1. Banned Wedge Kickoffs
THE RULE: When the team receiving a kickoff has more than two players standing within two yards of one another, shoulder to shoulder, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty—even if there is no contact between the teams.
THE REASON: A 2007 study showed that 20 percent of injuries during kickoffs were concussions.
EXPLANATION: When receiving a kickoff, teams tend to coalesce their blockers into a tight wedge. The way to break through such blocking is to send one of the tacklers into the wedge like a missile and blow it up. Example here
You can see the violence involved in this play. In fact, the reason offenses can only have so many people in the backfield today is because the wedge and wedge-breaking were major sources of deaths in the early game.
The NFL banned wedge blocking last year. Now the NCAA has done it too.
IMPACT: This is ultimately a win for kicking teams, since blocking caravans cannot form while the kick is in the air. It will probably prevent a head injury every three to five games. It's also probably a win for Michigan, since our speedier blockers are more likely to succeed without a wedge, our speedy returners are the least helped by wedge blocking, and most importantly, we are glad it is gone because we really suck at it:
YAY OR NAY: Big Yay. This was a decision made to protect the health of players. Fewer concussions = Sam McGuffie playing for Michigan rather than Rice = win. It wasn't delayed, but it was based on good science. It also looks to open up the kicking game a bit more, forcing the returner to run around a bit and hopefully dodge more guys in space, rather than fight through a tightly packed crowd every time. Plus, the way they defined it is pretty cut-and-dry: when the ball is in the air, you have to be two feet from your teammates. Good rule.
2. No more holding L2 on your way to the end zone
THE RULE: Live-ball penalties for taunting will be assessed from the spot of the foul and eliminate the score. Examples include players finishing touchdown runs by high-stepping into the end zone or pointing the ball toward an opponent.
THE REASON: Old men with objects in their rectums get to make rules. The explanation given is that it's because it's team game. Ask any offensive lineman if he minds if a skill position player jigs into the end-zone rather than coldly running in like a pre-2004 Madden avatar. He don't mind. This is about large, oblong objects in old ani, period.
EXPLANATION: If you taunt before making it to the end zone, and are penalized for it, the penalty will now be assessed as a live play. So let's say you are a receiver, and through your mad football skills you beat a cornerback deep, your QB gets you the ball, and now you have lots of green between yourself and the end zone. At this point you should IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM DO ANYTHING TO SUGGEST THAT YOU ARE HAPPY ABOUT THIS.
If you high-step, hold the ball out to a defender, pump the ball in your arms, or pull a DeSean Jackson:
The score is negated, AND you get a 15-yard penalty.
IMPACT ON MICHIGAN: Well, so long as we continue to deploy 18- to 22-year-old athletes who are excitable and love scoring touchdowns, their body language is likely to negate some touchdowns. They don't say so, but I highly, highly, highly doubt this penalty will ever get called on a (white) quarterback who is jumping up and down in ecstasy while his teammate runs in the pass -- this is geared at showboat receivers and running backs. I'm calling it now: we will get penalized for this, because we have young guys who can score long touchdowns and this makes them happy.
I don't know how tightly they plan to call it, but this might count:
YAY OR NAY:
Nay. With sauce. There is a heavy smell of racism in this. Good sportsmanship is something coaches can teach and kids can display to earn themselves and their programs more respect. But the NCAA negating plays on the football field because a 20-year-old got too excited after the result of the play had been for all intents and purposes determined: that smacks of grumpy old men trying to teach those kids a lesson in manners.
3. No more eye black messages
THE RULE: Bans the use of eye black containing symbols or messages
EXPLANATION: Hey, waitaminute, you can't use all the television cameras to say what you think or represent -- only WE can use all the television cameras to say what we think or represent.
IMPACT ON MICHIGAN: Dudes can't write stuff in eye black anymore (unless a shoe company pays the university top dollar for it). I assume duct tape over one's mouth is still cool.
YAY OR NAY:
This is the second rule that could have just gone with a Don't be DeSean Jackson approach. There are precious few guys who actually get national exposure for their eye-black. It's basically Heisman candidates, and the odd Mike Hart-type fella who so personifies his team that TV cameras zoom in on his face a lot. Most eye-black messages are the school logo. Others are usually hometown area codes, or dead or sick friends and relatives.
The committee also approved a rule that will require all coaches boxes to have television monitors beginning in the fall of 2011. This is a good idea. I think. Is it?
Michigan (20-11, 4-2)
Illinois (15-13, 3-3)
|Friday 6pm CDT, Illinois Field, Champaign, IL|
|Alan Oaks (3-4, 4.02 ERA)||vs||Will Strack (1-1, 6.29 ERA)|
|Notes: Michigan is 128-95-3 all time, Last year: 1-2 series loss. |
Note game times are local to the game site, Central time.
|Saturday 3:05pm CDT, Illinois Field, Champaign, IL|
|Bobby Brosnahan(4-2, 4.54 ERA)||vs||Kevin Johnson (2-1, 5.77 ERA)|
|Sunday 1:05pm CDT, Illinois Field, Champaign, IL|
|Brandon Sinnery (3-0, 3.34 ERA)||vs||Lee Zerrusen (2-2, 5.62 ERA)|
Michigan travels to Illinois this week to take on the Illini in what has been a pretty even series over the last few years. Michigan is just 19-20 against the Illini since 2000, having won just one series in 2008. That said, they've only lost 3 series in that time due to several four game splits, but the Illini have continuously been a throne in Michigan baseball's side. This year looks to be no different.
Just a reminder, Q&A with Illinois Baseball Report happened. Preview is there.
Abbreviated thoughts after the jump:
From a press release sent out this afternoon by Michigan Athletics. Teams are tentative, but everyone on the roster should be in for at least one play:
Coach: Desmond Howard (1989-91), Wide Receiver
Captain: Vada Murray (1987-90), Defensive Back
Ron Bellamy (1999-02), Wide Receiver
Tom Brigstock (1962-65), Halfback
Gasper Calandrino (1978), Defensive Back
Jim Conley (1961-64), End
Zia Combs (2000-02), Defensive Back/Wide Receiver
B.J. Dickey (1977-81), Quarterback
Don Dufek (1972-75), Defensive Back
Chris Floyd (1994-97), Tailback/Fullback
Jermaine Gonzales (2000-04), Wide Receiver
Livetius Johnson (1988-91), Running Back
Rich Leach (1975-78), Quarterback
Triando Markray (1982-84), Wide Receiver
Ben Mast (1997-01), Offensive Line
Chris Matsos (2002-04), Wide Receiver
Zoltan Mesko (2006-09), Punter
Anthony Mitchell (1985-88), Defensive Back
Ohene Opong-Owusu (2007-09), Linebacker
Darren Petterson (1995-98), Wide Receiver
Marcus Ray (1995-98), Safety
LaTerryal Savoy (2006-09), Wide Receiver
Lasker Smith (1992), Defensive Back
Phil Webb (1983-87), Tailback
Josh Williams (1995-99), Defensive Tackle
Chuck Winters (1992-96), Safety
Pierre Woods (2002-05), Defensive End
Coach: LaMarr Woodley (2003-06), Defensive End
Captain: Phil Brabbs (2000-03), Kicker
Tony Blackenship (1989-93), Safety
Alijah Bradley (2003-06), Running Back
Jason Carr (1991-95), Quarterback
Will Carr (1993-96), Defensive Tackle
Bob Cernak (1984-87), Quarterback/Tight End
Bill Dufek (1974-77), Offensive Line
Dan Jokisch (1987-90), Wide Receiver/Tight End
Brian Lafer (2001-03), Wide Receiver
Andy Mignery (1999-03), Quarterback/Tight End/Punter
John Navarre (1999-03), Quarterback
Troy Nienberg (2001-04), Kicker
B.J. Opong-Owusu (2003-06), Safety
Tom Parkhill (1962-65), End
Marc Ramirez (1986-89), Offensive Line
Aaron Richards (1998-01), Wide Receiver
Todd Richards (1992-95), Wide Receiver
Jim Sinclair (1988), Fullback
Walter Smith (1990-94), Wide Receiver
Dorian Taylor (1992), Linebacker
Michael Taylor (1985-89), Quarterback
Anthony Thomas (1997-00), Tailback
John Thompson (2004-08), Linebacker
Dwayne Ware (1988-92), Wide Receiver/Defensive Back
Gerald White (1983-86), Tailback/Fullback
Very nice touch to have Murray and Brabbs as the team captains. I think we all know why that is. My money's on team Howard.
I gave a bit of insight into my methodology in the last lacrosse bracketology, so I'll spare that discussion. This time, I'm going to compare resumes rather than going by the polls, to try to figure out what the committee will do when seeding the teams.
Don't forget, the Wolverines play Purdue this Saturday at 7PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse (Preview Here). It's their fourth and final home game of the year, so I encourage anyone who can make it to do so. It's the perfect post-spring game activity!
The loss to Colorado over the weekend, thankfully, will not be enough to bump Michigan out of the number one spot. As long as they take care of business for the rest of the year (and hopefully the loss can be a motivating factor to do so), the top line is locked up.
The next few weekends have some very important games between ranked teams that could radically alter the way the field looks. Take this post as a snapshot in time right now, not a prediction for the future. There are enough games left to be played that the field can look very different from what it would be if selected today. The resumes will be much easier to shake out at that time as well.
Last 2 in: UC Santa Barbara, Florida
First 2 out: Simon Fraser, Loyola Marymount
New since last time: Illinois, UC Santa Barbara
Out from last time: Lindenwood, Loyola Marymount
Next Bracketology: April 29, 2010
There are a few distinct groups right now, with a solid top 3 of Michigan-Colorado State-Chapman, A few schools who will only get in by winning their conference's autobid in Texas and Illinois, a group of BYU-Arizona State-Duluth-Florida State-Oregon that are all in the tournament barring complete disaster, and then a muddled middle. I compared resumes within those groups to end up with the seeding as I did.
The Illinois/Lindenwood switcheroo from last Bracketology post was based solely on the fact that the Illini have fewer losses at this time. Either way, the winner of the conference tournament is in, and the other is out. One of the SELC teams could miss out as well. I would guess Florida misses the tournament unless they, at the very least, make it to the finals in their conference tournament.
The top group is still volatile, with Michigan State playing a key role. They play Colorado, Colorado State, and Michigan, with two of those squads vying for the #1 overall seed and the Buffaloes trying to play their way back into the tournament field.
The WCLL, GRLC, and PCLL bids are still too close to call definitively. Once conference tournaments are over, I'll know who's in for autobids, and fill in the remaining six slots much more easily. The next bracketology will come April 29th, before the CCLA conference tournament that weekend.
If you're interested in learning a bit more about lacrosse (particularly the riding game), or finding out what went wrong against Colorado last week, check out the comments of my previous lax post. Lots of knowledgeable people, including the awesome "laxalum" are more than willing to educate some fools.
Michigan took both games in the midweek, beating Toledo by a score of 8-4 and Bowling Green State by a score of 8-5. I'm not going to get into either game too much as the midweek games are pretty meaningless from a long term perspective, but there were a few notable players and storylines worth recapping.
Eric Katzman was brilliant in relief of Matt Miller on Tuesday. Katzman went 5 innings, allowing just one hit and two walks to earn the win. It was great to see him get a solid long relief appearance and hopefully this builds his confidence when it comes to the weekend relief corps. He was mixing up pitches really well, and had some stretches of "effective wildness" that kept hitters off balance and rolling over pitches.
On offense, Ryan LaMarre kept his offensive tear rolling, knocking a 2-run homer in the first inning, his first long ball since returning from the injury. But not everyone enjoyed the LaMarre homer. Chris Berset, still feeling the "sting" of losing his 3-hole spot last weekend, came up on the next pitch to hit a solo home run of his own, the first back-to-back homers Michigan has had since February 2009.
John Lorenz also added on in the early innings to remind some of us that he's just as capable of producing in the 8-hole. Biondi also went 3/4.
This game was a bit more bothersome from an offensive perspective. For the most part, Michigan was kept off base for the first 5 innings. Biondi and Toth combined to produce a run in the first inning, and then the offense went into hibernation mode as Apthorpe chewed through our lineup.
Upon Apthorpe's exit, things picked up. Anthony Toth picked up his first career homer, and LaMarre and Berset both followed that up with hits. After a Crank hit by pitch, the Falcons made their only error of the game on a would be double play ball to end the inning. Instead, it opened the flood gates to a 5 run Michigan inning.
Things weren't all sunshine and happy following the inning. On Berset's double, LaMarre went 1st to 3rd and came up holding his hamstring, stretching it out thoroughly during a pitching conference at the mound. LaMarre would stay in and score on a Dufek sac fly, but he left the game as a precautionary move to start the next inning. He's expected to be fine for the Illinois series.
On the mound, Matt Gerbe made a good start, making it through 4 innings and giving up just one run. He gave up a lot of baserunners, but he managed to escape time and again. That changed in the 5th inning. After loading the bases, with only one out, Gerbe threw a wild pitch through Crank's legs. That plated the first Falcon run of the inning. The next batter would line one right back to Gerbe who made a great snag to catch the ball for an out, but when Gerbe went to throw out the runner at third for not tagging up, the ball was thrown away. Two more runners would score and Gerbe would be pulled.
Kolby Wood came in and did alright in earning the win, but the team did have to use Burgoon again for 2 innings. Tyler was lights out as usual, but I have to wonder what his availability is this weekend. I imagine he won't be in Friday unless it's a dire necessity.
Bonus update from The Daily's game wrap:
“I want to thank Tyler Burgoon for my inspiration for my first home run,” Toth said. “He inspired me by telling me I am never going to get one. He tells me that every single day, whether we have a game or not, so I’m glad I got that monkey off my back.”
Illinois questioning [ed: and awesome excel graph!] after the jump:
|Tuesday 3:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Matt Miller (0-2, 6.89 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Stats||Audio (WCBN)||BTN.com ($)|
|Notes: 33-11-1 All Time, Last game was a 12-4 W in 2008. No game |
notes yet, so no official probable starters in either game. This gets
addressed in Series Thoughts below.
Bowling Green State (9-17-1)*
|Wednesday 3:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Matt Gerbe (1-0, 2.84 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Notes: 38-13-1 All Time, Last game was a 3-8 L in 2009. *Record is |
as of Tuesday morning. They have a game with Cleveland State
Michigan takes on the second highest ranked remaining team on their schedule on Tuesday with a game against #83 RPI Toledo and will follow that up with a game against a lower tier MAC opponent (RPI of #215 is about equal to that of Purdue or Northwestern). Dare I say Michigan may lose to a MAC opponent this week?
Take the jump to find out: