this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
items of interest
These were the uniforms bestowed upon attendees of the Women's Football Academy this summer, and their relation to West Virginia's vaguely chintzy duds did not go unremarked upon or unlamented. I phrased the post title as a question ("is this the ne road jersey?") despite the clear authenticity of the photos because it seemed highly improbable that Michigan would sign off on a pretty dramatic departure from their classic white away jerseys. At least, that's what I hoped.
That hope lives. Beauford Bixel -- a nom de plume up there with Orson Swindle -- of State of the Game has alertly picked up on a thread over at Michigan fansite/message board UMGoBlue.com featuring the uniform impressions of Phil Callihan, the site's founder. (Side note: Drew Montag, a UMGoBlue columnist, actually registered "mgoblog.com" two months before I started the blogspot version and, after two years and considerable friendly pestering, gave me the domain for free. They are Friends of Blog.) Callihan says he's seen the official jerseys and they are like so:
The home jerseys have a maize block "M" on the shoulder, the number is a little thicker and seems to be placed a little higher than on past jerseys. There's also a small (1/4 inch wide by 1-2 inch) vertical maize strip running down from the collar that has Michigan in blue. [Callihan would later correct himself, saying there is a block M on the strip. -ed]
The away jerseys have a thin maize piping straight across the chest. There also have a small maize strip on the back of the collar that says Michigan in blue.
Both have a small Adidas logo on the front.
There's the requisite panic and hasty, speculative photoshopping in the aftermath, with various people declaring their completely hypothetical outrage or joy over an ultimately trivial matter. It's basically a microcosm of the internet, and it's pretty awesome. We'll find out what they actually look like in around two weeks, and there will be a great TCP/IP howl for three days before we forget about it.
The basketball camp came and went without the blessed event -- a commit from CA PG Darius Morris -- beleaguered Michigan basketball fans have been pining for. The articles on the premium sites($) remain extremely positive, however, and Morris plans to decide within a month or two. Keep an eye out to see if he takes any more visits. If he doesn't, he will commit.
Meanwhile, freshmen are on campus and working out. The camp was open to the public, so respected internets poster MHoops1 took the opportunity to scout Stu Douglass...
1. Stu Douglass has a lot of tools--more than I thought. He's got a very quick release, range way beyond the NBA 3 point line, moves extremely well without the ball, and uses screens very nicely, passes well, can handle it enough to bring the ball up against pressure from smaller, quicker guards, and, while not a great athlete, was not getting overwhelmed by quickness on the defensive end. The question, quite simply, is shot selection. When he's square, he's a very, very good shooter, and under any circumstances, he spreads the floor--Terry Mills was yelling at the team he was coaching "He can shoot it from there" when Stu came across half court. The problem is that he does shoot it from there sometimes, and he also sometimes shoots it from positions that only a contortionist could love. He HAS to become less of a gunner. If he does, he could be a very good player in the Big Ten. If he doesn't, and guys like Manny, Deshawn and LLP lose good shots because Stu is chucking up bad ones, he'll be a detriment. It's as simple as that.
...and Zach Novak:
2. Zack Novak is a very efficient player. He's a good shooter from range, plays with his head up all the time, which permits him to see the floor and pass extremely well, and can shot fake, take the ball to the hole, and use his body to shield defenders and finish against much bigger, more athletic kids. He's also a pretty good rebounder in traffic, and moves very well without the ball. The biggest problem Zack has, at this time, is not the athleticism thing--he's not fast, but he's not as slow as some have claimed--but rather lack of handling skills. He can put it on the floor to drive off the wing, but is not real good out front if pressured before he's comfortable with the ball and what he's going to do, and you wouldn't really see him as a guy who's going to be an extra handler against pressure. His shot release is decent, but not nearly as quick as Stu's. Simply put, unless/until he gets better handles, he's a slightly undersized 3--really a point forward--with decent, but not great athleticism. I have no doubt that he can play in the conference because he is so fundamentally skilled and savvy, but to reach his potential, his ballhandling needs to improve.
The initial impressions -- MHoops1's scouting report has been echoed by other observers with little dissent -- contradict the months of speculation that had Novak a potential early contributor and Douglass an iffy role player.
Check out the rest of that thread while it still lives for further insight on the team this year. Sounds like the idea is to move Harris to small forward and try to live with Anthony Wright as a backup four, which would free up a lot of time at SG: advantage Douglass. Arizona transfer Laval Lucas-Perry will be eligible midseason; expectations are he will quickly supplant Grady as the starting point guard.
(Link via UMHoops.)
Stuff I pulled from the OSU-Texas game that may be of interest.
Ginn? Might Want To Tackle Him
OSU's first big play is a simple crossing route to
Breaston Ginn that's badly misplayed by the Texas secondary. Watch #38 overrun the play, opening up the corner and many, many YAC. This hasn't happened once against the Michigan secondary yet; I don't think it's a major concern, especially given what we know about the Texas secondary now (even with Tarrell Brown they kind of suck). More sucky play against Ginn coming up.
A Pittman run up the gut where Frank Okam looked like Pat Massey when doubled by the interior line of Ohio State. Okam's no joke -- a first rounder after the year to most mock-drafters -- and we've seen something similar happen to Terrance Taylor from time to time. If Ohio State decides to put in a big package from time to time they might rip off a run or two like this.
Grinding Drive... No Points
Texas got the ball back and proceeded to gash the Buckeye run defense. These three consecutive plays all went for first downs:
- Off tackle opens up and Laurinaitis gets way too aggressive, essentially blocking himself by running into a pulling OT, who just goes down to chop him.
- Ohio State lines up shifted right, away from the strength of the formation. Texas runs a speed option to the strong side. Is it me or does Laurinaitis look lumbering on this particular play? He flows down the line slowly and gets chopped, forcing the corner to come up on the QB and thus leaving the pitchman wide open.
- Option to the other side of the field sees the corners way off the line, totally unable to support the linebacker (Grant?) who takes the quarterback.
Ohio State would eventually figure out the option and get good support from Antonio Smith. They would later stunt themselves into trouble, though. They lined up Gholston as a standup DT -- shades of Crable -- then stunted into a counter play. Laurinaitis reads it late; Grant gets pancaked by the pulling guard and it's into the secondary again.
This drive would end with a fumble on the two yard ine.
OSU Goes Up 7-0
Michigan's seen a lot of rollouts this year. Once it became clear that standing in the pocket was a good way to get your spleen bruised, opponents have headed outside with frequency. This has worked. Unfortunately, one of Troy Smith's biggest strengths is his accuracy on the run. Two critical plays on Ohio State's touchdown drive were darts as Smith rolled out. This one is particularly alarming:
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Smith finished the drive with a touchdown strike on a similar play.
Texas Returns To The Ground
Two problems on this long Texas run:
- playside DE crashes inside, giving up contain.
- Laurinaitis doesn't recognize the trouble this causes and just waits to be blocked yards downfield. Compare this to Michigan linebackers, who have been diagnosing and attacking at the LOS all year.
Texas would run the same play again soon after, but this time the DE keeps contain and Laurinaitis heads outside quickly. Result: minimal gain.
I worry about this: third and short, we call a cute run play, and Quinn Pitcock takes two guys into the backfield with him, creating a major loss.
Four yards on a zone stretch for Texas.
You Did What With How Many Seconds Left?
Tied 7-7 with about two minutes left in the half, OSU gets the ball back and marches downfield. They're heavily aided by a stupid bust on second and long; Troy Smith throws a dart of a seam route that's nigh un-defendable. OSU moves the ball into field goal range with the clock ticking down.
Then... this. First of all: Aaron Ross is not as good as he thinks he is. Second of all, when there are something like twenty seconds left in the half and your opponent is already in field goal range, why do this?
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That's right: one-on-one press coverage with nothing even approximating safety help. On Ted Ginn. Ross misses his jam, gets two steps behind instantly, then starts looking back like Troy Smith can possibly underthrow Ginn enough for him to get a fingernail on the ball. This is easier than beating Terrell Lambert. The replay shows it in excruciating detail. We should not do this.
Halftime: 14-7, OSU
At this point Texas has fumbled at the two and turned a likely OSU field goal into a touchdown with an idiotic playcall before the half. OSU has missed a chippie field goal. Play has been even.
And It Begins
This is what I'm talking about when I say that turnovers are more a function of the offense than the defense. Let the Laurinaitis legend begin: he can catch balls thrown directly at him! Musberger and Herbstreit are creaming themselves over a guy who's largely at fault for Texas' ability to pick up 10 yards every other carry. This leads to an OSU field goal and the beginning of the end; it's also the first time the entire game McCoy has thrown between the hashmarks.
Alex Boone did okay but was flagged for an obvious hold and then allowed this Woodley-esque sack. Note Smith standing in the pocket despite having what looks like plenty of room. He's had it beaten into his head to keep looking downfield, sometimes to his detriment. Overall, it's obviously the better option for the OSU offense -- mentally play the Penn State touchdown in your head now -- but it occasionally will result in him getting blindsided when he could have taken off.
OSU's drive does end in a field goal; after this sack they run on third and long to set it up. 17-7 now.
Texas Back to the Ground
Larry Grant on the field is not going to be a good thing for Ohio State, methinks. I wouldn't expect him to play, largely because of stuff like this. It's a counter that he gets utterly lost on. (When I grabbed the highlight I thought it was a more relevant linebacker -- Freeman. Oh well.)
Texas easily converts a third and short on a familiar-looking stretch play.
Vernon Gholston doesn't get a sack here but he does display his impressive ability to teleport around tackles. Riley will have his hands full. Note that this is the second Colt McCoy pass longer than ten yards; the first was intercepted by Laurinaitis.
Laurinaitis in space. Sets up too far inside, IMO and cedes the corner. Not sure why the RB threw in the unnecessary second juke that probably cost him three or four yards.
This is Colt McCoy's only downfield completion of the night.
Another successful run. Both linebackers are very passive.
OSU closes the door.
This one is titled "AaronRossSucksBasically.WMV" and is fairly self explanatory. It's second and nine with 12 minutes left, you're down two scores, and you're playing Ted Ginn in the parking lot. There is a happy medium between lining up an inch from his nose and in Tajikistan. Have you seen anything like this against the Michigan secondary? Infrequently.
I think this play summarizes what's good about Antonio Pittman: he diagnoses holes and decisively bursts through them. He's not much for breaking tackles or juking guys but he's smart about blocking and fast.
And that's all, folks.
I can think of no better way to summarize Texas' confidence in Colt McCoy than to show you their final relevant play from scrimmage. Down 24-7 with around eight minutes left, Texas faced third and sixteen. They ran an option, then punted. The man who's like second or whatever in passer efficiency was not the man Ohio State played.
What We Learned
- Troy Smith is really accurate on the run.
- Boone a little tetchy his first game.
- Issues containing runs to the outside.
- Aaron Ross sucks, basically.
- This game should not be used as evidence of Ohio State's rad pass defense. Mack Brown was clearly terrified of Colt McCoy and perhaps with good reason given that hideous interception.
- Don't line up two inches from Ted Ginn's nose with no safety help.