to play football, not to play trumpet
beards are sweet
Podcast? Yes. We couldn't record it yesterday because of Easter obligations. We will tape it this evening. It should go up tomorrow.
Missed it? It's on the tubes.
Ours got more attention than normal because it was so early.
The Michigan offense in one picture [Patrick Barron]
Rome was not rebuilt from atomized dust in a day. It was not good, obviously. People will tell you that the defense is supposed to be in front of the offense at this juncture… but not that far in front. When they say that they mean something like "it was a little ugly and they only ran for like three yards a carry." They mean that the final score was 17-10 or thereabouts.
They do not mean that the only offense of the day will be Amara Darboh catching fades against Poor Damn Dennis Norfleet, a 5'7" guy who hadn't played defense in college until being tested there this spring. The overall feel was reminiscent of the legendarily terrible 2008 spring game, which I didn't even go to because it was held at a high school to facilitate Michigan Stadium's renovations and still remember as the first "oh shiiiii" moment in the Rodriguez era.
To some extent this was all expected. Michigan fans have been debating between a true freshman, a guy who had 3.2 YPA last year, and a redshirt freshman who did not play. They were going up against a defense that has been pretty good the last couple years (until collapsing in exhaustion at the end of games). It was never going to be pretty.
But did it have to be that ugly? Bler!
Quarterbacks: come on down Joliet Jake. Morris was anointed the #1 QB coming out of spring by none other than Harbaugh himself, and that seemed about right after the spring game. That it did so after Morris went 11 of 24 for 5.6 YPA would have me purchasing bags of dehydrated food, water purifiers, and shotguns if not for the 99% official transfer of Iowa starter Jake Rudock to Michigan. Rudock may not be a conquering hero… but he will probably feel like one.
Malzone, the great (if vague) hope going into spring, did not look ready to challenge for the throne. I'm not on board with the arm strength complaints just yet, as those seemed to be generated by a wide receiver screen Lewis tried to jump but did not, giving up a first down on 2nd and 19 (in this game the equivalent of 2nd and Canada).
I may come around in the near future. The constant short stuff was disappointing: even his attempt at a game-saving two minute drill featured five yard hitch after five yard hitch. He did have one nice dart downfield that Chase Winovich dropped…
a linebacker linebacks even when he tight ends [Bryan Fuller]
…but that stands out as just about the only attempt Malzone made to get the ball down the field. There were a lot of doomed WR screens in there. And that two minute drill… oy. They got about 20 yards before time ran out. This is a tradition I would like to leave in the past.
One thing I'll say in Morris's favor. He's got that fade down pat. One got intercepted because Darboh didn't wall off and extend away from a defensive back and a couple more got dropped; the rest save one were completions, and I think Morris ended up leaving that one short because he got hit. The rest were on the money, in that space outside the numbers and inside the sideline where the receiver has space to play with and can detach from the DB.
That's a good location to have down, by the way. It's tough to throw and thus tough to get to for a lot of defenses. Deep outs, smash routes, corners, and those fades all end up in that general area. It's the location on the field that is the reason NFL teams go cuckoo for cocoa puffs when they find a Mallett type. Morris can buy himself a lot of leeway if that throw is as consistently accurate as it felt like on Saturday.
a lot of this [Eric Upchurch]
Run game: I don't know. Ty Isaac was all but out (he's credited for one carry I don't remember), so the Malzone team's tailback was Wyatt Shallman (12 carries, 22 yards) with spot duty from Ross Taylor-Douglas*. Shallman is more of an H-back in college and it showed.
Meanwhile, both Ace and I assumed that Derrick Green had been mostly held out with an injury of his own only to find out that he and De'Veon Smith apparently split carries down the middle. It's just that Green's 7 went for 8 yards and Smith's 7 went for 50.
Smith had a sequence early in the second half where he ran tough and his offense started getting some actual time on the field. That ended with a fumbled exchange, because of course it did. Smith never fumbled in high school and hasn't done so in college yet so that issue is probably a freshman-QB thing more than anything Smith did wrong.
If Michigan knew Isaac was going to be limited they should have swapped Green over to the Blue team to get a better feel for the competition between those guys. Either way it was a good day for Drake Johnson.
*[who has now completed his tour of all the positions you can play on a football field and can turn in his punch card for a free bag of Combos.]
The one good run. Cole gets a good push on Henry, Kugler seals away, RJS and AJ Williams battle to a stalemate, Cole gets to the second level, and Smith makes a nice out-in cut to put the other linebacker on the wrong side of the hole:
gif via Ace
If Michigan develops holes on the regular I think Smith has an advantage because his ability to grind out another two or three yards will be valuable in the Harbaughffense.
L to R: back, under threat, trying out [Bryan Fuller]
OL depth chart hints. Glasgow was back and playing center as if he had not violated his probation; the program said he'd gotten through whatever punishment the program had deployed for him. If he keeps his nose clean that should clear him to resume playing center this fall.
Meanwhile Michigan tried out Logan Tuley-Tillman as the left tackle on the blue team, bumping Ben Braden inside to guard. LTT picked up three legit holding calls; even so that implies that he's getting a serious look and Braden may move or lose his job. Erik Magnuson playing right tackle for the Maize team is another indication that the tackle jobs are not secure.
A scholarship guy who might be looking at some writing on the wall is Dan Samuelson, who was healthy enough to make the roster but IIRC did not play much, if at all. With a couple walk-ons seemingly ahead of them they might be down for the count. Bars (who I omitted from the rosters post by accident did play, at guard:
He is 62 next to Kugler [Fuller]
If you made me guess right now I'd say that Erik Magnuson is Michigan's starting right tackle this fall and that guard slot opened up by the various line shifts is the most heated competition out there. But that's firmly in wild guess territory.
Wide receivers: do we have a problem? There were a number of ugly drops, none more so than Jaron Dukes batting a ball in his facemask directly skyward for an interception. Morris zinged it with unnecessary force, yes. That's still a worst case scenario for a receiver. Dukes had another sorta drop later and doesn't seem like he'll be pushing past the established guys this year.
Elsewhere: Darboh had a drop and a fade wrested away from him but recovered late to be the Blue team offense. Going up against Dennis Norfleet significantly compromises that accomplishment, especially since most of the plays were "throw it over that guy's head," but Darboh did display strong hands and an ability to track the ball in flight in a difficult situation. Some people can do that (Junior Hemingway), and some cannot (Darryl Stonum). Darboh is in the former category. Can he get separation from the likes of Jourdan Lewis? I don't know—one downside of this format.
Receivers other than Dukes and Darboh were playing with Malzone and barely got targeted on anything notable. This year's spring hype machine, Brian Cole, was not a factor until deep into the second half; Freddy Canteen made a couple of nice catches on balls outside the frame of his body. There was not a whole lot else to talk about.
There was a notable lack of separation for receivers going up against actual defensive backs. That could be bad; it could be an indicator that the secondary is going to be as lights out as we all hope. As per usual, we'll find out abruptly in fall.
Poor Damn Norfleet. In the aftermath Harbaugh talked Norfleet up as a guy who could contribute in all three phases. Nope. The act of moving a guy his size to cornerback is waving a white flag on his career.
I mean… maybe not. Harbaugh is weird and one of the specific ways in which he is weird is his predilection for flipping guys from one side of the ball to the other. This could be a Harbaugh whim that doesn't mean much about playing time down the line. But it probably means that Norfleet is kaput. We'll always have that
punt return touchdown to seal the Maryland game inane irrelevant block in the back by someone far away from you.
BEARD. This is not Elliott, right? This is some other spectacular beard just hanging out on the sideline?
This is one Brady Hoke tradition I'm glad we're keeping.
Woody-punchin'. WH provides the 1977 Game, which Michigan wins 14-6. Woody Hayes punches the camera at about 11 minutes:
Griese could be good at the TV. Not that Griese, the other Griese. I'm now holding out vague hopes that we could be getting something a little bit like NFL Matchup out of ESPN's Thursday night CFB preview show:
Griese, Mark May and Scott Van Pelt will preview the weekend's top four or five games.
"I'm going to use game film to illustrate what the keys are to look for," Griese said in a telephone interview."That will be fun for me. I like teaching people about the game."
Griese, who led Michigan to an unbeaten 1997 season and national championship and then played in the NFL, hopes to exercise his game knowledge from years and years of digesting game film as a player.
"That's where I like to live," Griese said of being a student of football film breakdown. "From people I talk to, there's an insatiable appetite to understand the nuances of football. I don't think there's any better way to understand the game than to watch it, but to watch it in a way that's informed. I want to give people things to watch for that maybe they wouldn't have known to look for, and look at it from an insider's perspective. I want them to watch and at the end hopefully say, 'Brian alerted me to this, and that's what happened in the game.'"
I know, I know, Mark May. You can't have everything. And we have seen technically-minded guys get swallowed up by the great dumbing-down over and over again. Let me have my candle in the wind.
Lacy still extant. Message board trolls started telling folks that Alabama starting tailback Eddie Lacy had torn his ACL and was done for the year, which doesn't appear to be true. He did give his ligaments the business at an inopportune time:
Alabama starting running back Eddie Lacy sprained his ankle and a knee in Saturday's practice.
“Not a serious thing. Probably going to be day to day but probably be a little bit slow next week," coach Nick Saban told AL.com. "I think in five to six days he’ll probably be ready to go.”
And I can't find anything on the internet that confirms anything about the ACL except for the one random guy in the comment section from the mgoboard post.
The sprain was two days ago, so his availability for Michigan is not in question unless a coach is lying about an injury, which is of course totally possible. If Lacy can't go—sigh—Dee Hart, the former Michigan commit, is supposed to take over top duties.
Beard update. Mealer's beard gathers a couple of quality quotes in a Daily article, one from Jeremy Gallon, who is apparently an aficionado:
“He has a face full of straight, perfect, beard hair,” redshirt junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon told ESPN. “You don't find that everywhere. I mean, look at it, you can’t even put it into words. It's amazing.”
And the second from Navy SEALs:
When Mealer and 21 other seniors took a trip to Coronado, Calif. for a three-day leadership trip in late May to train with Navy SEALs, he was told by the SEALs that he was sporting a true “Afghanistan beard.”
“We take pride in that,”one of the SEALs told Mealer, he recalled.
But the SEAL left Mealer a stern warning: “If we find out the season comes along and you've shaved that, we’re sending the team after you," he recounted laughing.
Also receiving six points is the Daily staffer who slapped this headline on the story:
Mealer, beard battle for starting spot on offensive line
ESPN gets four for…
Wolverines push follicle limits
…by the way. M-Live gets zero for "Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan's hair is like Clay Matthews, now wants similar game." STEP YOUR BEAR/HAIR HEADLINE GAME UP, MLIVE WOOOOO
Probably the best thing to ever happen in Minnesota. Faint praise, sure, but BHGP's countdown of the top 25 Kirk Ferentz wins hits the top ten with that one time they clinched the Big Ten for the first time in twelve years and tore down the goalposts… at a road game:
There has not been a fan pwnage since that comes close.
This was dumb, but known. The guy who voted Michigan #1 defended himself by saying "I have never heard of this 'defensive line' thing you keep bringing up," but he'd announced he was voting M first a couple months ago, so, like… yeah. It even came with a picture of Ron Zook. I was going to write more about this but then I realized we were talking about a preseason poll and decided not to.
This is dumb, and was not known. Penn Live has various bits from the Posnanski book on Paterno, and one is relevant to your interests:
Following PSU’s controversial 27-25 last-second loss at Michigan in 2005, the Lions’ only blemish on an 11-1 season, Paterno was furious that officials put a few seconds back on the clock, possibly allowing Wolverines QB Chad Henne enough time to throw the game-winning TD pass on the final play. According to Posnanski, Paterno told friends he was considering pulling the Lions out of the Big Ten as a result.
Someone should check to see if there was frequently-used BWI handle that went dark six months ago or so.
The thing that makes this so ridiculous is that Paterno had literally just badgered the refs for two extra seconds on the previous drive—and got them. The one second hanging on the clock at the end of that game was just as much Paterno's as Lloyd's.
This is dumb, and also dumb. Former Spartan Jim Miller thinks there's an RGIII-Kirk Cousins quarterback controversy after Cousins tore up the second half of an NFL preseason game.
Random hype video. A little repetitive, but it serves its purpose:
What a good idea to bring this up again. Appalachian State's coach had a press conference just to talk about the Horror. What a good idea for the person who won that game. I'm just glad we'll never have to think about it aga—
/Ace shows Brian 2014 schedule
/Brian makes thirty-fifth appointment at Lacuna, Inc. since announcement of Horror II
Walking sans canes. Via Tom, here's Brock Mealer walking without assistance:
Etc.: Michigan alumni clubs sing the Victors worldwide. ESPN has a segment on Alabama linebacker play. Corn Nation joins the Big Ten division names boycott. Playoff details sound about like what you would think. UNC is going to go back and find out if their academic fraud is really as bad as all that. UMHoops recaps Mark Donnal's summer.
Liveblog update. I think we've found a much more reasonably-priced liveblog solution. We're taking a test drive at around noon Monday if you want to stop in, check it out, and ask a question about Will Campbell I can't really answer.
Hopefully this works out better than the last one. Denard is one of SI's 62 regional covers:
Hey, I wonder how Michigan did the last time they featured on one of SI's 64 regional covers?
Yipes. At least if they lose their opener this time no one is going to set the world on fire.
The Burzynski hypothesis. Joey Burzynski on his developing all-time beard:
"Facial hair goes in 150-year cycles," he says. "This was popular in the Civil War, and it should be coming back right about now I think."
And Mealer talking about… well, I'm going to pretend he's talking about their beard rivalry instead of their competition for starting LG:
"Joey's great," Mealer said. "He pushes me to get better and I hope I push him to get better."
Yeah, man, yeah. Follicles.
Wormley ACL bits. Chris Wormley's torn ACL is suboptimal but I don't think it'll be much of an issue either this year or down the road. Wormley was behind definitely Roh and probably Nate Brink, and Tom Strobel is a pretty big dude himself. If Wormley ended up being the #2 three-tech—vaguely possible—then Michigan has picked up a downgrade, but again, Matt Godin is already big enough to be an okay rotation player if Washington or Wilkins don't step up.
As for the injury itself, it's reportedly just a plain ACL tear with none of the assorted meniscus/PCL issues that are not fun. It just so happens I had a plain ol' ACL tear and am coming through rehab as we speak. Wormley will be on crutches for a month and then will start rebuilding his strength; he'll probably be limited or out for spring practice but by this time next year he should be good as new.
Meanwhile in Lansing injuries. Aaron Burbridge's rumored knee thing is now just a knee thing; he's out six weeks and will likely redshirt as a result. Meanwhile, starting LG Blake Treadwell has a stress fracture and will be out four or five weeks at least—hairline leg fractures can linger, especially when you're an unnaturally large human.
Hype that Bellomy. Russell Bellomy is coming in for a wide sampling of hype now, which makes sense what with Devin Gardner looking more and more like a wide receiver. Do you buy it? I dunno, man. Bellomy looked better than Gardner in the spring game but he was mostly dinking and dunking.
It doesn't really matter, does it? I mean, we're boned if Robinson goes down for an extended period of time either way. Carry on.
How did this happen? Tom Crean pulled a Les Miles yesterday as Indiana told 2012 recruit Ron Patterson that he wouldn't actually be enrolling at Indiana… after he had already enrolled at Indiana. He is eligible to transfer to another four year school immediately—he's eligible in the NCAA's eyes. Indiana had 14 players for 13 scholarships.
Q: isn't that against Big Ten rules? IIRC, if you don't have a spot for a player you have to explain where you're getting it before the Big Ten will allow you to go over. That reason could not have been "we will let this guy take some classes and then tell him to talk to the hand halfway through August despite being through the NCAA clearinghouse." How did Crean get this through?
Anyway, that's some dirt Indiana just did. They took a guy who was eligible, put him in classes, and then dumped him two weeks before fall classes start most places. Dwight Schrute, I am disappoint.
Etc.: Yahoo ranks Michigan #6; Pre-Snap Read goes with #18. I like reading previews just to see how many fanciful assertions each makes as someone with only a passing familiarity with the team in question tries to say stuff about guys on the line. Steve Sapardanis on Billy Taylor's shoes. Yeah, Pro Combat's a pretty dumb name for amateur non-combat. Maize and Go Blue breaks down some of Denard's mechanical issues.
The only reasonable explanation. Michigan State lost the outright title, still won a share, and collectively reacted like this…
…the likely explanation is that they were more focused on denying Michigan than their own team. That game meant very little in the grand scheme of things to MSU. It mattered to OSU and Michigan.
No, it wasn't hard to root for Ohio State yesterday. I didn't even notice.
Irrational optimism getting less irrational. Michigan has two five-star sorts in its upcoming recruiting class and the guy I'm most excited about may be the other dude. That is 6'6" shooting guard/potential Burke backup Nik Stauskas, who just outdueled Nerlens Noel, a 6'10" center who recently reclassified to 2012 and instantly became a top five player after doing so, for tournament MVP at the NEPSAC championships. He is not just a shooter($):
Nik Stauskas (Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark’s)
2012, SF, 6-6, 205
Stauskas finished with 19 points but his impact on the game far exceeded that total, as he not only scored the ball in different ways but also facilitated for others in both pick and roll as well as drive-and-kick action. While the complete versatility of Stauskas’ offensive repertoire was on full display, the most impressive part of his performance was that innate star quality that allowed him to make big play after big play at the most pivotal moments of the game.
The main thing keeping him from being another five-star type recruit is his athleticism. That shouldn't prevent him from being a shot generator at the college level—he'll enter with far more skill than Stu Douglass had, for one. I mean, look at his evil beard:
IF that does not fill you with confidence, nothing will.
Stauskas also drew raves from NERR. Meanwhile, Mitch McGary's Brewster team suffered an upset while Glenn Robinson III helped his team win their first sectional title since '97. All that and more at UMHoops.
McCray/Gedeon/Levenberry: Linebacker is the new offensive line
brief comment on the linebacker crunch. My trapper keeper with Michigan's projected recruiting class surrounded by hearts has at least two slots for linebackers, but if the third guy is going to be O'Daniel/Levenberry/Gedeon it probably has three. Sam Webb first thought this was not the case, but recently reversed course.
It should be clear why after a quick glance at the depth chart by class. With announced positional rearrangements taking Beyer and Paskorz away from the SAM spot, that is now the sparsest position on the depth chart. Insert First World Problems GIF here. Michigan has three more years of Jake Ryan, two of Cam Gordon, and nothing else. Even if you figure one of the 2012 recruits is destined to move down—something the coaches denied on Signing Day—that would seem to make a third linebacker a reasonable acquisition.
Even if that's the case now, if O'Daniel and Levenberry hew to their current plans and take their decisions to Signing Day there's a pretty good chance room opens up for one of them. The current assumption on this site is 22, but that assumes Michigan only loses two players to attrition*.
That's an extremely conservative estimate. If Michigan gets up to 24, they can take…
- Another RB
- Two more WRs
- A third TE
- Another CB
- Two DL
…and still have a couple spare scholarships. You may have spotted the assumption here: Michigan will only take one three-tech/SDE type in this class. I think that's reasonable after taking four (Wormley, Godin, Strobel, Henry) last year, especially with two 2011 recruits coming off redshirts and the possibility/likelihood that Wyatt Shallman ends up weighing 280 by his sophomore year.
When all is said and done the bet here is Michigan has a couple scholarships to play with in January and SLB is an excellent candidate to use one of those spares even if Michigan already has a couple linebackers committed. It sounds like McCray and Gedeon are about to drop; if Levenberry changes his mind and attempts to commit on his Spring Game visit he's not getting turned down.
BONUS HYPOTHETICAL EXTRA SCHOLARSHIP DISTRIBUTION DESIRE: Cornerback. Michigan… uh… has fewer blue chip guys there than anywhere else in the last two classes.
/runs around laughing maniacally
//falls in trough
/continues laughing maniacally
We do it better than Todd Graham.
*[Two more players are assumed to not be getting fifth years.]
A rule to live by. Orson just tossed this off and I'm thinking of embroidering it on a sampler or something:
Never have anything to do with a recruit who wants to sign after Signing Day.
This may be sour grapes.
June building stuff. The Washington Post highlights Cato June, new head coach at Anacostia High School in DC. He's filling his staff out with a familiar name:
June quickly turned to [retired HC Willie] Stewart, asking him to help coach the Indians next fall. He also named his close friend and Michigan roommate Walter Cross, the 1997 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year from Oxon Hill, as his offensive coordinator — the same position Cross held at Potomac (Md.) this fall.
Apparently anyone in DC can transfer without a reason, so if June gets things off the ground Anacostia could be a fertile ground for recruiting—not that Brady Hoke needs another one.
Bye-week hockey events. Michigan pulled the worst possible opponent in the second round thanks to Northern Michigan going down in flames against Bowling Green and all other higher seeds holding. They go against Notre Dame, who gave them a very tough weekend about a month ago. The Irish are 19th in the Pairwise and entering a do-or-die weekend for tourney hopes.
The key for Michigan will be watching Notre Dame's goalies play as poorly as they have in all games not against Michigan. Steven Summerhays put up a .945 in the M-ND series; for the year he's at .908.
Pairwise. Michigan's off weekend saw them move up thanks to a one-point weekend from Minnesota-Duluth that cost them the regular-season WCHA title and put their one-seed in flux. Michigan still doesn't win that comparison—I told you it would be tough—and still wont even if they sweep next weekend despite UMD drawing 12-22-2 Minnesota State. Michigan can win the comparison by sweeping ND and doing better than UMD at the conferences' respective finals… as long as UMD doesn't lose this weekend.
Weird system: you are rooting for UMD to win this weekend and get annihilated at the Final Five.
BONUS CCHA BIDS ODDITY: remember that period in the season when seven CCHA teams were destined for the tournament? That's been whittled down to four as of today. Five of the first six teams out of the tourney are CCHA teams. Western, Lake Superior, and ND can still play themselves in.
It's March, so it's time for huge Daily profiles. Luke Glendening is first up:
It was late April 2008, and the Michigan hockey assistant coach had just extended a one-year tryout offer to Luke Glendening, a forward recruit from The Hotchkiss School, a prep institution in Lakeville, Conn.
“You’re on a one-year tryout,” Powers told Glendening. “If you’re good in practice, you’ll stay.”
Powers left him with one last word of warning.
“If you have somewhere else to go, you should probably do it.”
We're living in the golden age of angles, I'm telling you.
A fantastic idea. Mike Spath proposes a new format for the NCAA tournament:
To start, the NCAA should collaborate with the NHL to form six permanent sites, rotating among the six for the four yearly locations: Boston, New York, Detroit, Minneapolis, Denver and Toronto. The Frozen Four would also rotate among those six cities instead of taking us to Tampa Bay or Washington D.C.
That would be excellent. You might want to add a Philadelphia or Pittsburgh but that's fine. No more Green Bay, St. Louis, Tampa, etc. Take the money the NHL is giving you and use it to lower ticket prices so you get a local crowd—part of the horrendous attendance in Fort Wayne was the $90 session passes—and try to fill those buildings as much as you can. If you want to "grow the sport" you can promise a local regional/FF to areas considering the addition of hockey programs.
In response to this idea, the NCAA announced the next six Frozen Fours would take place in New Zealand.
Retconned history. The New York Times has a look at how the Big East fell apart featuring this tactical error back in the day:
Tranghese tried to tell the Big East’s university presidents and athletic directors as much as early as 1989 when he was Gavitt’s assistant. Gavitt thought the conference needed to bring Penn State into the fold. Penn State was an independent at the time, looking for the security of a conference.
The membership voted no, with St. John’s, Villanova and Georgetown leading the resistance. At the end of the meeting, Gavitt asked Tranghese what he thought about the decision. “I said, ‘We will all rue the day about this decision,’ ” Tranghese said. “I understood how big football was. I didn’t understand how big it was going to become.
“At that point, the Big East had so much success in the ’80s, everybody sort of forgot about it. But I felt looking back on the history of the Big East, that was probably the biggest mistake we made.”
The conference has been regularly pillaged since and will be a nationwide amalgam of mid-major football schools minus flagship Syracuse as a result. I wonder if the Big Ten would still be ten teams today if the Big East hadn't screwed it all up in the late 80s.
Etc.: Wojo on Sunday's events. I bet a dollar Burke and Cody Zeller end up splitting the freshman of the year award. From Old Virginia takes a look at where lacrosse is headed, speculating that Michigan will eventually end up in a "Western" conference with OSU, PSU, Detroit, Air Force, and Denver. BSD recaps the PSU-M game from their perspective. Michigan engineers elect Bender to school board.
Hatch. A very long ESPN article details Austin Hatch's situation, family, and dual plane crashes. Not blockquotable but recommended.
New tunnel. Via Maize on the MB, this is the new tunnel:
No longer will there be a hard edge, but the replacement is AOK.
Prepping for Mustaches for Michigan? Thought process: "I'm old. I'm old and bumpy and retired and don't have to impress anyone anymore… anyone except the bears I wrestle in the woods of the UP."
If a wizened old dude is punting for Troy this fall you know what went down.
I see you over there not caring. Discussion of the infamous, perpetually-closing "gap" between the basketball programs of Michigan and Michigan State descended into pure mockery of the Wolverines at some point during the Amaker era. Now it's popping up again what with the season sweep and Beilein snatching Derrick Walton before Izzo could even make a pitch, and this time it might actually have some merit.
The best way to check is through the actions of the rival. We've seen plenty of sarcastic congratulations for beating Michigan State's "worst team in a decade" (sounds familiar, that) and even more predictions of doom without Darius Morris, but have we reached the point where Michigan State fans might be protesting a bit too much about a lack of concern? Yes:
The upshot for Michigan State is that when you can hold off on offering a player like Derrick Walton only to lose him to a rival and still not have a major cause for concern, it's a testament to where your program and its recruiting have risen. So, again, great recruiting week for UM. "Boo-yah" to them, but, as Pete and others have suggested, there's more prospects like Jabari Parker, Drake Harris, Tyus Jones, Gary Harris, and James Young who should help to keep Michigan State's future recruiting success a likely proposition.
The upshot for Michigan is when you're causing the instate rival to reassure itself that everything is JUST FINE, THANK YOU, you are on the verge of having one of those… what do you call them… programs.
This hasn't actually impacted State much. Michigan's recent recruiting success has had little to do with MSU. Until Walton, no one in Michigan's 2011-2013 classes is a guy Michigan State had pursued. This was largely because it was MSU storming through the Midwest to pick up early commits from Costello/Kaminski/Valentine before Michigan could get a word in edgewise.
Now the pattern is reversed, but more importantly Michigan has put together a hell of a lot of talent over the next three years without having to overcome the Spartans. Both Michigan and Michigan State can be confident in their plan A recruiting by an established coach. Michigan is no longer under anyone's thumb.
Well, maybe. Early skepticism about Marell Evans's ability to contribute after not playing much at I-AA Hampton was muted by rumors he was injured, and via TTB Evans's coach confirms:
"That [lack of playing time] was definitely due to injury...he ended up re-injuring his foot. I think he actually first got injured up there [at Michigan] before he even came down [to Hampton], so he re-aggravated the injury...it was tough on him, as it would be for any young man."
Evans is even more important now without Kellen Jones. If he can be a capable backup for Demens that might give Desmond Morgan the luxury of a redshirt.
In case there was any question. Matt Godin is a defensive tackle, not a strongside DE:
Godin is listed at 6'6" and 270 lbs, but he said he would like to get up to 290 pounds by the time he gets to Michigan.
Pencil him in at three-tech. Also, Godin is looking to double his 28 TFLs from a year ago.
It could have been marginally worse. From Scott Dochterman's epic ten-part series on the Big Ten's divisional breakdown, there were actually worse options than "Legends" and "Leaders" on the table for the Big Ten division names:
“By the time we were done, we were really down to two categories: one that sort of described our geography, Midwestern roots and one that described our characteristics and mission.”
The divisional names that centered on the Big Ten’s mission included Scholar/Athlete, Academics/Athletics and Legends/Leaders. The 115-year-old conference has a storied history of on-field success with 18 Heisman Trophy winners and more than 50 College Hall of Fame players. It also boasts former President Gerald Ford as an alum as well as thousands of political, business and civic leaders.
We should just skip the preliminaries and rename the divisions "Dungeons" and "Dragons." We are the nerds of college football.
Even if the division names weren't going to be Bo or Woody as they obviously should have been I would have preferred Kinnick/Paterno or Stagg/Grange even if Michigan didn't feature because we would at least seem less likely to get our lunch money stolen.
(Dochterman HT: BHGP.)
All this and NBA bloodlines. Glenn Robinson III displays a variety of dunks:
BONUS THING I NEVER POSTED FROM FOREVER AGO:
Maybe he's Tim Hardaway's son, too. For a guy mostly known as a shooter Nick Stauskas can break an ankle or two:
Highlight video disclaimers apply but the sheer variety of drives there is encouraging. Stauskas can go left or right, deploys a crossover somewhere between effective and sick depending on its success rate outside highlights, and can spin his way to the bucket. He appears to favor his right hand to finish but there are a couple of nice baskets with his left in there, too. I even like the music.
Add 6'6" and three-point shooting and that's a nice pickup to go with Glenn Robinson III, who's been garnering steady praise of his own this AAU season. If Beilein can weather Darius Morris's exit the talent pipeline is in place to rip off a run of NCAA appearances… and maybe more. [ed: and then Beilein put together his 2013 class in about a month.]
BONUS FROM FOREVER AGO II:
King Eckstein. I made a joke about this Zack Novak article in the sidebar yesterday but managed to miss this spectacularly clichéd description of Chesterton's favorite son:
Novak, who helped establish a hustling, scrappy work ethic on a team that lacked grit and toughness, has played in 100 games, averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.
That checks all the boxes, doesn't it? I guess he could have been described as "heady."
EVEN MORE NEWS FROM FOREVER AGO. If you missed it the first time around, a member of the Event Staff posted highlights from their annual meeting on the board about two seconds before I left for France. Items of interest to me:
The Stadium is no longer open to the public on non game days. This has been the during renovations but is now permanent policy. Tours can be arranged through the Athletic Dept.
Boo. I've been to the Stadium on non-gamedays a few times and it's always been fun, with kids and parents running around, trying to kick field goals, etc.
DB says night game is a test and it's for the fans and players. A bad experience would make this the only night game. Good experience = a night game per year.
If you hate night games you can do your part to never have them again by getting arrested.
DB confirms: design completed for filling out bleachers to top of scoreboard in south end. Capacity will raise to 120,000. Opponent tickets will be up at top next to scoreboard.
That latter bit is pure evil, or at least would be if the video board opposite you wasn't big enough to see. I'm a little skeptical they can sell 120k tickets consistently as long as the OSU/ND/Nebraska games are all home or away in the same season (and they refuse to schedule anyone interesting other than ND).
No number retirement due to large squads and number sharing issues.
Straws and lids are back
Spring games don't lend themselves to narratives, so how about some bullet points? Bullet points.
Media explosion. If you missed it, there's a torrent. This would be a good moment to consider how vastly different the world is now than it was five years ago. There is a torrent of Michigan's spring game.
If you don't want to bother with that, four minutes of highlights from the Big Ten Network:
Also, Brandon Minor and his sweet beard talk to Shireen Saski: "that's like a real quarterback." Other interviews:
Photo galleries exist from the Free Press, Detroit News, Ann Arbor News, and various places on flickr: user dennisdolan3, the Daily's photostream, user snotzzz73, and Alex Karpowitsch. MVictors has photos of the locker room if you skipped the Line That Never Ends. Notice the U in "honour." Weird. Also from MVictors are alumni game photos.
Pleasantries dispensed, away we go:
Most encouraging development: The general existence of Tate Forcier. Forcier chucked one pass into a linebacker's pads but other than that was worlds better than anything Michigan's seen at quarterback since Lloyd Carr rode out of the Citrus Bowl on the shoulders of his team. Forcier was as advertised: quick and scrambly in the pocket, accurate on the run, worryingly small, &c.
He's not going to be great but his slipperiness and ability to operate out of a moving pocket—which should simplify reads, mitigate whatever issues his lack of height brings, and prevent his head from being taken off—should allow him to be effective without having total command of the playbook. Early competence beckons with the possibility for more down the road.
As always, you take intrasquad scrimmages seriously at your peril, but let's discount the effect of the defense and just look at the opportunities presented:
- Roy Roundtree bursts open deep and Forcier hits him between the numbers for a touchdown.
- Roundtree works free on a slant, upon which Forcier hits him between the numbers, on time.
- Forcier throws an okay fade to Mathews, which he brings down.
There was one overthrown screen and the shoulda-been interception, but other than that he was dead on. Unofficial stats had him 11/14 for 130 or so yards. That's worlds different from last year's spring game, in which both quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions to legends like Artis Chambers and everyone started panicking in earnest about what fall would bring. Forcier's first excursion as Michigan's quarterback could not have been more reassuring.
The final word goes to Greg Mathews:
"The fans were cheering his name before the game, and I said, 'Don't get nervous, Tate,' and he said, 'I'm not nervous. There's some times he gets confused out there, but he's a high school senior. But his poise is definitely what stands out about him. His command when we huddle up, or on the sideline, he's focused in practices instead of goofing around."
A close second most encouraging development: Insert praise about Lloyd Carr here but, man, am I glad Rodriguez has done a 180 on the spring game. That felt like an event. It was fun, and though the 50k reported seemed a little generous—I and most around me thought it was 40k—it was probably about four times the number who attended Carr's last spring game. The line to see the locker room snaked all the way around Crisler and might have impeded traffic on Main.
Least encouraging development: Stevie Brown put a stake through the now annual "this is Stevie's year!" meme by getting juked out his jock by the Coner. Coner has mad flow, and since he was a 6'5" option QB with all the mobility of John Navarre in high school he must have a wicked option fake, but… yeesh, man. At least we're going into the fall with our eyes open.
A close second least encouraging development: the second-team offense, led by the aforementioned Coner, drove the field for touchdowns a couple times despite Cone amply demonstrating why anyone who talks about him starts his paragraph with "Cone is a terrific human being." They did this against the first team defense. Yerk.
This isn't totally unexpected. When the second team running backs are Grady and Brown and Vincent Smith and the second team defensive line includes 5'7", 249 pound Dominic Ware, the talent is not exactly balanced. Once Van Bergen went out with a knee injury (it's minor; six weeks and he'll be fine) the first team defense was missing four sure starters to injury (RVB, Warren, Martin, and Mouton) and using another sparingly to prevent injury (Brandon Graham), putting further pressure on that lack of depth. Said lack of depth is severe, though, and Michigan looks like it will be facing huge dropoffs from the first to second team if they can't remain unusually healthy next year.
What it is. Staying with the defense, the projection about the new scheme was that it would look like a 4-3 with a standup defensive end, and this was for the most part true. Like the spread 'n' shred they're going to look pretty limited early, what with the lack of talent and the missing starters and the new alignment, but GSimmons picked out even, under, and 3-4 fronts even this early. Also picked out: very bad linebacker play from walk-ons.
Obviously. Martavious Odoms fumbled Michigan's first punt return attempt of 2009.
Ok, Carlos, now it's time to pull a hamstring. Tantalize us one last time, Carlos Brown. For old time's sake.
I was going to fret about the defense on this play and then I was like "oh those guys are all walk-ons." So, yeah, if walk-ons play they will not be good. This lesson you have already burned into your brain, so we'll skip the rehash.
A first depth chart bitch of the year. Junior Hemingway, stuck on the second team, had ample opportunity to prove he has nice body control and hands by flagging down a number of Coner ducks. Meanwhile, Darryl Stonum made one spectacular leaping grab… and dropped a screen right in his hands. I'm betting Hemingway emerges as the #2 outside receiver early.
As long as we're on receiver depth chart stuff: Terrance Robinson was also as advertised, quick but with a significant case of the dropsies. Odoms didn't feature much, leaving much of the work in the slot to Roy Roundtree, who looked excellent, sure handed and good with his routes. His rep is as a fearless possession receiver lacking in the speed, so I don't know if we'll see a whole lot of deep seams unless he has the good fortune to be going up against walk-ons in Big Ten play, but a reliable receiver is a reliable receiver.
Also, if Roundtree doesn't already have a nickname…
Roundtree had difficulty focusing on passes this Spring because he had trouble seeing the ball. The U-M staff ordered him contact lenses, which arrived just in time for the spring game. Roy put them in and then put on a show for the Michigan faithful, making big plays and catching a handful of touchdown passes, including a big 60-yard touchdown from Forcier.
"All Spring ball my coaches have been asking me when I'll get my contacts, when I'll get my contacts," laughed Roundtree. "I got my contacts today. I couldn't see the long balls in practice, but today I saw them just fine."
…he should be "Wild Thing". Rodriguez on this impossibility:
"In the first half of the spring, he was struggling catching some balls, and then we looked at him, and he'd squint at you," Rodriguez said Saturday.
"That was the first sign, 'You'd better get your eyes checked.' The doctor said he didn't know how he was walking a straight line."
How does a guy go an entire year at Michigan before anyone realizes he can't see? This is symptomatic of the chaos that went on last year. Deeply symptomatic.
Either that or Roundtree was afraid Carson Butler would give him a wedgie and leave him hanging on a bathroom hook.
Overly-optimistic post-spring chatter. (HT: Dr. Saturday.) I didn't watch Mark Huyge enough to confirm this for myself—and, honestly, I'm an amateur who needs to go over running plays a half-dozen times before I can form an opinion on who did what right—but the general opinion on his play was hugely (HA!) positive. Even without the benefit of tape review I can say this: if Huyge has surged in front of Perry Dorrestein, who was functional last year, and the much-hyped Patrick Omameh that bodes well for his future and for Michigan's line.
With the influx of the redshirt freshmen, maturation of John Ferrara, and healthy return of Huyge there are now a lot of lottery tickets on the line and chances are the guy who lays claim to the right tackle spot is going to be pretty good, at least eventually. This is a situation more akin to Chad Henne beating out Clayton Richard and Matt Gutierrez (sort of; labrum and all that) than Nick Sheridan beating out Steven Threet and No One.
Vincent Smith, on the other hand, was pretty easy to evaluate since he's a running back. He looked small and darty, tougher to tackle than you might imagine but not an instant impact sort. Smith has flashed Mike Hart's crazy ability to defy tackling in practice; too bad he didn't have some crazy spinning run for the crowd to ooh and aw at.
Vlad Emilien is the safety taking a poor angle and trailing Carlos Brown all the way to the endzone in the video above, but, again, people seem highly encouraged by his play. I've had Michigan safety skepticism beaten into me by Angry Michigan Safety Hating God and will remain skeptical until such time as I can't anymore.
Walk-on quarterback Jack Kennedy is so obscure that he sported a regular contact jersey and was used as cannon fodder repeatedly, but… uh… he looked way better than Cone.
The incoming and signed. Denard Robinson made his way up to check out the competition:
"I came up just for the spring game," Robinson said. "I wanted to see the game and the fans and stuff. It's good. It's got me speechless."
That article has an outstandingly FAKE 40 time for Robinson: 4.38. Justin Turner, Isaiah Bell, and Brendan Gibbons also stopped by to see the festivities.
The incoming but unsigned. This will get more coverage tomorrow in Tuesday Recruitin', but the recruiting weekend was a successful one. Thumping Texas back Stephen Hopkins committed. Four star Miami offensive lineman Torrian Wilson left saying Michigan was his leader. So did FL S Marvin Robinson. Unconfirmed chatter on MI CB Dior Mathis and—surprise!—presumed Spartan and MI RB Austin White was also highly positive.
Also hanging around was another Forcier: Jason, MGoBlog's favorite backup quarterback of all time. He's graduating from Stanford and plans to enroll in grad school at Michigan. Presumably he'll try to get on the football team, but he's only got one year of eligibility left and will have to jump through—or, more accurately, create—the proper NCAA hoops if he's going to be able to participate. If you recall Ryan Mundy's immediate playing time after his fifth-year transfer to West Virginia, also recall that the NCAA immediately repealed that rule after Florida pirated one of Utah's starting cornerbacks. He'll have to apply for some super secret waiver, which I don't think he'll get.