"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
OK, bye-week boredom, coupled with the disintegration of my long-shot fantsay QB, Jay Cutler, have left me seeking more attention-consuming (and enjoyable) pursuits.
I decided to see what an All-Michigan team would look like in the fantasy world. After scouring for my skill position guys, I felt like I was neglecting too many solid defensive former Wolverines, since "UM Def/Sp Teams" is not a choice in the NFL. I decided to expand my fantasy team out to a full starting lineup. Here's my version (current players only):
Offense: We're rolling sans TE, partly b/c there isn't one currently playing - can you believe it? - and partly in honor us being a "spread team" now. We will go with an Ace package in the backfield, and 4 WR's (OK, OK, more of a passing spread).
Defense: We're running the 3-4. Also, we're going man in the secondary with 3 DB's and only one safety (Woodson doesn't need one over him).
DT Branch or Watson (my only toss-up)
DE Hall (James - only name I thought might not be remembered)
LB D Jones
CB Hall (Leon)
Special Teams: Of coarse we rule earth (and space) in this category...
After putting this together, I started to think that this would actually be a pretty damn good team (so long as depth weren't an issue - man, is that sounding familiar). We just may be a favorite to win an All-Alumni Bowl. Admittedly, I haven't put together the same deal for any other teams (yet), but I challenge someone to throw one together. If you're interested, ESPN can sort by college.
This weekly update is for everyone wondering about defensive recruiting after last week's update was all offense. As we get closer to the end of the season we will start to hear more about potential decisions and timeframes for those decisions as well. Right now it's visits and interest for the most part.
5'11", 185 lbs.
Walls' grandma recently fell ill, so he is putting his future visits on hold. He told me earlier that he still plans on visiting MSU, South Carolina, Virginia, and UConn. His decision is a ways off:
I'm not going to make my decision until I've taken all my visits. I don't have a leader yet, I'm not ready to announce that because your mind changes with leaders all the time.
While he has postponed his visits, that didn't mean that Michigan couldn't come out and see him this past weekend.
Michigan sent a coach out to see me on Friday. Greg Robinson, the defensive coordinator, actually spent a good amount of time at my school talking with my coaches.
It was interesting to hear that Greg Robinson was the one that went out to see him since he doesn't make very many trips.
6'2", 281 lbs.
Kevin is a four star defensive tackle that has been hearing more from Michigan and a few other schools lately.
It's been on and off with Michigan, but I'm not upset about it or anything. I understand things change with schools, so it's not too late for them. I really like Michigan and Coach Dews, so we'll see. Florida has also been in contact with me lately, and I want to check them out too.
Tony Dews was out to see Kevin this weekend even though Kevin wasn't playing (injury). Dews also got a chance to see 2011 DB Blake Countess and 2012 WR Stefon Diggs since their team was playing Kevin's. Tony is always mentioned highly among recruits and it seems he's made a good impression with Kevin as well.
Coach Dews is supposed to call me this week, so we'll get to talk more. He's from this area so he understands how certain things are here. He's a good coach, and that program has been through a lot lately. He's a real personable guy. Michigan definitely has a shot because of him, and because they have great academics. I'm still trying to work out my schedule for official visits, so I'm not sure if I'll make it up there. My top list right now is probably UCLA, Oregon, Michigan, Arkansas, and Florida.
That list can definitely change, but Michigan is picking up some ground with Kevin. He's a recruit at a position of need, and has a lot of qualities the coaches really like. He would be a great pickup. Getting that visit set is key.
6'0", 190 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
As I said in a recent Weekly Update, Wayne Lyons has Michigan moving up his list. He wasn't sure then if he would make it up to Michigan for a visit, and while he's still not 100%, it's moving in a positive direction for the Wolverines:
I think I will end up taking a visit up there. I'm not sure yet, but I think I am going to visit.
While that's not written in stone, it's a step in the right direction. Without getting him on campus, Michigan probably has little shot to land him. His top school are Stanford, UCLA, Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Michigan. Lyons is another Tony Dews recruit.
- OL Chris Bryant has scheduled his official visit to Michigan for the weekend of The Big Chill hockey game (December 11th). "I want to experience being around the players and interacting with them." He's not sure if his decision will come shortly after the visit, but there is a good possibility that it will. Michigan is still in great position.
- LB Antonio Kinard should find out this week if he will be included in the 2011 class. Originally committed to the 2010 class, Kinard ended up at Hargrave Military Academy. He's waiting to find out if his SAT score is high enough, and if it is he will be enrolling in January.
- WR DeAnthony Arnett received a visit this weekend from Fred Jackson. DeAnthony remains that Michigan is out of his top group, but I have a weird feeling that something's going on. I'm not saying to hold your breath, but Michigan is trying to let him know how much he's wanted.
- S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix still maintains that he will visit Michigan for the Illinois game and that the Wolverines still have a shot at landing him.
A little while ago another poster [just identified as willywill9, sorry for the delay] cited Quantcast as a reputable source for measuring visitors to various websites. I thought it would be interesting to rank the Big 10 blogs. I don't claim that I did an exhaustive search, but I did look up the blogs referenced here at MGoBlog, those noted at SBNation, as well as a couple of others sources, and used the highest ranked I could find. Here are the results, based on the rankings of all websites monitored by Quantcast. I did a sanity check of the Quantcast results with another web traffic monitoring service that directionally confirmed the Quantcast information. The final rankings are based on the Quantcast data. The Quantcast ranking is noted.
Update: I've designed Halloween special edition version of the Penn State game wallpaper. Get the Halloween 2010 JoePa Costume wallpaper.
My road to Michigan fandom was long and twisty. Some of you would refer to my children as Mudbloods (my wife is from Ann Arbor and has claim to "pure blood" status where I do not) and to me as a Muggle (my lack of magical powers kept me from attending
Hogwarts the University of Michigan). Actually, after reading what I just wrote I'm pretty sure that you're more likely to refer to me as a "huge nerd" but whatever.
When I was little my grandmother lived in Pennsylvania so she showered me and my brother with Penn State gear every Christmas. We wore this gear. We rooted for Penn State on the rare occasions when their games were televised out West. We loved Coach Paterno and his crazy thick glasses. Like the rings of a tree, the edges of his lenses marched outward with each advancing year. My friend and I used to joke that the glasses were so thick, and the lenses so curved, that his eyebrows actually appeared below his eyes thanks to extreme refraction.
Although my allegiance was shifted to the boys in the winged helmets once I reached the age of accountability, I still have a deep respect for Joe Paterno and can't imagine college football without him. I was pained to learn last year that he had surgery to correct his vision. Beyond being totally freaked out at how small and beady (and upright) his eyes looked, it felt wrong for the signature glasses to be benched. I'm relieved that he has continued to wear glasses on the sideline, however thin and superficial.
This week's wallpaper is a nod to the stark simplicity of Penn State's uniforms and the throwback style of their legendary coach. I tried to imagine what JoePa's vision was like before his surgery and blurred the text accordingly. The glasses frames were inspired by the style he wore in 1969. You can see the reference photo below.
The image below is a preview only. You can get this week's widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
Bonus: Does JoePa have a twin brother and is he a Michigan Fan?
The guy on the bottom was sitting next to me and my wife at the 2004 Iowa game. This is not a Photoshop job. I didn't notice him until the second quarter and I had to pretend to take a photo of my wife like 5 times to get this shot but it was totally worth it.
All of the 2010 Schedule Wallpapers
Preface: I’m bored. I have a lot of time on my hands. If there are ideas for future betterments please post them and I shall learn. The PSU thing is just a small preview to hold you over for the real PSU stuff.
Did you know: Nathaniel Joseph "Nate" Montana, born in 1989, is the second member of his family to be backup quarterback at Notre Dame (his father, Joe, played there from 1974-78)
- Denard was injured for the 5th in 7 games. Someone’s gotta say it , say it , and say it some more...I’m not debating on his touches, but this is something to keep an eye on.
- Molk: Nothing new on him. He should be back.
- Martin: Ditto Molk
- Shaw: Should be back this week.
- Fitz is still questionable. However, he is practicing.
Analysis: the team should have 4/5 returning. Beware the false returns though (they occurred to Tate last year, and will hopefully occur to Tacopants). Often players come back to play, but play injured, and are incapable of fulfilling their duties.
- Boldin: questionable
- Bani Gbadyu: questionable
- Gerald Hodges: questionable
- Michael Mauti: Back
- Eric Latimore: doubtful
- Jack Crawford: doubtful
Analysis: They will be playing with lots of injuries. Really, not much to say here besides things like that. I also believe that I missed a few injuries to the OL, but I can’t find links.
Denard’s improvement on passing:
Big thing to watch for as games come. Denard’s passing currently is doing things like this. He’s still on pace for 1879 Rushing Yards and 2276 passing, however teams are starting to key in on his lack of a long range passing game.
They are doing the right thing: in two games he’s got 4 interceptions and only rushing 191 yards on 4.9 YPC. He had topped 191 in the ND (258) and Indiana (217) games so yes, that is slowing him down. Let’s see how well he does this week. It’s important because:
- We will know more about if he can throw it well enough to keep D’s honest.
- This is a big step to make us a BTC contender for next year; we need that deep ball threat.
Denard is already a proven runner. My goal for his passing stats at the end of this year would be:
- One 35-yard completion each game (not including YAC). This would prove the kid can throw the ball downfield.
- Completion percentage of 65-70% When defenses are keying on his running, the receivers are open and Denard puts up ludicrous completion rates. But his INs have gone way up recently. Hopefully a week off has settled him back down.
- Less than 1 sack/game. This will mean that he's not taking all day thinking back there, and understands the routes better. Also, with his speed, this shouldn't be happening anyway.
This week we will likely hear about how Campbell will/won’t be moved. RR said in a presser that it will be decided over the week. I haven’t read anything about it during the bye so I’d assume we’ll hear about it soon. This will again stir up a lot of debate. My take: We need the DL more than OL. Why?
- After Khoury’s showing, we have more depth at OL than at DL.
- We had more even before Khoury’s showing.
- Who would the back-ups at DL be for next year? Ash and Talbott, the planet and the stick. Both would be a huge step down from Martin. This position needs a real blue chip (*waves hand like Obi wan* at Jernigan: "You want to come. Yes.")
- Even if Quinton Washington is moving to the "dark side," our DL needs bodies. This is a position where the 2-deep guys get a lot of playing time, and we're going to lose at least three (Banks, Patterson, Sagesse) at the end of the year, if not a crushing fourth (Martin). I, for one, am not yet ready to give up on having an upperclassman 5-star on the DL depth chart next year.
PSU/time to get happy
(you see what I did there? [Ed-M: Actually, no.])
PSU's Passing Game:
Penn State's offense truly is offensive.
- 18.2 PPG gets them dead last in the Big Ten.
- Boldin (or back-up) can not throw. (209 YPG, 8th best after week 7.)
- 8 INTs is second to ILL’s 9.
- Royster averages 64 YPG.
- Injuries to Boldin spell trouble for an already.
After facing a gauntlet of capable upperclassman (Chappell, Cousins, Stanzi), our secondary gets to take a major breather against Penn State's three-headed fail. Michigan will face one of these guys:
- True freshman returning from injury who has been pretty bad all year
- Sophomore who lost job to above freshman
- Paul and Kathy McGloin run a flower business in Scranton, Pa. They are very proud of their son Matthew, a redshirt sophomore who walked on the Pennsylvania State football team and accomplished what neither high-profile recruit above him could: throw two touchdowns against the only secondary in the Big Ten that might be worse than Michigan's. Unfortunately Paul and Kathy could not make it to Minneapolis to see their son play. Such is the flower business.
Did you know: Former Michigan starting quarterback Nick Sheridan is the son of Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Bill Sheridan.
Martin was not Martin against Iowa, but he was Martin enough that he was cleared to play, which means his injury (thanks MSU cheap shot) could very well be all healed. With less to worry about from the passing game, expect Michigan to use a 4-man rush more often, allowing us to generate some...what's it called again? oh yes, pressure.
Pressure+freshman/backup/walk-on QB=int (see ND game).
PSU's Running Game.
Our run D has DEMENS!!!! I have written ad nauseam about this kid, suffice it so say our run D should be good (against the "TURRIBLE" that is PSU).
Here I'm hoping that the bye week will help Michigan as well, mostly so the freshmen can work on tackling, but also because it gives the coaching staff some time to make/solidify some roster moves (Demens practicing with the ones may convince Mouton he doesn't have to do everything by himself). Add the Bye Week Advantage and you get a better D. Add in Royster and Boldin/back-up and you get a good D. Add in
Vinopal (possible switch to starter) [Edit: Cam is still the starter] as the second white DB and you get a lot of questions, but hopefully more answers.
Prediction: we let up less than 350 against Penn State. I know that sounds high, but I just see them getting yards somehow.
- 1.) We have DENARD
- 2.) They have INJURRRRRED
Not really much to say here. They lost their 2 DEs (who are questionable or doubtful). They have a hodge-podge in their LBs that is about as bad as our secondary stuff. We also have Shaw and Molk coming back.
The only interesting part will be what the new DEs do. I’m assuming you’ll see them just sit down on EVERY zone-read (Mid-line please!!!). Their scoring D is ranked 4th in the Big Ten, but #1 is Iowa and #2 in MSU (#3s and 5 are still on our schedule, of course). We gained 899 against those two teams combined.
The thing to take away is that we can score on them, but we need to convert (like we failed to do against Iowa and MSU.) BUT WAIT. They are LAST in the Big Ten in red-zone D. You remember the Red Zone, where we lost the last two games with turnovers? Hope emerges. Also, hope that Hopkins gets playing time. I'm with Brian in that Smith's "just a guy" [Ed-M: albeit one who can run a killer route from the slot]. Hopefully this is the week that Michael "Don't call me Carlos Brown" Shaw and Stephan "Rhymes with Chiffon" Hopkins are the two for me after Iowa.
Prediction: 500+ yards of offense. 400 to Denard. Smith plays more than Hopkins and I cry inside.
Due to the not-overwhelming-but-still-pleasant response from last week’s Bruce Willis montage, I figured I would try this week to both recap the season so far in UM football, plus this past week’s prominent games, with one of America’s most storied thespians. Please feel free to comment away on the quality in the, um, well, comments section.
The Season So Far, or as I like to call it, the 6+1 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Recap
After two disheartening seasons, the talk at the end of last season was that Rich Rodriguez needed to start winning or else it would be the
for him in Ann Arbor. Reports during the offseason pointed to the offense making strides even while the defense suffered from a lack of depth and a dearth of talent at key positions. All was relatively quiet until
could be felt emanating miles away in a nondescript building in Detroit. This rumbling was caused by the furious digging of one misguided newspaper’s attempt to generate headlines (and relevance) by “exposing” the deep-rooted NCAA violations going on in Schembechler Hall. RR was characterized as a criminal guilty of
for what amounted to a couple of extra hours of stretching and some tangential football personnel watching unofficial practices and weight sessions. Undaunted by reality, pundits and reporters across the various media streams let loose with a flood of chest-thumping and invectives about the “transgressions” going on under RR,
with false accusations and fears of the
being handed down by the NCAA. The Internet’s reaction was, perhaps unsurprisingly, split, with some treating these accusations as gospel while others accused the media of being actors in a conspiracy that would make the
investigations seem like child’s play.
But as we all remember, not much came of it. Despite the accusations and rabid media treatment, the truth ultimately came out, leaving everyone with the impression that the author of the “expose” was just a
, and soon the focus turned to RR
with Denard Robinson as the starting QB. Perhaps not surprisingly, the message boards and radio stations were a veritable
of individuals questioning the wisdom in this move. But on a
day in the beginning of September, Robinson and the rest of the Wolverines cast aside the tumultuous
and blasted Connecticut. Next came Notre Dame and another epic performance by Robinson, as the sporting world began to wonder if he was UM’s
And as the team raced out to a 5-0 start despite games that would leave no fans
there was a sense that this season would not be the like the two previous, that UM was back as a national power.
Unfortunately, the last two games have tempered these expectations, as it became clear that this team, gutted by injuries, transfers, and other player departures, was lacking in
especially on the defensive side of the ball. The pundits and opposing fans, so quiet during the 5-0 start, are back out in full force, questioning whether RR will ever be able to win at UM. From their high horses,
apparently so clear that even the smell of hypocrisy cannot reach them, they have already begun the countdown to RR’s demise, even with nearly 1/2 a season to still be played.
for this team is probably somewhere between the 5-0 start and the 2-game losing streak.
this season is already a success. With youth dominating both sides of the ball, UM still features one of the most dynamic offenses in the country and a defense that, well, only sometimes drives me to nearly jump into a
Every Saturday so far
is filled with an optimism, a sense of possibility that was missing the past two years. It is the air UM fans used to take for granted, and even though this season probably won’t ever by confused with some of the
seasons of years past, it is hard not to see a bright future for this team no matter how much of a UM-hating
you may be.
This Week’s Games
It was a weekend of upsets,highlighted by the third #1 team in a row to fall to a ranked opponent. This time, the Oklahoma Sooners were knocked off by one of the
in the Big 12, Missouri. With yet another #1 falling, it begs the question how the BCS will shake out at the end of the year, especially with non-AQ teams like Boise St. and TCU
beneath an invisible glass ceiling by the BCS computers and pollsters [Ed-M: Not to mention a schedule that's not...how shall we say...
* Coming off a 3-game win streak and winds in South Bend once again filled with a
of a Return to Glory, spirits were high at Notre Dame as they welcomed the Midshipmen of Navy. 367 yards on the ground and a thoroughly dominating 35-17 win by Navy a couple of hours later, the college football world was reminded that anyone trumpeting the reemergence of the Domers as a national power was simply
* Other major upsets this weekend included
at two former stops for Greg “touch of GERG” Robinson as Iowa State besting Texas for the first time (!!) in team history, while a Scott Schafer-led Syracuse defense (!!!) held West Virginia to 14 points in a stunning 19-14 win. As with politics, I will leave the
discussion about the team’s defensive performance to others.
* In other games of note, both Iowa and LSU suffered from
at the coaching position, as questionable coaching decisions by the Mad Hatter and Kirk Ferentz late in their games may have cost them wins against Wisconsin and Auburn, respectively. Senator Tressel went
against Purdue after last week’s demoralizing loss to the Badgers, drubbing the Boilermakers 49-0. The only disappointment was that the Vest didn’t break out this routine on the sidelines late in the game. Hey, hey! What's this I see? I thought this was a party. LET'S DANCE!
Mark Dantonio and Michigan State continued their unlikely run toward a Big 10 title and MNC berth (!!!!) as they rallied late against Northwestern, who blew the upset even though the Spartans once down 17 points. With only Iowa likely standing between MSU and a perfect season, I will now fill my body with
lest I be subjected to even more Sparty gloating.
* To no one’s surprise, the first game in which the Minnesota Golden Gophers were
after the dismissal of Tim Brewster ended rather badly, with Penn State earning its first Big 10 win rather handily despite being outgained by 80 yards. Perhaps a eccentric former Texas Tech coach will be walking the sidelines next year, though in that case I would like to see a name change to the Golden