These recaps keep coming out later and later. Pretty soon they’ll be published after the games to watch have already been watched. Standings are where they always are.
It felt like half of the AP Top 25 lost last week. After counting, it turns out it was only 7 teams but they were all quite humiliating losses. Last week I said that South Florida and Baylor had reached the peak of their rankings and would slide back down the rankings over the next few weeks. Well, I was half right. USF and Baylor did reach the peak of their rankings but it was more of a crash and burn than a slow slide. USF (and TCU) dropped out of the rankings, while Baylor dropped from 15th to 25th.
Even with all this chaos, Michigan State still didn’t climb back into the polls. For the second straight week they are the highest “others receiving votes” team. Auburn and Kansas State leapfrogged MSU (and many others) into the 15th and 20th place of the poll.
In the other Group D matchup Georgia convincingly beat Mississippi State to effectively end the southern MSU’s hopes of being ranked this season. Georgia only picked up 3 votes (8 last week to 11 this week) but if they win at Tennessee and at Vanderbilt they might be right near the top of the unranked teams in time for the World’s Largest Outdoor Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Party (WLONACP). Florida is playing at Auburn and at LSU before the WLONACP which will certainly give them another loss and more than likely two more. So this year’s WLONACP will probably be a season-saving win for one of the teams and a season-crusher for the other. Hopefully you didn’t pick both Georgia and Florida in your ballot.
The preseason-unranked teams are making a strong showing this week. A season high eight teams are ranked even though we lost USF.
Individual Ballot Analysis
For the first time this year the leaders have kept their place on top. I can’t say that the leaderboard stays the same because BlueMars24 and Cottonpicker are joined by Willhouse in first place with a ballot score of 92 points. Willhouse gives up a point by picking Oklahoma instead of Alabama but gains that point back since West Virginia is one spot above Florida in Group E. They’re all 4 points behind the perfect ballot of LSU, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, anybody, Auburn and Clemson which is worth 96 points.
The doldrums of the contest gains a third contestant whose fate fell in the running of the Skip Holtz Bulls. All three people have 20 points earned by Oregon (17 pts) and Florida State (3 pts). Four out of their six picks are all unranked. If it is any consolation to them they could have done worse if they picked Texas A&M instead of Florida State. This week’s worst possible score is a mere 19 points.
Weekly Brian Watch
Right now Brian is rising and falling with the fortunes of West Virginia. The Mountaineers made a big leap into 16th place and Brian makes a big leap back up to 52nd place.
Judging Your Picks
After this week’s chaos a completely random ballot has dropped down to an expected value of 51 points. The MGoBlog median and mean is still 60 points. So if you’re above one of those scores you have at least some shred of dignity.
For those of you below 51 points here is a picture of some of the kittens a stray cat gave birth to on my porch.
Being in the bottom half isn’t so bad big guy. I literally live in a box.
Games to Watch
Oregon is currently wiping the floor (field?) with Cal in a game that is symbolic of the majority of games this week. Most of the ranked teams are playing a conference game against a not very good opponent. There are a few good matchups though
- Red River Shootout: #3 Oklahoma vs #11 Texas
- #17 Florida at #1 LSU
- #15 Auburn at #10 Arkansas
While not elite games, there are also a few low ranked teams that have a decent chance of getting upset by an unranked team.
- Missouri at #20 Kansas State
- #22 Arizona State at Utah
- #24 Texas A&M at Texas Tech
- Iowa State at #25 Baylor
So, I picked up an advance copy of "Three and Out' right after work today in Chicago. I actually left the event before getting it signed, as it was burning my hands, I wanted to read it so bad. In the past few hours, I've read about 100 pages. First off, let me say this:
Oh. My. God. This book is fascinating. It is also informative, interesting, upsetting, and almost Shakespearean at times. It tells the tale (so far) of a deeply, deeply fractured inner circle of Michigan people- former athletes, administrators in the AD, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rod, Bill Martin, Mary Sue Coleman, many former players, close advisors of Rich Rod, U of M faculty, etc. It's amazing in that regard, just the soap opera aspect of it.
Not covered in glory: the Governor of West Virginia, the President of WVU, the AD of WVU. They come across as just...stupid, egotistical, and short-sighted and petty.
Not covered in glory, part ii: Lloyd Carr, unfortunately. After RR was announced as the new coach, and before RR had ever met with the players, Carr held a meeting- five different players told Bacon about it- wherein he stated that he, as acting coach, would sign anyone's release that day that wanted to transfer. RR caught wind of this and told the AD that he was fine with it, but only if he could speak to the players who wanted to transfer first. The AD actually called the Big Ten office to figure out the rules regarding all of this.
Also, Carr allegedly told Boren he should transfer, and said the same to Mallett. The way the book portrays it, these were not conversations in the "Michigan doesn't want you" vein, but more in the "yeah, you probably want to transfer rather than play for this guy" vein.
This is all very difficult to square with another fact: It was Lloyd who pushed for the RR hire. Lloyd made the first call to RR, unbeknownst to Mary Sue Coleman and Bill Martin, and Lloyd promoted his candicacy.
Since Lloyd wouldn't talk to Bacon for the book, it's hard to know what's true. Bacon admits this. He also says that, of the 20+ people he spoke with who worked with both LC and RR, "nearly all of them uttered some derivation of the phrase 'Lloyd never liked Rich.'" Perhaps that feeling came about once RR got to town, but it likely came about quickly.
Rosenberg: Said, and I quote, to Jim Brandstatter, who goes on record, following RR's first press conferece, that he "hates Bill Martin because [Martin] lied to him," and that he "wanted to run Martin out of here." Rosenberg also said, quote, "that guy doesn't belong here," about RR within a month after the hiring. Bacon seems to think that Rosenberg hated Martin the most (doesn't say why) and went after Rodriguez to hurt Martin and run him out.
Also: Martin bungled the coaching search so poorly that Coleman took it over, Martin lost the respect of his people in the AD, and he was completely unprepared about the entire thing. The sailboat Bill story is true. He got a new cell phone, didn't know how to use it, AND went on the sailing trip the weekend of the Miles fiasco. He was unreachable.
Coleman called him to the carpet and castigated him multiple times and essentially neutered his authority w/r/t the coaching search. Also: Lloyd does not like Miles, said they shouldn't hire Miles, and Coleman agreed. However, once Schiano turned us down, Coleman took over the search (sidenote: Martin never told the "committee" he was going to talk to Schiano, which pissed everyone off) and essentially decided that Miles was probably going to be the guy. Others floated Ferentz; she shot it down out-of-hand, having known him from Iowa. Brian Kelly was shot down out-of-hand as well, for generally being an ass, apparently.
So back to Miles. Intermediaries reached out to him again. But this was also around the time LC reached out to RR. Miles said, point-blank, he wouldn't talk to Martin; he wanted to talk directly with MSC, as he knew she was running the show. They spoke for 90 minutes. The leak/pr issues were paramount; Miles said he simply couldn't make the decision until after the bowl game, but he said "if you ask, I won't say no," and that he'd "never say no to Michigan." Only three people knew about that phone call, yet within hours, it was leaked to blogs. Those people were Les, MSC, and Bill Martin. From there, Miles was boxed in, and said, essentially, that he couldnt' talk anymore until after the NC game. But the impression I get is that if we ever formally offered, after the bowl game, he would have accepted.
In the meantime, RR was offered the job at the Toledo meeting. Bill Martin said that RR should keep LC's assistants to appease LC and the old guard; MSC cut him off and said "No, Bill, you can't ask him to do that." RR said he had to go back to WVU and talk to the people there. WHen he did, he reiterated that he wanted raises for his assistants. The WVU president told him "no. Take this or leave it, as it is." He left.
Also: a big revelation is that MSC and BM promised to pay $2.5m of RR's buyout when they negotiated the deal with him, but they asked him to keep it secret, because they didn't have approval from the Regents to do this. This was one of the reasons that they forced the settlement when their depositions were about to proceed; if that came out, MSC said "Bill and I are toast." Well, it's out now. So RR stayed quiet, and took the shots. He also was upset because he wanted to respond to all the WVU allegations, and thought he'd have his chance in court and/or in deposition, so that opportunity was taken from him.
One more thing re: buyout- many times, RR says that the President of WVU promised him the $4m number was just for appearances, and that if RR decided to leave, they'd sit down with lawyers and work out a settlement at half the amount.
There's a lot of other interesting stuff in here, and this isn't meant to be anything more than me posting the "highlights" of the first 100 pages or so. But my god, this book is incredible. You must buy it. All of you.
Pickerington (OH) North junior DE Jake Butt is a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List and has already earned a four-star rating from 247Sports. Though he grew up in Ohio State country and is a Buckeye fan, he's open to Michigan ($, info in header) and made it to campus for the Notre Dame game, which (as you'll read) made quite the impression.
Butt currently holds offers from Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Northwestern, Syracuse, Toledo, and UCLA, and has interest from Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Indiana, among others. I caught up with Jake last night to discuss the early stages of his recruitment:
ACE: I know you got a couple offers in recently. How is your recruitment going right now, and which schools are showing the most interest in you?
JAKE: I just got offered by Northwestern and Syracuse. I've been getting a lot of letters from a bunch of different schools, all the way from USC and Oregon, up north to Syracuse, all the down to Miami, I've been getting letters all over the place. It's going pretty good right now, but I know I've got to work hard and try to get some more offers.
ACE: Of the teams that have been contacting you so far, do you have some early favorites, or is it too soon to say right now?
JAKE: It's too soon. I haven't got a chance to go check some of the campuses, go to a game, or go to a junior day or something—I'll go to a lot of those this year, and I'll probably be able to narrow it down based on the campuses and atmosphere.
ACE: I know you were up at Michigan for the Notre Dame game. What was that experience like for you, and what did you take away from that visit about Michigan?
JAKE: Going up there was just amazing. The game spoke for itself. We were part of a record attendance, 114,804 people, just a crazy atmosphere and the game comes down to the last play. It was just unbelievable being there. Michigan's campus is beautiful. We went with my dad and one of my friends, and he loves Michigan, so it was cool to take him up there too.
ACE: Have you been in contact with any of the coaches from Michigan specifically, and have they said what specific position they're looking at you for?
JAKE: I haven't been in contact—I'm hoping to get friend requests on Facebook or our team game tape site, hudl.com, so I'm hoping to get a friend request from Michigan. It's going pretty good, I'm just hoping to get that.
ACE: What are you looking for in a prospective school?
JAKE: Definitely a good football program with good tradition. Academics, of course, and then location—once I go up there to see what the different college are like I'll be able to narrow it down.
ACE: So would you say distance is a factor in your recruitment? Would you rather stay closer to home?
JAKE: That would be maybe the tie-breaking decision. If I get a good opportunity academic-wise and football-wise, I'll go there no matter how far it is. If it has to come down to it, it'll most likely be location.
ACE: For people that are unfamiliar with your game, how would you describe your strengths and weaknesses on the football field?
JAKE: I'm 6'6", 225 and I'm pretty athletic for my size, so I use my speed coming off the edge to get the quarterback and make plays for my team. Then on offense, my strength is probably my hands. I'm a big kid, and it helps that I have good hands. I go down the field, the quarterback throws me the ball, and as long as I can get my hands on it I've got a catch for him.
For my team, each week I find something that I did wrong in the previous game on film and I go work on that all week long. It just depends on the game, what I'm doing well and what I'm doing wrong at the time. I just talk to my coaches and work on it in practice.
ACE: I know your team got off to a strong start this season. How has the year gone for the team and for you personally?
JAKE: We're 5-1, and we were the first ever North team to start off 4-0, and almost pulled it off against Central, the closest we've been since our playoff run two years ago, so there's a lot of good going on with our team right now but we've got to work because we've got tough games the rest of the season if we're trying to finish off 9-1. Individually, I think I'm leading the team in touchdowns, receptions, and reception yards and I'm leading the team in sacks.
ACE: It seems like most schools are recruiting you as a defensive end. Is that where you think you project best at the next level?
JAKE: I really don't care what I play. I just love the sport of football. I play both sides of the ball, so wherever the school wants me, wherever they need me, I'll play anywhere.
ACE: Do you have any visits set up for the rest of the season?
JAKE: Yeah, I'm going to probably get up to the Northwestern-Penn State game and the Michigan State-Michigan game, maybe go to one other Penn State game or another Ohio State game.
The defenses are yelling spoon!
And the offenses are the little guy pleading "Not in the face! Not in the face!"
This was a fun game to watch if you don't like either of the teams. Both teams have pretty good defenses and horrible, horrible offenses. MSU's only threat is B.J. Cunningham and OSU's passing offense is reminiscent of 2008 Michigan (The wonderful Threet/Sheridan days). Both teams have major issues with their offensive lines. MSU's problems can be explained by a lack of experienced personnel, but this is a little surprising for OSU.
Luke Fickell will not be the head coach of OSU next year. The only question is whether or not his replacement gets hired before the end of the season.
Balls were slippery...
But before we get too giddy here, it should be noted that there was a misty rain and the ball was wet, so that accounts for a tiny bit of the Herpy-derpy-ness. Like this:
The punter actually recovered the ball and got off one of his ugly-ass rugby kicks.
Stanton Nichols Cousins doing his best Tommy Rees impression.
MSU on D:
When you don't respect the other team's passing, you can walk up your safeties and do a lot of run blitzing.
On this play, the short side safety walks up before the snap even though 2nd and 9 is often a passing down.
The flanker comes in motion which makes the other safety tip off that he's in cover 1. The CB is playing run support all the way. The safety is blitzing the C gap.
The OSU TE is oblivious to the blitz and 76 (the RT) is doubling down the DT for some reason. Notice how the MSU MLB is completely free to clean up the place. OSU's O-line had trouble getting to the LBs all day long. I don't know if they've had a major philosophy change, but it looks like their linemen are not getting the right assignments on the zone blocking scheme.
In Part I (MPP: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/moving-picture-pages-two-way-hopkins-i, PP:http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-two-way-hopkins-i ), Stephen Hopkins shows his value as a blocker. Here, he builds on the 35-yard Toussaint run that was enabled in large part by his two-for-one block. The BTN announcers referred to this as a 'pop pass,' but I think 'Iso Oh Noes' has a much better ring to it.
Setup: Michigan has the ball back quickly after the previous drive (which contained the Toussaint long run). They line up in the same formation as that play, and Minnesota counters with their same formation, with two safeties up and the corners waaaay off.
Wha'hoppon: The play starts out looking like the Toussaint run. Most likely with their ears still burning from the chewing-out they got after that, one LB and one S fail to notice that Michigan's line is pass blocking rather than run blocking, and both move to fill the hole that Hopkins is heading into. Much to their chagrin, Hopkins heads straight out of the hole and has two steps on them before they can change direction. Denard's pass is on target, and the result is a 28-yard gain.
Full YouTube page is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw05WqUONNk
Above: Camp highlights from Michigan, courtesy of Allen Trieu. His defensive highlight reel, which inexplicably cannot be embedded, is available here.
One of the fastest-rising prospects in the state of Ohio is 2013 Cleveland Shaker Heights athlete De'Niro Laster. Despite being a part-time JV player as a sophomore, he recorded 65 tackles and six sacks at linebacker and tallied over 600 yards and six touchdowns as a receiver in 2010, according to Scout, and he's off to a strong start to his junior season. At around 6'3", 215 pounds and still growing, I think Laster projects as either a linebacker or tight end at the next level, although all four recruiting services currently list him as a wide receiver.
De'Niro currently holds offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Duke, and Temple, and already has interest from schools such as Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, Pitt, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and, of course, Michigan. I caught up with the rising junior last night for an interview, and he showed a lot of interest in the Wolverines:
ACE: How's your recruitment going so far? What teams have shown the most interest in you?
DE'NIRO: Everything is going really good. I've been getting a lot of interest from almost every school in the nation, and for different positions. I've been talking to a lot of coaches, a lot of coaches like me at linebacker now, outside linebacker, which I thought I could play at the next level. A lot of coaches still like me at receiver, but I play [well] at both, so I don't mind playing anywhere.
Some top programs that have been showing interest are Ohio State, Michigan is starting to show more interest, and I really like them, West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, USC, Michigan State, it's really a lot. Notre Dame…
ACE: Do you have any early favorites out of that group?
DE'NIRO: I don't have a top [list], not in order. I like Michigan a lot. I've been trying to get in contact with them, but I know they're busy. The week of the Notre Dame game I talked to somebody and I was supposed to go up there for a game, and they wanted me to bring some film too from this year, but I wasn't able to make it. But I like Michigan, I like Ohio State, Indiana, West Virginia, [and] Tennessee, right now.
ACE: You mentioned trying to come and visit. Do you have any plans for visits this season, or are you just focusing on your season right now?
DE'NIRO: Our team isn't doing so well, so I'm just trying to finish up the season, but I do plan on making it up to the Ohio State-Michigan game. We play a lot on Saturday, so I haven't made it to any college games this year yet.
ACE: Which specific Michigan coaches have been in contact with you, and what position are the Wolverines recruiting you for?
DE'NIRO: I think [my Michigan recruitment] got started because I went to a camp, it was a Michigan camp, with Raw Talent, the people I work out with. I did really good, I shined there, I showed my talents up there. Coach Jeff [Hecklinski], he's the receivers coach, I talked to him once and I've been trying to contact him some more but he's been very busy. I don't know [regarding position]. They just want me to bring film up so they can decide. A lot of teams, they're recruiting me for different positions.
ACE: You've mentioned playing wide receiver and linebacker. Where do you think you'd fit best at the next level?
DE'NIRO: To be honest, at the next level, I think linebacker, just because I think I have a lot more to go. I'm 6'3", 215 right now, and I've been gaining 20 pounds every offseason, so I just think linebacker would be the best fit. I'm having a real good season at linebacker.
ACE: I know your team hasn't been doing too well, but how have you been doing personally this year?
DE'NIRO: On defense, I have 77 tackles so far and six sacks, and we've got four more games to play, so I've been doing real good as far as on defense. On offense, I'm versatile, I play anywhere my coaches want me to. They've moved me to receiver, then they moved me to tight end, run me some routes at tight end, so that's going good too. But our team hasn't been doing what we're capable of doing, so I haven't been able to really excel like I want to on the offensive side. I have three touchdowns, and somewhere around 25 to 30 catches, but I'm not sure exactly.
ACE: In terms of your game, what do you think are your biggest strengths, and what are you trying to work on before you get to the college level?
DE'NIRO: My biggest strengths, I know a lot about football, I think I have a high football IQ. I take pride in the game. I go study film by myself all the time, and I think that's been really helping me out a lot this season. As far as physically, I'm a lot stronger than a lot of people, so that makes a lot of stuff easier. During the offseason, I always work on speed and quickness, and I will always want to increase that some more. You can never not want to increase that.
ACE: Any idea when you'd want to start wrapping up your recruitment? Do you have a timeline in mind, or are things pretty open?
DE'NIRO: Things are pretty open. I wanted to, maybe if everything is going well, try to get it done before my senior year, but for right now everything is pretty much open.
Thanks to De'Niro for taking the time for the interview. One thing to keep an eye on in his recruitment is that he's teammates with highly-touted 2013 defensive tackle Donovan Munger, another recruit on Michigan's radar. There's been some talk the two could be a package deal, but it's very early on in the process and those things have a way of falling through pretty often. Ohio State is also going after Munger, so this could once again become a battle between the two fierce rivals, possibly for both Shaker Heights prospects.