As lamented by all, it's a terribly long offseason. Here's an attempt at generating semi-meaningful discussion: how do you expect our season to go? My week-to-week breakdown:
Western Michigan - The Broncos are at a severe talent deficit and must replace 7 starters on defense, including Detroit's 3rd pick, Louis Delmas. Look for a potential scare if Michigan's defense struggles with new personnel and new scheme. M's offense should be fine, despite a true freshman likely starting at QB.
Notre Dame - Notre Dame is incredibly talented. Whether or not that will translate to points is another question. I personally feel Clausen is better than many people give him credit for. His first year was a wash because of his porous offensive line. Look for a surge from the Irish. Our offense will likely need to win this game, and that's a tall order for a true freshman QB. It helps that we're at home, but I give ND the edge. 55-45% to the Irish. (Remember we outgained ND by 120+ yards last year. If our D steps up we win, but I don't think it'll happen.)
Eastern Michigan – No worries here. The Eagles return 16 starters from a team that finished 2-6 in the MAC. Barring another Toledo-esque meltdown, we win easily. The only way we lose is if shaky quarterback play and a complete meltdown on defense happens. Knock on wood, we should win.
Indiana – The Big Ten opener features undaunting Indiana. Indiana was lousy last year and is installing the Pistol offense. With Kellen Lewis being dismissed and Marcus Thigpen graduating, Indiana has no real playmaker. By now our defense should be getting its footing and our young quarterback will be improving, especially with the friendly confines of the Big House.
at Michigan State – The first road test for a freshman QB usually doesn’t bode well. MSU has to replace Javon Ringer, but I think they should be adequate enough to beat us. A few big plays from the offense and solid play from the defense will be enough for us to get the win. Unfortunately, I doubt we can count on both.
at Iowa – This game is likely a toss-up. Iowa does have to replace Shonn Greene, but their offensive line looks excellent. They return 8 starters on defense, but lost both defensive tackles. Iowa’s lack of offensive firepower gives us a shot, but one bad play from the defense could quickly foil M. Playing at Kinnick Stadium doesn’t help a freshman QB either (DIE, Dead Horse, DIE!!). Edge to Iowa.
Delaware State – I’m not going to say anything to jinx us. If we prepare properly, don’t take them lightly, and compete on Saturday, we win. As long as our players are aware that just showing up isn’t enough, we’ll be fine.
Penn State – This is a game we should actually win. Darryl Clark and Royster are very good, but four starters on the line have departed and a trio of receivers must be replaced. Add in a dysfunctional secondary and severe losses at DE, plus a little help from a friendly home crowd and you have the makings of an upset. Despite last year, we still own Penn State.
at Illinois – I fear this game could get ugly. The Big Ten’s best offense awaits us in Champaign. We simply don’t have an answer for Juice, Benn, and Florida transfer Jarred Fayson, among others. If we win, it’ll be in a shootout. Not likely considering our young QB(horse is still dead, though well-beaten) and the road atmosphere.
Purdue – A home game we should win. Purdue lost Painter and potential starter Justin Siller at QB. Only four players on offense return and the defense can’t stop the run. We bounce back and roll over Purdue.
at Wisconsin – The Badgers have a lot of question marks, making this game a toss-up. The road atmosphere will make it tough to win. The Badgers should be able to run effectively with John Clay against a suspect interior Michigan line. I think the Badgers will win, unless they have a meltdown on defense, similar to the one they had against us in the second half of last year’s game. Edge to Wisconsin.
Ohio State – That team is still loaded with talent. We have to contain Brandon Saine, if he’s healthy, as well as Pryor. We will need our corners to lock down on that team’s receivers, man-to-man, in order to do so. Big plays will likely win this game, and M’s defense needs limit to mistakes. Again, a freshman QB will need to play very well. Thankfully, this one is in the Big House. Edge to the other team.
Total record: 6-6
This might seem bad, but considering a brand new scheme on defense and a reliance on young players, it’s not too bad. Especially when a few games could go our way (ND, Iowa, and MSU) and quickly change it to a 9-3 record. Realistic expectations are important.
So, this one time in college...
... I was an intern with University of Toledo's sports information department. Sorry, much more boring than that premise could've been, I know. I promise another time I'll tell you about the chick with the fishing line thong and super low-riders that drove with my dorm mates over to Taco Bell.
Anyhow, I graduated from UT with a degree in Communications, specializing in PR, and I absolutely loved my time in the Sports Information office. I was there about 40 hours a week, but it never felt even close to that long. I decided then that I wanted to do Sports Information and PR with my life.
Problem, you can't do Sports Information unless A) You have lots of experience, B) You know someone very high up, or C) You're willing/able to work a couple of years full time + for no pay. A) I don't. B) I don't. C) I can't. House, wife, cars, you know the drill. That said, I still want to do it. The easiest of those problems to rectify is A, and the way I'm doing it should give me access to some B as well.
I got emailing with the office for the Southern Michigan Timberwolves, a Semi-Pro team of the Mid-Continental Football League. Teams are based all over Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Kentucky. It's a pay-to-play league that sees a number of players from different walks of life. Some are Pros temporarily without a home, trying to keep in football shape. Some are undrafted college players who feel that with a little more work and game tape, there may be a place for them in the league, and some are just former HS or College players who love the game.
Anyhow, after emailing with the office there, I'm going to assume Sports Information and PR duties for the team on a volunteer basis. We're just in the earliest stages of talking about it now, but I should have a fairly blank canvas to work with, which I'm excited about.
I encourage you to check out the MCFL's page at http://www.mcfl.org/ and see if there's a team in your area. These are generally good guys with a passion for the game if they're paying to play.
Does anybody else have any experience with local minor league football?
IMHO, the football team next year may be well-suited to employ a jet/fly or triple-shoot play-book given the group of players we currently have.
The Jet/Fly is a spread offense derivation that puts a slot-back in motion in many/most of its base plays. General principal: the slot runs along the line of scrimmage pre-snap at full speed before taking a hand-off from the QB and trucking upfield. The strategy behind the motion is it forces the defense to react, thereby exposing possible weaknesses for the QB to read and exploit. It thereby simultaneously creates a possibly strong matchup for the slot in motion, and moreover gives the QB a stronger shot to make a solid zone read. See generally, http://www.usafootball.com/articles/displayArticle/5818/5601.
The triple-shoot offense also employs this "jet" set of plays in its running base, and ultimately exploits aggressive defensive looks with several creative screens and posts in its passing base. See, http://smartfootball.blogspot.com/search/label/triple%20shoot at Smart Football.
With Michigan's group of slot-receiver/backs, especially looking at Shaw who saw time at RB last year but is set to play WR this year, and Tay Odoms, do any of MGoBlog's coaches in residence expect to see a lot of motion plays this season? Assuming you were given the driver's seat of the Michigan zone-read spread offense, what formula of plays do you hope to see Michigan running to best utilize its talent (noting we have an accurate but short rookie QB, an aggressive pro-style RB, a lack of true HR threat X receivers but several valid slot receivers)?
I speculate that we'll see a marked increase in motion-sets to exploit our RB/WR superbacks, and bootlegs: to exploit our QBs strengths (accuracy in space, ability to make plays with feet) while limiting his weaknesses (height, discomfort in pocket).
I also foresee a lot of Michigan's success next year resting on Minor/Brown's ability to successfully engage the DT or deathbacker. I think we'll see more passing looks to the HB next year, but it will require the HB to really sell the DT on a pass-block before getting open near the line of scrimmage.
I'm curious to read what your your thoughts are for U-M's offense next year from a strategic angle.
I bleed Maize & Blue... but I grew up 50 miles due east of Columbus, Ohio until I was 18 years old and went away to college. My father was a OSU alum and my whole family are OSU fans. My parents dressed me in an Archie Griffith jersey when I was in kindergarten. I've seen the pictures in albums, but had blocked the shame and horror from my memory. In grade school I remember watching the Rose Bowl one year. Michigan was playing UCLA (I think) that year and being a young lad and just learning about College football in a rather prejudiced environment, I had never before heard talk of these Wolverines from up North. Nonetheless, I fell in love with the helmets, the name, team colors, and the fight song and picked them to win the game, which they did. I was a fan for life from that day forward.
By sixth grade I had met a few other UM fans in my school and we banded together against the masses of OSU idiots. Every year on the Friday before The Game, our Jr. High School had OSU-Michigan Day. And every year, my UM buddies and I would proudly wear our Maize & Blue amidst the jeers and jokes, only to again walk the halls on the following Monday with our heads still high and making a few jokes of our own. Our 9th grade science teacher was an OSU fanatic and also the lunch monitor. To really stick it to him one year, we wore our own homemade OSU shirts (we had to make them with markers because we didn't own anything scarlet & gay). During lunch period, we ripped off the outer osu shirts to expose our true Maize & Blue identities underneath and then walked through the halls with roses in our teeth. We won the game that year and went on to the Rose Bowl again, much to the chagrin of our bucknut science teacher.
During my Junior year in H.S. my father took me to The Game at the horseshoe as a way to "bond" after he and my mother had separated. He warned me before we left that I should not wear my Michigan attire because we would be sitting in the alumni section and he would not be responsible for my safety. I told him I would take my chances. After we sat down at the stadium prior to the game, my father looked at me and said, "How's it feel to be surrounded by all of us OSU fans boy?". "Feelin' a little uncomfortable are you?" Just at that moment the Michigan Band came onto the field and started playing the Victors and the three rows behind us stood up and started belting out the best fight song in history along with the band. I looked at my father with a big grin and said "now who's outnumbered kemosabe?" then joined my Michigan brethren in song. Unfortunately we lost the game, but to see my father's face when 100 UM fans stood up behind him singing the Victors was priceless!!!!
The past five years have been truly agonizing, however. Every Thanksgiving I get together with my family for our annual Turkey Bowl football game, and all I hear from my brothers and nephews is how UM can't beat osu and got our arses handed to us, etc. Even my children, who I have raised with the same passion for all things Michigan, get hassled by their cousins. My kids were brave enough to wear their GO Blue gear on their school's OSU-UM day the friday before the Big Game a couple of years ago, but my son came home crying because even the teachers game him a hard time (he was about six at the time). Now they wear their Maize & Blue on a regular basis and everyone in the school knows we are the family of UM fans. My kids have learned to ignore the insults, attempts to humiliate them, etc. I have shown my kids videos of games gone by so he does not lose hope in what will once be again... the day we return to our rightful place on top of the Big Ten!!!!
I took my son to the spring game this year. He was fortunate to get many autographs of recruits and his picture with Marvin, Denard, & Ricardo, which he proudly displays in a frame in his bedroom. On the drive home to Akron he slept with his autographed Michigan football clutched tightly in both arms. Though we've lived with trials and tribulations... persecuted for the color of our Maize & Blue blood... we have overcome and remain unwaiverable in our faith and love for the Leaders and Best... Hail to the Victors!! Go BLUE!!!
I was reading "The clash of the fanbases" diary, and I was inspired to create an account just so I could share this story. I'm pretty sure it's worth its own diary!
So, last year being my senior year, two of my die-hard Michigan friends and I decided to take our long awaited pilgrimage down to Columbus for the OSU-Michigan game. To top things off, we bought tickets that ended up being (much to our surprise/ dismay/ excitement) smack dab in the middle of OSU's upperclassmen student section. We were the only ones. If you watch the game you can actually see three lonely maize dots in a sea of red. We were also interviewed for some show on FSN before the game started because of our choice of seating.
Describing the horrors we were subjected to doesn't do them justice. It was freezing, so, naturally, we sported winter accessories. One of my friends was wearing Michigan earmuffs which ended up providing 25% of the material for the berating given to us by the osu fans. (The other 75% were accusations of us being gay.. OSU fans aren't the most creative bunch). At one point, the entire student section started an "EARMUFFS! CLAP-CLAP-CLAP... EARMUFFS!-CLAP-CLAP-CLAP" chant.
Other acts of terror included the throwing of full cups of water (without tops) which drenched my back, two drunk fans behind us screaming into our ears before, during, and after every play, my life being threatened for turning around to take a picture of the score board (before the game...), a constant barrage of pop-corn, and many more.
At one point, my friend's Wolverine hat was ripped off of his head and thrown toward the field. The fan that caught it turned around and pointed to us then back to the hat. We waved and signaled for him to throw it back. He proceeded to turn and chuck it even further.
When we celebrated after Pryor threw an early interception, the students around us began making comments that we were engaging in some kind of intercourse.
I could go on forever, but I'm afriad this is getting a little redundant. I'll skip to the end. When OSU scored to go up by 28, the abuse was getting to such a dangerous level that we decided to leave in fear that they would hang us from the stadium by bucknut necklaces before the game's end. As we left, the entire student section gave us a standing ovation along with screaming every swear word I've ever heard and a few I think they might have made up then and there.
All in all, nothing can compare to the craziness of sitting in the Ohio State student section, as a Michigan fan, during an utter beat down. Today, I'm proud to say I survived that experience, and I'm an even stronger fan because of it. Despite it all, I can easily say that it was the most amazing experience I've ever had.
Report: Buckeye Jaamal Berry arrested
June 11, 2009 - Florida's CBS4 is reporting that Ohio State star running back recruit Jaamal Berry has been arrested on marijuana possession, though little more information is available at this time. A search of the Miami-Dade Clerk's website confirms this arrest.
Berry, out of Miami Palmetto, is one of the more highly-regarded incoming recruits in the country, though this could certainly hinder things.
While this is not a huge blow to the Buckeyes as it would be to, say, losing your star running back after he files a falsified police report for those items stolen out of his 'borrowed' dealership SUV... it should be a minor blow to the OSU depth chart. Then again, when your starting QB is also your starting RB, FB and is an overall DB, maybe you don't need a depth chart at that position.
Though this is not something Michigan fans can act like has not happened in the past, it does speak to the issue that certain teams are capable of recruiting athletes at a certain maturity/legality level. Every team is facing a loaded gun, sometimes literally, when it comes to a star prep athlete who has been showered with attention. That these student athletes then go off and do something dumb is not shocking but, rather, can lead one to miss the days when regional dynamics led to a 3-4 coach shuffle on where a player might go and not the circus it has become today.
Sweater vest's calm disappointment to follow...