"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
It is never too early to begin planning for your NCAA purchase and with the announcement of this year’s cover boy ringing in our ears and the Spring Game one week away I figured the time was right for a pre-preview of the upcoming NCAA Football 11.
This year’s cover athlete will be none other than Tim Tebow (Angel choir sings in background at just the mention of his name). He will be the cover athlete on all systems, unifying the title for the first time since 2008 when undrafted Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky received that honor. With this announcement, made this week by EA, Tebow has been making the rounds and this is what he had to say:
Best part of being cover athlete – “I've been playing this game since I was 6. But they made so many big changes this year, I needed to find out the secrets before it came out."
Reaction to yourself first time on a video game – “First thing I thought was, I'm faster than that. [laughs] I wanted to call some people and get my speed rating bumped up a little bit.”
Tebow’s burn on the rest of us in answer to how he likes playing himself – “To be honest, I don't actually play as Florida a lot. Even the last four years I haven't played as them too often because they're really good in the game and it's too much of an advantage for whoever is playing as them. Usually we pick lesser teams.” (I wish I had that same issue playing Michigan, but no one ever complains)
Weirdest combine question – “Whether I'd rather be the quarterback for their team or the governor of Florida”
Video game QB vs. the real thing – “You can always find those plays in every game that work for a touchdown or a big gain all the time and no matter what the defense tries, they can't stop you. Only downfall is sometimes you might cramp up a little on the thumbs.”
Madden 11 designer Donny Moore on Tebow’s upcoming stats – “"Tebow will be the best trucking quarterback in 'Madden' this year, He's not the most elusive, but in terms of breaking tackles and power, he will be able to put down his shoulder and run over a few defenders. A lot of this is fluid, but right now in 'Madden 11,' we have Tebow at 80 speed and 92 acceleration. Trucking, carrying the ball, like I said, he's going to be better than any quarterback coming into the league."
For those whose heart goes paddy pat at the mere mention of Tim Tebow here is the link to the full interview - http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/index?id=5073043
EA has released few details as of yet, but there is enough information out there to get excited about what we can expect:
Graphic Jump – First screen shots look so good that EA had to come out with a statement confirming that they in no way touched up the pics, and that they were indeed real in-game shots. You will also notice something that has been glaringly missing in the background. Pinstripes! That is right, referees are making a comeback in NCAA ’11.
Improved Realism – Ever complained that this year’s NCAA looks just like last years? That shouldn’t be the complaint this year. With linear lighting the feel and look of the fields and players should be a huge upgrade to Madden like quality. What does it mean? It means the game will now have shading dynamics based on the time of day. If it is night the skin, jerseys, and helmets will be shaded appropriately and in the day time have that spring fresh look to them. It is hard to put into words, but my hope is we get rid of that plastic, shiny, pasty player graphic, and the result is a more believable player look.
Locomotion – Can I get a Whoo Woooo! I am ready for this train to leave the station and excited to see its inclusion into the new NCAA. What it means in short is that 99 Acceleration now means as much as 99 Speed. If you noticed in years past it was all about running a straight line faster than the defender, (no an occasional zigzag to overcome a faster defender diving does not count). With the addition of locomotion NCAA will get the power of the burst. Players with fast acceleration will close on ball carriers and make tackles with their quick acceleration. Dynamic Short Yardage players ala Forcier against ND - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gDv0HMTJEY&feature=related, will be able to make the quick move to fool the over pursuing DE and then turn on the afterburners to outrun safeties.
Team Playbooks – How frustrating has it been playing NCAA for Michigan fan the last few years? 2 years ago we had a pro-style offense playbook, that didn’t resemble the product on the field in any way, and then last year we had 1 bubble screen and an option playbook that again didn’t resemble anything Michigan was running on the field. This year is supposed to be improved with Team specific playbooks that closely resemble the on the field product. Florida has been getting this for years, but finally the rest of us may have it.
Formation Subs – Remember back in the olden days, when the PS on your gaming platform had a 2 that followed it? There was this little feature that made football just plain better, where you could customize any formation including kick-off teams to maximize your team’s competitive edge. Well that is finally back after a long hiatus, and no team will benefit more than Michigan. That means you can set up Denard Robinson to come in automatically anytime you run the Ace-Big formation, or bring in Focier for the Shotgun formation. It means you can customize your DL to get Campbell and Martin on the field at the same time when you need run stoppage against the dive in a 3-3-5 set. It means good stuff.
NCAA Football 11 will be hitting the store July 13th. While it still seems too far away I know, the date has steadily been creeping earlier and earlier in the last few years. In fact EA has moved the release date earlier in July every year since 2007 when it released on July 18th. Maybe it only takes 364 days to make a new issue of NCAA hence the change.
I know that many of you, like myself, celebrate the release of NCAA like a national holiday. We work diligently in the months of July and August, while others haven’t even thought of cleaning out their coolers yet, as we put together “The Game Plan.” I’m not making any guarantees, but if the coaching staff would just glance at “The Game Plan” this year it might just make Michigan a surefire Three-Peat National Championship team. The plan works, and I can show you my NCAA trophy case if you don’t believe it. Keep playing, and I’ll see you online.
[Ed: These games are at home, and while tonight's promises to be chilly the weekend day games should be beautiful spring weather in the 60s. If you're around, I suggest going.]
Michigan (16-10, 2-1)
Purdue (12-11, 1-2)
|Friday 7pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Alan Oaks (3-3, 3.29 ERA)||vs||Matt Bischoff (3-1, 2.06 ERA)|
|Stats||Audio (WTKA)||TV: BTN|
|Notes: Michigan is 131-52 all time, Last year: 1-0 (4-3 in 10 innings)|
|Saturday 1pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Bobby Brosnahan(3-2, 4.36 ERA)||vs||Blake Mascarello (1-2, 2.61 ERA)|
|Stats||Audio (WCBN)||TV: BTN|
|Notes: Mascarello is a LHP|
|Sunday 12pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|TBA||vs||Matt Morgan (2-0, 3.23 ERA)|
|Stats||Audio (WCBN)||TV: BTN|
|Notes: No idea on the starter. Katzman? Miller?|
It's been a long time since Michigan has faced off with Purdue in Ann Arbor. With the Boilermakers being the team rotated off the schedule the last two years, they haven't been to Ray Fisher since the 2007 season. The two teams have faced off three times since that series, twice in Ann Arbor for the 2008 Big Ten Tournament, Michigan winning both games, and once as a side game in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge of 2009, Michigan winning 4-3 in 10 innings.
This year's matchup is a bit less intense than the Big Ten Tournament, but it's not without it's own importance as Purdue can be dangerous if their starting pitching (as mentioned in yesterday's Q&A) can get in a groove against our aggressive hitters.
Match ups, concerns and more after the jump…
After dispatching Central Michigan in a rainy midweek game, Michigan resumes conference play in Ann Arbor this weekend against Purdue in the conference home opener. In an effort to get a feel for Purdue, I did a Q&A with Hammer & Rails writer TMill to get a glimpse of how Purdue's season is going.
TMill is just getting into his fledgling baseball coverage over the last week due to some sort of basketball tournament-thing that's been going on, but he's got a better idea of where the baseball team is compared to most outsiders.
No return Q&A will be going on at H&R, so I'll conclude the Purdue preview tomorrow with my series thoughts.
Content after a jump:
Before we get into discussion of the deeper issues facing Michigan lacrosse, Let's take a look at this weekend's opponents. Colorado has been struggling throughout this year, badly enough to change coaches mid-season. Colorado State, on the other hand, has been excellent. They are ranked #2 and are undefeated on the season in the competitive Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference.
Friday, 7pm MDT,
Franklin Field KITTREDGE FIELD, Boulder CO.
Record: 2-5 (0-2 RMLC)
Rankings: Prodigy #22, LaxPower #15, Computer #14
Common Opponents: W 17-7 Simon Fraser
Previous Meetings: 2009 Regular Season (video highlights), 2009 MCLA Playoffs (liveblog).
I've talked a few times about how Colorado is a team in disarray. They fired their first-year head coach just a couple games into the season and have limped to a 2-5 record against MCLA teams this year. Those two wins, however, came against respectable competition (Simon Fraser and Lindenwood), so it's not like the Buffaloes are incapable of beating top teams.
Offensively, junior attack James Blackburn, a 2009 Honorable Mention All-American, leads the team with 2.71 points per game, and freshman Doug Lilburne isn't far behind at 2.29. Those are the only two CU players over two points per game, however, and the offensive production has really struggled, with the Buffs only breaking into double digits in their two victories on the year. sophomore middies Nick Kupcewicz has impressed, but was suspended for last week's game against Colorado State.
On defense, senior Mike Britt was named an MCLA 1st-Team All-American last year, and his classmate Mike Geocaris earned an Honorable Mention distinction. Sophomore defensive mid Ryan Emerson leads the team in ground balls, closely followed by freshman LSM Hap Knowles. In goal, 4th-year sophomore William Brown and freshman Bradley Macnee have gotten the most playing time. Brown has the higher save percentage, but facies more shots, giving up 8.6 goals per game.
Michigan should be able to emerge victorious in this contest. The Buffaloes are talented, but haven't been playing like it yet this year, and are just enter the second week in the system of new head coach Mike Ryder. The Wolverines' ride should be able to prevent an unsettled CU clear from reaching respectable numbers, and Michigan has proven to be able to turn defense into offense, as well as scoring on established possessions. [Ed: CSU and the possibility of a D-I move after the jump.]
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – Eight University of Michigan football players from the 2009-10 season, one baseball player and one men’s track and field athlete were named All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year Award recipients from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) on March 31.
Former football players Stevie Brown (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East) and Brandon Graham (Detroit, Mich./Crockett Technical) were joined on the list by senior Steve Schilling (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), juniors David Molk (Lemont, Ill./Lemont Township), Brandon Herron (Stafford, Texas/Dulles), Mike Martin (Redford, Mich./Catholic Central), Junior Hemingway (Conway, S.C./Conway), sophomore Mike Cox (Dorchester, Mass./Avon Old Farms), fifth-year senior Nick Urban (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall) from baseball and junior Frank Shotwell (Medina, Ohio/Medina) from men’s track and field.
“The advantages of strength training and conditioning cannot be denied in collegiate athletics,” said Robert Jursnick, executive director of the NSCA. “These student-athletes attest to this understanding, and are to be applauded for their hard work and dedication.”
The honor recognizes the student-athletes’ dedication to strength training and conditioning. This year, the NSCA awarded 232 collegiate athletes from 106 schools with the honor. The NSCA All-American Athlete of the Year Award program is in its 32nd year.
The NSCA All-American Strength and Conditioning Athletes of the Year program recognizes collegiate athletes whose athletic accomplishments, in the opinion of the strength coach, reflect their dedication to strength training and conditioning. These athletes are also recognized for their academic and personal accomplishments as well as their integrity as student athletes.
This is the first year in which athletes from Michigan have received the award.
Quotes from U-M Strength Coaches on the Student-Athletes
Strength Coach Cassandra Baier on Stevie Brown… “Stevie possesses great physical ability and a very competitive nature, both of which make him a winner and a physical specimen. With this combination, Stevie is due for success.”
Strength Coach Parker Whiteman on Mike Cox… “Mike is an animal in the weight room. He always wants to do more and is consistently looking for ways to make himself better. He enjoys what he does day in and day out.”
Strength Coach Mike Barwis on Brandon Graham… “Brandon is a born competitor. He comes into the weight room every day with a great attitude and work ethic. This makes him one of the top defensive ends in the country.”
Strength Coach Chris Allen on Junior Hemingway… “Junior is a great kid that works consistently hard and is very disciplined. Every day his attitude is to be better than the day before.”
Strength Coach Jim Plocki on Brandon Herron… “Brandon’s work ethic and determination is hard to match. His speed and strength have not only made him a physical specimen in the weight room, but a force at defensive end.”
Strength Coach Jesse Miller on Mike Martin… “Mike, a freshman All-American, has an incredible work ethic. He sees every day as an opportunity to get better. The way he works influences others around him to reach new heights and set higher goals.”
Strength Coach Kentaro Tamura on David Molk… “David is an extremely hard worker. He sets out everyday to be the best he can be. I am confident that his achievements will continue to grow throughout his career. He was named to the Rimington Award Watch List, which is awarded yearly to the best center in the nation.”
Strength Coach Dennis Murray on Steve Schilling… “Steve Schilling is a tempo-setter. He comes in every day with the mentality to get better. He is the first one in the weight room and the last one to leave. This is why he is such a great leader, not only on the field but in the weight room as well.”
Strength Coach Mike Favre on Frank Shotwell… “Frank’s dedication, consistency and effort have not only raised the level of his own performance, but that of his teammates as well. His leadership has been, and continues to be, an asset to the success of the University of Michigan men’s track and field program.”
Strength Coach Jason Cole on Nick Urban… “Nick is a very diligent worker. He raises the intensity to the benefit of those around him. Nick is a consummate team player.”
This is an early list of who is going to be at the Spring Game this year. This list will continue to grow, since these are only the players I've talked to so far. Some of the visits could change as we get closer, so just remember that.
I'll keep adding to the list as I talk to more people, but here's what I have so far.
WR DeAnthony Arnett
OH LB Percy Johnson
OH DE Bryan Baird - Said he will probably be there, not positive.
OH DB Greg Brown (commit)
MI DE Brennen Beyer
MI CB Delonte Hollowell (commit)
MI OL Anthony Zettel
FL RB Demetrius Hart (Mom coming too.)
FL S Dallas Crawford - Yes. This is a big one for Michigan.
FL WR Sammy Watkins - Yes. Also big.
MD DT Vincent Croce - Yes, as of now.
TX RB Jarrell Oliver (same school as Stonum, Herron, Woolfolk)
NJ LB Antoine Pozniak - He's coming with the "Top Prospects Family." Je'Ron Stokes dad is the founder of Top Prospects Family.
NJ ATH Miles Shuler
PA DE Deion Barnes - 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. Same school as current wolverine Je'Ron Stokes, and his brother Malik Stokes.
NJ LB Andre Hodge - Top Prospects
Other Top Prospects Family - Ronald Butler, Tyron Stevens, Lamar McKnight
IN OL Tony Springmann
GA WR Justin Scott
FL DE Anthony Rabasa
PA DB Kyshoen Jarrett - No, as of now. Family might decide to come, but no for now.
OH S Ron Tanner - He has baseball.
OH DE Robert Mincey - No, he'll be at Toledo. No offer, not sure if he'll get one.
OH DT Kevin Williams - He'll be at Nebraska, for their spring game. He was recently at Michigan for one of the practices. It seems like it's down to Nebraska and Michigan. He'll make his choice shortly after the 17th
NC LB Kris Frost - No. His family waited too long to buy tickets, so they were too expensive when they went to buy them. He's NOT going to Auburn's spring game over Michigan's, he's going to Auburn's because it's only 6 hours away. He figures he might as well go somewhere, if he can't make it to Michigan. They are trying to find another time to make it up.
AR QB Kiehl Frazier (2011) - No for the spring game. I spoke with his father, though, and they're really excited about Michigan. He said they DEFINITELY plan on making a trip to Ann Arbor. They really like Coach Smith, and are excited to see Michigan.
NJ WR Damiere Byrd - Track Meets
MI RB Justice Hayes is going to try to make it. Not positive yet.
OH TE Ray Hamilton - There's a "strong possibility" that he'll be there. Not definite.
OH OL Aundrey Walker - Doesn't know for sure yet. It's still a possibility.
OH WR Shaq Washington - Going to try to make it. He doesn't have an offer, but Michigan is one of the few schools he's hoping to get an offer from. He thinks he fits the offense really well.
OL Matt Frazier - Didn't end up making it to practice the other week. He fell ill, and couldn't make it. He's either coming for the spring game, or one of the early games of the season. Most likely a game, though.