it's a major award
The lamentation of your women.
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He loves it. The lamentation.
All American. I'm pleasantly surprised that both recruiting networks named Brandon Graham to their All-America teams after he was snubbed by the first of the infinite lists that came out—FWAA or something. Graham and Zoltan the Inconceivable also feature on the AP's second team, which is nice. Zoltan got the second team nod at Scout, too.
This Drew Butler kid who stole first team honors and the Ray Guy award… well… probably deserved it. Before you stone me to death—a fate I willingly accept for such heresy—please let me note that Butler averaged almost 49(!) yards a kick and Georgia led the country with a 42.8 yard net average.
Expansion bits. Various notes and errata on possible expansion:
- Sentiment is running strongly against a move to the Big Ten at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician with 56% opposed to a move versus just 19% in favor. In the comments the most commonly cited reason is John Boeheim, who is credited with assembling the Big East with his bare hands and would instantly quit if he had to play in a different sandbox.
- BHGP points out that the BFD with the CIC is post-grad Research I stuff, not necessarily undergraduate education, which Big Ten schools are supposed to look at as a necessary evil.
- Missouri's chancellor said MU would "listen" to the Big Ten should it come calling, so they will at least flirt with a Big 12 departure.
The useful comment thread from the Grid of Judgment has these additional bits of information:
- Pitt's got a monster endowment: $2.334 billion, according to unnecessarily precise poster Don. That's more than anyone in the league except Northwestern and Michigan.
- Multiple posters suggest that Nebraska is seriously pissed off you guys about Texas's reign as supreme unquestioned ruler of the Big 12 and could really give a crap about the rest of the league save for Colorado. Oklahoma already rotates off their schedule.
- Rutgers is apparently a mediocre school on the decline, which explains why there are so many kids from Jersey at Michigan.
And any thread on expansion comes with an increasingly preposterous series of candidate schools that make sense in no way whatsoever: Texas A&M, TCU, Toronto, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Auburn, Rice—seriously, someone suggested Rice—etc.
Virginia Tech seems plausible at first blush but after UVA fought tooth and nail to get them into the ACC lest the governor get out his pimp hand a jump to the Big Ten seems wildly improbable. They would probably be more willing to jump than any other ACC team since they could give a crap about basketball and don't have longstanding rivalries with anyone in the league. Last time I brought this up I mentioned Boston College as a crazy off-board option, and I guess they remain one. They bring a huge market with them but one that is slightly busy with other things, and they don't fit the Big Ten's huge public research university model. They would get tripped up by the Research One thing.
Pitt still looks like the strongest candidate by far. For people wondering about money, remember that Pitt can be slightly less marketable than the Big Ten average—which I don't think they are given their currently monstrous basketball program—and still be a major asset because of the championship game and increased profitability from the Big Ten Network.
As far as divisions go, there's no way to make them work geographically without turning into a version of the Big 12 on steroids by chucking Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State into the same division. You also can't keep all the rivalries together if Pitt is indeed the pick. You try to split this into six team divisions:
Can't be done without murdering one traditional rivalry or the entire point of putting Pitt in the conference. Missouri is much easier, since you just throw them in with Illinois and Northwestern and put them in the Michigan pod.
I'd prefer an expanded status quo with a ninth conference game, guaranteed rivalry pairs, and a couple byes but apparently you have to have two divisions to have a title game, which is inane but true.
Heismens of all varieties. So the actual Heisman went to a good running back on an undefeated team instead of, you know, the best player in the country. Or even the best running back. A lot of this can be ascribed to the Heisman's bloated list of voters and their lack of accountability. I mean, seriously, here's a guy with a Heisman vote whose ballot read Ingram, Tebow, McCoy:
I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh’s game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights.
I'm impressed that this guy managed to spin his ignorance into a principled stance against voting "based on highlights" instead of taking a principled stand against voting based on the three football games he saw this year.
So hurrah for the Sports Blog Heisman coming out approximately correct by handing Toby Gerhart the trophy over Ndamukong Suh by one point. Here's guessing that everyone who voted saw Gerhart and Suh for at least one game. Not that bloggers are perfect. A few years ago when Rakes of Mallow was running its now-defunct version of the same thing, the winner was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, which ugh.
Of course. Here's Fielding Yost curling in a silly hat:
Etc.: Corwin Brown is out at Notre Dame. If there is an opening on the coaching staff, could he fill it? He doesn't coach LBs, unfortunately, but has slayed on the recruiting trail. Wonk asks "What Happened to Michigan?"
Personnel notes: Everyone gets in. One correction from Monday's game column: the second-string center in this game was Tim McAvoy, not Rocko Khoury.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel||Run||Zone read stretch||Shaw||2|
|Moosman(-1) beaten down the line, partially because Schilling didn't stay to help any; a cutback is not possible with the backside DE crashing down and Shaw ends up plowing into the guy Moosman is escorting down the line, falling forward for a couple.|
|O43||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Nickel||Pass||Rollout hitch||Mathews||14|
|Wide open to the point where this five yard hitch can get turned up for nine more. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O29||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||2|
|Huyge(-1) driven back by the DSU DT right into the path of Shaw, who slows up as a result, actually impacting the DT a yard in the backfield. He cant make a one-armed tackle, though, and Shaw squirts outside where an unblocked linebacker grabs him by the feet.|
|O27||2||8||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Odoms||25|
|Extremely open with the DSU LB lined up a good two yards inside of Odoms and slow to react to the bubble. He watches the exchange, only getting out on Odoms when Forcier pulls up to throw, by which point it's way too late. Despite the CB forcing the play inside Odoms can zip between him and the LB all the way down to the 1. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Goal line||Run||Iso||Shaw||2|
|Yay we blew a I-AA team off the ball. Good YAC by Shaw, though.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||7|
|This isn't that hard against a shifted line: kick the DE out, double the DT, shoot the RB at the linebacker right over the hole, and use Robinson's speed to pick up good yardage. Both guys blocking the playside DT peel off to attempt a block on a blitzing linebacker who's just running himself out of the play, allowing that guy to come off his block and tackle after 6-7.|
|M35||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone counter dive||Shaw||8|
|Backside DE, who looks like a sixth grader, gets kicked out, one LB runs up for contain and the other gets blocked, and Shaw makes a sharp cut into the hole we all know and love. Linebackers do recover to hold it down a bit.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB zone stretch||Robinson||20|
|This actually gets strung out pretty well by DSU, with the playside DE fighting off Ortmann's block and forcing Robinson wider than he'd like. By the time he cuts up there are three DSU guys in the area and apparently no room, but Robinson manages to squeeze through a hole that doesn't even appear to be there and breaks into the secondary.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Edge pitch||Shaw||16|
|One deep safety and an outside corner playing ten yards off the line with an OLB over Grady-19. That guy makes the mistake of trying to go inside of Grady, giving up the edge, but this was to the wide side of the field and there was no support so even if he tries to fight through the Grady block he's probably not going to have much luck.|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||11|
|DSUs DTs are headed straight upfield. One is easily sealed by Schilling(+1) the other beats Moosman(-1), leaving that guy attempting to charge down Smith. He can't, and there's a bunch of room because a DE's been blown downfield and Grady kicked out the linebacker to that side. Smith can just run outside of the DT.|
|O10||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Robinson||4|
|Michigan doubles and down-blocks the playside DT, pulling Schilling around to act as a lead blocker as Smith heads outside. The double on the DT gets him blown off the ball but he eventually splits it, throwing Schilling to the ground and tackling Robinson after a moderate gain.|
|O6||2||G||Shotgun 2-back TE||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||6|
|This one goes outside the tackle as a textbook scoop block from Dorrestein(+1) and Huyge(+1) seals the playside DE and gets Dorrestein out on the MLB. Both those guys get blocked, the OLB to the playside gets taken out by Grady, and it's a walk-in touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown,14-0, 8 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Shaw||11|
|DSU slanting into the play, driving Moosman and Ortmann back, getting playside of them and forcing a cutback. Ortmann does do a good job of sticking with the block and getting enough push to help with the cutback. The threat of Robinson holds one linebacker outside and he can't make a diving tackle from behind. Shaw spins through another tackle attempt and picks up good yardage.|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB zone stretch||Robinson||8|
|Excellent block by Moosman(+1) gets the playside DT sealed; Shaw sees the lane and cuts up inside to provide a block, which isn't great; Robinson hops behind it without losing much speed at all. He takes a hit from the DT, who's given up seven yards of field position, and the ball is raked free.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 4 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA Deep Seam||Grady||38|
|Play action fake sucks up the safety ridiculously and gives Grady huge room. Robinson finds him for the touchdown. The throw is short and if I hadn't seen Robinson leave a couple other balls like this short to poor effect I might give him credit for just making sure the ball is complete. I have, though, so I think he just underthrew it. It's not too bad, though, and it's a deep throw, so: (CA,3, protection 1/1)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-0, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M13||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||13|
|Playside DE steps inside, which allows Dorrestein to engage him and double with help from Huyge, blowing him way off the ball and giving Smith an easy lane to dart into. Webb kicks out another linebacker, turning it into first down yardage.|
|M26||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Smith||11|
|Moosman(+1) gets enough of the playside DT to provide a tough reach block; Smith darts up through a smallish crease between Moosman and Dorrestein. Webb and Huyge have second level blocks, leaving Smith one-on-one with a closing safety in a phonebooth; Smith lowers his shoulder and pops him, falling forward. Tough little guy.|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 2TE Twins||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||8|
|This is where I think Smith has some top-end ability. The backside DSU DT has split a double and gotten playside of Dorrestein(-1), which should jam the play up. Smith just hops around the mess, hardly breaking stride or slowing, and manages to zip up through a hole before the unblocked backside DE can close it down. That change of direction is stellar.|
|M45||2||2||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||42|
|Virtual replay of the last play down to the backside DSU DT zipping inside and Smith smoothly cutting past it before the backside DE can react. This time a crushing downfield block by Webb(+1) has opened the corner and Smith is off to the races. He does not win the races. It's possible he's just tired. Look at this drive.|
|O17||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Penalty||False start||Schilling||-5|
|O22||1||15||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout hitch||Stonum||19|
|Corner to the side where the play is is headed for the parking lot, just amazingly far off the ball. Robinson's a tad late with the throw but it gets there and accurately; it's got some zip, too, allowing Stonum to turn it upfield in the cavernous space afforded and head for first and goal. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O3||1||G||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||-1|
|Michigan breaks this bad boy out, as discussed yesterday, but to no effect because Smith does not get the playcall. He heads to the wrong side of Robinson, which makes for an awkward handoff, and runs right into the space the pulling guard vacated. Smith instantly pulled for Shaw.|
|O4||2||G||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Rollout cross||Roundtree||Inc|
|Great block by Grady on the edge to stone a blitzer as Michigan goes play action waggle. Robinson uses the time afforded by Grady to find Roundtree breaking open at the back of the endzone; the throw is a little behind and low, forcing Roundtree to go down and dig it out. Catchable, but unnecessarily difficult; Roundtree can't bring it in. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O4||3||G||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB zone stretch||Robinson||4|
|Robinson darts up in a crease between Dorrestein(+1) and lead blocker Shaw for a short touchdown. Rodriguez ticked at Shaw for something.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-0, 12 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M40||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Grady||5|
|Schilling(-1) and Moosman(-1) fail to seal the playside DT on an attempted double, so Grady has little choice but to slam it up into him. They meet at the LOS, are joined by another Hornet, and Grady manages to grind forward for five yards.|
|M45||2||5||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||9|
|Down-block double from Moosman and Huyge does get the playside DT blown out of this hole; Huyge(+1) then disconnects to take out one linebacker; Grady cracks the other. Robinson zips through the hole and ends up grinding a pile forward. Grady, okay, but man. When Robinson's doing that you've got issues.|
|O44||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Grady||9|
|Great cut block by Ortmann gets the backside DT to the ground and opens up a huge cutback lane as Koger blocks the WLB down the line and out of the hole and DSU flows too fast to the edge of the field. Grady cuts it behind, gets grabbed, and does his usual YAC thing.|
|O35||2||1||I-Form Twins||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Grady||7|
|Ortmann and Schilling down block and obliterate the playside DT; Koger kicks out the DE. Huyge pulls around but has no one to block because both DSU linebackers follow the FB outside. A filling safety brings Grady down.|
|O28||1||10||Ace||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Pass||Waggle TE Post||Webb||28|
|Play action fake again sucks up DSU almost wholly, leaving Webb in a sea of green wondering where everyone else is. He is Moeaki open. Robinson pulls up late and has a guy in his face, so the throw is harried and way way short. Coverage is so bad that it doesn't matter though. Robinson's problem on these is not seeing stuff fast enough, I think. (MA, 3, protection N/A)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-0, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M17||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Grady||26|
|Sheridan in. Okay: so. I've been half-assing it so far and now this is like 3/4ths assing it. Michigan runs a simple iso play that should be good for a few but for a corner shooting too far inside and letting Grady outside of the leverage, turning like four into a big play.|
|M43||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone stretch||Moosman||6|
|Moosman(+1) seals away the playside DT and Schilling(+1) gets a very good second level block, springing Grady into the secondary. Quick fill from the safety and Grady's tendency to run right into filling safeties hold it down.|
|M49||2||4||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Iso||Grady||5|
|Plowing ahead; decent filling from DSU holds it down, somewhat,|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Hitch||Stokes||9|
|Open, decent YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O37||2||1||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Grady(19)||9|
|A crappy throw Grady has to dig out; Webb got beat to the outside here but Grady(+1) makes that guy miss and zips outside the interior pursuit for a good gain. (MA, 2, screen)|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||1|
|Huyge(-1) gets pushed into the backfield and basically defeated by the DSU DT, who's playing pretty well here. Smith can't run to the outside of him because the MLB has shot up through the gap developing between the playside guy and the DE, so he has to slow up, spinning through the MLB's arm tackle attempt and getting a yard out of nothing.|
|O27||2||9||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA deep hitch||Savoy||20|
|Man, when Nick Sheridan surveys, finds nothing, starts rolling out, is pursued by a DE who can't catch him, and finds a wide open WR, you are not good. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)|
|O7||1||G||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Grady(24)||7|
|McColgan, the backup FB—where is Moundros?--whiffs on a blitzing LB, which gets him on on Grady; Grady makes him miss, then jukes another guy, then scores. See above about not good.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-0, 1 min 2nd Q. Last drive of half not charted. Shaw has a couple of nice runs. Charting stops here since the second team OL plays the entire second half. I'll chart certain plays of interest for the rest of the game.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M49||`1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||PA TE cross||Moore||16|
|Play action on which Brandon Moore just sort of drifts into a hole in the zone, making his first catch as a Wolverine. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|O13||2||3||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Smith||7|
|More top end savior faire from Smith; just grabbing this for the smooth cut again.|
|M8||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Outside zone||Smith||15|
|Check the juke on the LB. Sweet.|
|M22||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Smith||35|
|McAvoy gets blown back but Smith makes the most of it, bouncing off the problems and zipping upfield thanks to a crushing block from Mealer.|
|CONESTRAVAGANZA I: Stokes runs a hitch route at the sticks that Cone finds, but he leaves it short and forces Stokes to dig it out. (MA, 2, protection 2/2) Called back because Stoke lined up on the LOS.|
|M22||2||16||Shotgun 2-back||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Skinny post||Savoy||19|
|CONESTRAVAGANZA II: straight dropback, Cone ZINGS it to a seriously covered Savoy over the outstretched arm of a linebacker. Dude is all over Savoy's back but he reels it in anyway. That's right: (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||2||0||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read stretch||Cox||57|
|McAvoy gets a seal of sorts and Ferrara manages to get a charging linebacker, so there's a small crease that Cox explodes into, easily outrunning the DSU safety for a touchdown.|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Bubble screen||Reyes||4|
|CONE... okay he just throws a bubble. (CA, 3, screen)|
|O45||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Seam||Reyes||39|
|CONESTRAVAGANZA III: Dang, man. Reyes runs a seam route past his LB cover guy, doesn't get much separation, and then Cone just drops it in as perfectly as you can. I'm not fudging this it all: (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
So, um, charts?
(Hennechart legend; MA is "marginal", screen results are in parens.)
|Notre Dame||5||20 (6)||2||4||3||3||-||4|
|Eastern Michigan||1||8 (2)||1||1 (1)||1||4 (1)||-||-|
|Indiana||3||13 (3)||1 (1)||2||5||3||-||2|
|Michigan State||5||19 (3)||2||4||3||3||-||5|
|Delaware State||-||2 (1)||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Eastern Michigan||-||1||1 (1)||2 (1)||-||-||-||-|
I'd love to see some Hennechart visualization of those babies.
Wait, why are you providing charts for this one but not the other one?
Offense has a number of defense-independent things. Did you throw the ball in the right place? To an open guy? Did said guy catch it? Etc. It's slightly useful to have the numbers. The defense numbers are not useful at all.
Also, several readers threatened terrible things if I didn't provide this:
DAVID "FEBREZE" CONE, AKA CONER
Dang, son, do work:
Not exactly a hugely challenging game but they didn't screw up. Roundtree's incompletion was a borderline 1/2.
And a very teeny protection metric:
PROTECTION METRIC: 10/10.
As they say, nothing to see here.
Anything of note on this side of the ball?
Yeah, some stuff. It's a lot easier to pick out interesting plays against overmatched opponents when Michigan is running the ball lots. The good:
- Vincent Smith showed top-end shiftiness and looks like he'll be a solid back. I compared him to Mike Hart on Monday, and think that remains a pretty good comparison. He's also got a little Noel Devine in him; the way he darts through crevices and effortlessly shifts around traffic is reminiscent of the WVU star. He appears to lack Devine's fifth—or eighth—gear, but he's delivered more pop to defenders in one game than Devine has in three years. He'll be something less than a star but he can be very productive.
- Denard Robinson completed some passes yay.
- And, of course: CONER.
- Robinson left both touchdown passes well short. Against other teams those may have been incompletions or worse. He also left a ball to Robinson well short, turning an easy touchdown into a drop. He didn't do much to dispel the idea of him as a one-trick pony. Pretty good trick, though.
- I was a little bothered by how often Delaware State DTs, especially #95 Tyron Hurst, beat Michigan OL on stretch blocking, forcing those smooth backside cuts from Smith. Part of that could be Michigan being very predictable and DSU selling out to contain the stretch, but I didn't think the interior OL had a great day.
Dude. 63 points, why ask that question?
I always ask it.
Yeah, well, maybe you need to re-evaluate your life some.
Don't go all sanctionious on me here. We've had enough of that for one week.
What does it mean for Penn State, and the future?
Not much other than the tailback position should be in good hands for the next few years.
Darius Morris had already picked up a 40 of 40 on his second dunk, which you can also see at Dylan's site, but the Novak dunk ended with various members of the women's team—who were the judges—attempting to give him all of their score placards. So he got like 160 points. Nice points, Novak.
I had to duck out before the scrimmages, so I don't have much else to add about the event. It was worth having and I hope Michigan continues it, though next time maybe the introductions can go much, much quicker?
SIDE NOTE: Hey, remember this from the Iowa recap?
This disaster was played incessantly over the PA, and we, not being 14-year-old-girls, didn't know what it was. Friend of Blog joked that it was probably a Jonas Brothers song, and we laughed, and then we thought to ourselves IS that a Jonas Brothers song? It turns out no, but it's by the Black Eyed Peas, which is 95% as emasculating. Hell, this imeem playlist by one Shelby Veppert, who—no foolies—is a 19-year old from Columbus who lists Nickelback(!!!) as one of her favorite bands, has the song sandwiched between two Jonas Brothers songs. If Michigan Stadium ever has anything that can be considered a sort of theme song I'm going to buy out Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork, and if it's ever something as terrifyingly fey as that thing, I'll storm the castle myself.
Guess what fey, awful disaster of a song was used for the pre-festivities hype video? I've got my torch. Who's coming with me as we storm the guy in the Michigan marketing department who picks the music, find out he's Seth Green's character from
Ten Things I Hate About You Can't Hardly Wait, and mail him to a former Soviet republic? Anybody?
TWIS addendum. Aaaaargh. I thought I had plenty of Ohio State material ("It's not easy being an Ohio State fan. No wonder we're a drunken army of idiots.") for This Week In Schadenfreude, and I did, but if I had checked BHGP before I threw it to my editor I would have included this guy four or five times:
Seriously. Seriously: watch this bucktard. Seriously. He challenges Pryor to a fight. Call Pryor whatever you want—Darko in cleats, arm punter, murder condoner, guy with emotional problems—but there is no way he can't beat the holy hell out of a skinny white dude with a soul patch. And that's not even considering Eleven Warriors' withering Purdue recap:
I mentioned it last week and feel compelled to bring it up again: Could it be that Pryor simply doesn’t have the necessary mental skills to play QB at the major college level? All we hear is how hard he works in the film room blah blah blah but the end result thus far is a QB just as inconsistent in all phases of the game as last year.
The new wrinkle this week to the TP-Trainwreck was of course the ridiculous comments he made about the offense being ready to explode. Uh, I suppose he meant implode. Here’s a sampling of his mind-numbing handiwork yesterday. It’s like deja vu all over again. And I’m supposed to be happy he’s here for another 2.5 years?
Holy crap, man. I've been bringing up Ohio State's gaping backup QB hole for a year and a half now, but the hope I held out for an OSU implosion at the position always assumed the disaster would befall OSU in the event of an injury to DiC. This sort of meltdown was a distant possibility harbored in the deepest hearts of Michigan fans, prevented from surfacing because merely speaking the hope would result in Pryor going all Troy Smith on Michigan.
…Which is still a possibility. At this point in Smith's sophomore year he was running for more yards than he passed for and looking a lot like Denard Robinson does right now minus the world-class speed. I'm not ready to bury Pryor yet.
Inside-outside. I already pulled out Chris Brown's explanation of the differences between the inside and outside zone plays last week, but he's expanded his thinking into a full post on his home site that's worth checking out if you're into that sort of thing. I'll try to use that information going forward, though the way Brown describes it the differences are so subtle it might be hard to determine what's what.
One coaching point people have offered up this year during my attempts to discern one play from the other: the thing you want to look at is the alignment of the QB relative to the RB. If they're about even, that's going to be a stretch play. If the QB is a yard or so in front of the tailback, that's usually because the RB's angle is going to be more upfield because the play is an inside zone or other quick-hitting run that aims to punish the opponent for overpursuing on the stretch. It's sort of like a mini version of the pistol, if that makes sense.
A series of high-level discussions took place this summer about the creation of a new men's hockey league featuring the five Big Ten Conference members that sponsor the sport.
But despite support for the endeavor from multiple schools, including the University of Wisconsin, the concept failed to extend beyond the exploratory stage.
Minnesota was against it, Ohio State and Wisconsin for, it and Michigan and Michigan State "brought open minds" to the summer talks, whatever that means.
There are some obvious problems with a Big Ten Hockey conference. With only five teams sponsoring the sport, a BTHC would fall one short of the minimum necessary to garner an NCAA auto-bid (not that the schools in the conference would need one), and one short of conference requirements to sponsor a sport. Unless the prospect of a Big Ten conference would spur Penn State or Illinois to go varsity, it's a non-starter. And as discussed here whenever the topic comes up, Minnesota is the beating heart of the WCHA and is loathe to give up longtime rivalries against a zillion instate schools and, most importantly, North Dakota.
On the other hand, a Big Ten conference would break the current logjam that sees college hockey virtually unable to expand because each conference is full. The remainder of the WCHA would be a highly viable conference, with UND, CC, and Denver all national powers and teams like UMD, SCSU, and even Minnesota-Mankato tourney contenders on a regular basis. Add in UNO with Dean Blais and that's still a strong conference. A CCHA without Michigan and Michigan State would be considerably more rickety, but the recent emergence of Miami and Notre Dame as powers gives the league something to stand on, and a small Big Ten conference would provide a ton of nonconference opportunities for the departed programs to throw around to local schools.
If a Big Ten hockey conference is not in the cards, another crazy move might be:
Multiple college hockey sources said UW officials responded to the slowing of the talks by making it known they would consider moving to the CCHA.
Oh no, Corso!
Frazier acknowledged that UW would be a "jewel'' for the CCHA, but he denied such rhetoric, saying, "We're loyal to the WCHA."
…Asked about the notion, Alvarez said men's coach Mike Eaves wasn't interested in changing leagues. "If Mike's not interested, I'm not interested,'' Alvarez said. "I'd be interested in other things. As I've said before, regionalizing hockey makes sense.''
My head is spinning here.
“I was trying to get in at wideout, too, to be honest, but it didn’t work,” Cone said. “I took a couple (reps in practice) a couple weeks ago just because I’m tall, but they gotta get some more confidence in me first.”
Okay. Carry on with your life.
New shirts! The MGoStore is rocking two new shirts. One of them is pretty obvious. The other is, er… not. Click either for link:
Yes, the back of the Cone shirt says "leave ya twisted with chalk around ya body" in tribute to Cone rapping up a storm. WOOOOO. Get 'em while they last. Shoelace will be around for a bit, of course. Cone will be in our hearts forever but since it's kind of doubtful he gets a fifth year you probably want to scoop those bad boys up ASAP.
NOTE for folks who live in Ann Arbor and hate the idea of paying shipping costs: MGoShirts are available at Underground's retail space on South U. My cut there is the same as the one online, for people super concerned about the cash flow here. (This does happen.)
Outback Bowlin'. Orson Swindle would do well to avoid this vein-popping Zook special, but you're not Orson so here's the Wolverine Historian version of the 2003 Outback Bowl:
Part Two awaits in the lightbox.
I don't know if this is good or bad. Justin Turner was credited with a special teams tackle on Saturday, but that did not actually happen:
MSU corrected the official boxscore Sunday to show Jonas Mouton in on the tackle, and Turner, the No. 2-rated player in Michigan's 2009 recruiting class according to Rivals.com, remains eligible to redshirt.
So he's probably going to redshirt, and JT Floyd is going to start. Hurrah for good roster management? Boo because of thin secondary depth and the oddity of having such a highly-rated guy on a redshirt track? You make the call.
Also of indeterminate benefit. Rodriguez is going to take a look at linebackers who aren't Ezeh or Mouton (both of whom are at least making a number of good plays to go along with their terrible horrible not good ones in the UFR I've gotten to):
Yeah, every job is up for grabs every week,” Rodriguez said. “It sounds like coach speak, but our guys know they have to play at a certain level. Jonas (Mouton) and Obi (Ezeh) have played very, very hard. … I think Jonas is a very active player, and Obi has played solid, as well, but we can all play better.” …
"You take away a couple of those scramble plays, their big third and long passes, and it was a pretty solid effort,” Rodriguez said. “But you have to count those. Those are part of the whole deal. … We've got to be more consistent I think is the word in all three phases, particularly defensively."
"Player X has played very hard" is an excellent backhanded compliment. FWIW, I don't think anything will come of the starting jobs potentially coming open given Fitzgerald's shaky cameo and Leach's meh performance in the Eastern game. At least Mouton, who does appear to be blitzing a lot more recently, has guru-approved (and obvious) athletic ability. Leach doesn't.
As long as we're talking about the possibility of walk-ons busting into the starting lineup, let's highlight this bolded bit from yesterday's press conference recap:
Mike Williams wasn't 100% going into the game, but taking him out for Kovacs was a substitution issue, not an injury issue.
IE: Kovacs is just playing because the coaches think he's better. Williams got yanked quickly, too, right after he failed to get out on a short zone when Michigan was running three-deep and gave up a 15-yard hitch on Michigan State's endless drive. I didn't even think that was his fault, FWIW, as he was tasked with faking a blitz and had no chance to get out there; with Warren playing in the parking lot that play was super easy. FWIW, Kovacs has turned in a couple of impressive tackles so far. He's probably a disaster in coverage but Michigan is using him as downhill run-stuffer, something he seems capable of.
Family values, but on the tee-vee. Elliot Mealer will feature on that ESPN newsmagazine show E:60. You know, the one with jump cuts of Jeremy Schaap. Details:
Sports leader ESPN has followed the Mealer and Richer families for a year documenting how each family dealt with grief while moving ahead with their lives. On Tuesday the segment will air for the first time on ESPN and ESPN HD on a program called E:60 at 7 p.m.
"I first got contacted really early in the morning after I had just spoken at a FCA event at Napoleon High School," explained Elliott Mealer, a senior at the time of the accident that claimed two lives. "We talked it over as a family and all agreed that this could be something that could bring a positive light to the accident and everything after. As a little kid you always dream about being on ESPN and I guess in this sense it is bittersweet. I really wish I didn't have a story to tell but the fact of the matter is I do."
Worth examining, yes, I talk like Yoda for no reason mmmm.
Oh noes! You probably remember the nonstop caterwauling from Notre Dame fans in the aftermath of the referees getting Armando Allen's screen non-touchdown right. I wonder if they will take up arms and demand justice from the Big East replay officials on behalf of Washington:
That knee you see on the ground is Robert Hughes's. His entire body, and therefore the ball, is outside the endzone at this moment. This is the two point conversion that Notre Dame got to go up three, and without it they would have lost 30-28 in regulation. The lack of a review here is inexplicable. It was obvious the instant NBC cut to a replay of the play. CONSPIRACY
(Also, people: download a torrent and get a frame from that instead of taking pictures of your TV.)
Etc.: This is not Mark May pantomiming Lou Holtz performing fellatio on Jimmah, but it kind of looks like it is. Barwis porn migrates to web comics. Braves & Birds is confused about how to feel about the game Saturday.
Part two of the all-singing all-dancing season preview. Previously: The Story, 2009.
Once upon a time, the Edmonton Oilers—of whom I am a fan mostly because of Mike Comrie and Chris Chelios, but that's another post—did something right. At the advent of the salary cap era in the NHL they traded an array of prospects and spare parts to Saint Louis for Chris Freakin' Pronger and signed him to a five-year deal. They surrounded Pronger with an array of steady old hands and overachievers and then set about deploying the NHL's best defenseman en route to the Oilers' traditional position when the trade deadline rolls around: on the fringes of the playoffs, unsure whether to buy or sell. Ah, the Oilers.
They bought, shipping a first-round pick and conditional third-rounder to the Minnesota Wild for elderly platoon goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who was not and is not Marty Brodeur. A meaningless move and wild overpayment? Maybe for anyone else in the NHL.
When looking at save percentage relative to league, I use something I call relative save percentage. … I’ve got the numbers for every team since 1987-88; that’s 435 teams in all. Guess how many of those teams have put up a relative save percentage worse than the Oilers' 982.
Oilers blogger Mudcrutch—the statistically inclined fellow above—ended that pre-trade post above by muttering that it was "depressing to think how good this team could be with half-decent goaltending." When Roloson came in, he whipped out the Godfather references and declared the new guy would make the Oilers 12 goals better over the remainder of the regular season, a "ridiculous number."
He was right. The Oilers made the playoffs, charged through the Western Conference, and made the Stanley Cup finals. There they fell in seven games after Roloson was injured in game one, leaving Ty Conklin to commit one of the all-time worst gaffes in Stanley Cup history and be exiled from Canada forever. Conklin is currently a hobo living in Venezuela and definitely didn't latch onto the best organization in professional sports; Pronger would demand a trade ten seconds after the season ended. Edmonton's team has an average age of 12 and hasn't sniffed the second round since. But for one shining moment, a league-average goalie made all the difference.
I think you see where I'm going with this.
Nobody held out much hope last year when Rodriguez's top two options post-Mallett were a walk-on who was honorable mention All-Conference in high school and a guy who got beat out by a walk-on who was honorable mention All-Conference in high school. But even what little hopes were proffered (Sheridan "could be a non-liability who successfully keeps the heat off the other skill position players," said this blog) turned out to be wildly optimistic.
Nick Sheridan and Steven Threet set the bar for quarterback futility so high (low?) they shattered this blog's horrible-quarterbacking touchstone from years past: 1993. Brian Griese and Scott Dreisbach played Sheridan and Threet, respectively, en route to this:
Those numbers are ugly. They are also vastly better than what Michigan endured last year. I'll spare you the full horror show and just highlight the most important number, yards per attempt. Griese and Dreisbach averaged 7.1 YPA between them. Threet and Sheridan? 5.1. Even Tacopants—Jason Avant's eleven-foot-tall imaginary friend—was discouraged:
Dude, Tacopants is going to catch 400 balls this year.
No, because even he’s watching these sail over his head, and he can be whatever height he wants to be because he is made of dreams and snails and puppy dog tails.
So, yes, Michigan is staring down the barrel of a depth chart that features true freshmen at spots one and two, and people are pretty sanguine about that. Let's just embed this artifact one more time to reinforce why:
Tate Forcier, spring game, 11/14 for 130-ish yards, fifty more on the ground, five total touchdowns, complete failure to heave looping balls that nestle gently between the numbers of opposing defensive backs. Forcier was the easy winner of "Most Encouraging Development" after the spring game. You've heard, seen, and possibly cleaned up after it all before.
Normally this would be the section of the preview that discussed Forcier's performance to date, or in the event of a new starter, summarized the behind-the-scenes fawning and tried to take it down to a reasonable level. But every iota of information we have on Forcier's been hashed and rehashed in this space already. The executive summary:
Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.
Here's the world's most succinct scouting report($), via a story title from the Nebraska Rivals site: Forcier Equals Accuracy.
Two thousand other words await you at the link if you're interested in a recap and haven't already committed them to memory. (Which bad form, MGoReader, bad form. Downvote yourself in your heart.)
Forcier has been shaped to be a quarterback since he was a wee tyke. The younger sibling of two Division I recruits (who, it must be said, never actually played), Forcier is the smallest, most consistently drilled, and best mechanically. He's had college-level coaching for years on end now and should be considerably more prepared to play than your average freshman quarterback.
Since we have a general idea of what to expect in Forcier's specific case relative to other freshmen, let's examine what other freshmen thrust into the spotlight tend to do. Doctor Saturday's spent a lot of time this offseason pondering the direction of the Michigan program, and in one post he surveyed the brief, undistinguished recent history of true freshman quarterbacks. Stolen table coming atcha:
If you scanned that like I did your first reaction was "holy hell, Threet & Sheridan's YPA was well worse than everyone on this list except Jimmah." And yes, it's true. Taken as an aggregate, this random sampling of who-dats and future stars comes out to 6.7, a little worse than Dreisbach-Griese and vastly better than Threetsheridammit.
The upshot: freshman quarterbacks suck, but on average they suck far less than Michigan's two-headed monster of yesteryear. An average-for-a-freshman performance from Forcier will be a huge step forward for the offense.
Note also the tendency of spread—or at least mobile—quarterbacks to cluster at opposite ends of the spectrum. The #1, 2, 3, and 5 quarterbacks were all spread-ish, mobile-ish types. So were the worst, fourth-worst, and eh, maybe fifth-worst. In conjunction with Rodriguez's success with relatively inexperienced quarterbacks (Rasheed Marshall and Pat White at West Virginia) this looks like something of a theory: spread offenses lend themselves to early success as long as you have one-and-a-half talents. Williams, Ball, and Freeman did not. Williams and Ball couldn't throw worth a damn and Freeman was a Spread In Name Only quarterback shoehorned into a spread offense despite his inability to run.
But maybe as long as you're a polished, super-accurate short passer (Leak) or thrilling athlete (Pryor, Griffin), you can get away with your half-skill well enough. (Not having taken in much of a horrible Pac-10 team, I'm not exactly sure where Tuitama fits.) If spread quarterbacks are either surprisingly good for freshmen or horrible, the horrible ones tend to be undercoached, sushi-raw fast guys with the accuracy of a tommy gunner on amphetamines.
This is the precise opposite of Tate Forcier, long may he remain unbroken and functional.
Backups and whatnot
Everyone's hoping that incoming freshman Denard Robinson earns the out-and-out backup spot by the Big Ten schedule because the alternatives are Sheridan, about whom scroll up to the Conklin/Markkannen analogy, and David "Coner" Cone. Since Robinson just arrived a few weeks ago and didn't get the spring exposure Forcier did I've got nothing more to offer on him other than what got dumped out in his recruiting profile and what's been said about his crazy ninja speed by coaches and teammates.. The executive-executive summary: Pat White. Except maybe… faster?
Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said Robinson is bigger than Pat White was when he came to West Virginia as a freshman, and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said Robinson's speed compares favorably to White's.
“I don’t want to blow him up, but he’s fast," Smith said. "He’s fast. It’s fun to watch because when he breaks through - and I love Pat to death, but I’m not so sure this kid - he’s fast. They’re close."
His high school coach gets misty:
"Oh my god, Michigan is going to get an explosive, explosive quarterback," Taylor said. "He's a leader, he pushes his will to win on others. I've never seen a kid so competitive."
Stevie Brown on Michigan's jackrabbit:
“I remember one time Denard (Robinson) broke. When Denard opens up and runs there is nobody that is catching him. He hit a little seam, we lost contain on him and I think he probably hit 80 yards and it felt like five seconds.”
Question: Nobody in the Big Ten is catching him?
"I can't say that. I don’t really know how fast everybody is, but I doubt it.”
He is made of dilithium, and reports from practice are surprised at how accurate his arm is on short stuff.
Robinson will probably work his way into the offense in a version of the Feagin package from last year—ESPN will dub it the "Wild Dawg"—except he's actually capable of throwing so defenses will have to respect that.
I'd been hoping Forcier puts a stranglehold on the job and Robinson would end up redshirting in 2010 before emerging as a hyper-fast skill position player or cornerback, but given all the practice buzz you have to keep him around at QB until such time as he doesn't provide an element of explosiveness far beyond the alternatives. IE: Devin Gardner starts, which is still very much up in the air. This year he's the only thing standing between Michigan and…
Nick Sheridan. I nicknamed him DEATH just in time for the Minnesota game, where he proceeded to play sort of like a good, if physically deficient, Division I quarterback. It couldn't last, though, and Sheridan finished the year by going 8 of 29 against Northwestern and 8 of 24 against Ohio State. Across both games he totaled 148 yards. No offense to his work ethic or general standing as a person, but if he sees the field it's time to cower.
I know, I know, I know. He will probably play against Western and he's listed amongst the great wide ORs on the quarterback depth chart. But I refer you to the stats above and this blog's pre-jihad obsession with debunking the idea he will start. I won't belabor it further.
And this is probably the last time I'll get to use a sentence that's sat untouched in this preview since he matriculated, so prepare to shed a single tear: if David Cone sees the field something has gone very wrong.
Programming note. I've accepted the daunting task of getting up at 7AM to sit in for Sam Webb on WTKA's morning show tomorrow. I'll be on from 7-10. Wooo Mountain Dew!
Charity note. If anyone's got some spare roller hockey equipment lying around, L'Hockey Folie would like to put it to good use.
Luxury box followup! Artist's rendition of the 2025 Big House:
The Shredder explains his masterpiece:
With all the HD Jumbo screen talk(and with my boring 3rd shift) I figured I would draw it using my awesome skills. Now every one can see it. The future of the Big House. Around 2025 I am guessing. I did remove the one press box so you could see the field, so just pretend it's there. I also added seats above the HD screens and on top of the press box. Bringing the total seating to 125,000. In the year 2025 we will have be playing night games and using Maize jersey's. Welcome to the future! Great Scott!
These were not the top secret plans I referenced this morning. But they should be.
Obvious quarterback questioning. Tim's getting frustrated with the nonstop quarterback questioning at the press conferences, but none of you are going so here you go:
The art of saying nothing in 1:14. I don't think there's much chance all three QBs play equally well for anything length of time, and neither does Rodriguez, but he refuses to rule out anything. All things are possible.
Mealer okay? Elliot Mealer's shoulder was severely injured in that Christmas Eve car crash and there were some rumors that the effects of it still lingered and may be a permanent hindrance to his ability to play. Apparently that's not true:
"I've come a long ways," Mealer said. "You know, My arm is actually stronger, I think. My bad arm, so to speak, is stronger than my good arm and it's been a long ways. I still rehab it to this day, and then do a little prehab, as they call it, just to keep it loose and it helps. So it's come a long ways."
Mealer's not likely to play this year but should work himself into the playing mix in 2010.
BONUS Kevin Koger hype (the article is about Toledo-area players for M):
"Kevin Koger's had a great great offseason," said Calvin Magee, Koger's offensive coordinator and position mentor. "He's done well. He's gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster, and it's a natural progression from freshman to sophomore year.
"He's changed his body. You know, his weight's around the same. He's more lean now. So naturally, he's got more muscle on him. That allows him to be faster and he's one of those kids that committed himself to the offseason conditioning and it's going to help him a great deal."
The Revsine return. The Big Ten Network has returned from its tour of Big Ten practices and Dave Revsine has superlatives:
Best Drill: The "M" Drill at Michigan. It's the Oklahoma Drill, but with a twist. There are three layers of blocking going on – linemen going 1 on 1, then a FB or TE engaged with a LB, followed by a WR and a DB. The back with the ball then tries to run through all three levels. Very intense and really well done. …
Impact Freshman: Tate Forcier, Michigan. I think Forcier is perfect for Rodriguez's system. Throws well, particularly on the run, and he runs well. He has everything they need. Seems Rodriguez isn't quite as convinced, given his plans to play three QBs in the opener against Western Michigan, but I still think that, ultimately, Forcier will be the guy. …
Honorable Mention: Vincent Smith, Michigan. Another tiny Smith who packs some serious punch, Smith absolutely bowled over a defender in a tackling drill, then, the next time he had the ball, juked another guy out of his uniform with a great move.
All that's cool, but Michigan didn't show up on any of Revsine's top position groups, or honorable mentions. Not that you expected them to anywhere except tailback, where Revsine bizarrely goes with Michigan State as his third-place team.
You said what? Gary Barnett talked crap about Gary Moeller's substitutions. This did not end well for him.
Isn't it strange that Barnett left Northwestern for Colorado and since that event Northwestern has probably been the better program? What happened to the Buffs?
Required. Hey here's a quote by new offensive line grad assistant Cory Zirbel that contradicts those of the discontent departures and by law I must post it:
"I've had people come up to me and say, 'How can you be a part of that coaching staff?' Those people aren't true Michigan fans. ... People don't understand how I accept my role, but those people don't know.
"It's an honor. It's Michigan, always going to be Michigan. Coach Rodriguez is a great guy, presented me an opportunity, and I took it."
So there you go, family values and so forth and so on.
Coner! It took four years but someone finally mentioned David Cone in a practice recap:
Speaking of Forcier, I'm really started to warm to the way he throws the ball. It looks much better than any of the other quarterbacks. Also, David Cone has an odd throwing motion.
I think I buried the lead there.
Etc.: Herbstreit says the M-ND game is make or break for Weis, which yeah probably. GBMW has a transcript of Rodriguez's appearance on the Dan Patrick show. Michigan's replacing its media guides with online equivalents. Volleyball and women's soccer are test cases.