I am probably running the risk of being negged into the stone-age but here goes.
Every year (except his rookie year) since Tressel arrive in Columbus OSU has seemingly been a threat to win it all. He got it done in 2002 (at least that’s what the refs say) while he fell just short in 2006 and 2007. This year, a substantial portion of the college football pundits penciled Ohio State into the national championship game. They were returning an experienced offense led by a Heisman candidate and a stingy and senior-laden defense. Their schedule lined up nicely (as it tends to do during their runs) with Miami, Penn State and Michigan at home and Marshall, Ohio and Eastern Michigan filling out the cream puff portion of their schedule. While I dread the unknown of our coaching staff I would argue that OSU losing (at some point during the year) is more important to our future than us beating Iowa (or PSU or Wisconsin for that matter).
How the hell can that be you ask?
Look at the composition of our roster on any given year and you will notice a trend; a sizeable percentage of Ohio born players. Our neighbor to the South have given us ancient greats: Bennie Friedman and Bob Chappius. All time greats: Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson. Recent memory multi-year contributors: Elvis Grbac, B.J. Askew, Prescott Burgess, Shawn Crable and Pierre Woods. And current and future contributors: Jordan Kovacs, Mike Shaw, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Roy Roundtree, Kevin Koger, Patrick Omameh, Jibreel Black, Christian Pace, Courtney Avery and the Talbott brothers.
As much as I agree that Ohio is THE worst state ever (I was born, raised and educated in Ann Arbor) it is clear that it serves a purpose. I got to thinking about this when I saw the post about Chris Wormley receiving his much coveted Michigan offer but also while thinking back on recruiting in the past few years. Tressel’s success has brought about Michigan pain on a number of fronts, some obvious, some less so. When Tressel brought his first OSU team to the Big House in 2001 he had one lone Michigan native on the roster, Craig Krenzel. Now he has Taurian Washington, Dionte Allen (via transfer from Florida State), Aaron Gant, James Jackson, Johnathon Hankins and Reid Fragel.
So what you say? We didn’t want most of those guys anyway you say.
Well aside from that being a sevenfold increase, look at the players and the positions they play. Gant is a safety, Allen is a corner, Jackson is a slot, Washington is an outside receiver, Hankins is a space eating defensive tackle and Fragel is a tight end. Aside from Washington and Jackson (who would be great in Rich Rod’s offense) those are all positions of need and would have given us some of the much needed depth we have been craving. While it may appear that I am blaming our recruiting or recruiters; that is not the case. For those who did not grow up in Michigan, the law of the land states that you do not go to Ohio State. Maybe Michigan State if Michigan overlooks you or your grades are shit. Maybe Notre Dame if you grew up Catholic or favor that private school atmosphere. Maybe Iowa or Penn State if you like their depth chart. Maybe Indiana if MSU overlooks you too, but never Ohio State, never.
So what happened?
Tressel happened. I work with teenagers on a daily basis and I can tell you they are as fickle as a man with five wives. The kids who are getting ready to make their college decisions grew up watching OSU beat us with regularity. Us grown folks would never be swayed by such a blip in time but that is the reality of the teenage mind. I don’t recall any specifics so I won’t name drop but I remember a host of top flight Michigan talent actually considering Ohio State in the last few years (with some obvious success on OSU’s part). I would read how some stud player from Detroit “grew up” an Ohio State fan and then have wait for signing day with a razor to my wrist in horror.
While losing Michigan players to the Southern Satan is intolerable, losing Ohio players, the ones we used to have a chance with, is almost as bad. While we have always had success with some high profile guys in Ohio, we are not as successful as we once were. Ohio State’s roster and current recruiting crop is littered with guys who would have once really wanted to go to Michigan but are now content to ride the pine in Columbus because we have lost some of our relevance in that state. This has been an increasing trend since 2002. It will only continue to get worse if Ohio State were to win it all again. Ohio State’s loss guarantees (I guess nothing is 100%) that they will not win the national championship (not that they would have, stay with me here) and in the process capture the hearts and minds of teenage prospects throughout the Midwest.
One last thing…I am not an English major or a historian so if there is something grammatically or historically incorrect I apologize. Enjoy.
Action since last rankings:
10-12-10 Notre Dame loses commitment from Jordan Prestwood.
If you see any errors in the individual tables, please let me know. I'm tempted to move Indiana down a bit, but their averages per commit are about even with (or only very slightly behind) the teams nipping at their heels, and they have more commits.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 19 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
Irish lose OL Jordan Prestwood, one of their top commits. However, their rankings are bolstered a bit by Kyle Brindza finally picking up three stars from Scout.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
Nicklas Sade picks up a 3-star ranking from Scout. Daimion Stafford gets a lofty 5.8 rating from Rivals.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 12 Commits|
No change for Michigan.
|#6 Indiana - 22 Commits|
|#7 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#8 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#9 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
Russell Houghton-James picks up a 5.5 rating from Rivals, and a 74 from ESPN. Will Minnesota start hemorrhaging commits with Brewster being fired?
|#10 Wisconsin - 13 Commits|
No change for Wisconsin.
|#11 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#12 Illinois - 16 Commits|
Mosley picks up a 74 rating from ESPN.
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
No change for Purdue.
Synopsis for Turnovers: "Turnovers, yeah, that's ridiculous…. You know, we're not good enough to make mistakes and beat anybody. I told you, everybody that earlier, our team understands that. Especially the ones – you're moving the ball, you're inside the red zone, inside the 15 and you fumble it. And then we kick a field goal and it's about this high [hand gesture about head high] and that gets blocked….And then the penalties, we're our own worst enemy in the first half with the silly penalties. That's just ridiculous and we gotta get that cleaned up." Rich Rodriguez.
M has been –7 in TOM the past 2 games. Turnovers have now reached the point that a winning season (6-6 or better) is in jeopardy! Only 28% of teams with a TOM of –5 or worse had a winning record (basis: all FBS—AQ teams for the past 5 years).
To reiterate: turnovers are NOT primarily due to luck. Turnovers ARE primarily due to poor performance and/or inexperienced players. Turnover margins often increase when the relative experience and skill of the opposing teams are significantly different. Over the next 5 games, M will face 3 teams (Penn State, Illinois, Purdue) with similar (or perhaps less) experience at key positions and 2 teams (Wisconsin, osu) with more experience at key positions. How the turnover battle shakes out will have a major impact on how many of those games Michigan can win. If we can maintain a neutral or positive TOM, all of those games are winnable. If not…….(I will make no comment about the chart on the right. It is what it is.)
BTW, blocked punts, blocked field goals, on-side kick recovered by the opposing team, roughing the kicker penalties, etc. are not considered to be "official" turnovers but have the same effect. I will continue to track these also.
Overall, M declined from +1 TOM to –3 TOM and the national ranking climbed to #79. Turnovers lost are now about the same as an average team but turnovers gained are just 69% of the average team. All TOs, except the last interception by Tate, have occurred at important times during the games.
Synopsis for Special Teams
Another mixed review for special teams. Hagerup in now ranked #28 nationally and ended up with 50.3 average yards per punt and a net of the same 50.3 yards per punt! M's overall net punting includes a couple of pooch punts by Denard and Tate and (amazingly to me) the blocked punt by Hagerup is NOT included in his stats – it is included in the overall team stats for punting. Starting field position for the opposition after our kickoff remains at the 29 yard line (slightly better than average). Broekhuizen had a 38 yard FG blocked that was then returned 37 yards to the M48. He also sent two kickoffs out of bounds (which is really just an 11 yard penalty versus the average starting field position after KOs).
Details for Turnovers:
Here is the Summary by Game. According to the folks at Football Outsiders a first down TO is worth 5 points, second down TO is worth 4.5 points, and a third down TO is worth 4.0 points (regardless of field position!).
The extrapolation is a straight line [Totals] X [13 Total Games / Games Played]. AQ Best and AQ average is over the past 10 years. AQ Best is kind of funky because the team with the "best" in each category is different so the numbers don't add. But it does provide a point of reference.
Here is the detail of each fumble/interception and a comment providing insight if the turnover (or lack thereof) was significant. Note, blocked punts are not considered a turnover and an interception of an extra point is not considered a turnover (player does not get credit for a interception).
Here is the overall summary by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Details for Special Teams:
Here are the Punting and Kickoff statistics. (Touchbacks are included as –20 yards when determining net yards.)
Remember here are the correlations of TOM to WLM at season's end.
Figured I'd turn this into a regular feature. Just a compilation of stats to show where the team is at, presented without comment. All rankings are national (out of 120 FBS teams) unless otherwise noted.
Overall Rank- 37th (5th in the Big Ten)
SOS Rank - 49th (3rd in the Big Ten)
Scoring - 36.0 p/g (17th)
Rushing - 281.6 yds/g (7th)
Passing - 250.4 yds/g (36th)
Pass Eff - 159.83 (15th)
Total - 532.0 yds/g (3rd)
Sacks Allowed - .43/game (5th)
TFL Allowed - 3.57 (5th)
Turnovers Lost - 12 (67th)
RedZone - 84% (50th)
3rd Down - 46.59% (28th)
4th Down - 80.0% (11th)
Scoring - 28.4 pts/g (82nd)
Rushing - 144.7 yds/g (57th)
Passing - 296.3 yds/g (105th)
Pass Eff - 140.95 (94th)
Total - 441.0 yds/g (105th)
Sacks - 1.43/game (85th)
TFL - 5.71/g (71st)
Turnovers Gained - 9 (83rd)
Red Zone - 88% (93rd)
3rd Down - 42.00% (86th)
4th Down - 64.71% (90th)
Net Punting- 37.68 (42nd)
Net Kicking- ?
Punt Returning - 5.11 yds/ret (100th)
Kick Returning - 19.37 yds/ret (100th)
Punt Return D - 9.4 yds/ret (71st)
Kick Return D - 18.42 yds/ret (11th)
Field Goals - 25.0% (118th)
Penalties- 5.0 pen/g (16th)
Penalty Yards - 51.0 pen yds/g (54th)
TOP - 28:32 (90th)
Denard - Rushing
1096 rush yds (1st); 156.6 rush yds/g (2nd)
Denard - Passing
1319 pass yds (53rd); 188.4 pass yds/g (66th); 9.2 yds/att (9th); 159.1 rating (16th)
9.00 tackles/g (44th)
8.71 tackles/g (53rd)
8.43 tackles/g (63rd)
43.6 avg punt (34th)
(Note: over the past three games, Hagerup has punted 11 times for an average of 48.3 yards. That would be good for 2nd nationally).
Well, had you guaranteed me my beloved Maize and Blue would be 5-2 after the first 7 games, I would have signed on the dotted line. That would have meant a 2-1 result through UConn, ND and MSU – because believe me, at no point did I expect a win against Iowa. I’d be surprised if many of us had expected better than 5-2 at this point. And after 7 games, though a mixed blessing, we should all recognize that this year’s version of the Wolverines are exactly what many of us thought they’d be: improved on offense, unbearably young on defense.
It’s amazing what happens along the journey though: a lightening quick Sophomore gives you hope beyond reason by doing in 5 games what few others could accomplish in 10 and a suspect defense stops what many expected to be a top tier running game in the opener.
And suddenly, irrational emotions take over as visions of 10 or more wins replaced what we all knew to be true – 8-4 would be both a good step forward and likely a best case outcome.
Without memory of our August expectations, we’ve experienced 2 games we should have seen coming, but none-the-less: our lightening fast savior finally played like a Sophomore with only 5 starts to his name, our defense made spirited stops at times but couldn’t do it with consistency or when it mattered most, and our highly efficient offense gave the ball away 7 times.
Now our emotion has reared its ugly head in how many of us are responding, as we jump off cliffs: the offense is flawed, the defense is worse than anticipated and regressing and now every team in the Big Ten will torch us. To top it off, we’re looking for someone to blame for pushing us; Robinson, Rodriguez, anybody, because someone has to pay for our inflated expectations.
Two years ago, we were in some games for a half, then just blown away. Last year, it became a couple plays here, a couple plays there and we win a few more. For contrast, last week, we were two offensive mistakes from leading 14-0. And we can only speculate how crippling Lewan’s 1st quarter personal foul may have been this week, but despite playing as poorly as the team did, they were still very much alive in the 4th, and moved up and down the field on one of the best defenses in the country. Does that mean we should, would or could have one of the two games? Not sure, and it doesn’t matter.
What matters is this – this is your team, to encourage, to cheer, and to support. These are young men who appear to be representing the university with far greater class than some of us. And this team deserves our passion for them to succeed, without our inflated expectations for what we think they should be.
Here’s to win #6 in 2 weeks. Go Blue!
This was originally a response to an earlier post, but I figured it would be fun to make it a post and expand a bit.
As told through Bruce Willis movie posters.
Game started out with the team looking:
and the team taking an early 7-0 lead with some nice stops. Then Iowa went on a run, scoring 21 straight points before the half as the offense imploded somewhat and everyone had a
that things were falling apart. The scene started to look bad as the fans began to boo with everyone's
Then Denard was hurt in the 3rd quarter and everyone was
Tate came in, but everything seemed a little off initially as him lining up under center felt like
Iowa then scored again to take a 21-point lead and the scene was pure
But then Tate led the team on a string of impressive scoring drives, and they refused to
UM pulled within and it looked like the game would be a classic in which the
would win. Unfortunately, the kicker then booted his second (!) kickoff out of bounds, leaving every fan seeing as Iowa was able to tag on a field goal to finish the scoring at 38-28, a tough loss but one that most felt had some bright spots, even though others feel that sentiment is a
Now for the next two weeks, there will be rumblings that perhaps Tate should be the starter over Denard, that an issue exists. I expect the airwaves to be held for the next two weeks as people wonder about this team and if a collapse is going to follow, though I ultimately expect this team play like they are and ultimately emerge as a