Michigan scores very well in these position ratings, however Lindy projects us to finish 7th in the BigTen overall. I find this a bit odd. So I personally calculated every team's average position group rating according to Lindy and compared it to their projected order of finish.
Here are the results:
1. Ohio State 2.75
2. Penn State 5.25
3. Michigan State 5.25
4. Illinois 6.75
5. Wisconsin 5.875
6. Iowa 5.0
7. Michigan 3.375
8. Northwestern 7.75
9. Minnesota 5.875
10. Purdue 9.75
11. Indiana 8.375
I really find this striking. Lindy's believes that Michigan is the 2nd most talented team in the BigTen according to the positional group ratings, yet they have us finishing 7th in the conference. This seems a bit perplexing, especially with Illinois finishing 3 spots above UofM in order of finish, but averaging nearly 3.5 spots below us in positional talent.
The one area where they rate us the lowest is QB, which is understandable with 2 true freshman and a walk-on competing for the job. However, they still rated us 8th overall in QB play. Yet Wisconsin is ranked 10th in QBs, but still 5th overall. In fact UofM was rated higher than Wisconsin in 7 of 8 talent groupings (Special Teams, UofM finished 1 spot below Wisconsin), yet Wisconsin is projected to finish overall 2 spots higher in 5th.
Where Michigan ranks in conference by position according to Lindy:
8th QB, 1st RB, 2nd WR, 3rd OL, 3rd DL, 4th LB, 4th DB and 2nd ST.
Is it fair to give your 2nd most talented team in the BigTen a 7th in the conference finish and a 47th in the nation finish? I don't think so, even with a Freshman QB. Perhaps they overrated our positional talent, but they also could have nasty 3-9 taste in their mouth biasing the overall finish.
Of course Lindy's could be way off in their positional talent rankings for the conference, but if they are accurate, it should be a sign of positive potential for the 2009 season.
I had been worried of a 5-7 season, but I am starting to think that if QB play improves along with the turnover ratio that we could be looking closer to 8 wins.
P.S. Lindy's in preseason individual awards (which granted are meaningless) also gives us THREE 1st team All-Conference Defense, ONE 2nd team All-ConferenceDefense and THREE 2nd team All-Conference Offense.
P.P.S. If I gave out too much of Lindy's info, I will happily edit some out upon request.
As promised, and suggested, that there be a summary diary post of the winner for best player for each jersey number in this ongoing series I have begun to undertake, this is the first for numbers 91-99 [If I was doing it in reverse I would be going 1-10, 11-20 and so forth] and there is a mix of legends and role players in this set. For two of the numbers, I felt that the top two players were close enough that they deserved to be tied. The Mack/O’Neil tie was a hard one, as O’Neil’s accomplishments were better at Michigan, but how can one fail to call Mack one of the best players ever to put on a Michigan uniform when he started to emerge in his senior year only to become one of the best players at is position ever in the NFL. As for Dyson/Williams the differences between them in terms of their calibre and contribution make it hard to choose between them. I give them the tie.
So far, this has been a fun exercise, and will get more fun as the numbers get smaller. It is more difficult when there are no standouts, but I have learned a lot about many of the program’s fine role players. Many thanks to the Bentley Historical Library, whose database makes this all possible and for Wikipedia, both sites provided much of the bulk of the bio information and stats.
Here they are:
Michigan’s Best by Jersey Number
99 Pierre Woods, DL, OLB, 2001-2005 [wore # 96 in 2001]
As a senior in 2005, played in all 12 games and made five starts at linebacker and made 24 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles. In 2004, played in 12 games, recording 22 tackles, one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery. As a sophomore in 2003 he had 68 tackles and led team with 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks and was Second-team All-Big Ten after starting all 13 games at outside linebacker. He appeared in all 13 games as a redshirt freshman and did not see any action as a freshman. He was signed as a rookie free agent to the New England Patriots in 2006
98 Tom Harmon, HB, 1938-1940
There was only one player to wear this number in the history of Michigan Football, one of only five retired jersey numbers. This gentleman was a All-American in both 1939 and 1940 and winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1940. As a Halfback, he rushed for 2,134 yards. He led college football in scoring in both 1939 and 1940, a feat that has not been repeated in the history of college football. He also spent time under center, completing 100 passes for 1,304 yards. During his career he played all 60 minutes 8 times. He also was a member of the varsity basketball team for two years. Wikipedia recounts his final game:
"In his final football game, against Ohio State he led the Wolverines to a 40-0 victory, scoring three rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, four extra points, intercepting three passes, and punting three times for an average of 50 yards. In an unprecedented display of sportsmanship and appreciation, the Ohio State fans in Columbus gave him a standing ovation at game's end. No Wolverine player has been so honored since."
97 Chris Hutchinson, DT, 1989-1992
He started for 38 games as a DT and his best season was 1992, his senior year, where he set the single season record for sack yardage  and tied for number of sacks in a season . He is second on the career sack list with 24 for 188 yards. He was co-captain and team MVP for the year. In addition to earning Big Ten Lineman of the Year and All-American honours for athletics, he was an exemplary student, a three time Academic All Big-Ten award winner, earning both the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award (given to the team's leading senior scholar), and an NCAA post-graduate scholarship which he used to attend UM Medical School. Here is a man who embodies all the best of what we think when the word "student athlete" comes to mind.
T-96 Calvin O’Neal, LB, 1973-1976
Calvin was twice named All-Big Ten and was a consensus All-American. A co-captain on the 1976 team that was ranked #1 for eight weeks, he was a team leader on defence, setting a season record with 151 tackles in 1975, and had a record 278 tackles for his career. O'Neal combined strength and speed from his inside linebacking spot, making 10 tackles for losses his last two seasons. He also had three interceptions, one a pick-six. He went on to join the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League.
T-96 Thomas Mack, E, 1963-65
Following high school, Mack decided to attend the University of Michigan where he earned a degree in engineering. When asked why he chose Michigan over the logical home-state choice Ohio State he explained, “Ohio State never offered me a scholarship. Michigan was the only major college that offered me one.'' Initially, Mack struggled at Michigan just to stay on the traveling squad. Then, in his junior year he was converted to an interior lineman where he earned a starting role as a tackle. That year Michigan won all but one game and went on to beat Oregon State 34-7 in the Rose Bowl. The following year he was selected All-Big Ten and named second team All-American. He went on to be one of the best linemen ever to play the game, going to 11 pro-bowls and was named all-pro 9 times and is one of only 6 Michigan players to make it to the NFL Hall of Fame.
95 Curtis Greer, DT, 1976-1979
Greer left in 1979 with the honour of being the school's all-time leader in tackles for losses. The cat-quick lineman registered 48 tackles for losses during his Wolverine career for 234 yards. His 23 hits behind the line of scrimmage for losses totalling 107 yards in 1979 established a school seasonal record. He was an All-American selection in 1979 and an All-Big Ten choice in both 1978 and 1979. He was drafted in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals where he gained a starting berth in his first season.
94 Jason Horn, DT, 1992-1995
He was an All-American defensive tackle who played team from 1992-1995. Horn played in 48 games over four years at the University of Michigan, compiling 169 tackles, 18 tackles for loss (for -136 yards), and 24 sacks (for -184 yards). He was named a first-team All-American in 1995. He was a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection. In 1995, Horn had 11 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss, setting a Michigan single season record with 122 yards of tackles for loss yardage. He finished as Michigan's second all-time leader in quarterback sacks (24), third in sack yardage (184), third in career tackles for loss (39) and second in tackles for loss yardage (236).
93 Sam Sword, ILB, 1995-1998
Swords' 265 career tackles ranks third in school history. He went on to play for the Raiders and the Colts in the NFL.
92 Dan Rumishek, RLB, 1998-02
Eventually went on to play Arena Football for the Columbus Destroyers
T-91 Matt Dyson, OLB, 1990-1994
Dyson was twice selected to the All Big-Ten Conference First Team and once to the Second Team. In 1992, he was selected as a second team All-American. In 1994, he was selected as the Defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl. In 1995, the Oakland Raiders drafted him in the fifth round. Currently he is the head football coach George Mason University.
T-91 Josh Williams, DT, 1995-1999
Williams was drafted in the fourth round (122nd pick overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Colts. He played for the 1997 National Championship winning team. During his time at Michigan, he started 34 career games and played in recording 159 career tackles (96 solo, 63 assists), 28 Tackles for a loss (131 yards) and 11 sacks (79 yards).
NOTE: If anyone is willing to e-mail me the bits of html for posting pictures and video, I may edit and add some stuff later. If you are able to uncover bio information that I have not been able to unearth, please share it with me and I will update the entry. Also, if you dig up cool stuff, I am not above adding it to give this feature some punch. My address: stevebaarda [at] rogers [dot] com
When watching the games last year, I was often left with the impression that the biggest problem with our defense was our offense. I would love to see some stats on average starting field position for opposing offenses, because I feel like our worst moments on defense always came after the offense coughed up the ball in a bad position.
According to http://www.cfbstats.com, we were ranked 84th in scoring defense and 67th in yards allowed. Again, I wish I had stats on average starting field position, but these two stats seem to indicate that our defense was better on a down-to-down basis than it was at preventing points. Maybe you can explain the disparity in scoring defense versus yards allowed by saying we gave up tons of TDs instead of FGs, but there were 14 teams above us in total scoring defense that allowed more TDs. I feel like the most likely explanation for this disparity is the fact that our offense put us in a terrible position so often. This seems to gel with my own impression of the games last year (like the Notre Dame game, for example).
Hopefully the offense turns around in terms of moving the chains and taking care of the ball. If it does, I think we might be able to expect more improvement from our defense (and in our overall record) than your average fan is predicting.
As many of you may know, MSU was featured yesterday (7/14) as the number 31 team in the Rivals Preaseason Countdown. The preview is more of the same unwarranted (in my opinion) hoopla about how it's time to start "dreaming big" in East Lansing. While reading the preview, I naturally began comparing the breakdown with that of U of M. MSU was given the following grades: Offense B, Defense A, Special Teams A-, Coaching B+. U of M's grades are as follows: Offense C, Defense B-, Special Teams B, Coaching A.
While looking at these grades for each of the respective team's units, one grade really stuck out to me, and that was the B given to the Sparty Offense vs. the C given to the U of M offense. Some of you may think that a one-letter-grade discrepancy is not worth further analysis, but I think that, after reading so many unsupported and superfluous previews of the 2009 MSU football team, I finally reached my breaking point. I decided to do a little more research into the personnel that will make up each unit this season and came across the following:
|Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's||Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's|
|U of M||MSU|
As you can see, my analysis included only players that have contributed in some fashion during their career. The quarterback position is almost a complete wash as neither team has anything even close to resembling a proven player. Michigan absolutely dominates the running back position, having almost 2300 more yards, while having double the yards per carry numbers and over 6x more TD's than the returning Spartan ball carriers. MSU gains a little bit of ground back in the receiving department as they return more yards and yards per catch, though M returns more TD's from its group of WR's. Finally, I included TE's to be fair, and as you would expect, State dominated having roughly 4x as many yards and 5x as many touchdowns. This, however, is not an apples-to-apples comparison as the M offense puts nowhere near the same emphasis on tight ends as does the Sparty offense.
I would like to note that I did not include any offenseive line statistics as they are exceptionally difficult to come across, however I will mention that the offensive line was the "biggest problem" for both teams in the Rivals analyses, thus we can conclude that this area is roughly a draw.
Going a step further, if you want to include a high-level overview of incoming offensive recruits, M is bringing in 11 players with an average Rivals ranking of 3.8, while Sparty is bringing in 13 players with an average RR of 3.5.
Based on this analysis, I don't see any way imaginable that Sparty's offense can be rated a full letter-grade above M, and I hope that this provides further evidence that the unbelievable amount of optimism surrounding MSU football is both unwarranted and unsupported.
Once upon a time, Michigan was a booming state. With ore and lumber coming in from the UP and the burgeoning auto industry in Detroit, Michigan was one of the richest states in the nation and it backed that up with a state university that was considered world class. And that university had a football team virtually untouched by anyone in the land.
To the south, Ohio was in the opposite situation. Mired in poverty, the state had yet to fully enter the 20th Century. It's flagship university was still a land grant school at heart, teaching the sons of farmers how to farm even better. With the manufacturing industry that would eventually bring the state some financial prosperity in it's infancy, Ohio was a backwater.
This was the birth of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. The have's vs the have-not's. The rich vs the poor. The educated vs the men of the land.
And it was a one sided rivalry, to be sure. We all know that Michigan didn't lose a game to the Buckeyes in the first 16, and that after a three year losing streak we reeled off another six straight. It's fair to say that, in a world where MSU was irrelevant and we'd yet to play Notre Dame, Ohio State was "little brother". For they had neither the tradition of competitiveness that defined our main rival, Chicago, nor the stakes of our jug stealing rivals in Minnesota. They were merely the school that couldn't accept that we didn't hate them as much as they hated us, they were the academically and athletically inferior hicks who couldn't run with us if they tried.
Then something funny happened. Chicago, our only true rival on the field and in the classroom, got progressively worse on the field until they just dropped the sport altogether. Meanwhile, those annoying Buckeyes had beaten us four years in a row... wait, let me rephrase that. They destroyed us four years in a row, to the tune of 114-0. We were also in the midst of what would become an 11 year Jugless drought. These were the circumstances in which Ohio State became our main rival.
I'm posting this for two reasons... one because it's not the way the rivalry is traditionally presented and two because it's funny how it fits our feelings about State today. Let me be crystal clear, the things that lead to OSU's rise as our main competitor will never happen with State. But maybe, just maybe, they might one day rival them in stature.
Warning! I am not a coach and I haven't played football since eighth grade. However, I have taken an interest in offensive and defensive schemes lately. Most of what I have learned has come from reading Smart Football, Three and Out, Trojan Football Analysis, and of course Brian; especially his piece in HTTV 2009.
I think one of the biggest reasons why the hybrid positions are getting so confused is the fact that coaches all have different names for the same hybrid position. To Pete Carroll the “Spinner” is called the “Elephant” and others call it the “Quick.” All this position really is, is the WDE. Now in the 4-3 under (at least the one we are using) he is moved way outside the tackle. The reason I believe we do this is so that we can use a smaller player and that is able to speed rush the passer, hold weak side contain, and fall back into coverage for a zone blitz. With the player being so far outside they don't need to be as refined in their technique and can use their athleticism in space. This is the position that is being battled for by Evans, Herron, and Watson.
Brandon Graham is going to be the SDE this year. This of course could limit his effectiveness as a pass rusher. However, he has the most refined technique of all the defensive ends and will probably draw many double teams. These double teams will most likely lead to one-on-one battles for at least two defensive linemen (which I am considering the “Deathbacker/Spinner/Quick/Elephant” to be).
The other hybrid position in our defensive is the one occupied by Steve Brown. But just like the “Spinner” is just a WDE but with a fancy name, Mr. Brown's position is just the SLB but not the John Thompson version. Obviously, spread offenses are everywhere and to combat this defensive coordinators made the SLB more like a safety. But they also want someone who can handle a tight end in man coverage and in run situations so this may be why the coordinators just didn't use a normal nickel package. In the 4-3 under the SLB is in an inside-foot to outside-foot alignment on the tight end also called a 9-tech. If there isn't a tight end then I believe he will play nickelback to the strong side – however GERG determines which side is the strong side.
coaches use different conventions for which side is the strong side.
Some call the strong side the side with the tight end. Others call
the strong side the side to the quarterback's front (non-blind) side. I am not
sure but I think that we will be using the first convention.
Note that Steve Brown and Brandon Graham are going to be on the same side. And both will be lined up on the line of scrimmage.
According to Pete Carrol the WLB is protected in this scheme, so they don't have to be “thick necked jokers” either, they need to run sideline to sideline and make plays. This is Jonas Mouton's position.
It looks to me like a guard might have a free release on Obi in this formation, but I would like to defer this question to someone who knows more about football than I.
Earlier someone posed the question as to why we don't use Brandon at the WDE position (they called it the 'Shembackler' which I like but for clarity's sake I'm sticking with WDE). This was actually why I started writing this in the first place. It seems to me that what is most important for the WDE position in this scheme is the ability to rush the passer and the ability to play in space. Brandon can most certainly rush the passer and given that he played linebacker in HS he could probably play in space – not to mention his freakish athleticism! So why don't we move him there? I think the answer is because we don't have a DE as polished as Brandon to play the SDE, especially since Ryan Van Bergen could be starting at the 3-tech DT! We have athletes, and this is the number one criteria to playing the WDE spot in our 4-3 under; as far as I can tell anyway. Hopefully they can at least speed rush the passer; playing well in space would also be helpful.
On to other musings! If our starting D-line is going to look like BG, Martin, Van Bergen, someone at WDE then I would think we should be pretty good at penetrating the O-line (clean thoughts people!). Does this mean we will be susceptible to counters and traps? Can someone weigh in on what the advantages of having a small line like ours might be? Plus, I think we can all envision what the disadvantages are so I was wondering what the bright side could be.
If you are craving more info I would recommend reading this Trojan Analysis link keeping in mind that Steve Brown is the SLB in the diagrams and BG is the DE on his side. Then delve as much as you wish! Chris Brown and gsimmons85 have so much football knowledge packed into their sites you can read on for days and – like Brian – forget what the sun looks like!
I'm not one to get defensive so feel free to tear this apart! In fact I welcome any criticism since I will most likely learn something or get a laugh.
One last thing. If you frequent mgoblog and you don't buy HTTV 2009 then you are a fool! In fact you will be known as a fool all your life and when you die all people will say about you is: 'The fool is dead.' So don't be a fool and buy HTTV 2009 today!