The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
- PSU @ UM
- Friday October 16
- Cliff Keen Arena
- Tape Delayed on ESPN2, Sunday Oct 18, 1pmET
- Live Radio - WBCN Ann Arbor 88.3
Tonight is a huge game for Michigan on the volleyball court as #11 Michigan takes on #1 Penn State at Cliff Keene Arena. PSU comes in undefeated in their last 82 games, and they also hold a 35-3 record against Michigan. That said, this is a different Michigan team than years past. Michigan comes in with a 16-3 record and with a stronger winning attitude than in years past.
Despite all the positives that could come from this game, Michigan is focusing on the game, not the potential results. When talking with the Daily, coach Mark Rosen describes the focus:
If you think about the end product, it doesn’t get you anywhere. ... We really try to focus on the process and get back to concentrating on the small picture rather than the big picture.
These sentiments were also shared by Lexi Zimmerman today on her CiL live chat on mgoblue.com. Lexi stressed the need to play crisp, to make the right passes, and to make the right reads.
I am going to work on seeing the block and making good decisions. It all goes back to being crisp, we have to be crisp tonight from start to finish.
It'll be important tonight as those middles are some of the best in the nation. Arielle Wilson is a 6'-3" junior who is averaging 1.46 blocks per set. If that wasn't solid enough, their second middle is Fatima Balza, another 6'-3" junior averaging 1.35 blocks/set. That's good for 3rd and 4th in the BigTen respectively. To put it in perspective, Michigan's leading blocker, Courtney Fletcher averages just .8 blocks/set.
|Avg Opp. RPI||69.2||Avg Opp. RPI||100.1||-|
I'll give that these matchups aren't the most solid ways to compare a pair of teams, but I think it at least offer a little bit of an idea of play.
Michigan has played a much tougher schedule so far this season, and that has a little to do with PSU gaining an advantage on their kill numbers. That said, some of their numbers are so much higher, and that's because of the talent on the Nittany Lions.
I'm somewhat worried about that kill percentage of PSU versus our block and digs. Michigan doesn't block all that well. Penn State will try to capitalize on that often. The good news here is that we were able to hold up against Indiana on the road who had the next best set of middles in the BigTen. The Nittany Lions are a good step up on the Hoosiers, but hopefully we can have a solid game from Rood (pictured to the right via MGoBlue) and Fletch. They'll be one of the keys to the game.
Michigan tends more to rely on a solid service game on both sides of the net. We want to receive well and we want to hold the lead in aces. Penn State has done well this season on receiving and have a solid ace count themselves. Whoever wins this facet of the game will probably come out on top.
The game starts at 7pm, so if you are one of the lucky few with tickets, get out there early. The girls feed off the energy and want to hear you get loud.
Week In Review
The midweek featured both soccer teams in action, with the men facing off against Cincinnati and the women against #18 Purdue, both on the road.
The men won 2-0, and even had some preplanned dancing by junior Jeff Quijano. Michigan defenders were definitely the bright spot. Cincinnati played very aggressively, putting a lot of pressure on the Michigan defensive end. Our defenders not only helped shut them out, but they also were integral in Michigan scoring. Not only did Quijano score, but Chase Tennant and Adam Keller also had an assist each. Solid day for the defenders.
The women lost at #18 Purdue 0-1 in West Lafayette. Purdue really set the tempo all game in this one. They controlled the ball and were in our box time and again. We played good defense when they were in there, but some of it sounded like Michigan was just getting lucky. Eventually Purdue got a ball in just before the half. From that point on, Purdue was playing the type of soccer that people generally hate – back to center, to back, to other back, to center, to back, repeat. No pushing the ball forward. They were content just to hold the ball, and it worked out well for them. When Michigan did get the ball, they looked solid in the offensive third, but they just couldn't get the ball into the net.
Coach Ryan thought things went well, even though we lost:
The girls, collectively, decided that they wanted to play soccer. It is something we have been working at, and they made the decision that they were going to support each other, communicate and keep possession of the ball. At the end of the day, they did a great job -- it was the best soccer I have seen since I got here. I want to give all the credit to the players. A coach can draw up the scheme, but it's the girls that are doing the job.
So there may be some silver lining in there.
The women are participating in a non-scoring meet at Penn State today (Friday) at 11am. The course is a 6k, and it will be a preview of the BigTen meet later in the season. Michigan will send eight runners including MGoBlue's Wolverine to Watch Kaitlyn Paterson, a true freshman that holds Michigan's fastest 5k and 6k times this season.
Record (Ranks): 16-3, 4-2 BigTen (#11 AVCA Coaches Poll)
- Friday 7pm – vs. Penn State (ESPN2 Tape Delay)
- Saturday 7pm – vs. Ohio State
This weekend is going to an emotional one, no doubt. Michigan opens with Penn State, a team that hasn't lost since September 15, 2007. I'll hopefully have another post up today (Friday) to preview this game with a bit more depth. This game is already sold out, so don't plan on walking up to the door. Cliff Keene will be at absolute capacity. Paul couldn't even get media credentials.
No matter how that game ends, Michigan will have to turn around quickly, as much hated Ohio State comes to Cliff Keen Arena on Saturday. The Buckeyes enter at 14-5 overall, and 2-4 in BigTen play. OSU has fared well against most of their low to middle level competition, but they've been handled pretty easily by their higher ranked opponents. Their last two games came against Penn State and Minnesota, both top 10 level teams. OSU won only one set in the two matches, and it came against Penn State.
It'll be interesting to see how Michigan plays against OSU's Dozier. The middle blocker has a height advantage over most of the Michigan players (Fletch excluded), and has been a huge part of the Buckeye offense (2nd on the team in kills) and defense (.76 blocks per set).
If you can make it out Saturday, tickets are still left for this game. If Michigan somehow upsets PSU, those tickets might not be available just a few minutes after the win.
Also worth noting, Lexi Zimmerman is doing a CiL live chat today (Friday) at noon. Head over to MGoBlue and ask questions.
Men: Thursday to Monday, Wilson/ITA Midwest Regional, Ann Arbor, MI
The men's tennis team is hosting a major non-scoring regional this weekend. This will be the lone home series in the fall for the team, and it's a pretty big one. Nineteen other teams will descend on Ann Arbor, including five BigTen opponents. Jason Jung is expected to lead Michigan and improve on his #41 preseason ranking. He's already knocked off a top 10 opponent so far.
- Saturday 1pm @#19 Ohio State
- Sunday 1pm @Miami (NTM)
The tilt against the Buckeyes is big in the BigTen races. Both teams are currently tied for second place in the BigTen and the winner will be sitting pretty with only two conference games left. OSU is the best team in terms of scoring defense, allowing just 1.29 goals per game with 6 shutouts.
Miami (NTM) will also be a solid opponent. The RedHawks are just above .500 overall and 5-2 in the MAC. They are ranked 30th in the coaches poll in the other receiving vote category, 5 places ahead of Michigan. The RedHawks stats remind me a lot of Michigan's. They've got a definite leading scorer in Mary Hull (like our Bowery), but they've also got a pair as alternate shooters. None of their numbers are that overpowering, but they've won games they should.
Record (Ranks): 5-7-2, 0-2-2 BigTen
Sunday 2pm – vs #22 Indiana (BTN Tape Delay – Sunday 4pm)
The women look for their first conference win of the season after a positive showing on Wednesday. Michigan has two numbers working against it in this game. The Wolverines are 18-36-10 against ranked teams and 0-1-3 when televised. At least two of those wins against ranked teams have been Indiana. Hopefully we can take another.
The women rowers are headed to Boston for the Head of the Charles event on Sunday. I was in Boston for this two years ago and it was awesome. There were "tailgaters" in the tents along the river with anything from chili to lobster.
Updates will come up here if I'm around and have the time. I've got 5 or 6 games to umpire, so it could be slow if at all. If you make it out to something, leave a note in the comments. Lots of good stuff this week.
The roster was released for fall ball last week with all of this year's current changes. The four lost still had eligibility left, but I'm not sure where they are, whether finishing at Michigan or transferring to find playing time. That's not uncommon in baseball. There will probably be a couple more tweaks to the roster before the actual season starts, and those will be dealt with closer to the season.
- Adam Arbour – Not a big loss as only saw very limited playing time. Stuck behind Chris Berset and Coley Crank in the depth chart.
- Bryce Aspinwall – Loss is pretty meh. Aspinwall had 10 at bats last season but made the most of them. I thought he had a pretty good shot of taking over for a graduated Fellows. Apparently not.
- Jim Bircher – No real loss. Had one pinch runner appearance all last season.
- Jake McLouth (yes, younger brother to the major leaguer Nate McLouth) – Definitely the biggest name lost from last year. There had been rumors that he wasn't going to stick around, and it appears that rumor stuck. McLouth was the DH for Michigan last year, hitting .272 in 151 at bats (6th on team). That's a big hole to fill.
My intital thought is that Garrett Stephens will take over the DH role, with some support by Coley Crank. Stephens was our top bench player last year, filling in at first base when Mike Dufek would close out games. Stephens also tore it up all summer in his wood bat league, earning all Prospect League honors.
- Kevin Cislo – Loss is huge. My guess has Toth moving to second base to fill his hole defensively, opening up short stop for freshman Derek Dennis. We also lose Cislo as our lead off hitter. That's a bigger loss. (Pictured to the right by MGoBlue.com)
- Kenny Fellows – Loss is pretty big here as we also lose our #2 hole hitter. I wouldn't be surprised to see Biondi to move into his outfield position, especially with the loss of Aspinwall.
- Chris Fetter – Again with the huge losses. There goes one of the top starting pitchers Michigan has ever had. He ate up innings (even if it sacrificed his quality down the stretch) and saved us from using the super weak bullpen last year.
- Ben Jenzen – Not much of a loss based on last season. Jenzen was injured the previous year and didn't make it back to play. He would have been a key part of the bullpen or even starting rotation last year had he been healthy.
- Tim Kalczynski – Loss is medium. As a team captain last year, he was the super utility player. He filled in for an injured Chris Berset and shared third base duties with John Lorenz. Timmy Kal's bat won't be too badly missed. He only hit .234 last year in 107 at bats, with only 8 extra base hits.
- Mike Wilson – Wilson's loss isn't a killer. In 2007, he had the conference in his hand, earning All-Region for his efforts on the mound. In 2008, he lost his touch. In 2009, well, he only made it into 13 games, including 4 starts. In the end, he finished with a 5.07 ERA in 27 innings. The 24 walks to 23 K's ration was also a killer, not to mention the .328 opponent batting average.
- Anthony Toth from 16 to 5 (previously McLouth's number)
- John DiLaura, C – I did a brief write up on DiLaura when still at VarsityBlue. He is a solid hitting catcher, earning Division 1/Dream Team All State honors, who has experience at third and second base. With two catchers in the recruiting class ahead of him, including Coley Crank, if he makes an impact this season, it will be because Chris Berset misses time again and Crank struggles.
- Kyle Clark, RHP – Clark was a four year starter at Portage Central HS of Michigan as a pitcher and first basemen. He's been brought on to pitch in Ann Arbor. He was runner up for his team's pitcher of the year in 2009, and finished with All Conference honors (he was All Conference and All District as a junior) despite having a season ending knee injury. The injury was a strange one. While playing third base, he went to field a slow roller and the knee just buckled. He finished the year 4-1 with 25.2 innings pitched and a 2.18 ERA. Clark has since recovered, and pitched in a summer league team (A. Green, along with Biondi and Michigan signee gone pro Daniel Fields), so he is good to go.
- Derek Dennis, SS – One of our two draft picks not to go pro, Dennis was an 8th round pick with the Devil Rays. He was considered either the top or second best position player in the state of Michigan this last year (Division 1/Dream Team All State), and he projects to make an impact early. I'm thinking we see Toth move to second base to open the door for 4 years of Derek Dennis at short stop. (Pictured to right by Grand Rapids Press)
- Zach Johnson, DH – Johnson is a big guy at 6'3", and he's also really versatile. During his senior season at Grandville HS, he was their top pitcher, their top catcher, and according to his high school coach, he "could've been [their] best infielder, too." Johnson hit .438 and held a on base percentage of .541. On the mound, he was extremely dominant with an ERA of 1.81, record of 4-2, and a 9 strike outs per 9 innings pitched ratio. So while he's listed as a DH now, he could end up playing just about anywhere to get his bat into the line up.
- Patrick Biondi, OF – The second of our two non-signing draft picks, Biondi was a very late round pick of the Tigers. He's played center field primarily, which makes him a prime candidate to come in and start. Ryan LaMarre isn't a pure centerfielder, and I definitely can see him moving to left field (vacated by Fellows). In 2009, Biondi earned Louisville Slugger All American status as an outfielder, which speaks volumes of his talent. He was also All State Division II/Dream Team.
- Michael Kershner, RHP – Kershner comes from Oakland, CA where he won a North Coast Section Division IV title in his senior season. Kershner threw a complete game in the championship game to win it all. At 6'3", 160, he'll probably spend a year building up strength, but he could potentially see time in his first year. PerfectGame.Org describes him as:
Lean and lanky build with projection. Works from ¾ arm slot with a long and extended arm action. He ran his fastball up to 86 in San Diego and it showed good life. He throws with lower effort and shows poise on the mound, changing speeds with his 11-5 breaking ball.
- Ben Ballantine, RHP – I did a write up on Ballantine at VarsityBlue as well during his recruitment. Ben is a 6'8" pitcher out of California, and he chose Michigan because of the work Rich Maloney and his staff has done with other tall pitchers, namely Chris Fetter. Ballantine decided to pick the jersey sure to fit him, Chris Fetter's #41 jersey. That's some awfully big shoes to fill. I don't see him cracking the rotation this year, but he'll probably start seeing playing time early and often this season as Maloney turns him into the next big starter for Michigan.
- Cameron Luther, 1B – Luther is another one of the Michigan All State players at the Division II level, but his is for power. "Cam" hit a home run in nearly all news articles I have found on him. That said, I can't find any specific stats on his season. MGoBlue.com described him thusly (before his senior season):
Luther, a three-time all-district performer for coach Eric Dunapilis at St. Joseph, has 19 home runs in three varsity seasons and hit .431 as a junior. A powerful first baseman, Luther had a breakout summer of 2008 with the Kalamazoo Maroons, hitting .429 while slugging 1.021 with 19 home runs.
- Bennett Howard, IF – He shows up on the roster at fall ball. A thorough google search comes up with nothing. He's from New Jersey. That's all I got.
- Samuel Cleary, RHP/IF/OF – Cleary comes from Ann Arbor's Huron HS. I haven't found much about him as I believe he is a walk-on at fall try-outs. He had a few academic honors in 2008. I believe he was a middle infielder at Huron, but he has the ultimate utility listing of pitcher/infielder/outfielder on the current roster. If anything he is an academic walk-on that provides depth.
EDIT: I looked over Rickey Samuel, which is definitely a poor choice to skip. Thanks go to wolverinebandit for pointing out the error.
Ricky Samuel, OF – Samuel is another All State Dream teamer from last year. He is listed as an outfielder on our roster, but the lefty also was a solid pitcher in high school. Samuel has 3 main pitches, a fastball (touches upper 80s), a sharp breaking ball, and a changeup. That said, he's only considered an above average prospect as a left handed pitcher.
His swing, however, is considered his main selling point. The best summary of his senior season I could find came from this Detroit News article written right before the district playoffs:
Going into […] Division 1 pre-district game against Walled Lake Northern at Walled Lake Central, Samuel was batting .510 with 35 RBIs, 41 runs, nine doubles, three triples, six home runs, 23 walks and 22 stolen bases. He has a .608 on-base percentage and a .840 slugging percentage. As a pitcher he's 6-2 with one save. In 48 innings he's struck out 87 with an ERA of 2.90. Opposing batters are hitting .169.
That's spectacular. Depending on how we use Alan Oaks this year, Samuel has a chance at making it in the outfield as well. Oaks is high risk/high reward in the outfield. His defense isn't great (it isn't poor either), he has major power, but Alan just strikes out way too much. If he gets converted to a starting pitcher, which seems likely based on the end of last season and his summer league numbers, Samuel could see a lot of time in right field.
This year has not been a banner year for QBs in the Big 10. No QB ranks higher than #29 in the country in value added above average and as a whole, the Big 10 is tied with the Big East for worst overall QB play among BCS auto-qualifiers.
The problems were especially magnified this week when no full time quarterback graded out to a positive value. Denard Robinson and Juice Williams both crossed into positive territory, but neither started for their teams last week. The top performance for a starting QB in the Big 10 last week was Joey Elliott from Purdue with a -1 against Minnesota. This was the best performance by a starting QB in the Big 10 last week. Not good.
Player - QB - Season
|Kirk Cousins||Michigan State||4||5.22||6.63||204.75||29.67||7.58||3.70%||3.70%||62.96%|
|Daryll Clark||Penn State||5||4.25||4.71||223.80||29.75||7.36||5.92%||3.95%||60.53%|
|Terrelle Pryor||Ohio State||6||2.83||3.09||158.00||66.67||7.41||7.03%||4.69%||56.25%|
|Keith Nichol||Michigan State||5||1.20||1.71||100.20||18.40||8.95||5.36%||5.36%||51.79%|
Kirk Cousins takes over the top spot this week, despite not playing last week vs Illinois.
Forcier is in a virtual tie with Pryor for the #3 slot and Denard's +2 in limited action looks decent compared to what else is out there in the Big 10 this year.
Despite no backs in the conference going over 100 for the week, there was a clear cut winner in overall performance on the ground. Larry Caper from MSU earns performance of the week. His 16 carries for 95 yards plus another 44 on the ground was good for +9 on the day (+12 before adjusting for Illinois' weakness). No other back was higher than +5 and Brandon Minor came in third for the week at +4.
Player - RB - Season
|Player||Team||G||Value+||Value||Rush||Yards||TD||YPC||Rec Yards||Rec TD|
|Larry Caper||Michigan State||5||2.23||2.88||10.60||48.20||1.00||4.55||44.00||0.00|
|Evan Royster||Penn State||5||2.00||3.24||15.60||78.40||0.80||5.03||22.75||0.25|
|Stephfon Green||Penn State||5||0.71||1.32||7.40||38.00||0.40||5.14||18.50||0.00|
|Brandon Saine||Ohio State||6||0.64||1.36||10.50||58.17||0.00||5.54||20.60||0.00|
|Jordan Hall||Ohio State||3||-0.20||0.44||8.33||34.33||0.00||4.12|
|Dan Herron||Ohio State||5||-0.87||-0.22||13.00||44.60||1.00||3.43||17.00||0.00|
|Glenn Winston||Michigan State||5||-2.71||-2.06||10.80||36.00||0.40||3.33||6.00||0.00|
Carlos Brown, like Cousins, takes over the top spot in a week in which he didn't see action. Ralph Bolden continues to plummet as his early season success looks more and more like an apparition. Brandon Minor is also near the top, coming in at 6th.
Performance of the week: Tony Moeaki sprint through the Michigan secondary last week was good for a +9 rating and performance of the week honors. Martavious Odoms had a nice showing for Michigan, putting up the 3rd best game from a receiver in the Big 10 last week, with a +7.
Player - WR - Season
|Keshawn Martin||Michigan State||3||4.51||1.99||2.00||54.00||27.00||0.67||44.08%|
|Derek Moye||Penn State||5||4.39||1.68||3.60||57.60||16.00||0.40||38.25%|
|Blair White||Michigan State||5||4.31||2.46||4.80||57.40||11.96||0.40||57.13%|
|B Cunningham||Michigan State||5||4.30||2.69||4.40||52.40||11.91||0.40||62.53%|
|Chaz Powell||Penn State||4||4.26||3.36||3.75||53.25||14.20||0.50||78.92%|
|Devier Posey||Ohio State||6||4.25||1.65||3.50||44.67||12.76||0.50||38.75%|
|Mark Dell||Michigan State||4||4.23||1.48||3.50||58.50||16.71||0.25||35.08%|
|D Sanzenbacher||Ohio State||6||3.97||3.27||2.67||54.33||20.38||0.67||82.30%|
|Graham Zug||Penn State||4||2.83||2.05||3.75||45.25||12.07||0.50||72.44%|
At +8 ppg, Eric Decker of Minnesota holds onto his top spot this week, despite a woeful Minnesota passing game last week. Keith Smith, however, is the leader when targeted at +6.
No Wolverines qualified for the rankings (4 catches, 50 yards or .5 TDs/game) as no one has been able to consistently step up from the receiving core on a week to week basis.
A few people have asked me through emails or posts about the status of the Pat Maloy Scholarship Online Auction which has been going on all football season at http://www.umich.cmarket.com . If you haven't checked it out, please do so. The auction proceeds go to raise money for University of Michigan students who either have cancer or who have direct family members who have battled cancer. About 70 of the 200 items we're auctioning off this football season have been sold so there is still plenty to bid on and time to go but items close every day and a swath of items close at the end of October so check in while you can. We've raised nearly $25,000 this fall so far and hope to continue to push that number up.
The one trend in this auction that is confusing those of us who work on it is the fact that our bidders are not showing Chad Henne or Mike Hart much love. We have four items currently up for bid signed by Chad Henne (with a fifth coming up Nov 1st) and they've all been hovering around the minimum bids:
Even more confounding is the complete lack of action on the three Mike Hart items we currently are offering for bids:
Not one has a bid on any of them. Zero. Zip. Nada. Zilch for the schools all time career rushing leader and one of the most popular players to ever wear the winged helmet (and an active NFL player to boot).
Are you all seeing something I'm not with these? Anybody got any theories on what might be going on? I don't think we priced them too high (all the Hart stuff is between $89 and $109). It just sort of defies all of what we thought we knew about how to do the auction.
Thanks for your time and for those of you who have bid or offer commentary, thanks as well. Anything you all can do to spread the word to our fellow Wolverine faithful about the auction is appreciated. Again, the main online auction website is http://www.umich.cmarket.com if you want to see our entire catalog.