From behind a paywall, Michigan kids like Cam and Thomas Gordon, Rocko Khoury, Teric Jones, and of course Will Campbell are drawing praise from an "insider" who sees a lot of practices. Right now, Teric Jones, who was moved from offense to defensive back, is responding well and asserting himself as a talent that will warrant playing time. Khoury is pushing those in front of him. Cameron Gordon, who many believed would end up at linebacker, has been very impressive as a receiver; a big guy with good hands who is not afraid to go over the middle for a catch, and he will undoubtedly be a good blocker as well.
For those of us who believe in recruiting Michigan, this comes as no surprise. What Michigan kids may lack in development due to the constraints of the MHSAA, weather, coaching and facilities, they make up with in ahleticism, talent, love of the game, and desire. You can't say enough for kids who have dreamt of playing for one of the big in-state schools, and if given a fair shot, as they are, they do not back down to their much more heralded colleagues from football havens like Ohio, Florida, and Texas.
I am encouraged by the reports coming in regarding Michigan kids and look forward to seeing how they perform on the field. I also hope that Rodriguez works to downplay, and even wipe out this silly perception that seems to be going around Michigan that the Wolveerines are not necessarily a welcome wagon for home-grown talent. Especially in his first few formative years, when as we saw with DaQuinta Jones and Pearlie Graves, out of state kids in general and southern kids in particular can be awfully wishy-washy about their committment to play for Michigan.
Much of the 2010 class is made up of midwest recruits, and UM has landed three top players from the home state already. It will be interesting to see how this trend develops in the future.
I know there has been a wave of folks who say things like "A three star from Florida is better than a four or five star from Michigan" or "I don't care where the players come from"--but again, getting kids from your own back yard, solidifying your home base, is a foundation that I believe UM needs and can benefit from. These kids won't get homesick, are used to the weather, can be spiritual and emotional leaders, won't wilt under Barwis, and will more likely stick out their first couple years when playing time is not exactly easy to come by.
I'd like to know the thoughts any MGoBloggers have with regard to this topic!
Stephens will be looking to break into the starting lineup this season after seeing very little action this year. He usually only came in when Dufek was moved from first base to the pitchers mound. Look for that to increase next year.
In other news, Derek Dennis met with ABC13 WZZM's Angela Cunningham last week to discuss his choice to by pass the pros and play for Michigan. Dennis was offered $700,000 to play for the Rays as a 6th round pick, and he even counter offered $1,000,000 before deciding to head back to Michigan. Quote:
"I just figured going to Michigan I'd get an education first and get a lot of exposure playing baseball there," he said. "It was hard just because if I did sign that would be a ton of money to have but I figured after college I'd stand a better chance of getting more money and set more for life."Solid choice. Dennis will be in the mix to start as a true freshman this season with Kevin Cislo graduating. It'll be interesting to see if he takes over second base, or if Anthony Toth may be moved to second and Dennis take over at short stop. I'd bet on the former.
(HT: Brian Foley of The College Baseball Blog)
I went to the practice today and here are some things i noticed...
- Vlad has terrible hands and looked like he didnt know what he was doing out there
- Denard looked better than every other quarterback out there and his throwing was wayyy past my expectations. I was talking to some of the guys who are there every practice and they said this was the first day he looked better than tate. (i think tate had an off day)
- Vincent smith somehow takes huge hits and doesnt go down..he can lay a lickin on people too.
- stonum has the most talent out of the recievers but had a bad attitude last year and kinda under achieves and doesnt give his all...the slot starters will be tay and roundtree..
- Hemingway is much bigger than i thought he would be. I knew he was tall but he is built and is a hell of a blocker..i think he is the biggest and strongest wide reciever on the team.
- Kelvin grady has incredibly good hands and is lookin good. he will def. get some playing time this year.
- warren didnt practice today and was wearing a green jersey
- michael williams DESTROYS people. he is the hardest hitter on the team and the best tackler. he pays no attention to his bodies health. i was told this along with seeing him lay people out again and again...I think he should start . he played incredible today
- woolfolk is super fast and races people down while coming out of no where but isnt the most phisical
- All of out tight ends that i saw (webb, koger, moore) have extremely good hands and i saw during the scrimage a huge play by koger for a touch down
- mouton was looking good
- graham got a "sack"during the game (he just kinda wrapped up and didnt tackle him)
- Martin has gotten huge and should suprise some people this year.
- roundtree runs really good routes and has great hands altough he doesnt have the explosivenes and speed taht the other slots have
- the O line looked very good and i think they will be a big help in the first few games by giving tate a lot of time.
comment if u have any questions...dont be afraid to ask..just say the players name and number if possible to help me remember
“RELEASE THE HOUNDS...”
This is the eighth entry of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for upcoming designs in the brand spankin’ new MGoBlogStore.
To see the same design in blue ink on a maize shirt, click here.
Mike Barwis. The man, the myth, the gravel-voiced legend. If you don't know the story about Barwis and his pet wolves, I invite you to come up to the surface and stay with society for awhile. Basically, our collective obsession with this man-god can best be summed up with one word:
I'm not sure if that's actually one word, two words, should be hyphenated, is an adjective, a noun, a state of being, a limeade flavor at Sonic, etc. Discuss amongst yourselves. But we all know what it is, and Mike Barwis makes our players learn to sweat the stuff. And love it.
So that's pretty much where I was going with this shirt. Pure Barwis-Inspired BadAss. I envisioned a design that would empower those who have survived the strength and conditioning program. Imagine, if you will, our team winning a tight conference game by just refusing to let the opponent in the end zone as time expires... let's say Michigan 14, Iowa 10. Our D wins the game... and so, scrambling into the locker room, tired yet victorious, bruised yet proud, our team begins to sing "The Victors" like only the Michigan football team can. And, amidst the celebration and hoopla, Brandon Graham slides off his jersey, pulls himself out of his shoulder pads, and there it is... Barwis Hell.
So, time to vote! What do you guys think?
|pollcode.com free polls|
|What do you think of MgoShirt #8?|
|Five Stars Four Stars Three Stars Two Stars One Star|
***** Five Stars: My fear/fascination of Barwis is controlled with medication.
**** Four Stars: When I turn out the lights, I know Barwis is there. Somewhere.
*** Three Stars: Barwis is a scary pretty dude-- good for us, bad for them.
** Two Stars: He can't really be that tough. I was a wrestler in high school.
* One Star: I ain't afraid a' no Barwis!
Yesterday was clearly the biggest success story of MGoShirt yet... thanks for the love. I will say that if you liked "The Desmond," you'll probably also enjoy "The Charles," which will be debuted next week. Tomorrow I'll reveal my own Tacopants design, so if imaginary receivers is not your thing, prepare to be unimpressed. BUT I will say that I think it's a great way to incorporate MGoBlog lore into the excitement of the upcoming season. So I'll see you then for another exciting edition of-- MGoShirt Alert!
Note: This post is all about optimism. Please check your reality at the door.
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It’s getting closer and closer to the start of the year, and I’ve been drinking too much Kool-Aid. I know most “reasonable” people are predicting mediocre records (6-6, 7-5). But the more I read about this team, the more excited I’m getting for the season, and the more optimism I have. Most of our team’s “weaknesses” are really only unknowns, they could turn out bad, or they could turn out great. Below is my optimistic take on some of these weaknesses, as well as a game by game pseudo-analysis.
This is what most people bring up as our biggest weakness, and it’s hard to argue with. It’s true; we are likely to be starting a true freshman QB. However, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as people expect.
1. The best QB is going to start. Worst case is Sheridan, who should be improved from last year. More likely is that Forcier will start, which means he’s at least better than Death. He’s most likely several steps above Death, with Robinson as a buffer between Forcier and Suicidal Kittens.
2. Forcier (and also Robinson) are tailor made for this offense. They can run and throw, 2 things our QBs couldn’t do last year. There should be much less overthrowing of wide open receivers this year. There should also be fewer sacks due to both QB mobility and an improved offensive line.
3. Forcier came to school early, and has had more time to learn the system than a typical true freshman. It’s true that spring practices are only a few weeks, but that’s as much time as Three and Sheridan had to learn the offense last year. While that doesn’t sound that great, the difference is that the whole offense was learning the offense last year, and this year Forcier has an entire team with experience that can help him learn while there’s no contact with the coaches.
4. Forcier is not a normal true freshman. He’s been groomed since birth to be a QB. He’s had a personal QB coach. He was homeschooled, and given time out of class to work on football. He’s Todd Marinovich without the baggage. That experience is more than most true freshmen have coming into college. He’s probably closer to a redshirt freshman in experience.”
5. Forcier seems to have already earned the respect of the offense. Read this from Maize n Brew’s coverage of Big Ten media days. “Ortmann admitted to some initial trepidation about the youth at quarterback, but Tate Forcier's play in early practice and in the spring game dispelled those concerns. What struck me about Ortmann's comments about Forcier, was how mature Tate seems to be. There haven't been any issues regarding cockiness or entitlement. Forcier isn't afraid to admit a mistake, ask a question, or talk to someone when signals get crossed. As a result, the freshman has earned the respect of the Line and the Offense and has taken on a leadership role far earlier than even the most optimistic fan could have hoped for.”
Horrible last year. Shouldn’t be horrible this year. Should even be good if they stay healthy.
1. GERG: When Schafer was hired last year, I was skeptical. I hadn’t heard of him, but learned he was the DC for Stanford’s upset of USC. So it was a “meh” hire to me. When GERG was hired this year, my initial reaction was “Syracuse sucks.” But I quickly rationalized that he’s going to be DC, not HC, and looking at his resume, he’s been a very impressive DC.
- Fundamentals: GERG is emphasizing tackling, the most basic part of playing defense. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the right place if you can’t tackle. (Could also say that it doesn’t matter if you can tackle if you’re not in the right place, but a good and experienced DC will get his people in the right place). I remember reading once that Schafer didn’t emphasize good tackling. I’ve tried to find a like to that, but the best I can do is this comment from Dstamper22. Now I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it is, then it explains a lot of the defensive issues last year.
- More from Maize n Brew’s coverage of Big Ten media days. That entire post made me think the defense will be loads better. One quote for those who don’t want to check out the whole post: “Stevie mentioned that during 7-on-7 practices, the defense didn't like how things were going down. So Obi Ezeh, Donovan Warren and Brown looked at one another and said this has to get fixed. As a result the secondary and linebackers started getting together to go over film, position assignments, and breakdowns in an effort to clarify things. Brown said the group goes in together, watches film, and reviews their assignment successes and failures. This film room communication has paid off as the group is now commincating better on the field. As a result, Brown told me the back seven is now on the same page. From an outsider's perspective, the fact that the coaches aren't involved in this at all is a testament to the dedication of the players and their desire to get things right.” This is something that great teams should do, and shows that they’re coming together to play as a team.
It’s been discussed: Fumbles are most likely a random occurrence, and are likely to not be as prevalent this year. A huge improvement will follow just from this.
This was a major weakness last year, though to be honest not many people still consider it a weakness. We have everyone back and healthy. They’ve had a year in the system. Toward the end of last year they actually looked good. I truly believe that this will be the most improved unit on the team. And since O-line is the base of any offense, our entire offense will be better even if no other areas improved (which they obviously have).
They were a very good MAC team last year. Many are expecting them to be very good this year as well. However, they lose most of their defense, and their receivers. The main reason they’re expected to be good is their QB. But it takes more than a QB to win. UM has more talent at every position, and is starting to play up to the level they should. The main reason to worry here is that it’s the first game and there will be some rust. However, that applies to both teams, so WMU’s offense will be rusty as well, thus reducing the effectiveness of the only thing that they have going for them in this game.
Jabba the Weiss is still their head coach. As bad as we were last year, we probably win that game if we don’t spot them 21 points off turnovers. ND lost their last 4 games against BCS conference opponents last year. The only reason for their hype this year is that they spanked Hawaii, and they have a soft schedule.
Good luck to Ron English. I really hope he does well at Eastern. But he doesn’t have much to work with this year. This should be one of the 3 easiest wins this year, along with Delaware St and Indiana.
They lost Kellen Lewis, who was their only offensive threat. They have no offense or defense. Last year’s UM team could probably win this game.
Great write up from Doc Saturday. Read the “Regressing to the Mean, Parts 1 and 2.” I’ve never understood why everyone is so high on MSU this year. Yes, they had a good record last year, but they weren’t that good. I’ve predicted to several Sparty acquaintances that their record this year will be worse than last year. UM can definitely win this game, and the players really want to shut Sparty up.
Tough one. At Iowa. Iowa’s a good team. But if UM comes into this game on a roll, this is winnable. Iowa will have a good defense, but UM should have a good offense.
After The Horror and Toledo, we can’t look past anyone. However, we should win this game. We are a much better team.
Another tough one. Penn St is good. However, it’s at home, and we’ve pretty much owned Penn St since they’ve been in the Big Ten. They lose a lot on their O-line, which could hurt their offense more than people expect. They’ve got a great defense, but if we can put some points on them, which we should be able to since our offense should be humming by this point in the season, then we can win this game.
It’s at Illinois. Illinois should be a good team. Most of their offense returns. It’s a good offense. However, luckily for us, their best player is very erratic. Juice has good games and bad games. If he’s on, then they score a lot. If he’s not, they’ll struggle. Can he be as good as he was last year? Probably not. Plus their defense is looking very suspect. This could be a shoot out, but we should be able to win a shoot out if we have to.
New Head Coach. Brand new offense, in terms of personnel and scheme. Many players returning on defense, which will have to carry the team until the offense comes around. Sound familiar? We should win this game. Purdue wouldn’t be that good even with Tiller still around.
Bret Bielema might be a worse coach than Charlie Weiss. Wisconsin has gotten worse each season he’s been in charge. The offense has 1 player that might worry anybody, John Clay. Otherwise it’s the type of offense that national media people (wrongly) point to as a “typical Big Ten offense.” Their secondary might be ok, but they don’t look that good on the front 7, so UM should be able to run on them and put up some points.
They’ll be good as usual. But this is at home. If UM comes into this game with a decent record, then they’ll believe in themselves and have a good shot at winning this game. The OSU offense will basically be Terrelle Pryor. If he lives up to the hype, that will be a good offense. However, if our defense has finally solved the running QB problem, then we can contain him. Their defense will be good, as usual, but our offense should be good too, and this is the type of offense that has been able to put point on OSU. UM gets up for the game, they can definitely win.
OT: ESPN: The Absurdly Annoying
I’ve had it.
One of my simple daily rituals takes me in unfaltering anticipation to the ESPN front page. The ritual that it is, I’ve not missed its execution in eons, and I always get something of a jolt when there’s something genuinely shocking there (news of a big upset, ala Yang over Woods). I check the front pages for my respective sports every day at one time, and then discard all thoughts of ESPN.com from my mind until the next day rears its head or an MGoBlog topic/diary links me back to it briefly. But not today.
Today I had to do the unthinkably dangerous and superstitiously unhealthy thing and check the front page a second time. This time, it led me to an article with several enthused, costumed Mexican soccer fans on the “cover picture.” It looked like an interesting read, something out of the ESPN-controlled “norm” of sports that usually dominates every aspect of the site that excluding little informative niches the size of my pinky that sometimes “gladiator” their way to the front page for a millisecond.
So I read it. Big mistake. Here it is: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090817.
The article was a curiously ignorant shot at American fandom due to its apparent inferiority to Mexican fans’ passion, by ESPN’s “The Sports Guy.”
A few interesting points he made in his article:
He says, ‘I asked a hotel concierge if there was a good place to get coffee, followed by him pointing me toward a Starbucks to our left, then saying, "Whatever you do, don't go right."’
Somehow, this statement translated into OMG MEXICAN FANS ARE SO PASSIONATE THEY MIGHT JUMP ME IF I GO TO THE WRONG PART OF TOWN. Bullshit. The guy most likely told him where not to go because of how likely it is that he’d get kidnapped by drug traffickers, not because of Mexican fandom chasing him around town…
‘The Mexican fans had no problem drowning out "The Star-Spangled Banner" with jeers. They tossed drinks and debris at the U.S. bench for most of the second half ...’
Really? Disrespecting someone else’s national anthem makes them better fans than me or you? Really, Bill Simmons? Stay Classy.
Of course, he then brings up some examples of hostility from his hometown Celts. And uses poor examples of hostility at American sporting games to boot…
‘The U.S. was allotted about 500 seats for Sam's Army (a traveling band of American fans); they were crammed in the upper deck in one corner with armed police officers flanking both aisles.”
Personally, I’d be disgraced and shamed if this ever happened at the Big House. The fact they have to do this is an absolute stigma, and shouldn’t be a point of pride at all…
He says, “In basketball, think of the teams that play beautifully together (like Duncan's Spurs or Nash's pre-Shaq Suns) versus stagnant offenses that stand around watching their best player go one-on-four (like LeBron's Cavs)…” and notes that it’s harder to win games/championships the Cavs way.
HOWEVER, then he says this: “Just like in basketball, you can't win championships in soccer without a LeBron/Kobe-type player.”
That’s a contradictory statement, and Bill Simmons should just shut up. ’04 Pistons? ’05 Spurs? ’08 Celtics? It’s just too easy. And there are more examples in the article, but you get the idea.
This attack on U.S. fandom is one-sided, unjustified, and unfair. This article is another example of how ESPN uses over-flowery words to exaggerate a debatably valid point (usually “devil’s-advocate” style) with an inappropriately named writing figure (“The Sports Guy,” whose knowledge of sports overall hasn’t seemed to qualify him for the title, at least in my opinion, with all due respect).
Look, I have plenty of respect for the sport of soccer; my mom’s family lives in Germany and I was born there, I’ve seen plenty of it, and it’s a fun sport, with beautiful plays, lots of technique, lots of nuances that can take a fan sometimes years to truly understand. But American mainstream sports are not by any means inferior in any of those regards, and especially not in the “passion and quality of fan bases” regard. “The Sports Guy” and ESPN, in this article, reflect an overlying problem and perception in modern sports that being unsportsmanlike or in some cases downright moronic at a game make you a more passionate fan than the man who sits at a stadium two thousand miles away and throws nothing at the players or opposing fans, but still unleashes endless amounts of energy pulling for his team on a Saturday night.
I’m sorry, but if you think that because Fan A can throw a bag of piss at me during a game and that opposing fans who visit his stadium have to be flanked by police officers, you are NOT a better fan than me, or anyone who pulls for a quality team in the USA. You’re an idiot, and a dangerous one to boot. Passion to me is the 95,000 people in Death Valley on a Saturday night, not 100,000 people willing to throw beer at you and their piss at you and call it acceptable. Disgusting.