The Eyeball Test
Pos USC Star UM Star
DE Wes Horton 6-5, 245 4* Brandon Graham 6-2, 263 5*
DE* Everson Griffen 6-3, 265 5* Craig Roh 6-4, 238 4*
NT Christian Tupou 6-2, 280 4* Mike Martin 6-2, 291 4*
DT Jurrell Casey 6-1, 295 4* Ryan Van Bergen 6-6, 261 4*
LB Michael Morgan 6-4, 220 4* Jonas Mouton 6-2, 218 4*
LB Malcolm Smith 6-1, 225 NR Stevie Brown 6-0, 211 4*
LB Chris Galippo 6-2, 255 5* Obi Ezeh 6-2, 243 3*
CB Josh Pinkard 6-2, 210 3* Donovan Warren 6-0, 187 5*
CB Kevin Thomas 6-1, 185 4* Boubacar Cissoko 5-9, 177 4*
S Will Harris 6-1, 200 4* Troy Woolfolk 6-0, 183 3*
S Taylor Mays 6-3, 230 5* Michael Williams 5-11, 190 4*
With a quick scan, we are fairly close with the exception of the entire secondary which just is what it is at this point and Roh who is a LB playing at DE. Some items of note.
- BG really should be playing like Griffen where he is able to stand up. Locking in with a Tackle in a 3/4-pt stance is less terrifying than having him bull rush every play. This is not rocket science, but we were talking about him breaking the sack record this year. However, he cannot move him because of dline depth which necessitates Roh as an early starter before putting on his 20 lbs of growth which gets his body type in the ballpark.
- MM is left pulling double teams due to RVBs lack of size which also puts him as a play making disadvantage. The dude is super athletic and his quickness would benefit from having a space eater next to him instead of having to be a space eater on most plays.
- The kick in the ass is really losing Graves and Jones last year since you needed the extra bodies and can't create a line of DE-Graham, Van Bergen, Banks, Patterson DT- Martin, Sagesse, Campbell. At this point, I wouldn't have minded seeing an attempt at this by moving Patterson down and playing Roh as a pass rusher to add depth. Not sure why this was not tried. We had Big Will for 9 months. I have a theory that is picked up at the end.
- The middle LB is a 5* LB who was a LB instead of a converted LB. Maybe that is trick I am not sure. But Galippo made a pick during the OSU game and I doubt if Obi could cover a elderly, asthmatic lady walking a crossing route. Again, this is addressed later.
Robinson is working with some unmatched parts and he had to take a system gamble with what he was able to determine based on his limited interactions with our players. I am concerned that the current recruiting class does not add the depth we need to make him successful. Maybe we can have the "talk" with a few guys (looking the direction of the slots) so we can add the numbers so our team starts looking physically like a USC lineup (maybe not as talented). The GERG still gets a pass, I see where he is going and understand why we are in this position.
On the other hand, our assistant coaches have had an extra year with the team and are the common pieces from the worst statistical unit and potentially the second worst statistical unit if this pace continues. My concerns are as follows:
Tall- You have an early enrolling DT that was considered by many people to follow football recruiting to be a monster (not just my opinion and yes that is as good a the coach's opinion). You needed to build these guys better to provide different dline options for GERG.
Hopson- You have 2 positions to worry about, both positions look lost. I can't add more than what has been said. I would be surprised if you are still in the same zip code next year.
Gibson- The NFL DB you inherited is playing pretty good. Too bad you are not doing more with the other pieces. Vlad was out a year with a leg, Kovacs was out a year with a leg, but the one who has 3 inches and 20 lbs on the other is on the sideline. I am sure Vlad could have taken a bad angle on the RB as well in the Indy game, maybe he would have made a play elsewhere. Speaking of which, I am sure Brandon Smith can run blitz like Kovacs. Maybe cover like Shazor, but has a better chance of sending a guy off in a stretcher. Gibson, get to work man because that guy is now a LB and you need to show some player development.
Depth/Recruiting- Really this about creating competition at this point. The walk-on program is a defensive feeder and I cannot believe that our guys are getting pushed the way they need to. I like Wilkins being able to come in with his body type, Talbott has a chance if he hangs out with Alex Mitchell all summer and the rest need to grow if you slot them into the prototypical sizes by position which means our recruiting class as it stands will provide little relief and we will be rolling the same D (minus graduation) next year unless we get some other fall surprises.
Unfortunately, I feel we will be outscoring teams even into next year. The one benefit being extra experience in the system and hopefully some assistant coaching turnover. I think GERG can get us there, he will need some tools to do so.
Last week I gave a link to the individual ballots of all of the AP voters. I thought it was interesting to see what the individual ballots were of each voter. What I found is that I would estimate only half of these guys actually watch college football games other than the team that they are covering. In my opinion many of these guys just throw a team at the top, give some love to their home team, and love to vote for the conference that they primarily cover. Now I know that the AP poll does not have a direct relationship with the BCS anymore, but I do feel like it effects the voting culture of the Harris Poll and possibly even the Coaches' Poll.
Why do I say this you might ask?
This topic was discussed on ESPN's College GameDay by a couple of guys that have votes in the AP Poll, Kirk Herbstreit and Craig James. FWIW I would qualify them as competent voters, because they watch national college football as a job. Both of them believed that there were/are voters in the poll that do not do their diligence in producing a quality, non-bias ranking system.
So why am I doing this?
I feel like there are people on this site that love college football, and watch a lot more of it than the so called "expert" voters from the AP. If you have the sports package from Comcast, than you can watch 8-10 college games at a time on Saturday Afternoon, not to mention some during the week, and my opinion is that you cannot have to much college football. So the answer is that I feel like I am just as qualified to vote as these guys, and so are most of you, and I wanted to give you guys a place to discuss the entire Top 25 every week.
OK, a couple quick things to before my Top 25. 1) I chose the AP Poll because I feel like it is the most debated/discussed one during the week due to ESPN featuring it as their ranking system of choice. 2) I know we have the blog poll on the website, but we all do not vote on that, and I want to know what each of you think individually, because you can never have to much college football debate/opinion.
My TOP 25
- Virginia Tech
- Boise State
- Oklahoma State
- Miami (FL)
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Georgia Tech
- No Cal- You cannot lose 42-3 and be a Top 25 team
- You get some credit from me for being undefeated, if you have played anyone at all. I will never think it is easy to win football games.
- If you lose you fall. If you lose to a team that loses to a bad team that hurts you. (See Ohio State)
- My 26th team would be South Florida
- Missouri is good and gets no love, same for UCLA
- You can "claw your way back" by winning games against good teams (Oregon)
- Credit for really good wins (Miami, Iowa, Houston, Boise State)
- If you win, no matter how you win, you still won and should not be punished, unless the win was really close and against a team that is so bad that it was embarrassing.
weighted percentage = (red zone TDs + 0.5 * red zone FGs) / total red zone trips
Yes, I know that a TD usually winds up being worth 7 points, but a 2:1 value for TDs vs. FGs seemed like a good starting point. Why did I bother doing this? Well, mostly just to see if numbers justified my perception that regardless of how the defense as a whole plays, it's really tightened up inside the 20s. How do we measure up? Well, I put the whole Big 10 on a...
|School||Drives||Red zone %||Rank||Weighted red zone %||Weighted rank||PPT|
|Wisconsin||13||92 %||102||81 %||110||5.46|
|Michigan State||12||100 %||111(t)||88 %||113||5.92|
|Ohio State||5||100 %||111(t)||90 %||118||6.40|
Note - "Red zone %" and "Rank" are the defensive numbers straight from the NCAA website, and the weighted numbers are mine.
So what does this mean?
It's still early in the season, but we can start to see a few things.
- First, I was right - Michigan is near the top of the conference, and has done a pretty good job of keeping folks out of the endzone when they get inside the 20.
- Holy hell, MSU. If we get in the red zone, we should get points - probably 6 of them.
- Iowa's interesting - every red zone trip, they've given up a score. However, they've done a damn god job of limiting people to field goals. (Admittedly, that's on only 7 drives.)
- Penn State's been pretty darn good, allowing a TD on only 25% of their red zone trips.
- Before you start gloating about OSU being at the bottom of the list, look at the number of drives. That's right, they're allowing an average of 1.25 red zone drives per game. Of course, they gave up touchdowns on almost every trip, but small sample size blah blah.
- Virginia Tech checks in at #4 nationally, allowing TDs on only 4 of their 17 defensive red zone trips. They must put something in the water in Blacksburg, cause that's ridiculous.
- Oklahoma and Florida are #2 and 5, respectively. It's just not fair to put defenses that tough opposite offenses with the kind of firepower they have (assuming their QBs are healthy, anyway.)
EDIT - I added in the "PPT" column. This is the "points per red zone trip" metric discussed in the comments, and it's what I used for my red zone offense post here. This didn't change the rankings too much - if I reranked based on the new metric, Wisconsin would leapfrog Northwestern and Illinois by a slim margin, but that's it. Also of interest is that using the PPT metric, OSU gets jumped by Arizona and Louisiana-Monroe, leaving the Bucks dead last in NCAA D1A. That makes me smile inside, even if it is just an artifact of a small sample size.
The tops, in no particular order:
1. Clemson - This may seem like an odd pick for a hard place to play because Clemson hasn't done that well in general this season (2-2, 1-1 ACC), it's hard to say that their version of "Death Valley" hasn't been loud; it's been VERY loud, but unfortunately for Tiger fans, it hasn't meant much. Last week's TCU match-up was a very loud game despite only 10 points and a loss for the Tigers.
General Projection for Toughness: Top 5
2. Oregon - They're obviously one of the "usual suspects" that I mentioned in the intro of this piece. The Zoo has definitely met the bar as far as crowd noise goes this season; they managed to beat a quality Utah team and the crowd saw its high point this weekend against #6 Cal in a lopsided affair.
General Projection for Toughness: Top 5
3. Texas - A season after a renovation of their own, the Horns have a lot to be happy about, since the closing in of one of their end zones has seemed to hold in more noise. Although I couldn't find decent video evidence that wasn't ruined by gratuitous amounts of music that I didn't want to listen to, if you watch a game or two on TV of Texas this year I'm sure you'll notice it for yourself.
General Projection for Toughness: Top 10
None, but did anyone see Bevo almost maul one of Texas's WRs? Nothing more gratifying than being gored by a peaceful old cow representing your team.
4. Michigan - I'm putting us here with a grain of salt. As a student who's been to every game an hour early this year, I've had a great time and personally, I've thought it was pretty loud. The thing is, I'd never been to a Michigan game before this year (trust me, I waited for my chance for a long time) so I don't know how it compares to past years. The luxury boxes do create an echo as others have said, but the stadium was absolutely dead against EMU (rightfully so) and not extremely loud against Indy. However, the WMU and ND games seemed legitimately loud, and after watching some of the replay, I buy it, but only to an extent. From the field, I imagine the Big House is probably one of the top 10 (maybe 15) hardest places to play now. Note that we did cause some delay of games against ND...
General Projection for Toughness: Top 10
Compare this -
to this -
and you tell me.
5. Florida/Alabama/Virginia Tech/OSU - Well, whatever. I'm not going to waste my time explaining this one.
General Projection for Toughness: Top 5
Video Evidence: Not needed.
Places I haven't been Impressed with but Probably will be by the end of the year: Penn State, LSU, Iowa, Nebraska
Places I truly believe are overrated: Boise State
Places I believe still rank ahead of Michigan: Florida, Penn State, Ohio State, Oregon, LSU, Clemson, VT, Alabama, Nebraska (eh, maybe)
Conclusion: That's 8-9 places that still seem ahead of us in terms of noise and "toughness." While Michigan should eventually return to the ranks of the elite, hopefully we can make it to that level, too, in more than just being classy and having a fun overall location to visit. In the end, winning matters more than intimidation factors, but intimidation factors can play a big role in winning as well - just ask the Floridas of the world, whose fans hang their reputation in large part on the Swamp.
Personally, I think the stadium is 30-50% louder than before, but I think most the work will be done as the team keeps up the exciting pace under Rich Rod's offense. I realize it's been said before, but I think we can get there. It'll just take some time.
All Wolverine faithful are familiar with Mike Hart’s “little brother” jab and the indignation it generated among the MSU fans and their football coach. But why did that comment produce so much more resentment among fans of the green and white than all the other epithets (cow college, Spartoons, CMU punching bag) thrown at them over the years? In order to understand this, we need to do an objective comparison between the two institutions. Following mgoblog tradition, this comparison can best be viewed in chart form.
Michigan Michigan State
Founded in 1817 as the University of Michigan
Founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan
Home: Ann Arbor, the intellectual capital of Michigan
Home: East Lansing, a suburb of Lansing, the dysfunctional political capital of Michigan
Nickname: Wolverine, the state animal of the state of Michigan, known for its strength and ferocity.
Nickname: Spartan, named after a city state 5,000 miles away that ceased to exist in 195 BC.
Criminal notoriety: Hash Bash
Criminal notoriety: Burning sofas
Founding member of Big 10 conference in 1896 [Edit, from 1885 typo]
Joined Big 10 in 1949, replacing the University of Chicago when the latter quit intercollegiate athletics.
Most wins in college football history
Some good football teams back in the 1960’s
Defeated Stanford in first Rose Bowl game (1902) by a score of 49-0
Defeated UCLA in 1955, their first Rose Bowl, by a score of 28-20
20 Rose Bowl appearances, most recently in 2007
4 Rose Bowl appearances, most recently in 1988
3 Heisman trophy winners
No Heisman trophy winners
Mascot: None, thank goodness.
Mascot: “Sparty” a roided-up hulk made of plastic and felt, wears a skirt.
Fight song: The Victors, “The greatest college fight song ever written” said John Philips Sousa.
Fight song: MSU Fight Song, the tune is based on the hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”*
The most famous helmet in all of football.
Helmet design changes periodically, most recently in 2007
Home field: The Big House, capacity 106,201 this year, 108,000+ next year
Home field: Spartan Stadium, capacity 75,005
We could go on, but you see the point. Whatever MSU does, Michigan has done it first, and better, just like an older brother. It’s not about one game, or even one season. It’s about all of the ways that Michigan is superior to MSU. And this is why the little brother epithet is so devastating. Because deep down, in the depths of the Spartan soul, they know that it’s true. They are the little brother!
And here’s what makes it even worse for Sparty. MSU is a pretty good school, with a successful basketball program, renowned academics in such areas as veterinary medicine and agriculture, and an enrollment of over 40,000 students. In fact, in many states in this country MSU could be the leading public university.
But…they are in Michigan…where they will always be second… to the Wolverines…and it DRIVES THEM CRAZY!!!
So, Michigan fans, enjoy
the game on Saturday, which I am confident will be another Michigan victory. But no matter what happens, keep your head
high and remember “It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine” and not the little
Then came the 4th quarter and again something changed. Tate got a different look about him. Important adjustments were made and Michigan began to take control of the game. Drives continued to stall but the field position battle started to swing in our favor. Then we broke through on a beautiful touchdown drive capped by Tate learning to fly. Two point conversion is good. There was a lot of time left but we had been holding them to field goals for a while, right? Maybe they could tie it up but...
One play later I was looking at my feet, feeling sorry for myself and this team. I was sure the game had been lost with that TD run by that F^&%@&! Indiana back that gashed us all day and looked like he should be slow but we couldn't catch up to him?!! Somebody get him! The sanity of the universe depends on it!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
We three and out. It's over...
Indiana three and out. But Tate is wounded. But we already had our chance...
Then it happens. Tate takes the field with a right arm that dangles loosely, seemingly useless at his side. And he leads us. He makes great reads, scrambles for first downs, and hands off to two senior running backs that will not be denied. Third and six with Denard Robinson in the game. Maybe Shoelace can be the hero this week. Really can't blame Tate, dude's obviously hurting badly. Wait, is that Tate coming back on the field?
He takes the snap and scans downfield. Where is the quick hitch just past the sticks? Forget that, there is still magic in that boy's arm. As he releases it I catch my breath; that arm is hurt and that pass looks floated, and interception, and I can't LOOK, and, and, and...
Tate is the real deal folks, able to play through obvious pain and make amazing plays.
There is still a lot of time on the clock but the anxiety ends mercifully quickly. Did Indiana get hosed on that call? I certainly thought so at the time, but I didn't care. This game was already ugly and I would take the win no matter how tainted. Michigan fans won't let it sit like that and so we get further analysis like this from Maize 'N' Brew:
So let me adjust these Maize and Blue glasses a bit... Yep! No doubt a clean pick! We win! Yay!
4-0. Such a difference a year makes.
- Shootouts are an exciting way to win games and this team is well equipped to win more than their fair share. Michigan has speed on offense like it has never seen and can strike at any time. They can exchange blows and cover up mistakes by the defense. But in crunch time they need Tate Forcier to win these games. Please be just a bruise.
- The defense has issues, we already suspected this. They did show a lot of heart though in holding Indiana to all of those field goals. One or two touchdowns instead would have made this into a blowout loss. The good news is that with the offense clicking, every small improvement by the defense will be magnified. Please GERG, don't suck. We need continuity.
- Being so thin on defense is very stressful. Every gimpy limp between plays makes me hold my breath. Who didn't groan when Martin had to be looked at? I am impressed with RR and staff for making something out of walk-ons, Jordan Kovacs made some nice plays on blitzes, but their lack of 1-A level speed leads to plays like that Willis run.
- Stonum was crazy awesome on KO returns to the tune of 218 yards on 7 attempts (31.1 yds/per). He set us up in great field position over and over again. Hats off to him. I still like Mathews on punts though.
- The adjustment to taking snaps under center late in the game was a good one. It got the offense back in sinc and allowed for the first comeback TD drive. Moosman may get a little better at the shotgun snap but will probably continue to be a liability.
Michigan now heads into the meat of their schedule. They have showed what this offense is capable of and will surprise no one with their ability. The defense needs badly to get healthy and stay healthy if there is to be any hope for a New Year's Day bowl. I don't think Michigan will be shut out of the post season this year at least. Yesterday was a great day for watching football and based on what I saw, here are my impressions of the next stretch:
@Michigan State: I give this one 50:50 just based on the situation. Sparty has wounded pride, is playing at home, and probably needs a W more than us. This will be a true test of this team's character. Win this and the sky's the limit.
@Iowa: Scary D-line Kill Mr. Forcier? I think this is a real concern considering how much they got to Clark last night. I don't expect us to win this one but just coming out with both QBs intact would be nice.
Penn State: A little far out to be looking at but maybe we can take this one. It won't look anything like last night's game if we do.
I expect we will have no problems with DelSt. and will probably get to at least 7 wins at this point. If Tate can remain healthy I say 8-9 wins still. Awesome.
I hope that everyone was able to enjoy this game and that everyone made it home safe and sound. Have a great week.