to play football, not to play trumpet
Ed. – First time since the early signing date that I've had open time to make a post. Sorry it's about a week and a half late. Now with 2 different updates.
Last week saw the early signing period for most of the Olympic sports including baseball. Michigan signed 4, which is a bit smaller than some of the recent classes, which are generally around 6. This class has some name recognition with it, but it's too early to start projecting major league draft status for these kids.
This is only a portion of the eventual recruiting class, but this appears to be a solid start with two solid pitchers in it, and some added outfield depth, both something Michigan is in the need of (you always need more pitching).
Michael O'Neill (OF, Ohio)
The name that will ring a bell for most of you baseball fans is Michael O'Neill, nephew to famed Yankee Paul O'Neill. From mgoblue:
[A] two-year varsity letterwinner at Olentangy Liberty High School, […] O'Neill earned all-conference and all-district first team honors as well as honorable mention all-state following his junior campaign. He was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year after hitting .447 with a .500 on-base percentage and eight triples. He also stole a team-high 21 bases.
O'Neill was also recruited by Ohio State and Miami (OH). I haven't found much else on him. More will come when I do.
O'Neill (.447) has dizzying speed and he's not afraid to use it, stealing a school-record 21 bases in 2009 and regularly flashing the leather as the defensive anchor in center field.
Incoming freshman Patrick Biondi had the best chance of taking over center field in the near future, but O'Neill may give him a run for his money.
Mark Bass (SS, Florida)
Coach Maloney hasn't done much recruiting in Florida in the past, but it appears he has been making the rounds their this summer. He's even convinced some players down there into "buying some parkas":
Despite seeing little playing time with the Patriots in 2009 following a shoulder injury, Bass participated at the Perfect Game Showcase in Fort Myers in May where he caught the eye of Michigan head coach Rich Maloney.
It was their relationship that led Bass to the Wolverines over the University of Central Florida.
"I honestly never thought I was really going to go to a D-I school," said Bass, who will move from second base to shortstop at the next level. "But this summer, I was in the right place at the right time and met the right people.
"The deciding factor for me was the coach. He made a big impact on me and really liked what he was doing with the program."
Getting a kid to come play here over a competitive team from the South is almost a coup for Maloney. Central Florida isn't a powerhouse in Conference USA, but they are generally around the .500 mark. This is a great pick up to provide some long term depth in the middle infield. Right now, it looks like incoming freshman Derek Dennis will probably hold down a middle infield position with Anthony Toth over the next two seasons, and Bass should be in the mix by his redshirt junior year.
Plus, it sounds like he needs some strength and conditioning work. Maloney says:
"Mark is a 6-2 middle-infielder who brings great confidence, a good bat and good glove to our program," Maloney said. "I think as his body matures, with the help of our strength and conditioning program, he will have some very bright days ahead."
UPDATE II: Stories are popping up today, this time with pictures! Someone get that kid a real Michigan hat. Picture by awesomely named Bill Gamblin of the Santa Rosa Press Gazette.
The Santa Rosa Press Gazette reported on Mark Bass's signing not three hours from me posting my post. Apparently, the decision to go to Michigan over UCF was really close:
Mark Bass is looking for all the coats he can find as he is headed to Ann Arbor to play for Michigan.
For Bass, it is a time to get jackets and coats to prepare for the cold, but that doesn’t matter after he got to meet the coaches at Michigan.
“I wanted to go to the school on academics, but the coach saw me in Ft. Myers and asked me to think about Michigan,” said Bass. “I was about two days away from committing to UCF, but the coach (Rich Maloney) was a big decision over the others.”
Bass selected Michigan over UCF, Jacksonville, Sanford, Alabama Southern, Pensacola Junior College, and the University of West Florida.
Sounds like a little bit of snake oil right there.
Brett Winger (RHP, Florida)
Maloney snagged not one, but two Florida players over the summer, the second is right hander Brett Winger of Orlando's Olympia High School. From his summer ball team that finished 3rd in an elite national tournament:
Brett Winger, a strong bodied right handed pitcher from Olympia High School, has recently committed to play baseball at the University of Michigan. Brett is one of the most competitive players the Scorpions have had, and can always be counted on in big situations. He throws a heavy fastball in the upper 80s/lower 90s and compliments this will a late breaking slider and quality change. Brett also excels in the classroom, and Michigan's prestigous [sic] academic pedigree certainly appealed to him. Brett will look to make an immediate impact for the Wolverines and add to a rich history of success at the institution.
Perfectgame.org has similar praise in their Central Florida All-Junior team, and mentions of a new pitch he has been working on for his senior year as well:
He throws an effective slider for strikes that is still developing and a splitter/palm ball type changeup that dives down and out of the zone late. Winger's pitchability has increased over the last year and he is the ultimate competitor. If Winger continues to improve, there is no reason to think he won't be living in the 90s and be a dominant guy at the next level.
Depending on how his senior season goes, I think Winger is the most likely to be drafted out of all our players, but I don't think his junior year stats really indicate that he'd be drafted outside one of the late rounds, where it probably wouldn't affect his coming to Michigan.
Alex Lakatos (RHP, Grand Rapids, MI)
The only in-state player picked up in the early signing period is right hander Alex Lakatos out of Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids, the same high school as current incoming freshman Derek Dennis.
Lakatos is a three-time varsity letterwinner […] two-time all-conference, all-district and all-area honoree, Lakatos added preseason Perfect Game All-America honors to his list of accolades prior to his junior campaign. He helped lead the Rangers to conference and district championships as a junior while posting an 8-2 record on the mound and hitting .450 with seven home runs. Lakatos has also spent the last four summers playing for the prestigious Diamonds/Maroons program, under the direction of Bill Peterson.
"Alex has good size (6-3, 200) and possesses a fastball that hovers at 90 miles per hour with an excellent slider," commented Maloney. "What I really like about Alex is his competitiveness. He has great presence on the mound and is also a great student, which fits our mode of what we look for in a balanced student-athlete. I believe Alex can be a difference-maker early in his career at Michigan."
But pitching isn't the only thing Alex is looking to do:
"More than anything, pitching got me to college. But I didn't want them looking at me only as a pitcher."
Lakatos, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander, might find it difficult to do both at the Division I level, but he had an outstanding junior season this spring on the mound and as a hitter.
He was 8-2 in 12 games as pitcher, posting a 1.65 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 55 innings. As a batter, Lakatos hit .414 with 18 extra-base hits, including seven home runs. He drove in 36 runs and stole 13 bases in 34 games.
Lakatos said he also considered Michigan State, Central Michigan, Louisville, South Carolina, Northwestern and Coastal Carolina.
Lakatos wants to swing the bat, and that's why he's coming to Michigan. I'm not sure I see him cracking the outfield rotation any time soon, but he's definitely got an arm. He's already been clocked at 92 miles per hour on his fastball, and that was as a junior.
That list of schools is also pretty interesting. Louisville, South Carolina, and Coastal are all major players in college baseball. It's good to know Michigan does a good job of roping in talent.
(Note: This is my first diary and I'm relatively new to the mgocommunity. This is simply a portrait of my experiences within Michigan football and The Rivalry).
On The Eve of Battle
Today Michigan football is in a dark space. Hopes that flew beyond control early in the season have all but been brought to earth. In a way, I think everything that has happened has set Saturday's game up to be a barn burner. For one, the game is at noon, and even though I think the game was at noon last year it has been taken out of that slot in years past (unfortunately IMO). For all intents and purposes OSU has nothing to play for and they are doing their best to try to hype this game up, despite the fact that they are disrespecting the game by wearing those God awful throwbacks. That point aside, they've won The Game the past five years, they've wrapped up the Rose Bowl, and Michigan is on a skid to say the least. For all intents and purposes this game should not be close.
The beauty of it is that games aren't played on paper. On this very site there have been posts, and diaries, and threads all dedicated to breaking down every game in every way possible. I do this myself. It's only human nature to try to give oneself control and perspective in a situation where they have no direct impact on the outcome.
I've been a Michigan fan for as long as I can remember. I've been to The Big House a handful of times and hugged or high-fived complete strangers after every big play. I've shared in the heart breaking and soul crushing defeat when we outplayed Colorado only to have a hail mary answered (along with Mo going for two too damn much). When I found out Lloyd was retiring and Rich Rod was taking over I was excited and that excitement only increased after we dethroned Tebow in the Capital One Bowl showing an offense that had never been more exciting in the Carr era.
I didn't expect 2008 to go as bad as it did, but I wore my Michigan sweatshirt to work almost everyday in broad view of my coworkers at 4 a.m., many of home root for MSU or other schools. Continuing into this year, I have watched every game even to the point where I couldn't watch anymore. My story is only one in a million other stories told here and elsewhere that make my heart swell with pride to be a Michigan man even in the dark times.
It is just football to some, and I don't lose my perspective on life (at least I don't think) as I am active in ministry (that's the only mention I will make of religion going forward), but to me Michigan football is so much more. At times my obsession with Michigan football seems more like a drug than a medicine, especially in the dark times surrounding the program. It is still a diversion from some of the things happening in my own life, and for that I am greatful, as I lost the aforementioned job and live in Michigan where jobs are about as common as wins over the Buckeyes this decade (and don't think that didn't sting to type).
The one thing that really irks me though, is why I can remain supportive of our coach and team when so many others reflect their pain into the program, seemingly trying to rip it apart. My diary will not change that fact, and it will also not affect the outcome of tomorrow's game at high noon. I do have an illogical hope, however, and it is a seemingly baseless hope. Even ripped apart as I have felt since MSU as well as feeling hopeless since Illinois, I have felt some source of inspiration this week. I have told myself that it's just my Michigan bias combined with my Buckeye hate, and that still could be true, but I have come to the boards here and found similar hope.
I can't lie and say I haven't been critical of Rodriguez, but I have never thought it wise to fire him and never thought it a good thing to let my criticism affect my support. Though the predators in the media and in the Hell that is Coumbus are waiting for another opportunity to strike Michigan and coach Rod another blow, I am making an appeal on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the '69 rebirth of Michigan football.
Though we have no direct role in the outcome, I know the true fans will be doing everything they can to transfer their passion to the players. As much as we can we should not worry about the implications a loss or win can mean. I can only hope that the passion I feel is matched in preparation, in practice, in the locker room and in the game. I think the problems that have arisen have to do with the expectations we have all had being spoiled for too long. We will succeed again.
After the game tomorrow I will still wear my Michigan gear with pride, and not just because we have a good basketball team. Regardless of outcome, let's keep things in perspective and realize that as bad as things seem we will beat the Bucks again, be it this year or next year or in twenty. I only ask that we do what we can to support the team without letting our emotions cause us to put our energy in the wrong places. If you are putting energy into getting coach Rod fired, that is energy wasted that could be spent cheering the team on. I'd rather be positive when I don't have control than negative.
That's all I have to say, other than: Go Michigan! Beat the Bucks!
(hope this wasn't a waste of space, but if it is I will go back to just enjoying others content; I feel too strongly about tomorrow not to pass on my hope)
Rush OffenseMichigan Rush Offense: +2 (25th Nationally, 2nd Big Ten)
Ohio State Rush Defense: +2 (27, 3)
|New Mexico State||9||1.7||27||58||2.15||0|
After a slow start against Navy, Tresselball has been in full effect. Except for a mild let down vs Minnesota, Ohio State has been positive against the run since week 2. Michigan, on the other hand has been a bit all over the place this year. Michigan, although second in the Big 10 in rushing, has gone 4-4 in terms of positive and negative games vs non-MAC competition. On top of that, none of those 8 games have been within 3 points of 0.
Projected outcome: +0, 35 carries, 130 yards 1TD
Pass OffenseMichigan Pass Offense: +1 (44, 4)
Ohio State Pass Defense: +7 (9, 2)
|New Mexico State||9||5.6||16||0||1||16||7|
Ohio State presents a defense that, depending on how you look at it, either had a chink in the armor exposed last week to Iowa's backup qb, or a dominant pass defense that got a little complacent. Although this unit hasn't been as consistent as the rushing defense unit, it has generally wavered between good and great throughout the year.
Michigan hasn't been able to put up huge games (no Big 10 game as high as OSU's Big 10 average) but they have shown solid growth in the passing game over the last month or so, largely tied to the emergence of Roundtree.
Projected Outcome: -6, 18/30 175 yards 2 TD 1 INT
Michigan Rush Defense: -2 (96, 9)
Ohio State Rush Offense: +1 (33, 3)
|New Mexico State||9||6.1||47||313||6.7||3|
This is a unit that has killed Michigan all year long, and an Ohio State unit that has been their backbone. It is interesting to note that both teams have had 4 of their top 5 performances of the season in the last couple weeks. The difference is that Ohio State has gone from decent to really good and Michigan has gone from terrible to not totally terrible
Projected Outcome: -3, 45 carries 210 yards 3 TD
Pass DefenseMichigan Pass Defense: -1 (63, 7)
Ohio State Pass Offense: +0 (58, 7)
|New Mexico State||9||2.3||244||2||0||34||15|
The Michigan pass defense has a very strong negative trend throughout the season. The good news? is that it's can't get much worse. Seriously, the Wisconsin game was the 996th best performance of pass defense out of 1114 that I have ranked this year. The interesting thing about OSU is that with Tresselball this year, the more they throw, the worse they do. When the Buckeyes have thrown the ball less than 20 times, they average +2.2 and have had their two best passing games of the year. When they have thrown the ball more than 20 times, they have averaged -1.1 and had their 3 worst games of the year. You have to think that the gameplan is going to be to keep the ball on the ground. Although this could be a positive, efficient game for OSU through the air, the knowledge that our pass defense could only be exposed to a minimum of attempts sounds pretty good at this point.
Projected Outcome: -1, 15/24 160 yards 1 TD 0 INT
The Rest of the PictureKicking: Michigan
Michigan Kickoff: OSU
Ohio State Kickoff: Michigan
Michigan Punt: Michigan
Ohio State Punt: OSU
All Special Teams: Push
Pace: As we prepare for another fast vs slow, contrast in styles matchup on Saturday, I am wondering if picking up the pace could be a winning strategy? We are not the most talented team in this matchup and more possessions generally favors the better team, but I have to wonder if we can make the game move faster and take OSU out of their comfort zone (even if it exposes a weakness or three) if that could be a path to upset?
Turnovers: 55 points. That's the difference in value between Ohio State's turnover performance YTD (+38) vs Michigan's (-17). 55 points will get you a long way. It is also the hallmark of the grind it out strategy. You have to own the swing plays and there are no swing plays bigger than turnovers. Even with the large divide, there are positive signs. Michigan has only lost 21 points to interceptions thrown this year, which is best in the Big 10. And interceptions are where OSU has made their living this year, racking up a +54 on picks for the season. If Michigan can keep away from bad interceptions, and a pick up a lucky bounce or two, could be a ball game.
PredictionsMichigan 21 Ohio State 31
The regular numbers are pretty stacked against Michigan this week, but with the type of tight game Ohio State likes to play, a key turnover or special teams play could present a window of opportunity to steal one this weekend.
Minnesota 14 Iowa 27
Wisconsin 31 Northwestern 17
Purdue 28 Indiana 27
Penn St 28 Michigan St 24
UConn 28 Notre Dame 35
Michigan Football is but a part of one of the world's best universities. And a cultural touchstone in one of the best college and socially aware towns in the world.
Michigan Football is actually Meeeeeechigan Football.
Michigan Football is growing up with Bob Ufer, be it family gatherings around the radio to listen to road games or wearing gigantic headphones straight from the 1970s over your ears to keep up with the action while at the game. Michigan Football is the indelible spirit and Maize and Blue partisanship that Ufer instilled in many a generation of fans. It's General Patton's horn. It's God Bless Your Cotton Picking Maize and Blue Hearts.
Michigan Football is Great To Be A Michigan Wolverine.
Michigan Football is my grandmother's fried chicken during a tailgate. Its been over 20 years since I had any, but I can still taste it on my tongue at times if the right aroma is wafting around the golf course on game day.
Michigan Football is Wangler to Carter on the last play, Elvis to Desmond on 4th and 1 and Forcier to Matthews with time running out.
Michigan Football is Stewart to Westbrook, Rocket Ishmael kick returns and Spartan Bob to TJ Duckett.
Michigan Football is Paul Girgash, John Vitale, Phillip Brabbs, Vada Murray and Elliot Mealor. You're family once you come here. You did (or in Mealor's case doing) us proud on the field. Your battles are our battles. Always.
Michigan Football is Jamie Morris, Mike Hart, Jim Harbaugh, Chadd Henne, Jake Long, Jon Jansen, Curtis Greer, Lamar Woodley, David Harris, Erik Anderson, Andy Canavinno, Tony Boles, Allen Jefferson, Mike Taylor and Steve Everitt. Michigan Football is Rich Hewlett, Chris Zurbrugh, Demetrious Brown, Steven Threet, Justin Fargas, Sam McGuffie, Brandon Minor, Brandon Graham, Stevie Brown, Obi Ezeh, Zoltan Mesko and David Moosman.
Michigan Football is Super Cid and Super Cede, David Cone, Nick Sheridan and Jordan Kovacs.
Michigan Football is Hail to Victors, Varsity, Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue and Let's Go Blue.
Michigan Football is the Michigan Marching Band, all members past and present without whose spirit the Big House would not nearly be as cool a place. You are the heart and soul of the fanbase. It's the halftime shows. It's Rocky and Bullwinkle, the High Step, Tempation and because you cant have one without the other the Hawaiin War Chant. Its William Revelli, Jerry Billik, George Cavendar, Eric Becher, Jamie Nix, Scott Boerma, and the Man Up Front.
Michigan Football is hating Ohio State, despising Notre Dame, begrudginly tolerating Penn State and ignoring, except for one week, Michigan State.
Michigan Football is being so dominant that Rose Bowl Organizers decided to hold, among other things, Chariot Races in the many years between the first and second actuall football games because nobody could touch the Wolverines and Fielding Yost's Boys.
Michigan Football is Stanford scoring 13 points in the final two minutes, Warren Moon's air show, the Phantom Touchdown and the lethal combo of Vince Young and Dusty Magnum.
Michigan Football is Buth Woolfolk's 182 yards, Leroy Hoard's 142 yards, Tyrone Wheatley's 236 yards, Griese to Streets, Woodson picking off Leaf in the endzone, Brady to Terrell and Lloyd over Urban.
Michigan Football is Yost, Oosterbaan, Kipke, Crisler and Elliot. Michigan Football is Bo, Mo, Llloyd, Hanlon, Gittleson, DeBord and Hermann. Michigan Football is Rodridguez, Magee, Barwis, Frey and GERG.
Michigan Football is long distance calls to my grandfather after every game to rehash the events. Michigan Football is breaking down in a heap of tears after the '98 MSU game because for the first time ever I didnt have a grandfather to call after a big game.
Michigan Football is hugging my brother as the seconds ticked away in this year's Notre Dame game. Michigan Football is jumping up and down with my father after D-War's interception in the fourth quarter against Indiana. A pair of moments of unbridled joy between family members who dont always get along and see eye to eye. A pair of moments that will always define the 2009 beyond anything else we've seen on the the field this season.
Michigan Football is my grandmother's crush on her Little Anthony Carter. Michigan Football is my mother exclaiming her love for Shoelace after the season opener.
Michigan Football has always been family. From my blood relatives to lifelong friends I've tailgated with to this amazing community of invisible e-friends forged the last couple of seasons.
Michigan Football is the Hole that Yost Dug, that Canham Carpeted, and that Bo Sold Out.
Michigan Football is Michigan Stadium, the coziest big stadium in the entire world. The Big House. The Wrigley Field of college football. The best neighborhood stadium in the land. Where 100,000 of our closest friends gather for church a half dozen Saturdays in the fall.
Michigan Football is the look on someone's face the first time they meander through an entrance tunnel and gaze out onto the field and the mass of humanity around them
Michigan Football is trekking to the 1989 and 1991 OSU games in the world's most beat up RV, not so affectionaly dubbed the Golden Turd. I can still remember the looks of doubt, fear and shock on the people we picked up on the way out of town as we pulled into their driveways. Hey, it made it back and forth and for this teenager it represented a new peak in the world of tailgating that helped set the tone for the college days that were about the begin.
Michigan Football is reprising that venture for the 2009 Game. The Wild Rover isnt any less beat up than the Turd, but its guaranteed to provide us with as much fun. We'll be in the Fingerle Lot just after dawn. If we make it, of course.
Michigan Football is the student section infuriating the prudish types with chants of Bullshit after calls against the home team and throwing teepee on the field after scores (1970s-early1980s) or pelting the field with Marshmellows (late 1980 into the 1990s) or pointing at the other team and yelling 'you suck' after every third down failure (current day).
Michigan Football is an oasis from real life. Like five years ago in the wake of one my closest and dearest friends passing away suddenly, inexplicably and way, way, way too early before her time. We grew up together. Our families went to games together. We're still reeling from this in many way. But, for three hours the day after she passed, Chad and Braylon at least gave us something else to cheer about and get into as they won a classic OT game over Michigan State. I remain convinced that Tiff someone guided some of those fluttering deep bals into the right hands that day. She knew we needed a win.
Michigan Football is the arguments. Jamie Morris or Mike Hart? Who is more clutch, Kolesar, Howard or Braylon? Brady or Henne? You know leaving out Elvis and Harbaugh is a mistake, I think you should reconsider. Better defense, 1985, 1997 or 2006? Better offense, 2000 or 2003? Best win over OSU? Can you really pick? It's like picking your favorite child. Who should start? Who should get carries? How much time should Denard get? What the hell is up with that playcall? Pink Slips, anyone? Why come Brian is so harsh in the UFR's, he doesnt even know the playcall?
Michigan Football is 1985, 1997 and 2003. Michigan Football is 1984, 1987 and 2008. Michigan Football is 12-3-1. Michigan Football is 1-7.
Michigan Football is five consecutive Big 10 Championships from 1988-1992. Michigan Football is four straight four loss seasons from 1993-1996. Michigan Football is the 1997 National Champion.
Michigan Football is heartbreak on third and short, be it on yet another fullback plunge into the line (Bo), an inexplicable passing play (Mo), a zone stretch to the far side of the field that has no chance (Lloyd) to a designed quarterback run with your undersized freshmen signal caller (Rich). And who said Rodriguez doesn't understand Michigan tradition?
Michigan Football is the Cook Family Tailgate, a tradition dating back to the 1950s that eventually inspired the genius (or insanity) behind mgoblog. Michigan Football is lifelong fan and lifelong friend Tyler flying odd hours in the night and morning to take his kids Fielding and Tess to their first games. Michigan Football is MJV leaving well before sun up in Chicago and arriving home in the late hours of the night so he can take his young son to his first games.
Michigan Football is Grandma and Grandpa Mac taking a seven-year-old Jamie Mac to his first games waaaaay baaaack in 1979, setting off a lifelong love affair with the program, school and city. It's Uncle Mac and Father Mac stuffing extra beers in my oversized Army coat, after more alcohol restrictions were put in place because nobody searches a 12-year-old. It's sitting in the exact same seats some 30 years later and never failing to think of all of them the instant I walk into the stadium. It's shedding a tear of fondness each home game as I remember all the good times over the decades those seats have brought me and my family. Michigan Football is the thousand of other stories just like this one.
Michigan Football is a young Tim Sullivan casting aside his central Ohio roots for a better place and a cooler football addiction. Michigan Football is the thousand of new students who flock to Ann Arbor every year as freshmen who never gave football a thought, but become rabid lifers after their first four quarters in the student section. Make no mistake, you are the backbone of this fan base and dont let fools like me tell you otherwise just because you dont know who Tripp Welbourne is.
Michigan Football is poaching football studs out of Ohio to play for the good guys. Where would the program have been just in the last two decades withouth the likes of John Kolesar, Vada Murray, Desmond Howard, Elvis Grabc, Jarrod Bunch, Ricky Powers, Jon Vaughn, Marcus Ray, Charles Woodson, Prescott Burgess and Shawn Crable? Getting Ohio kids to cross the state line is one of Michigan Football's oldest and most important traditions.
Michigan Football is Kevin Koger, Michael Shaw, Roy Roundtree, Elliot Mealor, Justin Turner, Patrick Omameh, not to mention the seven verbals in the 2010, busting their butts to forward and enhance the above tradition.
Michigan Football means a lot to many people. It binds us as a community and trumps our differences. It provides us with hope, fun, satisfaction, thrilling highs and depressing lows. Michigan Football is life. I know its one of the more important aspects of my life. I couldn't imagine my life without the Maize and Blue in it. My first heroes in life were guys like AC, Wangler, Greer and Woolfolk. Some of my favorite moments in life took place while sitting in Section 14 or watching from afar on TV. Today, my heart breaks for the kids on today's team because they are working so hard and not getting the results that they want.
Michigan Football is on the rise, even if its hard to discern the forward steps in the climb upwards right now. Michigan Football has the best young talent in the conference right now. Like wine, its just needs some time to harvest into something vintage.
Michigan Football will burn the boats tomorrow. Michigan Football is on the ropes, but they will come out swinging tomorrow with their best punches. Michigan Football has always saved its best for when people doubt it the most. Michigan Football will be carried tomorrow by seniors like Brandon Graham, who have one last chance to leave a legacy. Michigan Football will be carried tomorrow by a freshmen quarterback who has shown enough flashes of brilliance that he'll be taking snaps in Pasadena before his career is out. Michigan Football lays it all out on the line when the Scarlett and Gray are on the other side of the field.
Win or lose, I'll be proud of them and cheer them on. And, have fun doing so. That's Michigan Football. They are Michigan Football.
Michigan Football ruled. Michigan Football will rule again. Michigan Football is down, but not out. Michigan Football will be back.
Go Blue! Beat The Bucks!
I'll meet you at Brian's for the victory celebration tomorrow afternoon.
(Oh, and Big 10 Picks......let's go IU +4 over Purdue, Iowa -10 over Minny, NW +7 over Wisco, MSU +3.5 over PSU and UM/OSU Over 47)
In other games, Army pulled out a 22-17 win against VMI in a game that had 3 field goals in the thrid quarter. UCLA crushed Washington State, as expected, 42-7. If you have 7 first downs for the whole game, and the other team has 556 yards of offense, the score is probably not close. Also no surprise that Western beat Eastern to clinch second place in the Michigan Directional bowl. Eastern had 6 turnovers to help them score only 14 points when they had 364 yards of offense. Western scored 3 TDs in the second quarter to end this one early.
This week, we're treated to three sub-.500 games in the MAC. Yes, that means that half of the MAC games feature teams .500 or lower. Eastern goes to keep their perfect season alive against Toledo, Buffalo plays Miami(Obviously NTM), and Akron plays relative powerhouse Bowling Green. Eastern has been well documented in these pages, and looks to have their hands full against Toledo. If I have to type "looks to have their hands full with Toledo," you're a bad team. Toledo has the #22 offense, so this looks to be rather one-sided.
The Buffalo v Miami(Still NTM) game was Wednesday, with Buffalo winning 42-17. Another good metric: if you have 21 first downs, and only need 7 thrid-down conversion attempts, you're probably winning. Buffalo Buffalo buffalo Hawks.
Akron v Bowling Green also look to be lopsided. Bowling Green lost to Missouri by a TD, and has generally beaten up on the lower team in the MAC, with wins against Buffalo, Miami, Ball State, etc. This one could be a defensive battle, with both team's defenses between the 60's and 70's.
In Big Ten games not feauting Michigan, Indiana plays Purdue. Purdue is kind of the anti-Michigan. 4-7, but 3-4 in conference. This is the same Purdue team that beat Ohio State after losing to Minnesota, then got blanked by Wisconsin before, well, we all know what happened next. Indiana should be a well-known entity by this point.
In non-MAC games, CSU plays New Mexico in another "Someone Will Get a Conference Win" bowl. CSU started 3-0, beating CU and Nevada, before the horns came off the ram. New Mexico looks to just beat someone, anyone. Maybe they could play Eastern.
UTEP plays Rice in the "Didn't I Already Do This Game, Conference USA Toilet Bowl Round Robin" series. C-USA is like groundhog day, and I'm sure they look at the MAC and say the same thing. UTEP does have the #30-ranked offense, so they've got that going for them. Which is nice. This game is just edged out by Eastern v Toledo for worst overall ranking, 280 to 303.
Since I featured Army last week, Army v North Texas only gets mentioned for the "Immovable Object, Irresistable Force" award, as Army's #13 defense goes up against North Texas's #28 offense.
One play. For all of you who think that the only thing that matters
is the win-loss record, the end result, the final score; for all of
you calling for the end to this new Era before it's even begun;
for all of you mired in the media's negativity: think only on this.
One play. One play, here and there, and everything would be
Overtime against Michigan State. 4-0 record hanging in the balance.
A miraculous comeback bid gets us to overtime. And then, one play:
Tate misses a read and keeps the ball, when he should have handed
it to Minor. The handoff would likely have led to a touchdown. The
touchdown, so disheartening to MSU, and spirit-lifting to our defense,
might have been enough to get them to the win. One play. One missed
opportunity. And we are 4-1 and not 5-0.
Last drive against Iowa. Denard having just led the team downfield
to close the gap to two. The ball in our hands, and enough time to
move it and try for the winning field goal. Denard rolling out and
Odoms breaking free right in front of him 15 yards downfield. If
he gets the ball he's into Iowa territory with plenty of time on the
clock. If he gets it we have a good shot at a field goal. If he gets
it, we are a Jason Olesnavage kick from 6-0 (assuming the MSU win too).
But he doesn't get it. Denard targets further downfield, and drops it
into the hands of an Iowa defender. One play. And now we're 4-2.
At Illinois. A long pass to Roundtree. If Roundtree just zigs at the
end of the run, cuts away from the approaching safety, the tackle
is nearly impossible to make. Touchdown, 20-7, and Illinois imploding
like they have many times this year. One play. One missed cut. And
one more loss.
One play can kill. These "one plays" have combined to kill this season,
turn a fall full of hope and promise of a new and better Michigan into a
winter of concern, dismay, and even enmity, filled with worries about
who we are and where we are headed.
But one play can birth something too. An extra cut on a kickoff
return that transforms a typical 10-yarder into a game-changing touchdown.
A block that breaks the running back free to rampage through the
secondary. A tackle that saves a touchdown. A kick that sneaks
inside the post instead of bouncing off of it. A pass not an inch too
high or an inch too low, and thus a first down and not an interception.
One play can do all that.
We don't need a miracle on Saturday. We don't need OSU to play their
worst. We don't need a perfect game from our Boys in Blue. We don't
the smartest game plan we've ever had. We don't need the weather to be
What we need is much simpler: One play.
One play to save a season.
One play to define a new program.
Will we get that One Play?
The Mind says no, but the Gut says yes. And today,
and tomorrow, and frankly, forever, I choose to listen
to the Gut.
Prediction for the game: Michigan 23, OSU 21.
Get that One Play for us, and GO BLUE!