loses. The other group D matchup comes from the SEC where Mississippi State is playing Georgia. While neither team has a shot of being ranked next week, the loser probably has no hope of being ranked again this season.
It is quite a surprise we are all here. After the performance of the offense and defense at various times against the Fighting EMUs I expected the worst heading into a game with a talented San Diego State. SDSU’s mascot is the Aztecs. These violent lots of people from history were neighbors to the Mayan civilization. Being so close to 2012, I began thinking Saturday against the Aztecs was a bad omen. If we played like we did versus the Fighting EMUs against this bunch, at the very least there would be a sacrifice of one of our former Aztec coaches.
HOKE also gave fuel to SDSU’s fire because of the way he left. He sent them a text, put on his Sony Walkman and looped the Proclaimers’ smash hit, “I would walk 500 miles.” It left a sour taste in the mouths of many Aztecs and they were ready to stuff MANBAWW FOOTBAWW down HOKE’s throat. But it turned out that HOKE went from being an Aztec to being a Tlaxcalan with the help of his coordinators Cortez and Pedro de Alvarado in the conquering of SDSU.
I wanted to attend this game but the realities of reality would not allow for it. If I were to descend into Ann Arbor for any game at any time, I would not return. I would end up waking on a park bench to a police officer with a cattle prod. Out of respect to my job that pays, I stayed home and watched it on the tele. My roommates thought it would be an excellent day to drop cleaning day at the exact time as the Michigan game. I reminded them that nothing takes precedence over my 3-3 ½ hours of joy I get out of a whole week by shot putting the vacuum cleaner onto Farmington Road. The point was made and the game began.
Pre-Rage Pic of Roomy and Vacuum Cleaner: I think it is a Dyson:
I could not fathom the start that I witnessed. Michigan jumped out to a 14-0 nothing lead quicker than Gorgeous Borges fixes his hair in the morning. The way this game was going, I could enjoy a wonderful trip from my trusty suitcase and enjoy the colors on the screen hoping that a double rainbow appears at midfield. Lou Holthsss would appear and Mike Martin would eat him like a bowl of Luck Charms. Luckily I didn’t take my doctor’s approved amount of blotter or else I would I would be writing from a room full of rubber pads and foam razor blades. The momentum ceased immediately after the numbers 14 dotted the scoreboard.
The defense fought SDSU into a stalemate for most of the game forcing three turnovers. This started prompting the question on many minds if these turnovers were made out of skill or luck. It seems that this year the defense has as many turnovers as Bret Bielema has steaks in his jock strap. All the guessing and analyzing can be done by the professional stat guys in our MGoBlog community, but the fact is that no one really knows. We all know the defense is at least one shade better than the defense last year and that might mean you can pin the answer on that, but Michigan has also being playing with fire the whole year so far with all but one team in the field position battle. EMU and SDSU entered Michigan territory many times luckily coming away with very little. It was like the man and his wife who hung around grizzlies for an extended time period. It seemed fun, dangerous, and amazing that a grizzly didn’t swipe a piece of their fuckin taint and guzzle it down with a side of salmon eggs and fresh spring water until they became the main course one evening as we received a bone chilling feeling listening to their blood curdling screams until their larynx became dessert. Not a scene I want repeating in my head ever again. Michigan’s defense is paying the same game, but with pre-pubescent black bears for opponents save maybe Notre Lame. Eventually we might get a big ole bear swat that deflates our jubilation at the current moment. Maybe not. Maybe Mattison has installed true grit into his players and the bending is all part of the plan as long as he blitzes like bipolar hell banshees until the opponents QB shits the bed like Lindley did this past Saturday. We won’t know until further into the season as we test ourselves against a larger talent pool.
John Wayne Mattison's True Grit Secret Blitz Play:
Offense? Well we have Denard Robinson who sprinkles diamonds on his food because even his shit sparkles. That is unless he passes. Denard sparked the Wolverine offense with his legs once again and helped the team to a 28-7 victory with another 200 yard rushing game. There is no doubt that he is a special human and we all feel like associate doctors watch him surgically disembowel opponents from stadium seating with RAWK theme music. There is one brighter spot that has emerged from an offense that only possessed a Denard Maglite last year that was beaten and thrown around as if sociopathic 6th graders got a hold of a kitten. Vincent Smith is the epitome of a true Wolverine this year. The man who is often confused for a TLC little person show character that runs like a bull moose and fights like a wiry wolverine. This is hopefully a viable option the whole year. There was no other option than Denard last year, and our opponents knew that. He was ran into the ground last year carrying the offense on his shoulders, a tough task to do with a donkey kicking Lewan that sends Chinese Buffets scrambling to lock their doors when he walks down the street. Again, time will tell if Smith will continue to be an option down the road and if Denard’s passing game make’s Dick Cheney’s heart beat more than our opponents. (Dick, I still want fuchsia colored boa back if you are reading this. Until then, I refuse to be bunk mates again if there is another intercontinental emergency or bad Michigan season.)
Never before seen Vincent Smith recruiting video:
With that said we face another opponent that should seriously consider heading up a powerful community college league for a farm program of the USFL. The LOLophers looked like a competitor in their game against USC and then fell apart quickly afterwards. It is bad when your program reminisces about the glory days of Glen Mason. I predict a big win with big Denard numbers again. I will sleep well, but anxiously for the season ahead. I can take care of the anxiety with whisky, codeine, and some glue, but I cannot fix the wrinkles Gorgeous Borges and John Wayne Mattison face ahead. Let the B1G season begin by playing some whack-a-Lolopher and gaining some momentum for the same beginning with a different ending.
P.S. For a sure winning bet on a big game this weekend in Madison, place your bets on the team in red and white.
In 2005, the top prospect for the OHL draft was Logan Couture. Considered a holy lock to go first overall, he decided to try his talents at the junior B level instead of AAA where at least 95% of players get drafted from. There are others who make this choice, and it is usually an awful, awful choice....unless you're as good as Couture. I wanted to see how he was doing so I went to see a playoff game he was playing in. The arena was swarming with OHL scouts. This seemed odd to me. This guy was a lock to go first overall (although he didn't because of JT). At most, only teams with a top 5 pick should have been there in case he happened to slip. I struck up a conversation with the head scout from the Owen Sound Attack.
Since there were no other draft eligible players worth watching in the game, I asked him why one of the top teams in the OHL (at the time) would be scouting a player they had absolutely no shot at getting. His answer?
"I'm not here to scout him, I'm here to enjoy watching him play. This kid will be a first round pick in the NHL."
You're probably telling yourself, "Lahey, not only do you consistently get drunk and piss yourself, but all of your stories lack a point!!"
Touché, but this time I have a point. My point is, sometimes a player is so good that you just want to watch him play hockey, even if you don't have a horse in the race. Jacob Trouba is that good.
Team: Detroit Compuware/USNTDP
Level Of Competition: USHL/US U-18 (A+)
Claimed Size: 6'1, 172lbs
NHL Draft: 2012
OHL Draft: Kitchener
Eyeball Test (is he actually the claimed size?): Trouba is all of 6'1, 172lbs. Very solid frame to put on more weight. Thick neck.
Scouting Report: There is no shortage of scouting reports on him, so I'm going to give my own personal opinion here just so you guys get something different.
Trouba is a total package defenceman with elite ability. Looked like a man among boys in AAA, and that pretty much continues in the USHL. Has excellent size, will probably grow an inch or so and end up somewhere in the range of 6'2 215lbs as a pro.
Trouba makes a clean, smart first pass out of his zone and plays with perfect position on breakouts. Stays calm, never panics, and consistently loses the forechecker completely behind the net to create odd man rushes. This won't happen at the next level as often, but he shows the poise needed to create good breakouts at the next level.
Takes care of his own end, does not allow himself to get pushed around in front of or behind the net. Superb zone awareness.
Great skater, very smooth, very adequate top-end speed. Changes direction nicely. Good puckhandling skills. Shot from the point is decent, not exactly Ryan Ellis but it will get stronger.
Likes to get involved in the offensive plays. Makes nice, controlled rushes but knows when to bail on a rush when he doesn't see what he wants. Rarely gets caught up ice because of his excellent decision making. Smart on pinches. The only time I saw him get caught on a pinch he absolutely destroyed the player who beat him to the puck.
His best attributes are his physicality and his stick skills. This guy loves contact. He plays the game very well, but he is always waiting in the weeds for his chance to make the crowd go OHHHHHH. He hits often, but always has one or two massive open ice hits a game. When he connects, he puts his shoulder right between the nipples for perfectly clean hits. His stick skills are unbelievable. One of the hardest skills for a d-man to learn is stick patience. He is extremely patient and strikes very quickly and with pristine timing when he goes for the poke-check. This makes him nearly impossible to beat 1 on 1. He will need to get used to significantly better stick handlers in the OHL or NCAA but he'll adapt.
All indications are that he is a quality kid with excellent leadership skills and a solid work ethic.
Everyone and their dog keeps making the comparison to Cam Fowler, the Windsor Spitfires d-man who had an excellent rookie season with the Ducks. I don't really see it, to be honest.
Trouba is definitely smooth like Fowler is, but not quite as smooth. He also likes the jump in the play like Fowler does, but he isn't quite the offensive player that Fowler is. Having said that, Fowler always got knocked for not being physical enough, especially behind and in front of the net. You will never, ever have that issue with Trouba. Trouba eats forechecking forwards for breakfast.
I have two comparisons of my own. The first is Drew Doughty. Now before you go crazy with excitement, I will say that Trouba is not as good as Doughty was at the same age, nor does he possess his insane offensive ability. But what makes Doughy so good is his play in the defensive end, especially when breaking out. Drew has this ridiculous talent that allows him to manipulate forwards into giving him space. He has a magical ability to wait until the very last second before he releases a pass, leaving the opposing player chasing him totally out of the play.
Trouba has a little bit of that in him. He is always making the opposing forwards react to him, not the other way around. He does a great job of releasing the puck at the last moment, giving his team a lot of odd man rushes.
The second comparison is Dion Phaneuf. Once again, Trouba is probably a bit below what Phaneuf was at this point, but his physical style is very similar. Like Phaneuf, opposing players fear his wrath all over the ice. In junior, players didn't try things on Phaneuf they would try on other guys because he would put your face through the Little Caesar's advertisement. Trouba has that same type of game. He doesn't run around like a goon looking for blood, but the big hit is always in the back of his mind. He's just waiting for you to make a mistake so he can make you pay.
Don't get discouraged because I am saying he isn't as good as those guys, the fact that I'm using their names for comparison tells you everything you need to know.
Will he Stick With Michigan?
The hockey community really isn't very big. People talk and everyone who is anyone knows each other. I remember when there was a thread about Max Domi getting drafted by the Frontenacs and the board freaked out about him leaving. I posted that I had already heard that he was OHL-bound. That was no secret, most people already knew. That is because information travels fast in hockey circles.
Jacob Trouba will stay. Neg me to hell if I'm wrong, but I won't be. I am of little importance in the hockey world, but I work for people who are kind of a big deal, and I know a lot of people. If there was even a 10% shot of him bolting to the OHL, I would have heard something about it. But I haven't. He will be a Wolverine.
Brian alluded to the fact that Kitchener is one of those teams that tends to snatch college-bound players. I think that is a bit overblown. Kitchener has a decent franchise, but there are only two teams you really have to worry about: the Windsor Spitfires and the London Knights. These teams have put countless players in the show, and are always good. They both have state of the art hockey arenas in hockey-insane cities with very dedicated fan-bases. They have coaches who are former players, very rich (and like to show it), very charismatic, and very connected.
If some little trade shows up on the ticker where either Windsor or London have acquired the rights to Trouba in some obselete deal, it is time to start worrying. But Trouba is already old enough where I don't think that is going to happen.
Do you have anything else for us to be paranoid about?
Why yes, I do. Trouba is such a good prospect that there is very little chance he stays until his senior year. By very little, I mean none. Trouba is going to make a very good living playing hockey, his career path is set. Chances are that Michigan gets him for two years and then he signs his NHL contract upon which he either plays in the show full time or splits time between the AHL and NHL. He is just too good to stay in the NCAA, it would actually hurt his development.
This is not a bad thing, Trouba will step onto the Michigan team and immediately be one of the best players. By his sophomore year, he will be on of the top players in the NCAA. Not only will this help on the ice, but it is always great to get a top prospect, it makes other top prospects want to come as well.
I often see posts on the board about players who play in the AHL like it is some sort of bad thing. The AHL is a top league with top players. The money is good, so it isn't a stupid decision when someone leaves the NCAA to play in the AHL before they start their NHL career. I'll give you a break down of what Trouba's contract will be when he signs it.
Trouba wil be a top 15 pick in the NHL. That means his contract will be the maximum allowable for an entry level deal. Standard entry level deals are 3 years. His AHL salary would be approximately $68,000 per season. Not bad, right? Yes, except that it doesn't even include his NHL signing bonus which would be about $285,000. The signing bonus gets chopped up into 6 payments twice a year over three years.
That means that a player who signs a max deal will still be making a crapload of money, even if they don't make the NHL in their first three years.
$68,000 + $95,000 = $163,000US per season while in the AHL.
He would get paid NHL money for every game he was up with the big club. If he stays the whole season, although the rookie salary cap states that his actual salary will be $900,000, top draft picks have contracts which are stuffed with the easiest incentives you have ever seen. If he just shows up to play, he will stand to make just under $2,000,000 a season in his entry level contract, more if he plays well.
Be very, very happy about this. Not only will Trouba come to Michigan and make them a better hockey team, but he is going to be one of those NHL alums that causes future prospects to pick Michigan because they saw him do it and want to be like him. It will be like high school offensive tackles picking Michigan because they want to go 1st overall like Jake Long, or hopefully in the future, abuse donkeys like Taylor Lewan.
Thanks for reading, folks!