this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
So I'm back for another foray into enemy territory. I was pleasantly surprised by the (mostly) respectful reception of my diary on Shavodrick Beaver's de-commitment, so here's another. The just plain craziness of this Paulus business - and the uproar about it that's evident anywhere Michigan fans gather online - seems a propitious occasion for it.
DISCLAIMER: I'm a Buckeye fan, but one who tries to hate y'all in a friendly, rational way, if that makes any sense. I'm not here to talk shit. There are lots of reasons for this, but I'll just give you one: I'm old enough that my immersion in the rivalry started about halfway through the 10 Years' War. The worm has turned a few times since then, and if I throw "Five in a row" at any of you, I should expect a "2-10-1" to hit me in the mush. Actually, I'll give you two: this is your place, and it would be bad form for me to come in and piss all over the place.
That said, to business. I'll take the three things from the title in order.
MEH: So what? There's no question that depth at the position is a concern for Michigan right now, so ANY viable option at all that can be added - especially one that burns only one year of a scholarship in a year when a scholarship is available - is a good option. As long as you're not looking to him to save your team's season, you'd be crazy NOT to take him.
OR MAYBE GOOD: This gets back a little bit to a few of the points I made in the Beaver diary - it's entirely possible that Paulus will be able to compete with, and maybe even beat out, everybody else for the starting job this fall, because nobody has any GOOD reason right now to think that Forcier or Robinson (or Paulus, for that matter) will be able to lead your offense to success this Fall. All anybody KNOWS right now is that Sheridan = DEATH. This should be obvious to everybody no matter WHAT Forcier looked like last Saturday, given the no-QB-contact, injury-depleted-and-unsettled-personnel-on-defense nature of Spring football. Paulus was an extremely highly ranked QB prospect four years ago, and it just might be that four years of life and high-level athletic competition may have better equipped him for success than a kid eight months removed from high school. Even if that's not the case, worries about "Calista" (sorry - had to get at least one dig in) Forcier's current physical ability to survive D-1 football for a full season are seemingly well-founded, and there really cannot be any question that Paulus, sight-unseen on a college football field, would be a better backup option than DEATH (again, it must be emphasized that nothing at all can be KNOWN about Robinson's ability to succeed as Michigan's QB at this point, so he really can't be a part of anyone's calculations on this point, other than as another warm body). And if Forcier gets hurt and Robinson isn't up to the job as a freshman, then maybe Paulus CAN save your season in a way that DEATH or Cone cannot - it seems pretty clear at this point that winning the games y'all "should" win this Fall is going to depend on offensive competence, since it doesn't look like your defense is going to be all that great. So Paulus in Maize and Blue is maybe a very good thing.
BUT THE OPTICS ARE TERRIBLE: There's a lot of psychoanalyzing of Forcier's comments on this situation that I won't address or engage in, but it seems clear that he was pretty much blindsided by the whole thing, and that does not at all speak well of the coaching staff's handling of this. They had to know that some d-bag reporter would buttonhole and badger Tate as soon as the story got out and should have coached the kid up on what to say. I suppose it's possible that they did just that and Tate fucked it up, but it doesn't read that way. The concerns some of you have about the "Those Who Stay..." believers on the team resenting this kind of stuff are probably at least half right, and if I'm even half right about that then that's a problem. The last thing to say about this is that you don't have to be a Wolverine-hater to see that (even considering the meh/maybe good points I made above) this foofaraw only strengthens the perception that Michigan is a program so desperate and so much in disarray right now, that they're willing to take a QB that FUCKING DUKE's coach refused to even consider. Note that I'm not saying that this perception is correct - in fact, I think that it is not - but that it is real nonetheless. This cannot be a good thing - perception matters in big-time college football. As a Buckeye fan, I ought to know.
In the end, I think that this business is likely to be an energy-sapping distraction right on through the preseason (assuming Paulus does in fact join the team, and to a lesser but still significant degree even if he doesn't), and possibly on into the season. The silver lining, of course, is that if any of the meh/maybe good points I made above are true, then it won't matter once the real games start. I guess you're all gonna need a high tolerance for drama.
I thought I would drop a diary entry on this subject as all board entries seem to get eaten up within hours.
When this all came down I thought that it was a win win for UofM. Paulus could provide depth at worst and at most, a very good QB option for a year while Tate and/or Denard grow into it. But then as the day has worn on, I have realized that this is the exact opposite of a win win. I love RR and the new regime, but this situation does nothing but rock the ship that was just getting righted.(sp?) Just when we were getting into a groove with a QB that gave us something better than Death, and another to come in and help, RR throws a wrench into the mix. I AM ALL FOR THE DEPTH AT QB, but this is just adding another ring to the RR circus.
Tate's interview was interesting with the Daily, and I almost wonder if it was even real. He seemed a little hazy with details and that should NOT be the case with your arguable #1 QB. Things like this do not help team chemistry, assuming what we all have read and heard is true. Even if Paulus does not end up signing, it still ripples the water. If Tate doesn't know what to think, how much trust can he or the team have in RR. And save your "This is College football, grow up!" garbage, becuase this team is young and at the very least needs to be able to trust the staff.
There, I have that off my chest. I may feel that this is a slippery deal because I think Tate and Denard are more than capable, but any way you slice it, it is a distraction. Those tend to not be very positive.
Press release, yo!
Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference office released the game times and television plans for 14 home football contests today to appear during prime time on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or the Big Ten Network. At least one Big Ten contest will be featured during prime time in the first two weeks of non-conference play and on the first six Saturdays of conference action. The prime-time schedule will include three games each for Illinois, Indiana and Iowa and a pair of outings each for Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State.
The non-conference home schedule will hit prime time with three contests the opening week of the year, beginning with a Thursday night matchup between Indiana and Eastern Kentucky to kick off the 2009 campaign on Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network. Two prime-time tilts will be featured on the opening Saturday, Sept. 5, with Illinois facing Missouri at 3:40 p.m. ET on ESPN and Wisconsin hosting Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.
The second Saturday of non-conference play will be highlighted by a rematch between four-time defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State and USC, a game the Trojans won last year at home. The Buckeyes and Trojans will square off at Ohio Stadium on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Big Ten Network will also feature a pair of contests to kick off at 7 p.m. ET the same night, including Illinois hosting Illinois State and Minnesota taking on Air Force in the first game at the Gophers’ new TCF Bank Stadium.
The Big Ten schedule begins on Saturday, Sept. 26, with Iowa hitting the road to face reigning Big Ten Champion Penn State, after the Nittany Lions shared last year’s title with Ohio State. The Iowa-Penn State contest will be played at 8 p.m. ET on ABC or ESPN. The conference’s final non-conference prime-time game will also take place that night when Purdue hosts Notre Dame at 8 p.m. ET on ABC or ESPN.
The month of October will feature six prime-time outings, including four games on the Big Ten Network, one contest on ABC or ESPN and another matchup on ESPN or ESPN2. The complete prime-time schedule for the 2009 campaign appears below.
The Big Ten will hold the 2009 Football Media Days and 38th annual Kickoff Luncheon on Monday and Tuesday, July 27-28, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, featuring all 11 head coaches and some of the conference’s top returning players. The 114th season of Big Ten football kicks off beginning with every team in action on Sept. 3 or 5.
2009 BIG TEN PRIME-TIME FOOTBALL GAMES
Sept. 3 Eastern Kentucky at INDIANA, 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Sept. 5 Missouri vs. ILLINOIS, 3:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
Northern Illinois at WISCONSIN, 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Sept. 12 Illinois State at ILLINOIS, 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Air Force at MINNESOTA, 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
USC at OHIO STATE, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sept. 26 IOWA at PENN STATE, 8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN
Notre Dame at PURDUE, 8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN
Oct. 3 OHIO STATE at INDIANA, 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Oct. 10 MICHIGAN at IOWA, 8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN
Oct. 17 ILLINOIS at INDIANA, 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Oct. 24 IOWA at MICHIGAN STATE, 7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Oct. 31 MICHIGAN STATE at MINNESOTA, 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
PENN STATE at NORTHWESTERN, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2
Good day to you all. I've been forced to write some thoughts into the Diaries. Forced because we have now gone 5 days without some of the riviting thoughts that this readership develops so cleverly on a daily basis.
Where is the great Jamiemac, or Meeechigan Dan. I miss TomVH, and I even miss... wait for it.. THE KNOWLEDGE. 14 weeks now without a post from THE KNOWLEDGE. Just because you wiffed at air on the DC doesn't mean there isn't still a place at Mgoblog for you. We celebrate victories, and forget defeats, so you are welcomed back. (Aren't we 10-2-1 against Ohio State recently?)
As great as Brian is he knows and we know that you are all part of the lifeline of information and analysis that makes this website great. And coming from a guy who sits in a dead end job in AZ, wearing sunscreen to prevent sunburn even at night. I need you guys to continue to bring your revelations daily! So take up the flag and run with it.
Good day, and God Bless.
Forcier looked unbelievable in the video I saw. While he is toothpick thick he sure can dot the i. Can't wait to see Denard though, and that Ginn Jr. Speed he is going to bring to Michigan.
This may be more than anyone cares to read on the subject, but I thought the Board post from earlier this afternoon re: Rodriguez wanting less fat on the lineman raised an interesting topic worthy of a serious response.
First, I think the poster was correct that Rodriguez wants lineman that do not carry much body fat. I recall last year in his first spring he said (paraphrasing) "by summer even the O-linemen will want to take their shirts off, which is unusual."
Second, I think the poster was also correct that his desire to have O-lineman without much "extra" body mass is atypical. Not, mind you, that other coaches want fat, fat, and more fat, or don't care about being in shape. But fat is still generally forgiven, and mass (in good, neutral, or bad forms) is still generally praised on the offensive line. When I played offensive line (~10 yrs ago) coaches at both the HS and college level definitely felt the more weight the better. Recall that the number of 300 lbers used to be a status symbol, and that good lines would be ogled for their average weight. (This is still largely true) Why does our coach depart from this?
I think Rodriguez wants leaner linemen because
a) they will be better conditioned, and have a lesser drop-off in form and concentration as games progress, and
b) they will be quicker, helping them to reach-block and sprint out to second and third-level defenders in the stretch zone blocking schemes his offense employs
There is always some concern that if you are too light you will be susceptible to the bull rush. Molk toes this line; sometimes teams can back him up a bit.
But from my perspective, offensive lineman don't usually get beat because they get pushed around--they get beat because they get run around. In other words, the typical lineman is a lumbering guy who can make a DB go splat if he can ever make square contact, and he can easily hold ground against a straight up bull rush; but the second level guy can usually dance around him, and occasionally a quick D-lineman will speed rush around him or a blitzer will shoot his gap before he can slide. I think Rodriguez' ideal lineman is a bit quicker for having less weight, and the idea is that his increased quickness will allow him to make contact at the second level more often and protect more lateral space at the line of scrimmage.
And I think Rodriguez has a great view on this. Let a leaner guy put his helmet (more often) on the linebacker or safety. Let him keep up with a speed rusher a little better.
The vulnerability--that an interior D-lineman will drive his man into the offensive backfield--is not as pronounced in Rodriguez' offense. His quarterbacks do not take a 5 or 7 step drop and can see a collapsing pocket happen more quickly. They frequently are delivering the ball quickly, and swinging it outside the tackle-to-tackle box. In short, the ball moves quickly, and often sideways, and this makes a well-formed pocket less critical. And on those quick lateral passes our smallish center is not merely excused for not holding the pocket--he's trying to sprint over to the sideline to find a linebacker flowing toward the play so he can put a facemask on his pads and sweep him out to the sideline. When we have 3 or 4 quick lineman getting over to that area of the field on those quick screens it will be a nightmare for defenses. I think RR has dreams of Barnum making it over from the opposite-side Guard position to blow up DBs on that play. (or maybe only I have them?) Losing weight and building lean muscle mass is definitely a key part of getting to the point where our lineman have the speed to "get in the way" of tacklers up field, across the field, etc.
If you want one clear example of what athletic, downfield blocking from O-lineman can do, watch McGuffie's screen pass TD v. Notre Dame. That's how it should work. In theory, of course, if you can suck in 4-5 pass rushers and deliver the ball properly, your screen gives you 9 blockers (11 - ball carrier and QB) against 6-7 tacklers. Why does 9 v. 6-7 not always deliver a TD? Because the big guys have a hard time getting to, and locking up, a target several yards down the field. It is tough. But when we are sending 9 athletic guys down the field on plays like that, well...it will be fun to watch. So; I for one hope we continue to slice fat from the line and recruit backfield burners.
On a final note, people have said that Rodriguez' kind of lineman is not an "NFL" type but I think in truth the NFL is moving more toward Omamehs than Borens. Certainly at Tackle. (This is especially true at left tackle, but notice that even if he plays RT scouts want to see Andre Smith cut his fat.) I think he is actually (rightly) selling both current and potential UM lineman on the notion that every year the NFL will want its lineman quicker and leaner. A big stomach is not a good thing, and I think is no longer even a neutral thing. I think our approach is forward-thinking and right on the money.
Seantrel, I hope you're reading--we'll have you burying guys 30 yards down the field, with a body you can take to the swimming pool.
This post really came out of the diary on the Michigan standard since it almost begged the question of who you expect to finish in front of in the Top 25. For example, if I expect the Michigan standard to be a Top 10 finish, you sort of create your own pecking order of teams that you feel inferior and superior to. To that end, I would really like to know where you think we sit in regards to other teams. This would essentially justify the standard.
When I thought about this, I sort of put teams into buckets and worked backwards. Again this does not assume the mythical NC year, but more of an averaging over any given year.
Teams I Assume We Finish Behind:
*Texas/Oklahoma (1 or both depending on head to head)
*Florida/LSU/Georgia/Alabama (1 or 2 depending on the SEC)
With this assumption, Michigan would finish the season ranked 4-6 before counting the second group.
Teams We Fight to Stay in the Top 10 to 15:
*Boise State/Utah/Non-BCS team with a good record
*Florida/LSU/Georgia/Alabama non-choices (2)
*PSU or other Big 10
*Pick some other Big 12
*Pick some Pac-10 or Big East
I separated OSU from other Big 10 since I feel OSU has a better chance of excelling on an annual basis and we know we will for sure play them. We lose control of some teams in our conference due to rotation. I know this seems SEC heavy, but it is just where we are right now, you might be substituting Tennessee for one of those choices soon. Adding this next set puts us between 4-14 depending on how our record and other teams sort out in their head to head matchups. Essentially, that puts the Michigan standard at a top 15 finish with high expectations of Top 5.
This sort of matches our recruiting team ranking so you hope to finish somewhere near that mythical number with a chance to exceed that number with a special class or collection of classes. Obviously, the Epic Fail is always a possibility when games don’t break your way or injuries stack up so you under achieve. I see the NC scenario a much smaller possibility due to star alignment than a slide.
I would be interested in your thoughts.