alternate headline: man does job
So I missed last week because I was really busy. So I've picked up the baton this week and am resuming Other People's Pressers. Dave Clawson is the guy for Bowling Green and here are a few notes I took based on the audio (what? no transcripts??) of his 25 min presser. There is also audio of questions to LB Eugene "Champ" Fells and Bryan Wright, but I haven't had time to listen to those.
On our personnel:
- He coached in FCS at Richmond for several years and the closest analogue to Denard is Armanti Edwards. Richmond played Appy St in the FCS semifinals in 2006 and lost. Said Armanti Edwards "had a very good day" against them. (Incidentally, UMass coach said something similar in reference to Edwards when they played in the 2007 semifinals - the year of The Horror).
- Denard is strong for his size, quick, fast, makes impressive throws. Has great arm strength, makes nfl throws, and is accurate
- They have a kid (backup QB Caleb Watkins) "being Denard" in practice, but that it's "hard to duplicate the speed of what they’re doing" because DR is so fast. Mentioned that he heard DR ran something like a 4.32 40 in HS and that he's the fastest player on the UM team.
- Defensively, Mike Martin is a big strong guy, and UM has a big DL, averaging something like 290lbs.
- LBs can run, which is a challenge.
On our schemes:
- W/r/t our offense, it's like defending 2 back run game out of 1 back set. A lot of run-pass dilemmas due to ability to run QB. This will be a big challenge defensively for BGSU.
- On our defense, UM struggled defensively last week, but looking at the UConn and ND tapes, solid efforts. If they limit the big plays against ND, it's a blowout.
On their personnel:
- They're very young. Their starting QB (Schilz) is out this week, maybe next. #2 spot has been up for grabs, so both guys there (Aaron Pankratz and Trent Hurley) are pretty similar. All the QB's are young and inexperienced (per roster, all are FR or SO) and whoever starts will be starting for the first time.
- OL is also very inexperienced, which contributed to the injury to Schilz.
- RB Willie Geter is "probably the toughest 5-8 175lb back in the country." Last week vs. Marshall, was able to turn 2-3 yd losses into 2-3 yd gains (reminiscent of Mike Hart in that regard). They knew it was rock (ie, run), but couldn't stop Geter. Doesn't understand why he's not talked about as one of the top RBs in the conference.
- Kamar Jordan is now out of the bag, leading country in receptions. Not surprised that he's breaking out. Expects "cloud or hard corner coverage, safety invert coverage if they try to double him." Can anyone tell me what this means?
- Feel good about the other WRs as well. Lot of good players at that position.
- On Bryan Wright, haven't really talked to him about schemes and plays, they have the tape for all that from last year and this year. It's on the coaches to prep the team, not Bryan Wright to provide information. Did say that he asked about noise, atmosphere, wind, stadium, and if there were better ways to do things at BGSU based on his experience with both LC and RR.
- Said that Bryan Wright spoke very highly of both LC and RR, nothing but praise for both coaches. Reflects very well on Bryan Wright as a person and on the Michigan coaches (sidenote: Wright ended up going to BGSU because his graduate degree program - hospitality management - is not offered at UM).
On the game in general:
- Clawson has "told players they have an opportunity to do something very special for team, program, university."
- "After big loss, need to get refocused. Same after big win. Many new players this year, so need a lot more effort to stay level, not get too high or too low. Didn’t practice well yesterday with enough focus. A win doesn’t mean a great week. Players can get too high. " (I quoted it, but it's not really verbatim - just didn't feel like retyping)
- On Mizzou game last year, they were up 14 at one point, but lost the game. Said he didn't know if they truly believed they could win. It's 4 quarters. There were missed opportunities in the 1st Q that could've won them the game, just as in the 4th when they let it slip away.
- They get excited about playing in front of any crowd, even the 20k home field. But "how often do they get to play live in front of 110k people in the largest stadium in the country?" They don’t play Michigan again. Once in a lifetime opportunity, kids need to be ready to take advantage of it. If they’re not excited about it, nothing will wake them up.
- In reference to the UMass "little house on the prairie" remark, said that if the reporter knows how to control 110 kids, he's all ears (these are the jokes, people). Philosophy is that they need to enjoy themselves. This is a unique opportunity for them. If they're not having fun, they're not getting better. Obviously need to put in very hard work, but need to make sure they enjoy it, too.
At this point in the season it is very difficult to apply a strength of schedule/opponent to the games that have been played so far. For that reason the Bowling Green preview will be based on raw numbers and not opponent adjusted numbers. Opponent adjusted numbers will probably start to make sense around the Michigan State game.
All numbers included in this preview are using my PAN metric, Points Above Normal. PAN is essentially how many points above an average FBS team was a team/unit/player worth. For reference, an average FBS is approximately equal to Illinois or a top team from the MAC.
All games against FCS teams are excluded, as well as any plays in the second half where one team leads by more than 2 touchdowns or any end of half run out the clock situations.
Run Offense vs. Bowling Green
In two countable games, Michigan is 8th nationally in team rushing with +11 PAN per game. Bowling Green is 95th nationally in rush defense at +7 PAN allowed per game.
Denard is first nationally on the ground, worth 12 points a game rushing all by himself. Vincent Smith checks in at just under +1 on the season while Shaw’s big game aginst UMass (would have been +9) is excluded, leaving him just below average at –1. Carries by Hopkins, Gardner and Grady total up to –1 as well.
In three games Bowling Green has consistently been gashed. They have allowed between 5 and 8 PAN per game in all three games.
This should obviously be a huge advantage for Michigan. The projected +18 advantage will be difficult for Michigan to fully achieve, only 6 teams have done it so far this year, but even if they don’t hit that level, this matchup should be a big win for Michigan.
Pass Offense vs Bowling Green
Note: Sacks are included with the pass stats not with the run stats
Michigan: 37th, +5
Bowling Green: 69th, +3 allowed
+5 is a good but not spectacular number but when combined with the top 10 value of the running game, it is very good. While still early in the season, only two teams have achieved the run/pass splits as good as Michigan, TCU and Nevada.
Denard’s +5 ranks much lower on the individual rankings than the team 37th. This is due largely to the fact that Michigan has yet to allow a sack against an FBS team. Since these numbers only count against the team’s passing stats and not the individual, team numbers are usually lower than individual unless there are no sacks allowed.
Even though there were very few passes called against UMass, Denard had his most efficient day through the air. It is not included in the averages because of the opponent, but on 14 throws against UMass, Denard added 15 points of value (11 of them directed to Stonum) to the offense through the air, to go with another solid +5 on the ground.
Bowling Green’s +3 average allowed has been much more varied than their run defense performance. Opening against Troy, they allowed +4, then +8 against Tulsa. However, they bounced back last week against Marshall by posting their first negative allowed of the season at –2 on the back of 4 interceptions.
Based on the first three weeks of the season Michigan should be able to have another solid day through air.
Run Defense vs Bowling Green
Michigan: 63rd, +3 allowed
Bowling Green: 62nd, +3
Bowling Green has been a solid, but not spectacular +2 or +3 in every game so far this year. The good news for Michigan is that primary back Willie Geter hasn’t been that productive. Geter has 66 of the teams 83 qualified carries and is averaging –1 PAN per game this year. All of the value from the running game has come from from one off carries as no other player has more than 9 carries on the season.
Michigan allowed +5 vs Notre Dame after giving up +2 against UConn in week one. Last week’s frustration-fest equaled the Notre Dame game at +5 allowed.
The closest I can come to good news is that the magnitude of Bowling Green’s advantage on the ground is much smaller than the magnitude of Michigan’s advantage on the ground. Bowling Green shouldn’t be good enough to gash Michigan’s run defense but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a big strength, either.
Pass Defense vs Bowling Green
Michigan: 62nd, +3 allowed
Bowling Green: 87th, –1
Bowling Green had a big bounceback game last week against Marshall, going +8 through the air after going –3 and –9 in their opening two matchups against Troy and Tulsa. It looks like BG will be without their starter who was injured in the third quarter last week. Back-up Aaron Pankratz came in for the fourth quarter and went +3 on 8 throws.
Michigan’s +3 allowed would look much worse if last week' was included. Despite not completing a pass for more than 19 yards, UMass produced a very efficient +13 on Saturday against the Michigan defense. The performance was much worse than the not spectacularly terrible +4 allowed against UConn and the +2, 3 interception Notre Dame game.
Bowling Green has two receiver ranked in the top 100. Kamar Jordan has been worth +7 a game this year and Tyrone Pronty has been worth +5. For comparison, Michigan’s top receivers (Odoms without Umass and Stonum with) have both averaged about +5 a game.
As someone who had Freddie Barnes on my college fantasy team last year I can attest that at least in the past, Bowling Green has been able to effectively move the ball through the air without needing big chunks of yards at a time. If Bowling Green can do that with a back-up quarterback and have the success that UMass had in their gameplan last week, this is the one area that could make this game more interesting than it should be.
If this game somehow goes to the end with a team with a shot to win it with a field goal, both teams will be hoping its the other teams kicker out there. Michigan is the 3rd worst in the FBS kicking, having lost 5 points in the two qualifying games due to FG and PAT misses. Bowling Green is only marginally better with 4 points lost over three games, coming in only two spots ahead of Michigan.
Kickoff coverage appears to be equally mediocre. Bowling Green has done better in both punt and kick returns than Michigan has (not that’s too hard) but Michigan should have an advantage in punters which they hopefully will not need to use.
I think the line is too high on this game given Michigan’s defensive situation. As I noted on Monday, I have this game as a 97% likelihood of victory for Michigan, with a spread of 16 points. Score predictions are generally pretty worthless but I’ll call it 41-24 just for fun. The 41 is of course 6 TD’s and a missed PAT, prompting us to go all Kiffin on two point conversions in Big Ten play.
Since the Big 10 slate is absolutely pathetic this week I’ll make some worthless picks of some other big games:
Notre Dame vs Stanford: I still like Stanford here but think they’re asking for too many points, 30-28 Stanford wins
LSU vs W Virginia: Same story here, like the favorite to win but don’t like all the points, 24-23 LSU on some Les Miles last minute voodoo once again
Arkansas vs Alabama: All four games including Michigan’s my numbers like the favored team to win but think the points are too much. 21-17 Alabama
Cam Wysocki, picture from fhnbaseball
[Ed.- Yeah, two baseball posts in one day in September. I love it.]
Michigan received their first verbal commitment from the freshman class of 2012-2013(!) in Cam Wysocki of Forest Hills Northern. Wysocki is a 6'3" right handed pitcher and son of Dane Wysocki, a former UM player and his current high school coach. That UM connection through his parents has had him sold on the Wolverines since birth:
"Since I was about 5 years old, my parents and grandparents have been taking me to Michigan to see games," Wysocki said. "Football at 'The Big House' is one of the best experiences you can have. And Ann Arbor is such a great college town."
The article goes on to list his offers (MSU, OSU, ND, Alabama, Stanford, and Kentucky), as well as his fastball at 88mph. Wysocki is also the starting quarterback and a small forward in the off season, but baseball is his future sport.
Outside of pitching, Cam also is the starting short stop for the Huskies, as well as taking some time at second and first. I've yet to find much in the way of pitching stats, but he was 3-1 last season.
It's too early to project where Wysocki will be by the time he comes to Michigan, so I'll hold off on any input there. Pitchers are hard enough to figure out, but add that it's 2 years before he'll be on the field and that he's a multisport athlete who could get injured in next week's football game, and I've got nothing.
What's crazy about this commitment is that I've heard very little about the rest of Michigan's freshman class of 2011-2012. Will Drake is the only commit I've seen stories on. I'm sure there are probably a few others, but with the early signing period not until November, there isn't a whole lot out there to look at. Such is college baseball, though.
Michigan's baseball team is in the midst of fall practice this week, and like spring ball for football, there are some vague outlooks of next season hinted at even in meaningless exhibitions against Canadian teams. Yesterday, for the second year in a row, Michigan took on the Ontario Blue Jays, a high-level summer ball squad from north of the border. For the second year in a row, Michigan crushed the Jays.
While the 24-1 score over the 14 inning scrimmage means nothing, how innings were allotted to pitchers is something of quite a bit more interest. Heading into next season, Michigan will be replacing two weekend starters. Lefty Bobby Brosnahan seems to be a lock to return to the rotation, and junior Brandon Sinnery is poised to be the second after spending the summer in Ann Arbor bulking up for the workload, but the third spot has been somewhat vague. Enter the exhibition;
Judging by the innings, it looks like the early front runner for the last spot is Kolby Wood (right, by MGoBlue). Wood has been a jack of all trades on the pitching staff for quite some time now. Early on, there were several experiments to move him to the rotation, but between his own struggles starting, and his value as a late inning reliever, Wood never could secure a starting spot. Kolby does have a pretty good fastball, a solid slider, changeup, and has worked with developing a splitter.
As far as the other relievers and potential starters, I have to be impressed with Gerbe and Ballantine. Gerbe could very well end up as this year's closer if he doesn't get groomed into a starter as well. I'm starting to get excited about the future of Ben Ballantine as well. His freshman season wasn't great, but with his height and size, I think we'll see a big break through for him this year.
The last note on the pitching staff, why do lefty relievers always bother me? Be it Katzman's bipolar "OMG I'M GREAT" to "OMG I JUST HIT TWO BATTERS AND GAVE UP 4 HITS THIS INNING" or Jeff DeCarlo, Academic All-American, I've just never felt comfortable with our "specialists." This year appears to be more of the same. Tyler Mills is cut from the same sporadic lefty mold where he'll walk a few batters per innings to raise the blood pressure, then it's anyone's guess on how the inning will end.
Here's where things get interesting. While the first two slots of Biondi and Toth is no surprise, John Lorenz (bottom right, by MGoBlue) in the 3-hole isn't something I really expected. Lorenz really came along to end last season, but his power has been streaky at best and his strikeout rate is generally pretty high. The more I think about it though, the more it makes sense. The only other power options are Crank and Stephens, but their K-rate is probably twice that of Lorenz.
The other option was moving Derek Dennis into the 3, but judging just on the regular season, Dennis didn't appear to be ready for that load yet. It's not to say he won't be ready by February, but I just haven't seen reason to move him that high in the order just yet. Dennis should fit in well to the 6-hole. He'll act as a clean up hitter for Crank and Stephens above him, who should provide Dennis with plenty of RBI opportunities.
The bottom three in the order are of more interest to me than anything else. With two outfield spots open, all three of those guys are competing for two spots on the field. And with Michael O'Neill due back from labrum surgery in the next month or two, that's just one more guy in the mix – one that some close to the baseball program think is already the favorite to start in left. I'm personally leaning towards Krantz as the other outfielder, but that's without seeing him play since the broken thumb. Kevin looked good while replacing Ryan LaMarre last season, and I'd love to see him continue to produce like that at the bottom of the order.
As for the DH, I wasn't really expecting Alex Lakatos to make an appearance, especially given his pitching potential. Lakatos was one of the state of Michigan's top high school pitching prospects last season. I didn't know Maloney also was looking at his bat. I'm also somewhat surprised with the lack of Cam Luther. Luther was the big bat brought in the recruiting class of 2009. He made it into just a handful of games last year before contracting mono, but it appears the projection that he would challenge Stephens for 1st base or designated hitter might be pushed back a little later.
What it Means
Like spring football, everything in this game is all to be taken with a grain of salt. Players still have a few months to get into baseball shape, and anything could happen between now and then, especially on the mound.
If there is one thing I take out of this though, it's pleasure in the AD finally giving the fall exhibitions some publicity. In several southern baseball schools, fall ball is a big deal. Last year, we were given a score, no box, no write up, nothing. As Michigan continues to build it's baseball program, this is a small step forward. So is their recent hire of the new assistant SID, Kent Reichert, formerly of Coastal Carolina (a big time baseball school). I'm really encouraged to see the program moving forward like this.
Had to check. It's true. No Bo-era option QB (that is, 1970s QB) put up total yardage figures anywhere approaching what Denard Robinson has put up after three games this year.
Denard's numbers thus far: 559 rushing yards, 671 passing yards, for 1,255 total yards.
Compare to these REGULAR-SEASON numbers for Bo's starting QBs, circa 1969-78 (the '69 and '70 teams played 10 reg-season games; all others 11):
DON MOOREHEAD, 1969
-- 625 rush
-- 1,261 pass
DON MOOREHEAD, 1970
-- 368 rush
-- 1,167 pass
TOM SLADE/KEVIN CASEY/LARRY CIPA, 1971
-- 347 rush (combined)
-- 675 pass (combined!)
TOTAL: 1,022 (combined)
DENNIS FRANKLIN, 1972
-- 511 rush
-- 818 pass
DENNIS FRANKLIN, 1973
-- 542 rush
-- 534 pass
DENNIS FRANKLIN, 1974
-- 290 rush
-- 933 pass
RICK LEACH, 1975
-- 532 rush
-- 680 pass
RICK LEACH, 1976
-- 638 rush
-- 973 pass
RICK LEACH, 1977
-- 370 rush
-- 1,109 pass
RICK LEACH, 1978 (*include bowl game)
-- 611 rush
-- 1,283 pass
In other words, Denard has more total yards in three games than Bo's option-heyday starting QBs had in an entire 11-game season in 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1975. And the most total yards any Bo QB had in a season (before he loosened the passing reins for Steve Smith and Jim Harbaugh in the '80s) was Rick Leach's 1,894, in his Heisman finalist year of 1978.
(According to gutsnglue.tripod.com, the unofficial Rick Leach website, the 'Flint Phenom' rushed for 100 yards only once in 47 career starts, whereas Denard is 3-for-3 so far.)
At this rate, Denard will eclipse the 1,894 figure in 2-3 weeks -- at or before the halfway point of this season.
Now, granted, each of those Bo QBs had deep, talented backfields behind them, whose FBs and TBs annually combined for roughly eleventy billion yards (OK, but well over 2,000 anyway), so there was no need for them to run -- or even pass -- as much as Denard has been doing.
Still, the comparisons are rather remarkable.
I'm at the tail end of a great week. My wife is pregnant with our first child and I'm on vacation visiting business schools. Obviously, Michigan's Ross is my first choice. It's a great school, the new building is fantastic (check it out if you haven't been), and its got a unique program that matches perfectly with my desired career path. I just hit "send" on the application and feel great about my chances.
Unfortunately, that's the problem. Despite every piece of positive news, I've got a very specific, overwhelming concern--will Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton be serviceable Big 10 linebacker this season? Add to that concerns about running backs, Mike Martin going pro after the season, and the shocking lack of depth in the secondary, and I'm legitimately worried. I spend my days concocting reasons why UMass's success shouldn't be a concern and why our defense can succeed in the Big 10.
Let's add another layer. I don't know a person dedicated or knowledgeable enough with which to watch a game. Everyone knows Denard Robinson is awesome at this point, but how many can appreciate Omameh destroying Te'o on the long touchdown against Notre Dame? This isn't an insult to others, but an indictment of my personality.
Brian had the long-standing email asking why he was a fan and why football was important. I'm starting to ask myself the same question. Last Saturday, I sat in my house screaming at the TV while the defense struggled. As my wife aptly points out, I don't take the same joy in watching the offense perform in a way I may never see again as a Michigan fan.
I always wanted someone like Donovan McNabb to wear the Maize and Blue. Now that a better player with better coaching (I really believe this) is running around making defenses look stupid, I take little joy in their successes. I almost broke my laptop when Rudolph scored his touchdown. When Michigan took the lead and eventually sealed the victory on Crist's throw out of the end zone, I was mildly satisfied.
My question to you, the fan, follows: why is football important to you? Why do you love Michigan football to the point of losing your temper, screaming at the TV, and investing your emotional happiness in 20-somethings you'll likely never meet?
I can't answer my question right now. I love Michigan football simply because I love Michigan football. "Why" is completely absent from the equation. I've got a love of my home state that somehow overrides enormous parts of my logical person and manifests itself in an intense desire to see the Wolverine's football team succeed. Is it guilt at leaving while the state struggles? Why do I care? Why do you? I think this exercise may help those of us that are struggling as the program completes (hopefully) its growing pains and become the ninja football machine we hope for late at night.