"Coach Mattison told me what the Ravens were about, what he thought," Beyer said. "He definitely encouraged me. I hold his opinion in high regard."
The purpose of the intro is to give some background into How I Became Deeply Steeped In the Coaching Philosophy of Bo Schembechler and His Progeny. Between 1979 and RichRod, I have only had three coaches to watch: Bo, Mo, and Llo. Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr were both former assistants and, from my perspective, had similar coaching philosophies, as one might expect. In short, you can view 1979-2007 as a fairly monolithic period from the standpoint of Michigan coaching philosophy.
The arrival of Coach Rodriguez has thus been equal parts jarring and exciting. During the EMU game, there were a couple moments that made me reflect on the differences. I record them here.
Before we start, a couple of bona fides: I am a big RichRod fan, believe he was a great hire, and have no general complaints. I am the type of Michigan fan who thought (a) we would be 5-7 this year and (b) expected to be very happy with that so long as the directional arrow was pointed in the right direction from a quality and improvement standpoint. I am thus candidly shocked and awed that we are 3-0 and look as good as we do. And yes, I am also enough of a happy horseshit type of guy that I occasionally wonder where we will be ranked going into the Penn State game if somehow we beat both MSU and Iowa.
So, two big differences I see between Coach Rodriguez and his Schembechler ancestors.
1. Rule #1: Don't start practicing for next week until the opponent in front of you is dead. Late in the first half against EMU, Michigan was starting to roll in the running game and was up 24-10. It was clear that you could hand off to Brown or Shaw seven times in a row and score. EMU just didn't have the horses. I think if Bo/Mo/Lo were coaching, they would have done just that -- hand off to Carlos or Mike or whomever and run left, center, right until the score was 45-10 and there were seven minutes to go in the 4th quarter. RichRod did something that is very different, in my view, than what Bo would have done: he put DRob in to get him some reps for the specific purpose of practicing his passing. I was not concerned to see DRob per se -- I understand the philosophy behind the rotation of him and Forcier. But the fact that they put him to start working on his passing when we were only up by two scores and it was still the first half troubled me. In Bo's day, my feeling is that we killed our opponents dead and THEN started working on things for next week. To me, this felt a bit premature and I was nervous about it. Obviously, the final score of the game did not bear out the concern. But I was not happy to be only up seven at half against a spirited opponent, and felt like this is an area where RichRod could adopt some additional conservatism in the Bo/Mo/Lo style. We have a lot of developing to do, especially with DRob. I get that. But we need to make sure the game is in hand before we start screwing around, and this one wasn't.
2. Offensive versus Defensive Coordinators. It is interesting to note that Bo, Mo, and Lo were all principally defensive-minded guys. Moeller actually had the unusual distinction of serving as both an offensive and defensive coordinator, but he was a linebacker as a player and a defensive coordinator first. I think this dramatically impacted Michigan's philosophy in ways that are well known to readers of Mgoblog. Michigan was big on getting leads, and then sitting on them by running out the clock. With Rodriguez, a marked change in the offense is that if we get the ball on our 30 with 57 seconds left in the half, there is no question we will try to get points. RichRod is always looking to score. Under the Bo and Progeny years, there was no question that we would run into the line three times and go to the half.
There is a flip-side to this that I am a little worried about. It strikes me that some offensive gurus who become head coaches spend their coaching lives fascinated by the concept of offense -- and basically outsource the defense to the defensive coordinator. RichRod makes me nervous in this respect. It is odd to think about the fact that Michigan's defense this year and last are just absolutely terrible. I cannot remember worse linebacking in the last 30 years. What is really odd about all this is that it is the offense that was completely new (and had the corresponding mis-match in personnel) and was cited as the reason to be patient with RichRod. There was no real reason, other than English leaving, to think that the defense would be anything other than a Michigan defense. (I know, we had significant graduation after the 2006 season -- my point is, there wasn't any special reason to envision that we would completely fall off the map defensively.) I have moments where I worry that while he is fascinated by the spread n shread, that RichRod just doesn't get defense and relies on others to do it for him.
So -- a new era under RichRod is continuing to develop more and more. The excitement of our quick strike offense is new to Michigan fans -- for years, it has been the type of thing we feared, not one we thought we might one day employ. But the aggressiveness can overlook some of the benefits of the conservatism that was so deeply engrained in Bo -- a conservatism that in the end, I would argue, served him well in terms of reliably turning out winning seasons. (Many would argue with me and say Bo's conservatism is why he was abysmal in bowl games.) And there is a real concern on my part that the defense's problems are more institutional than one would first think -- something I never would expect to say about the Big Blue.
Editor's note: Press release. All Michigan games are road games(!).
Additional games to be available live on www.BigTenNetwork.com
CHICAGO – The Big Ten Network will televise nine men’s ice hockey games this winter, featuring Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin, and all will be broadcast in high definition.
“There is a growing passion and enthusiasm for college hockey and we’re looking forward to bringing that excitement to a national and international audience,” Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said.
The network, available to 73 million homes in the United States and Canada, will televise a regular-season contest every Friday or Saturday, beginning with the North Dakota-Minnesota matchup on Friday, January 15. The second semifinal of the CCHA Tournament will air live at 8 PM ET on Friday, March 19. The network makes its selections in conjunction with the regional sports networks which have existing rights arrangements with both the CCHA and the WCHA.
Additional games throughout the season will be available live anywhere in the world at www.BigTenNetwork.com. The network has made a significant financial investment to provide fans with a high-quality streaming experience that is comparable to watching a game in high definition. The network’s full streaming schedule for men’s ice hockey will be available at www.BigTenNetwork.com prior to the start the season.
Although the conference does not sponsor ice hockey, Big Ten member schools have combined to win four of the last eight NCAA Championships and 22 titles throughout history. Three different Big Ten schools have won national championships in the last 10 years, including Michigan State’s 2007 title.
2009-2010 BIG TEN NETWORK MEN’S ICE HOCKEY SCHEDULE
Friday, January 15 North Dakota at Minnesota 8 PM ET LIVE
Saturday, January 23 Ohio State at Michigan State 5 PM ET LIVE
Friday, January 29 Michigan at Michigan State 7 PM ET LIVE
Saturday, February 6 Michigan at Wisconsin 6 PM ET LIVE
Friday, February 12 Alaska at Ohio State 7 PM ET LIVE
Friday, February 19 Colorado College at Minnesota 8 PM ET LIVE
Saturday, February 27 Michigan at Notre Dame 7 PM ET LIVE
Friday, March 5 Wisconsin at Minnesota 8 PM ET Delay at 11 PM ET
Friday, March 19 CCHA Tournament Semifinal #2 8 PM ET LIVE
Noel, what's it been like trying to track down all these tremendous former Michigan athletes?
What inspired you to start this scholarship?
Why is it important to carry on the legacy of Pat Maloy?
Tell me about the items...
Purely a spec piece, be warned.
Caveats, biases and influences:
A. Brian and (until July) Tom Beaver were my sole sources of anything close to "inside" information from Schembechler hall. I don't know anybody in the program, or anything about Michigan football other than what I've seen on the field, gotten here or used to get at GBW.
B. I believe Bill Martin is a ridiculously successful businessman who has built a fortune and a fabulous resume by being a shrewd, winning decision maker.
C. I believe Lloyd Carr, after his announcement to retire, had three pieces of advice for Martin:
- Talk to Ron English and Mike DeBord.
- Don't hire Les Miles because X, Y and Z (these being criteria we'll never know, other than maybe X=I, Y=loath, Z=him).
- Talk to Kirk Ferentz
So, what if somebody other than Rich Rodriguez had been hired in January, 2008. (Doesn't seem that long ago, does it?) But, first, I have to set the field:
To the Carr postulate #1 above, Martin says, "thanks, Lloyd, I'll think about it."
To #2 and #3, he says, "I'll take your word for it, but I'll talk to both of them, thanks again."
So, he basically blows off English and DeBord because he knows that, no disrespect to Lloyd, this program needs to go in a decisively new direction.
He talks (or meets, we don't know) with Miles and finds him unattractive, confirming one, two or all of Lloyd's X, Y or Z, and dismisses Miles' candidacy outright. (The really loud story comes when somebody in the Michigan Man Grand Conspiracy Wing leaks misinformation to Desmond Howard and ESPN goes with "Les has been offered the job", when it's just not so. Bill is sailing because he couldn't give a fuck what's going on at ESPN WRT Les Miles and Michigan, and Miles has to look like a fool in honestly denying a story that's false; he's never been offered the job.)
Having crossed Miles off the list, Martin goes to Ferentz, with the influential assistance of Mary Sue Coleman. Ferentz says thanks but no thanks. Then he shops Schiano; same result. At this point we're all panicked because, uh, English or DeBord? There are a few more names thrown around, and then, Pat White's thumb hurts.
So, here are the viable 2008 candidates -- offered or about to be offered -- at the point Rodriguez came into play:
Unknown, and worse than any of the above
How would they have done/will they do? (Purely speculative numbers of wins; 2008/2009YTD/2009 remainder vs. RR = 3/3/*)
English (5/1/4=10). Defense would have been better both years if, for no other reason, continuity. Offense would have retained Debord/Mallett/Boren ("DeMoron" for short) and won a few more in 08 than RR. Bare cupboard and ponderously slow recruits would put the future in peril.
DeBord. (4/1/4=9). English would have left him. He'd be lost, as Martin knew; Mallett would break up DeMoron by transferring during or after the miserable 2008 season. Death and doom.
Ferentz. (6/2/4=12). A good coach who would have taken the bare cupboard and made the best. But, c'mon, it's a coach with no compelling reason for recruits to want to think about Michigan and the cupboard would still be bare.
Schiano. (I don't know; better than 12, less than 14.) I'll admit to running out of critical ammo here as I don't know anything about the guy other than he came up with ways to beat Rich occasionally. I think he would have been a good hire and I believe he was Martin's first choice.
But, I'm pretty sure Rich was the best choice, by happenstance or not. there's a huge difference between the man and his system. Barwis. Spread. Appalachian Stubbornness, total insensitivity to bad PR. Bo would have loved him and I, FWIW, do too.
And, the whole reason I was compelled to write this was... what if Pat White hadn't hurt his thumb?
* I say we win 6 more games this year for a regular season record of 9-3.
Things We Know This is obvious territory: the Spread's "Score whenever possible" mentality renders T.O.P. moot as a way to tell which team was playing better at the end of the game. Thing is, T.O.P. was never meant to be an in-game metric, or shouldn't have been. It's an IN-GAME metric. The idea isn't to show who's dominating the game, but what shape the defense is in. Its continued popularity on networks is likely due to the ease with which it's calculated. I think we can come up with a much better metric for that, and retire T.O.P. Good guesses:
- Offenses tire less quickly than defenses. Giving blocks is better than receiving them. Reacting to a play that you didn't call puts you at a disadvantage. Pushing past a lineman to the one place he doesn't want you to is more tiresome than shoving one (a lineman) back from the one direction you know he wants to go to. There's a lot of chasing involved.
- Players recover from being tired in real time (not Game Time)
- Fatigue is generated during plays, not between them
- Greater fatigue reduces the effectiveness of a defense because a) tired players can't react as well, and b) substitutions are inherently a reduction of the talent put on the field.
- While fatigue can be recovered from during the game, the more that is drained, the lower the maximum recoverable energy.
Things We'd Like to Know I want a metric that:
- Gives an approximate likelihood of the offense scoring based on defensive fatigue.
- Since the above would be very difficult, the metric should at least standardize defensive fatigue, to be used as a reference point
- Is fairly easy to calculate with widely available stats
Pure guesses (opportunities for me to look stupid):
- Energy is recovered at an exponential (logistic? Math majors help! -- i mean a curve that slows as it goes, or y=x^[fraction]) rate.
- More plays depletes a defense's performance
- More plays in progression depletes a defense's performance faster
- Available statistics allow us to create a metric for a defense's performance based off of these fatigue factors
Let's Talk Variables It's hard to count actual time during plays, at least for us laymen. However, number of plays per drive is easy to calculate. I would like to count plays that are replayed due to penalties unless it is blown dead. I'd like to count overall time elapsed since the last defensive play.
However, actual time is hard to come by. We have the time the game took to play. We have the in-game time. But short of having a DVR with a timer, I haven't been able to find any real time metric. If someone can find me a place where that is kept and freely accessible, I will use it. Otherwise, we're going to have to ignore regeneration based on real time.
The atom for all of this is going to be plays run from scrimmage.
Defensive plays from scrimmage increase defensive fatigue. Offensive plays from scrimmage decreases defensive fatigue. Since they use so many backups, special teams plays do not count.
The test for it will be yards given up, since scoring equates too much with field position. Why yards? Because we know that yards gained and winning are correlated. A defense that gives up more yards is more likely to be scored on.
Needs a name. For now: SCHWING.
Defensive SCHWING: How it Works What we will create is a basically running play counter:
- Higher number indicates higher level of defensive fatigue
- Defensive plays count for +3 for the defensive team
- Offensive plays count for -8% for the team on offense
- No team can go into negative.
- Commercial Breaks, Time Outs and Reviews count for -15% for both teams
- Half Time reduces all fatigue by 80 percent (rounded to nearest integer)
The Spreadsheet is here. Click on each image for full size
Michigan vs. Western Michigan:
Averages: Michigan 21, Notre Dame 17
Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan:
Averages: Michigan 21, EMU 14
Remember, higher is bad. It means that Eastern Michigan, over the course of the game, faced a Michigan defense operating, maybe at like 79 percent of its capacity, because of fatigue, while Michigan faced EMU's at, say, 86 percent capacity.
Keep in mind, it's impossible to be 100 percent the whole time. But notice how much better Michigan's defense was against Western, who's not much more talented than Eastern Michigan. There's a big difference in how well the Wolverines let the defense rest in Game 1, whereas they were considerably harder on the D in Games 2 and 3, whether by turnovers or quick scores.
So....Correlation?If Michigan's defense gives up more yards when its SCHWING level is high, that would indicate the metric works, right?
Notre Dame de South Bend:
The yellow lines are offensive plays. The ones sticking out below were negatives (or holding penalties).
Michigan gave up 236 yards (5.02 yards per play) to Eastern when our SCHWING level was 20 or higher. We gave up 61 yards (2.26 yards per play) when it was 19 or lower.
It was actually more drastic than that. A lot of short yardage was given up in the 2nd half against the backups in soft, clock-killing defense. The big plays in the first half were all during high-SCHWING periods. The 3-and-outs were during low ones.
Against Notre Dame, Michigan gave up 188 yards (6 yards per play) 2 with a SCHWING under 20. Not good. We gave up 294 yards (6.125 yards per play) when SCWING was over 20. Also not good. There wasn't as much SCHWING variance, however, against Notre Dame as there was against EMU. The Wolverine defense played much more of that game tired. If you take out the 27 yards on the last play, our SCHWING under 20 YPP goes down to 5.37 (161 yards). I think that just says ND's offense was pretty good (or held like bitches).
WMU was the opposite. With SCHWING under 20, the Broncos put up 81 yards (2.79 YPP). When SCHWING went over 20, they put up 222 yards (6.17 YPP). If I excise the 73-yard TD, it's still 4.26 YPP. But it shouldn't be excised -- that happened near the peak of Michigan's defensive fatigue during the game.
Here's what yardage against us looked like against WMU as SCHWING went up:
As the season progresses, I'll do more plotting to see if this sticks, but so far this seems a little bit correlative. If I had to guess, I'd say ND and their max-protect-bomb strategy caused the difference.
All told, when Michigan's SCHWING was under 20 this year, our defense gave up 330 yards (3.79 YPP). When it was over 20, we gave up 752 yards (5.74 YPP).
I'm sure we could play around with the factors, but as a very basic statistic, it seems to be fairly predictive. When the defensive fatigue rating for a given team is high, they are likely to give up more yards, in our extremely small sample of course. Feel free to plug in other games from years past.
Obviously, scores come after drives.
The thing to look at isn't the end of drives, but the start of them: what shape is the defense in as Team X gets the ball. For example, when Michigan put up three quick scores on Western, they got the ball each time with WMU's defensive deficiency rating already well over 20.
Similarly, EMU got the ball down 38-17 and had a magnificent drive (which should have been a TD), but every drive before that in the 2nd half, Michigan's D started under 10. The real backbreaker for them was when the QB buckled and fumbled -- that gave Michigan the ball back with EMU's defensive SCHWING over 20.
Couple things jumped out, though. The quick scores (Brown's long TD run, the kick return for TD against Notre Dame, Denard's existence) were answered with scores against Michigan, or long periods of scoring drought. Interceptions, too, created a fast turnaround. Look at Stonum's return: not only did it put Michigan back on the field after a tough stop (helped by Cheeseburger Charlie's inability to get a few plays called in*), but even more it helped the Domers' defense rest away the effect of that good early drive by Michigan.
Note how different this is from Time of Possession. By basically counting plays back and forth, we can see when one team or another is particularly likely to get scored on.
I think I'm gonna keep using this as the season progresses. It's pretty easy to calculate, especially if you have the spreadsheet handy. If it holds up as a decent indicator of expected defensive performance, maybe an addition to the UFR charting?
UPDATE 9/23:Bad news. I ran all of the plays from all three games (by ND, EMU, WMU and MICH) and there's such a small correlation it's almost not worth it:
Of course, it's not conclusive. Wait until we have at least 1,000 plays from scrimmage to analyze (we're at about 450 right now).
When SCHWING was 20 or over, offenses gained 1363 yards on 251 plays, and had 23 "big" plays (15 yards or more). That's 5.45 YPP, and 9.16% chance of a big play.
When SCHWING was under 20, offenses gained 984 yards on 175 plays, with 15 big plays. That's 5.67 YPP, and 8.57% chance of a big play.
Not exactly correlating.
One thing of note: Carlos Brown's 90-yard scamper came at a SCHWING level of 17. In fact, a lot of big plays took place around a SCHWING level of 17 to 25. I don't know that that means exactly, except perhaps that's early in drives but seldom right at the start of them. Or that 17 to 25 is the bell curve. This could simply be because early in drives there's more field to go, thus more space for big yardage.
Situationally, there was a small difference. With SCWHING under 20, 26.55% of plays from scrimmage resulted in a 1st down or touchdown. When SCHWING was over 20, that number rose to a 31.62% conversion rate. The touchdown ratio went way up: 7.11% over 20, and 1.69% under 20. But I can't tell you how much of that is field position -- the likelihood of scoring goes up when you get closer to the end zone, and SCHWING goes up the longer a drive lasts, meaning high SCHWING generally takes place deep in an opponent's zone. So the TD ratio means pretty much nil. Anyway, the average SCHWING level before plays that resulted in 1st downs and touchdowns was about 24; the level before plays that didn't convert was 22. Small difference.
I'm not giving up just yet, though. I'm gonna track a few more games, because I think I'm getting thrown off by big plays late in the WMU and EMU games, when backups and whatnot were in (high SCHWING is supposed to necessitate more backups, so if the backups go in when SCHWING is low, that changes things).
Here's the big plays with Low SCHWING this year:
|40||WMU||17||WMU||43||TD||(1st and 15) Robinson, D. rush for 43 yards to the WMU0, 1ST DOWN MICH, TOUCHDOWN, clock 03:57.|
|3||ND||6||MICH||24||1ST||(2nd and 9) ALLEN rush for 24 yards to the ND45, 1ST DOWN ND (Williams, Mike).|
|6||ND||15||MICH||24||1ST||(3rd and 4) CLAUSEN pass complete to RUDOLPH for 24 yards to the MICH25, 1ST DOWN ND (Williams, Mike).|
|24||ND||19||ND||40||1ST||(3rd and 12) Forcier, Tate pass complete to Mathews, Greg for 40 yards to the ND41, 1ST DOWN MICH (WALLS).|
|37||ND||19||MICH||19||1ST||(2nd and 6) CLAUSEN pass complete to ALLEN for 19 yards to the MICH22, 1ST DOWN ND.|
|86||ND||14||ND||24||1ST||(2nd and 14) Forcier, Tate pass complete to Stonum, Darryl for 24 yards to the 50 yardline, 1ST DOWN MICH (McCARTHY, K.).|
|100||ND||17||ND||16||1ST||(1st and 10) Minor, Brandon rush for 16 yards to the ND33, 1ST DOWN MICH (McCARTHY, K.).|
|129||ND||10||MICH||15||1ST||(1st and 10) PENALTY MICH pass interference (Cissoko, B.) 15 yards to the ND19, 1ST DOWN ND.|
|205||ND||11||MICH||27||1ST||(1st and 10) CLAUSEN pass complete to TATE for 27 yards to the ND47, 1ST DOWN ND (Floyd, J.T.).|
|9||EMU||3||EMU||30||1ST||(1st and 10) Brown, Carlos rush for 30 yards to the EMU21, 1ST DOWN MICH (CARDWELL, Marty).|
|51||EMU||10||EMU||26||1ST||(1st and 10) Forcier, Tate pass complete to Odoms, M. for 26 yards to the EMU43, 1ST DOWN MICH (MAY, Chris).|
|54||EMU||19||EMU||22||1ST||(3rd and 1) Shaw, Michael rush for 22 yards to the EMU12, 1ST DOWN MICH (SEARS, Johnny).|
|63||EMU||17||EMU||90||TD||(1st and 10) Brown, Carlos rush for 90 yards to the EMU0, 1ST DOWN MICH, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:15.|
|156||EMU||18||EMU||36||TD||(1st and 10) Robinson, D. rush for 36 yards to the EMU0, 1ST DOWN MICH, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:14.|
|175||EMU||11||EMU||24||1ST||(1st and 10) Cox, Michael rush for 24 yards to the EMU41, 1ST DOWN MICH (PALSROK, Tyler).|
Three of those plays are garbage time (205 ND, 156 and 175 EMU). One is Shoelace's incredible Yakety Sax Moon Run. Another is Carlos Brown's 90-yard run. Three more are big plays against EMU's defense. The rest are plays from the Notre Dame game, which, like, they have a great offense.
This isn't nearly enough to put SCHWING back on the map. But they're certainly opportunities for SCHWING to look stupid.
* Weis: "It's MMFFPHHHI-RIMMMFGHT MMMPHTWINS!"
Jimmah: "What coach?!?"
Weis: "I MMMFFFPHH SAID RUNMMMMPHHH ISO MMPPPHHH RIHMMMMPPHH"
Jimmah: "Coach, I can't hear you! Take the ham sandwich out!"
Weis: "I MMMPPHHFFF RIMMMPPHHHHHHFFF SPLMMMMPHHFFF DAMMIT!"
Jimmah: "Dammit, coach? What? What? Dammit -- TIME OUT"
Note: This may be a bit short to start. I've got an chat with BigTenNetwork President Mark Silverman in a little over an hour and I'm trying to get prepared for that. Also, if you haven't given a listen to the podcast with Coach Rosen, do it.
- Friday 1pm vs. Marquette
- Friday 7:30pm vs. Dayton
- Saturday 3:30pm vs Oregon State (@ Crisler)
As previously stated, this is a big weekend for #6 Michigan. Michigan is hosting the Michigan/Adidas Invitational featuring games against undefeated Dayton, 9-2 Marquette, and Oregon State (at Crisler Arena). This will be the last big gut check before we head into BigTen play. All three of these games will be tough.
- Friday 1pm Women's Spartan Invitational @ MSU
The women will be sending 11 to Michigan State's Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing for a 6 km race. Jenny Morgan and Danielle Tauro are your projected Michigan leaders. From Coach McGuire:
This race is kind of a building block. Michigan State is in the same boat as us -- they're young, but they have a good quality of depth. So, it will be a good benchmark for where we stand against them and likewise where they are compared to us.
With all of the stuff that's been happening, I sadly couldn't keep up with individual team previews. The men's tennis team is in Napa Valley, St. Helena, CA to be more specific, this weekend. They will be competing in a non-scoring match against Cal-Berkeley, Harvard, and Ole Miss. One of these schools is not like the others.
If you're that interested, the tournament is available at http://www.radiotennis.com/.
The rowing team kicks off their season tomorrow against Michigan State in Belleville, MI. I know nothing more than this.
- Saturday 2pm vs #7 Syracuse @ Louisville, KY
- Sunday 1pm @ #16 Louisville
Michigan is 2-4 this season, but their strength of schedule has to be in the top 3 in the nation. Michigan has played a #1, #2, #4, and #5, accounting for all 4 losses on the season. Michigan will look to gain it's first win over a ranked opponent in Louisville this weekend.
Syracuse will be tough. The Orange has already defeated two top 10 opponents, Old Dominion and Michigan State. They are 5-1 and have a wide array of potential goal scorers.
Louisville is definitely a better chance for the W as Louisville hasn't been tested this season. While they are ranked in the top 20, they are only 9 positions ahead of Michigan. I think this game could be very winnable for Michigan. I'm looking to see Bryn Bain continue her 4 game goal streak with a big outburst here.
- Saturday 2pm @Western Michigan
The men have one game this weekend against the Broncos. Western is winless on the season, so Michigan should be able to handle them easily.
- Sunday 2pm vs Miami (FL)
The women have their last tune up before the BigTen conference slate starts against that Miami. The Hurricanes do have a win over a ranked opponent in then #22 Washington, but that hasn't gotten Miami on the rankings others receiving votes. A couple of really bad losses have kept them out of contention. This should be a really good game between a pair of evenly matched teams.
I'll be updating things throughout the weekend, so check back occasionally.
Update I (Friday 9:30pm):
At the women's cross country meet, Michigan's Danielle Tauro placed second with a time of 21 minutes 19 seconds. Kaitlyn Peale (21:47) and Kaitlyn Patterson (21:56) also finished in the top 10 at 7th and 9th respectively. This was a non-scoring match, so there were no team scores.
On the volleyball court, Michigan won a pair of matches, one on cruise control and one in the most exciting 3 set match ever. In the early game, Michigan faced Marquette and just rolled past the Tigers by scores 25-16, 25-19, and 25-. The team was lead by Alex Hunt's record breaking 9(!) service aces on the match. The 9 broke the previous record set in 2004 by Katie Bruzdzindski and matched by Juliana Paz 6 days ago. (Hunt pictured to right by Mogblue.com)
Also notable in this match was Veronica Rood with a team leading 9 kills. Coach Rosen appears to be making the point to get Vern more looks this weekend. Halfway through the 2nd set, Rosen called a time out to reinforce the Rood option with setter Lexi Zimmerman. Rood went on to score 2 of the next three points easily.
Also notable was the defense. Marquette hit only .027. That's bad. The Tigers had only 21 kills on 73 attempts (only 19 errors). Bower and Hunt had a great set of games with 8 digs a piece. Both also had a solo block, Bower adding three block assists.
In the night cap, Michigan faced their closest game since the AVCA challenge. The undefeated Dayton Flyers brought their A-game and kept the pressure on Michigan the entire match. The first set, Michigan jumped out to an 11-5 lead, only to see it evaporate into a 18-19 deficit. Down 22-24 and facing set point, Michigan rallied with a couple kills from Juliana Paz and an Alex Hunt service ace. Michigan would secure the 28-26 first set lead with a Paz ace.
In set two, Michigan would fall behind early. They were down as many as 5 at 5-10. But the team fought back, eventually tying the game at 19. They would have to rally again to tie the game at 23. The next point would be Michigan's first lead of the set. Michigan would capitalize on a Rood kill and a combined Rood/Zimmerman block to take set two 26-24.
The final set was just as intense. It featured 11 ties, 5 lead changes, and more extra points. In the closing points, Michigan held a 23-21 lead. Then things got fun. With Dayton attacking, a ball hit the top of the net and looked to be falling back for a Michigan point. All of a sudden, the net snaps and the ball falls to Michigan's side. Megan Bower made her case, earning a yellow card, that it was caused by a net violation by Dayton. Both coaches were getting on the refs, and both ended the game with yellow cards. Michigan would lose the lead, going down 24-23.
Down 25-26, Lexi (pictured right by MGoBlue.com) made an attack on two (instead of setting) to give Michigan a tie. Juliana Paz gave the Wolverines the go ahead kill, and Lexi Zimmerman made the attack on two again for the win.
Paz was your kill leader with 18 in the late game at a .448 hitting percentage, but Rood also hit .583. Michigan tied their season high with 9 blocks (the other came in a 4 set game). Most importantly, Michigan showed in this game that they have the mental toughness to stay in when down against a good team.
One of the biggest influences today was the Zone. The Zone got into both opponents' heads this game, as shown by the Marquette coach spiking a ball at them in frustration. That's big. Even if the marketing department and Blue Ice are helping out, it's you fans that show up that make a huge impact.
Make sure you make it to Crisler following the football game. Let's fill the place up. Beat the Beavers.
Updated II (Sunday 11am):
Women's rowing doesn't make that much sense to me. I haven't learned the lingo yet. So here's how it went by my understanding. Michigan scrimmaged Michigan State and Eastern Michigan. Michigan fielded two boats in the 8-woman competition and two boats in the 4-woman competition. Michigan State swept the 5 races in the 8's, while Michigan had teams place 2&4, 2&4, 2&4, 2&3, and 2&4 (those are places out of 6, UM had 2 boats per race).
Michigan fared better in the 4-woman teams, finishing 1&2, 1&2, 1&3, 1&3, and 1&3 (out of 3). If that made any sense to you, more power to you. Perhaps by the time their real season comes about, I'll be able to tell you more about it.
Men's soccer posted a 5-1 win over Western Michigan last night to 6-1-0 on the season. Michigan got a goal from Adam Keller, Cam Cameron, Alex Wood, Justin Meram, and Alex Klein. Meram, Wood, Cameron, Hamoody Saad (2), Chase Tennant, Jeff Quijano, and Daniel Gray all registered an assist.
Also worth noting, Michigan has outscored opponents 16-6 in the second half this season. This game saw Michigan outscore Western 3-1 in the second.
Coach Burns "Man of the Match" was Adam Keller. From MGoBlue.com:
Adam Keller played a really strong game. He started out a center back and kind of felt his way into the game where he could contribute offensively. Then we pushed him forward into a more defensive role. I thought he did a great job of winning balls and winning that part of the space and getting forward in the attack.
In field hockey, the field hockey team made a valiant effort against #7 Syracuse. Falling behind 1-0 at the 15 minute mark, Michigan put on the pressure in the offensive end and tied the score 10 minutes later on Vanessa Sekhon's first goal of the season. This 1-1 tie would last through regulation, until in the 84th minute, Syracuse netted the game-winner for their 5th overtime win of the year.
This game was an oddly quiet one for both Meredith Way and Bryn Bain. Way didn't even register a shot and Bain had only 2 shots, neither on goal. Alicia Mayer was the shot leader with 4, 3 on goal. Mayer also had the assist on Skehon's goal.
Also worth noting that Paige Pickett went the full game in the net, allowing just the two goals. That's a good showing for any net keeper. I think it's also a testament to the defense for allowing only 6 shots on goal. As a comparison, Michigan took 13 shots. Great play by the defense.
Volleyball…sigh. They'll get their own post in a few minutes. I'll update this with that link after I get it out. Mini-update: Volleyball Swept By Oregon State.
Update III (Sunday 5pm):
The women's soccer team posted a 1-0 shut out of Miami (FL) in a game that saw the Wolverines outshot by a margin of 21-6. Holly Hein put in the lone goal by heading in a Jackie Carron free kick in the 44th minute. The header kicked off the top cross bar of the net and into the goal. Haley Kopemeyer was in goal for the full 90 minutes, posting 6 saves. This is a solid win for Michigan heading into BigTen play.
Field hockey went to overtime again against Louisville in the second game of the weekend, and yet again, they came out on the losing side – 2-3 this time in 77 minutes. Michigan gave up a quick goal in the third minute, but netted goals by Alex Zeringue and Meredith Way to take a 2-1 lead. Both goals came off penalty corners, including Zeringue's which was a rebound from the initial shot.
In overtime, Louisville set up a pass from the center of the circle to their player posted right on the goalie. The Cardinals spun the ball around and flipped it into the net.
Despite losing both games this weekend, Michigan took a pair of ranked opponents to sudden death overtime. This is encouraging as the team appears to be playing better as they move along.
Men's tennis is still yet to report back from the final day of the Napa Valley invitational. Freshman Evan King was due to play in the championship of the singles tournament at 2:15pm ET today.