Pickerington (OH) Central DE Vidauntae "Taco" Charlton is a member of both the ESPNU 150 Watch List and the Early Top 247 for the class of 2013. The 6'6", 240-pound junior tallied over 40 tackles with 7 tackles for loss, 7 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles as a sophomore last year in just his second season playing defensive end. On top of early offers from Cincinnati, Purdue, Syracuse, and UCLA, Charlton has drawn interest from Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, and several other schools as his recruitment gains some serious steam.
Taco will be one of several recruits at the Notre Dame game this weekend for an unofficial visit, and he took the time to answer a few questions about his recruitment, Michigan, and, yes, his name.
ACE: I know it's early on in the process, but which schools have been in contact with you so far? Do you have an early list of favorites?
TACO: Well I have offers from Cincinnati, UCLA, Purdue, and Syracuse. I've talked to all the Big Ten schools, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Virginia, N.C. State, and more. [My] early favorites would be the teams that offered me already because they showed me a lot of love.
ACE: What's your interest level in Michigan, and who from the coaching staff has been in contact with you? What will you be looking for when you visit this weekend?
TACO: I like Michigan a lot, it's somewhere close to home and the people there love their football and that is one thing that attracts me. The coach I've talked to is Coach Singletary. This weekend I'm just looking forward to enjoying the good game, seeing how crazy the crowd is, and geting to meet some of the coaches.
ACE: Have you been in contact with other recruits who will be at the Notre Dame game? If so, who?
TACO: Nope, I haven't really talked to anyone that I know that will be at the game recruit-wise but I'll probably meet some of them while I'm there.
ACE: For people who are unfamiliar with you, describe your game. What position do you think you'd fit at best in college, and what are you working on to improve as your recruitment picks up?
TACO: Well to round it up I'm a real big guy that's athletic and can move. I am still learning the position, I've only played it for two years. Most people say I am a great pass rusher but I believe I can stop the run also. In college I will most likely be a DE and I am just working on just dominating and taking over a game with my play.
ACE: I apologize in advance for asking the question that I'm sure you get from everyone, but I think the MGoBlog readers will revolt if I don't: How did you get the name Taco?
TACO: Yeah I get that a lot. It actually came from my grandma. My mom was having me real early so my grandma used to always send cards to the hospital [saying] don't let the baby come down south and sign it Taco. So once I was born my nickname became Taco and it stuck.
Thanks to Taco for taking the time to do this interview; he's definitely a player to keep an eye on for a potential offer, perhaps in the near future, as it looks like he'll be one of the top players in Ohio in the class of '13 -- Duane Long listed him as the #3 rising junior in the state back in April. He's looked at as a raw player (again, he's only played DE for two years) with a ton of athletic upside, he impressed over the summer at Ohio State's junior camp ($, info in header), and he should be a very hot commodity as the recruiting process wears on.
*edit: my embed-fu has failed, anyone know how to correctly embed youtube?
This week is going to be full of familiar faces. ND's two deep is overflowing with juniors and seniors, and I could probably just rehash last year's game wraps (ND vs us, ND vs MSU) and only have to change a few names. Well, let's do this:
ND on O
It's the passing spread. Look for lots of short routes, screens, crossing routes, and when they get you in man coverage, look out for the sideline fly or wheel route. If you play a soft zone, they'll leak out a late check down running back or tight end. They like to use their big tight end as a possession receiver, but he's got enough speed for skinny posts and such.
The running game is almost exclusively from one-back sets. If they need a lead blocker it'll be a TE, H-back, or pulling lineman. Most of the running plays are built into the the passing game, play action dives, shotgun mesh, draws, and the dreaded sprint draw. On obvious running downs, they tend to zone dive or counter. And there's the odd stretch play from the shotgun.
#11 Tommy Rees has been named the nominal starter, but between our blitzing and Brian Kelly's anger issues, I'd bet on seeing #10 Dayne Crist for at least a handful of series. Crist is the 5* golden boy and senior. But he's been plagued by injuries and only has about 10 starts to his name (and he sat behind Jimmah! Clausen for much of his career). Rees is the baby faced redshirt sophomore who led the team to a short winning streak last season.
Crist is a bit taller and heavier. But he's very athletic. Neither of them are very fiery, rah rah guys, but Rees is the cooler customer and if it were up to me, he'd be my starter and Crist would be a tight end that we could design a lot of trick plays around. Why? Just look into their eyes...
I used to think that Crist looked that way because of a series of concussions. But now I think it's like how your mom used to say, 'if you keep making that face, it'll stay that way.' Crist looks befuddled. He looks like he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders and he can't figure out what to do about it. Rees is calm and collected and gives the impression that he's focused on executing. Crist looks like he's focused on not screwing up.
Some people toughen up when you put them under pressure, some people crack. You want your QB to be more towards a wild stallion, a risk taking, confident gunslinger with the eyes of a tiger. As a coach, it's a better problem to have to keep reigning in the guy, than having to dig your spurs in deep to light a fire under his ass.
So which of these two looks like someone who can deal with what's coming for him, and which looks like a horse whose spirit has been broken?
And if you think I'm cherry picking, Crist stood in that pose nearly the whole time he was on the sideline (is there something wrong with his shoulder pads?), with no one really around him, and Rees looked like that on most snaps as he reads the defense.
If that furrowed brow looks familiar, you might be thinking of this guy:
#20. It's the Cierre Wood show for ND these days. Apparently Kelly likes to have one main workhorse. And sad to say, Wood is a more complete back than anyone we have. His pass blocking isn't all that great, you could probably bull rush him or jump over him if he goes low. But he's got everything else you want in a back. He's super fast, shifty, great vision, soft hands, and leg strength. You're not going to be pulling him down by tugging on his jersey.
He's not the biggest guy in the world, so ND will bring in #25 Jonas Gray for short yardage situations or as a battering ram to soften up the defense for a few plays. Folks around here will remember when Gray got passed over for Mike Cox (who has fallen off the face of the earth since the advent of Hoke). Gray has bulked up *cough*foundsteroids*cough*cough* since then, but he's still got great straight line speed, you know, when he's not being stood up and having the ball ripped from his hands for 99 yard fumble return touchdowns...
We're really going to have to focus on Wood, the front seven will have a huge task in following him around. Hopefully he'll get tired later in the game, stamina might be an issue for a guy who might still be getting acclimated to having full time starter duties. He didn't look winded last week, but there were all those weather delays... I'd have a guy tackle/hit him on every play just to try to wear him out, even if he doesn't have the ball. Make him block people. Big people, big angry people, big angry people who weigh more than him. And don't let him get into the endzone, because he's kind of a douche when he gets there.
This should be a penalty if he does it again.
#80 is the new starter, filling in for Rudolph. He's not as fast, but he's got very good hands and is a pass catching threat over the middle. He had one drop on a pass that was behind him, and a couple of passes were broken up by good coverage, but he's going to be a concern.
Here's Kelly showing him the finer points of catching a ball thrown to your back hip:
#83 is the other TE, who looks ok, if not spectacular.
Dear god, why is this guy still suiting up against us? #3 Michael Floyd should be off in the pro's or enjoying a redshirt year to think about the meaning of life and his DUI's. He's All-American material when he's not injured and will end up owning just about every meaningful receiving record in ND history. USF couldn't stop him, and they tried just about everything. They tried playing soft, so they threw him underneath stuff. They tried playing tight, so they threw him a sideline fade. They tried to beat him up with a LB and cover over the top with a safety, so he juked out the LB and ran a sharp slant.
The only thing that really stopped him, other than Crist's inaccuracy, was being bracketed by two DB's, but you just can't do that all they time or other people will start to kill you. The only bad thing I can say about his on the field behavior is that he's been known to take plays off in the past. If you can get into his head, and keep him frustrated, you might be able to limit his damage.
Mental problems are also rampant with the other WR's. #7 Jones was the guy that had the ball bounce off his helmet which almost caused Brian Kelly's head to explode
He's a little lanky with good speed and decent hands (when he's looking for the ball).
#6 Riddick is the slot receiver, converted rb, and his hands are not so good. He muffed two punts and had numerous drops. Both muffs were after he signaled for a fair catch but had a guy standing in front of him. I would be ordering our punters to practice high but short punts and figure the chances of getting a muff are worth 10 to 15 yards of punt distance, especially since we're no longer running the spread punt, and our gunners haven't been very good. With the ball in his hands, Riddick is a dangerous runner. So be wary of him on screens, and short routes.
Not much to say here. They're more on the large rather than nimble side of the spectrum. Good run blockers, decent pass blockers, but with Rees getting rid of the ball so quickly from the shotgun, they don't need to hold their blocks very long. Kelly still can't run his complete inside screen game with these guys, and didn't even call many (any?) during the USF game.
The right tackle #75 looks to be the most vulnerable. He doesn't have very good lateral movement. I suspect you could set him up for a few speed rushes. Otherwise, they're a pretty good veteran group. Boo.
ND on D
This will be one of the biggest and strongest D-lines we face all year. #9 is an especially large wide-body, he reminds me of Jerry Ball. They looked pretty tough in short yardage. This isn't the game where we should be grinding out 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Again, lots of upperclassmen on the two deep here. On the goal-line, the middle three will submarine allowing Teo and Co. to jump over the scrum.
What more can I say about #5 Teo? Get a body on him, and design your plays based on where he's gonna be. Don't let him use that killer speed. He will blow things up, although he did have a relatively quiet game against USF. Still had a bunch of tackles and a sack or two.
The OLB's are probably the weak link. They had trouble with contain, except for when the defensive play call sold out on the edges. ND likes to use the 4-3 and for early downs and even for shorter 3rd downs, so if we use many 3 WR sets, we'll likely see an OLB over one of our slot guys. We should take advantage of this.
These are the same guys that have failed to impress me for the last three years, and about the only thing that's changed is that they're a year older. They're pretty good in run support, the CB's are fairly athletic. But the safeties are very beatable with the talent we have at WR.
- They still run the spread punt formation, which I always think is ripe for a block. Send 3 men against the smallest upback and runover the punter. You might get a penalty once, but the odds of getting a block or even a TD might be worth it, depending on the situation.
- For a team that is full of upperclassmen, they looked really undisciplined. I wonder if Kelly's outbursts are falling on deaf prima donna ears. Turnovers, penalties, the whole team played tight. Sometimes it seems like they're so afraid of making mistakes, that they end up making a lot of mistakes.
- Crist played the first half, when it was dry, so you can't blame his problems on the rain. You might chalk it up to the heat, or first game jitters, but I tend to think he just doesn't have "it"
- By the same token, the field was pretty slippery in the second half when Floyd was doing most of his damage. So you might discount his production a tiny bit, if it weren't for the fact that we already knew he was a beast.
- 99 yards of ND's offense came on the final drive with less than 2 minutes when USF was playing pretty soft, already up by 10.
- Floyd didn't hustle on the final onsides kick. He had a chance to sacrifice his body and jump up for the ball, instead it was the USF guy flying through the air to end the game.
- I think Brian Kelly gets excited when he's angry.
[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.