As noted in Friday's preview, Michigan and Michigan State have closed the MCLA regular season at a neutral site in each of the last four years, as part of the Great Lakes LAcrosse Classic. This year's game, at East Grand Rapids High School, was more of a nailbiter than expected, but the close game provided fans the opportunity to see some high-level lacrosse.
The game got off to a quick start for the Spartans, as they built up a 2-0 lead five minutes into the game. Michigan would eventually respond on two transition goals, the first coming on a successful ride, as Zach Mueller stole the ball and fed Trevor Yealy, followed by a Jordan Kirshner strike. After MSU took the 3-2 lead, Svet Tintchev (pictured below, from mgobluelacrosse.com) scored on a feed from Anthony Hrusovsky to tie it up going into the second.
The teams would continue to trade goals in the second quarter, but once Michigan State took a 5-4 lead, Michigan went on a 5-0 run, taking the 9-5 lead into halftime. Michigan's goals in the frame would come from Yealy (three times), Josh Ein (twice), and David Rogers.
The game would tighten up in the second half, as both teams upped the physical play leading to several big hits. Jordan Kirshner scored the first tally after the break:
Michigan opened the scoring in the second half with a nifty play as Kirshner teased his defender into thinking he was going to sub at midfield, before darting back into the box alone, taking a feed from Ein on the right GLE and firing high for the 10-5 lead moments into the third.
Michigan State put in the only other goals of the quarter, for a 10-7 score going into the final frame.
Michigan managed to kill off a 2-man-down situation early in the fourth, but another penalty shortly thereafter gave Michigan State the opportunity to get within two goals - and they capitalized. Michigan gained a little separation on a David Rogers tally with just over four minutes left in the game, and the Wolverines managed to keep possession for almost the entire remainder of the game for the 11-8 win.
Official Site Recap (source of quote and photo above)
Notes and Analysis
Michigan State's goalie stood on his head through much of the first quarter, and again in the fourth. During those times, Michigan's shots weren't always making him work hard for the save, however. Once shot quality improved (and frequency increased), the Wolverines put several shots past him.
David Reinhard was his typical solid self, winning 68% of his faceoffs, though even he had a slump when Michigan was struggling early in the game. Goalie Mark Stone had a solid outing, keeping Michigan State from scoring one several good opportunities. However, a couple balls that could have been saved got past him.
Senior Kevin Zorovich went out late in the first half with a knee or lower leg injury. He returned from the locker room after the rest of his teammates following halftime, and though he was still wearing his full gear (sans helmet), never returned to the game.
This is a much better MIchigan State than we;ve seen for the past few years. It will be a shame if this loss (combined with some unfavorable results elsewhere) keeps them out of the MCLA Tournament.
If you live in the Grand Rapids area and want to catch the game on TV, it will air on local access WKTV on Saturday at 5PM. The station will also have DVDs of the event available for purchase at a later date.
The CCLA Conference Tournament goes down at Saline High School this weekend. Michigan has a first-round bye, and will take on its first opponent Saturday at 4PM. The Wolverines and Spartans are favored to rematch in the Conference Championship Game.
Next up on the blog will be a round of MCLA Bracketology and a CCLA Tournament Preview.
One of the complaints I keep reading that recruits have with Michigan is that Michigan doesn't run a pro-style offense. This obsession with a pro-style offense makes no sense to me. Don't a lot of NFL teams play mostly in the spread offense? The most recent super bowl winners (the Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, and Patriots) all go to a shotgun formation often. The Saints, Colts, and Patriots are in a shotgun formation the vast majority of the game. The Giants, Cardinals, and Steelers all mix in the shotgun and go shotgun on the majority of passing downs. How can a college offense that runs the shotgun not be considered a pro-style offense while a large number of NFL teams run the shotgun? The list of NFL teams that often are in the shotgun formation include the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans . Now I'm not saying that all these teams just run every play out of the shotgun formation but all these teams do often line up in the shotgun formation. Considering that 15 out of 32 teams run the shotgun formation I think the shotgun should be consider a pro-style. That is unless the "pro-style" is a certain type of offense and not necessarily reflective of the current NFL offenses (like pop music is a certain genre not just popular music). I feel that answer must either be that, nobody realizes how many teams go shotgun since all they care about is fantasy football, or ESPN hates the shotgun formation and is refusing to let that be considered a pro-style.
Maybe more than any other position the QB position changes the most between a so called pro-style and a shotgun based offense. When Rich Rod came to Michigan, Mallet transferred because he wanted to play in a pro-style offense. Also, a number of HS QB recruits have decided against playing at Michigan because of the offense. While I understand slow QBs not being interested in running the ball I think shotgun offenses should quit being trashed for the QBs they produce. In the 2010 draft the first 5 or 6 QBs (depending on if Edwards counts) all played in the shotgun formation in college. Bradford (Oklahoma), Tebow (Florida), McCoy (Texas), Edwards (The Horror), and Kafka (Northwestern) took almost every snap from the shotgun. Clausen at ND took nearly 1/2 his snaps from the shotgun but he did go under center the other 1/2. If the first 5 QBs taken all played in the shotgun then I think it's safe for HS kids to play QB in a shotgun offense. The notion that successful shotgun QBs must run is also ridiculous. Bradford went first overall and ran all of 42 times in 2008 (his last healthy year) for a John Navarre-esque average of 1.1 yards per run. Brady has never run for more than 110 yards in a season and Peyton Manning has never run more than 38 times (in 16 games) and ran just 19 times this last season.
I can understand why TEs don't go to Michigan but I don't get players like Arnett. TEs are being faded out by slot WRs and as a result they are becoming more like H-Backs. But to be honest a lot of NFL teams (like the Patriots and Colts) are doing the same thing. Is Arnett not interested in Michigan because a running QB means less passes to the WRs? I don't understand this pro-style obsession, especially since few college teams run it and more and more NFL teams are going shotgun. Also, where do kids that want to play in a pro-style go? 3 of the 4 teams that have dominated college football the last 10 years (Florida, Oklahoma and Texas) are all almost exclusively in the shotgun formation. Looking back at last year's Top 25 only a handful of teams don't take most of their snaps from the shotgun. Texas (#2), Florida (#3), Boise St (#4), OSU (#5), Cincinnati (#8), PSU (#9), VA Tech (#10), Oregon (#11), and BYU (#12) all were top 15 teams according to AP polls and played a lot of shotgun. Considering that GA Tech (#13) runs a wishbone (which is anything but pro-style) that means only 5 top 15 teams (Alabama, TCU, Iowa, Nebraska, and Pitt) run a "pro-style" offense.
Side Note: Derek Dennis's status is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
With half of the Big Ten regular season complete, it's time to take a look at the conference to see where Michigan is and what it will take to get a good seed in the Big Ten Tournament. In this post, we'll walk through the series we've already completed and then look at the opponents we still have on the schedule.
So, for all you late comers to the baseball season, here's what you need to know.
Where We've Been
|Wild and crazy high scoring affair as it goes back and forth |
after Michigan was all but dead early. Dufek wins it in the
10th with a RBI double. Two bench clearings. Crazy.
|Brosnahan is sporadic but his emotion carries him through |
for the win in a well pitched game by both teams. Michigan's
early lead is enough to get by.
|Katzman makes the start and can't get through the first. Yours |
truly quits the game early as Michigan was down 17.
For as exciting and tense as the first two games of the series
While not much has changed in terms of outlook, Indiana hasn't turned out just as good as I expected either. They've been quite inconsistent, with their top hitters going ice cold the weak after they torched us. That freeze of course happened against Ohio State, giving the Buckeyes a pretty easy 2-1 series victory. They did sweep Iowa, though, something Michigan couldn't do.
|Alan Oaks continued to struggle and Michigan could do nothing |
with Purdue's Matt Bischoff in the loss.
|Big inning early and a solid Brosnahan start allows Michigan to |
coast to a victory with Burgoon locking down the 8-9th.
|Brandon Sinnery gets his first start and makes good. A 7-run |
4th inning caps off Ryan LaMarre's POTW winning series.
Michigan is going to continue to make decent to good pitchers
The loss to Bischoff is still nothing to worry about. It really would have helped for Michigan to get a sweep. Ohio State isn't on their schedule, but I'm not sure if that helps or hurts us. Purdue may be able to steal a game from the Buckeyes, or they may get blown out in all three.
|Alan Oaks is back! 8 innings of great pitching and the offense |
explodes for 17 runs? We're rolling.
|The bats fall asleep and Brosnahan has his shaky start that |
should be good enough for a win. Bad defense doesn't help.
|After 3 ugly innings by both teams, Tyler Burgoon steps in and |
shuts down the Illini for Pitcher OTW honors. Offense explodes
late, sparked by POTW Patrick Biondi.
2-1 series win over a BTT contender will work. We really had
Things haven't changed much here in a week. Illinois lost 2 of 3 at Michigan State, which means the Spartans are just keeping pace with us.
|Jarred Hippen is really good. He overshadowed anything |
Michigan related in this game.
|Due to rain in the forecast, it was a double header, & Hippen |
momentum carried right through game 2. Michigan grabbed an
early lead then blew a big inning. Brosnahan's luck runs dry.
|Michigan jumps ahead and, for the most part, stays ahead. |
Offense finally shows up late in the game.
1-2 isn't going to cut it. Losing one to Iowa in the Hippen
That happened. Nothing has happened in our season and it still stings. I can't wait for this weekend to come so I can get it out of my head. Plus, the Buckeyes did us a favor losing a home series to Penn State just so we could keep pace.
After the jump, we look at the present and then haphazardly predict the future.
Action since last rankings:
4-26-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Jeff Heuerman.
4-27-10 Notre Dame gains commitment from Ben Koyack.
4-28-10 Michigan State gains commitment from Andre Sims. Notre Dame gains commitment from Matt Hegarty.
Now that Iowa has jumped into the fray, Penn State and Purdue are the only Big Ten (plus Notre Dame) programs that don't have any commitments.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 10 Commits|
Michigan legacy(!) Jeff Heuerman picks the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 9 Commits|
Notre Dame picks up a couple more good prospects (which, like, crap).
|#3 Michigan - 4 Commits|
Wolverines are passed by Notre Dame.
|#4 Michigan State - 5 Commits|
Michigan State has a top-heavy class so far. They do pick up a new commit, however.
|#5 Indiana - 8 Commits|
The Hoosiers are tough to place because they have many commits, but all of them are low-rated.
|#6 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
No change for the Gophers.
|#7 Wisconsin - 2 Commits|
No change for Wisconsin.
|#8 Northwestern - 2 Commits|
Both of NU's commits are unranked to the services.
|#9 Illinois - 2 Commits|
Still just two for the Illini.
|#9 Iowa - 2 Commits|
Nothing new for Iowa.
About being back… not so much. (image from MGoBlue)
If you would have asked me what the worst case scenario would be walking into the Iowa series, my answer would have been Jarred Hippen throws a complete game in the first half of the double header, and that momentum would carry Iowa through game two for Michigan to be swept on Friday. I would have then said that rain would cancel Saturday's game for the first Iowa sweep of Michigan in Ann Arbor in recent memory. Unfortunately, the first half of that prediction came true.
Luckily, Saturday had only overcast skies and Michigan was able to redeem themselves (somewhat) by salvaging a 1-2 weekend. Michigan exits the series half a game back of the Big Ten leading Buckeyes, who visit Ann Arbor next week. That's right people, it's HATE WEEK for the baseball team.
But before we get to that, we look at the Iowa series. Recaps after the jump:
As the title indicates, this is yet another interesting way to make a 16 team Big Ten work. It has some similarities to Brian's backwards plan, but adds a few new elements and works to protect some old ones.
Protected rivalries have to stay. There is just too much tradition in college football and shifting to a 16 team league is such a big change to begin with, I just don’t see people being ok with ditching the rivalries. Schedule variability is pretty cool, but it has to be done in a controlled manner. The logistical challenges of bringing 100,000 people to a city on such little notice would be pretty overwhelming. I’m no expert in the area, but I have to imagine that the city of Ann Arbor has to plan for OT for a lot of people to make that happen. Something like that might work in basketball when you’re bringing in 15,000 people, but I think it’s a pretty tall hurdle for football.
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So, here’s how I’d do it.
Step one, split the sixteen teams into four permanent “pods” or “groups” or whatever you want to call them. The goal here is to protect as many rivalries as possible. Obviously you will play the other three teams in your pod every year, rotating home and away. Every year two pods are paired together to form a division. You play everyone in your division. This rotates on a three year, set basis (year one AB-CD, year two AC-BD, year three AD-BC). This gives you seven conference games per year that you can schedule ahead of time into eternity.
There seem to be two “most likely” 16 team scenarios. Both assume Pitt, Rutgers, Missouri, and ND are in. One gives another east coast team (UConn or Syracuse) while the other gives Nebraska. Here’s how I’d break down the pods in each scenario.
Pod A Pod B Pod C Pod D
Penn State Michigan Illinois Iowa
Notre Dame Michigan State Northwestern Minnesota
Rutgers Ohio State Nebraska Indiana
Pittsburgh Wisconsin Missouri Purdue
East Coast Scenario
Pod A Pod B Pod C Pod D
Penn State Michigan Illinois Iowa
Pittsburgh Michigan State Northwestern Minnesota
Rutgers Ohio State Missouri Indiana
UConn Notre Dame Wisconsin Purdue
The scheduled Big Ten season would run from the last weekend in September to the second weekend in November, straight through. The third weekend in November would be open. This would allow the teams to fit their three non-conference games into the first three weekends of September or into the third weekend of November, whatever they think is best.
Now you have to allow for some flexibility. At the end of the seven game schedule, the league would be split into four new pods. Championship pod, second, third, and fourth. Top two in each division into the championship, third and fourth into second and so forth. The bottom three pods just play a home game and an away game against the two teams from the other division. One game on Thanksgiving weekend and one on the first weekend of December. This ends in a 9 game Big Ten season with zero chance for rematch among 12 of the 16 teams. The championship flight is a simple “final four” type situation. The two division champs host the second place teams from the opposite division on Thanksgiving weekend and the winners play in the Big Ten Championship game at a predetermined neutral site on the first weekend in December. I guess the two losers would play each other on someone’s campus on the first weekend of December too. While that game would certainly be a downer in a lot of ways, it would almost certainly affect the bowl destinations of the two teams, so they’d have something to play for.
I think this really is the best of both worlds. Some bullet points…
- 10 of a team’s 12 games are prescheduled.
- Obviously seven games is unbalanced home and away. I recognize this flaw. The way to even this out would be that in each pod, two teams are “even” and two teams are “odd.” The even teams get four home games in even years, and the odds get them in odd years. If you don’t make the championship pod, you’re getting another home game there. If you make the championship pod and lose out on a home game, I think you’d be ok with that.
- I think this is the best way to mitigate the whole UM / OSU last game of the season thing. They will always play on the second Saturday in November and it will be the last game of the regular season. Assuming UM gets it together, there’s probably even a better likelihood that something will be at stake. They could be playing for a spot in the championship pod, playing to keep one of them out, or playing for seeding. Since the difference between winning the division and second place is huge (home or away in the final four would be significant), it would be a big deal even if they were locked into the first two spots in the division. The same obviously applies for any other season ending rivalry. If there was a rematch, it would be three weeks later with a game in between, so it would be “better” than just playing the next weekend.
- You could always just play the seven division games and then do a 1vs1, 2vs2 and so on weekend, but I think this is a lot more awesome. Imagine the hype of Thanksgiving weekend, Big Ten semis… Nebraska at Michigan followed by Ohio State at Notre Dame...
- The trio of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota caused me issues in making the pods. They seem to need to go together, but there’s no obvious fourth member and no “singles” really out there. In my mind, Wisconsin seemed to be the one who could stand on their own the best, so I moved them.
- In the east coast scenario, Michigan’s pod looks unbalanced (as in too tough), but those are teams that they schedule every year now, so it wouldn’t be any worse than they already have it.
- I like ND in the east coast pod. I think it would make them feel better about coming and would help to make sure the BTN gets into those markets.
- The basketball regular season is kind of tough. I don’t know what you do. I love what the Big East did with the double and single byes in the tournament though. That would be nice.
Here’s some potential standings and how it would play out as an example for the Nebraska Scenario.
Division AB Division CD
1. Michigan 7-0 Nebraska 7-0
2. Ohio State 6-1 Iowa 6-1
3. Penn State 5-2 Purdue 5-2
4. Notre Dame 4-3 Missouri 4-3
5. Wisconsin 3-4 Northwestern 3-4
6. Pittsburgh 2-5 Illinois 2-5
7. Rutgers 1-6 Minnesota 1-6
8. Michigan State 0-7 Indiana 0-7
Semi: Iowa at Michigan, Ohio State at Nebraska
Week 1: Missouri at Penn State, Purdue at Notre Dame
Week 2: Penn State at Purdue, Notre Dame at Missouri
Week 1: Wisconsin at Illinois, Pittsburgh at Northwestern
Week 2: Illinois at Pittsburgh, Northwestern at Wisconsin
Week 1: Minnesota at Michigan State, Indiana at Rutgers
Week 2: Michigan State at Indiana, Rutgers at Minnesota
As a bonus, an example of Michigan’s conference schedule in a six year block under the Nebraska scenario.
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
@Wisconsin Wisconsin @Wisconsin
Penn State @ Illinois Iowa
@Notre Dame Northwestern @Minnesota
Michigan State @ Michigan State Michigan State
Rutgers @Nebraska Indiana
@ Pittsburgh Missouri @Purdue
@ Ohio State Ohio State @Ohio State
Year 4 Year 5 Year 6
Wisconsin @Wisconsin Wisconsin
@Penn State Illinois @Iowa
Notre Dame @Northwestern Minnesota
@Michigan State Michigan State @Michigan State
@Rutgers Nebraska @Indiana
Pittsburgh @Missouri Purdue
Ohio State @Ohio State Ohio State