Watching Michigan B-Ball win tonight gave me a possibly false sense of optimism about our tournament chances. Going 2-2 to finish the regular season would give us a very strong resume and doing any damage in the conference tournament on top of that would make us a near lock for the tournament. I don’t even remember the last time Michigan made the tourney, which is quite sad. I believe it was ’98 when I was only 6 years old and I didn’t even follow sports then. This got me thinking about another point. I would almost rather see U-M make the tourney than have the football team make a good bowl game (note that I said GOOD bowl game).
Many reasons could be why I feel this way. It could be that since its basketball season right now I feel more of a connection with basketball than football. Probably not, or could it be that since we haven’t made it in a decade I am desperately clinging on to the fact that we actually have a chance to go somewhere with our basketball team, which lest you forget, is nothing short of a miracle. Possibly this could be the reason, but I don’t think so. Or possibly that the OOC wins vs. Duke and UCLA gave me a false sense of hope that no doubt led me to think we can be a contender. Once again, no…
So that must mean that I like the basketball team more than the football team. Right? No, once again. In fact I love football much more than basketball and follow the football team more closely than the basketball team. I play varsity football, not basketball. So why then would I rather have U-M make the tourney than the football team win 9 games instead of 6 or 7, which in fact is the most likely scenario for this upcoming season.
This leads me to pose my actual question. Which postseason is better: College Football Bowl Season or March Madness? I would have to go with March Madness as I alluded to already. It is a much better atmosphere than the bowl season with Dick Vitale screaming about how UNC will go all the way this year and seeing multiple games on my TV at once during the first couple rounds and plus its overall a better format than the bowl system. Yes, I’m ragging on the BSC system, but that’s not the only reason why it’s better. By having a single elimination bracket with 65 teams you get the absolute best team in the nation when it matters most. In college football there may be a better team that wins the Rose Bowl or The Sugar Bowl than the team that brings home the title (true to this year). Also, watching Cinderella teams such as Davidson or George Mason provides such great storylines for the tourney and makes me feel good inside. I also enjoy filling out brackets and desperately rooting for Duke to win their Sweet 16 game, when in reality I hate them with all of my heart, just for the off chance of winning the extra 20 bucks. Oh yeah and did I mention the atmosphere of the whole process. Everybody gets pumped up about the tourney and I couldn’t say the same about bowl season.
Once again, I like football way more than basketball, but I just really that U-M makes the tourney. So, which postseason do you like better? Discuss
This Minnesota game is just the sort of effort we need from Grady if we ever want to become an elite team.
The entire game tonight, Grady broke the back of Minnesota's press. They would commit two defenders to try to trap him in the backcourt, and he would effortlessly slip around or between them. The team got into position faster on offense, we didn't have stupid turnovers that led to easy baskets, and on several occasions Michigan had a brief numerical advantage after Grady left two defenders sputtering behind him.
Grady's handle doesn't just help with breaking the press. Against Northwestern, when our guards would penetrate, they were often out of control. We had a ton of turnovers in the paint. Even when they didn't turn the ball over, our guards couldn't deliver a precise pass to our shooters on the outside, so the few threes we got off of kick-outs weren't great looks.
When Grady knifed his way into the lane tonight, the defenders didn't seem to even bother him. He might not be an premier finisher in the paint, but he delivers some pinpoint passes to shooters on the outside. When you're committed to living or dying by the three, you need someone that can get your shooters quality shots in rhythm. Grady certainly didn't cause tonight's rout by himself, but he definitely helped quite a bit.
Hopefully Beilein keeps Grady in the line-up going forward. He doesn't need to bench Lee to play Grady, so let's not pretend that it's necessarily a decision between the two of them. I trust Beilein's instincts as a coach, and I have heard all the criticism of Grady's defense. When it comes right down to it, though, I don't think we can be an elite team without Grady in the mix and playing well. Our ceiling without him his just not very high. Our offense with him can be supremely menacing.
The team we saw tonight is the sort of squad that could pull an upset or two in the tournament. Let's hope the team takes care of business these next few games and earns that opportunity.
Enough wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth regarding Steven Threet’s departure.
While I believe he could have developed into a competent quarterback (does anyone else see John Navarre parallels with this guy?) it’s still obvious that he was a square peg in a round hole in Michigan’s spread offense. His growth and development would have come at the expense of the whole offense.
So we face the likelihood of a true freshman starting at QB. Certainly not the preferred option, but an investigation of numbers shows that it can be survivable. I’ve got an analysis that says that if Tate Forcier gives Michigan the average output that BCS level true freshman QBs have given since 2003, it’ll be a vast improvement over last year. In fact, if U-M had that output last year, it likely would’ve meant 3-4 more wins. Put your faith in numbers, ladies and gentlemen.
I looked at the NCAA stats website and found that since 2003, there have been ten true freshman starting QBs at BCS level schools. This includes Sam Bradford from Oklahoma a couple years ago, as well as Chad Henne at U-M. However, it also includes two QBs from Duke, which barely qualifies as a BCS level program. This is how they fared, with averages at the bottom (my inexperience with formatting issues prevents me from making this more clear, so bear with me):
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT Wins Losses
Sam Bradford, Okla. 2007 237 341 69.5% 3121 36 8 11 3
Matthew Stafford, UGA 2006 135 256 52.7% 1749 7 13 9 4
Chad Henne, MICH 2004 240 399 60.2% 2743 25 12 9 3
Chris Leak, Fla. 2003 190 320 59.4% 2435 16 11 8 5
Josh Freeman, K St. 2006 140 270 51.9% 1780 6 15 7 6
Reggie Ball, Ga. Tech 2003 181 350 51.7% 1996 10 11 7 6
Brady Quinn, UND 2003 157 332 47.3% 1831 9 15 5 7
Jimmy Clausen, UND 2007 138 245 56.3% 1254 7 6 3 9
Zack Asack, Duke 2005 90 180 50.0% 966 5 8 1 10
Thaddeus Lewis, Duke 2006 180 340 52.9% 2134 11 16 0 12
Season Averages 168.8 303.3 55.7% 2000.9 13.2 11.5 6.0 6.5
The data is sorted by the number of wins posted that season by the representative teams. It could be said that Bradford, Henne, Leak and (to a lesser extent) Stafford each played with considerable talent that gave them better numbers than they would’ve had otherwise. It could also be said that this table includes two Duke QBs and two frosh Domers who pulled the numbers down. That’s why the averages are important.
Let’s look at what our guys Threet and Sheridan did last year:
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT Wins Losses
Steven Threet 2008 102 200 51.0% 1105 9 7 2 6
Nick Sheridan 2008 63 137 46.0% 613 2 5 1 3
Season Totals 165 337 49.0% 1718 11 12 3 9
So, uh, not that well.
Now, let’s make some assumptions regarding the upcoming season:
1) Tate Forcier comes in and performs at the average level of the QBs listed above, with the requisite TD and INT percentages.
2) However, because he is a freshman, he eases into the season before taking over completely at midseason – playing the equivalent of about 8 games.
3) Nick Sheridan actually improves to where Sheridan ≠ DEATH, but maybe Sheridan = Threet 2008 (which might be near death). He starts or plays significantly early in the season, but total PT is about 4 games. Again, with the requisite TD and INT percentages.
4) The last assumption would be to assume about 25 pass attempts a game.
How would such a scenario look?
Year Cmp. Att. Pct. Yds. TD INT
Tate Forcier (projected) 2009 112 200 56.0% 1319 8.7 7.6
Nick Sheridan (projected) 2009 77 150 51.3% 829 6.8 5.3
Season Totals 189 350 54.0% 2148 15.5 12.8
That is a huge improvement over last season. And I think it’s a reasonable base expectation for QB production in 2009.
I think what’s most important to look at in these numbers is the increase in completions, passing yards and TDs. Similar numbers last year would have meant, at a minimum, more sustained offensive drives, a few more third-down conversions and maybe 2-4 more first downs a game. Those things alone might have been enough to make a difference against Toledo, Purdue and Northwestern last year. The increase in the number of TD passes from last year’s 11 to 15-16 might have made the difference in the MSU and Utah games.
I know there are a lot of assumptions here, but it’s clear that poor QB play was probably the difference between a 3-9 season and a potential 6-6 or 7-5 season. Honestly, I think a best-case scenario for QB production this year might be like 2003 Chris Leak at Florida, and a worst-case would be like 2003 Reggie Ball at Georgia Tech.
I did like Threet, and I believe he had the potential, because of his experience, to post numbers similar to what I have here. However, it would’ve come at the expense of the offense that RichRod is trying to employ.
Let go of the angst, Wolverine fans. If Michigan gets mediocre production from the QB, things will likely improve greatly.
Hi everyone, my name is Ron and you may recognize my last name. But I am NOT in any way related to Tom. I just thought it would be clever to use his VH moniker. I live in Texas and work as a trainer for a lot of the local players. I recently found this site and would like to contribute in any way that I can. So without further ado, here is an interview with Jay Guy, a defensive tackle prospect out of Eisenhower TX. He is listed as 6-0 and 315, a little bit on the short side but plenty of substance.
Ron: So Jay, how is everything going as you prepare for your senior season?
Jay: It's going good. I've been hitting the weight room to get bigger. Coach also wanted me to get faster.
Ron: I see that Michigan is on your list of schools to consider. Tell me about how you became interested in them, and some of the other schools on your list right now.
Jay: Michigan has great tradition. I've been watching them since I was a kid. I've talked with Coach Rodriguez and he seems like a real cool down to earth kind of guy. I'm excited to visit Ann Arbor and show everyone what I can do. I'm also considering LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas right now. I really like Texas, but haven't received an offer.
Ron: Recently there seems to be a lot of kids who get home sick and transfer. Would you be okay with leaving Texas and going somewhere else that might be colder and far from home?
Jay: I mean, Texas is great and I love it here. But I'd have no problems going somewhere else. It's like, when you in the NFL, you have to be traveling all the time. So it's something I wouldn't mind getting adjusted to.
Ron: Is early playing time a factor for you?
Jay: Yeah, I'd like to see the field early. A lot of coaches have been telling them I can come in and compete right away.
Ron: What're you most excited about this next year?
Jay: Just the chance to visit all these different schools. I want to get accustomed to being away from home and just take in everything.
Ron: Have you been talking with any other recruits, and has anyone been persuading you to go anywhere?
Jay: Not really, I'd really like to meet some of the other recruits to see what they have to say about some of the schools I'm considering.
Ron: Is there any schools you grew up rooting against?
Jay: No, but I love to watch rivalry games, especially Michigan/Ohio State, and Oklahoma/Texas.
Ron: What is your biggest asset?
Jay: My will to work hard. I'm in the weight room everyday, and I just want to maximize my potential.
Ron: When do you think you'll make a decision?
Jay: Not until this fall, I want to take it all in.
Ron: Has anyone been in your ear about where to go to school?
Jay: Nah, but there's always people wanting me to stay home. But I don't listen to that too much.
Ron: Thanks man.
With the transfer of Threet and the potential for another mediocre season next year, it's become a bit of a common theme to say "OMG, if we go 4-8 next year RR won't be the coach in 2010".
Come on guys. Seriously? Do you really think Bill Martin wants to go through another coaching search? Do you think he would only give RR 2 years with a roster that is ill-equipped for his scheme? Only 1 year with recruits that he signed? Given the attrition and injuries that have occurred over that period?
Look at the history of this administration and athletic department as far as patience with coaches. Carr was clearly winding down for at least 3 years without ever receiving so much as a single criticism from the AD. When Lloyd left (after a couple of medicore seasons and constant losses to our bitter rivals) BM said he would hire a clone of LC if he could. Tommy Amaker was given SEVEN years to try to bring the Bball program back to glory. SEVEN! And that is in a sport where it's much easier to acquire a few players that can turn your program around. Do you really think that RR, the most proven winner of any of these coaches, is only going to get 2-3 years? Though people say that M is a cut throat place to coach, I think we have one of the most forgiving and patient athletic departments of any big time program.
To those of you thinking that RR might be canned in the next year or two if we don’t show immediate improvement: Do you actually believe that he SHOULD be fired, or just that he will because of today’s “what have you done for me lately” standards? And if you are in the latter camp, do you really think that BM is so ignorant as to throw away one of the highest regarded coaches in the game before he really gets a chance to make his mark on the program? Trust me, Bill Martin knows as much about RR and his potential for huge success as we do.
Personally, I think we could go 4-8 next year and 6-6 in 2010 and RR would still be the coach is 2011, though the leash would be short at that point. Of course, I don’t think any off this will matter, because I think we’ll be challenging for the Big 10 title in 2010.
That is, if RR isn’t fired first.
The recent diary by the NYWolverine has awakened me, at least momentarily, from my winter slumber (mediated only by true Canadian past times like curling and the drinking of quality beer). Anyway, what a well written and well thought out article; problematically, the focus of apologism and rationalization is completely remarkable.
Now NYWolverine, I'm not entirely in disagreement with you in that there are any number of factors that do make Michigan game day extremely unique e.g day games, the Victors, Let's go Blue, the Band etc. (as you have well described). There are many cultural norms involved with attending any Michigan game that all of us accept and/or expect.
So, here's where I take issue:
"Where you see boring, I see Michigan culture."
You have essentially undertaken a stunningly limited and specious sociological analysis of the game attending Michigan fanbase (mostly season ticket holders) and also "midwesterners" and overgeneralized this to the Michigan fanbase. We must sit in different sections since the modesty and humility seem less evident where I am located. Where I sit there is a culture of remarkable entitlement and sometimes (like last year) completely unreasonable expectation. These are the features of the fans who leave at halftime, who don't particularly cheer for anything and are just there to, seemingly, sing the Victors 8 or 9 times per game.
As for "loyalty through thick and thin" I ask you NYWolverine, how many people in your section left in the 3rd Quarter of the Appy State 2007 game? I was proud of the fans who stayed with us and, frankly, I have not before or since heard the stadium louder than Henne's last drive of that game (obviously the outcome of that game need not be discussed further). That same game thousands of fans, multiples indeed, were booing. These same fans were yelling to fire Carr, to fire DeBord (a reasonable thought, perhaps) and yelling at 18 year olds (hello Stevie). I'm certainly not proud of that element of the Loyal Michigan Fanbase (who all left after the 3rd, anyway).
NYWolverine, you made many interesting points and spurred me to respond. Generally, this is the sign of an informative and interesting commentary, I think. On point however, I think it clear that you are rationalizing for a culture of entitlement. This culture of fan, of supporter, of donor (myself included) looked past the limited recruiting of much of the past decade, the limited innovation (both on field and in game day experience), the malaise that had settled somewhat on the program in that time and tacitly accepted it.
Unquestionably the Michigan Experience is something to enjoy and celebrate. Rationalizing entitlement and malaise is, however, completely unnecessary.
Best wishes all; back to the Canadian winter for me.