Mike Lantry, 1972
|WHAT||Michigan @ #12 Iowa|
|WHERE||Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA|
|WHEN||8:00 EST, October 10th, 2009|
|THE LINE||Iowa -8|
|TELEVISION||Nationwide on ABC|
|WEATHER||Rain early but clear later,
temp starts in 40s but dips to 20s
Run Offense vs. Iowa
This looked pretty awesome on Michigan's part until the State game, when it looked like early last year. What to make of that? One of two things: Michigan's early-season proficiency was built on a lot of erratic big plays that are not necessarily replicable, or Michigan State's got some sort of bead on the Michigan rushing game akin to the one they drew last year, when the Michigan State game was an outlier amongst a five-game sea of excellent rushing offense.
A couple things are clear. David Molk's absence is a big deal, and the scorching early success of the play this site termed the "zone counter dive"—as in a counter dive to the zone play, not a zone blocked counter—is not likely to be replicated now that backside defensive ends are warily sliding down the line looking for it. Michigan didn't have a response for that, nor did they have much of a way of getting the quarterback in a position to exploit that sort of coverage.
Compounding matters are health issues for Michigan's top two backs. Carlos Brown, the #1 so far this year, is likely out with a concussion. Brandon Minor, the thunderous force behind Michigan's second-half renaissance last year, has a total of 35 carries in the first five games, as he's been hampered by an ankle sprain all year. Minor is likely to start; sophomore Mike Shaw will be thrust into a prominent role in a tough situation.
As far as Iowa goes, I'd been operating under the assumption they were fierce beyond reason but the numbers aren't that great:
In five games against what seems like a largely unthreatening slate of opponents, Iowa's giving up 4.6 YPC. A closer look at Iowa's opponents reveals some shocking numbers, though: Iowa State is #20 in rush offense and Arizona(!) is #11. Both other I-A opponents are above average, and UNI is running around taking a machete to the rest of I-AA.
So that may be understandable. It's still not quite as dominant as you'd expect given the hype train building behind the Iowa rush defense. Your ESPN-approved mostly meaningless stat of the week: Iowa hasn't given up a rushing touchdown in 33 quarters. Woo! They gave up over 5 YPC to Iowa State with no carry longer than 17 yards! Not so woo!
This won't be an Eastern or Indiana romp but it shouldn't be a reprise of the Michigan State game. Michigan's got to pull some extra stuff out of the playbook; last week Michigan State was well-prepared for Michigan and Iowa's last game, though close, was against Arkansas State. That game prep week probably spent a day or two on Michigan; Iowa will be ready for the stuff Michigan's already shown.
Assuming some new looks (veers? options? Florida-esque triple option shovel to Koger? lots more Robinson and Forcier in same backfield?), Michigan should get its yards at a steady, but not amazing, clip. This may be foolish but I think the Iowa State YPC numbers are attainable. Penn State is clearly a mess on the OL, and proved that with weak rushing performances throughout the conference schedule. Michigan has proven itself on another level on the ground this year.
Key Matchup: Rodriguez and Magee vs the Same Old Stuff. This might be problematic because of Forcier's injury. I assume that Michigan wanted to provide some new looks against State but with Tate limited in practice last week (and this week) they were not confident in new packages that require option pitches to run them.
(Side note: last week's key matchup was Michigan guards vs Jones, which was termed the difference between six yards and a touchdown; argh argh argh.)
Thanks to the generosity of Austin Arnaud and Darryl Clark, Iowa sits an intimidating fourth in pass defense efficiency. It's not just the interceptions that got them there. Doing this to a senior who probably should have been the conference's preseason offensive player of the year…
…is frightening, shaky offensive line or no. And that goes double when a 79-yard touchdown on a bust was the first play of the game. Iowa's got two excellent cornerbacks, a safety with some crazy ability to intercept deflected balls, and a marauding defensive line that causes the hizzies in Iowa cizzie to lose their damn minds.
Michigan, meanwhile, has Tate Forcier, a middling set of receivers, and an offensive line with serious problems on the right side. This is where the thousand-year tenure of Iowa's Norm Parker hurts: Iowa knows what it's supposed to do and is the sort of team that has discipline above all, which should keep Forcier in the pocket, where he's uncomfortable, and not on the perimeter, where he waves his unicorn wand and conjures fourth-quarter touchdowns out of glue and beetle wings.
One thing to look for especially is some sort of counterpunch to team's successful deployment of the 4-3 against Michigan and the bubble screen. Both of the last two weeks opponents have used the safety as a kamikaze downhill defender against bubble screens, which has allowed them to stack the box, keep contain, and remove all three options in Michigan's triple option zone read. Steve Sharik suggests some alternatives in a diary post that involve 4-wide formations with double slots and run plays that zip into the secondary, which now has no safeties, for big gainers.
My take on that topic: man, turning that bubble route into a wheel and pairing it with a skinny post is almost guaranteed to get a guy wide open for a big gainer. We'll have to see whether Iowa plays it the same way; if they do and Michigan doesn't take advantage of the opportunities presented by that freakout, it'll be hard to see Michigan having a ton of success against an Iowa pass defense that has rocked so far. Michigan will get some yards because it's 2009 but this promises to be Forcier's worst day of the year.
Key Matchup: This is obvious but: getting some pass protection. Michigan was 37/57 last week, which is really bad.
Run Defense vs. Iowa
Iowa's been pretty meh here. Jewel Hampton's season-ending knee injury momentarily thrust Paki O'Meara panic back to the forefront in Iowa City, but the Paki Bomb was quickly supplanted by a couple of freshmen who are splitting carries about evenly because they are statistically indistinguishable from each other:
Wegher is an oddity in many ways: he's a white guy from Iowa who was given four stars by Rivals. Robinson was recruiting non-entity whose only offer was an Iowa grayshirt (IE: come in next January, kid, when we have room). Insert recruiting debate we're not having here.
Iowa has gone up against three good rush defenses in Arizona (19), Penn State (11), and Arkansas State (30) and has been juggling the offensive line due to injuries. Star tackle Bryan Bulaga missed three games with an illness and returned for the ASU game, which resulted in this:
“We were not very happy with our performance as an offensive line,” guard Julian Vandervelde said. “I suppose it’s good to have that sort of performance and still come out with a win. That’ll motivate us this week to work a lot harder at the things we need to improve on. We’ll spend a lot more time in the film room and on the practice field focusing on the details this week.”
… They always say the film is never as good or bad as you think it’s going to be. Sometimes, that’s just not true. It’s every bit as bad as you thought it was going to be. This was probably one of those weekends.”
The Red Wolves (why does every team that replaces their offensive Indian nickname put "red" in their new nickname? discuss) held Iowa to 124 yards on 33 carries, 3.8 per. That was Iowa's second-worst game of the year on the ground. The worst? The 87 yards they put up against Northern Iowa. Suggestion for Michigan: join the SWAC temporarily.
This will be an interesting test for Michigan's possibly-competent-when-aligned-correctly nouveau run defense, which crushed Michigan State's primitive attack to the tune of less than 3 YPC for the running backs. And Michigan State's pitch touchdown run was another instance of a badly misaligned defense similar to the 85-yard doom run by Indiana. Expect one or two of those against Iowa.
Outside of that stuff, Michigan's rushing defense was dominant. This is thanks in part to Brandon Graham (who actually graded out better in Steve Sharik's evaluation of the game than he did in his record-setting day in UFR):
And it's thanks in part to Michigan saying "screw it, we're an eight-man front" and dropping Jordan Kovacs into the box on almost every play:
That worked well and I expect Michigan will continue to do it, as they have a number of players with limited skill sets that they can take advantage of in very specific ways. For one: Jonas Mouton is a talented blitzer who's struggled with coverage and whatnot and Michigan decided they'd just blitz the hell out of him against State, to good effect. More of that will probably happen against Iowa.
The other aspect of the "run" defense to watch may not be run defense at all: Kirk Cousins averaged 10 YPC on 7 carries last Saturday despite his well-deserved reputation as a pocket passer. Stanzi's even more of a pocket passer—he's got –50 rushing yards on the year—but anyone can run up into the great wide open Michigan was graciously providing Cousins. Dollars to donuts Michigan spent a lot of time working on maintaining rush lane integrity; Stanzi's not likely to replicate Cousins's feat. Obi Ezeh is a lock to get dragged out of his zone, opening up at least one key, frustrating third down conversion.
Key Matchup: Ryan Van Bergen vs Iowa Interior OL. Van Bergen's emergence the last couple weeks has been the hidden secret to the run defense. He was able to prevent himself from getting sealed or blown back by MSU's OL and this removed just about the last weak spot on the line against the run. A reprise against Iowa's line would be very good for this game and the next two and a half seasons.
Pass Defense vs. Iowa
Here, again, Iowa has been fairly meh. Ricky Stanzi has thrown two pick-sixes in the last three games and is currently 70th in passer efficiency. That's a severe drop from last year, when Stanzi was the better half of a two-headed QB (recruitin' bust Jake Christensen was the other) and finished 34th. Stanzi's completing only 58% of his passes, has 7 interceptions to 8 touchdowns, all of which were against UNI, Iowa State, and Arkansas State, and averages 7.1 YPA. None of these marks are particularly good, and the rotating line has given up two sacks a game. There is some potential for Michigan to not soil themselves here.
Injuries have hampered Iowa here as well. Obviously, the line's been an issue. Iowa's also missed TE Tony Moeaki and WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, a man whose name is so long the NCAA's official site gives up somewhere in the middle of his second last name, for chunks of the season. With both those guys tentatively healthy and Bulaga back, Iowa figures to be a bit better than they have been so far. The prospect of Moeaki, who's been an excellent receiving tight end in the rare instances when he's healthy, against Michigan's dodgy linebacking crew is not a tantalizing one.
On the other side of the ball, Michigan has thrown a walk-on in as a full time starter and is thinking about moving once and future cornerback Troy Woolfolk from safety in an effort to shore up the corner spot opposite Donovan Warren, where virtually all opponent passes go. Mike Williams will slot in at free safety in that situation, leaving Michigan more vulnerable to long gainers but hopefully less likely to give up 130 yard, ten minute drives. It's ugly. I said there was little chance this went well against Michigan State and that was borne out; there is a chance it goes better against Stanzi and company but to get the horrible interception Michigan is going to have to cover some guys. Maybe Woolfolk can do that and maybe Michigan's linebackers can remove the head from the butt in the zone coverage; I'll remain doubtful about that until I see it.
Here, as always, the key is to get pressure on the quarterback. Dead donkeys cannot be covered, etc.
Key Matchup: Graham versus The Idiotic Idea You Can Single Block Him, or Brian Bulaga. I assume Iowa won't make the same mistake State did and let Graham run wild against single blocking unless they try it a couple times with Bulaga and it works out. Sharik notes that Michigan's gone to a strictly field-boundary scheme in the aftermath of the 85-yard touchdown run—ie, no flipping the line when Iowa realigns, so if Iowa wants to they'll be able to get Bulaga on Graham whenever it's not an obvious passing down. If Graham can win that battle and demand a second blocker, or just win that battle and cause Stanzi to do his usual interception thing, Michigan's in it.
During my podcast interaction with Oops Pow Surprise of Black Heart Gold Pants, he blasphemously asserted that Iowa's punter, whose name is something like Boring Smith, was the Big Ten's finest. I inadvertently uttered an expletive—as opposed to the intentional, if somewhat stammered ones earlier in the podcast—in reaction. And it is blasphemy. Boring Smith and the Hawkeyes are 31st in net punting. Michigan is fifth. Michigan should pick up an extra four yards every time punts are exchanged.
Michigan should also have an advantage in kick returns, where Iowa is 98th and Michigan is 25th; punt returns, which Michigan just doesn't bother with anymore (107th!) probably won't be relevant because opponents have only returned 7 of Zoltan's 26 punts and those have gone for five yards each because the opponents has invariably been surrounded by spread punt gunners of all varieties.
In the kicking game, Jason Olesnavage is now 5/6 of the season with proven range in the mid- to high-40s, though his one miss was a chip shot. Iowa's Daniel Murray has more of a track record but it's not a great one: he's 6/9 this year, was 6/9 last year, and was 7/10 the year before that. Tentative advantage here goes to Michigan.
Key Matchup: Can I cease saying CATCH THE DAMN BALL? I think so. How about field goal kickin'. Iowa's guy seems more likely to miss one and that could be a BFD.
- The right side of the line reprises their Swiss cheese impression from the State game.
- Tate looks out of sorts because of the cold.
- Stanzi's finding open receivers alll over.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Iowa fails to crease the Michigan DL and has to put a lot of the game on Stanzi…
- …and Stanzi responds with his traditional festive interceptions.
- There are a lot of punts because Boring Smith sucks.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 9 out of 10. (Baseline 5, +1 for Hello Iowa City Night Game, +1 for Probably Best Team M Has Played So Far, +1 for Spread Nearing Double Digits, +1 for M OL Vs Iowa DL Looks Like Not Fun Things That Are No Fun, –1 for But There Is The Tate Hulk Up To Account For, +1 for Dammit We Rushed For 28 Yards Last Game).
Desperate need to win level: 4 out of 10. (Baseline 5, –1 for This Is Not One That Anyone Expects To Pick Up, –1 for And The Fanbase Isn't Even Annoying, –1 for And No One Even Knows An Iowa Graduate, Right, +1 for The Battle Of Mary Sue Coleman, +1 for Man, 5-1 With A Road Win In Iowa City Heading Into Delaware State Sounds Like A Recipe For New Year's Day )
Loss will cause me to... not be particularly surprised.
Win will cause me to... probably get kidnapped and stuck in the Black Heart Gold Basement.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
I'd like to walk back some of the negativity I've offered on the radio and podcasts of late. I hadn't taken a close enough look at Iowa and seen how mistake-prone Stanzi's been or that the run defense looks fairly permeable, at least for Iowa. I still don't think Michigan wins but I was offering up 8-10 point margins earlier this week, and I now think Michigan will be closer than that, not least because of Tate Forcier's late-game heroics.
The prediction below is weird: it builds in what appears to be a 50-50 shot at Iowa having one more game-crippling mistake than Michigan. I think if M gets that game crippling mistake they will be in it at the end with a chance to win, possibly attempting to defend and Iowa game-winning drive. If they don't I think they end up in a hole and threaten to break out of it from time to time but never actually do so, with the cold and the crowd and the Iowa defense finally reining in Forcier when the game's on the line.
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Minor has like 90% of the carries.
- Michigan finally pulls something out of the bag of tricks.
- Woolfolk moves to corner and Iowa gets a big play because of safety error because of it.
- Iowa, 20-17.
This week on the podcast we talk about the Michigan State game (bleah!) with Tim, the Iowa game with Oops Pow Surprise of Black Heart Gold Pants and Buster Sports, and the Big Ten with Jamiemac of Just Cover. At some point, Tate Forcier gets compared to Hulk Hogan. Convincingly. Ultimate Hawkeye, we are coming for you. Warning: there is a small amount of swearing on this podcast, which comes from me but is necessary to describe Iowa safety Tyler Sash.
BONUS: in a stunning display of incestuous behavior, I was the guest on this week's BHGP podcast.
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.
HEY! OTHER THINGS! THINGS THAT ARE OTHER!
Witty: not dead yet. Freshman cornerback Adrian Witty, the last incoming recruit held up by the Clearinghouse, retook the SAT in search of a point. In the process he may have revealed why he needs another point on the SAT:
"I think I did good on it," Witty said.
Witty's missed the entirety of fall camp; if he gets in he's all but guaranteed to redshirt. If he doesn't, I believe he can prep for a semester and come in January since he's so close. The NCAA cracked down on the prep school route a couple years ago but left the window open for guys who need one or two grades, IIRC.
Paki-bomb loaded and ready to run for two yards. Did I tell you about Angry Iowa Running Back-Hating God or did I tell you?
The big injury is Jewel Hampton's right knee, which has kept him off the practice field for most of camp. Ferentz told me it's unrealistic to expect Hampton to play Sept. 5 in the season opener against Northern Iowa. The coach also didn't rule out Hampton's injury affecting his availability this season.
Hampton is "80 percent likely" to take a redshirt year according to Iowa Scout.com guy Jon Miller. Redshirt freshman Jeff Brinson, the nominal #2, missed most of camp with an ankle issue, leaving walk-on and broad comic stereotype mashup Paki O'Meara atop the depth chart.
Black Heart Gold Pants, naturally, is all over this.
Historian. This time it's a recap of Michigan's first 38-0 win over Notre Dame in two parts:
Part II is lightboxed for your perusal.
This is a different thing now. All right, Michigan's strength and conditioning program this offseason has been sweet!
"I think that's natural, particularly when you've got younger players; they're going to make a big gain in strength and conditioning from their first year to their second year. But even overall, the whole team has really bought in to what Mike and his staff are teaching down there in the weight room.
"Hopefully it'll show up on the field. Certainly, they look like they're moving around quicker, and I think their strength is certainly up from what it was a year ago."
Did I say something?
Hang the DJ. I am so down with using Morrissey as a half-serious, half-mocking approach to Michigan fandom, and sports fandom in general. There's a tag on this blog that I've used way more than I ever wanted to named "i know it's over and oh it never really began but in my heart it was so real." And next week one of your very special season preview posts is Morrissey based. (50 MGoPoints to the first person to guess which song is referenced.)
I’ve seen it happen/in other people’s lives/ now it’s happening in mine. Morrissey and contemporary Michigan continue to be made for each other, and not in the good kind of way. The joke won’t be funny once you get to the Notre Dame game, especially if Nick Sheridan as starter has to face a TAH-NOO-TAH defense unafraid to send blitzers from the corner, safety, and occasionally just running in crowds off the bench.
Son of a bitch I should have thought of that lyric last year. You haven't heard the last of this, Swindle! (You probably have.)
Schwing? Michigan's deadly 2010 hockey recruiting class looks set to get even deadlier with the news that Ontario forward Lucas Lessio has left Niagara's camp, presumably because he intends to commit to Michigan. Lessio was the #7 pick in the OHL draft and a source told the Wolverine's Michael Spath that Lessio would be the "best player to come to Michigan out of Ontario in the last decade," which would make him a more highly touted prospect than Mike Cammalleri, Brandon Burlon, Louie Caporusso, and Andrew Cogliano. Two of those guys are scoring-line NHL players and two are current or upcoming stars at Michigan. That is high praise.
As always, do not count your chickens before they show up on campus… but, yeah, Lessio has signed with St. Mikes and Yost Built diagnoses the positivity coming from Niagara's GM as Iraqi Minister of Information stuff. He actually played on Friday, picking up two goals and an assist in a 5-4 loss. It sounds like he's made his decision for justice.
Here's a Hockey News scouting report on Lessio. Summary: he good.
Etc.: Whoah. FO's ESPN insider content($) on the Big Ten predicts Michigan at 8-4… and Illinois at 4-8! Stanford decommit picks Northwestern over ND because he thinks "Northwestern has a better football program than Notre Dame." Two-part Rittenberg interview with Rodriguez: part one and part two. Dylan takes on expectations for the basketball team; personally I'll be happy with a season that ends in the second round of the NCAA tournament as long as the bid isn't in question on the last day of the regular season.
Holy pants. YouTube HD, people!
Sweet. Someone lock Wolverine Historian in a room with a computer and a stack of videos. (This may be redundant, yes.)
Pah. The New York Times' bottom-to-top rundown of I-A football has reached Michigan at an uninspiring #57. The meandering glory of the thing has 100 words in German, mentions Elroy Hirsch, cites Varsity Blue, and desperately needs more paragraph breaks. It > CFN.
But the thing that sticks out to your correspondent:
Who is No. 56?: The name of its first president graces our next university’s football stadium and library. There is no memorial to Jimmy Bob, his ever-present parrot.
A commenter solves the riddle:
#56 is Western Michigan, home of Waldo Stadium and Waldo Library.
Awwww, come on. There is no way that's not a hook for the WMU preview.
Up-and-coming. This doesn't come as a surprise to me since the Doc pinged me to ask whether Boubacar Cissoko was a reasonable pick for the team—I replied "if you don't have anyone truly inspiring," to which he said "I do not"—but Michigan features twice on Dr. Saturday's up-and-coming defense. You'll be able to guess the other member without reading the post, but what the hell:
Defensive Tackle: Mike Martin • Michigan
Aside from punting, run defense was the only halfway respectable aspect of the entire Wolverine operation last year, and the best aspect of the run defense may have been that Martin held his own as a regular part of the rotation as a true freshman -- with both starters graduating, the middle of the line remains one of the team's many red sirens. Most importantly, Martin earned the MGoBlog seal of approval, which is no small feat.
Hey, now: the rushing offense was (very, very slightly) above-average. That linked caused me to return to the Wisconsin UFR, in which Martin thwarted Wisconsin's second attempt at a game-tying two-point conversion by escaping a double team and crushing the QB as he released the ball; he is kind of a great interior pass rusher already. I just hope he can hold up against the consistent pounding of the ground game.
The Doc's offensive team is hyah; call me skeptical about the inclusion of a no-block tight end from Ohio State on the list. Ohio State tight ends have to block because they do little else except get death threats. One dollar says that Kevin Koger has more catches than Jake Stoneburner at the end of the year. (Stoneburner, naturally, will blind more messiahs.)
Find Pierce Brosnan. Jewel Hampton is the tailback on that DocSat up-and-coming offense, but his knee may have up and left:
Multiple Web sites are reporting that Iowa football running back Jewel Hampton sustained a knee injury during non-contact drills Friday. If confirmed, that would put a damper on the 4th of July weekend for Hawkeye fans.
BHGP links to stuff that suggests the injury is a torn ACL, which would knock Hampton out for the year. Yea, if there is any Angry BLANK Hating God as wroth as Angry Michigan Safety-Hating God, it's Angry Iowa Tailback-Hating God.
However, the second-wave word on the thing is much friendlier to Iowa and Hampton:
"I'm OK," he said.
When the 5-foot-9, 210-pound sophomore-to-be from Indianapolis was asked whether he would play in the fall, Hampton said with a grin, "Don't know yet."
Dude NFW. You know what? I really don't want to get into this again. But I find it amazing that this happens to be true:
Almost there! With two graduated, third-team seniors predictably (and acceptably) having left the team over the past week, Bama Sports Report reports that the Tide only has ... 10 more scholarships to free up over the rest of the summer! That's not too bad! Here, here's a handy alphabetical run-down of how many scholarships each SEC team still has to clear off the existing roster to bring in their full signing class in fall camp:
Mississippi St.: 0
South Carolina: 0
Say what you want about the man, Saban stands by his principles, such as they are.
Etc.: You will be SHOCKED at the #1 players on Ace's list of the top 15 players on both sides of the ball from the past 15 years.
That went just the way I wanted it to: without suspense. I have delved deep into these things the past couple weeks and I can tell you Michigan is in. There will be a selection show worth watching on Sunday.
It's been a long time in the desert. I remember this Thursday a few years ago, when Michigan had to beat Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament to get in, probably, after blowing it in the regular season. Then the sort of person who can't watch 2:30 PM basketball game, I listened to it on the radio. Things were going okay until a seemingly infinite series of consecutive turnovers and the resultant fast-break buckets, and I remember sitting in my chair, disgusted, thinking that Michigan would never atone for Traylor and Taylor and Bullock and all those grim-faced mercenaries that worked their way through the program without loyalty or joy.
The day of atonement is at hand. I added a tag.