Hockey pet peeve: "when a teammate tips a puck in on you, which is exactly how my first collegiate goal against happened. Thanks, Copper."
Several weeks ago Brian sent me an e-mail to say we're going to have a fantasy draft of Big Ten players called "The Draft Where Whoever Picks Denard Wins," and that I was on the clock. (Parts II, III, and IV)
People of the Earth: this is how you recruit for a fantasy league. Actually this is how if you're a college sports site editor you motivate your hypercompetitive (Michigan grads, remember?) staff to become insane experts on the rest of the conference right before football season begins. For that reason, despite quarterbacks chosen out of position and so so much snark, right now we feel as competent as anyone at putting out one of those All-Such-and-Such list things.
The draft is still going on and some of the picks we've made have yet to be revealed, however we have tagged enough positions at this point to post an official-ish pre-season All Big Ten team. There's a few specialists I'll include but won't reveal who drafted them. I'll also follow up either next week or later on this week with a "what we learned about the Big Ten" post that breaks down all the picks by team. This one's about the best by position.
Site note: We're bringing back jumps again so we can fit more content on the front page for you during the season. You see the "Read more" thing below this? CLICK THAT to get to the good stuff.
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.
Rival fans are having their lol over this Denard Robinson statement from media day:
"I've watched him run, and I'm pretty sure I can beat him in a 40-yard dash," Robinson said at Michigan's media day on Sunday. "I'd get a better start, and I could take him.
"At 60 yards, I'd be in trouble, and at 100 meters, he'd be gone, but I could get him in a 40."
But this sort of thing has come up before. Two years ago, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Bolt would race Titans running back Chris Johnson, who ran a 4.24 40 at the NFL draft combine. That turned out to be total fiction, but it got people thinking.
It's complicated. Most 40 times are bunk. Combine times like Johnson's are not directly comparable to track sprints since the NFL uses a system that eliminates reaction time, doesn't use starting blocks, and is on FieldTurf in cleats. Also, yards are not meters and converting between the two requires integration and stuff since 100 meter athletes are accelerating until about the 65 meter mark.
Benchmarks are available. Robinson dabbled in track early in his career, winning some dual meets in the 60-meter dash indoors:
That was a 6.81 60. When Bolt set the 100 M world record in Germany in 2009, he crossed 60 meters at 6.29 Denard would get smoked at 60 meters, but it's worth noting that he'd get smoked by less than he would in the 100, where Bolt's world record time is a full second faster than Denard's best high school effort. Bolt's second 50 meters is where he makes his money.
So what about the 40? In his world-record run, Bolt hit 40 meters at 4.64. Meters are longer than yards, so that time translates to the exact same 4.24 Johnson ran at the NFL combine, give or take tenth given the fact that 40s are not track sprints. Chris Johnson's lifetime best 60m is… 6.83*. So… plausible for Denard to be in Bolt's stratsophere?
No. Johnson's best time at 60 meters was good for third place. In a semifinal. At a regional collegiate track meet. Denard's fast. He's not Usain Bolt.
*[According to a guy on the internet. Milestat confirms the time, FWIW.]
Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-6-12: Will Campbell, Roy Roundtree, Denard Robinson, and Jordan Kovacs
We'll miss you, big guy.
What did you see out of your guys from Day one?
“I thought everyone out there was excited to play … We’ve been training all summer …”
Are you coming in more confident this time around?
“I mean, it was not more confidence. I just had to step up and this was the time to do it. This is my last go-around, and I owe Michigan and these fans a lot.”
When did that sink in?
“I mean, I had to change a lot. I was talking to a lot of guys who left. It’s just been a lot going on this summer and a lot of hard work.”
What do you mean by “owing the fans”?
“Well I came in with big expectations and I didn’t live up to them. And now it’s time to play.”
Can you tell the difference between guys who prepared well and guys who didn’t?
“I think everybody prepared the same because we all owe each other to play for each other. I mean I go out there to work hard every day for the guy next to me. Craig Roh. I work hard to go out there every day even for the freshmen. I work hard every day for Willie Henry, Peewee, everybody.”
(F-bomb after the jump)
Brian Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to Ace, Heiko, Seth
Subject: Re: the draft in which whoever drafts denard wins
I've been enraged by the weird six-round BTN draft that makes no sense and want to do it for our site as a sort of All Big Ten preseason preview gimmick post.
Rules: Inverse snake. Everyone drafts a full team of 11 offensive/defensive players, two kickers, a FB/HB type (assuming 3 WR), and a nickelback. You can move people around within reason (OL, DL, LB) but those moves will be looked upon skeptically by your fellow drafters and viciously attacked when it comes to make a case for your teams. Once the three other players have drafted a position, the last to go must pick the last player at that position within two rounds*.
When we are done we put the thing to a user vote after making our case. Whoever has Denard wins.
*[to prevent QBs going 1st, 2nd, third, and dead last. Example: third tailback off the board is the second pick of the third round. Fourth player does not have to draft a tailback until the fifth round, but must do so.]
I used random.org to set the draft order, which is:
SETH, who will win since he will get Denard
ACE, who does not get Denard
HEIKO, who also does not get Denard
BRIAN, who also does not get Denard
Wait don't I get time to think...?
PICK: Denard Robinson, quarterback, MEEEEESHIGAN
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M)
CURRENT D: [players TBA]
BRIEF EXPLANATION: He can run. He can throw. And you can all eat crow. Not that this requires an explanation but I'll give one anyway: Robinson is a senior quarterback who might also be the Big Ten's best rusher. His passing game has suffered through growing pains of learning various offenses, which is to say the piper's bill has been paid and I get to reap the rewards of a more polished passer who understands many different concepts. The threat of him running opens up everything else, and now he has the experience to exploit everything else. He's a zero academic and personality risk, and the kind of guy you can build everything else upon.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: I'm gonna go giggle for awhile while you guys fight over Rex Burkhead or something.
PICK: Montee Ball, running back, Wisconsin
BRIEF EXPLANATION: For starters, Ball tied a record set by Barry Sanders (39 TDs in a season), which doesn't happen every day/year/decade. Everybody knows that Wisconsin is going to line up and hand the ball to, er, Ball, but he still managed to average 6.26 yards per carry last season. He's remarkably consistent: his 109 total yards against South Dakota represented his lowest total in the 2011 season. Also, has not lost a fumble in 617 career touches. If I can't have Denard (*shakes fist in Seth's general direction*), I'll take being able to hand it off to this guy 25 times a game.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Ha, good one.
Current O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU)
Current D: Offense.
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Braxton Miller should approach the production of 2010 Denard Robinson. OSU RB Jordan Hall will be iffy the first few games coming off a foot laceration, so Miller is going to have to account for a lot of the ground game because he is the team's other most effective rusher. He's also a quarterback (Dear Jim Bollman:
Surprise!). When he was actually allowed to throw during the most recent spring game, he went 24/31 for 258 yards. That's pretty good for having just a month to learn Urban Meyer's offense. With another fall camp's worth of practice and the luxury of a real defense, staying healthy will be Miller's only obstacle to having a monster season.
Yes I lifted this from 11W.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Shotty Zach Boren.
CURRENT O: Taylor Lewan (LT, M)
CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: With spread quarterbacks I actually want gone I'll go the Tony Gonzalez route and draft the guy with the most relative value left on the board. That's Lewan, the Big Ten's only elite pass protector this year. He also doubles as a donkey-mauling run blocker. He's deflecting NFL draft speculation before his junior year even happens, and he's an offensive lineman. Whoever I get at QB will have a clean blindside all day. And will suck. But whatever.
With the first pick of the second round, I'll grab John Simon, the muscle-bound OSU SDE who's the 2012 version of Mike Martin in terms of interior-ish defensive linemen who will not stay blocked. 17 TFLs a year ago and seven sacks, and he's poised to increase those numbers to the 20 TFL level as he moves from "LEO"—OSU's label for WDE—to the strongside position that's a better fit for him. He doesn't have NFL size but he does show up to work out at approximately the time I'm going to sleep.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Montee Ball is a product of the Wisconsin offensive line and is liable to have five unknown assailants tackle him for loss on any given play. GAMES ARE WON IN THE TRENCHES AAAAAAAAHHHHH.
PICK: Taylor Martinez, quarterback, Nebraska.
CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QRB, Nebraska)
CURRENT D: Just you wait.
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Whoa whoa whoa WHOA. Did I just draft two quarterbacks? [Pause for effect] Yes I did. But that's not allowed! Yes it is. You said we could move offensive players around within reason, so I'm drafting Martinez as a running back. So what if he had fewer than 1,000 yards as a rusher last season? He's clearly masteredthe art of the halfback pass. 3,000 yards of total offense? Yes, please.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: BWAHAHAHA bet you didn't see that coming.
CURRENT O: James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Montee Ball (RB, UW)
CURRENT D: [Functional equivalent of 2009-10 GERG outfits]
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I planned on going defense with my second pick, but after Heiko's one-man run on quarterbacks I wasn't willing to risk getting stuck with, like, Caleb TerBush. So, the pick is Vandenberg, the B1G's winner by default in the "best pocket passer" category. Aside from Denard, Vandenberg is the conference's returning leader in total offense and passing efficiency, and he also takes care of the football, throwing just seven interceptions in 404 attempts last year. With Ball in the backfield to take care of all the running, that's all I need from a quarterback.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Heiko's next pick will be Matt McGloin, cornerback, Penn State.
Holy hell guys, way to leave me dudes I never planned on getting, thus forcing me to re-think my entire draft strategy for all of three minutes before doing what I meant to do anyway.
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M)
CURRENT D: Kawann Short (DT, PU), Johnathan Hankins (DT, OSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Running backs and running quarterbacks are flying off the board and I'm leaving the last Big Ten Heisman hopeful in order to make sure none of this so-called "rushing" goes down the middle of my defense. What I've won are the two most likely guys in the conference after John Simon to go in the NFL's first round to be my three-tech and nose tackle, respectively.
Kawaan Short is a Ndamukong Suh-like hell-raiser in the interior who sometimes lines up at end and is only limited by having to suck up doubles all the time. To that end I have given him Johnathan Hankins (damn Archie Collins to a special ring of hell), a true nose tackle who forced Ohio State's opponents to run outside all season. My defensive line is already up to 120 tackles, 27 TFLs, and 8.5 sacks (2011 stats), and I haven't even drafted the ends yet!!!
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Hey boss, I want you to know that I had nothing to do with this conspiracy to make you choose Nathan Scheelhaase as your 4th round pick (you made the rule!). Meanwhile Heiko has selected a QB controversy between two guys I wouldn't want, and Ace seems to be building something that has 4 tight ends.
CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA)
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Well, I had planned on taking a defensive tackle here, but Seth appears determined to recreate Michigan's 2010 offense of Denard left, Denard right, Denard up the middle. Instead, I'll happily settle for Borland, who amassed 143 tackles—19 of them for a loss—from the middle linebacker position in 2011. If my team ends up being comprised mostly of Wisconsin players, I like my chances at winning this thing, if there is indeed any way of winning besides "draft Denard, win" (I'm guessing not).
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Seriously, Heiko, I hear Nathan Scheelhaase is a beast at defensive end.
CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QRB, UNL), Kyle Prater(WR, NU)
CURRENT D: yawn.
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I'm at lab, so I don't have a whole lot of time to carefully mull over a decision, but I do know one thing: the B1G doesn't have receivers this season. While Prater is a completely unproven commodity, he is likely to immediately become the most dominant receiver in the conference. Given Northwestern's pass-happy spread (perhaps a little less pass-happy with the departure of Dan Persa), Prater's immediate debut at the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, and his 5-star ranking (which, according to the Mathlete, matters for receivers), what's not to like? Sometimes you have to invest in potential, and this penny stock is about to go Apple on all y'all.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Wisconsin's run defense was crap last year. Also, more than half of Borland's 143 tackles were assisted. They call him a "throwback" because pudgy 5'11 linebackers were last effective circa the Reagan administration. But I hear he's a beast at fullback, which is what you drafted him to be, right?
CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, Ill), Taylor Lewan (LT, M)
CURRENT D: DE John Simon (DE, OSU), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Ace, what is going on, man? You could have had your QB on the way back since I'm the only one without one and not forced me to take... ugh... Nathan Scheelhaase in round 4/5. We could have merrily played chicken for round after round. Anyway: I am not that broken up about taking Scheelhaase since he's got good legs and completed 62% of his passes last year and is a third-year starter and... aw, damn my rules DAMN THEM ALL TO HELL.
Obligatory QB out of the way, I'm taking the actual best pass rusher on Michigan State's defense, LB/missile Denicos Allen. Unlike Borland, my 5'11" LB is fast as hell and has the eyepopping stats to prove it: 11 sacks, 18.5 TFLs, multiple frustrating forays directly past the center of the Michigan offensive line. This guy is Larry Foote again, and he was just a sophomore last year.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: I have no snark because I'm shaking my ragefist at Heiko for taking Kyle Prater, who was going to be my secret weapon six rounds from now. And Ace, for forcing me to take Scheelhaase this early, and Seth for getting Denard. I am a defeated man. GAMES ARE WON IN THE TRENCHES AND AT WLB AAAAAAAAAH.
To be continued whenever Heiko figures out where he's going to put Rob Henry, Kain Colter, and Devin Gardner, Brian stops screaming "NO THROW IT FORWARD" at Scheelhaase, Ace gets the slightest grasp on game theory, and Seth decides his entire team will be fat guys from Ice Hockey.
You don't want to know what I had to do to secure that seat
The media day roundtable session took place just a couple of hours before Denard Robinson delivered his keynote address at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. This meant, unfortunately, that in my half-hour at Denard's table the majority of the questions related to the speech, how he prepared for the speech, his nerves before the speech, his pre-speech nerves compared to his pre-game nerves, Kirk Cousins's speech, and so on.* What follows is my best effort at collecting relevant, non-speech quotes, as the speech did a decent job of speaking for itself.
Was timing something that got sacrificed last year somewhat because you guys were learning a new offense?
I think that did hurt us. Us not having timing, that was a key issue. My footwork, I was thinking so much that my footwork was everywhere; throwing off my back foot was one of the things I messed up a lot on. That’s what I’m trying to change this year, I’ve been doing that [during the] offseason and working on that timing. Now we’re not thinking about the offense because we know the offense and we have confidence in ourselves. We know the offense and now we have the opportunity to have success in the offense.
Was the problem that you were thinking about too many other things last year, especially early?
Yeah, earlier in the season I was still learning the offense, trying to get the basis of the offense. Towards the end of the season, that’s when it started coming along, because I was in the offense enough to know the offense.
MGoQuestion: Compared to last year, now that you’re more comfortable in the offense, do you expect to have more input into the game plan? Will Coach Borges give you more input in terms of which plays to call?
I think so. I think Coach Borges, he’s always open-minded, he always asks, “what do you think about this?” That’s the kind of guy he is. If I don’t feel comfortable doing something, he would ask me if I feel comfortable doing it. That’s just Coach Borges, that’s just his personality, that’s the way he coaches.
MGoQuestion: The offense really seemed to evolve last year as you got more comfortable and as Coach Borges got more familiar with the personnel. How would you say the offense changed over the course of last year, and where are you guys today compared to where you were at before last season?
I think we’re way past what we were before [last season]. We’ve built this chemistry in the offense and we feel confident and comfortable with the offense. When it comes down to making the reads and making the right checks and getting us into the right play, I think we all know how to do it now.
MGoQuestion: Schematically, were there changes that Coach Borges made once he got more familiar with your game and the rest of the offense?
He made little tweaks, but I feel like he made game plans, and whatever he’d feel would be successful, that’s what he used.
MGoQuestion: Do you expect this year to be any more or less involved in the running game than you were last year?
I don’t know, you gotta ask Coach Borges. If you want me to run the ball a hundred-some times a game I’ll run it. Whatever it takes for us to win, that’s what I feel anybody on our team would do.
When you’re watching a defense—let’s say it’s Alabama—what do you look at? When you’re, as a quarterback, studying a defense just casually … what do you look at?
You look at the coverage. I’m a quarterback, so I look at the coverage first. You want to see little hints that they give you, like if there’s a safety coming down, how far is the linebacker up to the umpire, how close the safety is to the umpire—if the safety is right on the umpire he’s probably coming, or he’s got to cover somebody, stuff like that. You might see the corner bail before his time, so you can tell that’s probably a [cover] 3 or 4, something like that. Just looking at what kind of coverage they’re in, if the corner is flat-footed or is he on his toes, little things like that you want to look at.
UNEXPECTED ANSWERS TO CORNY QUESTIONS
Did you ever envision in your wildest dreams ending up where you’re at today?
Oh, man, to be honest with you I didn’t. I didn’t know how far I’d go. I was just telling Kovacs and Taylor last night, in high school I didn’t think I was a D-I athlete, so now I’m here and it’s like it’s all a dream.
You didn’t think you’d be a D-I athlete?
Yeah, in high school I really didn’t. I really didn’t think that until I got my first offer from Florida my junior year.
*I've unearthed exclusive footage of this portion of the roundtable.