somehow we're only 124th
LB Sean Duggan (St. Xavier/Cincinnati, OH) has an unofficial top 5-10 (11) schools that are sticking out to him. He told me he has a lot of great schools after him, so his list changes every day.
The two that seem to be sticking out the most, at this point, are Wisconsin and Boston College. He said, they're not really his official leaders, but they stick out right now. The rest of the list includes Michigan (top 5), Virginia, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Oregon, Minnesota, and Arizona, Louisville, and NC State are tied. (Yes, I realize that's 11).
His father and grandfather both went to Notre Dame, so the rumor goes that he too will have a golden dome. Sean said that Notre Dame hasn't offered, so he's not worrying about them, and that he doesn't want to be someones second option, either. He wants to go to a school that wants him as much as he wants them.
He seemed pretty genuine in that, and I have to take him for his word. If Brian Kelly swoops in on a silver horse, with an offer in hand, they might still ride off in to the sunset, but I can't tell. He made it pretty clear that the rumors about Notre Dame leading, even if they were to offer, needed to be squashed.
He's been in contact with Coach Dews and Singletary, and finds them both very easy to talk to. He and Coach Dews have a few things in common, which has made the conversation easier. Sean was also excited that Michigan has a strong need at the linebacker position. He won't be at Michigan's elite camp, because he already has an offer, but is very excited to visit campus soon. His list will continue to change as he takes more visits, but he was adamant that Michigan is near the top.
This is just going to be fairly brief, but I really feel optimistic about the outlook for this season. First, a few brief thoughts about last season. Michigan was about 6 inches away from 6-6 (Illinois), and a few "bad bounces" away from 8-4 (MSU and Iowa). With this view, we should all be thinking that 8-4 is certainly reachable.
Let's start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start!) Back at Center, we will see David Molk, who should be fully healed from his injury. Molk is potentially an all-conference center who can anchor the line. As far as the rest of the O-line goes, I'll let people smarter than me about these things tell you more, but from what I understand, it seems like signs are good that the team will be as good or better than last season on the offensive line.
I'm not going to weigh in on Denard vs. Tate at this time. (So what if that makes me chicken!) But at the very least, we should have a QB that is better than last season's QB. Tate is healthy, and with one more year of experience and work should be better than he was last year. Denard is beginning to look like a real QB, and not just a TB who occasionally throws the ball. By all accounts the sophomore version of Shoelace should be better than the freshman version of Forcier. So barring the double gut-punch injury to BOTH QBs, we should have a better QB than last year. Also, the competition this season between the two seems more active, which should make the current starter (whomever that may be) have to work harder to stay in that role. This means that the starting QB should be improving even more than last season. In the doomsday scenario, both of the best options get injured and we have (OMG) yet another true freshman playing QB in Devin Gardner, which--let's face it--is still better than a walk-on. In all liklihood, the starting QB at Michigan should be better than last season (and doesn't that make you feel better too?)\
Ok, so Minor and Brown (and Grady) graduated...and this is maybe a little sad. But Minor or Brown was hurt almost every week and Grady rarely saw the field. It seems like the important thing to have here is depth. And this Michigan has, perhaps even in abundance. There is some experience in this system for guys like Shaw and Smith (who should be healthy again). And this gives me hope that the status quo will be maintained and this group is at least as good as last season.
This year, Michigan has lost Matthews and Savoy (who I fondly remember for those catches against Notre Dame...happy thoughts!) But Hemmingway and Stonum are back on the outside. And Odoms and Roundtree will be awesome in the slot. Maybe Koger gives us a decent middle of the field threat, you know, the one we hoped he would be last season. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic with this skill group as well.
So to summarize, the offense should be better, in just about every phase of play this season. This might even make up for not having a space emperor (of space) winning the field position battle so often. We can always hope, right?
There can be hope with this group too. Briefly, can it really be worse than last season?
You don't lose Brandon Graham and get better. But Martin, VanBergen, Roh, Campbell, and Segasse make a good nucleus for DL depth. Who will step up? It is possible that the DL is still the strength of the defense this season.
Ok seriously. It can't get worse. Right? Please? If I close my eyes and wish really hard, does that make it so? Maybe this change in scheme we heard about is really about simplifying life for the LBs...and this can be a group that doesn't kill us on Defense. It's still the off-season, so I can be optimistic. Just ask any Lions fan you know (for whom the off-season, and sometimes, the preseason, are the best times to be a Lions fan).
Again, it can't get worse, can it? The big questions to answer. Will we have a reliable deep safety that doesn't get burned at least once per game? Will we have the athletes at corner to play adequate coverage? I think that there are enough hands on deck in that position group to be effective.
So in summary, the defense might even be adequate this season. Nobody will mistake them for one of the stellar defenses of the past (see 1997) but they should make do.
I think we can all crawl back from the ledge. I can't wait for September 4th to come!...And not just because it will be my 6th anniversary! ;)
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with the latest installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH MATHLETE
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Math. Nemesis to many, and friend to so very few. Some of us get it, and the rest of us use it only when we absolutely have to, like a plunger or Mucinex (ed: nasty stuff). When it comes to MGoBlog, we all know that the resident expert is Mathlete, who seemingly can use statistical information to prove everything from what players are more valuable than others to which Sparty player is most likely to next act with felonious intent. His posts are well-written, tirelessly researched, and busting
at the seams with factual analysis and conclusions. And yet, despite all that
number-crunching, he was still gracious enough to sit down with us
for this exclusive MGoProfile interview:
1. Mathlete, known far and wide as the only man capable of making numbers sing “Hail to the Victors.” Few login names fit their owners as well as yours. Were you, or are you, a competitive mathlete? Is there a story behind the selection of your name?
Growing up, my dad was a math teacher and a coach so I always had a strong mix of math and sports in my life. Sports were always the thing I wanted to be good at and wasn't, where academic competitions were the thing I was good at but mostly embarrassed of. When I first registered at mgoblog, I originally was going to pick an obscure reference from The Wire (Always, Boris) but at the last minute decided to embrace a more accurate name and attempt to embrace the title that had
created so much teenage angst.
Ahh, yes—surely the most famous type of angst has to be the teenage variety. And if it makes any difference, I think if you had any other login name it’d simply be wrong.
2. Your posts are legendary for their vast raw data, their accuracy, and their ability to recognize facts where others simply see coincidence. Do you live in a black-and-white world? How do you see life differently from others?
My interest in numbers actually has the opposite effect on me. We ultimately measure the results of things in black and white, but when I look forward, I am always viewing things in terms of probabilities. If the numbers say Michigan is better than their opponent, I don't see that as a guaranteed victory, I want to understand how much better Michigan is and what their probability of winning would be. I think is what separates me from most other people. Our brains our wired to eliminate complexity so often times we look at results and the then identify the reasons that the result had to have happened, when in reality, there were probabilities associated with a number of outcomes and a lot more luck and randomness than we are comfortable with contributed to the specific result. Over the long run, these variances will usually
cancel themselves out, but they can wreak havoc on smaller time frames.
3. Some of your pieces take significant amounts of time (not to mention brain power) just to read-- How long does it take to put together a solid, statistically accurate post from concept to completion?
That's a really tough one to answer because I often have a hard time focusing so it’s often done over multiple sessions. Usually I have a couple of ideas kicking around in my head and once I get one I think I can go with, I start writing. Usually as I start writing with one key chart, table of conclusion but as I go I get a clearer picture of the hard data that is going to be needed to build the case. Once I do get going it moves pretty quickly and I am terrible at proofreading my work, so once the last sentence is penned
I tend to just hit publish and live with dumb errors!
We’re all guilty of that. I’ve always been impressed not only by your talent for gathering and analyzing large amounts of information, but also your ability to present it in a way that the common reader can understand. Is that a challenge? Or, should I say, how much do you hold back to keep it accessible for the masses?
My goal is to provide something that is as accessible as traditional stats but more valuable. Sometimes it’s difficult to bring it around, but I am still approaching it all
as a football fan first.
4. Sports and statistics have always gone together like maize and blue. Why is that? Why do we, as fans, enjoy rattling off numbers as much as watching the games themselves?
The numbers help tell the story of what we just saw, they affirm and shape our feelings about our favorite players and teams, they expand the experience. They give us a connection to our teams in between games. Since I started doing The Mathlete work, one of my favorite times of the week is after all the games have been played and all the play by plays are available. Going through game by game and adding them into my database and then seeing what comes out. Whose performance was better than I thought and who seemed to do well but didn't show up in the numbers.
5. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you work with numbers. But, without divulging too much information, can you describe what sort of field you’re involved in? And what do you like to do when you’re on your own time?
Believe it or not I do work with numbers for a living. For the most part I do demand planning and a production scheduling for a large corporation. In other words, I sold out to the man.
Most of my spare time is spent with my family. I have an 18 month old son who I am convinced is going to be the next Jake Long. Mrs. Mathlete isn't too keen on "offensive lineman" as my dream for our son, but she'll come around.
Aside from family, my life is generally sports related. Playing basketball, watching whatever sport is in season and thinking of new ways to analyze, predict or understand sports takes up enough of my time. I am working on getting a full-blown website up and running before football season starts so that I can make more information available but right now all I have is themathlete.com and absolutely no content.
Show your wife Jake Long's paycheck-- She'll come around. Describe the perfect meal.
My grandma used to make a dish called porkies. They had a ridiculous name and were never the most appetizing things to look at, but man were they good. How can you go wrong with what is essentially a giant meatball made of ham and sausage covered in a sauce that is 90% brown sugar. Add in some homemade mashed potatoes (no gravy) and you are likely to find me on the couch for the rest of the day watching football and regretting how much I ate while contemplating going back for more.
6. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I probably came by my Michigan fandom in a very different manner than most at MgoBlog. I grew up in Kansas with absolutely no connection to the state of Michigan. I think the only reason they came to be my favorite school is because growing up they were on TV more than anyone else other than Notre Dame and my dad hated the Irish, so I picked Michigan. The first time I remember cheering for them as "My Team" was in ‘91 with Desmond Howard. The next year saw the arrival of the Fab Five and I was hooked. I got accepted to Michigan for grad studies in Operations Research but a series of events led to it not happening. I am ashamed to admit I have never
attended a Michigan game live.
I was a fan for many years before finally making it out to my first game. I might argue that it meant more than a local’s first game, because of the pilgrimage, ‘Bucket List’-esque nature of the whole experience. When you do get up, it’ll be a life-changing trip. Finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
It's not technically a player, but it would have to be the Fab Five. I had the book, I had a drawer full of the hideous black Nike socks, it didn't get any cooler than the Fab Five. My favorite Wolverine football player is probably Braylon Edwards if for no other reason than the damage I could do with him on NCAA Football.
Being a creative person both by profession and personality, I deal with abstract thoughts and ideas. My boundaries are only defined by the limits of imagination, and my work is grounded more by production details and budget than logic or validity. Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated by the results of Mathlete, and others like him who pour over numerical information to find the truth. Statistics are just raw data. It takes someone with a specific process of thought to manifest those numbers into concrete information that can prove one argument or disprove another. I, or anyone, can make ridiculous claims about a football team without any degree of accountability —the entire field of sports radio is built on this convenient truth— but a guy like Mathlete can take a box score and, with a fair degree of research, a certain level of intelligence, and a little bit of math, turn that raw information into indisputable fact. Unlike politicians, New Jersey women, and Michael Rosenberg… numbers do not lie.
See you guys next week for another edition of MGoProfile!
Thursday 3:35pm ET
Notes: Michigan is 101-45 all time.
Iowa is 1-0 in the tourney (not
Michigan will open up their portion of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Thursday against Iowa. The winner advances to the semi-finals of the championship round, the loser falls into a pit of despair also known as the loser's bracket.
Iowa owns a 2-1 record against the Wolverines, but they've already thrown their ace Jarred Hippen in order to get to this game. Michigan comes in fully rested and with all its pitchers at Rich Maloney's disposal.
A brief review of the regular season meeting and some thoughts on the tournament after the jump.
Ohio sophomore Myles Hilliard has already started to garner attention from college coaches. Recently hired head coach, Sean Williams, has been around the block, and says Hilliard is one of the best he's coached. "Myles is a walking warrior. He's already 6-foot-6, and 240-pounds. He wears an 18 1/2 size shoe; his parents haven't been able to buy him shoes at the store for the past two years," Williams said.
Hilliard has been playing both left tackle and defensive tackle for Bedford, but Coach Williams says he's best suited for the left tackle spot at the next level. "With his long arms, his quick feet, and the punch he has, he'll be best for the offensive side. He's versatile enough for both, but we're only going to play him in situations on defense. I don't want him to be a jack of al trades, and a master of none. If he can master that tackle spot, he'll be more valuable to a college program," said Williams.
When comparing Myles to other players, Williams gave a comparison to a former Bedford player, recently drafted to the NFL. "Rodger Saffold played at Bedford, and then Indiana, and I think Myles has a chance to be better than Rodger. Myles has longer arms, and he's a little bit faster than Rodger. I was shocked at how well he can move at his size."
Since I can't find any film on Myles, here's film of Rodger Saffold, for Indiana, going against Brandon Graham:
Some of the schools and coaches already showing interest in Hilliard have been Toledo, Wisconsin, and former Michigan player Tyrone Wheatley, from Syracuse. "When Coach Wheatley came down, he was in awe of what Myles could do. He was shocked," Williams told me. One of the teams that sticks out to Myles at this point, happens to be Michigan.
Coach Williams actually at one point said Myles reminds him, up to this point, of former Wolverine Pierre Woods. "He is actually hoping that Pierre will be at one of the camps he's going to. He really wants to meet him," said Williams. "Myles loves Rich Rodriguez, and loves the style of offense they play, even back to West Virginia. Michigan is a school that he talks about a lot. At the National Underclassmen Combine, Myles was talking to some of the high school coaches that were from Michigan about the University of Michigan."
Hilliard will be in Toledo on June 5th, to attend their big man camp, and both he and Coach Williams will try to get up to Michigan's summer camp, as well.
Extra - Here's a video of Myles talking to a local station about a concussion he suffered recently.
I'm not too exercised about the ugly loss last night because the US was fiddling around with players and resting sevenish starters. The main takeaway is that the US has no choice put to put Spector or Bocanegra at left back, likely Bocanegra because Cherundolo was pretty awful, still rusty after an injury-laden season.
Stuart Holden. Excellent performance until he got tired late and started lofting moonballs on his set piece services. The De Jong tackle appears to have robbed him of the ability to go 90 right now. Will it be better after a couple weeks of intense training? Hard to say.
That's the only thing preventing me from advocating that Holden should start and the US should push Dempsey up top. Holden has pace, poise on the ball, and a beautiful stroke on free kicks and crosses. He seems much more involved in the game than the occasionally indifferent Dempsey—yes I know he had more yardage covered than almost anyone in the Confed Cup—and starting him removes the difficult choice of what mildly frightening striker to put on the field. On the other hand…
Brian Ching. Ching specializes in the pass before the really interesting pass. It was not a coincidence that the US got zero shots, on net or not, in the first half other than the Edu cleanup of Cech's biffed clearance attempt. As soon as Ching came in he started winning balls, making clever, ball-keeping backpasses, and using his vision to set up attacking plays. He successful set teammates up with a couple of back-heels. He won the corner that Gomez eventually put in the net. He set up Gomez with another golden opportunity, and sprung a half-dozen other attacking moves. There was no contest on the night: Ching was by far the USA's top forward. With Donovan and Dempsey on the wings his lack of scoring is all right: if he sets up Dempsey for an 18-yard bomb that's fine by me.
Right now I might even take him over Altidore. I know this makes me insane, but Ching produces when he's not scoring in a way that no other USA forward does and Altidore is not scoring.
UPDATE: Ching not in 23? WTF?
Jose Torres. Torres has nowhere near the talent of anyone on Spain, but he's our most Spanish player, if you get what I'm after. He's quiet on the ball, maintains possession, sets other people up in good positions, and never hoofs it aimlessly upfield. Useless defensively and not enough of an impact player to get over that when he's going to be playing on a team that struggles to maintain possession like the US does. I don't see how he has a starting role but he could be a valuable sub… if it weren't for Feilhaber.
DaMarcus Beasley. Healthy, looking like the DMB of old. Defensive ability should make him a useful late-game sub, and a proven USMNT performer who was possibly the team's best player in the last WC.
Herculez Gomez. Gomez managed to score a goal a lot like most of his Puebla tallies: a completely easy chance set up by someone else. So that was good, I guess. He didn't do much of anything else; when he and Ching were sent off on a partial break late he kind of lamely dribbled at a defender and got off a shot that was nowhere near the cage. He also rocketed a chance Ching set up beautifully right at Cech. I think Buddle did more, but it was hard to tell because he was saddled with Eddie Johnson.
Edson Buddle. Wahl's got Buddle on his cuts list but I'd take him over Torres (who, frankly, will not play since Benny Feilhaber duplicates his skillset and is favored by Bradley) or Bedoya. Wahl points out that Gomez scored a ton as a sub, which is nice, but I kind of look at that as a condemnation of his ability to play. I bet this run he's on is mostly fluky. Buddle seemed to do more in the limited opportunities he had and has that chemistry with Donovan. An unmarked header from four feet isn't that impressive, is it?
Maurice Edu. For a ball-winner, didn't seem to win any balls. Points for putting in a goal, but… again, it was from two feet away and largely due to a Cech error. Holden did more to score that goal by putting it in at the back post dangerously than Edu did. Then gave up the Czechs fourth goal on a horrendous misplay while moonlighting at central D.
Brad Guzan. Not like it matters.
Eddie Johnson. Multiple times an unchallenged Johnson jumped for a long ball lofted ahead… and totally missed. No thanks.
Left back Chernobyl. How can their be 14 left backs in MLS worse than Bornstein and Pearce? How is this possible? God. I spent most of the first half groaning at yet another Czech guy burning Bornstein, and then Pearce comes in and is directly beaten on the second and third Czech goals. If Bradley puts either of these guys on the field in the WC I will have a conniption fit. It's not just me: Alexi Lalas gingerly suggested maybe Bornstein was not impressing, which is the ESPN equivalent of advocating he never play for the US again.
Steve Cherundolo. Terrible performance from a guy who has been a mainstay. Gave the ball away time and again. Was badly out of position on the second Czech goal and gave the player who would launch the cross a ton of time and space to make a precise pass.
Sacha Kljestan. Not only did nothing with the ball but lazily expected a clearance on the third Czech goal instead of attempting to mark the guy streaking in front of him. Total waste of a roster spot given the depth in central midfield. Will not be going to SA.
Oguchi Onyewu. I noticed Onyewu being pretty lumbery out there so let's turn to the USA soccer rainman Wahl:
14' 0-0. I remember how players run. Onyewu does not run the same way that he did before the knee injury. Will it matter?
about 2 hours ago via web
Depressingly prescient, that, as the Czechs would equalize shortly before halftime on a cross on which Onyewu was beaten badly on. When he came off the field, his injured leg was immediately wrapped in enough ice to bury Jonathan Bornstein alive, not that I'm advocating anything in particular.
Injury concerns were not assuaged, to say the least. Gooch did have a good recovery when Goodson was beaten in a half-break situation early, at least.