at least it's not just us?
Introducing some original reporting on MGoBlog: Tom VanHaaren is the official Recruiting Intern and will be publishing interviews with various prospects.
The Junior recruiting class for Michigan is starting to take shape, well before the current class has even wrapped up. As Michigan fans, we've heard of the speed and skill that a Rich Rodriguez built offense can bring. We are starting to see that take shape with recent commitments from Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. There's a good chance we could see more this coming weekend as well. I caught up with Jeremy Jackson to ask him what he thought about his season, other recruits, and Michigan.
TOM (MGoBlog): How’s your season going so far?
JEREMY (JJ): I'm trying to get to 5-4, that's a big accomplishment at my school.
TOM: What are your goals for this year and next year? Where do you want to be at when you go to UM?
JJ: I want to make the playoffs my senior year. They haven’t talked about speed, but my Dad just told me to keep working hard every day. I ran a 4.58 at camp, and I’d like to get that down to a 4.4 or 4.5. I want to improve my weight, and I can’t really improve my height at all, so I’ll focus on those. I’m assuming they want me to gain weight, they haven’t mentioned it. Rich Rodriguez isn’t influencing me on my speed either; it’s just a goal of mine. My route running and catching ability are my strengths right now, which helps.
TOM: Has it always been a dream to play alongside your dad?
JJ: I never really thought about playing with him coaching me, because he’s never coached my little league teams. It’s weird but it’ll be great.
TOM: Does your dad feel the program is moving in the right direction?
JJ: Oh yeah, he told me to look at this year, but don’t look at this year. He told me not to pay attention to the negative criticism, and don’t worry about any negative media. With this year and next year’s QB and recruiting class, Michigan will be fine. When I get there, they’ll be in good position. I just want to focus on High School.
TOM: If you were Rich Rodriquez right now, what would you tell recruits about the season?
JJ: Michigan is going to have the best facilities in the nation by 2010, Rich Rodriguez ran a great offense at WVU, he’s a winner, and it’s just a down year. And the defense, coach Schaeffer runs a great scheme. We’re going to have a great defense; it’s just a matter of time. Tate Forcier and Beaver are coming, and they’re both really good.
TOM: You have a strong tie with the team, but how do you think losing has affected some other recruits?
JJ: Seeing the season, they see other teams that are successful now; but they can’t look to see the future. They shouldn’t look for the future. It’s hard because a lot of people say things like “your team sucks.” That’s the worst part is when people say bad things about Michigan, other coaches and fans.
TOM: It seems like you’ve developed a friendship with Marvin Robinson and Ricardo Miller, do you guys talk a lot?
JJ: I Talk to Ricardo a lot, not Marvin as much. I talk to him and joke with him a lot. Not always talking about football, which I like.
TOM: Are there any other recruits from your class that you think would be a good fit, or that you really want on your team?
JJ: Christian Lombard, he’s a good lineman, I’ve been talking with him a lot. Dad wants me to talk to Travis Hawkins. I want to work on Dior Mathis and Devin Gardner. Ricardo’s been working on Lo Wood a lot; he’s been getting in his ear.
TOM: Florida seems to be the new addition to the pipeline, is there a buzz in Florida right now? What are the kids from Florida saying about Michigan?
JJ: They want to come. Look at Michigan's commits: Vincent smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Jeremy Gallon. It’s only going to get better. It’s going to spread. Ricardo’s from Orlando, he keeps working on kids. Michigan is going to grow there. Get real relationships with high school coaches. But people are always going to do negative recruiting; coaches are already talking to Ricardo trying to get him from Michigan.
TOM: Is there anything with the new Coaching staff that’s different from the old that stands out to you? Good or Bad?
JJ: Both staffs were nice. I see more energy from all the new coaches. Real fast tempo. The old coaches weren’t bad. The new coaches will be good though, everyone wants to win and they show it. I train with Barwis, he’s taught me how to train and eat. He’s a great coach. Barwis got me faster and stronger. He has speed training, it’s not really doing that much, you just learn how to run. They condition and lift hard, but the speed drills gets you faster, and it’s not too hard, but it works.
TOM: How does Rich Rod see you fitting in? I know you want to play early, has he said that’s a possibility?
JJ: Yea, just come up there and work hard every day. I have an advantage to learn all the plays; I’m going to ask my dad teach me the plays. My dad will help me with all the plays. Commit to the training. It doesn’t seem necessary to enroll early, I already have an advantage. I go home every night, and my dad will get in my ear if I don’t work hard.
TOM: It seems like Tate Forcier has a good chance of being your QB, have you reached out to him at all? What’d you guys talk about?
JJ: I talked with him and his brother Jason, I talk to Jason more. He’s excited. I talked to Tate about his brother and how I know him. I really like Jason, but my Dad said Tate is going to be good. My dad compared his arm to Chad Henne. He’s not going to sit around and run, he’s gonna pass more.
TOM: It seems like your class might have a chip on their shoulder coming in, or something to prove. What do you hope to prove or accomplish at Michigan?
JJ: I haven’t gotten that far. I know the juniors that are committed now; they all love Michigan and want to play there. The ‘08 class wasn’t Rich Rod’s recruits. 09 has gotten a little better, and ’10 is going to be killer.
TOM: Let me hear your pitch of why another player should choose Michigan?
JJ: Michigan traditionally has won the most games in college football, over 110,000 people are at every game, you’re always on national TV, there’s a great chance to play in NFL, the best coaches, best strength class, best facilities in ’10, the best education, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to go here.
Sometimes its better to be lucky than good. If my line could be this accurate every game, I should move into Vegas. I posted PSU at +25 and Michigan at -4 for the season, matching the 29 point spread PSU finished with.
Based purely on starting field position, PSU held an expected 32 to 24 advantage for the game. On to the details and, as always, explanation here.
Run offense vs PSU
The numbers reflect more of the first half, than the second. Michigan finished up with a +10 rating for the game. Unadjusted, it was a +6, boosted by coming against a solid run defense. Of the +10, the first quarter came in as a +8, with the rest of the game being generally average. Brandon Minor finished the game at +7, Threet scored a +3, mostly on the strength of his 14 yard run on 3rd and 3.
Pass offense vs PSU
Michigan finished the game -10, which would have been a -12 unadjusted. Again the second half was a disaster, with only 1 play warranting a positive value before garbage time. The QBs posted matching -5's for the game passing.
Run defense vs PSU
Evan Royster had himself a game. A solid +11, second only to Lesean McCoy of Pitt for BCS conference running backs last week. Overall, the Nittany Lions scored a +8, which was pulled down by the early turnover. Based on PSU's past performance on the ground, the Wolverine rush defense managed to pull off a very unsatisfying +1 for the day.
Pass defense vs PSU
PSU yielded a solid but not spectacular +5 for the game, with the Michigan pass defense scoring a +4, the late screen TD was not included in the totals, coming during garbage time.
Here are the final game ratings for each side:
So I just wanted to do a diary entry because I've been in a wall war on facebook for a while with this fan who says things like this:
expect in the pre-season? Rich had plenty of time to decide if this is
what he wanted to inherit . . . He knew what he was getting into . . .
I highly doubt he showed up on Day 1 and said, "Hmm, we've got no
talent . . . I guess Michigan will be a shitty team this year" . . . No
one was expecting a perfect season here . . . What we did expect was
more than just the hype we were getting (which I realize now was JUST
HYPE) . . .
If he didn't think he could do something with the team he had he should not have accepted the job . . ."
Jim Tressel (7-5 OSU)
Pete Carrol (6-6 USC)
Les Miles (4-7 Okie State)
Joe Paterno (5-5 PSU)
Bobby Bowden (5-6 FSU)
Bear Bryant (1-9 Texas A&M, 5-4-1 Alabama)
Woody Hayes (4-3-2 OSU)
And this is the worst one of them all... Who has been a HUGE critic of RR? Lou Holtz.. and his first year records:
0-11!!!!!! South Carolina
I'm an alum ('82' Engineering) living near Lancaster PA, and traveled to State College for the game Saturday. After the witnessing the predictable 2nd half debacle, we met back at the car for some post game tailgating. I was surprised to learn from my PSU loving friends that the Michigan bench players were taunting the PSU fans during the surprising first surge. If anyone else witnessed this, I would like to hear from you. I would hope the players would have had the sense to avoid smack talking given the season it has been, in all its glory, and UM coaches would put a stop to behavior not becoming a Michigan player.
In any event, Saturday was a great time, even in defeat (although the 35 degree temp in the morning was a little chiller than expected). State College is a great place to go for a game, especially the tailgating atmosphere, and the PSU fans are friendly hosts. They even didn't get too pissed when I donned my "Who's Your Daddy" yellow T-shirt, with the scores of the last 9 games posted proudly on the back. I am not sure I would dare to display a shirt like that in Columbus for fear of being flogged by the classy OSU fans.
Since I’m locked in a protracted game of scrabble thought I’d bore you with my thoughts in between turns. Any post I make this year should be prefaced with the fact that Brian Kelly was my first choice and Les my second. My formerly jaded POV should be considered with that in mind (btw I support RR but also don't think it's wrong to have some doubts). With that out of the way…
- We’re exciting again. Not to be confused with train wreck exciting either. The last time I remember being so excited about watching UM football was the Drew Henson days. When Lloyd was coach I would often say I’d trade a win or two for a new coach that brought excitement to the Big House. Well it’s here and I can honestly say that my POV hasn’t changed. Even Kasparov would be hard-pressed to predict our play-calling this year.
- Quotes like these following the PSU game:
"I'm not discouraged," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "I'm going to keep fighting."
"I had fun out there," linebacker John Thompson said.
"We'll get it done," lineman David Moosman said.
- RR is looking more and more like our mascot. He’s deceptively witty, belligerent and ferocious just like a Wolverine. This bodes well for us. All great coaches bear a resemblance to their school mascot. Every single one of them. Take for example Coach K – a very successful little blue devil. John Chaney, the wise old Temple Owl was no slouch in his day either. Just to name a few. This development might even outweigh the Addidas curse as far as irrelevant superstitions go.
- Looks like our meeting with Sparty is coinciding nicely with their annual death spiral.
- Brandon Minor finally getting carries and teasing us with what might have been.
- Nick Sheridan getting snaps again and teasing us with what might have been.
- Sam McGuffie fumbling on the kick off return. Fumblitis on this scale is mental and probably has little to do with mechanics. What has our ball carriers freaked out? Let’s hope it’s not the image of RR looking like he’s going to explode if they make a mistake. RR’s scowl is here to stay, let’s hope the fumbles are not.
- Terrelle Pryor coming of age.
- The Lions and today's comeback bid. I mean, if you’re gonna end up 0-16 might as well do it in grand fashion right? Relative nail biters like this just won’t do.
- N. Illinois beating Toledo 38-7. So I guess N. Illinois must be feeling as good as Wofford and Georgia Southern did last year when they upended Appy State following the original photo opp at the Big House. Since a wiki entry does not exist for the Toledo debacle (like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Appalachian_State_vs._Michigan_football_game) can we assume the Appy St loss was more monumental?
- This quote:
"It was obviously not a very good game today," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "Inability to tackle, turnovers, and we lost a very good opportunity to make an impact on this country."
Thank heaven we don’t have a coach who would say something like this. Les might have said something like this. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.
The Michigan team we saw in yesterday’s Penn State game characterizes the entire 2008 Michigan season into 60 minutes. Michigan played like “world-beaters” through the first 17 minutes of the game, sputtered on the ensuing first half drives, and allowed an “oh by-the way” score at the end of the half that lead to the landslide victory for the Nittany Lions by giving up 32 points in the second half and being held scoreless. Even as I sat at half with a 3 point Michigan lead, I was still very anxious and uneasy. I felt that if the slightest thing goes wrong in the second half of the game this could quickly go to H-E-double hockey sticks in a hurry. I didn’t expect that we would win the game. However, with the way that we played in the first half it is just difficult to understand why there is such a disparity between the first quarter’s Michigan offense and that of the rest of the game. This is most definitely due in large part to our inexperienced young players and their inconsistency but it also has to be attributed to teams’ adjusting to our offensive scheme. In the Utah, Illinois, Miami (OH), and Penn State games the offense looked very proficient early and after adjustments were made we were unable to establish anything in the form of offense for the most part. What is the reason for this disparity? Are teams’ adjustments so devastating to whatwe are trying to do that we are completely stifled? In all my years of watching football, I have never seen a team look so efficient like they can beat any team in the country and the next minute look incapable of gaining a yard or tackling anyone.
However, I felt encouraged by the effort that the boys gave in the first half and it seems as though some issues may have been solved this week in practice and progress is being made. In particular, it looks as though Brandon Minor will be seeing more time for the remainder of the season and deservedly so. Sam and Brandon being complements of each other will be a joy to watch in the future.
Remember. We are still Michigan. These are still Michigan men. There has never been a period in Michigan football history in which the saying “Those who stay will be champions,” applies so well. Go Blue.