I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
For the Illinois Game (Saturday, Oct. 31)
Zac Johnson (shoulder)
David Molk (knee)
Probable (75 percent chance of playing)
Martavious Odoms (knee)
In addition, head coach Rich Rodriguez announced the game captains for the game at Illinois: running back Kevin Grady, defensive end Brandon Graham, wide receiver Greg Mathews and offensive lineman Tim McAvoy.
Odoms not playing or being limited would be a considerable loss; the other options at slot appear to be a meaningful dropoff, and Odoms had reclaimed the punt return job before the injury. Hemingway appears good to go, though, as does Warren.
Unfortunately, we did not flag down an Illinois blogger for this week's podcast, as I wasn't aware of anyone with a regularly-updated Illinois blog. But we do talk with Tim about the Penn State game—which was awesome—and bring in Jamiemac for the usual trip around the Big Ten, with the discussion of the Michigan-Illinois game serving as this week's opponent preview.
Note: here's a handy link to subscribe via ITunes.
The rotate. Illinois will look to the future on Saturday by rotating in redshirt freshman Jacob Charest, who you can see making sweet love to your whole body with his mind to the right. Hey, baby, Jacob Charest would like to know if you like emo bangs and nonchalant poses from his trip to North Korea. Yeah, baby, Jacob Charest wore his Illini uniform to Pyongyang Stadium. Because Illini up, that's why.
Charest is a 6'4" pro-style QB out of North Carolina who was a middling three star a couple years back. When Juice got pulled (again) against Purdue, Charest came in and did this:
Charest made his debut Saturday, playing in three series while going 4 of 8 for 52 yards. Zook said he was impressed with the way Charest threw downfield.
Read: "Zook said he was impressed that Charest had better accuracy than a random number generator."
So… good or bad? I guess you'd always rather be going against a team that's trying to find a quarterback and is on their third attempt—Eddie McGee is now working at wide receiver—of the season. And Williams was beyond terrifying last year against Michigan. On the other hand: Michigan's clear weakness this year is the secondary, and anyone more capable of taking advantage of that secondary than Williams is bad.
It probably won't matter since Illinois's line is so terrible: the Illini are #112 in sacks allowed despite a below-average number of passes. (212; NCAA average is 228. So it's not a huge outlier or anything; the point is that their stats aren't distorted by a lot of late-game passing because they're bad.)
Bonus: Arrelious Benn has been fighting an ankle sprain since the first game of the year and played with a shoulder sprain against Purdue. He'll play this weekend but is not 100%.
Ortmann carries around a phonebooth on his back. Via Rittenberg, this table of woe from before the Penn State game:
Suboptimal, and probably worse after Forcier got little help from his receivers. The pocket stuff isn't quite that grim as the table implies since this only accounts for throw of over ten yards—I was in the midst of firing off an email suggesting those numbers had to be wrong when I finally understood the qualifier—but, yeah, pretty grim.
This is a confirmation of a number of this: Forcier's bad in the pocket, the receivers aren't helping out much, and so forth and so on. Michigan should really slant its playcalling towards Lloyd-style conservatism, which only maddens when you're running around with a senior Tom Brady, not sophomore John Navarre.
Mumble mumble bands thing. Michigan State may have lost Saturday, but they won the halftime show:
The Numa Numa song is kind of awesome arranged for marching band, isn't it?
I'm still not sure what the MMB played, as I couldn't hear 3/4ths of it. Was it supposed to be four different thematic versions of the Victors? The one I heard had some vague Victors-y parts but it didn't sound like the fight song itself. I was confused by it.
He descended on a cloud and grumbled out some grumbles for us, we used it to season the tacos. Lloyd Carr, perhaps prompted by Rick Leach's intemperate outburst on WTKA a week or two ago, has emerged from the Fortress of Solitude to deliver his benediction:
"Rich is a young guy, (and) he's got a great background for such a young guy," Carr said during his interview with Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter. "What we're seeing here offensively throughout this season is a great thing for the future of Michigan football.
"The transition a year ago you could expect (the struggles) because what they were looking for in a quarterback. Certainly what we have here is exciting. I'm excited for the future." …
"I've had a lot of conversations with Rich Rodriguez down through the last 18, 20 months, and I told him from the beginning if he needed me for any reason, just call me," Carr said. "I did not want to be a coach who's at practice and hanging around and answering questions from the media about what I saw. I didn't think that was good for Rich or our program."
This will slightly staunch the internet paranoia, but only slightly. As always, I wish to avoid this topic as thoroughly as possible. I have zero credible information about it, and learned during the coaching search that different factions can have incredibly different versions of reality.
On the notice. Chengelis's article on the import of this notice Michigan received from the NCAA starts off by broaching the possibility of major infractions but the end of it puts the event that just transpired in context:
Experts said that might well not be a major development.
"I think this is just a natural sequence of events that should occur when you have numerous former and current players making allegations that there have been rule violations, in this case, practices too long," said Rick Karcher, a sports law expert at the Florida Coastal School of Law.
"It's just a first step."
The next step would either be a determination by the NCAA that the accusations are baseless, or a formal "Notice of Allegations" detailing precisely what is supported by evidence.
It appears this is something that was obviously going to happen, and since NCAA investigators have been working with Michigan the past couple months it seems like this is a letter telling Michigan what it already knows. Basically status quo.
Just 40 more years and they'll get the hang of it.
Charts. A diarist at Black Shoe Diaries diarist is rivaling Misopogon with his charts and interesting research. His focus is on Big Ten passer efficiency over the last decade, with a special focus on Penn State that won't be surprising to anyone who's watched PSU play over the last decade. PSU QBs were consistently horrible except for that one year Mills had before his arm fell off until Darryl Clark broke all of our preconceived notions about JayPa. A couple more general takeaways:
- The last few years Big Ten QBs have dropped off a cliff, with this year a bounce-back.
- Passer efficiency continues to skyrocket. Check out some meh QBs of recent and not-so-recent vintage:
Approximately same rank, 12 extra passer efficiency points for the guy slightly worse.
That latter one is a reason to relax pass interference rules, I think. Another reason: right now they are arbitrary.
Etc.: Tempo-free stats make the NBA bigtime. Florida is the current possessor of a hypothetical college football title belt dating back to the first game ever played; Michigan is an eight-time hypothetical champ, most recently in 2004 when they beat… Purdue?
Michigan's chances for a decent-to-good season increased radically over the weekend primarily because they came out and dominated a decent MAC opponent and proved that they're way less incoherent than they were last year. But the performances of future Michigan opponents also helped out considerably. Notre Dame did better than most expected, but the rest of the schedule:
Ohio State faced a potentially tying two-point conversion attempt with two minutes left against Navy, causing We Will Always Have Tempe to drag out the late-era Lloyd Carr comparisons:
I'm not saying Jim Tressel is Lloyd Carr, but... what separates Lloyd Carr in say, 2002 or 2003, from Jim Tressel right now? This is a line of thought I've been seriously following for the better part of a year now. I'd like some input from Michigan fans on this.
Here's my input: that's way hasty. Hasty or not, Ohio State scraping by Navy (they out gained the Middies by just 21 yards) makes The Game seem like way less of a longshot.
Iowa. DocSat on the bizarre Hawkeye opener:
• I-AA Northern Iowa slightly outgained Iowa overall and matched the Hawkeyes at 5.1 yards per play in a 17-16 loss that featured the weirdest ending of the day. Iowa finished with 87 yards rushing, 100 yards below its 2008 average on the ground; starting running back Paki O'Meara finished with 16 yards on nine carries (1.8 per) on a long gain of five yards.
UNI had two field goals blocked in the last minute, by the way, after recovering the first one. (Which I thought was an automatic turnover, BTW. Is it not? UPDATE: a helpful reader points out the relevant rule:
If a blocked field goal is in or behind the neutral zone, it is treated like a fumble and can be advanced by either team. Beyond the neutral zone, a blocked kick is treated like a punt or missed field goal and can be advanced only by the defense, unless a defensive player fumbles the ball, after which an offensive player can advance it.
Illinois was totally humiliated by a Missouri team debuting a freshman quarterback. Missouri outgained Illinois by over 100 yards and Juice Williams got yanked. Illinois did lose Benn and the starting tailback to injuries in the second half. None of that explains 37-9.
Three of Michigan's four expected wins did nothing to disprove those expectations. Indiana barely scraped by I-AA Eastern Kentucky 19-13. Eastern lost to Army by 13 and Delaware State lost to some random I-AA team.
Purdue, Michigan State, and Penn State all handled business against overmatched opponents. Wisconsin let Northern Illinois back in their game and, after failing to recover a NIU onside kick, let the Huskies down to their 36 before closing the door on 4th and 3. The Badgers did outgain NIU handily, so I'm not sure how much of a concern that is for UW.
Those teams saw their stock remain approximately constant—Purdue may have seen it increase. Three of the toughest games on Michigan's schedule now seem considerably more attainable. I'll take that and the Notre Dame box score any day.
While in Chicago, Tim took the opportunity provided by the Big Ten's roundtable section to ask players a couple of survey questions that have been hot topics in college football for the past few years. He only got to 19 of the 33 players before time went kaput, but 19 opinions are better than zero. The following is an unscientific survey.
Should We Have a Playoff?
Two of the abstentions were vaguely pro-playoff, with one stating "a playoff will happen soon either way because that's what fans want"—ah, if only college football worked like that—and the second saying "something other than what we have now, not necessarily a playoff."
Would A Playoff Negatively Affect Your Schoolwork?
(MOSTLY) NO: 17
The two who said yes were pro-BCS. The rest either said probably not, or "not enough that a playoff shouldn't happen."
Should Players Be Paid?
Most of the guys said something along the lines of "just a little bit more money, not really a salary or anything." Nobody had even thought about whether EA should have to pay them for using their likenesses, but most said they guess it makes sense.
Who's The Best Player In The Big Ten?
Amongst a sea of solitary votes three guys leapt out:
ARRELIOUS BENN: 8
JUICE WILLIAMS: 3
TERRELLE PRYOR: 2
Your unofficial, dominant players' Big Ten offensive POY is Arrelious Benn, which will no doubt please Dr. Saturday.
Other bits from Tim
Most everyone though Ohio State or Penn State would win the Big Ten, and White Michigan State Receiver Named White mentioned (without knowing which media organization Tim was with, no less!) that Michigan was a good darkhorse candidate. I'm not sure whether he was being serious, talking up a rival, making fun of a rival's recent struggles, etc.
I didn't ask this question, but I wrote down the answer because I thought it somewhat relevant to Michigan: OSU TE Jake Ballard mentioned that Justin Boren would win in an all-out fight of the Buckeyes' football team, because he's the toughest. [Editor's note: who asks the question "what would happen if you guys all took PCP and started beating the hell out of each other?"]
Stevie Brown was pretty non-specific about defensive scheme, mostly saying they'll play multiple formations and the "hybrid" terminology has been a little overblown. They're just out there playing defense.
On Tate, Rodriguez said "If we have multiple guys who can win football games at quarterback, they'll all get the chance to play" (paraphrase), nothing specific about limiting carries, though the implication seemed to be that there were viable backup options if a QB did get hurt.
This story is some sort of weird karma on a thousand different levels:
Illinois basketball player Alex Legion was arrested Monday night for driving on a suspended license.
An Illinois Department of Intercollegiate Athletics official said Legion’s license was suspended because of an unpaid moving violation ticket in Michigan. Legion is a native of Detroit.
You're probably well aware that Legion was Tommy Amaker's on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again final recruit, directed by God to go to Kentucky for a single semester and now a conscience-free midrange jumper specialist with the Illini.
But do you remember what happened a few years back after Illinois coach Bruce Weber was taking heat for the existence of Jamar Smith, Illini basketball player? Smith had nearly killed a teammate in a drunk-driving accident but remained on the Illinois team, prompting reporters to ask about it and Weber to act like a fool:
Weber also pointed out that “a kid in a program got arrested a couple weeks ago and he played in the next game.” Without naming him, Weber was referring to Michigan’s Lester Abram, who was stopped for speeding, then arrested for an outstanding warrant. That happened two days before Abram played for the Wolverines at Illinois.
“I don’t know if anything was talked about with him,” Weber said, his voice rising. “I don’t think so because I get a lot of feedback. You’re going to hold us to high standards but that kid got arrested and he played.”
Jamar Smith was the guy who drove his car into a tree, injuring teammate Brian Carlwell, who was a passenger. Oh, and Smith was drunk. Oh, and Smith believed that Carlwell was dead (he had a severe concussion), yet drove the car ... with Carlwell in it ... back home. Oh, and Smith went into his apartment, leaving Carlwell unconscious in his car.
Bound by infallible Logic, Weber has no choice but to do to Legion what he did to Smith: suspend him for the year and ship him to a directional Illinois school. Fret not, Alex Legion. God, unlike the Battlestar Galatica writers, has a plan. It involves the Missouri Valley Conference.