After losing so many starters and back-ups, it is an obvious area of worry.
How bad is the situation? I'll look at the bad, the good, and then the questions. Many facts taken from Phil Steele and other previews.
- Long, Kraus, Boren, Mitchell (5 starts), Ciulla (5 starts) lost.
- Number of returning career starts for the whole offensive line is 118th in the NCAA (16: 13 for Schilling, 2 for Ortmann, 1 for McAvoy).
- Learning a new offense.
- Only 8-9 scholarship players, not counting true freshmen (of which, maybe only one or two have the size/skill to play immediately).
- Some of the projected starters are the kind of disappearing late-career players that would be the like of Doug Dutch acting as a starting CB or Anton Campbell starting at RB last year.
- The 4 new starters are all 4th year juniors. They are not 260 pound true freshmen.
- The 5 projected starters (Moosman-McAvoy-Zirbel-Schilling-Ortmann) were all highly rated coming out of high school. In Phil Steele parlance, VHTs. Let's compare their recruiting rankings, using the Phil Steele composite, to projected starters from schools like Texas and Ohio State. All are as OL unless noted.
Michigan: #39, #44, #20, #4, #33TE
Ohio State: #24, #25, #46, #6 (Adams, #39 [Browning] if not), #2
Texas: #35, #10, #55, #28, #23
As you can see, there is no significant difference.
- 6 true frosh are coming in, 4 of whom were very highly touted (4-5 star). At the very least, one would think Dann O'Neill has the size and skill and experience (played in a similar offense) to be a solid 2nd string and perhaps supplant another starter towards the end of the season. An OL starting as a true frosh is quite rare, but becoming less rare as HS programs become more sophisticated.
- Are these four new junior starters talented players who were just waiting their turn, or talented players overlooked by the previous coaching staff.... or, talented HS players who just don't have the skills to become real Big 10 starters?
- Will the new staff develop OL talent better? Others have pointed out the decline in Michigan OL quality and NFL draft picks recently, despite high quality recruiting.
- Injuries... the starters might be decent, but if a couple go down with injuries, who takes their place? There are a bunch of MAC-quality walk-ons/scholarship players (Huyge #275 OL in his class, Nowicki #233), plus 282 pound redshirt frosh Molk, plus the true frosh, plus Dorrestein on the outside. If you Molk and O'Neill have to see playing time on the inside and outside, respectively, this would probably be okay. But Nowicki, Huyge and Dorrestein?
- How will the freshmen develop?
- Does the new offense put less emphasis on high-quality pass-blocking skills (hard for a young player or MAC-level player to handle to handle) and more emphasis on Ninja Football trickery that an average OL can handle?
I look forward to comments from those who know football better and those who can correct any factual errors.
After reading the mgo.licio.us article about Penn State and their supposed "Spread HD", there was an inset link to this article: http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/509133.html?nav=5017
If you replaced "Joe Paterno" with "Lloyd Carr" and each corresponding PSU person with its Michigan equivalent, it would still sound just about right. (even the part about not throwing passes over the middle).
My opinion of why Michigan has always been successful against PSU was that it was looking at a mirror-image of itself. While Michigan typically struggled against teams that didn't employ their Pro-Style offense, Penn State's straightforward "conservative" playcalling played right into Michigan's hands. Of course, while we as Michigan fans could grumble about it from our own perspectives, it's always interesting to hear the same words being said about another team with similar deficiencies (hence, the Altoona Mirror Article linked above). Here's an excerpt of how it could have read if it were written about Lloyd Carr-era Michigan Football:
ANN ARBOR - Michigan can have all the offensive weapons in the world, but it won't matter if Lloyd Carr insists on being conservative.
Carr needs to do several things for the intriguing new Run, Run, Pass, Punt offense to be most effective:
* He needs to let his playmakers make plays.
* He needs to give Mike DeBord freedom to call plays that actually surprise defenses.
* He needs to allow his offense to take some chances on the road rather than constantly trying to win defensive battles.
If Carr refuses to take full advantage of his offensive weapons, Michigan will have another mediocre season. (And yes, 9-4 should be considered mediocre at UM.)
I just got sent the ratings for every team in NCAA 09, for those who are interested in video games.
I posted a breakdown of Michigan's ratings on my site here.
The Final verdict on the New Uni's is in:
The Lightning Streaks on the Road Jerseys is the real deal. I'm okay with that. As long as the Home Uniforms stay the same.
I know tradition is important, and great at Michigan, but the Road Jerseys have always been subject to change, never having that same striking effect as the home uniforms.
So let them play with the road Jerseys some more. I bet they'll still be better than...... YOU KNOW WHAT? I change my mind. Fuck these lightning streaks, this is Michigan Dammit!!!
DEATH TO THE PIPING. PleaseOPlease make it stop; the piping haunts my dreams.
I admit it. I read a lot of posts on MGoBlog. I also admit that I don't understand half of the silly language that is used here... the "inside speak" of blogs if you will... but it's still fun! I'm a 40-something which I am sure is old by standards of readers here, but what the heck? I'll try this out! It will give me a place to share my "M-thusiasm!"
I don't know a lot about recruiting and because I live well south of Cow-lumbus, (actually in the former land of Rich Rod) - it's a little risky wearing M apparel around. But I do know that I love to follow the Wolverines. It's not easy here, but I still do it. MGoBlog REALLY helps too!
I didn't even attend Michigan. I graduated from another school in Michigan, but I grew up going to the games. I believe my first game was a Wisconsin game when I was somewhere around 8-10 years old. This was back in the days when we were wiping teams out by dozens and dozens of points.
But I learned to love the traditions of all that is the M experience. I'm doing my best to pass them on to my kids now.
The one thing that MOST attracted me to the program was Bo. He was straight up an incredible influence on a lot of young impressionable males my age. Yes, our dads were the ultimate men we looked up to, but Bo ran a close second. Every time I met him he always was kind to me. Always had time for a word. Always encouraged a young fan to keep rooting for his team... our team. He ran the show the way it should be run. I'm sure a lot of OSU fans my age feel the same way about Woody Hayes. But I'm on the Maize & Blue side of this line - forever!
So, thanks to Brian for putting up this site. A chance to connect and feel a little closer to the place where I had so many great memories as a young person!
And now - it's back to reading about WVU and OSU in my local paper every day. Ha-ha!
Now that THE KNOWLEDGE is back, let's start having some fun season predictions
These predictions will be in three parts:
1. Michigan OOC games
2. Michigan Big Ten games
3. Bowl Projections
This post will write about OOC games
The Toledo and Miami games are obvious wins; so the two interesting games are Utah and Notre Lame
As for Utah. They are a decent to good team, but have issues at QB. My inside information says that he will not be ready for the game at 100%. Add this to the new aggressive and better conditions M D and the results will be ugly... for Utah. The question is on the other side of the ball. Being the first game, the offense shall be ugly, but M will start the new era with a win
THE KNOWLEDGE predicts: M 24 - Utah 10
Notre Lame sucks.
M 31 - ND 3