this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Thought I would try to steal Brian's thunder or save him some time this week as the end of the Iowa-Penn St. game was a disaster from a clock management perspective for Penn St.
After getting hosed on a pass interfernce penalty Penn St. fans see there season and dreams start slipping away. When Iowa completees a pass for a 1st down at the Penn St 30 to get them in FG range, no one in Blue and White can breathe. So here we have it 3rd and 6 from the Penn St 29 55 seconds left up 2 pts and Penn St has all 3 time outs. The clock continues to tick and tick and tick Iowa surprisingly throws a pass and gets the 1st down against a soft zone coverage(ru fucking kidding me) Penn St. sits back and continues to allow Iowaz to position the ball so they can attempt a FG leaving 1 second left. That crafty Paterno saves his timeouts for the ever effective freeze of the kicker, doesn't work again and PSU's season flames out and visions of Mario Manningham go dancing thru their heads.
SOMEONE WAKE UP JOEPA AND TELL HIM TO USE HIS FUCKING TIMEOUTS TO SAVE SOME TIME FOR HIS OFFENSE. HE KINDA HAS 1 OF THE TOP KICK RETURNERS IN THE COUNTRY THESE COACHES CONTINUE TO AMAZE AT THEIR IDIOCY. THEY ARE ALREADY IN SCORING POSITION WITH A MINUTE TO GO THE CLOCK IS NO LONGER YOUR FRIEND IT IS YOUR ENEMY. IF THEY TRY AND BLEED THE CLOCK AND YOU STOPE THEM YOU GET THE BALL WITH 45 SECONDS AND 2 TIME OUTS. IF THEY GET IT, THEY GET IT THE CLOCK IS OF NO ISSUE. HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE
Someone had asked me if we could look at the past recruits, compared to Rich Rods class. I took a look at the past, and figured out a big part of the reason why we're here. When I use the word "good" here it's pretty loose, basically if they start or contribute in some way, to give an idea of what our recruiting since 2005 has gotten us. If they're not mentioned on here, it's because they suck, don't play, aren't very good yet, or are transfers.
2005: 23 Total Recruits
NFL - Mario Manningham
Good - Terrance Taylor (4 Star), Brandon Harrison (4 Star), David Moosman (4 Star), Zoltan Mesko (3 Star)
Bust - Kevin Grady (5 Star), Antonio Bass (4 Star), Carson Butler (3 Star)
2006: 19 Total Recruits
Benedict Arnold - Justin Boren (4 Star)
Good - Stephen Schilling (5 Star), Brandon Graham (5 Star), Greg Matthews (4 Star), Brandon Minor (4 Star), Obi Ezeh (3 Star, Running Back)
Bust - Jason Kates? (4 star DT), Steve Brown ( I couldn't decide where to put him)
2007: 20 Total Recruits
Narcissist - Ryan Mallett (5 Star)
Good - Donovan Warren (5 Star), Toney Clemons (4 Star), Michael Williams (4 Star), Junior Hemmingway (3 Star), David Molk (3 Star)
So, since 2005, we basically have 14 people really contributing to the team. Morgan Trent is really the only notable, besides Charles Stewart still around from 2004. We currently have 8 true freshman that have contributed in some way. This is 8 players from one year, compared to 14 since 2005. You can draw your own conclusions from this, but it makes me very encouraged for our future recruiting.
Ramdom thoughts to get off my chest before unveiling this week's Big 10 Picks:
My favorite storyline not being talked about this year is the fact that the Oregon St Beavers control their own fate for a Rose Bowl bid. Win out, and Pasadena is their bowl destination. Thanks to their stunning win over USC back in September, the Beavers are only one of two teams in the Pac 10 that control their own destiny in the conference race heading into the final month of the season. The other team is Cal, but since they're a 3-td underdog later tonight at USC, that probably wont last much longer, leaving OSU as the last team standing with their fate in their hands. Starting today, here's how the Beavers close their final four Saturdays: at UCLA, home vs Cal, at Arizona and home vs Oregon. It is neither a murderer's row, nor a line of cream puffs. But, as long as they keep winning, the Beavers are a great story behind the running of Jacquiz Rodgers. You know who else is happy with the Beavers run? Penn State fans. That destruction of Oregon State back in September looks better and better. The Beavers have a lot of Ute fans as well in their own BCS quest.
Speaking of Penn St, I have been told by a friend of mine who lives out in Vegas, that the Nittany Lions would be favored in a hypothetical matchup with the other two unbeaten teams from the BCS leagues. The Nittany Lions would be a slight -3 favorite over Alabama, but they would be a full TD favorite over Texas Tech. I am not sure who I would take in the Bama-PSU game, but I would take a full TD head start with the Red Raiders against just about anybody on a neutral field.
Alabama, Texas Tech and Penn State are 1-2-3 in the polls right now. Despite that, let me ask you this: Would you take any of them to win in hypothetical matches on nuetral fields against the group of 1-loss teams behind them? That group includes, Florida, USC, OU and Texas. Discuss.
On December 6, there will be five conference title games. Here's who I think will make it to those games and the outcomes: SEC, Florida and Alabama; Big 12, Oklahoma over Missouri; ACC, Virginia Tech over Wake Forest; MAC, Central Michigan over Buffalo; and Conference USC, Tulsa over East Carolina.
If two of the remaining three BCS Busters--Boise, Utah and Ball St--make it into the big money bowls, I hope the powers that be make them play each other. Yes, it would be interesting to see how they would match up with the big boys. However, doing so would prevent two games between perennial national powers from happening. I'm tired of the who is the best league arguments. I'm tired of the USC vs SEC arguments. I want some evidence to go on. Match the powers against the powers and the BCS Busters vs the BCS Busters. Remember the 2004 Liberty Bowl? An unbeaten Boise team played a 1-loss Louisville team (then of Conference USA). They were the best non BSC league teams out there and they delivered a classic 44-40 contest that remains, in my mind, one the ten best games I have seen this decade. Who wouldn't be excited to see Boise and Utah play each other? Who would be excited to see Utah play Texas? See what I mean?
Syracuse still is in the bowl hunt. Michigan is not. Yikes!
Earlier in the week, there was a mgoblog Diary detailing Paul Johnson's first season at Georgia Tech and the similarities and differences between Rodriguez and Michigan. I tried to post my thoughts, but did it in the wrong thread. Knowing that I'm not that bright, here's my take on that issue. The circumstances are so different from school to school that a comparison like that is just too hard to make. Considering that QB Nesbitt and RB Dwyer have been turning in big plays in the the running game since the opener, its fair to say Rodriguez would have Tech looking a lot more like his West Virginia teams right now. And, if Johnson was up here, its hard to imagine the offense being any better, even if I feel that Johnson is the better coach. Trust me, this guy is legit and is arguably more accomplished than Rodriguez as a head coach when you consider what he did at Georgie Southern. I do think Johnson would have our defense playing better for a couple of different reasons. One, I dont think we'd be trying to learn a fancy defense that does not match our personnel the way we are now. Also, Johnson's teams have always had great secondaries even in years where he had to replace all four starters at Navy. I just think we'd be getting better play out of that unit. But, here's the rub: Does it really matter? No. Each coach would be climbing uphill here in Ann Arbor trying to implement their offense. Think about it this way. Maybe Paul Johnson, because he runs the triple option, goes with Sheridan all year long. That should throw a bucket of cold water on anyone who thinks our record would be as good as Georgia Tech under PJ. That said, with either man, we would have made a great long term hire with a guy who has the potential to be the best coach in the Big 10. I was doing back flips when we signed Rodriqguez. But, I would have done the same had we tabbed Johnson. Or Jim Grobe.
Alright, before this gets to be tl;dr, lets get into this week's Big 10 picks:
Purdue at Michigan St. Lines, MSU -9, O/U 53.5. Two of my favorite angles come together in this game: Purdue's inability to compete against good teams and the Spartan's historic dominance in their home finale. I've mentioned the Boilers punching bag status against quality teams, going 4-23 SU, 9-18 ATS, against eventual bowl teams since the start of 2005. Thats in play today against Michigan State, a team still harboring strong hopes of a Rose Bowl appearance. What's also in play is a situation that has been a mandatory bet of mine for years: The Spartans in the final home game of the year. MSU is 18-3 ATS in their home finale. Armed with the extra emotion on Senior Day, the Spartans will blow out Purdue. Purdue has had trouble scoring in conference play against the upper echelon of the league. They'll struggle to exceed 14 points in this one. I think MSU's big play, physical secondary will thwart Siller in a way UM could not last week. And, if Minor Rage could go off on the Boilers, what will Ringer do in his last appearance at Spartan Stadium? He might come close to 200 yards. In their three road games this year, Purdue has lost by 17, 13 and 22 points to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Northwestern. Against Sparty, they wont fare any better.
The Pick, MSU -9...........the Spartans will win this one by three touchdowns in an emotional send off for a senior class that is a few outcomes away from completing an amazing chapter in program history.
Western Michigan at Illinois, Lines Illini -7, O/U 59. Perhaps a Motor City Bowl preview, so much so that they're playing the game in Detroit at the site of the famed December Bowl. In this game, we have perhaps the best passing offenses in their respective leagues squaring off on the fast track of Ford Field. Defense optional in this game and expect big games from QBs Tim Hiller and Juice Williams. The Broncos are a solid team and wont shrink from this moment, while the Illini have struggled in the role of favorite all season long, going 1-3-1 this year when laying points. The Broncos will move all day on the Illini and be a thorn in their side the whole way through.
The Pick, WMU +7, Over 59........both teams will sneak into the 30s. You have to like the Broncos who look at this game like a major bowl game as compared to the Illini who might be a disinterested favorite playing a MAC foe with Ohio State on deck.
Wisconsin at Indiana, Lines Wisconsin -10, O/U 51. Both teams are off disappointing, last minute losses. Both teams need this win or a bowl bid becomes a pipe dream. Both teams are below Michigan in the league standings. Yuck. There's nothing to really like about either teams in this one. IU can always be counted on to score a lot of points at home and they're averaging a little more than 27 ppg in Bloomington this year. I think they can hit that mark in this contest. Much like the Illini game above, both teams could very well hit the 30s in this game as I dont expect IU to be able to shut down the running attack of Wisconsin. Here's a stat, the winner in IU games this year has scored 37 ppg, exceeding 40 points five times. Its safe to say there will plenty of points in this contest.
The Pick, Over 51......38-24, 38-31, 38-28, those all sound like logical scores. Neither team has been reliable enough where I think they can cover, but i feel good about it being a shoot out. I think the total will exceed 60 points.
Ohio State at Northwestern, Lines, OSU -11, O/U. The Bucks have destroyed Northestern in recent years. This year, its hard to see the Wildcats, as banged up as they are, having much success against a Buckeye D that after some initial wobbliness is hitting its stride. They're allowing just 13.33 ppg this season and if you take out the USC debacle, that number goes down almost to single digits. Despite the success of the Wildcat season, its safe to say that they're no USC. Its a lot of points to be laying on the road, but other than the 2004 upset, there is no history in this series for Northwestern to hang its hat on. It might be ugly, but the Bucks will strangle NW's offense, create a couple turnovers and blow this game wide open in the second half. I dont think the Wildcats will reach double digits.
The Pick, OSU -11.......here are some interesting technical trends I dug up while looking into this game: OSU is 11-1 ATS on the road after a loss, 9-0 on the road against .667 or better teams and are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 road games, including 13-4 when favored. This has 27-7 written all over it.
Michigan at Minnesota, Lines Minny -7.5, O/U 47. I dont know whats worse. The fact Michigan is catching more than a TD against a program they've beaten all but twice in the last 30 years. Or that I have no real confidence that they can stay within the number. Who here does not think that Erik Decker will catch more than 10 passes or that QB Adam Weber will have his best game of the season? Who here cant see UM being -3 in the turnover category? Seriously, can someone point me in the direction of a Book where I can take the Over on Decker receptions and put a small amount on the odds of the Gophers scoring a defensive touchdown. Those both sound like easy money. Still, I feel like I have to take Michigan since I always do when they are true underdogs like this. They are 13-4 ATS as dogs of more than 4 points. Sure, they've lost five in a row, but they were in position to win three of those games late into the fourth and were tied were #3 PSU 17-17 with 4 to go in the third. I think they'll be in this game all the way through.
The Pick, UM +7.5, Over 47........they have to cover sometime, right? And, why get off the Over train that Michigan has been on? Consider their Big 10 games. An average of 65.2 ppg have been scored with the winner averaging more than 40 points. I expect those numbers to be the same, although in Michigan's favor by this time in 2010. Anyway, the Gophers win 34-28 turning away a late Michigan drive with a pick in the end zone. Look at it this way, thats one way UM has not lost yet this year.
Penn St at Iowa, Lines PSU +7.5, O/U 46. This will be a war. Not many teams bring a physical game to the table the way the Hawkeyes do. King and Kroul on their defensive line will be the biggest interior test the Lions OL has faced all season long. And, while the OL might not be vintage for a Ferentz team, it fires off the ball hard and has opened up holes for Shon Green against every single team they've played this year. Green has been the best player in the Big 10 this season and he may be enough to drive the upset tomorrow. Iowa has perennially been one of the best ATS teams at home and are 36-16 ATS in their last 52 games in Iowa City. While they're just 6-10 in their last 16 games at home, Iowa is also playing their best ball over the last month than at any time since the 2004 season. I still question whether or not PSU QB Daryl Clark can deliver a clutch throw in a tight game in the fourth quarter. He has not had to do that all season long. Iowa under DC Norm Parker limits the number of big plays a team hits on them. They will take that away from PSU's arsenal today. And, they dont give up many points, either. I am having a hard time seeing Penn State score more than 23 points today. They will milk Shon Green and this will remain anyone's game late into the fourth quarter.
The Pick, Iowa +7.5..........we have three big showdowns today involving the top three teams in the country. All three, this one included, will be decided in the final minutes. It will be one of the more dramatic days of the season. This feels like such a big trap game for PSU. I give Iowa a better than 50/50 chance at spring the outright upset.
Should be a fun day of football today. Its getting downright cold and wintery up north today, so might as well hunker down and enjoy the action. Hopefully these eight picks are all winners.
Overall column record is 20-16-1.
Im not a coach, i have never played football but i watch it all the time.
Would that statement make it easier for me to make my point. The past couple of weeks, while still trying to be a calming force around these parts, i have been critized for being a coach, who has lived football his entire life, who runs shafers schemes,and likes to help fellow michigan fans get a different perspective.I dont ever claim to be anything other than what i am. When someone asks me a football question i answer it, could there be another answer? sure, but as a football coach you know what you know, and you do what you do. There are 20 ways to skin a cat, and i just happend to be good a skinning it the way i do. Doesnt mean im smarter than anyone, doesnt mean i know more about michigan than anyone, but i would think at the very least, it would be at least feasable that i know a little about football.
There, have at it, give me the "anyone can see that" and "i dont have to be a coach to know_____" and "if you think _____ you must not be a very good coach" and all that crap.
The one thing i will admit, is that i will always give the benefit of doubt to a coach first, becasue thats what i do for a living, just like former baseball umpires dont yell at umps as bad, usually. Or former policeman are less crtical about the pigs. etc etc. So sure i may overly defend coaching sometimes, but that is what it is. If you dont like it dot read my stuff. I think im pretty open with everyone about who i am, what i do, and all that stuff. I could very easliy make stuff up to look more knowledgeable, or demand to know everyone elses exerience with college football, and post resumes to make my point. But i dont really care about that, i know i set myself up for people to be able to attack, but thats just kind of my personality, i dont really give a crap about anyone elses feelings about me.
Now about the coverage stuff. Shafer isnt a stack guy, but the stack was used this week, as a way of trying to stop what was assumed to be a fast qb, who problaby couldnt throw,and a farily good run game. It has been stated before, by numerous people, the 3-3 stack is a run stopping odd front. and for the most part it did its job. The 3-3 stack is a good defense against a spread formation, as it keeps 6 in the box, while still putting people on the perimeter for contain purposes. You are limited in coverage though when you run the stack,l which is why i dont like to run it very often. Obvioulsy this isnt the way shafer likes to attack spreads, he is a two safety guy. But MICHIGAN SAFETIES ARE NOT GOOD. and lb's are not good at coverage, and when michigan played press man a majority of the time the other week, they still lost. So shafer tries what RR and his staff wants him to try, why not try it now? why not try it against the one team that you might be able to win agaisnt and find a way to keep big plays from happening with a new scheme? them maybe you have found something that you can pull out agin against OSU, or at least give OSU something else to think about. I truely believe that shafer and RR both are feeling the pressure to show that they can try new things, and not be stagnit. Its almost impossible to get better fundametnally during the season, becasue of constantly having to put so much time into installation, and game prep for the upcomming team. When you hear a coach talk about "returning to basics" thats when they have basically given up trying to win, and instead are more interested in making the team better fundamentally, for the future. Im sure RR and his staff would like to do this, but as you can see, the michigan fan base, and the michgian family is not interested in seeing imporvement, they are interested in results. So i see Shafer and RR as being a product of the problem with an impatient fan base, and an impatient comunity that is demanding wins NOW. therefore they are trying to schematiclly overcome the obvious fundamental problems that michigan defesive football has had for the past several years.
Has he blitzed a ton? yes, has he playd a lot of press man? yes Has he played a lot fire zone coverage? yes.. has he taken away fades by playing an outsidee shade, only to see seams exploited time and time again for big plays, which created easier opportunites to score, than having to complete 20 short outs? yes.. has he tried to play inside shades, only for corners to be beaten time and time again on fade routes? yes...
the one guy on the field that throws int's is the qb. therefore eyes on qb if you are a corner playing zone coverage, sure trent is lined up on an inside shade a bit, to discourage a easy vertcal realease. Also the Qb at the snap of the ball sdoesnt knwo weather you are playing off man, or bail technique, of course knowing how BAD michigan corners are right now in playing man, i would assume he knows its cover three, but if its not, then that corner will be able to make a play on yoru out call, and it might be a pic six. but once the reciever goes vertcal he should be working to get "on top" and trying to squeeze him to the sideline... his main problem on that screen was opening the door, and not getting on top of the reciever, as far as "no way he can turn all the way around and make a play on that out" way of talking about the zone turn to the QB, corners every day work on zone turns, and t-step drives, its exactly what you are suppose to do, 1 guess as to who teaches the t-step drive step as good as anyone? The back foot is planted at a 90 degree angle directly back, then the outside foot serves as the "drive step" at the direction of the cut, We use terms like "get your foot in the biucket" and "drive off the T" to talk exactly about how we want it to be executed, its very easy for a corner with good fluid hips, but trent (like i have said a million times) does not have fluid hips. trent isnt very good, and isnt going to make a play on that. AND HE IS NOT USUING HTE TECHNIQUE THAT HE IS BEING TAUGHT, to try to make that play. BUt id rather it be like that, then to give up an an easy hit to a vertical seam. An out route, is a lot harder ball to throw for an unproven QB, than an easy slant or skinny post.... first throw a combine coach asks a young qb to throw, is an out accross the field.
The other issue is that trent has no safety help, therefore he cant be over agressive on the out, but that is the price you pay for running a 3 deep look... but its not designed to stop that throw its designed to stop the big play, which michigan has given up far too much this year. I know it doesnt explain everything, but i felt like i needed to defend a bit that i see a lot of bad techiniqe, and knowing how shafer teaches, i know its not what they are being taught to do. Is it mistrust? is it players not trying, or players not beleive in shafer? or is it just a bunch of guys who are feeling a lot of presure to succed, not being able to call on muslce memory to play the techniqes becAuse they have only been taught it for less then a year? i think its problaby more the latter.
You are also inthe picture pages, seeing the difference between a well exectued out route pass and catch, and a poorly run, poorly thrown hitch route... Trent would have been in much better position to play the hitch route, expicallly if he had threet throwing it at him.
Brian you need to stop the picture pages segment. Much like my belief in Santa Claus when I was 6 I need to believe that these coaches are the smartest men on the planet and that when their genius schemes that are so much better than anyone else are fully comprehended by the Barwis trained Ninja Bots we will regain our place at the top of the College Football World and break Oklahomas 58 game unbeaten streak.
These picture pages are creating doubt like when I started to think "how is it possible for this fat ass to reach everyone on 1 night and deliver presents"? . Despite the fact Morgan Trent is 1 of the fastest players in college football and (see Percy Harvin tackle I hate fake 40 times)been trained for 5 years at an elite college program, I have let Gsimms convince me it is impossible for him to play press coverage aginst 2 star receivers from Pur, Tol, Miami etcc.. because the old coaches ordered pizza and read poems but somehow kept going to BCS bowls every 3rd year and yet never taught him how to play man to man coverage or how to squeeze gaps in a zone.
Logic in trying to figure out this year has gone beyond comprehension and I am just calling a 3rd down punt and hope to wake up next August with hope. Thru much of your good work on the coaches profiles on Mgoblog and my 2 eyes I have to believe that these coaches are very good to get to this level and thru continued development and learning I have to believe that they are aware of various defensive techniques and how to teach them.
I have always wished I could sit in a Sunday film session with just the coaches to understand what they were thinking with the call and what went wrong. Many of your points, Brian, I have agreed with and they seem to go against basic football logic, which again I have to believe the coaches know more than us so this is what I suggest.....Have Gsimms escort you to the Michigan Football Coaches Clinic and pound these guys with as many questions as humanly possible about how illogical this defense has looked this year. I believe in Schafer based on his track record, I believe that this defense has decent talent, but I also believe I could take my flag football teams secondary comprised of guys in their mid 30's clinging to youth by their fingernails and stop a 3rd and 18 with about 5 minutes of prep..... trying to reconcile those 3 items in my head all year have me to the point my head may go "Scanners" at any point. Please help....the coaches have to know right?? right ?? please be right???
2010 Big Ten Champs is my call.....still(that's down from 2010 Nat Champs)
To prove it is possible, here's a school which brought in a new head coach this season with a totally foreign offense, in this case Navy's triple option. He made due with leftover QB's, except for Steven Threet, who fell into Michigan's lap. He lost his defensive coordinator, a guy who's now at Notre Dame named John Tenuta. But he inherited a decent defense - all the D-linemen are considered NFL prospects. He's coaching at a school with high academic standards and a previous head coach who might not be a Crisler but is a Heisman.
Despite a young team which experienced injuries, he's reached # 20 in the rankings with a 7-2 (4-2 in the ACC) record. The losses were to Va. Tech and Va. By now you've figured out it's Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech.
Without the benefit of hindsight, who would you have taken back in December? The choices are Paul Johnson of Navy's boring, smallish offense or Rich Rodriguez of West Va's sexy, cutting edge spread. Not even close.
The similarities between the two situations are eerie, with Michigan possibly getting the nod for better looking brianiac, liberal arts vs. math and science coeds. With what you've seen so far, who would you take now, being a doormat for at least a year and maybe more but with the vision of dreams to come (us) or the certainty of a winning season and a decent (although sometimes the Humanitarian in Boise) bowl game, but probably never being better than 9-3 (them)?