go go go
WMU has a lot of places to fill after graduation, only returning 11 starters from last season with 4 being on D.
Returning Starters; DE, DT, LB, LB
The defense does get a +1 in transfer Doug Wiggins(S) who previously played at Miami and sat out last year. Wiggins may not be as successful as Delmas was last year but he will bring some seniority and guidance to the other new starters in the secondary. Closer to the line Pritchard(LB) will probably have his name called all year, he had the 2nd most tackles last year with 86(behind Delmas with 111) including 10.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. They also return the all important MLB in Zajac, though he has only made 5 starts, he played in 12 games last year and should be a key contributer this year. The line its self returns half the starters and will be including a JUCO in TJ Lynch. He could be the pass rushing DE Cubit loves. He isn't listed as a starter in the media guide but he is sure to see time this year. Overall this D was instrumental in the upset of Illinois last year, just about everyone saw time in that game do to injuries.
Returning starters, QB, RB, WR, C, OG, OG, OT
Hiller returns, obviously, as well as the majority of the line. Losing one OT. The returning line played all 13 games last year with only the returning center and guard not starting every game (starting 8 and 12 games respectively). Behind Hiller is Burdi who broke off a few nice runs last year, the longest going for 42 yrds and a TD, I would doubt he sees much time but if Hiller goes down he could be a decent threat to run. In the remaining skill positions they return starting WR Juan Nunez who only has 11 starts to his name and RB Brandon West. The WR corp were banged up last year after the Illinois game losing 2 big contributers who have since graduated. Looking at the depth chart, the roster only includes about a handful of starts beyond Nunez. That is not to say this will be a weak unit but they too will be playing many underclassmen at the receiver positions. Brandon west was a 1000 yard back in 2008 (5.0 ypc) and with all that Oline returning there is no reason he wont be again this year. Behind him they return their number 2 and 3 RBs as well. Matt Stevens is now the #1 TE, when the TE is a viable option in the offense Cubit does not hesitate to use them, but with his 7 total starts and ho-hum stats I am not sure how much he will be utilized.
There are definite questions that wont be answered till the game is played which is what everyone is so excited about. The biggest offensive question is the receivers, If they are up to snuff then you can expect a balanced attack of rushing and passing. If those receivers don't run the right routes or make mistakes it could end up being a heavy dose of the running game with just passes of the shorter variety to keep the defense off balance. There is no doubt that Cubit's offense can showcase stars, Hiller this year, TE Tony Scheffler and WR Greg Jennings both from 2006 were 2nd round picks to the broncos and packers respectively. It is very possible there is a sleeper hiding within the roster.
The defensive secondary will have the biggest questions to answer with everyone to be replaced. The line though could end up having a few too many holes this early in the season to be successful, but I think it will be largely unchanged in a stats point of view from last year. The Bronco's defense can play big when it counts though; holding Heisman contender Garrett Wolfe in 2006 ( who totaled 1400 ruyds in 6 games) to 25 total yards and pulling the upset 16-14, that was a huge game that year. Then you look back to their upset at Illinois last year, at Iowa in '07, and at virginia in '06 and you cannot sleep on either side of the ball with WMU.
So what do I think?
I buy into the, if you have 2 QBs you have no QBs opinion and if there is 3 then there still is no QB yet. But there are too many questions in the WMU secondary to not think that at least one of the QBs will find a throwing lane and hit a deep pass for 6. I think the inexperience on each team will be canceled out between the two of them; both sides of the ball will make mistakes but there won't be a massive TO margin. I don't think the UM RBs will get enough yards early to make this a high scoring game, by pounding the Dline early though they will take advantage of them late in the game. The WMU offense will put up yards, but without an established WR, or two, to go to they will have to rely too much on the running game to be successful.
Michigan is in a more favorable situation than a corporation that has been publicly accused of say, securities fraud. Public allegations would trigger an immediate SEC investigation, and then you're playing defense in trying to manage the enforcement body's investigation, which makes it tough to build an affirmative case that the client didn't do anything wrong. Unlike the federal government, though, the NCAA is generally willing to let a university conduct an internal review before it takes a look at the situation, so Michigan is more in the position of a company that's had internal allegations of misconduct brought to its attention.
In that situation, the point of the investigation isn't to get to the "truth" in some objective sense, but rather to answer a simple question - knowing what we know, can we go to the enforcement body in question, lay out our facts, and convince them that there's no point in investigating any further? The client is hiring you to put together a case that answers the question in the affirmative. You're going to try to discover the negatives as well as the positives and not whitewash things if you conclude that something illegal took place, but you're also going to present the facts you do discover in the best possible light for your client.
Getting specific, Rosenberg's story indicated that Michigan has signed statements from every player stating that all time spent on football beyond 20 hours was voluntary. This is infinitely stronger evidence than you usually have in a situation like this. If the question is whether X occurred and harmed a group of people, and there are contemporaneous statements from the supposed victims that X did not occur, we'd end the investigation right there. Is there more to the story? Probably. But there's more than enough to convince the enforcement body that it's not worth pursuing the issue any further. The SEC or NCAA or whoever have limited enforcement resources, and they're not going to waste them investigating situations where they'd have no hope of winning any subsequent legal proceedings. And overcoming Michigan's paper trail in this situation would be virtually impossible.
So if a company in Michigan's position came to us we'd laugh, tell them they have nothing to worry about, take a look at the paper trail, and then either end things there or write a brief disclosure to the enforcement body saying that X was alleged, we examined documents that conclusively disproved X, and that's it. And that would be the end of it.
"We want the Big Ten championship and we're gonna win it as a team! They can throw out all those great backs and great quarterbacks and great defensive players throughout the country and in this conference. But, there's gonna be one team that plays solely as a team. No man, is more important than the team. No coach, is more important than the team. THE TEAM! THE TEAM! THE TEAM! And, if we think that way, all of us. Everything that you do, you take into consideration, what effect does it have on my team? Because, you can go in to professional football. You can go anywhere you want to play, after you leave here. You will never play for a team again! You'll play for a contract. You'll play for this. You'll play for that. You'll play for everything except the team! Think what a great thing it is, to be a part of something that is, THE TEAM! We're gonna win it. We're gonna win the championship again, because we're gonna play as a team! Better than anybody else in this conference, we're gonna play together as a team. We're gonna believe in each other. We're not gonna criticize each other. We're not gonna talk about each other! We're gonna encourage each other! And when we play as a team, and the old season is over. You and I know, it's Michigan again, MICHIGAN!"
From what I can tell a workout consists of some variation of the following routine:
1) Putting the ipod and armband on, setting the playlist you like best, and bobbing your head cause you know you can't dance
2) Getting to a station, putting weight plates on
3) Doing a set (and grunting for the last 2-3 reps)
4) Looking at yourself in the mirror while you muster up energy for the next set
5) Change the song on your ipod and begin the next set
Hyperbole aside, in that routine I see a relatively small portion of actual "workout" time. I imagine teams that calculate to the minute factor that into their time limits and only say time actually lifting iron plates is "workout time".
My point is that when a player says they take even 4 hours for a workout, it's entirely possibly that would still fall within a 2-hour limit.
Thanks NCAA for making all this crystal clear.
Now a slightly off topic complaint regarding punishments experienced for missing an off-season workout - note the article never states whether that punishment is for missing time in the within-rules mandatory 8 hours of off-season conditioning or for missing a voluntary workout. It simply aims to imply that it's for missing anything. That's the only "solid" evidence the article presents to show that off-season stuff is required - YES 8 HOURS IS REQUIRED!
Furthermore, if you schedule time to workout and don't show up (voluntary or not) - shouldn't you be punished. Your'e wasting someone else's time by making an appointment and not showing up.
As a proud Michigan graduate and individual who is responsible for guiding, coaching, and mentoring a team, I'd like to voice my support for Coach Rodriguez. As you know from your sailing career, character is shown to the crew when sailing rough waters. It's a lesson that I've learned personally and from observation. It's clear to me that Coach Rodriguez has character that is second to none. Through one of the most turbulent times in Michigan football history, there has been no wavering in his commitment to the players, coaches, and fans. No excuses were given by him at any time. Now, with accusations made regarding violation of practice restrictions, he has shown his character again and stands by his word in a public forum without placing blame or making attacks on the accuser. I am proud to say he is the football coach of the team I support.
Coach Rodriguez must produce results on the field. But with the solid example he and his staff set for the student athletes and for the general public, I believe the good results are inevitable.
Please pass along my support to Coach Rodriguez, his staff, and the players. And please remind them all - It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine!
I'm sure the grammar police will be on this in 3... 2... 1...
It's a tad long, but the primary message is that RR and his staff are terrific people and Rich in particular is a high-character guy -- his closing talk to the campers was off-the-cuff (seems he never reads a statement -- comes from the heart and the head) and hugely meaningful.
Evan was met at the entrance to Yost for camp sign-in by Tony Gibson -- big handshake, big smile, and asked Evan if he'd hit anyone yet today. Great welcome.
We then were directed to a table with Coach Smith and his wife, then to a table with Coach Frey, then Coach Tall and on down the line.
After sign-in, we went over to Schembechler Hall where Evan had his picture taken with RR, who told me I had a nice looking son (ok, I'm sold).
For the week, the entire camp for 13 to 15 year olds was run by RR and his staff. Coach Robinson and Coach Hopson worked the linebackers, which was Evan's group. Everything they did was "on the hop".
The dorm counselor was Scott Draper, a very fine gentleman who commanded the attention and respect of the 200 or so young fellows there.
We parents were treated with great warmth and respect, while the kids had the times of their lives. They were told that they may have come from a lot of different places, but for the camp, they were all Wolverines and all in together.
At the end of the camp, RR gave an off-the-cuff farewell that was priceless:
Take care of your parents,
take care of your brothers and sisters,
take care of your friends and teammates,
and take care of your schoolwork.
If you do that, everything else will follow.
I also had a chance to see Mrs. R holding court with a bunch of moms -- it looked like the weekend football mom's coffee klatch -- Rita couldn't have been more charming and welcoming.
These are terrific people and our beloved program is in fine hands. Bill Martin made a great hire, Lloyd finished with class and has remained classy, and Rich Rodriquez is a natural-born West Virginian who continues the tradition of excellence from Coach Yost on down. Bo would be proud, would respect the emphasis on the team, and the long blue line of Michigan men and women should also be proud.