...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Book of Seniors, Chapter 12, verses 1-40
And so it came to be that in the second season of the pain of the 17th Age of Leaders, the Emperor had reached the end of his reign. For eleven weeks, he would ride to battle with his army as he had done many seasons past. He summoned his new field general before him, and laid down for him the commands he would issue to his troops.
"Your predecessors have failed me. See now that I have scattered them to the winds, and struck them with maladies to make clear your path. Recognize my power, and rejoice."
His general knelt before him, throwing out his arms and calling out the glories and wonder of his Emperor, praising his powers and thanking his divine mercy. He called upon the god Yhohst, begging a host of virgins to please his Emperor. And again the Emperor spake unto him.
"See now my temple in the City of the Trees is nearly rebuilt. Its towers stand all the more mighty. Its glass gleams to reflect my spirit back onto the gathered faithful. Its shape shall summon praises from all corners and focus them, until the very crust of the earth is split."
His general shouted more praises, and swore to fell a thousand Buckeye Trees in his name.
"And you, anointed one, you shall have your portion. The power of the Forcier shall ring out through out the land, and women shall throw themselves at your feet. Babes shall cease their wails and men will tremble, humbled fully as you pass. Because I have ordained it."
After this, the Emperor and his general sat, and consulted with the grand battle planner and all his aides de camp.
As before, the season of pain began, and the temple was defended. The City of Trees shook and was alive. The battle planner was tireless. The general was fearless. The enemies were helpless.
When enemies threatened to command the battlefield, the Emperor himself took up his armor and met his foes, and threw them down 50 and 60 marks. When his weapon would make contact with the insturment of battle, the sound would split rocks and crack steel. Battlefields became awash with maize and blue. None could stand in the way of the Emperor and his holy warriors.
And at last, it was the twelfth week. The land had been purged of unbelievers. The new general had proved his worth, and his Emperor's faith was shown right as always. All had fallen as the Emperor had forseen, and he knew his troops ready.
On the horizon appeared a single figure, small of stature, but broad, robed in scarlet and gray, he carried large golden trumpet, which he put to his lips. When he blew, the sound was not sweet, but a sickening, maddening tune. Drawn by its heinous melody, a slavering, chattering horde of vile, half dead creatures crested the horizon, lead by giants dressed for battle. And at their head, King Tre-salleh.
The Emperor looked to his general, who began assembling his holy warriors to defend the temple once more, and stilled him with a gentle touch.
Summoning all his power, the Emperor picked himself off the ground and floated as a whisp of smoke towards the approaching horde. Storms raged in his eyes, and flame belched from his nostrils as he drew each breath. His hair burned from his head, and steam poured from his body.
As he neared the gathered enemy, he opened his mouth as if to speak. Out of his mouth came the blast of every trumpet of heaven's great marching band, and the voice of every single believer, in the most powerful and perfect instant of the Emperor's fight song. All around, the trees screamed, and the rocks bled, and the lakes boiled, and the birds fell from the sky. Flowers bloomed and withered in an instant, and the entire world knew the truth.
And even as their blood vaporized inside them, the opposing army stood defiant. The Emperor's head tilted back, and out from his mouth erupted a massive cyclone unlike the world had ever seen. The vortex of divine and holy power grew exponentially, lighting and streaks of fire encircling it, until finally it had enveloped the enemy, and the Emperor. The enemies shrieks of pain could not
And the sky cleared. The storms departed. The cyclone tracked up the sky and disappeared into space, the Emperor's second dominion. And the sun warmed, and a maize sripe appeared across the blue sky. The Emperor's voice was heard comming down from the heaven's, sounding sated, with the mild din of tortured enemies wailing somewhere in the background.
"Whenever you see this sign, remember that I am with you. May your punts always be lethal."
So ends the Book of Seniors.
I love these write ups on the new recruits. They are very informative and interesing. However, one thing always irks me. The "Fake 40 Time Sections" and the wide belief on MGo that fast 40 times don't translate to the field.
1st: 40 yard dashes are timed in a mulitude of ways (i.e., outdoors, indoors, grass, astro turf, field turf, basketball courts, rubber tracks, wind-aided, below 60 degrees, above 80 degrees, above sea level, at sea level, hand held, electronic, etc.). ALL OF THESE FACTOR IN A 40 YARD DASH TIME. Yes, at the NFL Combine they post the times to the public. But, the majority of scouts take their own numbers back to their respective teams. They do so, b/c they trust their own timing and this gives them at least one constant when comparing times. Times in FLA, TX, GA, etc. are faster for a number of reasons. As fast as Denard is, he wouldn't run those times in Michigan during April when it is still 55 degrees outside, windy, and above sea level. The kids aren't necessarily faster...in fact, the Midwest usually has some of the faster track kids in the Nation when it comes to timing at National Events. I can go on and on. But, the times you see aren't "FAKE" they just don't correlate to whatever imaginary scale being used to determine the validity of an "ACTUAL" 40 time.
2. Yes, when someone has consistent fast times this usually means they always run fast. Even on the football field. As an observer, sometimes it is really hard to judge how fast someone is. Hate to bring the whole Tate vs Denard thing up, AGAIN (I know how much you hate it)! But, there will be absolutely no comparison to how fast each one is...track speed, field speed, game speed, it won't matter! Now, some players don't run as fast a 40 time as they are phsyically capable, but this is due to lack of coaching. But, if they are running fast times they are gonna run fast on the field if they know what they hell they are doing. A smart player is confident, a confident player can play full speed.
3. And USAIN BOLT IS ONLY 22 years old! How fast do you think he was at 18? I can guarantee you he was running well under a 4.4 second 40 yard dash time. Look at Ted Ginn. He was widely considered to have world class speed...and it showed on the field as he consistently ran past opposing defenders while playing with the SUCKeyes! Someone else do the google search to find out what he ran in HS...
***Sorry, I just don't like to call 40 times fake*** The time may not exemplify a players actual speed, but they are usually are representative of how fast someone may have run at that particular time.
Michigan scores very well in these position ratings, however Lindy projects us to finish 7th in the BigTen overall. I find this a bit odd. So I personally calculated every team's average position group rating according to Lindy and compared it to their projected order of finish.
Here are the results:
1. Ohio State 2.75
2. Penn State 5.25
3. Michigan State 5.25
4. Illinois 6.75
5. Wisconsin 5.875
6. Iowa 5.0
7. Michigan 3.375
8. Northwestern 7.75
9. Minnesota 5.875
10. Purdue 9.75
11. Indiana 8.375
I really find this striking. Lindy's believes that Michigan is the 2nd most talented team in the BigTen according to the positional group ratings, yet they have us finishing 7th in the conference. This seems a bit perplexing, especially with Illinois finishing 3 spots above UofM in order of finish, but averaging nearly 3.5 spots below us in positional talent.
The one area where they rate us the lowest is QB, which is understandable with 2 true freshman and a walk-on competing for the job. However, they still rated us 8th overall in QB play. Yet Wisconsin is ranked 10th in QBs, but still 5th overall. In fact UofM was rated higher than Wisconsin in 7 of 8 talent groupings (Special Teams, UofM finished 1 spot below Wisconsin), yet Wisconsin is projected to finish overall 2 spots higher in 5th.
Where Michigan ranks in conference by position according to Lindy:
8th QB, 1st RB, 2nd WR, 3rd OL, 3rd DL, 4th LB, 4th DB and 2nd ST.
Is it fair to give your 2nd most talented team in the BigTen a 7th in the conference finish and a 47th in the nation finish? I don't think so, even with a Freshman QB. Perhaps they overrated our positional talent, but they also could have nasty 3-9 taste in their mouth biasing the overall finish.
Of course Lindy's could be way off in their positional talent rankings for the conference, but if they are accurate, it should be a sign of positive potential for the 2009 season.
I had been worried of a 5-7 season, but I am starting to think that if QB play improves along with the turnover ratio that we could be looking closer to 8 wins.
P.S. Lindy's in preseason individual awards (which granted are meaningless) also gives us THREE 1st team All-Conference Defense, ONE 2nd team All-ConferenceDefense and THREE 2nd team All-Conference Offense.
P.P.S. If I gave out too much of Lindy's info, I will happily edit some out upon request.
As promised, and suggested, that there be a summary diary post of the winner for best player for each jersey number in this ongoing series I have begun to undertake, this is the first for numbers 91-99 [If I was doing it in reverse I would be going 1-10, 11-20 and so forth] and there is a mix of legends and role players in this set. For two of the numbers, I felt that the top two players were close enough that they deserved to be tied. The Mack/O’Neil tie was a hard one, as O’Neil’s accomplishments were better at Michigan, but how can one fail to call Mack one of the best players ever to put on a Michigan uniform when he started to emerge in his senior year only to become one of the best players at is position ever in the NFL. As for Dyson/Williams the differences between them in terms of their calibre and contribution make it hard to choose between them. I give them the tie.
So far, this has been a fun exercise, and will get more fun as the numbers get smaller. It is more difficult when there are no standouts, but I have learned a lot about many of the program’s fine role players. Many thanks to the Bentley Historical Library, whose database makes this all possible and for Wikipedia, both sites provided much of the bulk of the bio information and stats.
Here they are:
Michigan’s Best by Jersey Number
99 Pierre Woods, DL, OLB, 2001-2005 [wore # 96 in 2001]
As a senior in 2005, played in all 12 games and made five starts at linebacker and made 24 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles. In 2004, played in 12 games, recording 22 tackles, one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery. As a sophomore in 2003 he had 68 tackles and led team with 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks and was Second-team All-Big Ten after starting all 13 games at outside linebacker. He appeared in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman and did not see any action as a freshman. He was signed as a rookie free agent to the New England Patriots in 2006
98 Tom Harmon, HB, 1938-1940
There was only one player to wear this number in the history of Michigan Football, one of only five retired jersey numbers. This gentleman was a All-American in both 1939 and 1940 and winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1940. As a Halfback, he rushed for 2,134 yards. He led college football in scoring in both 1939 and 1940, a feat that has not been repeated in the history of college football. He also spent time under center, completing 100 passes for 1,304 yards. During his career he played all 60 minutes 8 times. He also was a member of the varsity basketball team for two years. Wikipedia recounts his final game:
"In his final football game, against Ohio State he led the Wolverines to a 40-0 victory, scoring three rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, four extra points, intercepting three passes, and punting three times for an average of 50 yards. In an unprecedented display of sportsmanship and appreciation, the Ohio State fans in Columbus gave him a standing ovation at game's end. No Wolverine player has been so honored since."
97 Chris Hutchinson, DT, 1989-1992
He started for 38 games as a DT and his best season was 1992, his senior year, where he set the single season record for sack yardage  and tied for number of sacks in a season . He is second on the career sack list with 24 for 188 yards. He was co-captain and team MVP for the year. In addition to earning Big Ten Lineman of the Year and All-American honours for athletics, he was an exemplary student, a three time Academic All Big-Ten award winner, earning both the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award (given to the team's leading senior scholar), and an NCAA post-graduate scholarship which he used to attend UM Medical School. Here is a man who embodies all the best of what we think when the word "student athlete" comes to mind.
T-96 Calvin O’Neal, LB, 1973-1976
Calvin was twice named All-Big Ten and was a consensus All-American. A co-captain on the 1976 team that was ranked #1 for eight weeks, he was a team leader on defence, setting a season record with 151 tackles in 1975, and had a record 278 tackles for his career. O'Neal combined strength and speed from his inside linebacking spot, making 10 tackles for losses his last two seasons. He also had three interceptions, one a pick-six. He went on to join the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League.
T-96 Thomas Mack, E, 1963-65
Following high school, Mack decided to attend the University of Michigan where he earned a degree in engineering. When asked why he chose Michigan over the logical home-state choice Ohio State he explained, “Ohio State never offered me a scholarship. Michigan was the only major college that offered me one.'' Initially, Mack struggled at Michigan just to stay on the traveling squad. Then, in his junior year he was converted to an interior lineman where he earned a starting role as a tackle. That year Michigan won all but one game and went on to beat Oregon State 34-7 in the Rose Bowl. The following year he was selected All-Big Ten and named second team All-American. He went on to be one of the best linemen ever to play the game, going to 11 pro-bowls and was named all-pro 9 times and is one of only 6 Michigan players to make it to the NFL Hall of Fame.
95 Curtis Greer, DT, 1976-1979
Greer left in 1979 with the honour of being the school's all-time leader in tackles for losses. The cat-quick lineman registered 48 tackles for losses during his Wolverine career for 234 yards. His 23 hits behind the line of scrimmage for losses totalling 107 yards in 1979 established a school seasonal record. He was an All-American selection in 1979 and an All-Big Ten choice in both 1978 and 1979. He was drafted in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals where he gained a starting berth in his first season.
94 Jason Horn, DT, 1992-1995
He was an All-American defensive tackle who played team from 1992-1995. Horn played in 48 games over four years at the University of Michigan, compiling 169 tackles, 18 tackles for loss (for -136 yards), and 24 sacks (for -184 yards). He was named a first-team All-American in 1995. He was a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection. In 1995, Horn had 11 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss, setting a Michigan single season record with 122 yards of tackles for loss yardage. He finished as Michigan's second all-time leader in quarterback sacks (24), third in sack yardage (184), third in career tackles for loss (39) and second in tackles for loss yardage (236).
93 Sam Sword, ILB, 1995-1998
Swords' 265 career tackles ranks third in school history. He went on to play for the Raiders and the Colts in the NFL.
92 Dan Rumishek, RLB, 1998-02
Eventually went on to play Arena Football for the Columbus Destroyers
T-91 Matt Dyson, OLB, 1990-1994
Dyson was twice selected to the All Big-Ten Conference First Team and once to the Second Team. In 1992, he was selected as a second team All-American. In 1994, he was selected as the Defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl. In 1995, the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the fifth round. Currently he is the head football coach George Mason University.
T-91 Josh Williams, DT, 1995-1999
Williams was drafted in the fourth round (122nd pick overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Colts. He played for the 1997 National Championship winning team. During his time at Michigan, he started 34 career games and played in recording 159 career tackles (96 solo, 63 assists), 28 Tackles for a loss (131 yards) and 11 sacks (79 yards).
NOTE: If anyone is willing to e-mail me the bits of html for posting pictures and video, I may edit and add some stuff later. If you are able to uncover bio information that I have not been able to unearth, please share it with me and I will update the entry. Also, if you dig up cool stuff, I am not above adding it to give this feature some punch. My address: stevebaarda [at] rogers [dot] com
When watching the games last year, I was often left with the impression that the biggest problem with our defense was our offense. I would love to see some stats on average starting field position for opposing offenses, because I feel like our worst moments on defense always came after the offense coughed up the ball in a bad position.
According to http://www.cfbstats.com, we were ranked 84th in scoring defense and 67th in yards allowed. Again, I wish I had stats on average starting field position, but these two stats seem to indicate that our defense was better on a down-to-down basis than it was at preventing points. Maybe you can explain the disparity in scoring defense versus yards allowed by saying we gave up tons of TDs instead of FGs, but there were 14 teams above us in total scoring defense that allowed more TDs. I feel like the most likely explanation for this disparity is the fact that our offense put us in a terrible position so often. This seems to gel with my own impression of the games last year (like the Notre Dame game, for example).
Hopefully the offense turns around in terms of moving the chains and taking care of the ball. If it does, I think we might be able to expect more improvement from our defense (and in our overall record) than your average fan is predicting.
As many of you may know, MSU was featured yesterday (7/14) as the number 31 team in the Rivals Preaseason Countdown. The preview is more of the same unwarranted (in my opinion) hoopla about how it's time to start "dreaming big" in East Lansing. While reading the preview, I naturally began comparing the breakdown with that of U of M. MSU was given the following grades: Offense B, Defense A, Special Teams A-, Coaching B+. U of M's grades are as follows: Offense C, Defense B-, Special Teams B, Coaching A.
While looking at these grades for each of the respective team's units, one grade really stuck out to me, and that was the B given to the Sparty Offense vs. the C given to the U of M offense. Some of you may think that a one-letter-grade discrepancy is not worth further analysis, but I think that, after reading so many unsupported and superfluous previews of the 2009 MSU football team, I finally reached my breaking point. I decided to do a little more research into the personnel that will make up each unit this season and came across the following:
|Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's||Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's|
|U of M||MSU|
As you can see, my analysis included only players that have contributed in some fashion during their career. The quarterback position is almost a complete wash as neither team has anything even close to resembling a proven player. Michigan absolutely dominates the running back position, having almost 2300 more yards, while having double the yards per carry numbers and over 6x more TD's than the returning Spartan ball carriers. MSU gains a little bit of ground back in the receiving department as they return more yards and yards per catch, though M returns more TD's from its group of WR's. Finally, I included TE's to be fair, and as you would expect, State dominated having roughly 4x as many yards and 5x as many touchdowns. This, however, is not an apples-to-apples comparison as the M offense puts nowhere near the same emphasis on tight ends as does the Sparty offense.
I would like to note that I did not include any offenseive line statistics as they are exceptionally difficult to come across, however I will mention that the offensive line was the "biggest problem" for both teams in the Rivals analyses, thus we can conclude that this area is roughly a draw.
Going a step further, if you want to include a high-level overview of incoming offensive recruits, M is bringing in 11 players with an average Rivals ranking of 3.8, while Sparty is bringing in 13 players with an average RR of 3.5.
Based on this analysis, I don't see any way imaginable that Sparty's offense can be rated a full letter-grade above M, and I hope that this provides further evidence that the unbelievable amount of optimism surrounding MSU football is both unwarranted and unsupported.