that is nice bonus change
Offensive line and defensive line depth are at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to this year’s recruiting class. While Michigan has some quality players in place, the need is there to fill out the depth chart on both sides of the ball. Here’s a look at who Michigan is in on right now, with a little insight to each situation.
We’ll start with the offensive side of the ball, the defensive line will be in a separate post:
West Branch, MI
6’4”, 260 lbs.
Michigan stands in great position for Zettel, who now holds around 11 offers. He’s a Michigan fan, but is making sure that it’s the right fit. This has been the case with a few recruits already, and holds true with Zettel, as well. Anthony has said that he will commit to a school when he feels it’s right, and doesn’t have a set timeline. I would imagine this could drag out for a while, unless he gets that feeling. He’s been to Michigan plenty of times, so you’d have to imagine he’s waiting for the season to unfold, to see how Michigan performs. We’ll have to wait and see, but Michigan is still in good position here. Anthony's junior highlight film is here.
6’6”, 320 lbs.
Michigan fans haven’t heard too much about Posada, but neither has anyone else. He’s been relatively quiet in his recruitment, but has said that Michigan is one of his favorites. Tony doesn’t currently hold an offer from any of the big three schools in Florida. If Miami offers, then there will be some stiff competition. The key will be to get Tony on campus, and it might need to be for an official visit. Michigan is in good shape, but it could turn out to be a dog fight depending on who offers. Here's a quick clip of Tony pushing people into the end zone.
6’5”, 265 lbs.
I’ll first start by giving everyone the proper pronunciation of Andre’s last name. It's "eeh-dru (rolled r)-etha-go-yehna. Andre lives around 20 minutes from me, so I should have some film on him once his season starts. I’ve been in contact with Andre quite a bit, and he really doesn’t know where he wants to go. The more than likely top three for Andre is (in no order) Michigan, USC, and Oregon. He holds offers from the first two, and Oregon will likely be on the way soon. USC has really caught Andre’s attention, and the one and only Ed Orgeron is doing a great job recruiting him. Being from Arizona, getting an offer from USC is a big deal to Andre.
Oregon has appeal because one of Andre’s parents resides relatively close to campus. Michigan holds an advantage that might not be able to be matched, and that’s his former teammates, Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh. The key here, again, will be to get Andre on campus. He should have a better idea of where he feels most comfortable after his visits. Michigan is in good shape here. Andre's highlight film is actually fun to watch, which is usually not the case for linemen. He's regularly throwing what looks like small children to the ground.
New Orleans, LA
6’5” 330 lbs.
Trai is a monster prospect out of Louisiana, and is currently sitting with 13 offers. This one will be a little tricky for Michigan. Trai has told me that he probably won’t choose a school that he’s never seen in person, and he’s not sure if he’ll be able to make it up to Michigan. The math there looks bad. He wants to make a decision relatively soon, so Michigan could be on the outside, if he can’t make it up to Ann Arbor. Turner struck up a relationship with 2010 Michigan commit Carvin Johnson, and is very high on Michigan. I have a sneaking suspicion that if LSU or Alabama were to offer, he would choose between the two. If Michigan can get him on campus, there will be a legitimate shot. Trai also has an impressive highlight video.
New Orleans, LA
6’7”, 310 lbs.
Jonah is essentially the same story as Trai, since they’re teammates, and share the same opinions. He’s very high on Michigan, but it would be hard to choose a school that he hasn’t seen. Both Trai and Jonah took a visit to Alabama together, and are obviously very close to LSU. Austin does not have an offer from either LSU, or Alabama, yet. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and it will ultimately come down to who offers, and if they can visit. Jonah's not just a snappy dresser, he's also a good football player.
Glen Ellyn, IL
6’4”, 275 lbs.
Walsh has to be considered one of the better linemen in the Midwest, if not the country. He currently holds roughly 15 offers that range from Michigan, to Arizona, USC, Wisconsin, and Boston College. Walsh has been to Michigan several times, and was recently up for the spring game. Notre Dame has not offered yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time before they do. They have an extra boost that Walsh’s former teammate, Chris Watt, is currently on the Fighting Irish roster. If (when) they offer, I would have to think they have a good shot at landing him. My feeling is that Michigan is near the top of his list right now, but will need to do some work to snag him.
Greg Robinson (not that Greg Robinson)
6’5”, 295 lbs.
Robinson has been fairly quiet with his recruitment, despite boasting offers from the likes of Michigan, Alabama, LSU, and USC. I would expect Robinson to choose the home town team, LSU.
6’5”, 350 lbs.
Aundrey is a mammoth lineman that hails from...Glenville. Walker has been to Michigan a few times, but he’s from Glenville. I just can’t put it on paper (or the internet) that Michigan is in a good position. Michigan will likely not make the cut, and if they do, you and I will probably both look like this. So. moving on.
Guys without offers to keep an eye on
From reading this, you’re probably not that optimistic about our chances with a lot of these linemen. Not to worry, since these are the prospects currently with offers. Michigan is still evaluating a lot of athletes, and it’s typically thought that offensive line is one of the harder positions to scout. Most of the offers that have been given out are to the top tier guys, and were given out to stay even with the competition. If you recall from every other year, there will be changes in rankings, and certain prospects will grow, or have break out years. See: Patrick Omameh, Taylor Lewan. So, here’s a look at a few guys to keep an eye on, if offered.
- Willie Beavers
o Southfield Lathrup, MI
o 6’5”, 300 lbs. Offensive Tackle
- Chris Bryant
o Chicago, IL
o 6’5”, 330 lbs. Offensive Guard
- Matt Frazier
o Kankakee, IL
o 6’4”, 280 lbs. Offfensive Tackle
Matt's junior film is here.
- Kody Woods
o Indianapolis, IN
o 6’3”, 295 lbs. Offensive Guard
A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, I'm speechless.
- Jalen Schlachter
o Corunna, MI
o 6’6”, 270 lbs. Offensive Tackle
- Chris Boles
o Toledo, OH
o 6’4”, 315 lbs. Offensive Guard
There will obviously be more added to this list, as the recruiting season goes on. I think Michigan has done a good job, so far, with recruiting offensive linemen. They’re handicapped in a few areas, but have a few things working in their favor as well. As with other prospects, it’s going to rely a lot on how well the Wolverines perform on the field.
A lot of people are having different opinions on how the scheduling should be, so I try one scenario myself. Whit just 2 different schedules, by only rotating 2 pods one time, you can play everybody every other year, or home and away every 4 years. For the sake of the argument I added Nebraska, Notre Dame, Pittsburg, Syracuse and Rutgers.
Let's lay a few ground rules.
- One rivalry above all (MICH - OSU).
- The requirements to play a championship game are:
1. At least 12 teams divided in two divisions (16 teams in our case),
2. Round robin schedule inside your division (7 games).
- You need to go to 9 conference games. You play the 7 teams from your division + 2 other from the other division.
Big Ten Scheduling:
1. Create 4 pods (2 fixed and 2 rotating). The 2 fixed pods will be made of the strongest teams and will each anchor one division (Pod A will never be in the same division with Pod B). This keeps the divisions strength balanced; also it maintains most rivalries intact and creates new ones based on location.
Fixed Pod A - OSU, MI, MSU, PSU
Fixed Pod B - WISC, IOWA, NEB, ND
2. The 2 rotating pods will change divisions every 2 years (I'll explain later why).
Rotating Pod C - ILL, RUTG, SYR, PITT
Rotating Pod D - PUR, IND, MINN, NW
3. First year you have this 2 divisions:
Fixed Pod A - Rotating Pod C
Fixed Pod B - Rotating Pod D
4. The 2 extra games will be used against teams from the opposing pod (Fixed Pod A - Fixed Pod B), (Rotating Pod C - Rotating Pod D). As an example: OSU and MICH will play WISC and IOWA, MSU and PSU will play NEB and ND.
5. One problem with the 9 conference games is that you play a 5-4 or 4-5 schedule (home-away). You can fix that by having one division playing 5 home games and the other one just 4. This will make it fair inside the divisions. The next year you reverse the schedule and the home teams will play away this time, so the division that had 5 home games will have 4 now. This way you basically have a home and away schedule over a span of two years.
6. After 2 seasons you rotate the pods and now you have this 2 divisions:
Fixed Pod A - Rotating Pod D
Fixed Pod B - Rotating Pod C
7. The 2 extra games will be used against the other 2 teams from the opposing pod. As an example: OSU and MICH will play NEB and ND, MSU and PSU will play WISC and IOWA.
8. The 4th year will be like the 2nd one, a reverse schedule of the previous one for the same reasons.
After 4 years everybody plays everybody home and away at least ones and you basically change the schedule only one time. This way you can actually know way ahead your B10 schedule because it will repeat every 4 years.
The rivalries will be kept inside the pods only, but like I said before; only one rivalry is above all MICH - OSU, all the other ones are secondary and some will be sacrificed.
P.S. These pods alignments are just for the sake of the argument. Please take them as is. I could've used numbers instead of actual schools, but I think is more relevant this way.
Edit: Maybe this will make it easier to understand.
Ok, so we have 4 divisions: A, B, C, D. Each team has 3 protected rivals. In Michigan's case this would be OSU, MSU and either ND or Minnesota depending on whether ND joins the Big16. Those 3 rivals are spread across the other 3 divisions. So, Michigan is in A, OSU is in B, MSU is in C, ND/Minn is in D.
In this particular year, A and B get paired together to make Division 1 and C and D get paired together to make Division 2. Every team plays every team in their conference and one game against either rival in the other division. This makes for 9 games.
At the end of the season there is a pseudo tournament in each Division between all bowl eligible teams to determine the winner. The seeding is determined by the number of points that you have from your cross-division rivals. For each win against your cross division rivals, you get (9 - N) / M points where N is your rivals rank in their division and M is your rank. This makes it extremely important for you and your rivals to be ranked highly and for you to beat your rivals each year. Once the brackets are set, the bracket is simulated by the outcomes of the actual matchups throughout the season. The winner in each division plays in the championship game. The division which accumulated the most rivalry points in the above method gets homefield advantage.
So, lets say that Michigan is #2 in the division, OSU and ND are #1 and #2 in the other division and Michigan beats them both. Michigan gets 4 points for OSU and 3.5 points for ND. The #1 in our division beats both of their rivals which were ranked 4&7 in the other division giving them 7 points. Michigan would then get the #1 seed in the playoff.
I like this format because, like I said, it puts an enormous amount of pressure on teams to win the division and to beat rivals. Rivals being bad in a particular year won't necessarily hurt you (especially if you win all of your games in the division). It also possibly hurts teams like OSU who beat everyone, except that low team like Purdue. If they were matched up in the playoff, Purdue would have taken OSU out of the tournament and a team like Iowa or PSU could be given a chance at the championship game, which means beat ALL teams and you won't have to worry about it. It also only takes 9 games during the regular season, adds the benefits of a playoff without adding any more games, and adds some of the randomness of the playoffs.
Now that we've reached the conference midpoint and looked at the conference outlook, it's time to take a look at the team stats. Unlike in previous editions, the graphics will include some pitching related stats despite too small of a sample size to be that meaningful. The pitching stats are starting to show some trends, though.
As another reminder, these stats aren't official, but they should be pretty close. I have to compile these by going through every box score and input them into Excel tables. Many times, box scores contain errors that are corrected in the official statistics, but they may not be adjusted in the online box score.
So, as I start each of these posts, we'll look at the three major derived stats that are readily available in the college game (batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage):
In that AWESOME EXCEL GRAPH, you can see each of the percentages as they accumulate over the season. It should be pretty obvious that as the season goes along, the lines should normalize to the average as more data comes in. What may be a bit more difficult to see is that Michigan's offense peaked in the Central Michigan game. At that time Michigan was hitting .328 (BA) and .411(OBP). The slugging picked up a bit since then, peaking in the offensive explosion in Illinois game one, with a .477 slugging percentage.
Michigan currently sits at .321 (BA), .404 (OBP), and .470 (SLG). That ranks 3rd, 3rd, and 4th in the Big Ten respectively (more on this below). In terms of conference only stats, Michigan is at .322 (BA), .411 (OBP), and .469 (SLG), which means we've done a little bit better in conference in terms of getting on base, but everything else has been pretty similar to the non-conference season. That's pretty surprising given the difference in talent we've faced, but at the same time, Michigan has had a couple of anemic offensive games against some of the Big Ten's best pitchers (Hippen, Bischoff, Leininger), and they've had some explosive games against some of the not so good (Illinois win).
Speaking of talent difference between conference and nonconference, the purple line in the above graph, for those who didn't pay attention last time, represents the RPI of our opponents. The number one team in Boyd Nation's pseudo-RPI would be a 1.000, and a team holding the #302 RPI (or any non-D1 opponents if you're a Buckeye who plays AND LOSES to D2 and NAIA teams) would register as a 0.000 score. From that, you can see that our non-conference schedule was pretty difficult with two games against #1 Coastal Carolina, but our last few games, as well as the Big Ten regular season are quite a drop in competition.
The second graph I tend to post up is per nine innings stats, particularly runs, hits, strikeouts, and walks. These are just the sum of our total stats accumulated over the number of innings Michigan has batted (a home win normally only has 8 innings, as compared to any road game having 9 innings). Taking a peak:
Looking at the above, we can clearly see the differences between "OMG WE LOST LAMARRE" and the the team becoming stable. LaMarre came back against Central Michigan, where we can see a small jump in hits and runs, but not much in terms of long term changes. The only long term pattern that comes from the post-LaMarre return is a slight drop in strikeouts, a product of Krantz and Stephens getting less at bats.
At the time of LaMarre's return, I probably would have predicted an increase in hits and runs per game, but as we'll see in a bit, a couple of players have really cooled down over the last few weeks, most notably Coley Crank.
For individuals and a brief look at pitching, follow the jump. Warning, it gets long. Probably unnecessarily long. But it is what it is.
This weekend's critical series against Big Ten co-leaders Ohio State has a side story that deserves just as much attention as a battle for the Big Ten title. Michigan's greatest shortstop, Barry Larkin, will have his number 16 jersey retired on Saturday afternoon.
Barry was born in Cincinnati in 1964, a city that he would forever be tied to. He grew up and attended Moeller High School, a great school in Ohio sport history. It produeced not just Larkin, but Ken Griffey, Jr., and someone many Michigan fans hold dear: Gerry Faust. At Moeller, Larkin set the school record for batting average for a career at .482, hitting 12 triples and 11 homers, stealing 26 bases.
He would win the team MVP as a senior in 1982 and was drafted in the 2nd round by the hometown Cincinnati Reds. Larkin chose not to sign with the Reds however, and instead enrolled at the University of Michigan to play football. Yes, football. Following the 1982 season, he informed then coach Bo Schembechler that he would also be trying out for the baseball team. That was the last time Larkin would be part of the football team, as he became a regular immediately on the baseball squad.
On the diamond, Larkin made an immediate impact. The 1983 season would see Larkin named the Big Ten Tournament player of the year and make Baseball America's Freshman First Team. That season was also a College World Series for the Wolverines. In game one against Maine, Larkin had two doubles in a 6-5 win. Michigan would ultimately be eliminated by Texas in the semi-final. Michigan's final record was 50-9, the highest winning percentage by any Wolverine team ever.
That wasn't Larkin's last trip to Omaha. [Ed: continued after the jump.]
As noted in Friday's preview, Michigan and Michigan State have closed the MCLA regular season at a neutral site in each of the last four years, as part of the Great Lakes LAcrosse Classic. This year's game, at East Grand Rapids High School, was more of a nailbiter than expected, but the close game provided fans the opportunity to see some high-level lacrosse.
The game got off to a quick start for the Spartans, as they built up a 2-0 lead five minutes into the game. Michigan would eventually respond on two transition goals, the first coming on a successful ride, as Zach Mueller stole the ball and fed Trevor Yealy, followed by a Jordan Kirshner strike. After MSU took the 3-2 lead, Svet Tintchev (pictured below, from mgobluelacrosse.com) scored on a feed from Anthony Hrusovsky to tie it up going into the second.
The teams would continue to trade goals in the second quarter, but once Michigan State took a 5-4 lead, Michigan went on a 5-0 run, taking the 9-5 lead into halftime. Michigan's goals in the frame would come from Yealy (three times), Josh Ein (twice), and David Rogers.
The game would tighten up in the second half, as both teams upped the physical play leading to several big hits. Jordan Kirshner scored the first tally after the break:
Michigan opened the scoring in the second half with a nifty play as Kirshner teased his defender into thinking he was going to sub at midfield, before darting back into the box alone, taking a feed from Ein on the right GLE and firing high for the 10-5 lead moments into the third.
Michigan State put in the only other goals of the quarter, for a 10-7 score going into the final frame.
Michigan managed to kill off a 2-man-down situation early in the fourth, but another penalty shortly thereafter gave Michigan State the opportunity to get within two goals - and they capitalized. Michigan gained a little separation on a David Rogers tally with just over four minutes left in the game, and the Wolverines managed to keep possession for almost the entire remainder of the game for the 11-8 win.
Official Site Recap (source of quote and photo above)
Notes and Analysis
Michigan State's goalie stood on his head through much of the first quarter, and again in the fourth. During those times, Michigan's shots weren't always making him work hard for the save, however. Once shot quality improved (and frequency increased), the Wolverines put several shots past him.
David Reinhard was his typical solid self, winning 68% of his faceoffs, though even he had a slump when Michigan was struggling early in the game. Goalie Mark Stone had a solid outing, keeping Michigan State from scoring one several good opportunities. However, a couple balls that could have been saved got past him.
Senior Kevin Zorovich went out late in the first half with a knee or lower leg injury. He returned from the locker room after the rest of his teammates following halftime, and though he was still wearing his full gear (sans helmet), never returned to the game.
This is a much better MIchigan State than we;ve seen for the past few years. It will be a shame if this loss (combined with some unfavorable results elsewhere) keeps them out of the MCLA Tournament.
If you live in the Grand Rapids area and want to catch the game on TV, it will air on local access WKTV on Saturday at 5PM. The station will also have DVDs of the event available for purchase at a later date.
The CCLA Conference Tournament goes down at Saline High School this weekend. Michigan has a first-round bye, and will take on its first opponent Saturday at 4PM. The Wolverines and Spartans are favored to rematch in the Conference Championship Game.
Next up on the blog will be a round of MCLA Bracketology and a CCLA Tournament Preview.